John Hemming's Web Log John's Reference Website
Friday, November 25, 2011
  Referendum campaign on issue of elected mayor
Last night's meeting on the issue of whether or not we have a directly elected mayor was an interesting experience.

In the week beforehand I had expressed concern that there were too many speakers and it was unbalanced. I thought that having equal numbers of speakers from each side of the argument was good practice.

The initial proposal was 7 speakers in favour (plus the chair also being a supporter) and 2 speakers against. I asked James Hutchings to come along, but initially the organisers didn't want him to speak.

Finally they agreed to allow him to speak although Miles Weaver's tweet about it was " I spent far too much time sorting out John Hemming MP tonight & his whims. He is so out of touch, I accommodated his needs but planet, diff?"

Personally I don't think it is a "whim" to ask for each side to have equal opportunities to speak. A balance of 7 (plus chair) against 2 is really nothing even close to equal. Even 7 (plus chair) against 3 is not a balanced panel.

To be fair to Marc Reeves who chaired the meeting, his personal views did not show and he did manage to balance out both sides of the argument.

Congratulations really should also go to Neil Elkes for the first two paragraphs of his article here in which he admirably sums up the argument:
AN ELECTED mayor could lead the city towards a golden era of growth, confidence and success.

Or the city could be lumbered with a corrupt power-freak and unable to ditch him for four years.


Someone from the yes campaign obviously thinks it is clever to set up a spoof No to a Brum Mayor twitter account.

It doesn't really matter in the bigger realm. However, really we should encourage more questions like that of Nick Drew who asked a key question as to what checks and balances are needed on a power freak. That was a good technical question. To which the answer is that a majority of the council should support the budget and the council scrutiny process should be able to stop things from being done by the mayor.
 
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