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Carlisle MP wants to make it easier to hold referendum on elected mayors

An MP is calling for changes to be made to make it easier to hold a referendum on whether or not to introduce elected mayors.

John Stevenson photo
John Stevenson

Carlisle MP John Stevenson spoke in the House of Commons yesterday about leadership in local government and suggested several changes to the current process.

He said he was a long-time supporter of elected mayors and would like to see:

  • A reduction in the percentage required from five per cent down to one or two per cent of the local population;
  • An extension of the period that campaigners can use people’s registered support;
  • Online petitions to be used – currently they have to be paper-based.

The MP said that his speech had been well received by Brandon Lewis MP, the Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government, who replied that he was ‘cautious but had an open mind’ on the issue.

Mr Stevenson said: “With referenda, people tend to stay with the status quo. I have been invited into the department to discuss the points I raised. From my perspective it’s been the most positively-received speech I have ever made.

“I am very hopeful that within the next few months we will see a change to make it easier to initialise a referendum for the introduction of elected mayors.”

Mr Stevenson added that he had received a mixed reaction from people on the issue, but there was strong backing from high-profile figures including Lords Heseltine and Adonis.

He said: “Hopefully within the next two or three weeks I will go into the department. From that it will be a little while before it goes to any changes.”

Currently there are 17 directly elected mayors in England and the role is different to that of the more ceremonial Lord Mayor.

The first directly elected mayor was the Mayor of London – a post currently occupied by Boris Johnson.

High-profile elected mayors have included former police officer Ray Mallon in Middlesbrough and Stuart Drummond in Hartlepool – he had previously been Hartlepool United’s team mascot.

A number of campaigns are underway to introduce directly elected mayors in a number of English councils, including one in Carlisle.

So far there have been 47 referenda on whether to introduce elected mayors in local councils – however voters rejected the idea in 34 areas.

Have your say

It is unlikely a character of adequate qualities will choose to surface. The traditional Carlisle families and businesses, which could have produced a 21st century Mayor, are long gone.My great fear is the candidate gaining the most votes could be a million miles from having those "adequate qualities". If there is a vote there MUST be a box so one can indicate that none of the candidates gain approval. Horrific if the Mayor elected was simply the best of the "bunch".

Posted by OLD LOCHINVAR on 14 January 2013 at 12:39

We don't need an elected mayor. You might end up with with either a mascot monkey as in Hartlepool or, even worse, Boris Johnson

Posted by Brian on 13 January 2013 at 12:31

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