Author Topic: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?  (Read 27074 times)

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Offline ZPW

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Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
« Reply #20 on: June 06, 2008, 08:38:14 PM »
I think any suggestion that one person could run the council is totally unrealistic.  I also don't assume that any elected mayor would necessarily come from one of the political parties.  As I have said already I see them as part of the problem today and I suspect they're likely to feel the most threatened by any change to the system that favours them and their buddies so much.


Buster, hello.
You are jaded by the jaundiced.
take another view.
imagine.. try hard... Imagine.. a decent person, an honest, clever person with crates of energy.
Fix that person in your mind...
That person may belong to a political party... but stay with your first vision of a good,clever person.
That is the person that could be Mayor.
That person would have a load of clever good people already on the council... Think of the Peter Greenhalgh's, the Fay Howards, the Rod Bluh's , the Keiths, the Phils... really there are lots and lots of them.
This is all possible.


People will turn out for a Mayorasl election in a way they dont for the usual local stuff. they will be able to attach an indentity to a local political figure.


Nuff from me.
have a date.


Offline Mart

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Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
« Reply #21 on: June 06, 2008, 08:59:32 PM »
I have thought long and hard on this, then I had a fag, then a drink, then I had another fag and a bit of a cough.

On balance I think it is a 'good idea'. Like democracy and free speech.

First off, no overt political allegiance, absolute no no, because that is an immediate compromise and it would obscure the question of responsibility for the poor lamb. They can have only one master, that is Swindon and it's inhabitants, which come to think of it is two masters. See how quickly the rot sets in?

Then that sets up the vexing problem of how they would be elected without a party machine behind them, in fact come to think of it you could imagine them being positively obstructive as they fought to protect what they perceive as their interests.

So this is what you do. A software programme is written that has at it's core a definition of the average Swindon resident. It is operated entirely independently, except for the 13 year old hackers and the bloke down the pub who can get you a copy for £5, so relatively speaking it is secure.

Then interested parties submit their profiles, machine does some whirring, couple fo flashing lights, goes kerching and Bob's your uncle, a Mayor.

They then have a four year term, can veto what they like and if it transpires they are in fact a chimp, so what?

We've had worse.
Sometimes I think you have to march right in and demand your rights, even if you don’t know what your rights are, or who the person is you’re talking to. Then, on the way out, slam the door.

Offline komadori

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Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
« Reply #22 on: June 06, 2008, 11:59:27 PM »

imagine.. try hard... Imagine.. a decent person, an honest, clever person with crates of energy.
Fix that person in your mind...
That person may belong to a political party... but stay with your first vision of a good,clever person.
That is the person that could be Mayor.


But equally the town might end up with a bad, stupid person as mayor (because politicians can be very good at deceiving the electorate). At least with the current system, if the council leader turns out to be a disaster, there's a good chance that their fellow councillors will force them out before the end of their term. With a directly elected mayor, the councillors' ability to do that is more limited, and the electorate only get a chance to vote them out once every four years.
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Offline sasquatch

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Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
« Reply #23 on: June 07, 2008, 01:44:35 PM »
What is so wrong with the current system that having an elected mayor would solve ?

There are accusations that politicians are "in it for themselves" although I would guess this is aimed more at the MP's than local councillors. The country and indeed this town appears happy with the present system of elected MP's, a leader of the government - selected from amongst the ruling party who selects his own cabinet.

SwindonLinkMan says "As has been pointed out, the party that gets the most seats controls the cabinet and the council chamber. Is this control of our affairs is a good or bad thing? It might not be broke, but it's the most convenient set up for those in power at any given time.". Have you put this to your MP ?

The Swindon model is the same as the government one although without the bent expenses claims  :). I hate to say I am starting to agree with construct on this, but without the curious phrasing.

