Star date: 24th January 2012


On Thursday 26th January, Salford citizens are being asked to vote on whether the city should have a Mayor or not.

The Salford Star never tells anyone how to vote, so here we look at what an elected Mayor would mean and consider both sides of the argument. Oh, and we also try to figure out where Hazel Blears is coming from on this matter – after all, it was her idea in the first place…

Click here for full story…

`Should the electors for the area of Salford elect a Mayor who, with a Cabinet, will be in charge of our local services and lead Salford City Council?'

This is the question that anyone who bothers to vote in Salford's Mayoral Referendum will be faced with on Thursday. But what does it mean? The short answer is that no-one is really sure…

First of all, the vote on Thursday isn't to elect a Mayor, it's just to see if Salford people want an elected Mayor. If a majority of people vote `Yes' on Thursday, in May there will be a full election with all sorts of candidates standing, from the main parties and beyond. Well beyond! Like, a monkey got elected Mayor in Hartlepool

Once elected, the Mayor can't be shifted for four years. He, she or it will get power from controlling decision making and the direction of the council, while also reducing accountability - if he, she or it wants - by reducing scrutiny committees and stuff. Although many might say that accountability and scrutiny doesn't happen properly under the current system anyway, with one party overwhelmingly controlling Salford Council and no effective opposition

Beyond this, it all gets incredibly woolly – like, those pushing for an elected Mayor are saying they could reduce Council Tax - but the Council's Chief Executive, setting out future powers in an official report * states that "In the event of an Elected Mayor, full Council would continue to set the Council budget as is the case now"…

…So, presumably the Council could block such a move? No idea! The campaigners for Yes and No votes haven't concentrated on the detail, just on slagging each other off. Which is probably why so few people seem interested. A citywide Questionnaire late last year on Mayoral changes to the Council Constitution drew just 36 responses or 0.02% of the population. 

From what we can gather, an elected Mayor would have pretty much the same powers as the current Leader of Salford Council (John Merry), given the state of the political parties in the city which is totally controlled by the Labour Party

…The only difference would be that the current Leader is accountable to his own party and councillors, rather than the electorate at large. But councillors from that party can be turfed out at annual local elections, whereas the Mayor can't be touched for four years.

To balance things up here's two opposing views on an elected Mayor…

By Gareth Lyons

People may say that it's a daft way to vote, but I am sick and tired of this "clowncil" (as people have coined the phrase) spending money they haven't got and saddling us with huge debts. I am sick and tired of them metaphorically opening their legs to any big business. I am sick and tired of their egotism. I am sick and tired of their selfishness. How many people have lost their jobs? Or had their council services cut? Yet how many of our councillors have refused their expenses payments?

Call it a protest vote and a silly way of voting but in my mind anything that shakes up the nest of serpents at the town hall gets my vote. What galls me the most is when the lead councillors say this vote is a waste of public money. It's democracy in action. Although, to be fair, I have to admit that they are the experts in wasting public money and are therefore well qualified to tell us what is a waste or not…

By Salford City UNISON

Does Salford need an Elected Mayor? At a time when Salford and its citizens are bearing the full brunt of ConDem cuts it seems extravagant in the extreme that a suggestion is being made that Salford should have an Elected Mayor. Local people need jobs and services not an irrelevant political flunky funded from the public purse!

Let's be clear, an Elected Mayor would have little to do, they would have no role in the provision of day-to-day services to Salford citizens. Neither would they play a part in attracting additional resources to Salford, finance and investment. The devil finds work for idle hands, lacking a proper role - there is a very real danger that Salford's Elected Mayor could all too easily degenerate into a laughing stock!

Apart from the unnecessary expense, the concept of an `Elected Mayor' is inherently undemocratic; such a figure would leach power and resources away from the current body of elected councillors. It is interesting to note that the leading advocates of an Elected Mayor in Salford, the Liberal Democrats and the English Democrats, have been decisively rejected by the electorate in recent local elections.

There is a well founded fear that these political parties are using the cause of an Elected Mayor as a Trojan Horse to foist their own political agenda onto how our city organises its affairs. Say `No' to an Elected Mayor in Salford…


So there you have it – two opposing views. But what of Hazel Blears? Elected mayors were her Big Idea. When the Salford MP was Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government in 2008 she brought out a White Paper called Communities In Control and stated…

"We want more visible and accountable local leaders. We support the directly elected mayor model, already in operation in 12 towns in addition to the high profile London Mayor. We want to see more mayors directly elected and will consult on making it easier for local people to demand a referendum…"

Now, when we asked Hazel Blears for her views on the current referendum the tune had changed…

"I remain in favour of elected mayors but believe they are most effective when they cover large areas such as Greater London, encompassing a number of local authorities. In single Council areas there is a danger that the costs are disproportionate to the benefits.

