Friday, 27 November 2015

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Mayor campaigners want one-to-one debate with council leader

Campaigners pressing for an elected mayor to take the reins at Copeland are calling for a one-to-one debate with the leader of the council.

Bern Birbeck photo
Bern Birbeck

The Time for Change group wants member Bern Birbeck to sit down with Copeland Council leader Elaine Woodburn in the run up to May 22 referendum into whether the borough should have a directly elected mayor and have a live debate which would be covered by local media.

However, Copeland said it has not yet received an official request, so they were unable to say whether Ms Woodburn would take part.

Mr Birbeck said a request would be lodged in the next couple of days, and he hoped the council would accept.

“We feel the best way forward is to have a one-to-one debate with Copeland Council leader Elaine Woodburn, through the media,” said Mr Birbeck.

“A debate would allow the public to hear both sides of the argument.

“We believe that councillor Woodburn has been inconspicuous over the last seven months for a number of reasons. The public would like to hear from her – not one of her deputies. This offer of a debate is dependent upon councillor Woodburn accepting, we will only debate with her. The public deserve nothing less than the leader herself.”

Mrs Woodburn said she had not been approached by the group, adding: “I’m disappointed the group has not been in touch with me – I would have been happy to discuss the matter but only heard about it after it had been released to the media.

“This referendum is an extremely significant decision for the people of Copeland and its consequences will stay in place for ten years. It’s crucial that voters get all the facts in a calm, open and even-handed manner – which is why I would happily take part in a well managed and organised debate.

“I look forward to hearing the details as to how this might happen.”

History will be made when electors take to the polls to vote on whether the elected mayor should be brought in. The referendum takes place on the same day as the European parliamentary elections.

If the referendum returns a ‘yes’ vote, Copeland residents are scheduled to go to the polls on October 16 to vote for who will be the borough’s first elected mayor.

The mayor would replace the current set-up of council leader Elaine Woodburn and her team of executives, who would all revert to being ward councillors.

The Time for Change campaigners have cancelled a meeting due to be held in Bootle next Monday and are instead pressing for the debate. However, the presentation can be downloaded from


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