Talkswindon

Politics: Swindon & Westminster => A Directly Elected Leader For Swindon? => Topic started by: swindonlinkman on June 04, 2008, 12:04:38 PM

Title: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: swindonlinkman on June 04, 2008, 12:04:38 PM
This article appeared in the June edition of Swindon Link magazine and also at www.swindonlink.com (http://www.swindonlink.com). What are your views on the questions posed?
 
 
(http://www.talkswindon.org/politics/council/mayors/Boris_Johnson.jpg)


Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Why can’t the people be asked - at least - if they want an elected mayor?


Swindonians are not able to choose the person who runs the town because Swindon Council’s affairs are in the hands of a collection of councillors from one party which controls the seats around the cabinet table, jockeying for position and pulling the strings of power.

In April the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) published a report looking at the success of elected mayors since they were introduced eight years ago, suggesting that Central Government force local councils to put the idea before the electorate.

Yet we’ve been here before. The June 2001 Link was the only local media that highlighted the idea. But the then Labour controlled council’s consultation on having elected mayors, as required by government, was half hearted and distinctly biased. The exercise was shrouded in secrecy and was designed to preserve the status quo.

However the experience in the 13 towns which have opted for an elected mayor has been positive, even though the media latched onto ‘Robocop’ in Middlesborough and Hangus the local football club mascot who got himself elected in Hartlepool. The IPPR says that providing a name and a face to the actions of a council has provided more accountability to local leadership. There is also evidence that elected mayors have overseen important improvements in council performance.

In 2001 Martha Parry of the New Mechanics’ Trust told The Link that, having grown up in Cleveland, USA, she supported the idea of an elected mayor. She would still like a referendum on the matter. “At present you vote in each ward for a councillor and the party with the most form the cabinet. People become more engaged in civic affairs if there is a named person elected to take responsibility for council matters, somebody who has to stand or fall on their record of serving the whole community.

“You have to wonder why Swindon has remained a two star council for the last three years, one of 17 local authorities stuck at that level.”

North Swindon MP Michael Wills said he’s keen for Swindon Council to again look at having an elected mayor and considers a referendum. “The IPPR report spells out that elected mayors could help give a stronger personality to politics in the town and offer more authority and accountability to the council.”

Under legislation 5 per cent of the population (approx 9,0000 names) is needed to force a referendum on the question.

• The IPPR press release can be found at: http://www.ippr.org/articles/?id=3143 (http://www.ippr.org/articles/?id=3143)


*admins note: attachment moved to permanent folder and inserted at head of post. Dougal
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: Alligator on June 04, 2008, 12:37:19 PM
I'm generally in favour of the idea of an elected mayor, but so far I've struggled to see any attempt to address the question of what would the people of Swindon be asked to vote on?

Voting for the concept of an elected mayor is one thing, but for the vote to really count, we'd need to know what remit they have, what power they hold over the council chamber and what budget they control.  I don't see how 'a name and a face to the actions of a council' is enough for people to get excited about.

Without knowing details of the role and its authority to act, I don't see how anyone can expect the public to vote.

If we're talking about a firgurehead then the role is pretty pointless, it's no more than a bloke (or woman) in a dress and big necklace who opens school fayres.  Personally I wouldn't waste my time voting for one of them.

If the role had control over, and tax raising powers for, a number of services such as policing, regeneration and development, planning, roads etc, then it would make for an interesting political scene.

I also don't take much from the apparent support from Michael Wills either. Based on past experience of him and his mate in Swindon South, he'd really only be supportive is it meant another position to be occupied by some mindless drone churned out by the spin machine in the Labour party's central orifice.  Someone willing to act as their representative in Swindon and to do what Gordon tells them.   
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: Tobes on June 04, 2008, 01:23:28 PM
I think my view would entirely depend upon the author (apparently unnamed?) of the piece. I don't know enough about the Swindonlink mag or its objectives and alegiences to make a suitably cynically informed decision as to what I think. Suffice to say that if a seven year old story crops back up and features a quote from Michael Wills, I'm tempted to wrinkle my nose and wonder if the pong whiffs of PR.

In the meantime however, I'm inclined to say that an elected mayor sounds like a completely unessessary expense. A figurehead is just that. Give me an unelected mayor appointed by his/her peers over an extra bureaucratic layer any day. Do we really want or need a salaried 'Hangus The Monkey'? The real power in this town in terms of planning and investment lies in the hands of short termist developers. Pretending that Swindon is a city and needs to ape London (if you'll excuse the pun) is just another pretention and risks making us look daft. At least the residents of Hartlepool expressed what they thought of the joke on their ballot cards! (as have, apparently, the residents of London - twice)
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: swindonlad on June 04, 2008, 07:23:10 PM
i want to speak against this, as, i could see it go either the way of london & you get well known personalities fighting it out - ok, well known amongst the small % of swindon into politics - or you could go the way of hartlepool, do we really want a 'joke' candidate to win? (IIRC his 1 election promise was a banana for all school children & he failed to deliver that)

where it has come in & worked is where the local council has totally broken down, stoke-on-trent.  if you think swindon has issues, this is nothing on stoke! http://www.stoke.gov.uk/ccm/content/csec/ds/stoke-on-trent-governance-commission---final-report.en (http://www.stoke.gov.uk/ccm/content/csec/ds/stoke-on-trent-governance-commission---final-report.en) but, we are not in the same league as stoke

as for what he does - according to stoke's website
Quote
The Elected Mayor gives overall direction to the council and is a principal spokesperson on the council's behalf. Working together with the Chief Executive the Elected Mayor proposes the Policy Framework.
  he also chair's the 'Executive and Members Board' (their version of a cabinet)
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: Buster on June 04, 2008, 08:54:17 PM
I don't know that an elected mayor would necessarily be seen as a way of overcoming shortcomings of a council's performance as this will change over time.  As I see it, it's more about changing the current political system, which is in need of an overhaul.

In the absence of any detailed proposal of what an elected mayor would look like and what they could do, we'd  all be discussing a very hypothetical idea and I think it's reasonable that people will have differing views depending on the parameters of the role. However, with careful thought, it may be a solution to the shortcomings of the current system.

The current system of voting for councillors and where the largest group forms an administration and a cabinet to oversee policy for the whole town does have its problems.  The upside of this is that it helps form a solid identity for the party in power as well as the basis for a robust opposition, but it is a structure that lends itself to party politics and not necessarily equal representation for all wards.  This is mirrored within the political system at the national level also.

However I think this structure would really start to fall a part if there was no overall majority or numerous parties of equal size represented in the one council chamber.  In this scenario the tribal mentality of many politicians means that they would quickly resort to blaming others for their collective inaction and failings, whilst all trying to take the credit for any populist decisions.

Bluntly putting the current system into a Swindon perspective, we have 59 councillors who all have a seat on various committees, meanwhile the 41 of them from the largest party have real influence over decisions and a smaller number of that 41 make up the cabinet and actually make the decisions.  The other 18 councillors are left with very little to do but shout, point the finger, stamp their feet and say 'I told you so' then things go wrong.

If you look at Central and Eastcott, both wards are wholly represented by Labour and the Lib Dems respectively and therefore cabinet level decisions and policies directly affecting these wards, such as wheelie bins and the town centre redevelopment, are made by councillors of other wards. Councillors who we can assume are only concerned with the opinions of their own ward members who ultimately decide if they keep their job.  It's worth asking if the people of Phil Young's ward would want a steel phalus on their doorstep? if they didn't, what would Phil reaction to this proposal be?

My point would therefore be that I don't believe all wards have effective and equal representation within the current system.  Imho, a political system based on the mathematics of the chamber and which serves party politics is part of the problem of disenchantment with politicians and the political process.

Introducing a politician with suitable influence and who is answerable to ALL residents in equal measure may just help to redress the imbalance.
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: komadori on June 04, 2008, 11:50:23 PM

Introducing a politician with suitable influence and who is answerable to ALL residents in equal measure may just help to redress the imbalance.


Yes, but... the problem with the current system is that, if you are in a ward represented by a party not in power, your representatives effectively have little or no influence. BThe problem with having an elected mayor is that all councillors effectively have no influence over those issues which mayour has authority to decide. Within our current system, the leader of the council, currently Mr Bluh already seems to have a lot of influence. I'm not sure that adding to that would necessarily make for better governance. An elected mayor is a significant concentration of power into one person: fine if you agree with that particuler individual's views; a disaster if you do not.
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: Buster on June 05, 2008, 09:39:39 AM

Introducing a politician with suitable influence and who is answerable to ALL residents in equal measure may just help to redress the imbalance.


Yes, but... the problem with the current system is that, if you are in a ward represented by a party not in power, your representatives effectively have little or no influence.

This was exactly the point I was making in my post.


BThe problem with having an elected mayor is that all councillors effectively have no influence over those issues which mayour has authority to decide. Within our current system, the leader of the council, currently Mr Bluh already seems to have a lot of influence. I'm not sure that adding to that would necessarily make for better governance. An elected mayor is a significant concentration of power into one person: fine if you agree with that particuler individual's views; a disaster if you do not.