Why would anyone want to stand for elected mayor ? It can't be for the money as we only pay the council leader £25,000 a year, and if he gets it wrong he is more likely to be dealt with by his own party than the electorate. Buster asks " I don't see any accountability in the current model.  What accountability does Rod Bluh have towards me right now? ". I would suggest considerably more than your MP and with more ability to influence what happens in your town than your MP. Try asking him a question and I would make a bet you will actually get an answer (unlike Anne Snelgrove MP for example).

It might be for political reasons - but what is so different from the present system ? Mart suggests "First off, no overt political allegiance, absolute no no, because that is an immediate compromise ", and yet our whole democratic system tends to be based around political allegiance i.e. like minded people with a common-ish view.

The idea that some whizzy business person will give up a lucrative career for 25k p.a. is fatuous and I personally would have to question their motives - surely no one is that stupid ?

What would be the benefit to the town ? I'm not convinced there would be. I have attended a number of Council meetings and apart from bumping into Geoff Reid & co. occasionally, rarely see many members of the public attending. The opportunity is there for people to engage, but they choose not to. Even SwindonLinkMan rarely attends yet queries the present democratic process. I would be thrilled if at every council meeting people we were clamouring to question the politicans. Probably not in my lifetime.

If you want your voice heard, then stand up and speak. Works for me every time. Look at the engagement we see with local councillors on this site - they do listen and they do act. The councillors in West Swindon hold a meeting very couple of months which is very well attended - even by SwindonLinkMan (and me) and they  listen and act - because that is what we expect if not demand.

Buster stated "As someone who lives in a ward where my councillors are toothless simply because they are in the 'wrong' party and where I know that both they and I have little influence or recourse over any decision that SBC makes and how SBC spends my money." I would suggest you change your councillors then. The opposition of any ruling council has the ability to influence both policy and decisions made. The process is there, but I would guess neither of your councillors is prepared to try. In fact the public can do the same as the Scrutiny committees have meetings the public can attend and make suggestions or just question decisions. How many of you have attended any ?

Democracy is alive and kicking but it is the lack of engagement from us the people that engenders apathy..

 
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Offline Terminatrix

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Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
« Reply #24 on: June 07, 2008, 04:34:31 PM »
 
What is so wrong with the current system that having an elected mayor would solve ?

We don't yet have sight of a proposed triangle of power, responsibility and accountability that we can properly explore the role of an elected Mayor.



Quote from: sasquatch
There are accusations that politicians are "in it for themselves" although I would guess this is aimed more at the MP's than local councillors. The country and indeed this town appears happy with the present system of elected MP's, a leader of the government - selected from amongst the ruling party who selects his own cabinet.

It is only possible to say with any certainty that the minority of people who do vote might be happy with the current system. It is a sweeping assumption that the Country and Swindon are happy with it. The fact that an average of 60% of the eligible electorate choose not to exercise their right to vote suggests that the majority do not, for whatever reason, agree with Sasquatchs assumption.


Quote from: sasquatch
Why would anyone want to stand for elected mayor ? It can't be for the money as we only pay the council leader £25,000 a year, and if he gets it wrong he is more likely to be dealt with by his own party than the electorate. Buster asks " I don't see any accountability in the current model.  What accountability does Rod Bluh have towards me right now? ". I would suggest considerably more than your MP

I didn't vote for Rod Bluh because I live in a different ward and therefore couldn't. Likewise I can not vote him out if he does a bad job. He is not accountable to me in any way shape or form.  It's lucky for me that I think he's doing a reasonable job for a Tory.  I can vote against Anne Snelgrove, I cannot directly do so for Rod Bluh. 


Quote from: sasquatch
Try asking him a question and I would make a bet you will actually get an answer (unlike Anne Snelgrove MP for example).

I'll take your money.  I know of at least one person who has emailed Mr Bluh, left phone messages and sent the odd text. They have never received a reply, and before you ask, no, I'm not Martha Parry.


Quote from: sasquatch
The idea that some whizzy business person will give up a lucrative career for 25k p.a. is fatuous and I personally would have to question their motives - surely no one is that stupid ?

