READ The Chronicle’s comprehensive guide to help you decide how to vote in the directly elected execuctive mayoral referendum.
Voting takes place tomorrow (Oct 7) from 7am until 10pm
SINCE 2007, English local authorities have been able to create an elected mayor by resolving to do so in full council.
However, the majority of referendums on creating elected mayors have resulted in ‘no’ votes.
There are 15 directly elected mayors in England including four in London: Hackney, Lewisham, Newham and Tower Hamlets who are all Labour.
There are also six directly elected Metro mayors, created under different legislation from local authority mayors. The best known is Greater Manchester’s Andy Burnham, a former Labour MP and Conservative Andy Street in the West Midlands, the former Managing Director of John Lewis.
In December, Liverpool’s directly elected mayor Joe Anderson was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit bribery and witness intimidation. The Labour Mayor had planned to run for a third term but despite maintaining his innocence didn’t stand for re-election.
In May, Liverpool made history by choosing the UK’s first directly elected black female mayor Joanne Anderson.
However, her historic appointment may be short-lived, as she has said she would campaign to scrap the mayoralty and a referendum will be held in 2023 on the continuation of the role.
Tower Hamlet was similarly rocked by a scandal of vote rigging and accusations of fraud under its disgraced former mayor Lutfur Rahman, but when residents were given the opportunity to return to the ‘leader and cabinet’ model they voted overwhelming to continue with an executive mayor with more than 63,000 voters.
The turnout was almost 42 per cent for an electorate of 202,000 in the borough who wanted to keep the position which has been in place for 11 years.
IN CROYDON, a campaign group DEMOC (Directly Elected Mayor of Croydon) led by seven residents’ associations in South Croydon triggered the referendum having gathered a 21,000-signature petition. The minimum threshold for a valid petition is five per cent of local government electors registered in the local authority’s area.
The population in Croydon is 385,000 and 270,000 people are eligible to vote in the referendum. The petitioners included South Croydon Conservative MP Chris Philp and officials from the Croydon South Constituency Labour Party.
The mayor will be in power for four years and cannot be removed by the council but only on resignation, disqualification or death, when a by-election is held.
The procedures for abolishing a local authority mayor are the same as those for establishing one.
Abolishing a mayor comprises of a ‘change in governance arrangements’. This may be driven either by a referendum or by a resolution of the full council.
DIRECTLY elected mayors are the political leaders of the council and have overall responsibility for council policy and the delivery of services. Mayors appoint a cabinet of no more than 10 councillors and decide their portfolios. The cabinet can be made up of different political parties.
Councillors provide an important role in holding the executive to account by examining and questioning the decisions made. Only the full council can decide the budget and annual plans of key services.
The directly elected mayors are elected by the ‘supplementary vote’ system, with each elector asked to choose their first and second preference for the position. Voters’ first preferences are counted and if one candidate gets 50 percent of the vote, then he or she is elected. If no candidate gains 50 percent of the vote, the two highest scoring candidates are recounted to determine the winner, this time including second preference votes from all other (eliminated) candidates.
THERE would be NO additional support costs for a Mayor than currently exist for the Leader but a Mayor would be paid more as recommended by the Independent Panel on the Remuneration of Councillors in London.
The Mayor of Newham, for example, gets £86,000 per year compared to the leader of the council in Croydon, which in Tony Newman’s time was £54,000 but bearing in mind that he also oversaw the council going bankrupt which cost the borough millions. Since the council’s financial collapse, Newman’s replacement, Hamida Ali, has decided to pay herself slightly less after having to make hundreds of job cuts, increasing the council tax and asking the government for a 120 million bail out. A report considered by council in February 2021 estimated the costs arising from a referendum as anything between £400,000 and £650,000. The additional cost of adding the Mayoral vote to the ballot is estimated as between £210,000 and £293,000 every four years from 2022.
ANY person can stand for election as elected Mayor, provided they satisfy the eligibility and qualification requirements for standing as a councillor.
The candidates will likely emerge from the existing political parties but are unlikely to declare until a result has been announced. Those in the running could include existing members of parliament who can also become local authority mayors and retain their position as an MP.
Contenders could also feature existing councillors like the current Conservative opposition leader Jason Perry.
THE majority of local authorities use a governance system in which the councillors elect a council leader from among their number but the mayor is directly-elected by the voters to lead the council.
In the case of Croydon, Tony Newman was leader of the Labour group for 15 years and council leader for six.He survived a no confidence vote with all Labour councillors except one supporting him and he only resigned as it began to emerge just what a deep crisis the council was in.
Accusations then emerged of a culture of bullying and fear at the council. His successor Hamida Ali was voted as leader by Labour colleagues but secured only 22 votes to 19 to sole rival, Alisa Flemming.