But if you take the view that Mr Bluh has significant influence under a system where he is elected by the party representatives of only a part of the town, then that concentration of influence is even less justified than it would be had all people been able to have a say in his selection for the post.  Why should the people of wards whose councollors aren't in power have a council leader with a high concentration of influence imposed on them with no recourse?  If Bluh does a bad job, what can the people of Central and Eastcott, or any other ward in the same political wilderness, do to get him removed?  If you live elsewhere, where your councillor is in the party of power, at least you can let them know that their political future rests on them changing the leader.

The introduction of an elected mayor would inevitably mean that the powers of the mayor and the councillors would need to be reviewed, but the balance of power to make decisions and push them through and a body to scrutinise and oppose them would all need to be worked out.  As I said in my last post, this is where it gets hypothetical as there isn't even a firm proposal on an elected mayor.

I think it's safe to say that party policitical self interest will result in the current crop of tories politicians in Swindon opposing an elected mayor as their tribal mentality will mean that they're happy with the status quo and, if we were talking about an imminent election, then I dare say Labor would be opposed too, after all very few people seem willing to vote Labour at the moment so they'd rather have no mayor than one from an opposing party.

It's alsoa  safe et that they'll all continue to pay lip service to the views and needs of those disenfranchised voters of Swindon at election time, though if I recall correctly the tories broke way from this tradition and didn't even bother to go that far in Central during the recent elections.
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: construct on June 05, 2008, 09:55:50 AM
When they change the way the government is set up to reflect this - i.e. a directly elected prime minister then I'll vote for it in Swindon.

All the points made on this subject equally apply to national politics just look at the money that has been poured into the north of england (and scotland) to try and buy votes.

The last thing this town needs is another sue bates, kevin small or mike bawden in charge.

if it ain't broke don't fix it.

Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: Alan Hayward on June 05, 2008, 11:06:00 AM
The last thing this town needs is another sue bates, kevin small or mike bawden in charge.

Hear hear! Well said that man.

On this topic in general I am unsure of exactly what the model is in the case of Boris. Do they the power of veto over an assembly or are they more like the US president where they have certain areas of total responsibility? Can someone enlighten me?
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: Buster on June 05, 2008, 11:19:35 AM
When they change the way the government is set up to reflect this - i.e. a directly elected prime minister then I'll vote for it in Swindon.

All the points made on this subject equally apply to national politics just look at the money that has been poured into the north of england (and scotland) to try and buy votes.

I did acknowledge that the system is reflected at national level too, but I don't see that as a reason not to at least consider changing things locally.

if it ain't broke don't fix it.

That's the key point to the discussion.  To some people it is very much a broken system, to others it is not. 

None of this is helped by the fact that the concept of an elected mayor has been thrown out without much detail as to what it would mean for the overall structure of local politics.

Title: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: swindonlinkman on June 05, 2008, 05:10:55 PM
Another Sue Bates, Kevin Small or Mike Bawden? Swindon only get's what it votes for, or doesn't have the chance to vote for. 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. Yes, the system functions, but is it satisfactory and can it be made better. And should not the population be given a choice of the system they want to operate under? At present a minority of the population (is it about 20 per cent?) go out and vote to keep the system in place. And because the opportunity to learn about the alternatives has been suppressed by those who don't want to consider changing it, the majority don't know about them.

For me the key point of having an elected mayor is that, whilst the person will come from a political party, he/she will have to take the wider interests of all parts of the town into consideration to ensure that he/she will be elected next time. That means information and policies will have to be more clearly explained and the population will have to be engaged in a different way to make engagement in local civil society relevant to a larger number of people. This would mean people take more notice of civic affairs, they take part in debate and a larger number feel more involved and responsible for their community.

There's nothing wrong in personalities; H'angus of Hartlepool was actually re-elected for a second term because people thought he was being effective. If candidates put themselves up for election, they'll have to campaign and become personalities, they'll have to set out what they stand for and they'll have to explain how they will deliver for the whole town.

Calling for change at a national level is one thing and could be thought of as a remedy for doing nothing. Taking up the opportunity on offer by existing legislation, to explain what having an elected mayor is all about and to collect 9,000 names to hold a referendum, would be meaningful practical action outside the control of political parties.

For those who want to know more, I've attached the IPPR pdf which discusses the experience of elected Mayor's elsewhere.

[attachment deleted by admin - Older than 365 days]
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: construct on June 05, 2008, 07:56:36 PM
Swindonlinkman,

I hate to say this but to me you are sounding very new labour.

They started buggering around with a democratic system which worked perfectly well for christ knows how long and f**ked it up completely.

most people,me included, frankly don't give a crap about 90% of what the council does. I want my bins emptied my road swept every now and then and thats about it. If i want to engage in politics i do it here or i phone someone. I vote for whihever party i think will be better than the incumbant and have been proved right since i started voting. The last thing I want is a single individual responsible for everything in the town elected for a four year period. A politician can fuck up a hell of a lot in four years. at the momnent i can vote nearly every year and at least tell the buggers what i want through my vote. Kevin Small or stand pajak for four years - no way. Even i would go out and tell people to not vote for it.

Is it just me or are the government trying to fuck all the tory councils over by this or am i too cynical ? Can anyone say the new house of lords is really an improvement over the old one? If so i would suggest you are lying or have bought in to the labour spin.

as i said if it ain't broke don't fix it. nuff said.
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: ZPW on June 06, 2008, 01:56:40 PM
Swindonlinkman,

I hate to say this but to me you are sounding very new labour.



Construct,

I hate to say this but to me you are sounding very new tory
I wonder if you feel the sting of an insult? you certainly seem to be handing them out.
How does one sounds New Labour? and what the f*ck (to borrow your foul parlance) has that got to do with the price of strimmers?




They started buggering around with a democratic system which worked perfectly well for christ knows how long and f**ked it up completely.

most people,me included, frankly don't give a crap about 90% of what the council does.

Bizarre this as a fair few more than 10% vote.

Construct, I think you need to take a happy pill. You're vitroil runneth over. You are unusually not being constructive.





Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: construct on June 06, 2008, 03:15:14 PM
Quote
you are sounding very new tory

I'll take that as a complement cos i'm normally accused of being a thatcherite   :2funny:

My take on new labour is that they seem to hate anything that is traditional. if it is old it must be changed. we have seen the introduction of around 3000 new laws when many of the opld laws serverd their purpose adequately. the new labour government is turning our town halls into minor branches of the stazi by creating new powers such as intercepting telephone calls and snooping on parents who dare to try and get their children into good schools with the regulation of investigatory powers act which i think is the worst law ever to be created. They have taken what was a good education system (ok it had some faults) and have dumbed it down to the point where probably even i could get an A in english and maths which is something i didn't when i was a kid. It is so sad tthat the education system in india that is turning out thousands of university students more than england is still using the education system that we had in the 1950s and it works better than what we have got now.

no system is perfect but just because something has been done one way for ages does not mean it is a bad system. for me the new labour prime ministers have treated this country and it's people with total contempt. Blair and Broon act like dictators they screw the country for their own needs and couldn't give a stuff for anyone else.

Quote
most people,me included, frankly don't give a crap about 90% of what the council does.


Bizarre this as a fair few more than 10% vote

Just because I vote doesn't mean I want to be involved or in fact care that much. For me i vote for a party first then the person. if i don't like the person i might vote for them because they represent the party but thats it. the councillors should do what we pay them for not to have some single individual who then has the power to screw us over like the goverment. surely if people were that interested they would have become councillors we could have had the save coate water councillor, the i hate canals representative, the i don't want swindon to change councillor, the i think swindon was a better place in the early 80's under the effing labour party councillor. but you knoiw what, we haven't. I guess thats because most people don't give a toss about what happens. I care about my co8uncil tax and how much it goes up every year and not much else. Politicians of all sorts must be self serving to some degree or another. having one person (and look at the many great leaders swindon has had in the past, not!) in position for four years would be a complete nightemare.

just my opinion. back to the grindstone.
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: Buster on June 06, 2008, 06:00:51 PM
Setting aside Construct's colourful opinions about new Labour, I'd like to bring the thread back to the subject of electing a mayor. 

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 say that the system is broken and needs fixing. Nuff said.
Title: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: swindonlinkman on June 06, 2008, 06:28:24 PM
Too many 'nuff saids' around here. If the system is not working, let along busted, it can struggle on against a background of frustration, or we argue for changes which are relevant and useful to a greater number of people.

All political parties are agreed that the level of participation in democracy is woeful and at a local level it is often marked by considerable cynicism as to what 'the council' is up to. But can anybody imagine one person trying to run the town on their own and get away with it? The legislation allows for a range of different models whereby an elected mayor would have to work with elected councillors to ensure local authorities are run better. To quote from the IPPR report posted earlier "The experience of the last six years has proved that mayors work: by providing a name and face they have delivered a more visible and accountable model of leadership."