You'd better ask Rod Bluh this question then. Didn't he give up a lucrative career to do exactly this?, so following your logic we ought to question his motives, unless he hasn't actually given his lucrative career up?


Quote from: sasquatch
What would be the benefit to the town ? I'm not convinced there would be. I have attended a number of Council meetings and apart from bumping into Geoff Reid & co. occasionally, rarely see many members of the public attending. The opportunity is there for people to engage, but they choose not to. Even SwindonLinkMan rarely attends yet queries the present democratic process. I would be thrilled if at every council meeting people we were clamouring to question the politicans. Probably not in my lifetime.

The 15 minutes available for public questions is too short. This puts some people off even attending.  I once sat through a huge monologue delivered by Daniel Rose which burned up most of a cabinet question/open forum. I didn't get to ask my question because he wanted, and was allowed to, make a speech. My question was interesting and witty, but it and my time were wasted by a self-interested political activist with an axe to grind.


Quote from: sasquatch
If you want your voice heard, then stand up and speak.

Couldn't agree more. Speaking is the volume at which things are heard and understood. Angry men tend to shout and close their ears.



Quote from: sasquatch
Buster stated "As someone who lives in a ward where my councillors are toothless simply because they are in the 'wrong' party and where I know that both they and I have little influence or recourse over any decision that SBC makes and how SBC spends my money." I would suggest you change your councillors then. The opposition of any ruling council has the ability to influence both policy and decisions made. The process is there, but I would guess neither of your councillors is prepared to try. In fact the public can do the same as the Scrutiny committees have meetings the public can attend and make suggestions or just question decisions. How many of you have attended any ?


This is true, but how many members of the public are even aware of them, when they are held and what is allowed/not allowed at them?  Can Geoff or someone write a 'Rough Guide' to attending council meetings, pleeeease?


Quote from: sasquatch
Democracy is alive and kicking but it is the lack of engagement from us the people that engenders apathy..

No. No it isn't. Democracy as we used to know it is now a weak and feeble thing. The electorate has been encouraged and coerced into apathy by 'Big Government' deciding to nanny the population and instructing us that it knows best.

Believe this or not, but it is with local councillors that the process of reversing the apathy trend must begin. Engagement from councillors must become an all-year, full-term thing and not something just to pay lip service to at election time.  I applaud councillors like Phil Young who do engage with people as themselves, even though it is sometimes an uncomfortable thing for them to do. I also applaud everyone who engages with the councillors and the forum that provides a venue for it all to happen.  Blogs and press release driven coverage of local politics aren't enough to kick start a renewed interest in democracy, direct and public 2 way engagement might be.

I'm not much of a sci fi fan, but in the paraphrased words of Babylon 5, "Forums like Talkswindon are our last best hope for democracy".



Offline sasquatch

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Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
« Reply #25 on: June 07, 2008, 05:56:04 PM »
Quote
I didn't vote for Rod Bluh because I live in a different ward and therefore couldn't. Likewise I can not vote him out if he does a bad job. He is not accountable to me in any way shape or form.  It's lucky for me that I think he's doing a reasonable job for a Tory.  I can vote against Anne Snelgrove

Did you get a vote for Gordon Brown ?

Didn't think so.
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Offline Terminatrix

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Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
« Reply #26 on: June 07, 2008, 06:22:34 PM »
 
 
Did you get a vote for Gordon Brown ?

Didn't think so.

No. He's not accountable to me either and if my MP were a Tory I would have absolutely no way of ever holding him to account. This is obviously similar to the 179,000 (approx) people in Swindon who can't hold Rod Bluh to account, me included.

