A mayor for Brighton

5 Jul 01
The make-or-break date for the government's policy on directly elected mayors looks increasingly like October 18 after Brighton and Hove Council became the latest authority to declare it will hold a referendum on 'Super Thursday'.

06 July 2001

The south coast unitary becomes the fifth council to confirm that it will go to the polls on that date, joining Hartlepool, the London Borough of Lewisham, Middlesbrough and Plymouth. Other councils, including North Tyneside, are likely to join them.

Brighton's decision came hours after Cheltenham and Gloucester councils both rejected the idea of elected mayors by a majority of roughly two-to-one.

In Cheltenham 16,602 people voted against the idea, 8,083 for. In Gloucester 16,317 were in favour, 7,314 against. Turnout in both was 31%, despite postal ballots being widely used.

Duncan Smith, deputy leader at Cheltenham, said the council would put a Cabinet-style system into place. `I hope that we will see more interest in the affairs of the borough council and that this will be reflected in an increased turnout at elections next year,' he said.

John Williams, executive director of the pro-mayor New Local Government Network, said negative media coverage locally was responsible. `It has always been clear that the mayoral issue would be a long game and the outcome in Gloucester and Cheltenham is equivalent to conceding a couple of early throw-ins,' he said.

A crucial referendum takes place on July 12 in Watford. Supporters of the mayoral system feel the Hertfordshire town has the best chance yet for a yes vote.


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