Referring back to my earlier post, this could only happen with a much greater level of awareness of what people expect from their elected representatives. More more would be involved in the process and this must be good for democracy. Then perhaps they would make much greater demands on central government. At present, grumbling and ranting seems to be the order of the day.

For what its worth, I believe Labour at a local level in Swindon are a busted flush and I expect the Conservatives to hold on to power for quite a few years to come. The question is, are they willing to consolidate that control by involving more people in decision making which is more accessible and accountable?
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: Buster on June 06, 2008, 07:06:06 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.

If it were up to me, I'd like to see a few more positions elected by a swindon-wide poll, including the key cabinet members.  The current system has delivered cabinet members who were appointed by their party leader, a man that himself was elected by only a about 1300 people.  When you then consider that the cabinet members themselves have only been voted in by a similar number of people in a town of 240,000 people, I think this is a clear sign of something being wrong.

To me the political parties, their culture  and their members can be a cause for so many mediocre decisions being made in politics.  The fact that, as a party, they're driven to 'keep the other lot out' it stands to reason that so many good ideas will fall by the wayside simply because either 'the other lot' thought of it first or because, as a group, not all members can agree. 

The parties put themselves and their own interests first, their beliefs second and the people a distant third, they survive through constant horse trading of one idea or policy for another in order to maintain party unity, but the sad fact is, and many party political politicians fail to understand this,  the result is usually silent disharmony, back stabbing and a public that either decides how to vote on the basis of which party is least horrendous or they simply don't bother to vote.
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: Geoff Reid on June 06, 2008, 07:19:59 PM
 
 
Quote from: [url]http://www.ippr.org/articles/?id=3143[/url]
Elected mayors are better known to their electorates than council leaders, have produced a series of innovative and eyecatching policies (from congestion charging in London to crime reduction in the North East), and have proved highly responsive to the priorities of local people. Elected leaders tend to become beacons for the places they represent, and are more focused upon facilitating partnerships and balancing different interests than pursuing narrow party interests.


It occurs to me that the above description fits Rod Bluh rather well.

It also occurs to me that the current fascination with elected Mayors leans heavily towards the notion that an elected Mayor would be in some way more accountable than, just for example, leader of the council Rod Bluh.  I don't agree with this, (although I'm sure some clever market research has been done to prove the desired result), and I think there's a very real danger that introducing directly elected Mayors introduces just another insulating civic layer between the electorate and the councillors themselves....leading the electorate to focus on the wrong part of the system.

Far better in my own opinion that the Mayor and the Leader of the council become one and the same. Mayors and Mayoresses ought to be the leaders of the council and not just féte opening puppet s parading around the jam and Jerusalem circuit...leave that 'duty' to the deputy Mayor.  It's widely known that councillors who make a nuisance of themselves are shunted sideways into the mayoral queue which is in effect a two year stint of impotence.

By all means push for a referendum on this but at least make it a democratically meaningful one....and imho this means that it must achieve a turnout of at least 50% to be considered valid.  I don't accept Anne Snelgroves 'silent majority' logic, i.e that if people don't vote against something then they must agree with it which has all too often been used to claim non-existant mandates from the electorate on the basis of a minority share of the vote.

Grumbling and ranting?, call it what you will but local governance will start improving rapidly when it is scrutinised properly by local people then even further when councillors realise that they will have to engage with the wider electorate at times other than election times.

The age when a staple diet of local rag press releases and a couple of leaflets through the door promoted any political interest has passed I think and local councillors, whether they like it or not, will be expected to drag themselves into regular two-way electronic contact with the electorate.

We're lucky on Talkswindon in that we have several councillors who already recognise this and who understand the intrinsic value of it...even when it's an uncomfortable and sometimes embarrassing process for them.  This hasn't gone unnoticed in the eDemosphere either and is partly why Talkswindon was nominated for a New Statesman award in 2007. (I was relieved we didn't win it btw).

The scholars and the academics of the eDem world are also having an 'elected mayor' discussion. They also grumble and rant, but they use longer words  :)

   
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: Buster on June 06, 2008, 07:48:24 PM
It also occurs to me that the current fascination with elected Mayors leans heavily towards the notion that an elected Mayor would be in some way more accountable than, just for example, leader of the council Rod Bluh. 

I have to say that this is exactly what I see as being the benefit of an elected mayor. I don't see any accountability in the current model.  What accountability does Rod Bluh have towards me right now?  I don't live in his ward so I don't get to vote for, or against, him at elections.  If he does a bad job or makes bad decisions that affects my road, my house or my life, I have no comeback.

I think there's a very real danger that introducing directly elected Mayors introduces just another insulating civic layer between the electorate and the councillors themselves....leading the electorate to focus on the wrong part of the system.

I think this comes back to the hypothetical natue of this discussions as there's no details in the proposal for an elected mayor, however I would actually seek a structure that would bring about the opposite. I envisage local government where the elected mayor, and possibly a team of 'cabinet' members, would be elected by all residents of Swindon.  The role of ward councillors would be just that, to act for their ward and vote on mayoral and cabinet proposals with the interests of their ward at the forefront of their mind.  This wold hopefully ensure the political balance and scrutiny.

Imho this would take ward councillors closer to their electorate by making them more focussed on ward issues and concerns.  Bringing an end to the 'appointment' process for key decision makers whilst allowing all the people from all areas of the town to have a say in the strategic direction and image that a mayor and the cabinet project.
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: ZPW on June 06, 2008, 08:26:45 PM
The whole point of having an elected Mayor is that the people will have a person, one person that is accountable.

Currently we have 2 characters

Rod Blooo, leader of the council, who we all know ( of) but frankly who else does?
Fab. bloke an' all that, but not the well known character that folk think.

Gav-the rocker-Jones  God of EssBeeSee, ruler of EssBeeSee'ers, again known to us but to the general good and greedy? No.plus he's not elected, which is why he gets paid a living wage.

An elected Mayor may or may not be one the the existing cllrs.* She would be the figurehead and if not a well known figure already, would be by the end of the campaign. Regardless of party allegiance they would have to work with the elected cllrs. they will all just have to work together.. sounds bloody marvellous.

The Local Govt. Act 2000 allowed council to opt for either mayoral council or the canbinet style broo-ha-ha we haver now.
What the pox has that done for Swindon?
We have a minister for flip-flops, a minister for tennis courts and king of the roads.
what does any of that mean to swindonners? naff all.
a decent cllr is a decent cllr - witness dale heenan's adoption of the god-awful yellow-line,parking bay blether in victoria terrace-land. say what you want about parking - the man who is not king of the roads took this job on ,as he would with a mayor style council. a decent person is a decent person.

So I am in favour.
The Ayes have it.

Karen-Leakey-for-Mayor

KLFM... rolls of the tongue nicely



* Amdega cllrs will of course be ruled out from the off.



Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: ZPW 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.

Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: Mart 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.
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: komadori 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.
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: sasquatch 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..

 
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: Terminatrix 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".


Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: sasquatch 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.
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: Terminatrix 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.  :)
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: Buster 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?

Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: komadori 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.
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: Buster 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.
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: komadori 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.
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: Geoff Reid 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.
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: Alligator 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  :-\
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: Alligator 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.
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: swindonlad 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
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: Alligator 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.
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: komadori 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.
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: Alligator 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.
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: swindonlinkman 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 (http://www.nlgn.org.uk)
and specifically http://www.nlgn.org.uk/public/elected-mayors/mayoral-briefing (http://www.nlgn.org.uk/public/elected-mayors/mayoral-briefing)
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: Geoff Reid 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 (http://www.nlgn.org.uk/public/elected-mayors/mayoral-briefing), 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.
 

Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: James on June 10, 2008, 01:24:04 PM
I guess the key test is whether there are any other councils who have had several poor reviews and then turned themselves round without the intervention and general broo-ha-ha of a new elected mayor structure. Seems like it could be an expensive way of improving things, if it isn't actually needed.

The other worry for me is that it is another layer between local councillors and government. Marginalising politicians at the most local level feels counterproductive to me. Though it may be they have had their claws and wings clipped too much already for it to make any real difference.

I suspect this town could actually do with an elected mouthpiece as well. A mandate can be useful when discussing things at higher levels of government, or raising awareness of issues impartant to the lacal area.


James
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: Tel Hudson on June 10, 2008, 05:40:56 PM
The question to ask is why would anyone think of elected mayors in the first place? The answer is that people don't go out to vote. So by making some kind of gladiatorial contest people who are hard of thinking will go out and vote for the colour of the rosette.

It is such a stupid idea that I hope our town won't suffer from it.

(But this Government might just make it compulsory - and then blame some non-existent EU reg - they normally do.)
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: Buster on June 10, 2008, 08:15:10 PM
It strikes me that this Geoff Reid chappy may be on the ball with his observations about councillors' reactions to the very question of an elected mayor.  I think it's a shame that they're not engaging on this.  Especially when you consider how many of them swarmed onto the site in the days leading up to the local elections.  Imo, their reaction can mean only one thing......it may be time to consider a change in the way we're governed.

I read the NLGN document and although it does appear to be very pro the elected mayor approach, two points stood out to me.