Thanks for helping me illustrate this so aptly.  :)

Offline Buster

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Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
« Reply #27 on: June 07, 2008, 06:43:13 PM »
Quote
I didn't vote for Rod Bluh because I live in a different ward and therefore couldn't. Likewise I can not vote him out if he does a bad job. He is not accountable to me in any way shape or form.  It's lucky for me that I think he's doing a reasonable job for a Tory.  I can vote against Anne Snelgrove

Did you get a vote for Gordon Brown ?

Didn't think so.

Just because something's wrong at national level, it doesn't make it ok for it to be wrong at local level.

Sasquatch, Terminatrix has very eloquently responded to your post and echoed my own views in many ways.  I would, however, like to respond to your 'suggestion' that I should change my councillors.  How, exactly, do you propose that I do that?  I only have one vote.  Your suggestion is so simplistic that I fear you don't have a grasp on democratic processes.  You also assume that my political convictions are so shallow that I can switch allegiance with the drop of a hat.  I vote for the candidate I believe in, not the candidate of convenience. 

Simply following the crowd and voting for the party that holds power isn't exactly an intelligent way of using my democratic right.

So, Sasquatch, please enlighten me and when you've done that, please tell me why I should change my councillors when changing the political system could remove me from my quandary.

All I’m asking for is equal representation and full accountability for the people who make decisions and spend my money in my name.   Is that really too much to ask?


Offline komadori

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Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
« Reply #28 on: June 07, 2008, 06:52:06 PM »
In practice, an elected mayor would in most cases be from the same nest as the majority of the council, independent elected mayors being a relatively rare commodity. So the warm glow of direct accountability is unlikely to produce a different result in most cases from the current system of indirectly accountable council leaders. And mayors with more memorable personailities (seemingly one of the main achievements of direct election) do not necessarily make for better governance. To my mind direct election of mayors has tended to lead to too much emphasis on personality and not enough on ability.
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Offline Buster

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Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
« Reply #29 on: June 07, 2008, 07:01:16 PM »
In practice, an elected mayor would in most cases be from the same nest as the majority of the council, independent elected mayors being a relatively rare commodity.

This may be the case, but in my view it's better to have a leader/Mayor that has been chosen by, and has a mandate from, the entire electorate than through a series of back scratching sessions behind closed doors at their party's HQ.

So the warm glow of direct accountability is unlikely to produce a different result in most cases from the current system of indirectly accountable council leaders. And mayors with more memorable personailities (seemingly one of the main achievements of direct election) do not necessarily make for better governance. To my mind direct election of mayors has tended to lead to too much emphasis on personality and not enough on ability.

To me the fact that the result may be a mayor in the form of  the same individual as the unelected leader is beside the point, it's the fact that they become accountable to all that matters.   

To my mind direct election of mayors has tended to lead to too much emphasis on personality and not enough on ability.

Fair comment, but at least you would have the chance to pass a verdict on this.

Offline komadori

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Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
« Reply #30 on: June 07, 2008, 11:37:05 PM »
To my mind direct election of mayors has tended to lead to too much emphasis on personality and not enough on ability.

Fair comment, but at least you would have the chance to pass a verdict on this.


Only by delivering a spoilt ballot paper. When all sides are putting forward candidates on the basis of personality rather than ability, as seems to be the way in many towns with directly elected mayors, the ultimate outcome is poorer governance.
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Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
« Reply #31 on: June 08, 2008, 12:17:23 AM »
 
at least you would have the chance to pass a verdict on this.

Only by delivering a spoilt ballot paper.

Good points.

The inclusion of a 'None Of The Above' option on all ballot papers is one possible way for the electorate to register a negative opinion on the current electoral system and/or choice of candidates.

Until a 'None Of The Above' option is available we'll keep hearing different versions of what the 'silent majority' actually mean by not voting.

Offline Alligator

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Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
« Reply #32 on: June 08, 2008, 10:25:13 AM »
Just taking a slightly different tack on this discussion, it strikes me that some (not all) of the people posting on here who support the status quo are probably coming from the view of supporting the current party in power in Swindon.

If so then I have to say it's a shame as this would be a rather shortsighted approach.

