Saturday, 13 September 2008

An Elected Mayor for North Yorkshire...smothered at birth?

Let's get straight down to business.

Under the banner of Saving Our Public Services in North Yorkshire...this topic is crucial.

Strong, accountable and democratic Leadership is essential to save and preserve local public services and amenities. These are services that we pay for. By public services I mean local Education services, Police, Fire, Bin Collections, Street Cleaning...all services we pay our local rates and taxes for. So where better to start, than with who leads those that run and administer them?

The post of an elected Mayor is up for consultation and discussion in North Yorkshire. Let's talk about it and fully explore these interesting proposals...it is very obvious that the local political establishment doesn't want to engage in any meaningful debate and discussion over this important subject.

Hidden away in a locally distributed council magazine was a small and discrete article about a change in the legislation regarding the Leadership of North Yorkshire County Council. There seem to be two proposals on the table:

  1. The 72 County Councillors elect their Leader and he/she will then appoint his/her Cabinet Executive. Or..
  2. A Mayor is elected by the people...and the elected Mayor will then appoint his/her Cabinet Executive.

I read the article and decided to find out more about these 'consultations'. I went on the NYCC website and found this information...please follow this link for more information:

http://www.northyorks.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=2890

Things can only get worse! Is this more of the same...but worse?

I knew that the current Leader is elected by the 72 County Councillors and the executive cabinet is also elected by the elected 72 County Councillors .

The NYCC literature and website kept stating that the...'The County Council considers that the leader and cabinet executive model is best suited to the circumstances of North Yorkshire.'

Why and how have they come to this conclusion?

Why do they think it would be best suited?

There was no explanation as to why the former model was 'best suited'. It always concerns me when the consultation process kicks off with phrases like this.

This issue was placed on the Agenda for the Bedale Town Council Meeting which was held on Monday 8th September. These are a few of the issues that were raised at the meeting:

  • The proposals being put forward seem to dilute the democratic process even further as the appointees on the Cabinet will no longer be elected but appointed.
  • This change seems to be coming whether we like it or not and I felt that we should fully engage in the consultation process
  • If we don’t engage in the consultation process then we will have lost the opportunity to have a say in these new proposals!
  • At least with an elected Mayor he/she will be directly elected by the people, for the people and with the knowledge that the elected Mayor will appoint his/her Cabinet.
  • The elected Mayor would be elected with a known manifesto regarding his/her plans once in Office.

Could I draw your attention to an article in the Darlington and Stockton Times written by Andy Walker who attended the Town Council Meeting?

http://www.darlingtonandstocktontimes.co.uk/display.var.2445389.0.elected_mayor_an_option_for_new_county_council.php

A couple of questions that should be put to the current Leader of the County Council:

  • Please show me the evidence to back up your claims?
  • Why shouldn't an elected Mayor "be a suitable alternative for very large, widespread rural areas"?
  • If they have "proved useful in fairly tight, urban areas"...why not in North Yorkshire?
  • The Leader of the County Council states "It would be very difficult, in an area as large as North Yorkshire, to elect a mayor." Why?

There are many unanswered questions!

My main concern is that this whole issue will probably be smothered at birth by blatant self interest and fear of change regardless of the will of the people of North Yorkshire.

Is this simply empire building at the expense of the ratepayer?

1 comment:

PJM said...

Based on purely financial considerations, I'm yet to be convinced as to the benefits of a mayor. For all other reasons, I'm in favour as I'm sure there is a argument to suggest cronyism is alive and kicking within NYCC. Having sat in on HDC 'parking charges' meetings I was disgusted at the lack of debate with local business, just presenting them with a fait accomppli.