Mayor ditched, now ditch directly-elected Mayor role

Updated with statement from John Biggs at bottom of page.

After last week’s judgement in the Royal Courts of Justice some might ask why not completely abolish the position of directly-elected Mayor in Tower Hamlets?

LW was considering this issue a couple of weeks back and came upon the legislation here Directly-elected mayors (PDF – House of Commons Library).

Today there was an interesting exchange of views on Twitter regarding this with some no-nonsense views from local Limehouse resident Lee Hurst.

Joke is the whole directly-elected Mayor idea (the brain child of one Tony Blair apparently) is to make the role of Mayor more accountable.

Yes, you read that right. More accountable.

Slightly at odds with the ex-Mayor’s habit of not answering questions on the basis that being compelled to do so would infringe his human rights.

Yes you read that right too. Only in Tower Hamlets.

Here’s one extract from the document referenced above:

2 Referendums and time limits

Under the 2000 Act, any local authority wishing to establish a mayoralty required a ‘yes’ vote in a local referendum. The 2007 Act changed this, permitting local authorities to adopt a mayor by resolution. However, an authority can still choose to hold a referendum on the issue. Alternatively, authorities can be obliged to hold a mayoral referendum if 5% or more of the local electorate sign a petition demanding one (see section 3). The Government may also compel an authority to hold a referendum. The result of a mayoral referendum is binding on a local authority.

The Localism Act 2011 permitted a referendum to be held on abolishing an elected mayor, subject to time limits; and for a referendum to be held on establishing a leader and cabinet, or on using the committee system. Four authorities have held referendums on whether to retain their mayoral system. Electors in Doncaster (3 May 2012) and Middlesbrough (26 September 2013) voted to retain their elected mayor, whilst those in Hartlepool (15 Nov 2012) voted to replace it with the committee system, and those in Stoke-on-Trent (23 Oct 2008) voted to replace it with a leader and cabinet system.

Authorities which have changed their governance arrangements as a result of a referendum can only make a further change following a further referendum. Where a local authority has held a referendum on its governance arrangements, a further referendum may not be held for ten years (five years in Wales). Conversely, where a mayor has been created by resolution of the council, five years must elapse before the council may resolve to abolish the mayor. However, there is no time limit on holding a referendum (whether initiated by the council or by a petition) to reverse a decision made by a resolution.

So reading the above it would seem that a referendum to abolish the role of directly-elected Mayor in Tower Hamlets can only be held ten years after the original event which means not until 2020.

Pretty please Eric

Maybe Mr Pickles could make an exception in our case if we asked nicely enough?

Here are the result of the Tower Hamlets mayoral referendum for 6 May 2010

For:          60,758

Against:   39,857

Turnout: 62.1%

However the electoral petition judgement may prompt some to consider this result in a different light.

Simply put – was the original referendum rigged? And a result of the same illegal practices that took place in the run-up to the May 2014 election?

Funnily enough one Andrew Gilligan – whose reports in the Daily Telegraph regarding the corruption in Tower Hamlets council have been proved correct – wrote about this at the time. Have a read of this: “By permitting fraud we betray democracy” 

Some of those issues sound familiar?

The issues surrounding the original referendum makes a more complicated story than can be addressed here. But is worth telling in full at some point.

Vote for me and I will make myself redundant

The really smart move by a candidate in the re-run of the Mayoral election would be to campaign on a “Vote for me and I will make myself redundant” ticket.

Or maybe it is will be left to residents to sort this nonsense out – just like the four electoral petitioners did.

Update 10:10 27 April 2015

Missing the point

Labour candidate for directly-elected Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs has responded to the original post with this statement:

John Biggs, Labour Mayoral candidate for Tower Hamlets
John Biggs, Labour Mayoral candidate for Tower Hamlets

“Being elected on a manifesto of abolition rather misses the point which is that it is going to be with us for at least another 5 years so we need to make it work.

We can do so by highlighting its frailties and volunteering safeguards and in particular by a culture of openness. 

In other boroughs where there are elected Mayors there appears to be no great hunger to abolish but then none of them have experienced what we have had here.

When the time comes a referendum can be sought to abolish it if that’s what people want.”

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