Monday, April 30, 2007

Robocop says no to mayors

Quaequam blog has drawn my attention to "Robocop" Ray Mallon's latest thoughts on directly elected mayors in a Grauniad interview.
Regular readers of this blog will know that Mayor Mallon did a U-Turn on mayors back in February at the Evening Mail's "big debate". The Evening Mail has still yet to report on Ray Mallon's speech back in February.
Interestingly, the speaker was up against Mallon in the "Big Debate", labour MP Khalid Mahmood from Perry Barr, has now said he would stand if the position became available. But he is still inprinciple against the concept of a directly elected mayor!
I hear that the Mail's campaign and petition response is slowing down, and could well peter out during the summer.
While out canvassing during the last month, it is a topic that has still yet to be raised with me, or with any of our team of canvassers. Residents are telling us they want hard working local councillors, who are putting the work in to clean their area up and get the basics right.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Live blogging test

Hello, from gateshead. Not used the email to blog test so here goes!
I'm currently sat in the Gateshead hilton at the CIPFA conference. Today is concentrating on role of audit committees, and fraud. But suffering from death by powerpoint and whitehall TLAs this morning.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

2012 Euro champs for Ukraine and Poland

Some great news from UEFA that the 2012 European football championship finals will be held jointly in Ukraine and Poland.
Kiev will host the final in the Olympic stadium.
It will be an interesting tournament, as the travelling distances are huge (Lviv to Kiev is a sleeper train that travels twice a day, and is about 12hrs, while Donetsk is even further from Kiev).

Monday, April 16, 2007

beware exploding toilets

The BBC brings us news from Japan of toilets bursting into flames!
Pressing the "tornado wash" flush button accidently certainly sounds like something that shouldn't be done while still sat on it.
I can reveal that my bidet is used exclusively to store copies of Private Eye.

Friday, April 13, 2007

escaping to north wales

Easter is usually a time for ramping up campaigning, but this year I managed to sneak a few days away to spend with Vic. Although we did drop in on Christine McHugh's campaign in Bedford, and do a bit of delivery.
We were lucky to be able to spend a couple of days in Llandudno after the bank holiday weekend, so a bit quieter than the weekend would have been. It was quite nice driving past the queues of cars on their way home on the Monday afternoon.
We stayed in a fantastic boutique B&B, Escape, in Llandudno. The room was quite unique (a loft like mezz arrangment), and the breakfasts were brilliant and enough to ensure lunch wasn't needed.
Conwy castle and the town was enough to distract us for most of a day, and then a trip up the Great Orme by cable car on Wed in beautiful sunshine topped off our mini-break.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

first poster spotted

Victoria and I have been on the road for a few days, but only spotted the first sign of any elections anywhere while lost in Llandudno.
The poster is for Euron Hughes, the Lib Dem candidate for the assembly elections in Aberconwy.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

ukrainian turmoil

I see that there is a fresh political crisis in Ukraine. They must have one of the busiest constitutional courts of anywhere in the world!
Ukraine is a country that I have a huge amount of time for, having spent my 2004 Christmas there as an election monitor in the heart of western Ukraine, Ternopil. The people are incredibly friendly and hospitable.
But the country is raked by political divisions between the east and west, and both sides are almost equally matched in terms of numbers. This obviously makes for a perilous situation, with either side equally quick to call their supporters out onto the streets of Kiev.
The Soviets were clearly forward thinking in terms of designing their city centres with hugely wide streets so they could march their military up and down. But now they end up as political campsites.

Some more mayoral posting

Tuesday's full council saw a motion passed that would ensure that if a valid petition come forward from the required 36,000 residents, then the mayoral referendum would take place forewith.
The debate as such was restricted to the original mover, seconder, and the succesful amendments mover and seconder. Thus there was no time for me to make this speech:
I rise to speak in favour of the amendment.
I don’t want to enter into the debate today on the pros and cons of elected mayors. We all had the opportunity to do that on 14 Feb in the Evening Mail’s so called “Big Debate”.
Until 6 weeks ago I didn’t know very much about elected mayors. There are less than 10 of them in the country out of the 410 local authorities in England and Wales.
On the whole referendums have come about in those towns because of failing local government.
Local government where there has been long term failure.
Local government where there has been allegations of corruption, complacency and patronage of members and officers.
Local government where there has been a long-term one party state.
Birmingham doesn’t fit any of those descriptions now.
The Evening Mail has done a fine job of reporting the debate so far. But they have left out crucial pieces of information.
What many in this chamber will not realise, because it hasn’t been reported anywhere, except on my blog, is that Mayor Ray Mallon, during the big debate in this very chamber, said: “Birmingham is not broken, so it doesn’t need fixing.”
The Middlesboro mayor was effectively saying Birmingham doesn’t need a mayor.
In the last 6 weeks or so I’ve done quite a lot of reading on the subject of elected Mayors.
I must admit that the DCLG does provide some quite user friendly advice on how to call a referendum.
This advice includes a sample timeline showing how you progress from referendum to mayoral election.
The arguments being put forward by the opposition about the costs of the referendum or mayoral election are extremely specious.
It would be possible to keep costs down by running a concurrent local election and referendum, that is true.
But if the referendum happened to be successful, then the legislation is quite clear that the mayoral election has to be held on the third Thursday of October.
Now, as far as I know, there are currently no plans for an election of any description on 16 October 2008.
So the full costs of running an election would be incurred.
Lord Mayor, we all know that nothing comes for free. So this will be a cost that council tax payers will have to cover. Or does Sir Albert want to cut something so that we can afford to run his beauty contest.