Quote
While an appointed leader and an elected mayor have basically the same functions and powers (and the same limits on those powers)....

and then

Quote
A mayor is equally responsible to the whole city, borough or council, unlike a council leader who has been directly elected from only one ward amongst many and whose power is derived primarily from an ability to retain the support of other councillors (or, more likely, the dominant political party).

The first of these points highlighted to me that a change from one structure to the other isn't really all that significant in terms of what the leader/mayor can do.  There will still be a bod in position with those key functions.  The second point however is the part that really hit home and echoes the points that I've been trying to stress throughout.  As far as I'm concerned, this alone is reason enough to look again at the way we do things in Swindon.

I wonder if an elected mayor would be as hell-bent on putting in a new the canal   :-\

I think this one has legs and some way to go.


Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: komadori on June 11, 2008, 12:21:03 AM

I read the NLGN document and although it does appear to be very pro the elected mayor approach, two points stood out to me.

Quote
While an appointed leader and an elected mayor have basically the same functions and powers (and the same limits on those powers)....

and then

Quote
A mayor is equally responsible to the whole city, borough or council, unlike a council leader who has been directly elected from only one ward amongst many and whose power is derived primarily from an ability to retain the support of other councillors (or, more likely, the dominant political party).

The first of these points highlighted to me that a change from one structure to the other isn't really all that significant in terms of what the leader/mayor can do.  There will still be a bod in position with those key functions.

It is apparent that for the Mayor plus council manager executive option, the NLGN statement is untrue: the only elected representative with significant power is the mayor and no other councillors.

I wonder if an elected mayor would be as hell-bent on putting in a new the canal   :-\

If it ran through an area where few voted for him and where the likelihood of anyone voting for him was small regardless of whether a canal was built, I'm sure the hell-bent determination would remain.
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: swindonlad on June 11, 2008, 06:31:11 AM
I wonder if an elected mayor would be as hell-bent on putting in a new the canal   :-\

may be not canals per-se, but an elected mayor would be able to push through their pet projects.  IF Rod were elected mayor & not leader of the council the canal project could be further down the path as he could have just made the decision to commission the work.  currently he still has to go to cabinet to get it approved.

[as for canals, don't believe that the £50m will be raised so it's dead in the water]
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: swindonlad on June 11, 2008, 06:36:51 AM
looking at a different point, what will happen to the role of mayor as currently exists, currently occupied by steve wakefield who has contributed to this site?

looking at the list of events he has most are very much meet & greet, opening & attending events which does not sit comfortably with an elected mayor's job which is, in effect, the leader of the council & running the business of the council (which i would have thought would have been full time).

i am going to suggest (& the names need to be worked on here to avoid confusion) - the mayor of swindon (as per now) & the elected mayor and leader of the borough of swindon council (the elected mayor)
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: Alligator on June 11, 2008, 08:42:17 AM
It is apparent that for the Mayor plus council manager executive option, the NLGN statement is untrue: the only elected representative with significant power is the mayor and no other councillors.

You've lost me now.  What part of this is untrue?  I can't find the section of the NLGN document that says anything else.

I wonder if an elected mayor would be as hell-bent on putting in a new the canal   :-\

If it ran through an area where few voted for him and where the likelihood of anyone voting for him was small regardless of whether a canal was built, I'm sure the hell-bent determination would remain.

so, in that case the main difference is that under a mayoral system, the residents directly affected (Central Ward) would at least have the right to vote (or not) for him.

looking at a different point, what will happen to the role of mayor as currently exists, currently occupied by steve wakefield who has contributed to this site?

I believe this would be unaffected. 

Quote
Firstly an elected mayor does not replace the Civic Mayor, whose role is strictly ceremonial and non-political.
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: Geoff Reid on June 11, 2008, 01:28:57 PM
Would an elected Mayor and his/her administration be more accountable for things like, oh I don't know.... greater than inflation rises in car parking charges (http://www.talkswindon.org/index.php?topic=3258.msg18097) than the current administration are?

I mean, how do I hold the current leader of the council to account for charges which I think are excessive?. 

I don't think I can, unless I want to send him a moody note, (which probably wouldn't get answered), but I could help vote a directly elected leader out.....and wouldn't this be a practical demonstration of the meaning of 'government by consent'?

I can withdraw my consent from Rod Bluh's governance and it won't make the tiniest difference to him because I didn't, indeed couldn't vote for or against him being leader of the council. He was chosen on my behalf while I was made to stand impotently on the sidelines.

I could demonstrate my withdrawal of consent for an elected Mayor to govern me by simply voting for someone else.  As far as 'empowering' the voter goes it's an attractive proposition, I can vote for both my ward councillor and a mayor who is finally a genuine civic leader and I can finally hold both of them to account.

Perhaps this is the best two-for-the-price-of-one political offer that's come along for several hundred years and perhaps it is the best way of getting the electorate interested in democracy again. It's certainly worth looking at it in minute detail imho.

I'm not so sure that councillors will be marginalised by changing this system, but I am sure that many of them will have trouble accepting that the rules have changed and that those nearer the top will be there on merit rather than because of an old boys network or masonic handshake.

I'm warming to the idea of an elected Mayor, and in the absence of any comment from our Councillor members I will probably continue to do so.


Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: Bobby Bingo on June 11, 2008, 04:38:46 PM
Remember one thing and that is a Mayor can be likened to a eunuch. he knows what he would like to do but they have taken his tools away.
Regarding his official functions it appears the local curry houses are using the role of Mayor as cheap publicity for their crap food!
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: swindonlinkman on June 11, 2008, 05:36:10 PM
Please don't confuse what the present honorary ceremonial mayor does and is allowed to do, with the responsibilities of an elected mayor. For example, in Middlesborough former Chief Constable Ray 'Robocop' Mallon cut crime by 18 per cent in his first year of office.
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: Tobes on June 11, 2008, 05:59:35 PM
I have to say - after my initial scepticism regarding this, the arguments are persuading me that having an elected mayor might in fact be a very good idea. Case in point, my ward (eastcott) is regarded as a safe Lib Dem seat - obviously to the extent that neither the labour or the conservative candidates bothered to do anything except stuff a single pro-forma leaflet through our letterboxes. I'm also aware that the effects of speaking to my ward representatives about issues of concern is also limited by their lack of political clout as voting minnows in comparison to the conservative majority.

yes... a mayor...
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: komadori on June 12, 2008, 12:06:15 AM
It is apparent that for the Mayor plus council manager executive option, the NLGN statement is untrue: the only elected representative with significant power is the mayor and no other councillors.

You've lost me now.  What part of this is untrue?  I can't find the section of the NLGN document that says anything else.

Sorry. What I should have said is that Buster's analysis of the NLGN document was incorrect, rather than that the NLGN statement is untrue.

I wonder if an elected mayor would be as hell-bent on putting in a new the canal   :-\

If it ran through an area where few voted for him and where the likelihood of anyone voting for him was small regardless of whether a canal was built, I'm sure the hell-bent determination would remain.

so, in that case the main difference is that under a mayoral system, the residents directly affected (Central Ward) would at least have the right to vote (or not) for him.

Correct, but with the disadvantage that, given that Central seems to be inherently red nest territory, the outcome would be the same but we would have a mayor elected for their personality rather than a council leader appointed (at least in part) for their ability. I'd rather have good governence via indirect representation than carp via direct election.

I don't care whether the leader of the council (be that a mayor or something else) is directly accountable or indirectly accountable (via support from councillors) to the electorate. What matters to me most is the quality of governance. I see nothing in the proposals for directly elected mayors that would give Swindon a better quality of leader than the current system. I see a lot in the proposals for directly elected mayors (primarily the influence of personality over ability) that would make governance worse.

I'm also aware that the effects of speaking to my ward representatives about issues of concern is also limited by their lack of political clout as voting minnows in comparison to the conservative majority.

I spent Sunday evening in the presence of two of my ward representatives and although they are not people I would vote for nor of the ruling party, they gave no evidence of being diminished in their ability to address local issues. And although I have heavily criticised both of them elsewhere, I have no reason to doubt their confidence.
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: Alligator on June 12, 2008, 09:03:19 AM
I'm also aware that the effects of speaking to my ward representatives about issues of concern is also limited by their lack of political clout as voting minnows in comparison to the conservative majority.

I spent Sunday evening in the presence of two of my ward representatives and although they are not people I would vote for nor of the ruling party, they gave no evidence of being diminished in their ability to address local issues. And although I have heavily criticised both of them elsewhere, I have no reason to doubt their confidence.

I don't think it's anything to do with their confidence, in fact I see this as part of the problem.  I think that when you consider the bravado of politicians, you realise that in many cases they aren't going to openly admit when they're the political equivalents of Eunuchs.   Instead, if they don't know the answer to something, or aren't privy to the discussions and details pertaining to a question, my experience tells me that they won't admit this, they'll simply sidestep the question or make vague comments that address a question they wish you’d asked.  I can only surmise that they base this approach on the belief that their chances of re-election are greater if they give the public the impression of being more confident, knowledgeable and influential than may be the case, seemingly unaware that this leaves the electorate feeling dissatisfied with them personally. 

