A recent BBC poll shows that although there will be a referendum on whether to have an elected mayor, almost 70 per cent of those asked did not know it was happening, and even more worryingly, only eight per cent felt they had enough information to make a decision. This referendum will take place at the same time as the local elections in May and is extremely important to the people of Craven.
A Bradford-based mayor will have control over decisions affecting the whole of the district. While this may make sense in some places, such as London and Doncaster, it is not clear that it is at all desirable for Craven. Bradford is a complex place, both urban and rural, with distinct and separate needs from Craven.
At this time, I don’t believe there is sufficient information available for the people of my ward in Craven to make an informed decision. We are in the middle of major changes to the ward which could see more than 2,900 houses built here in the next 15 years. There is a desperate need for school places, both at primary and secondary levels; a need to invest in transport infrastructure and in some parts of the ward, such as Silsden and Steeton, there is a need for major investment in the sewerage network. With the information currently available about the powers of an elected mayor, I don’t see how anyone can be expected to come to an informed decision.
Without proper information, we are in danger of voting for a system which will be dominated by issues in the centre of Bradford which an elected mayor will see from their window in City Hall each day, without the benefit of a full and frank debate on competing issues affecting other areas of the district which are “out of sight and out of mind”.
I believe the crucial question to ask is how a Bradford-based elected mayor will benefit the people of Craven who are at the other end of the district. Being asked to vote on this issue now is like being asked to buy a used car without seeing the service history and having a test drive.
This is change for change sake. I urge people to make a decision on a fully informed basis and if they feel they don’t have the information yet, then make their views known and don’t accept a rushed decision which isn’t in Craven’s best interests.
Coun Adrian Naylor Craven Ward