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REFERENDUM YES CAMPAIGN LAUNCHED FOR AN ELECTED MAYOR FOR NEWCASTLE
Residents of Newcastle upon Tyne have this week been urged to join the campaign to convince voters to back an Elected Mayor to run the city.
Newcastle Mayor is an independent campaign, which is not affiliated to any political party but has the backing of local politicians.
In addition to the backing of local politicians, in the coming weeks and months, the campaign will announce business leaders and community groups who are backing an Elected Mayor for Newcastle.
Former councillor and former Newcastle Conservative Chairman Brian Moore, who will take a leading role with the campaign, said: “Elected city mayors are commonplace across the democratic world. The Elected Mayor provides a focus for local democracy, which our system of councillors electing leaders from among their number has rarely done.
“We want to see the leader of Newcastle City Council chosen by the people and not by a handful of councillors. The decisions taken by the leader of the council can be significant but their accountability is to voters in just one of the 26 wards in the city.
“Currently, no one is elected by the whole of Newcastle and has a real legitimacy to speak for it. Local elections tend to end up as a referendum on the number of pictures of potholes in leaflets or the national government and not on the future of our city.
“Now is the time for the people of Newcastle to take back the reigns of power and elect someone who can represent the whole city.”
The campaign argues that a working Mayor elected by the public can be independent or political and there will be no change in the main council system of challenge and scrutiny by all of the elected councillors. Voters will also still be able to elect any councillor they wish.
Jason Smith, a well known local campaigner and chairman of CHAG, a community group fighting to protect open spaces in the outer west of Newcastle, has been a long standing supporter of an Elected Mayor for the city. Jason said: “The election of a Mayor has transformed London. The democratic legitimacy of someone elected to represent the city has reinvigorated the governance of London and Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson are both national figures.
“Under an Elected Mayor, there is still a role for councillors, representing their communities and overseeing the work of Newcastle City Council but an Elected Mayor will have real legitimacy to fight for the interests of our city and to stand up to national Government.
“At a time when people are making their New Year resolutions, there is an opportunity to stand up for change in the way our city is run. We are extending an invitation to people who live or work in Newcastle to support the campaign and for local businesses and community groups to join the expanding list of supporters who want to make our great city better.”