If we look at the pattern of local elections, they have historically followed a trend where the party of opposition at a national level does well at local level, especially at times when the government is unpopular. You could seen this in the early/mid 90s when the tories were unpopular nationally, Labour in Swindon had a larger Labour influence/control of the council.

Assuming this trend continues and considering that, under the current system, local elections are one of the very few opportunities the people have to pass judgement on the government, I think it will, it's entirely feasible that in 5-10 years, when we may have a tory government, who will find themselves making unpopular choices and becoming unpopular across the country, many of the tory councillors may just find themselves in a minority in the chamber where their wards are fighting a battle to be heard. 

The knock on effect being members of those wards still with tory councillors will find themselves in the position that Buster describes him/herself as being in today.  One of being dienfranchised and where decisions that affect their immediate neighbourhood are taken by people who were elected by people from the other side of Swindon.

This discussion shouldn't be about which party you vote for, or changing your councillors as Sasquatch suggested, it's not even about bringing a change to the current political landscape of Swindon, it's about all people in all wards being given the equitable right to determine which administration governs Swindon, to pass judgement on that administration and for that administration to have a clear line of accountability to all. 

Anyone politician who finds that concept too threatening and not worthy of  being explored further and put to a poll of the people, would, in my opinion, be unsuitable for their job as they clearly have a problem with the concept of democracy.   

Perhaps that's why no local councillors have contibuted to this thread  :-\

Offline Alligator

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Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
« Reply #33 on: June 08, 2008, 10:52:02 AM »

at least you would have the chance to pass a verdict on this.

Only by delivering a spoilt ballot paper.

Good points.

The inclusion of a 'None Of The Above' option on all ballot papers is one possible way for the electorate to register a negative opinion on the current electoral system and/or choice of candidates.

Until a 'None Of The Above' option is available we'll keep hearing different versions of what the 'silent majority' actually mean by not voting.

This is a very good point, but sadly I can't see it happening, however it has occurred to me that it would be interesting to see what would happen if someone was to propose a 'paper' candiate at the next local election with the slogan 'NONE OF THE ABOVE'.  They wouldn't even need to do much campaigning, just ensure that people knew their only purpose was to provide an opportunity for them to register their dissatisfaction with the current system.

Offline swindonlad

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Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
« Reply #34 on: June 08, 2008, 11:08:35 AM »
Just taking a slightly different tack on this discussion, it strikes me that some (not all) of the people posting on here who support the status quo are probably coming from the view of supporting the current party in power in Swindon.

If so then I have to say it's a shame as this would be a rather shortsighted approach.

the one example i gave of mayor's being better than a council (stoke) has a labour mayor, but, for reasons which are (currently) not applicable in swindon - nor even at any time i can remember.

Quote
If we look at the pattern of local elections, they have historically followed a trend where the party of opposition at a national level does well at local level, especially at times when the government is unpopular. You could seen this in the early/mid 90s when the tories were unpopular nationally, Labour in Swindon had a larger Labour influence/control of the council.

rumours abound of all out elections in swindon (prob 2010) with a 4 yearly cycle.  can see the 2010s being good for the tories. if the election was held on the same day as the general then some of the more marginal wards could swing back to labour as there will be a number of labour voters who do not bother to vote locally, but will make the effort in a general election.  expect the tories to win the 2010 general election & so the 2014s could be the good for labour as the labour voters start turning up to vote again at local elections.  [now i have a real problem with the 4 yearly all outs, as we have in local councils in london & wales].

Quote
Assuming this trend continues and considering that, under the current system, local elections are one of the very few opportunities the people have to pass judgement on the government,

 one of the reasons i don't like 4 yearly all out local election cycles

Quote
I think it will, it's entirely feasible that in 5-10 years, when we may have a tory government, who will find themselves making unpopular choices and becoming unpopular across the country, many of the tory councillors may just find themselves in a minority in the chamber where their wards are fighting a battle to be heard. 

