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Campaign to remove the Mayor

Author Message
Sherwood
Joined 30-03-2005
Posted on Wednesday, 05 July, 2006 - 05:02 pm:   

Apparently some people are not happy with the directly elected mayor system.

See this link:

http://www.newsshopper.co.uk/news/lewgreennews/dis play.var.818105.0.campaign_aiming_to_remove_mayor. php

They need 9,000 signatures on a petition for a referendum to be held.
Hilltopgeneral
Joined 24-03-2004
Posted on Wednesday, 05 July, 2006 - 06:04 pm:   

Where do we sign?
Hilltopgeneral
Joined 24-03-2004
Posted on Wednesday, 05 July, 2006 - 06:12 pm:   

Amused to see on "News Shopper" that among the menu choices (News, etc) there are options of either "Shop A Yob" or "Adopt A Cat". There doesn't seem to be any scope for permutations thereof, but I can't help but feel it might be more socially useful and indeed civic-minded to Shop A Cat or Adopt A Yob.
Roz
Joined 17-03-2005
Posted on Wednesday, 05 July, 2006 - 09:11 pm:   

This is a quote from the News shopper article-

''New School campaign secretary John Hamilton said: "For all the spin about a directly-elected mayor being more in touch with the people, the experience of Lewisham has shown such a mayor relies too heavily on the advice of his officers, who may not give all the options and who may come under undue pressure from private sector firms."

I don't understand this statement. It is surely a plus that a Mayor would seek out technical, non politically balanced opinion on any issue. So what is the distinction between heavy reliance and appropriate reliance?
This is what Councillors usually do, is it not?

I'd be concerned if he relied solely on the direction of his own political party.

And the comment about officers under ' undue pressure from private sector firms? Do people really think that Lewisham officers are taking backhanders, as this is the implication? Sorry, but this debate is to gain credibility, the arguments need to grow a bit more substance than this, as so far this is all so transparently an anti Labour anti Steve campaign.
Robwinton
Joined 07-06-2006
Posted on Wednesday, 05 July, 2006 - 10:52 pm:   

Come on Roz. He is an out and out politician and he has decided that his power base is his alliance with party politics, not actually listening to his constituents. You don't think he is so great and loved he would have been voted in as an independent do you?

The point is that he was not a popularly elected mayor (he got 36% of the votes even after second preferences), he appears to take politically motivated, unilateral decisions, he ignores the views of councillors who ARE representative (by virtue of there being more of them if nothing else) and he actually refuses to listen to sense in many reasonable arguments (our pools, schools, etc.).

All in all, I think that creating a local dictator that is not even bound by the council, even if you call him "mayor", is not the way forward. Let's rethink this structure, and in the interim allow our councillors to run the area.
Roz
Joined 17-03-2005
Posted on Thursday, 06 July, 2006 - 06:48 am:   

Would have preferred answers to my questions above. I am simply trying to find some consistency in the various arguments that are floating around. I don't actually have an interest in keeping the status quo, but want to see a more rounded debate rather than the usual spin from all sides.
I believe the point is that both the system and the Mayor are in situ as a result of the democratic process. Surely if people did feel so strongly then he would have gone the same way as most of the Labour casualties in the recent election. Did his success not fly in the face of the general voting trend?
If not, what is the reason for the skew towards him that secured his position?
Whatever the flaws in the electoral system, the clear fact is that the electorate wanted him back.
Hilltopgeneral
Joined 24-03-2004
Posted on Thursday, 06 July, 2006 - 09:50 am:   

I don't remember being asked if I wanted a Mayor. I don't remember it being explained that the Mayor would be able to do more or less what he liked. I wasn't aware that the Mayoral system would totally erode the powers of local councillors and make them more or less redundant. 37.7% of the vote 33.8% turnout = 12.8% MANDATE, and you call this democracy? Throughout West Lewisham the people's feelings have been made perfectly clear - they don't want Labour - yet this express wish counts for nothing because we have a dictator who imposes his own will with the support of only 1 person in 8.
Max
Joined 25-10-2005
Posted on Thursday, 06 July, 2006 - 10:11 am:   

I believe that the Mayor was re-elected mainly because for almost two years the borough was plastered by the posters "it's your borough let's talk - Steve Bullock - Mayor of Lewisham".
It's crude but it works.
Roz
Joined 17-03-2005
Posted on Thursday, 06 July, 2006 - 08:08 pm:   

If proportional representation isn't the closest thing we have to a democratic voting system then what is?

I still maintain that if people felt so strongly that their lives would have been better off without Steve Bullock they would have had him out, and replaced him with one of the Mayoral candidates who were kindly offering to abolish themselves on taking up the post. Frankly, I would have loved to see it, ie

'Hello Mr Mayor, welcome to your 70k per annum job'.
'No thanks, having been offered this wonderful job by the electorate, I hereby abolish it immediatly and will instead stay in my very boring low paid job'.

Yeah yeah.