I view this as a misguided approach when you consider that the public is fully aware that their real ability to address local issues is, to a large extent, determined by what the council chamber decides, which at the moment is itself largely determined on what the local Tory party decides, which in turn appears to be largely influenced by what the appointed leader decides behind closed doors.
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: Tobes on June 12, 2008, 09:39:52 AM
Quote
Quote from: komadori on Today at 12:06:15 AM
Quote from: Tobes on Yesterday at 05:59:35 PM
I'm also aware that the effects of speaking to my ward representatives about issues of concern is also limited by their lack of political clout as voting minnows in comparison to the conservative majority.


I spent Sunday evening in the presence of two of my ward representatives and although they are not people I would vote for nor of the ruling party, they gave no evidence of being diminished in their ability to address local issues. And although I have heavily criticised both of them elsewhere, I have no reason to doubt their confidence.


I don't think it's anything to do with their confidence, in fact I see this as part of the problem.  I think that when you consider the bravado of politicians, you realise that in many cases they aren't going to openly admit when they're the political equivalents of Eunuchs.   Instead, if they don't know the answer to something, or aren't privy to the discussions and details pertaining to a question, my experience tells me that they won't admit this, they'll simply sidestep the question or make vague comments that address a question they wish you’d asked.  I can only surmise that they base this approach on the belief that their chances of re-election are greater if they give the public the impression of being more confident, knowledgeable and influential than may be the case, seemingly unaware that this leaves the electorate feeling dissatisfied with them personally. 

I view this as a misguided approach when you consider that the public is fully aware that their real ability to address local issues is, to a large extent, determined by what the council chamber decides, which at the moment is itself largely determined on what the local Tory party decides, which in turn appears to be largely influenced by what the appointed leader decides behind closed doors.

I have the confidence that my local ward representative will try to act on the behalf of their electorate - its just that as a marginal party, I'm not convinced that the council - or specifically the cabinet - actually listen to them with the same intent as they would if they were fellow tories...
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: Alligator on June 12, 2008, 11:22:23 AM

I have the confidence that my local ward representative will try to act on the behalf of their electorate - its just that as a marginal party, I'm not convinced that the council - or specifically the cabinet - actually listen to them with the same intent as they would if they were fellow tories...

I do agree with this and would add that you can't fault them for at least trying to act on our behalf.
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: Peter Greenhalgh on June 12, 2008, 04:21:42 PM
My initial reaction to the concept of an elected mayor is one of caution. The idea of having a single individual responsible for a fixed term of office worries me slightly unless there was a robust way of ensuring they could be removed from office. Further I am not convinced an elected mayor would be much different from our present system, although I appreciate there is a desire to have direct accountability.

As part of the debate I though you might be interested in reading a paper we approved at cabinet last night and discussed at the Swindon Strategic Partnership Conference earlier today, called Connecting People Connecting Places.

http://ww2.swindon.gov.uk/moderngov/Published/C00000285/M00003382/AI00013987/$ConnectingPeopleConnectingPlacesRevised.doc.pdf (http://ww2.swindon.gov.uk/moderngov/Published/C00000285/M00003382/AI00013987/$ConnectingPeopleConnectingPlacesRevised.doc.pdf)

Here is an extract of the salient points :-

3.1.1. Empowered Ward Councillors
Ward councillors are the elected, visible and accountable human face of
local government. By localising both the delivery of services and the
development of priorities to smaller geographical areas, ward councillors
will gain a more prominent role as ward leaders and as “place shapers”.

3.1.2. Swindon residents can better influence decision-making
We want to develop a range of ways to enable local people to influence
what happens and how it happens in their area. We see this as an
opportunity for on-going dialogue about services, and not just a one-off
consultation.

3.1.3. Better local access to services
We will investigate the feasibility of utilising existing assets more
effectively to extend one-stop-shop provision within our communities, so
they can access a range of services nearer where they live. Those
services, which can be better delivered centrally, should remain so, with
the locality director having ownership of delivery and accountability and
responsibility for this to the Area Forum.

3.1.4. More localised service delivery
We aim to make more use of data that is available at local level to develop
profiles and plans that are specific to each locality. From ward councillors’
local knowledge, we will develop and agree a locality plan with other
service providers and local people. This locality plan could be renewed
each year and serve as shared objectives for delivery within the locality.

These objectives will be underpinned by use of:
• Service Level Agreements to define what outcomes are desired.
• Clear, SMART, performance indicators so that all can judge what is
being delivered.
• Regular reporting by officers and contractors so that good
performance can be rewarded and augmented while underperformance
can be corrected.
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: Buster on June 12, 2008, 08:07:57 PM
It is apparent that for the Mayor plus council manager executive option, the NLGN statement is untrue: the only elected representative with significant power is the mayor and no other councillors.

You've lost me now.  What part of this is untrue?  I can't find the section of the NLGN document that says anything else.

Sorry. What I should have said is that Buster's analysis of the NLGN document was incorrect, rather than that the NLGN statement is untrue.

I think you may have misunderstood what I meant, I wasn't making a reference to the council manager option.  When I referred to the "leader/mayor", I was referring to the appointed leader and an elected mayor, not the elected mayor and the council manager.  The NGLN document is quite clear in making a claim that the elected mayor and appointed leader are similar roles in terms of functions and powers and the limits on those powers.

My initial reaction to the concept of an elected mayor is one of caution. The idea of having a single individual responsible for a fixed term of office worries me slightly unless there was a robust way of ensuring they could be removed from office.

Hi Peter, thanks for adding your thoughts to this.  I can see your concern, however in my view, the right to remove a mayor goes hand in hand with the whole accountability thing, whether the removal is brought about through the ballot box, or carefully set out procedures. 

Just out if interest, do you know what formal procedures, other than misconduct, can bring about the removal of an appointed leader?  The relatively secretive and party political nature of their appointment means that the average member of the public doesn't know what criteria was used when deciding on  the current, or any, appointed, leader, so it's unlikely that we'd know what criteria and processes are currently in existence today for their removal, should the need arise.



Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: swindonlinkman on June 13, 2008, 12:53:57 PM
It's good to know that the council - at last - is now focussed on becoming more answerable to the electorate. From the 'Connecting People, Connecting Places' report:

7. Implementation Approach
 
7.1. Neighbourhood Management is not new and many local authorities have been deploying a locality working approach for many years The Council has had limited experience in recent years of aligning service delivery to localities and its only recent experience of regular community engagement was via Area Panels. 
 
7.2. In the light of this, it is critical that the Council and its partners take a flexible and pragmatic approach to implementation and is prepared to listen and respond responsibly to people and act on the feedback from residents, stakeholders and Members with regards to what works and what doesn’t. This is the essence of Community Leadership where ultimately the Council takes the decisions but that those decisions are informed by balanced resident feedback combined with good quality data.   
 
7.3. The implementation approach outlined here has been informed by extensive research taken from national pilots and case studies, combined with local interviews and discussions.

Indeed if it doesn't get its act together, the Audit Commission will get its whip out again:

10. Alternative Options
10.1. Do nothing and retain our current arrangements. This will incur a severe risk that Swindon will attract a low Comprehensive Performance Assessment/Comprehensive Area Assessment rating and undo the progress made since 2003.  Such underperformance could lower the public perceptions of Swindon Borough Council, reduce funding and impede the Council’s other policies. A low rating might have adverse impact on the regeneration programme, especially if central government were minded to use their reserve intervention powers.

On the one hand the present administration inherited a pig's breakfast from Labour, but on the other hand, why has it taken them so long to address this issue? Is it that the only way to gain more stars in the government's rating of local authorities is to devolve power downwards? Which makes one ask if its being done for the right reasons and will local councillors enter into the spirit of what is being asked of them?

The Labour Council set up the Area Panels referred to in 7.1 in the late 90s and even gave them some money to spend on local projects, but then cut them back when they started being successful, which coincided with their control of the council being hammered for incompetance by the Audit Commission inspectors.

Which comes back to the issue of secretive and party political nature of the present system and whether it is adequately accountable and transparent. The point of an elected mayor would be that the person has to answer to a much wider electorate, and his or her success will very much depend on the performance, attitude and response of ward councillors to answer to their electorate and not necessarily their party, as implied in 'Connecting People, Connecting Places' report.

Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: ZPW on June 13, 2008, 06:21:00 PM
Blinding that it's mooted that we move to more local governance.
makes good(ish) sense but needs extra gen.
Clearly... or is it clear?... Garrie perkins will still be the school minister and Peter-the-good will still be minister of roads.
So the local wardens wouldn't have a full remit would they?
What would be on their plate and can they all manage the extra protein? - these wardens applied and were awarded a different job from the one now being suggested.


 

Which comes back to the issue of secretive and party political nature of the present system and whether it is adequately accountable and transparent. The point of an elected mayor would be that the person has to answer to a much wider electorate, and his or her success will very much depend on the performance, attitude and response of ward councillors to answer to their electorate and not necessarily their party, as implied in 'Connecting People, Connecting Places' report.



