Democracy Tower Hamlets, the campaign to rid our borough of the Directly Elected Mayor system, scored a double victory at their launch event on Sunday by annoying both former and current Directly Elected Mayors (DEM).
Sources tell Moley that the former Mayor, one Lutfur Rahman, is hopping mad because if residents vote for a referendum and the result of that is a big no to a DEM in Tower Hamlets it ruins his chances of returning to power after his ban on standing for elected office resulting from the electoral petition expires.
Who upset Mayor Biggs?
Sources inside the Town Hall report that the current Mayor, one John Biggs, is fuming as nobody mentioned the launch of the Democracy Tower Hamlets event to him (why should they?) and if he cannot win a third term he may, like anyone else, have trouble paying off the rest of his mortgage.
According to their press blurb Democracy Tower Hamlets “has been founded by a group of local campaigners, from a diverse political background, with the sole purpose of giving residents a choice, by collecting the required signatures to trigger a referendum. A referendum giving people a choice as to how they want Tower Hamlets to be governed, as per Parliamentary legislation.”
Democracy Tower Hamlets establishing itself
Sounds a good plan to us but to date Democracy Tower Hamlets do not have any digital presence to tell us all who the local campaigners are or how to sign the petition. LW has been assured this is being worked on as we speak.
For the moment the only publicly available information is that Democracy Tower Hamlets is registered as a Limited company with an address of 118 Brick Lane with the two officers being Khales Uddin Ahmed and Azmal Mert Hussain.
Cllr. Peter Golds (Conservative, Island Gardens) is also a key player, he gave a very good speech at the launch apparently.
Well done to Khales, Azmal and Peter for standing up and getting something done.
Azmal and Khales say that while Democracy Tower Hamlets is by its nature political, it is non-partisan.
A crippled administration
Let’s hope this proves to be true as at least one political group, Tower Hamlets Momentum, loves the idea of ditching the DEM system so they can get to play with the borough and have been busy pushing for a referendum for months. What could possibly go wrong with Team Jezza in charge? Well, as one reason the Biggs administration is crippled is because the Mayor has to keep TH Momentum happy – and the other different Labour factions – pretty much everything.
The one possible Mayoral candidate who is not angry with Democracy Tower Hamlets is Cllr. Rabina Khan. Her last Mayoral manifesto contained a promise for a referendum on the DEM.
Who made Rabina Khan not at all angry?
“I wholeheartedly support this initiative by Democracy Tower Hamlets,” said Cllr. Rabina Khan speaking to LW. “If the Mayoral system remains I would like to stand but if elected as Mayor my first action would be to devolve all Mayoral powers to a cross-party cabinet.”
This approach to trashing the DEM model has been piloted by Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz over in Newham.
Under the Local Government Act 2000 there are three ways local authorities can be governed: a mayor and cabinet; a leader and cabinet or a committee system.
Both Rahman and Biggs have successfully demonstrated what a complete and utter disaster the Directly Elected Mayor system is and LW supports the initiative by Democracy Tower Hamlets to put an end to it.
Please add your signatures to the Democracy Tower Hamlets petition for a referendum and then vote to remove it from our borough. We will be returning to this subject on a frequent basis.
The worrying thing is that without a DEM more power will be in the hands of local councillors. As LW is only aware of six or seven of the 40+ current councillors who actually do their job properly (and three of those are the official opposition) this could also go horribly wrong.
But in our humble opinion absolutely anything is better than the current situation.
DHCLG commissioners please!
Bringing in the Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government (DHCLG) commissioners once again and putting the borough under their permanent control is top of our list. (Note to DHCLG, if you want to know where the bodies are buried do get in touch with Moley! He knows where to dig!)
Political geeks might like to read this LGiU Policy Briefing, Changing to a committee system in a new era [PDF] which gives the view that “The most cited advantage [of the committee system] and reason for changing is that the committee system is inherently more democratic, with more councillors directly involved in decision-making.”