Author Topic: Local Media Coverage Of The Elected Mayor Referendum Petition  (Read 4062 times)

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Offline Geoff Reid

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Local Media Coverage Of The Elected Mayor Referendum Petition
« on: August 09, 2008, 03:06:28 PM »
 
 
A thread to record and discuss media comment and coverage of the Elected Mayor Referendum Petition.

Swindon Advertiser: Saturday 9th August 2008



Online version with comments here




Swindon Advertiser 19th September 2008


« Last Edit: October 03, 2008, 08:06:38 AM by Geoff Reid »



Offline Chav

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Re: Local Media Coverage Of The Elected Mayor Referendum Petition
« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2008, 09:51:07 PM »
Just two links................

http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/3616343.GCSE_maths_misery_for_academy/

                                  and

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/education/2616177/City-academies-to-take-over-primary-schools.html

And I know that a petiton of signatures of over 400 people who are against the Academy taking over Penhill Primary was handed in to SBC.
Will those 400 voices be heard ?

Well I suppose the proof will be in the outcome.........................need I say more  :-X

                                                Chav  :angel:
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Offline Tobes

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Re: Local Media Coverage Of The Elected Mayor Referendum Petition
« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2008, 10:08:30 PM »
and some more today...

http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/3694076.Elected_mayor_bid_gets_backing/



« Last Edit: October 03, 2008, 08:01:49 AM by Geoff Reid »
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Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: Local Media Coverage Of The Elected Mayor Referendum Petition
« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2008, 11:13:01 AM »
The first paragraph illustrates just how poor some journalist's, (and therefore by default most members of the public), understanding of the local council actually is.

Elected Mayors don't have a significantly different amount of 'power' than the current politically appointed leader has, so to say that the debate is about 'putting power into the hands of one person' is misleading and demonstrates a startling ignorance of the subject matter being reported on.

On the other hand, this ignorance is actively encouraged by many of our elected councillors who are smugly repeating trite soundbites like: 'putting power into the hands of one person' wherever they can. They're not worried that it's untrue....just as long as it pushes the message they want the electorate to adsorb, i.e that an elected Mayor for Swindon would be bad, something to be frightened of and therefore let's "not waste our valuable time discussing the issue".

Hmmm, are we seeing the edges of the Euclid Street carpets being gently lifted and a broom being brought into the chamber again?  I certainly think so, although I'm not overly bothered.....because if tomorrows 'debate' proves to be the box-ticking exercise I think it will be, nothing will have changed regarding the position of those of us who hold a genuinely pro-debate & pro-local referendum position because, to a large extent, the involvement of local politicians at this stage only serves to highlight that their interest is in fact self-interest, and that they're not particularly interested in the real debate: which is how an elected Mayor could benefit us, the electorate.

I can't help but noticing that Stan Pajak hasn't actually signed the referendum petition himself....

...and neither have any of his colleagues, despite having made very supportive blogging noises about elected Mayors in the past.

Don't take my word for it, have a look at the signatures pages by clicking here

I doubt I'll bother wandering along to Euclid street for tomorrows 'debate', it's likely to be a fairly predictable party political gang-bang and even though part of me would like to support Councillor Pajaks motion, I'm minded that he hasn't actually supported the growing number of petition signatories who want a public, genuine and protracted discussion about elected Mayors.

It will take a lot more than 10 minutes of Councillors time in the Chamber to properly examine why the subject was previously voted on, but not debated in 2001, and I for one, have no faith that party-politically inspired self-interest and herd instinct will ever produce a debate within the chamber which will genuinely represent the views and concerns of Swindon's electorate or honestly answer it's many questions.

As far as our councillors are concerned, this issue will be brushed back under the carpet tomorrow evening and they'll rattle through the agenda as fast as possible, (as usual), before bolting out of the chamber as fast as their legs will carry them.

As far as I'm concerned, this has always been a slow-burning public realm issue.  Councillors may think it's been dealt with properly, (this time), after a 10 minute waffling session in the council chamber, but I think they'll be proved wrong, again.
 

North Swindon MP Michael Wills shares his views on elected Mayors    



« Last Edit: October 03, 2008, 08:08:28 AM by Geoff Reid »

Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: Local Media Coverage Of The Elected Mayor Referendum Petition
« Reply #4 on: October 03, 2008, 08:03:33 AM »
Swindon Advertiser: 25th September 2008

 
Rod Bluh says this in his weekly adver column:

[float=left][/float] No surprises here then.

Although it's patently obvious from Swindonlinkman's post above that Councillor Pajak's new motion is intended to seek support for a referendum which would allow the Swindon electorate to express a preference for the type of leadership it thinks Swindon Borough Council, and therefore they, the voters should have....I'm left with the impression that Rod & Co have decided that, as far as the council is concerned, they will decide the issue on our behalf again this evening.