"At this time when the Government is inflicting severe cuts on Salford Council, now is not the time to be incurring extra costs which would be better spent on frontline services."

That's not what Hazel said in 2008 when she was on about "towns" having directly elected mayors. So does she have designs on being Salford's elected Mayor?

"I will continue to work for the people of Salford and Eccles as their local MP and I am not considering any other roles" she told us.

Salford Mayor? No. Greater Manchester Mayor? Boris Blears? Who knows, especially when the Salford MP's seat disappears in the current constituency shake up.

In the short term meantime, there's the referendum for Salford on Thursday. Ballot boxes are open 7am-10pm.


* Here's the official Council Report on Mayoral powers

a) Policy Framework - the Policy Framework is a series of major strategies and plans that affect the City. Currently approval for such plans is given at meetings of the full Council.  An elected mayor could determine that decisions on these issues should be approved differently including taking the decisions themselves.

b) Scheme of Delegation - the scheme of delegation sets out the powers and duties of council members and senior officers. These are approved and can only be changed by a decision of full Council. An elected mayor would not need Council approval to decide who has what decision making powers but could take those decisions themselves.

c) Key Decisions - currently the Council determines what will be a key decision and sets the limits on when this rule will apply. An Elected Mayor would not need Council approval to change these limits. He or she alone would have the power to change the scheme of delegation to adjust this limit either up or down.

d) Overview and Scrutiny Arrangements - under the current arrangements the Council appoints six scrutiny committees. Each with a politically balanced membership involving all political parties represented on the City Council. The decisions of an elected mayor would be scrutinised by the Council but the elected mayor can determine the number of committees and members that undertake this function which could be reduced to as few as one committee.
e) The Ceremonial Mayor -
the Mayor of Salford currently is appointed by the
Council and based upon the seniority of elected members. The Mayor carries out  ceremonial duties on behalf of the City and has social precedence as the Queen's  first citizen. The Mayor also chairs Council meetings.  It is not possible for an Elected Mayor to chair Council meetings but an Elected Mayor could decide to remove the Ceremonial Mayor and nominate someone else to chair Council meetings.
1.4 In addition to the above the public have been informed that the four year term of office for an Elected Mayor is determined by statute and is therefore not an issue for consultation.

1.5 An Elected Mayor would automatically represent the Council on the new Police and Crime Panel or they could nominate somebody to take on this role on their behalf.  Where there is not an Elected Mayor the Council would appoint their representative to the Panel.