The knock on effect being members of those wards still with tory councillors will find themselves in the position that Buster describes him/herself as being in today.  One of being dienfranchised and where decisions that affect their immediate neighbourhood are taken by people who were elected by people from the other side of Swindon.

i that was the case in the '90s for the tory & lib dem wards, having talked to numerous of the cllrs from those parties.

Quote
This discussion shouldn't be about which party you vote for, or changing your councillors as Sasquatch suggested, it's not even about bringing a change to the current political landscape of Swindon, it's about all people in all wards being given the equitable right to determine which administration governs Swindon, to pass judgement on that administration and for that administration to have a clear line of accountability to all. 

Anyone politician who finds that concept too threatening and not worthy of  being explored further and put to a poll of the people, would, in my opinion, be unsuitable for their job as they clearly have a problem with the concept of democracy.   

Perhaps that's why no local councillors have contibuted to this thread  :-\

I have tried to keep it non-party political, but would suspect that a cross borough election would favour the tories as, in general, their safer wards have historiacally higher turnouts than labour (e.g. highest t/os at the last elections ridgeway & old town & laws) - although there are exceptions as abbey meads has the lowest turn out.  so, in close run elections this differential turnout will make the difference

Offline Alligator

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Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
« Reply #35 on: June 08, 2008, 11:30:44 AM »
rumours abound of all out elections in swindon (prob 2010) with a 4 yearly cycle.  can see the 2010s being good for the tories. if the election was held on the same day as the general then some of the more marginal wards could swing back to labour as there will be a number of labour voters who do not bother to vote locally, but will make the effort in a general election.  expect the tories to win the 2010 general election & so the 2014s could be the good for labour as the labour voters start turning up to vote again at local elections.  [now i have a real problem with the 4 yearly all outs, as we have in local councils in london & wales].

I must admit that I'm on the fence on this one, but may possibly have a very slight leaning towards your view.

One possible cause of low turnout may be the fact that the electorate don't see the elections as making any difference to the make up of the overall council, therefore ask why they would bother to vote.  The flip side of this though would be that by holding elections annually (or 3 out of 4 years) means that there's a good chance that the make up of the political landscape in each ward, and therefore the overall council chamber, better reflects the public mood and changing events, rather than the public mood and events as viewed a few years previously.

Either way, I don't see that the use of 'all out' elections or the current rolling model of annual elections doesn't necessarily have to change simply because you have an elected mayor.

I have tried to keep it non-party political, but would suspect that a cross borough election would favour the tories as, in general, their safer wards have historiacally higher turnouts than labour (e.g. highest t/os at the last elections ridgeway & old town & laws) - although there are exceptions as abbey meads has the lowest turn out.  so, in close run elections this differential turnout will make the difference

That may well be the case, my argument on this isn't about who gets the votes, it's about who get to vote and on what they get to vote on.

Offline komadori

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Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
« Reply #36 on: June 08, 2008, 03:03:27 PM »
Just taking a slightly different tack on this discussion, it strikes me that some (not all) of the people posting on here who support the status quo are probably coming from the view of supporting the current party in power in Swindon.

If so then I have to say it's a shame as this would be a rather shortsighted approach.

Whilst I do, on many things, support the current administration, that is not my reason for supporting the status quo. To my mind the current system allows for quicker removal of poor leaders (because their fellow councillors might remove them), of either nest, than a system with directly-elected mayors. Note that by 'poor' I mean lacking in ability rather than being of a political opinion that I dislike.

This discussion shouldn't be about which party you vote for, or changing your councillors as Sasquatch suggested, it's not even about bringing a change to the current political landscape of Swindon, it's about all people in all wards being given the equitable right to determine which administration governs Swindon, to pass judgement on that administration and for that administration to have a clear line of accountability to all. 