As much as Rod and his colleagues might like to settle this definitively at tonight's council, it is not actually within their power to do so. The Local Government Act empowers Swindons voters to make this choice regardless of the obstacles, spin and rhetoric the party politicists place in their way.

I'll repeat this again, (and will do so as many times as needed): Those of us who are campaigning for a referendum on the issue are doing so because the voters of Swindon have already been unfairly denied the opportunity to make this choice in 2001.  What we wish to encourage is an informed debate which begins with an examination of the process by which Cllr's Mike Bawden, Sue Bates and Mike Evemy managed to change the councils own constitution without a council debate.

It is possible that our council is operating a leadership model for which it has no proper or fair mandate.  It is possible that, at some future point, we could ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to review the councils 2001 decision, but at this point we would much prefer that our Councillors take an honest and in-depth look at the councils past actions, and admit that what happened was simply wrong, unfair and did not best serve local democracy in Swindon.

Unfortunately, what we are seeing from our elected representatives is a flat refusal to discuss the 2001 events and an unseemly political scramble to rush past any discussion of them. Put simply, I think they believe that they can adopt a central-government attitude of ignoring inconvenient truths and weaving a defensive blanket out of half-truths and moody statistics, none of which counter the basic and central truth that this issue is wholly owned by the electorate and it is they, the electorate who will decide whether to debate, vote on and adopt, or not, an Elected Mayor.

Politicians are quick enough to beat a path to your doorstep and your vote at election times but, where matters of democracy are concerned they remain remarkably reluctant to listen or talk to you for the next four years. Fair enough, this is one situation where democracy and law empowers voters to act unilaterally.

Anyway, to Rods article....

I like Rod and I have great respect for him as a person, but as a politician he's begining to sound increasingly flatulent, nervously so.

He is quite right to request we divorce BoJo from any discussion of Elected Mayors. Boris is the Mayor of an administrative region, not a town, and as such is an irrelevance to us, albeit an amusing one.

Rod's reference to Swindon town football club is totally lost on me and using the resurgent Swindon Speed Camera debate as an indication that local Councillors are more 'media worthy' than Elected Mayors is a piece of spin so flimsy that even Alistair Campbell would cringe at it. TS readers will probably recall that when Cllr's Peter Greenhalgh and Andy James first raised the possibility of withdrawing from the Wiltshire Safety Camera Partnership the story was 'done to death' locally, but nationally speaking it completely flopped.

It was, I suggest, a dramatic 'own goal' by South Swindon MP Anne Snelgrove which catapulted the story into eye of the national media.  Anne thought it would be a decently heavy stick to beat the Tory councillors with, ('Playing Politics With People Lives' was her central theme), and the media lapped it up.  She seems to have lost the argument, but the fact remains that it was an MP's involvement that grabbed the media's attention, not a West Swindon local councillor.  Peter became, using his own words, 'a bit embarrassed'.  A reluctant hero perhaps, but to describe this as what a  'powerful force local politicians can be', is stretching it Rod.  Annie miscalculated and the local Tories reaped the unexpected media exposure of an unplanned but lucky break, end of.

Rod also asserts that it's a short hop from being 'resolute' to becoming dictatorial. Maybe so, but he then tries to underpin this assertion by highlighting the 'danger' of a 'powerful' Elected Mayor serving a four year term of public service, during which the other councillors can't remove him, or her, from office.  There are several problems with this argument, (not least of which is that Rod also argues that the Government hasn't given elected Mayors enough powers!).

Rod inadvertently but starkly illustrates how 'accountability' means a very different different thing to politicians than it does to voters. Voters want their leaders to be accountable to them, not their party political colleagues.  Politicians think being accountable to their colleagues makes them accountable to the entire electorate. It obviously doesn't, but that won't stop them claiming that it does.

When a council leader or cabinet member says they are 'accountable' to the town, what this actually means is that they are accountable to their party political colleagues. It is they who appoint and remove each other from a leader or cabinet position, not the electorate.  If they behave in such a way that the electorate wish to remove them, they must wait until the next election to do so, and even then only the voters of the single ward which voted for them can remove them. Is this accountable to the entire town?, it plainly isn't.  It's worth noting that local councillors also serve four year terms, during which the electorate can't remove them either.

Our Members of Parliament, Anne Snelgrove and Michael Wills....both elected for four year terms, hold considerably more power than either the leader of the council or an elected mayor, neither is, or can be held accountable by the entire town until a general election is called....but we're hearing no complaint about the power they hold or the length of their terms from Rod...despite the fact that most of his cabinet privately agree that one of them crossed the line from resolute to dictatorial a long time back......so no, I don't think the 'Four Year Term' argument works from the point of view of the average voter, although it's obviously an attractive one from a party-political and self-interested perspective.

Rod has a friend who is doing a thesis on elected Mayors and I'm assuming that this friend is the source for many of the statistics Rod has produced.   I haven't checked Rods figures because, as is popularly accepted, statistics can be presented in many different ways to suit many different arguments...which makes me think of Benjamin Disraeli's famous quote:  'There's Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics', (later popularised by Mark Twain).

