Friday, March 23, 2007

An email from the elected mayor campaign

I got this from Stuart Hill, the secretary of the referendum petition organisers this afternoon;

I am curious about the figure you mentioned as an estimated cost of an elected Mayor at last night's meeting of £250,000. Could you give me a breakdown of how you made up this figure or was it just a wild guess?

They sound rattled. In fact there's no mystery about my figures - each local election costs the people of the town £100,000, so it's fair to assume that the referendum in September and (God help us) the potential Mayoral election in May 2008 will total a combined £200,000. It is estimated that the cost of consultation that the Council by statute has to undertake in advance will be £50,000.


ian holme said...

Sounds fair enough to me Nick,

Would you care to remind us how much DBC wasted on its failed attempts to close Hurworth School?

Th referendum was called for by 4000 residents of darlington in atttmpt to provide transparent and accountable local democracy

The academy "consultation" was an attempt by dbc to force its will on the community.

So which was the bigger waste of public money?

Darlington Councillor said...

I'm not suggesting that it's a waste of money, Ian - it is after all a democratic exercise. I'm not clear however whether the petition organisers explained what the potential cost would be to people signing the document.

As in fact I'm fairly sure nothing was said, I can't see what harm there is, in the spirit of transparency, in making public these initial costs. And that's before we consider the possible inflated salary of an elected Mayor, should one be created.

Given the tetchy email I got from Stuart Hill, and some recent comments on the Liar, it would appear that the petition organisers would rather the £250,000 figure was not broadcast too widely!

ian holme said...

seems like quite a low cost for democracy to me.

Rather absurd for dbc to raise this issue given their recent record on the pedestrain heart costs............

ian holme said...

On a related point Nick, i note your deputy leader is calling for the parties to unite to campaign to retain your "wonderful system"

Perhaps you might like to enlighten him as to the rules regarding the referendum and how the council must not camapign against the proposal.

Ian White, said...

Ian I agree they will need to be watch on that one!

Darlington Councillor said...

Well, firstly, it isn't dbc but me that is pointing out the cost of electing the Mayor.

Listening to Bill on Wednesday night, I'm sure he was appealing to councillors of whatever party to unite against this concentration of power in the hands of a single individual.

Of course, should they choose to do so, there's nothing to stop individual political parties campaigning for or against the proposition of an elected mayor - it's the Council itself which must remain strictly neutral.

I'm not sure I can elaborate any further on that point, Ian, unless you have a specific example in mind?

Ian White, said...

Nick, rumour is you are to be that man for Labour! would you care to explode the myth?

Darlington Councillor said...

Yup - happy to do that Ian. I'm passionately against the elected Mayor and will be putting all my energies into defeating the madcap proposal.

ian holme said...

A little surprised to hear that Nick.

So, just to be totally clear, in the event of a yes vote for the elected mayor, you will catergorically not be standing as a candidate?

Ian White, said...

And then there was silence!

Darlington Councillor said...

I like silence.

I would imagine that after the local elections, all my energies will be devoted to fighting the proposal (don't tell Sandy, who thinks I'll be doing the garden, and maybe even spending time with my family).

As I will be telling the town that an elected Mayor will create a dictatorship of one, and will be thoroughly bad for democracy, no, I can't see how I could ever be a candidate, should we have to deal with that eventuality.

Why not ask that nice Graham Robb whether he could be a candidate?