1.6 In the event of an Elected Mayor, full Council would continue to set the Council budget as is the case now.



Dave hates politicians wrote
at 22:51:21 on 30 January 2012
I would vote for a dogturd rather than any of the current shysters .
caroline wrote
at 04:58:53 on 29 January 2012
the last mayor Eccles was tory..he was a nice man an his daugher was ripped off?I have no repect for Hazel Blears.But I do not think a Mayor is a bad thing.Only money will inprove the area ? If you stop money It ends and goes down hill. So u have to work with money,or?
Winston Smith wrote
at 21:28:33 on 26 January 2012
Whooaa! What the hell's happening?!? Liverpool are at it now...it's like Invasion of the Body Snatchers - where have all these people come from who want more pointless voting and even more bleedin politicans?!?
Barney wrote
at 21:27:50 on 26 January 2012
Come on people . This is our chance to let this rotton clowncil know how despised they are . Let's give them the metaphorical kicking they richly deserve . A mayor will keep this shower of shite clowncil in line .
caroline wrote
at 21:27:40 on 26 January 2012
Bindloss is still there..for how long.Hazal Blears did nothing..I will not let developers do the same .Frist it was Eccles ..Now Salford..Will there be anything old or green lef An so then will Manchester becomes part of London...?
caroline wrote
at 18:10:51 on 26 January 2012
note .last mayor of Eccles...was etc
caroline wrote
at 18:10:46 on 26 January 2012
Last mayor was Tory .Bindloss.His daughter Lived next door to my husband gran.Council Compulsory purcase her house an land for council houses But sent on to developers..hear we go again.They cut down the last Trees of Pendleton forest.It says it all.
Good Riddance wrote
at 16:35:41 on 26 January 2012
Goodbye mr. merry , your time is up . Take spicer with you . And good riddance .
douglas ewin wrote
at 15:33:22 on 26 January 2012
was planning to vote yes, but after reading the comments a mayor for greater manchester sounds like a much better idea so im going to vote no
Nachtschlepper wrote
at 11:46:44 on 26 January 2012
Rousseau wrote; "The English think they are free. They are free only during the election of members of parliament." Does anybody really think that it would be any different with an elected mayor. A career politician in the pocket of big business. That's the trouble with liberal democracy & it isn't, it isn't liberal & it isn't democratic.
Michael Felse wrote
at 22:04:45 on 25 January 2012
Congratulations to Salford Star for covering this important matter; our democratic right to choose. With the old system the Leading Party gets to put their chosen one in place from within their own set of Councillors. If they are so sure that chosen one is doing a good job, or even an exceptional job as our council leader then what have they to be worried about? Maybe a public election might say we want to keep that person, for ever and ever. Oh in case you want to know I will vote YES for an elected mayor. That will make all the parties think more on who they can expect us to have as cheque book leader of our taxpayer money.
Rocking the Boat wrote
at 19:06:17 on 25 January 2012
If the Salford Peepils Champeen , and favourite cheque waver , is against an elected mayor that's good enough for me ..I'll vote FOR an elected mayor . The Grinning Rat can just carry on fighting on behalf of us shafted , ripped-off citizens, at the sharp end , the 'cut and thrust ' of politics . [Howls of laughter] . Pass the kit-kats .....Never forget , all politicians are scum .
Winston Smith wrote
at 19:05:55 on 25 January 2012
Even better - we could have a mayor for each ward, and these mayors would pretend to represent the people who voted for them, like councillors do now. To keep the mayors in order, we would then elect a 'Super Mayor' (like the one in Weston).
Nachtschlepper wrote
at 14:53:12 on 25 January 2012
Oh my aching sides, does anybody actually believe anything that a politician says? Slash council tax my arse. We have heard it all before. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
at 14:52:46 on 25 January 2012
I really hope that most decent Salford people will at least go out and vote....Apathy thats our problem here in Salford....You have your chance here to at least do something about this council...please vote....
Fred Hampton wrote
at 14:52:36 on 25 January 2012
I think an elected mayor, independent from Labour/Tory or Lib Dems and with the interests of the majority of Salfordians at heart would be good. The Labour council continually make decisions and implement measures that are against the wishes of local communities, not in the best interests and often detrimental to the majority of it's citizens as well as using our council tax to subsidise private enterprise and the BBC. The Tories are just like the national government - look after big business and the super-rich. The Lib Dems - see Tories. Typical of Blears to firstly support the idea of "elected mayors" and then do a "reverse ferret" when the elected mayor might just make life a bit awkward for the labour mafia in her own constituency. Somewhat disappointing to see the comment from Salford Unison "the concept of an elected Mayor is inherently undemocratic". If a representative is elected by the majority, that is democracy. I certainly have my reservations and concerns about having an elected mayor. If Hazel Blears is against an elected mayor in Salford - THEN AN ELECTED MAYOR HAS GOT TO BE GOOD FOR THE PEOPLE OF SALFORD.
Winston Smith wrote
at 14:51:31 on 25 January 2012
Hey yeh, that's just what we need - another politician to help with the mess that politicians made. Although I must say, I do like the idea of replacing politicans with monkeys...they're cheaper and make less mess
Labour , my arse wrote
at 09:22:26 on 25 January 2012
I hope the Town Hall Traitors are quaking with fear . For their betrayal of the citizens of this dead city , they deserve a kicking all the way to the dole . Workfare would be just about right for this gang of unemployable shysters .
Nachtschlepper wrote
at 06:06:38 on 25 January 2012
It's frightening to think that Hartlepool got a monkey & London got Boris Johnson. What might lie in store for Salford is equally as frightening.
at 06:05:58 on 25 January 2012
The Mayoral Alliance have stated on record that they will slash the extortionate council tax . That is good enough to secure my vote .Time to get rid of the Salford Mafia , the rip-off council tax extortion , and the grubby funding of rich business associates with OUR money .
Stephen Morris wrote
at 21:33:54 on 24 January 2012
I would like to highlight a cuple of items which people should be aware of Yes the people of hartlepool did vote for a Minkey as Mayor however this was a local person who supported his home foorball team and helped out, he is currently on his 3rd term in office after being re-elected twice. 168,000 get a chance to vote for an elected Mayor who is voted in for 4 years with a full mandate from the people. The current coucil leader has no mandate for any policy he impliments from the people, another point the NO campaign fail to tell voters is that under the "Strong Leader" model that Salford currently has Cllr Merry is also voted in as Leader for 4 yrs. On Sunday Hazel Blears let the cat out of the bag as regards Salford, she and her Salford Labour group want a Greater Manchester Mayor to control Salford, Salford has been in the shadow of Manchester for to long, those who campiagn to save the salford constituency should also be supporting the "YES" campiagn otherwise Salford would lose more than just its Parliamentary seat to Manchester.
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