Bringing us back to the Mayor.
Right now we have a seemingly decent clever leader of the council.
So very lucky that is.
No.one but the councillor can re-select or de-select Rod Bluh - regardless of one's feelings about an elected Mayor it does seem a bit off that this job is in the gift of a few good people and a fair few plonkers.
Wander around the town centre, Cavvie, Manchester road... whatever and ask randon woman who is the leader of the council; some will think it's Gavin-the-rocker and some Mike Baldwin ( you can tell I've conducted a pretty extensive survey) and most won't have the first idea what you're on about.
Why would they? No.one has told them... what's his brief anyway?

If we get our 5% electoral support a gofer a Mayor.. we'll get a stinking load more people engaged..people who will want this person to do as promised.


Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: Geoff Reid on June 16, 2008, 10:52:19 AM
 
 
Quote from: Komadori
I see nothing in the proposals for directly elected mayors that would give Swindon a better quality of leader than the current system.

There is no guarantee of getting a good quality leader with the current party political system either and there are certainly enough good examples of bad leaders in Swindons recent history that weren't put there by the electorate, weren't directly accountable to the electorate, didn't consider themselves to be accountable to the electorate and relied upon machinations and finaglings within the party political system to keep themselves there....ultimately at the electorates expense.

Quote from: Peter Greenhaulgh
"The idea of having a single individual responsible for a fixed term of office worries me slightly unless there was a robust way of ensuring they could be removed from office"

I agree with this....with the caveat that the 'robust way' is a mechanism for the electorate to remove the Mayor, not something other councillors can exercise when they disagree with a Mayors policies.

Let's be brutally honest about this, councillors continually try to scupper each other, (for political purposes), often with complaints to the standards board about opposition councillors.....but seem happy to either 'overlook' or 'hush up' colleagues occasional misdemeanours.....but all of them have party-political motives to want rid of directly elected Mayors.

So no, the electorate will choose or reject the policies of Mayoral candidates at the ballot box, and it is the electorate who grant the newly elected Mayor/Mayoress the mandate to pursue those policies, not other councillors.  Unless there is an element of criminality involved, removing a Mayor must remain in the sole domain of the electorate.

A council might pass a motion of no-confidence in a mayor, but to prevent an un-scrutinsed party-political gang-banging of a Mayor, a successful motion of no confidence should then lead to another Mayoral election where the electorate will decide.

It's called democracy.

 


Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: komadori on June 16, 2008, 10:46:43 PM

It's called democracy.


As is the current system.
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: swindonlad on June 18, 2008, 07:48:56 AM
article by the 4 group leaders at the local government association on their views of elected mayors (found from another board)

http://www.lga.gov.uk/lga/core/page.do?pageId=702498 (http://www.lga.gov.uk/lga/core/page.do?pageId=702498)
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: Geoff Reid on June 20, 2008, 08:33:41 PM
 

It's called democracy.


As is the current system.

S'true enough, although as far as creating Mayors is concerned one is vastly more so, (from an electors perspective), than the other.  :)
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: Chav on June 21, 2008, 10:32:12 PM
Now me finks that Swindon needs a Chav as Mayor innit!

Apart from anyfing else at least the bling would look good innit yeah!
But meanwhile ......................somewhere in Swindon, spotted on the Views from da Hill website
(http://www.penhill.blogswindon.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/dsc_0050.JPG)

Our one n only Mr W and Mary Ratcliffe....................... Wot a woman !

                                    Chav  :angel: :angel: :angel:
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: swindonlinkman on June 27, 2008, 12:12:05 PM
The worm turns. Looking back through Swindon Link magazine, I find reports from late 2001 on the council's consultation on whether Swindon should have an elected Mayor. In November 2001 the headline is:

"Swindon to continue shambolic cabinet system, after 56% of citizens panel support directly elected mayor
Petition launched demanding referendum

As the business of the Swindon Borough Council degenerated into chaos on 27 September (2001) after the controlling Labour group resigned following a vote of no confidence, the irony of a decision taken at the very same meeting escaped notice when councillors voted to continue with the leader and cabinet system of local government."

To read the full reports, open up the attached pdf.

Bear in mind that the Conservative group has been in charge of the council ever since, consolidating its power at local elections. Over seven years later, the June 2008 cabinet agreed to implement the report 'Connecting People, Connecting Places' which recommends that the council becomes more answerable to the electorate by becoming more visible and accountable at a local level. The report is attached.

[attachment deleted by admin - Older than 365 days]
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: swindonlad on June 27, 2008, 01:12:27 PM
Bear in mind that the Conservative group has been in charge of the council ever since,


may 17th 2002 labour took over the leadership again
http://ww2.swindon.gov.uk/moderngov/Data/Council/20020517/Minutes/$Minutes.DOC.pdf (http://ww2.swindon.gov.uk/moderngov/Data/Council/20020517/Minutes/$Minutes.DOC.pdf)
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: swindonlinkman on June 27, 2008, 06:24:59 PM
Thanks for the clarification, though Labour's days in power were numbered. Was it relevant for that short time?
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: ZPW on June 27, 2008, 08:12:21 PM
From Connecting people, connecting places ( link three posts afore in the worm turning post)


Quote
3.1.2. Swindon residents can better influence decision-making
We want to develop a range of ways to enable local people to influence
what happens and how it happens in their area. We see this as an
opportunity for on-going dialogue about services, and not just a one-off
consultation.
l

'twould seem that the council itself should welcome a referendum on KLFQs new job.
What better way of showing residents that it welcomes full and informed input that a vote on the way the town is run?
An elected Mayor would certainly get on-going dialogue from the peeps. and as we know from the previous survey  56% of those previoulsy engaged wanted and elected Mayor in one guise or another.


KLFQ for Mayor  KLFQ for Mayor KLFQ for Mayor KLFQ for Mayor KLFQ for Mayor KLFQ for Mayor KLFQ for Mayor KLFQ for Mayor
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: swindonlad on July 04, 2008, 05:39:56 PM
FWIW bury voted whether to have an elected mayor & voted no, well the 18.25% of the electorate who voted...

10,338 yes
15,425 no

electorate: 141,740

(looks like 105 spoilt papers, to get back to the turnout figure)

so in % terms:
 7.29% yes
10.88% no
 0.07% spoilt their papers
81.76% could not be bothered to vote
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: Geoff Reid on July 05, 2008, 01:14:48 AM
 
In stark contrast to Swindon Lads cherry picked Bury example, Hartlepool's 2005 Mayoral elections saw 51% of the electorate turn out to re-elect Stuart Drummond. Fact.

Bury is a poor example anyway. Local tv found that very few people in Bury even knew there was a referendum happening.

Having no knowledge of an event isn't the same thing as 'not being bothered to vote'.

Having recently spent the best part of three days reading and understanding the review panel report on the 2001 SBC 'changes to local government' consultations, I reckon I can spot a suspicious 'statistic' being offered as 'proof' of lack of support or interest from a long way off.

And "81.76% could not be bothered to vote" is a bald assumption obviously made without researching the history and background of the Bury referendum.

I expected better from you SL, that was lazy.

Try harder, and be sure the ice will bear the weight of your argument before you step on it.  :)
 
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: komadori on July 05, 2008, 11:23:17 AM
In stark contrast to Swindon Lads cherry picked Bury example, Hartlepool's 2005 Mayoral elections saw 51% of the electorate turn out to re-elect Stuart Drummond. Fact.

Your choice of Hartlepool looks like an equally ripe cherry to me.

Having recently spent the best part of three days reading and understanding the review panel report on the 2001 SBC 'changes to local government' consultations, I reckon I can spot a suspicious 'statistic' being offered as 'proof' of lack of support or interest from a long way off.

If you're good at spotting suspicous statistics, why are you comparing the turnout for a vote to decide whether to have a directly mayor or not with the turnout for a vote to choose between mayoral candidates? They are not the same thing, by a long way. One is a vote for a particular form of governance, the other is a vote for a particular person to do the governing.

be sure the ice will bear the weight of your argument before you step on it.  :)

Quite.
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: swindonlad on July 05, 2008, 03:32:37 PM
re: bury, i perhaps should have added - yesterday bury voted against, as the election was held on thursday- hardly cherrypicking, more reporting the latest vote on this
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: Geoff Reid on July 05, 2008, 04:19:20 PM
 
why are you comparing the turnout for a vote to decide whether to have a directly mayor or not with the turnout for a vote to choose between mayoral candidates? They are not the same thing, by a long way. One is a vote for a particular form of governance, the other is a vote for a particular person to do the governing.

Indeed, thanks for pointing that out. It was the middle of the night when I posted that and should have been more specific.

The referendum is just a simple yes/no, although Swindon Lads 81.x% 'couldn't be bothered to vote' seems to indicate he thinks a local referenda on this issue are a waste of time.  Actually, I know what his views are on the subject are, what I don't know is why he won't publish them. 