Its apparently democracy when the Lib Dems oust Labour from Forest Hill ward. How come your democracy is different from my democracy?
Hilltopgeneral
Joined 24-03-2004
Posted on Thursday, 06 July, 2006 - 09:00 pm:   

Erm... because the Liberal councillors have the support of more than 1 in 8 of the Forest Hill electorate? Because the councillors have to work in a...ahem...COUNCIL...which is constituted of a sufficient number of people to achieve a balance of views and power. There are checks and balances in the system

I assume then, Roz, that you'd be happy with a system in which 1 in 8 of us voted for "Dave", who then dispensed with a cabinet or Commons votes and took advice (which he might or might not choose to heed) from the Civil Service?

How come your democracy is different from my dictatorship?
Sherwood
Joined 30-03-2005
Posted on Friday, 07 July, 2006 - 10:00 am:   

I believe that Lewisham's directly elected mayor system is based on the Mayor For London (Ken Livingstone) model, which in turn is based on the Prime Minister (and Cabinet) with absolute power in reality, but subject to democratic control by Parliament in theory.
Obviously, the difference is that Tony Blair needs to keep a majority of MPs voting for his government's Bills.

Steve Bullock was elected by a majority of those voting with a transfer vote system.
Personally I would like to see the transfer vote system used to elect MPs.
Roz
Joined 17-03-2005
Posted on Friday, 07 July, 2006 - 01:37 pm:   

HTG

I don't know how to answer you any more than to say that the system exists, (imperfect as it is,) that the electorate,(knowingly/unknowingly/unwisely) voted for the new structure, and the same electorate returned Steve Bullock as Mayor. According the the Council website, if my maths are right, Steve Bullock took 42% of the vote in the Mayoral election -there were 6 candidates in total. How is that not democracy.? Or as democratic as we can get? I'd say that was a landslide myself!

If people want to instigate a referendum to change the structure and 9000 verifiable,lawful signatures are obtained in support, then good luck to them, that is indeed democracy in action but personally I would want to see sound arguments to warrant another change in local government which will no doubt be an added cost to the taxpayer. Is a referendum warranted when support for the status quo is so statistically evident.?
Max
Joined 25-10-2005
Posted on Friday, 07 July, 2006 - 02:27 pm:   

42%?
Your maths are wrong!
Here's the breakdown according to me.
http://tinyurl.com/eh76d
It's 37,78% of first preferences and 36,86% counting in also the second preferences though that is a bit like adding apples and pears.
Please note that the second preferences are counted only when nobody gets more than the 50% of the first preferences outright, the system assumes that one of the candidate will get more than 50% or close to it.
It's just another indication that this reform has been poorly thought through.
Sherwood
Joined 30-03-2005
Posted on Friday, 07 July, 2006 - 02:36 pm:   

Max,
No. The system does not assume that someone will get 50% of the votes. That is why second preferences are used. The winning candidate needs to get >50% of the valid votes including second preferences. Perhaps some people did not put a second preference.
Anyway he got more votes than anyone else.
Sherwood
Joined 30-03-2005
Posted on Friday, 07 July, 2006 - 02:51 pm:   

I think this link helps to explain the voting system:

http://www.lewisham.gov.uk/CouncilAndDemocracy/Dem ocracyAndElections/ElectionCountsAndResults/defaul t.htm

Second preferences are not used if a candidate wins at the first round, i.e. gets more than 50% of the votes.

Didn't Martin Bell say he would resign after beating Neil Hamilton in the sleaze row? He didn't resign did he?
Max
Joined 25-10-2005
Posted on Friday, 07 July, 2006 - 03:06 pm:   

Yes, he got more votes that the other cndidates, but he also saw a drop of votes and an appalling share of second preferences, he went even backward by adding the second prefs.
But leaving this aside I have other problems with the system.
We already had a chief executive before, what do we need more executives for?
The fact that there is/was a chief executive wasn't a reason to handcuff the Council.
The officers run the Borough and the elected representatives scrutinize their job and make sure that it's done properly.
Now we have a Mayor that represents who?
It seems to me that he represents who runs the borough and not the residents.
If massive cock-ups are exposed he goes out of his way to support the officers.
This is not what was supposed to happen when the reform was promoted.
These are the recommendations from Capita for the Mayoral reform:
http://tinyurl.com/ks4zj
And this is what Cllr Maslin (Labour) said at the last meeting of the sub-committee of Overview and Scrutiny on Ladywell:
"Many of us were very disappointed by the Mayor's performance when interviewed by this committee. He just seems to have endorsed officers' advice. He should exercise strong civic leadership which is impossible if the person sees himself as a rubber-stamp for a regime run by officers."
Max
Joined 25-10-2005
Posted on Friday, 07 July, 2006 - 03:11 pm:   

You don't need to have 50% of the votes to win but it is obviously in the spirit of the system that this is desirable.
Sherwood
Joined 30-03-2005
Posted on Friday, 07 July, 2006 - 03:26 pm:   

Max,
Perhaps the Mayor is trying the "Spenlow & Jorkins" defence.
I suspect he may be responsible for the decisions he says the officers have made. When they are found to be wrong he has someone else to blame!


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