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Elected mayor, do you want one?

As referendum plans loom, Larry Neild can't see why we would want a single top dog running the city

Published on August 4th 2010.


Elected mayor, do you want one?

LIVERPOOL has moved a step nearer to being ruled by a directly-elected mayor as part of plans by the coalition for a local referendum to see if we want one.

What about Roger Phillips? He could solve everyone’s problems be having a live two-hour phone-in from the Town Hall every day

Juices will already be flowing as would-be civic kings and queens eye what would be the most radical shake-up in local democracy since Liverpool was created a city.

I sometimes think I’m missing the plot here, as though my brain refuses to register the democratic advantage of having a single person in charge of the shop.When I first started to gaze over the comings and goings at Liverpool City Council there were 99 elected councillors, and nothing happened without the say so of at least 50 of them.

There were committees and sub-committees galore all making recommendations that had to be approved by lengthy meetings of the city council. Yes, they certainly knew how to burn midnight oil in the 70s and 80s.

That form of what I call total democracy was “improved” a few years ago with the introduction of a cabinet-style of local government, or executive.

These days the city is run by a team of 10 cabinet members, headed by a leader (currently Joe Anderson) with executive decision making powers.

Decision making has been removed from ordinary elected councillors to such a degree that the few city council meetings held these days are mere talking shops.

Yet even the current system seems preferable to having a one-man, or one-woman, show.

The idea is that one powerful figurehead would get things done because there would be less interference from nuisance councillors, elected by their own ward constituents to look after their interests.

The job, supporters contend, will remove the political stranglehold of local democracy by opening the door to independent candidates with no apparent political leanings. Remember Stuart Drummond, the Hartlepool FC mascot, H Angus the Monkey. who campaigned in his costume, refused to enter political debate and promised to supply schools in city the with free bananas. He won by a narrow margin and is now in his 10th year.

That must give the Squire of Knotty Ash, Kenneth Dodd, a fighting chance of moving into the town hall.

But the reality is that most directly elected mayors are political candidates. Of the 12 we have so far in England, eight represent the major parties – Labour and Conservatives have three each and the Lib Dems two.

That would give Joe Anderson a good chance, as popular Labour Leader, of running Liverpool.

But there are independents waiting, and perhaps hoping: Brookie creator Professor Phil Redmond, new best-friend of David Cameron, what about Frank McKenna, chairman of Downtown Liverpool in Business and a popular figure within the business community?

What about Roger Phillips? He could solve everyone’s problems be having a live two-hour phone-in from the Town Hall every day.

One heartening fact is the suspicion of the great British public to this so-called enhancement of local democracy. There have been 37 referendums for elected mayors, and 25 areas have kicked the idea into touch.

And, interestingly, a handful of towns and cities with directly-elected mayors are currently trying to go back to the old system, but that process is easier said than done.

Liverpool is likely to be one of the cities hand-picked by the Coalition to venture down the elected mayor route.

Knowing Liverpool, the likely winner for mayor is almost certain to be Superlambbanana.

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9 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Little BongsAugust 2nd 2010.

Candidacy should be open only to people who can tie their own ties and shoelaces.

Veronica KnickersAugust 2nd 2010.

I'll do it.

AnonymousAugust 2nd 2010.

Roger Phillips for Mayor. Yea we could live with that. At least it would keep other pretenders at bay. But remember this Mr Phillips is not of this world, he's a bit of a Manc.

Big Doug S.August 2nd 2010.

Mind you, Roger Phillips would fill the Town Hall with lots of nice jugs and ashtrays.

Teresa GreenAugust 2nd 2010.

As a 'Big Society' volunteer?

BasherAugust 2nd 2010.

Good old Oldham Echo!

StoneycroftAugust 2nd 2010.

And decent, smart formal clothes at all times. We can't have some shambling tramp ordering everyone about and representing our city, it'll be 'Liverpool toytown' all over again other

DemocratAugust 2nd 2010.

We are now de-facto a country run by President Cameron, so it's obvious he'd want our cities to be run as mini dictatorships. The Coalition talk about giving power back to local communities, then they announce they want elected mayors to run places like Liverpool. Somebody somewhere is losing the plot here. Give power back to ALL of our elected councillors.

Suffering GetAugust 2nd 2010.

What about the wimmin? Surely there must be a collection of females able to take on the job of Elected Mayor of Liverpool. They are out there somewhere. I'm sure the town hall would look great with nice crisp green Gingham curtains (as a flag for being eco). Let's have some names please.

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