Following on from my earlier blog when Mike Barnes of Democracy4Stoke spoke to us it's now the turn of Paul Breeze to give us his reasons why we should vote to keep the Mayoral system. So in the "VOTE NO" corner weighing in with the "Peoples Choice" argument:
WHY PEOPLE SHOULD ‘VOTE NO’ ON OCTOBER 23rd.
Don’t be confused about this referendum. What it boils down to is very simple.
IF YOU WANT A LEADER AND CABINET SYSTEM WHERE JUST 60 COUNCILLORS CHOOSE WHO RUNS THE CITY – VOTE YES.
IF YOU WANT AN ELECTED MAYOR AND CABINET SYSTEM WHERE 186,000 PEOPLE CHOOSE WHO RUNS THE CITY – VOTE NO.
I am one of those 186,000 Stoke-on-Trent citizens. I don’t want to give up my vote to just 60 councillors. I am appalled at the arrogant contempt the majority of councillors have towards us as citizens that they have actually forced a referendum to put this insulting proposition to us.
I will categorically be voting NO in this referendum. I urge every fellow resident of Stoke-on-Trent to do the same – because if you vote YES, you will be giving up your own vote and choice, and also that of your children and the next generations to come. We will no longer have any say in who runs our own city.
We already had a referendum in 2002. We, the people, chose to change the governance arrangements of Stoke-on-Trent to give ALL current and future residents across the city the opportunity to choose to vote for the person we wanted to be the directly accountable city leader, a directly Elected Mayor; and more importantly, the power to remove them if we don‘t like them or we don’t think they are doing a good job.
In a Leader and Cabinet system, councillors choose, from amongst themselves, the leader they want. We have no power to remove them.
The reason we voted for an Elected Mayor system in the first place was because our existing Leader and Cabinet system, under councillors and MPs control, led our City to: *decades of chronic decline; *a clueless lack of visionary leadership; *absolutely no adequate political, social, economic response to the decimation of the mining, steel and pottery industries; *behind-closed-doors deals, open to rampant corruption; *repeated financial disasters like the Cultural Quarter and Worldgate; *£millions of crippling debt, which ordinary council tax payers suffered from; *a rise of deep public cynicism and resentment, leading to many veering towards extremist views as a protest; *and ultimately Stoke-on-Trent shamefully being named in 2001 as the worst place to live in the UK.
Since 2002, under an Elected Mayor system our city is now on the right track. We are progressing: *up from a poor one star council to 3 stars and improving; *introduction of Building Schools for the Future programme; *investment of £millions of Renew regeneration money; *introduction of co-ordinated Area Implementation, Neighbourhood Management Teams tackling local issues; *reduction in crime; *£millions of investment coming through North Staffs Regeneration Partnership business plan; *rated as the best place to base a business in the UK; *the real, exciting prospect of Stoke-on-Trent being transformed into a dynamic, modern, city environment taken seriously across the country; *and the true democracy of a directly Elected Mayor accountable to all the citizens of Stoke-on-Trent.
Don’t be fooled. *Scrap the Mayor = Scrap your vote. *Democracy4Stoke = Democracy for 60 councillors and NO democracy for the rest of us. *The cost of an Elected Mayor & Cabinet is just the same as a Leader & Cabinet. *On the threat of extremism: you don’t disenfranchise the whole city population because some people might vote for something you disagree with. *On the complaint that Mayors have 4 years in office: so do councillors, MPs and MEPs.
The simple questions to bear in mind on October 23rd are: *Do you want to lose your vote? NO. *Do you want just councillors to choose who runs our city? NO. *Do you want this city to go backwards and return to the dark old days? NO.
If your answer to those questions is also NO, then make sure you vote NO on October 23rd. – and keep the power in the hands of all the people of our city.
Deciding who runs this city is everyone’s democratic right. We don’t need a handful of people deciding for us. It should – and must always be – the people’s choice in Stoke-on-Trent.
That is why we must VOTE NO on October 23rd.
Organiser/Chairman ‘People’s Choice’ Vote No Campaign
Follow this link to the Sentinel article: