Thursday, February 15, 2007

Evening Mail's "Big Debate" on elected mayors

For the last week the BEM has been leading heavily on the issue of the having an elected mayor for Birmingham.
The "Big Debate" wasn't nearly as big as expected. I suspect single people voted with their feet, and decided to stay in, while couples were already busy. A whole 82 people attended, with about 10 current cllrs, and 5 or so former cllrs also there (including the legendary Sir Richard Knowles).
Anyway the "just for fun" votes went as follows:
1) Does Birmingham need an elected mayor?
For 31 - Against 47

2) Should the people of Brum be given the right to decide the issue in a binding vote?
For 55 - Against 18 - Abs 1

It was interesting to hear Mayor Ray Mallon (middlesboro's "robocop" mayor) speak. It was quite clear that the circumstances surrounding his town were quite different from Birmingham. One party local council state, accusations of corruption/complacency/patronage within the ruling group, and therefore ripe for change.
But by the end of the debate he had been swayed to support the Birmingham no people through hearing that there weren't the same problems in Birmingham. (Despite the one party rule for 20 years, it could never be said there wasn't some form of effective opposition during that time).
What will be interesting is how the Evening Mail reports that very public U-Turn by Ray Mallon, who'd been invited to Birmingham by a personal invitation of the Mail's editor.
I suspect the Mail will now campaign for a referendum to be held, but I bet they wont be willing to help cover the costs of it. At the end of the day an election/referendum costs about £1/2m in a city the size of Birmingham. Thats the equivalent of 1/5% Council Tax rise. Unfortunately democracy is not free, but is the essence of our freedom.


At 12:10 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I did think the timing odd, who would really want to spend Valentines Day at a debate on Mayors - unless they are Councillors in that area of course (that's your get out!)



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