What I will suggest is that a smoke screen of figures is being laid down to support x, y and z arguments, but what isn't being acknowledged here, and what Rod won't want to admit, is that Councils can, (and already have done), change their constitutions in multiple ways to accomodate a new leadership structure, including the length of term an elected mayor would serve. Rods attempt to focus readers minds on 'four years' is a hopeful but transparent piece of spin which is utterly derailed by all the other instances of public servants serving four year terms in office which he, and his colleagues, apparently find quite acceptable. When it suits eh?

This is nice...

Quote from: Rod Bluh
My core belief is in strong, representative local self-government and I believe that is best guaranteed by the present system.'


...and I believe that Rod does actually believe this, and while Rod is leader of the council I'm sure he'll do a good job, but, let's not forget that it was also the current leadership system that saw Labour leader Sue Bates and her cabinet run the Borough into the ground....a leadership system that Rods political predecessor, along with Labours Sue Bates and Liberal Democrat Mike Evemy decided, (in the face of considerable evidence that it was not the leadership model the public actually wanted), would be adopted by Swindon Borough Council because it was what they, as leaders of the three political parties wanted.....and they pulled it off!, with no discussion and no debate. 

Rod might be doing a reasonable job now, but Bates didn't. What about Rods successor....will they?

The current system does not offer the guarantees Rod suggests and the current system does not enable every voter in the Borough to hold the leader individually accountable.

We'll see what happens at tonight's council but I can already hear the sound of a civic carpet being lifted and brush removed from a cleaning cupboard.....

...so what I'd like to start thinking seriously about is inviting Elected Mayors from other towns to come to Swindon and discuss their experiences.  I'm interested in hearing Mayor Ray 'Robo Cop' Mallon explain how he has cut crime in Middlesborough by over 25% since he was elected....

...and how Mayor Stuart 'Hangus The Monkey' Drummond has enabled crime to be cut by over 20% in Hartlepool and whose local schools have just delivered their best ever exam results.

I don't have Swindons crime and educational figures to hand, but has Rod achieved comparable results in Swindon?, if he has it will make for a very interesting public debate, but if he hasn't.....

   



Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: Local Media Coverage Of The Elected Mayor Referendum Petition
« Reply #5 on: October 03, 2008, 08:04:41 AM »

Swindon Advertiser 26th Septemeber 2008





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Re: Local Media Coverage Of The Elected Mayor Referendum Petition
« Reply #6 on: October 03, 2008, 08:15:36 AM »
Swindon Advertiser 1st October 2008


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Re: Local Media Coverage Of The Elected Mayor Referendum Petition
« Reply #7 on: October 03, 2008, 08:16:43 AM »

Swindon Advertiser 1st October 2008


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Re: Local Media Coverage Of The Elected Mayor Referendum Petition
« Reply #8 on: October 03, 2008, 10:15:02 AM »
So we see Councillor Bluh, the man who stands to lose the most if Swindon vote for an elected Mayor, urges we speak with the Councils legal officer. On line petitions apparently are not legal. Whilst he is probably right, why then do HMG bother having them, is this a ruse to make the people feel they have a real say. Why can elections be held on line, if as Councillor Bluh is implying they are open to abuse.

If SBC felt that way, why did they agree to pilot on line elections, I think a drowning leader is clutching at straws. Legal or otherwise both the hard copy and the on line petition will give an indicator of the feeling of the people of Swindon. He must surely know that his leader claims to want greater democracy, even saying he will make a European manifesto pledge to have a Referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, but draws back from a commitment at a general election, wonder why that could be.?

Now I know Rod doesn't have a lot of time for his National Leader but surely as a Local Councillor he believes in local democracy, not self serving autocracy.

Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: Local Media Coverage Of The Elected Mayor Referendum Petition
« Reply #9 on: October 13, 2008, 04:06:10 PM »
I've been trying to follow Councillor Bluh's advice regarding the Borough Solicitor for the past four months.

Anyone like to take a stab at guessing how much further forward I am than I was four months ago ?


For anyone else that's considering following Rods advice I would suggest that having a root canal done would be a better use of your time  :)

Rest assured, I will publish the Borough Solicitors advice...... if and when he gives it.

At the conclusion of our last flurry of communications he promised:

Quote from: The Borough Solicitor
"I will respond next week on the wording and form of the petition when I have checked the relevant statutory regulations relating to mayoral petitions."

Anyone like to take a stab at whether I heard from him last week...or not ?





Offline Mart

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Re: Local Media Coverage Of The Elected Mayor Referendum Petition
« Reply #10 on: October 13, 2008, 09:07:16 PM »
Shortly after The Palace phoned and said 'Due to a quite unfortunate series of 38,041,017 accidents in the workplace today, we would like to know when you will be available for your Coronation Your Majesty?'

I'm telling you they have a stonewall policy.
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.