Sunday, February 22, 2009

Mayoral Matters

To Hartlepool today, to speak at the Constituency Party's Annual General Meeting ahead of June's European elections.

The party in Hartlepool needs less encouragement than most to get out and campaign ahead of June 4th - they have elections for Mayor on the same day (as do North Tyneside).

Labour's candidate is Chris Simmons, who also spoke at the meeting. Chris is a natural communicator, and told us about the work he and Labour Group leader Jonathan Brash have been doing, visiting and more importantly listening to residents' groups around Hartlepool.

The current Mayor is of course former H'Angus the Monkey mascot Stuart Drummond. Stuart won the first Mayoral election very much on an 'anti-politician' ticket, and increased his majority four years ago by repeating the trick.

It isn't enough, however, to throw buckets of manure over other politicians in order to secure election. Effective elected Mayors also have to take decisions - sometimes tough ones - to take their community forward. It's here that Stuart has fallen well short. And unfortunately for him, it seems he's been rumbled.

In Chris, Labour has an excellent candidate who would make a first class elected Mayor. He talked about his priorities to boost leisure and improve access to public transport for all residents. He recognises the pressing need to deliver an efficient council operation. Most importantly, rather than rely on press gimmicks, Chris will concentrate on positive action. He wants Hartlepool to be a destination and not a departure point.

I wish him well, and look forward to working with him and the rest of Labour's team in the run-up to June's elections. You can see Chris' website here.

6 comments:

Ian White said...

As a fan of elected Mayors it is little unfair to slag off Stuart Drummond, perhaps we should see what the good people of Hartlepool decide in June before those in glas house's start throwing stones about bad decission making?

Darlington Councillor said...

Thanks, Ian.

Well, I'm not a fan of elected Mayors as anyone reading this blog will know, but they're a fact of life in Hartlepool, Middlesbrough and North Tyneside.

Those communities need effective, responsive decision making. I have to say that from what I've heard, matters are largely officer-led in Hartlepool (fortunately they have a very good senior officer team).

I could go on, but I have no intention of making extensive comments about the shortcomings of the elected Mayor there - Stuart of course had no such inhibitions when he publicly backed the elected Mayor campaign in Darlington last year, encouraging residents via a leaflet to vote yes!

miketually said...

"I have to say that from what I've heard, matters are largely officer-led in Hartlepool"

I'd heard pretty much the same thing.

Anonymous said...

"Stuart won the first Mayoral election very much on an 'anti-politician' ticket, and increased his majority four years ago by repeating the trick.
It isn't enough, however, to throw buckets of manure over other politicians in order to secure election."

Bit of a contradiction there, surely?

Anonymous said...

In Stoke the Labour Party are very unpopular,as they are almost everywhere. So much so, that the BNP would probably have won the next contest. So Labour & their poodles in the Tory & Lib pro-EU parties engineer a way to get rid of it. So much for democracy!

I hope the big cities all get elected Mayors, & that Darlington gets one in due course there after. This way we could question the mayor re-the overspend on the town centre pedestrianisation & the Eastern Corridor overspend. Then heads would also roll!!

Darlington Councillor said...

Anonymous 1# - no contradiction, I think. Drummond may portray himself as an anti-politician, but this is the easiest trick in the book. He's as much a part of the political cadre in Hartlepool as anyone else.

Anonymous 2#. I'm aware that the BNP have developed a characteristic conspiracy theory to explain why Stoke will now move to the Leader/Cabinet model. Anyone who's taken the trouble to actually look at events in Stoke will know, however, that their unique Mayor/unelected Council Manager model was an undemocratic disaster. Change wasn't just necessary - it was essential.

As for a referendum in Darlington - well we had one of those, and the people have spoken!