The petition to trigger a referendum in Darlington on whether or not to abandon our traditional ceremonial Mayor for a politician drags on. As always there are arguments on both sides (and the policy is of course a Labour Government initiative, apparently to help revive municipal democracy).
What I find objectionable about the campaign here is the excessive spin employed by the petition organisers. In today's Echo, they stated that they had 2,600 of the signatures needed to trigger a town-wide ballot - see http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/newsbyedition/darlington/display.var.1017061.0.campaign_group_steps_up_its_fight_for_elected_mayor.php
Really? On the Referendum Campaign's own website ( http://www.darlingtonreferendum.org/media.htm) they helpfully have a series of links to previous Echo stories where they have made the following claims;
- in Feb 06 they said they had collected "many of the 3900" signatures necessary to force the Referendum.
- in April 06 they were predicting that they would have collected the names by the end of that month.
- in August 06 they said they had 2000 signatures, and so were half-way there.
For a group of people who get so worked up about local government in the town in Hear All Sides on a regular basis, they seem rather free and easy with the facts themselves. I think what we can ascertain is that in a town where the "Say No to Tesco" campaign successfully signed up over 11,000 people in a matter of weeks, progress on the Referendum has been very hard going indeed.