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Westminster doesn’t necessarily know best
10:15am Thursday 19th April 2012 in Letters
Sarah Turnbull’s letter (April 12, 2012) concerning the referendum on elected mayors deserves more debate. In fact, I cannot find any hint of a serious debate on the pros and cons of elected mayors.
There seems to be an assumption among the Westminster elite that they are a good thing and every town and city should have one. I’m not so sure.
The track record of current elected mayors is not exactly brilliant. Consider the slanging match between the contestants for the London mayoral election. Would you vote for either of the two main egos? The elected mayor of Doncaster is very keen on his TV appearances but seems to have little grasp of local issues, apart from a dogmatic response to social policy. Remember the elected mayor of Hartlepool? He was the local football club mascot and campaigned under the name ‘Hangus’ (if you don’t understand the derivation, look it up on the internet).
The London, Doncaster and Hartlepool mayors all seem to have one thing in common – a desire to follow their own policies regardless of the advice or guidance of the elected councillors. With an elected mayor, how can controversial proposals be debated in public with all sides able to put their case?
The argument for elected mayors is that it enhances democracy in some way. However, it seems to me that the opposite is the case. The elected mayor becomes the elected local dictator who is very difficult to move and almost impossible to influence.
Remember the old saying, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”. The advocates of elected mayors argue the existing system is so in need of an overhaul that an elected mayor is the only solution. This has not been proven. Let’s stick to what we know works.