"In the forthcoming Referendum, Democracy4Stoke, is asking the people of Stoke-on-Trent to vote YES for change – YES to scrap the Elected Mayor. Democracy4Stoke was formed in 2002, and has gradually grown to over 100 members from all political parties and non, and from all walks of life. Our aim is to restore democracy back into all our public services – local government, health, police and many other quangos – so that everybody has a real says in their community and how things are run. Our greatest achievement has been to effectively force the council to have a referendum, following our 10,000 name petition that was delivered to London. Make no mistake, there would never be a referendum had the petition not been done. Those that support an Elected Mayor would have carried on and we would all have been denied our right to choose. For 5½ years now Stoke-on-Trent has suffered under the Elected Mayor system. Since its creation over half of all our elderly care homes have closed with more to come; we’ve had the scandal of over £100,000 wasted on an ice rink that went bump within days of its opening; who can forget the heartache cause by the Elected Mayor and Council Manager knocking down thousands of headstones in our cemeteries, then having to dole out tax payers money to compensate them. If you want to stop these things happening vote “Yes” to scrap the Elected Mayor. More recently, for the first time in the city’s history, we have had direct government intervention in a key public service, Children’s Services, handed over to a private organisation, SERCO, who torn up previously agreed secondary school proposals, in favour of closing some of our more success schools. Dimensions would have been closed if there hadn’t been a major community campaign to keep it open: and now even our community centres are threatened with closure. The list could go on and on. Even a recent government report said that our city is “leaderless”, “fragmented” and desperate for change. Vote Yes for Change. The cost of having an Elected Mayor is spiralling out of control. The salary of the Elected Mayor alone is £1500 per week, added to which are two secretaries, a personal assistant, and ten political advisors paid over £17000 each, all costing us, the taxpayers, nearly £1/2m per year. The leader model, which we campaign for, costs just of 1/3 of this amount. An Elected Mayor, has now been proven to be distant and out of the reach of ordinary citizens concerned about their communities and their local services. Why should an Elected Mayor care when once elected, they don’t have to worry about what anybody else thinks for another four years. The leader model, by contrast, hands the decision-making powers back to local communities, through local representatives, councillors. Through councillors, once again, any leader, would have to listen to local people and councillors every second of every day, knowing that making the wrong decision could be their last as leader. This is real democracy accountable 24/7. No one system is perfect, but surely, having 60 people making decisions must be better than leaving it to one Elected Mayor. Sixty people from all over the city, from all walks of life, from Meir to Golden Hill, and from Trentham to Bucknall. 60 people or just 1 - which is more democratic? Having an Elected Mayor takes away a key plank of our local democracy. Removing the opportunity of every citizen to stand up and represent their local community, to make a difference and change things in their street, their community or their city. Instead the Elected Mayor is centralised at the Civic Centre, beyond the reach of all but the most elite and those with the money to get there. There is even the likelihood that the BNP could take it, this would be the final straw for anybody thinking of bringing jobs to the city. We want change: change that comes right from local communities - upwards. A council that takes everybody into account, and along with them, would be a council of real strength, leadership and vision. We cannot continue along our current path – leaderless, no direction and ridiculed by those outside with little chance of outside investment. Five years has already left us well behind other great cities. If we fail to act now we have an Elected Mayor forever, the law says we can never have another chance to get rid of this dictatorship of a system. Bring this government experiment to an end! I urge everybody to vote, and vote “Yes” for change – “Yes” to Scrap the Elected Mayor."
The three city MP's have come out in favour of the Leader and Cabinet system over the past few weeks.
Look out for an article by Paul Breeze the Chairman of the "Peoples Choice Campaign (vote NO) in the next few days.
Over to you what do you make of Mikes Blog?.........
Follow this link to the Sentinel article: