TWO recent events within Warrington Borough Council’s corridors of power (the ongoing dispute within the Labour group culminating in the summoning of police to evict a councillor from a meeting, and the inability to find a full time chief executive), lead me to believe that now is the time to shake up the cosy political cartels that govern us.
This town deserves better than a ruling group sanctioned by its own national Labour party, and someone who can only offer us four days a week and who has previously said a full time role as chief executive was not in his life plan. Hardly surprising since Professor Broomhead has 13 other directorships to occupy his time.
Now seems an opportune moment to try the elected Mayor and cabinet executive model for local government. Mayors decide the size of their cabinet, appoint members and decide how, and to what extent, executive functions are delegated.
The Local Government Act 2000 requires a local authority to organise a referendum on whether to have a directly elected Mayor if five per cent of the electorate sign a petition calling for a referendum. Of course all the usual suspects might put their hats in the ring should a referendum be successful, but anyone standing for election on the basis that they would ensure a more politically balanced executive might secure a considerable and majority vote.
Who knows, we might even attract those with organisational provenance from outside the normal political and local government spheres.
There are arguments for and against local Mayors but in the case of Warrington Borough Council could anything be worse than what we have? If it didn’t work at least we tried and it could be changed in four years.
If anyone would like to help organise a petition requesting a referendum then I’d urge them to contact me via the Guardian.
Richard Buttrey Stockton Heath