My point is, that a low turn out in a referendum doesn't indicate that there will be a lack of interest in subsequent Mayoral elections, e.g Hartlepool.



At this point though, the debate needs winding back to 2001, to examine how and why Bawden, Bates and Evemy shafted the electorate of Swindon in 2001.  Once that little gem is cleaned and polished we can move on to finding out whether the same support for an elected Mayor exists in Swindon now as in 2001, and whether we'll be having an electorate triggered referendum.

There won't ever be a Council led referendum, Councillor Bluh has made that quite clear to me today  :).

 
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: Terry Reynolds on September 09, 2008, 08:08:22 PM
This petition seems a bit strange to me, why change for the sake of change, the system we have has worked for years with no real harm done, if this country can be run by a Prime Minister who is elected behind closed doors by a load of what now seems to be backstabbers, why should we resort to this, lets get on with running the town and continue the job in hand, forget silly remarks by the north swindon mp, if nothing has been wrong in the last fiver years as he says, what went on before that for 18 years, and he said nothing about it!.
lets have a petition to get two MPs who will vote for the people of Swindon and not what the lobby fodder tell them to vote for....
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: Tobes on September 09, 2008, 09:41:01 PM
Kohima - are you being ironic?

Quote
the system we have has worked for years with no real harm done,

juxtaposed to -

Quote
if this country can be run by a Prime Minister who is elected behind closed doors by a load of what now seems to be backstabbers, why should we resort to this,

You [apparently unwittingly?] are making the most powerful argument as to why this change to our local system SHOULD go ahead!

Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: Alligator on September 10, 2008, 08:50:37 AM
This petition seems a bit strange to me, why change for the sake of change, the system we have has worked for years with no real harm done.......

That's a very subjective view.  What may be no real harm to you, may be seen very differently by others.  Personally I think what happened in 2001 when the council chamber pushed through this mode of governance without a debate did do real harm to democracy, so, in my view harm was done.

if this country can be run by a Prime Minister who is elected behind closed doors by a load of what now seems to be backstabbers, why should we resort to this,
Something being inadequate at national level isn't an excuse for inadequacy at local level

lets get on with running the town and continue the job in hand

Who are you directing this towards?  when you say 'lets get on with running the town', do you mean 'let us getting on with running the town'?  If so can you let me know who us is?.......Afterall we (the people) don't run the town, it is currently run by the appointed leader of the largest party in the chamber, someone with a mandate from only 1300 voters in Swindon.

I'm not sure if your statment is a rallying call or a plea, but whatever it is, it makes you sound like a politician with a party political vested interest.   :-\
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: Terry Reynolds on September 10, 2008, 06:13:14 PM
Our MP thinks that in the last 5 years only, has there been mistakes which nobody has taken the blame for, so why bring up 2001, Mrs BATES WAS A WOMAN OF HER OWN MAKING, that was how Labour run this council in those days, when I say lets get on with running this town, I mean the council and those who take an interest in the town, it doesnt mater how many votes he had, (he had more than the rest), he is the elected one by a system that has been around for yonks and not a lot wrong with that as I see it, the fact that back in labour days, they pulled a fast one, is neither here nor there. Ask Mrs Bates what she did the with 90 million they got for the Brunel centre....
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: Critique on September 10, 2008, 06:31:58 PM
If I remember right the bulk of the £90 million from the sale of the Brunel went to fund a shortfall in the council's pension fund. Why was there a black hole? Because Michael Heseltine, the Environment Secretary in Margaret Thatcher's 1980s Tory government, allowed council's to take a holiday from paying into pensions fund in order to keep rates down (or had council tax been introduced by then?).

History caught the council out on that occasion. Ignoring another historical cock up when the political elite of the town conveniently ignored the majority view in favour of an elected mayor in the consultation of mid-2001 is unacceptable.
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: Alligator on September 10, 2008, 06:40:46 PM
Our MP thinks that in the last 5 years only, has there been mistakes which nobody has taken the blame for, so why bring up 2001, Mrs BATES WAS A WOMAN OF HER OWN MAKING, that was how Labour run this council in those days, when I say lets get on with running this town, I mean the council and those who take an interest in the town, it doesnt mater how many votes he had, (he had more than the rest), he is the elected one by a system that has been around for yonks and not a lot wrong with that as I see it, the fact that back in labour days, they pulled a fast one, is neither here nor there. Ask Mrs Bates what she did the with 90 million they got for the Brunel centre....

Erm I'm not really sure what you're attempting to say here, but I'd say bringing up 2001 is highly relevant because that was when the council chamber passed the motion to adopt a style of governance which wasn't the preferred model of the majority of the people surveyed.   It was also the night when the council passed from Labour control to Conservative control, so I'm not sure that you could say it was just Labour that pulled a fast one.

I don't see the debate on an elected mayor as being about the actions of any of the leaders, past or present, it's not even about which party you support.  It is about who gets a say in who leads the town.   

The number of votes is clearly important to any model of governance that claims to be democratic.  The fact is that, under the current system, the leader, or any councillor that may become leader, will only have a mandate as a local councillor for a small area of the town and that mandate is only likely to have come from a couple of thousand voters. Therefore I see that the issue of how many votes they have, and what those votes were for, is a very key point.

Not one single Swindon voter has been asked to give any politician in Swindon a mandate to lead the town.  The sad thing is that today being leader of the town comes as a secondary 'fringe' benefit of being the leader of the largest group in the chamber.  Hardly a recognition of, and appreciation for, the importance of the role, but I suppose it is well suited to the interests of the main political parties, which may go some way to explain their actions in 2001.
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: Tobes on September 10, 2008, 07:19:24 PM
Quote
Our MP thinks that in the last 5 years only, has there been mistakes which nobody has taken the blame for, so why bring up 2001

Which MP is that? You seem very well informed about the specifics of this MPs view...  ;)

Quote
when I say lets get on with running this town, I mean the council and those who take an interest in the town,

So, Ali, I and plenty of others who take an interest in this town don't qualify, because we take a different stance to you  eh? I'd say that debating this issue is very much about the interests of the town - as is our wish as ordinary members of a disenfranchised and largely disengaged electorate to be fully and effectively represented.

Quote
I don't see the debate on an elected mayor as being about the actions of any of the leaders, past or present, it's not even about which party you support.  It is about who gets a say in who leads the town.


Hear hear.

Quote
Erm I'm not really sure what you're attempting to say here

It looks to me like an obviously politically partisan attempt to drag the debate off into an irrelevent direction...
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: James on September 10, 2008, 07:59:48 PM
The fact is that at that time the few people who were asked wanted an elected mayor system, yet we didn't get one, nor were the wider population of Swindon asked.
The question is do we still want one, or are we happy with (unwanted) the status quo?

This is unfinished business.


James
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: swindonlinkman on September 11, 2008, 02:12:44 PM
People like mayors, politicians don’t

A nice line used by DorothyThornhill, the mayor of Watford elected on 9 September 2008. See attached:


[attachment older than 365 days auto saved then deleted by admin]
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: Chav on January 09, 2009, 05:46:32 PM
Well I have come accross this on page 5 of the members buletin:


Quote
Mayoral petitions A consultation
Author: Hilary Kitchin
The government wants to change the current requirements and make it easier to obtain
sufficient signatures to trigger a mayoral referendum. A consultation document, Changing
Council Governance Arrangements ? Mayors and Indirectly Elected Leaders, makes a
number of proposals including lowering the threshold of signatures needed for a mayoral
petition.
This briefing outlines the issues for consultation and provides background to the mayoral
debate.
More of this briefing at:
[url]http://www.lgiu.gov.uk/briefing-detail.jsp?&id=2060&md=0&section=briefing[/url]


you can access the SBC members buletin by clicking on this link:

http://www.talkswindon.org/index.php?action=post;topic=3224.0;num_replies=81

Or you can go to http://ww2.swindon.gov.uk/moderngov/ecCatDisplay.asp?sch=doc&cat=499&path=0&J=3

where you should have a list of members buletins to read from  :santa_evil:

Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: swindonlinkman on January 09, 2009, 05:54:21 PM
Sounds interesting and could offer an opportunity to revive the campaign hi-jacked and screwed up by the Advertiser.
Tried to click on lgiu link and it demands you to be a member and the SBC link goes to a list of bulletins. Which one is it?
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: Chav on January 09, 2009, 05:58:03 PM
Sounds interesting and could offer an opportunity to revive the campaign hi-jacked and screwed up by the Advertiser.
Tried to click on lgiu link and it demands you to be a member and the SBC link goes to a list of bulletins. Which one is it?

Its number 440 the one at the bottom - page 5
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: swindonlinkman on January 10, 2009, 09:23:35 AM
Wow, I'm sure Steve Wakefield would like to look as thin as portrayed on the front page of the bulletin.
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: Geoff Reid on January 10, 2009, 11:03:27 AM
Its number 440 the one at the bottom - page 5


Yep.


Quote
Mayoral petitions A consultation 

Author: Hilary Kitchin
The government wants to change the current requirements and make it easier to obtain sufficient signatures to trigger a mayoral referendum. A consultation document, Changing Council Governance Arrangements?

