Friday, 28 September 2007

No Ray Mallon here!

The result of the referendum for an elected Mayor was:
No - 11,226 (58.4%)

Yes - 7,981 (41.6%)
Turnout was 24.7%
The proposal to have an elected mayor is therefore lost.

So, after all their petitioning and campaigning, the small group who wanted to impose an elected autocracy on us persuaded less than 8000 people out of over 75000 to vote for their proposal. But now is the time that the Labour Group needs to realise that, just because people don't want a Ray Mallon for Darlington, it doesn't mean they don't want change.

The task of the Liberal Democrats now is to hold the Labour Council to its word. To ensure that the Constitution Working Party and eventually the full Council introduce genuine devolution, openness and democracy, both inside the Town Hall and outside in the wider community.

I believe the town wants this. The Labour Council has been arrogant, dismissive and autocratic, but the town saw through the "Yes" campaign to its true purpose, which was to effect political change through constitutional reform.

The task now is to ensure that constitutional reform is introduced which allows for real involvement in the decision-making process by people in their local communities. It must also make it easier to hold the Executive to account.

The other question now is, how much of the Local Government White Paper 2006 will eventually make its way onto the statute book, and will we be presented with a traditional Council Leader who has mayoral-style powers, or will there be directly elected executives?

Just think, you could have had this:

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