Elected East Devon mayor idea rejected

A DIRECTLY elected mayor to run East Devon has been rejected as an option after just 36 residents wrote in to give their views.

East Devon District Council was required to seek the public’s view on possible changes to the way the council is run. However, it is unclear whether the low level of responses was because people are in favour of the current model or because most thought it wouldn’t make a difference whatever they said – all the responses favoured an elected mayor.

Council bosses are required by the local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 to change the structure of the authority’s decision-makers and give their recommendations by December 31, despite the Coalition Government’s indications that any changes may not become law.

The first option is the leader and cabinet model, where the leader is elected by ward members and not the public and is similar to the present system.

The difference is that the leader can either choose to make all the decisions themselves or delegate some decisions to their chosen cabinet members.

The second option is for a directly-elected mayor and cabinet system – this involves a council being led by a mayor chosen by voters.

However, the council says it prefers option one - essentially a slight tweaking of the status quo.

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Exmouth’s Conservative Mayor Darryl Nicholas said: “This debate has been one of personal belief rather than party politics.

“I believe in the principal of elected mayors …

“The truth is, turnout at the ballot box is low because most people feel that they cannot affect change through casting their vote.

“I believe in the potential of politics to make real change in the best interest of local communities and encouraging as many people to vote as possible.

“I would rather lose an election where 90 per cent of residents have voted than win one where only 20 per cent have.

“Having a directly elected mayor would enable every voter …to play the role of effective opposition, holding the administration to account and ultimately having a direct influence over the hiring or firing of the position of mayor.”