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Sunday, 21 December 2014

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Copeland mayor election put back to May next year

The election date for Copeland’s new mayor has been put back seven months after Secretary of State for Communities Eric Pickles stepped in.

Carla Arrighi photo
Carla Arrighi

Following the results of last month’s referendum which ruled that the existing council set-up in the borough was to be radically changed, current legislation meant the mayor election would be held in October and solely funded by Copeland taxpayers.

But after calls from Copeland council and the borough’s MP Jamie Reed to Mr Pickles, the Government has confirmed that changes will be made to the legislation so the vote can take place the same time as the General Election next May, saving thousands of pounds.

The move has angered the Time for Change campaigners, who brought about the referendum after gathering more than 7,000 signatures.

Group leader Carla Arrighi said she was “extremely disappointed” at the decision, which she said was “another example of local politicians putting their own interests first”.

“They have absolutely no regard at all for the electorate,” she said. “Copeland Council carry on as if the referendum never happened. This is not only disappointing but disheartening to everyone who lives in Copeland.

“For Copeland’s leadership to continue in office for 11 months after being out-voted in a landslide victory so emphatically is beyond ridiculous. Yes, there is a cost for an election to take place in October but we believe this ‘pales into insignificance’ compared the to the cost of delay. Time for Change and the electorate believe that this would be money well spent. Change is required immediately!”

Mr Reed said the move meant “common sense has prevailed in Government”.

“It is to the benefit of everybody in Copeland that this election is held in May.”

As things stood, the full £120,000 for an October election would be met in full by the already cash-strapped council.

But if the vote is delayed until May 2015, it will tie in with the General Election and local borough and parish elections, thereby cutting admin costs.

Mr Reed added: “The disastrous election of Police and Crime Commissioners in 2012 demonstrates the apathy towards elections late in the year. This is a new chapter for local government in Copeland and it is essential that it is engaging; part of this is ensuring as many people as possible turn out to choose their new mayor. The most effective way of ensuring engagement is to hold this election at the same time as the General Election.

“Having written to the Secretary of State, I am delighted that he has seen sense and has put in motion the processes that are required to hold this election in May 2015.”

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