Powerful mayor could lead whole district

A MAYOR, voted for by the people, could run East Devon and lead to two elections on one day.

A MAYOR, voted for by the people, could run East Devon and lead to two elections on one day.

East Devon District Council wants the public’s view on possible changes to the way the council is run – changes that could freeze councillors out of the decision as to who leads the council.

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.

The first of the two options are on the table is the leader and cabinet model, preferred by councilors, where the leader is elected by ward members and not the public and is similar to the present system.

The leader would be an elected councillor remaining in office for four years and would have to appoint a deputy leader and up to eight others to form a cabinet.

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

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

In much the same way voters fill in separate ballot papers on election day, say for district and European elections, the public would have to vote for councilors on one ballot and lodge another vote to decide who should be mayor.

The mayor would be elected for a four-year period and could not be a councillor or represent an area or ward of EDDC and could not be removed from office by the council.

This could lead to the prospect of voters electing one party to power but not wanting that political group’s chosen leader to run the authority.

There are currently 12 elected mayors in the county, with the nearest in Torbay.

But if the route is chosen, East Devon would be the only rural district council in England with a single executive mayor serving a myriad of town’s and villages.

A council spokesman said: “These options are not new – apart from recent changes in legislation, they have been available since 2001.”

Please send your comments by email to: democraticservices@eastdevon.gov.uk or in writing to: Democratic Services, East Devon District Council, Knowle, Sidmouth EX10 8HL

Closing date: noon 12 November 2010.