Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

To Be Or Not To Be? A Directly Elected Mayor.

Posted by jonathanfryer on Friday, 25th December, 2009

The East London Advertiser is runing an online poll, asking Tower Hamlets residents whether they favour moving to a system of local government in which there is a powerful, directly-elected Mayor (as is the case in neighbouring Hackney and Newham). Next spring, local voters will be able to take part in a real referendum about whether they support that option or prefer a model in which there is a stronger leader at the head of the Council cabinet. Neither system is ideal, in my opinion; it was far more democratic when individual councillors had more power. And in the case of Tower Hamlets, even more so when there were devolved neighbourhood committees, under the old Liberal administration. Respect (which favours the Mayor option) has prompted the referendum through a petition. Among local Liberal Democrats, opinions are divided, which is why they have organised a public debate on the issue, to be chaired by national party President, Baroness (Ros) Scott, provisionally scheduled for 26 January. Watch this space. One thing is true, namely that the Mayor system can throw up some surprises (which is maybe what Respect is hoping). And the LibDems have notched up notable succeses in mayoral contests in Watford and Bedford.

Links: http://tower-hamlets-libdems.org.uk and www.eastlondonadvertiser.co.uk

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