This raises an important point because the mayor, of themself, is not the administration. Depending on what model is used, they either have to continue to rely on the cabinet, or to appoint others (possibly unelected) to perform the functions currently divvied out amongst the cabinet. Thus although the mayor may be directly accountable, the others with significant responsibility within the administration either have the same or less accountability than with the current system... unless you also take the route of directly electing all the cabinet members too.
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Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
« Reply #37 on: June 08, 2008, 05:14:16 PM »
This discussion shouldn't be about which party you vote for, or changing your councillors as Sasquatch suggested, it's not even about bringing a change to the current political landscape of Swindon, it's about all people in all wards being given the equitable right to determine which administration governs Swindon, to pass judgement on that administration and for that administration to have a clear line of accountability to all. 

This raises an important point because the mayor, of themself, is not the administration. Depending on what model is used, they either have to continue to rely on the cabinet, or to appoint others (possibly unelected) to perform the functions currently divvied out amongst the cabinet. Thus although the mayor may be directly accountable, the others with significant responsibility within the administration either have the same or less accountability than with the current system... unless you also take the route of directly electing all the cabinet members too.

Komadori you've rightly touched upon a key point where the absence of a detailed proposal hinders discussion.  In my view, 'cabinet' members appointed by an elected mayor is preferential to cabinet members appointed by an unelected leader.  Therefore if we moved to an elected mayor, I think I'd prefer to see a model where the mayor appoints his/her own team rather than the election of the whole team.  Not only would this mean that any independent candidates, who may have a sound vision for Swindon, but not the benefit of a party machine have the same chance of being elected as those from the parties who would, afterall, probably find it easier to pull together a team which is very likely to be from their own party.

The other benefit of this approach is that the mayor then holds direct responsibility for the make up of the team, they can then decide whether to appoint on merit or on politicial allegience and can work to balance the skill set of the team, whatever way they go, the accountability for their choice and the actions of their team members doesn't diminish and they can hire and fire team members to suit their needs.

I'd also like to see councillors and cabinet posts being independent of each other in that you couldn't be both a councillor and a cabinet member.  The role of the councillors would be a vital part of scrutiny of the mayor's team's actions and proposals so a clear line would be needed.  This would also ensure that each ward retains it's fair representation in the council.

In terms of removing a 'poor' mayor, this is a difficult point and whatever the model will probably be a very slow process.  It's a sad fact of party politics that you can't honestly expect a party to do the right thing by their town and depose their own poor mayor as they'd most likely take the view that a poor mayor from their nest is better than any mayor from another nest. However, it would still be nice to think that this was possible.  I think that councillors being given the right, under certain conditins, to seek a vote of confidence in the mayor would help bring about change if it were needed.

Offline swindonlinkman

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Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
« Reply #38 on: June 09, 2008, 05:55:05 PM »
Out of the loop for a couple of days. Great to see the issue is buzzing.

There seems to be concern about the research underpinning the Institute of Public Policy Reserch report on elected mayor's. The Audit Commission's measure of how local authorities perform was considered in the report which says:

'Evidence from the Comprehensive Performance Assessment (CPA) suggests that mayors have proved to be highly capable executive leaders. The latest CPA report praises North Tyneside, finding it to be one of the most improved councils in the country (Audit Commission 2008). Since the introduction of an elected mayor, Hackney has demonstrated sustained and continuous improvement, moving from its status as a 1-starauthority in 2005 to a 3-star one in 2007, while also being considered to be improving strongly – the top category in the ‘direction of travel’ assessment. Another
mayoral authority, Stoke-on-Trent, was also one of a tiny number to have moved up two grades in this exercise.

'Even Hartlepool’s mayor, Stuart Drummond, who achieved celebrity status for standing for election dressed as a monkey, has confounded sceptics. His election was widely considered as emblematic of how this system could open local government to mavericks or joke candidates. Since he threw away his costume, and proved willing to be tutored in the ways of local government management, his record of
achievement is commendable. He has coordinated policies that have led to a 20 per cent fall in crime, and overseen demonstrable improvements in education and social service provision (Randle 2004).

