On Thursday 10 March 2016, there will be a referendum on the question of whether Bath & N E Somerset should change to having an elected mayor and Cabinet; or remain with a leader of the council and cabinet system.
In this guest blog post, Philip Raby, chair of the 'Mayor for B&NES' campaign sets out the case for change. You can read the view from the 'No to B&NES Mayor’ campaign here.
The case for change: vote for an elected mayor at the referendum
On Thursday 10 March, you have the chance to vote for change in Bath & N E Somerset. The referendum being held on that day allows you to choose whether to have an elected mayor with a cabinet, instead of the current model of a leader of the council with cabinet.
Most elections and referenda deal with decisions which are far removed from everyday life. It’s simply a question of choosing one political party or another, and you don’t expect it to make much difference in your life.
This one is different.
The choice to have an elected mayor may not put money in your pocket, or ensure that Bath City win the Champions League, but it will mean that you have one person in charge of the Council who has been chosen by you, who represents you, who speaks on your behalf, and whose sole aim is to make life better for people living in Bath or N E Somerset.
At the moment, we have a council leader, chosen from the 35 Conservative councillors who are the majority on the council. He is unknown to the vast majority of the 180,000 people he is responsible for, because none of them voted for him as council leader.
His loyalty is to the Conservative party, and to keeping his party in power.
Anyone can stand for elected mayor, which gives us a deeper and wider pool of talent to choose from. Whichever candidate wins the election - which will be held in October if the referendum is successful – will start work with the knowledge that they have the backing of a significant number of voters.
The issues that concern most people are transport, housing, employment and opportunities for young people. These are all major areas that need clear thinking followed by intelligent decisions, based on what is good for people, not what the party line dictates.
Opponents of the referendum have come up with a number of unsustainable arguments against this change, while failing to make the case for why the present system is worth keeping. The point of an elected mayor is to save money by cutting the waste and inefficiency that exists at the moment, and to cut through red tape and delay.
Come and vote for an elected mayor on 10 March, and ensure that you have democratic leadership of your council. Choose Change.
Anyone registered to vote can take part in this referendum, either by voting in person on the day, or by postal vote. You can register to vote by post here.