The Mayoral Alliance of the English Democrats and Community Action Party walked the streets speaking to residents about how a new form of Council Governance could change the city for the better.
The previous Labour Government (which Hazel Blears MP called Wicked and Malicious in 2010) wanted to bring direct accountability to our Council leaders, Hazel Blears when Government Community Secretary said “I am keen to see more elected mayors. The public want to see a person they have voted for and can hold to account.” “We need strong political leadership for our cities, which is why I support directly-elected mayors and want to see more of them in the future. People want to see an accountable, visible figure in charge. Business needs to know who to talk to. Cities need Mayors to compete internationally.”(from Manchester Evening News)
Even Labour MP Barbara Keeley is quoted as saying “Elected Mayors can offer highly effective local leadership – which is why Labour introduced the model.” (from http://www.barbarakeeley.co.uk)
Let’s look at the reasons Salford Labour use to try and get people to vote “NO”:
1) This is an American style Mayor – This is completely untrue as the rules on what an Elected Mayor of an English City can do are decided by the British Parliament, whilst in the US this is done by the U.S. Government. The other point being that no one has a monopoly on Democratic Accountability of our Leaders.
2) Salford Labour also say “When you cast your vote at local elections, you make a choice about who should represent you and thus what you council tax should be spent on. This right will be removed if a referendum to impose a directly elected Mayor is successful” This is once again a false statement from Labour, you continue to have local elections to choose your local councillor however with an elected Mayor you also get to choose the Council leader, something you don’t have at present.
3) Salford Labour say that it is to much power in the hands of one person, however this power was given to them by a Labour Government, it is however very hypocritical of them to say a Mayor covering 1 Council has to much power whilst supporting a Mayor for Greater Manchester who would control 10 Councils.
4) What about Stoke who recently changed back to the old style of Council Governance, interestingly Salford Labour fail to mention that the last Mayor of Stoke was arrested on corruption charges and was one of the reasons people lost confidence in that system and wanted to change.
5) What about Doncaster, Salford Labour once again fail to mention the full facts to you, yes the audit commission did go in but it is what they said about the Councillors – “Councilors were described as “venomous, vicious and vindictive” and responsible for widespread “bullying and harassment” of council officers” The Commission condemned councilors for putting their “hatred of the mayor” before their responsibilities to local people and electors. The result has been poor schooling, poor housing, high crime and poor health and poor education. For instance, many local adults in the employment were too unhealthy and/or unskilled to find new jobs, said the Commission.” This was about Councilors’ and not the Mayor for the failings.
6) In their recent leaflet they say that the Mayor could “Ignore the wishes of a majority of the councillors you have elected” but in the same paragraph state” The Mayor could continue ruling – unless a two thirds majority of the council voted against the Mayors policies” This paragraph contradicts itself on a massive scale and cancel’s itself out.
7) Last year Cllr Merry would have only needed approx 22 votes to become Leader of the Council, we believe this is not Democratic or fair to the people of Salford, as long as he keeps those few people happy he will stay as leader. We want the approx 168,000 voters of Salford to have the chance to choose who they want as the leader of the Council, this is truly giving a voice to the people and an elected Mayor would have to keep the majority of those 168,000 voters happy or be voted out by them
8) Why are Salford Labour so set against a more Democratic system when other Labour Councils have changed to the new system, let’s look at the facts at who it affects, Cllr Merry is fighting for his position along with his colleagues who hold council portfolios, each person could lose 10s of thousands of pounds of tax payers money if an elected Mayor was chosen. They only have their own interests at heart and not that of the people, just like the councillors in Doncaster.
9) What about the cost, Cllr Merry started with £100k them went to £150k then £200k then £250k then £400k then £350k, bearing in mind he recently admitted to dealing with the A.V. referendum you would have thought he would have had a better idea of the true costs, what he attempts to do is scaremonger you the voter saying services to the elderly will be cut, whilst Cllr Merry himself cuts those services. Is this type of accounting why Salford is nearly £600million in debt?
10) An Elected Mayor will get rid of the impartial ceremonial Mayor – There is nothing impartial about a ceremonial Mayor who is chosen from Labour Councillors, this is just another perk for another colleague.
11) Salford has been Labour since 1973, through Tory, Labour and now coalition governments and Salford is still listed as one of the most deprived areas in the country, its crime figures in all but one section consistently remain higher than the national average, after such a long time surely a more Democratic and accountable leader is needed to steer the City from this disastrous Labour rule.
12) Lastly -Do not forget that Salford Labour fully supported the Congestion Charge Tax being imposed on Salford stating that they knew what was best for Salford – However Salford had the largest no vote out of all the 10 Greater Manchester Councils proving that Salford Labour are no longer in touch with people’s views.
Everybody in the Borough will be able to vote for a person, either standing as an individual or as a Party candidate, who will be personally democratically accountable to all the people of Salford as the Elected Mayor. This method of universal suffrage also establishes a direct bond between every resident with the person who is responsible to all local taxpayers for local services. Additionally a person who gains the most votes locally and becomes the Elected Mayor has received a majority of support from the whole local area and also, importantly a direct mandate to implement the policies they have promised in their election manifesto.