'In its last CPA review, Hartlepool was judged to be one of the top-performing authorities in the country, achieving a 4-star (‘excellent’) rating. Drummond was subsequently re-elected with a massively
increased majority. He was even a finalist for the title of ‘world mayor’ for 2005.'

So the monkey has managed to boost his town to a 4 star rating whilst Swindon has been stuck on two stars for the last two years. from the report:
'This is not to suggest that mayor-led authorities always outperform their counterparts, nor to imply that these leaders themselves are, in every case, responsible for the various achievements of their councils. But there is a considerable body of evidence to support the contention that mayors have enhanced and overseen improvements in local authority performance.'

Look at the table in the report and in pretty much every measure of local opinion across a range of 'stakeholders' there is greater satisfaction in town's with elected mayors compared with those without.

Another section in the IPPR report was this:
'Given the compelling evidence in favour of mayors, it is worth asking why we have so few of them. Following the Local Government Act of 2000, which forced authorities to choose between different executive arrangements, just three per cent (12 local authority mayors, plus the Mayor of London) opted for elected mayors. The main reasons for such a low take-up were, firstly, that, with a few exceptions, local political elites (across all parties) were actively opposed to them, and, secondly, the process of implementation attached to this policy was flawed. Indeed these factors are intimately linked. A highly cautious Labour government was reluctant to override the strongly negative feelings of local parties on this issue.'

So how do we move forward? We've been discussing this idea for a bit and the post has had 300 plus views, but many contributors say it's all hypothetical. It doesn't have to be. For those who want to find out more and consider elected mayors as a practical move for Swindon, check out the New Local Government Network at: http://www.nlgn.org.uk
and specifically http://www.nlgn.org.uk/public/elected-mayors/mayoral-briefing

Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
« Reply #39 on: June 10, 2008, 12:08:51 PM »

Thanks for the nlgn link, very informative.

Presumably most, if not all local councillors, are all aware that the choice of Mayor+Cabinet executive and Leader+cabinet executive and the framework of power and responsibility have been in existent since the Local Government Act 2000 passed into law yet most of the ones I've spoken to about this have either been vague in their responses or foaming at the mouth and rabidly anti Mayor+cabinet.

None of them have ever mentioned the Mayor and council manager executive.

I'm going to spend some time reading more on this, I hope others will too


Quote
11. -

(1) The executive of a local authority must take one of the forms specified in subsections (2) to (5).


(2) It may consist of-
(a) an elected mayor of the authority, and
(b) two or more councillors of the authority appointed to the executive by the elected mayor.
Such an executive is referred to in this Part as a mayor and cabinet executive.


(3) It may consist of-
(a) a councillor of the authority (referred to in this Part as the executive leader) elected as leader of the executive by the authority, and
(b) two or more councillors of the authority appointed to the executive by one of the following-
(i) the executive leader, or
(ii) the authority.
Such an executive is referred to in this Part as a leader and cabinet executive.


(4) It may consist of-
(a) an elected mayor of the authority, and
(b) an officer of the authority (referred to in this Part as the council manager) appointed to the executive by the authority.
Such an executive is referred to in this Part as a mayor and council manager executive.


(8) The number of members of a mayor and cabinet executive or a leader and cabinet executive may not exceed 10.



SLM says:

Quote
So how do we move forward? We've been discussing this idea for a bit and the post has had 300 plus views



It's early days for the topic and the thread probably wants moving to Local Politics.

No local councillors have yet responded, which is in itself unusual.  I suspect the 'dread moment' is upon many of them as they realise that the cat is almost out of the bag regarding a rebalancing of of the accountability to the electorate equation.

I expect there's some furious buttock clenching going on.....and some will just be furious that we oiks are daring to discuss changing the rules to what they seem to regard as a private sóiree.