Mayors and Indirectly Elected Leaders, makes a number of proposals including lowering the threshold of signatures needed for a mayoral petition.
 
This briefing outlines the issues for consultation and provides background to the mayoral debate.
 
More of this briefing at: [url]http://www.lgiu.gov.uk/briefing-detail.jsp?&id=2060&md=0&section=briefing[/url]


Only problem being that the Council is keeping the consultation issues and 'background' of the issue to itself again. This document is not available to members of the General Public.

Again.


Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: swindonlinkman on January 10, 2009, 11:52:39 AM
Not a problem at all. We can thank the eagle eyed chav for spotting this issue and giving us the opportunity to focus on the issue again - if we want to.
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: Chav on January 11, 2009, 04:38:04 PM
Its number 440 the one at the bottom - page 5


Yep.


Quote
Mayoral petitions A consultation 

Author: Hilary Kitchin
The government wants to change the current requirements and make it easier to obtain sufficient signatures to trigger a mayoral referendum. A consultation document, Changing Council Governance Arrangements?

Mayors and Indirectly Elected Leaders, makes a number of proposals including lowering the threshold of signatures needed for a mayoral petition.
 
This briefing outlines the issues for consultation and provides background to the mayoral debate.
 
More of this briefing at: [url]http://www.lgiu.gov.uk/briefing-detail.jsp?&id=2060&md=0&section=briefing[/url]


Only problem being that the Council is keeping the consultation issues and 'background' of the issue to itself again. This document is not available to members of the General Public.

Again.





I filled out the required registration form, and where it says organization, I clicked on 'Community Link' as I am a member of a Community and a community volunteer.
It said thank you for registering blah blah blah!
......and 'your form is being processed etc etc etc !

I still have had no confirmation/activation email from them, yet on the website its self, it gives you reasons for wanting to join, and the benefits of joining etc etc etc !


So where's me flaming activation email then !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wot is the point of having registration forms if ya cant get in !!!
Maybe then just wanted my details !!!!! now theres a thought!
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: Geoff Reid on January 11, 2009, 05:17:21 PM
Sorry, I was thinking about this the wrong way.

I was daft enough to think that SBC was serious when it said it wanted to encourage interest in local politics and achieve excellence in all it's dealings, but especially where transparency of political decision making is concerned.....silly me.

The consultation is a public one, anyone can make a contribution to it. Closing date is the 13th of March 2009

Quote
Who we are consulting

1.9 This is a public consultation and it is open to anyone to respond to the questions which are summarised at annex A.

We would particularly welcome responses from councils in England, national representative bodies, and electoral registration officers and returning officers.



It was really too much to hope or expect that SBC's political entourage would publicise a public consultation on something that affects their grip on local politics, especially so at a time when the leader of the council is enthusiasticly lending his voice to a Local Government Association campaign to have more power devolved from central government into the hands of.....
....leaders of local councils!


Our views, I suggest, are about to be ignored by SBC again, so now is a good time to have a quick ganders at the questions this consultation is seeking to answer and submit your own responses.

Here's a link to the consultation that SBC doesn't seem to want to share with you:


http://www.talkswindon.org/politics/elected-mayor/hmg2009consultation/mayors_and_indirectly_elected_leaders_consultation.pdf


Here's the consultation questions: (They are fairly self explanatory, but unless you are reasonably familiar with the subject matter a read of the entire consultation document is a good idea)


List of consultation questions

Question 1 Should we remove the special requirements that a proposal to move from a mayor and cabinet executive must include a statement setting out the arguments for and against the change and the council’s reasons for wanting to make that change?

Question 2 Do you agree with the proposal that the moratorium period should be reduced from ten years to four years where a governance referendum does not result in a change?

Question 3 Should the threshold for a petition to trigger a governance governance referendum be reduced across the board? If yes, to what level should the threshold be reduced, bearing in mind the considerations about the balance between the practicalities of collecting signatures and the demonstration of a significant level of interest in change.

Question 4 Should numerical thresholds be set? If so, what should the basis and bands for these thresholds be?

Question 5 Should the threshold be a percentage, but subject to certain minimum and maximum numerical thresholds? What should those percentage and numerical thresholds be?

Question 6 Do you agree that a traditional paper based petition calling for a governance governance referendum may be supplemented, if the petition organiser so wishes, by e-petitioning?

Question 7 Do you agree that e-petitioning for a governance governance referendum must be through a secure e-petitioning facility provided by the council concerned?




How to respond

1.10 Your response must be received by 13 March 2009 and may be sent by email or by post to:
 
email: email: governance@communities.gsi.gov.uk

Post:

Changing Council Governance Arrangements Consultation
Communities and Local Government
Zone 5/A2
Eland House
Bressenden Place
London
SW1E 5DU



One nice thing to come out of this consultation document is the information on petitioning that the Borough Solicitor has, for several months now, failed to provide despite promising to do so.
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: swindonlinkman on January 12, 2009, 06:12:48 PM
I love it. From Chapter 1.

1.1 The white paper, Communities in Control: Real people, real power, is about passing
power into the hands of citizens and communities. It sets out a range of policies to
achieve this, building on work in progress from the 2006 Local Government white
paper, Strong and Prosperous Communities.

Does anybody know if this has gone to cabinet or just hidden/buried/lost?
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: Chav on January 12, 2009, 07:14:16 PM
Quote
Posted by: swindonlinkman 
Insert Quote
I love it. From Chapter 1.

1.1 The white paper, Communities in Control: Real people, real power, is about passing
power into the hands of citizens and communities. It sets out a range of policies to
achieve this, building on work in progress from the 2006 Local Government white
paper, Strong and Prosperous Communities.

Does anybody know if this has gone to cabinet or just hidden/buried/lost?

Ask Muggins (Talk Swindon Member)!
I am sure they will put you in the picture if you ask them !
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: Geoff Reid on January 12, 2009, 08:59:39 PM

For HMG's 'Real People, Real Power' read SBC's 'Connecting People, Connecting Places'.....although in SBC's version the 'empowerment' aspect seems to have evaporated.

I don't know about cabinet, but the briefing notes, (the ones we can't access on account of them being available to members only), are available to all councillors.

My best guess is that the only responses to the consultation SBC want the Dept for Communities and Local to see from Swindon, will be the ones supplied by them.

I spent an hour scouring www.swindon.gov.uk and couldn't find any mention of this consultation, which is surprising given that SBC is blowing it's own trumpet on how it wishes to 'empower' residents.

SBC knows all about this consultation, yet doesn't tell the rest of Swindon that it's entitled to have another say in how the leadership of the council can be changed.

Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: ford on February 17, 2009, 08:52:28 AM
The Conservative party are going to promulgate the elected Mayor programme, according to this BBC report

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7893295.stm

Swindon is not a flagship town for the experiment.

Quote
The 12 cities earmarked for directly elected mayors, which would have executive powers similar to the mayor of London, are:

    * Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Coventry, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Nottingham, Sheffield, Wakefield.


Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: Alligator on February 17, 2009, 11:14:36 AM
It's good to see them putting the issue of local democracy back on the agenda, their plans are very much in keeping with the answer (http://www.talkswindon.org/index.php?topic=3352.msg18793#msg18793) that David Cameron gave when I asked him about this last year.
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: ZPW on May 20, 2010, 02:30:36 PM
Is swindon one of the 12 largest cities in the UK?
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: swindonlinkman on May 20, 2010, 02:57:01 PM
Swindon Council better have good reasons to waste more time seeking city status. See my earlier posting on Queens jubilee city status plan.
http://www.talkswindon.org/index.php?topic=4662.msg29385#msg29385 (http://www.talkswindon.org/index.php?topic=4662.msg29385#msg29385)
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: Geoff Reid on May 20, 2010, 11:38:20 PM

Surely Swindon needs a town centre before it can have a City Centre?

Unless we're trying for a 1940's Blitz look?
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: Bogomil on May 20, 2010, 11:52:48 PM
Well with the new water feature the town centre is heading in the right direction, (back in time)

I remember the old one that Labour had removed

and just think of Rod’s plan to give is back a cannel... that goes back even more years....

Mind you after Park’s I am surprised that they wanted to give Tory councillors any more chances to go fishing  :2funny:
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: Geoff Reid on May 21, 2010, 12:08:25 AM

Possible thread titles from bogo's post:

'The Pissoir and the Plumber'

'Clochemerle and cloth ears'

'Pride cometh before the Plumber falls'
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: Bobby Bingo on May 21, 2010, 10:44:47 AM
Hip Hip Hooray
It's Mayor Making day today.
The Curry Houses will be pleased they will have a new V.I.P. client to help promote their business.
Title: Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Post by: Mart on May 22, 2010, 12:02:14 PM
Apparently it's all a misunderstanding.

Somebody heard someone else mutter 'We stand on the blockpaved threshold of city status', in fact what was said, 'We stand on the blockpaved threshold of shitty status'.

now I am become Death [Shiva], Rodders, the destroyer blockpaver of worlds Swindon