Debate on future of Wakefield’s democracy

Mayor of Middlesbrough Ray Mallon
Mayor of Middlesbrough Ray Mallon

A DEBATE on whether Wakefield should have a directly elected mayor will be held on Monday.

Two political figures, Ray Mallon, the Middlesbrough mayor, and Nick Pickles, former Tory parliamentary candidate for Normanton, have been announced as speakers at the event at Wakefield Cathedral.

Mr Mallon, a former senior police officer, was dubbed “Robocop” for his tough approach to policing on Teesside.

He will join the debate as the city prepares to vote on whether to have a directly elected mayor on May 3.

If people choose the new system, the mayor would lead Wakefield Council instead of a council leader who is elected by members of the ruling party.

The mayor would have decision-making powers and appoint a cabinet, one of which would be the deputy.

Wakefield’s long-held civic mayoral role, currently held by Coun Ros Lund, would be reduced to chairperson of the council.

The prime minister has said elected mayors will sit on an “English Cabinet” set to meet twice a year.

Wakefield is among 10 UK cities which will hold referendums on whether to have elected mayors on May 3 in a vote held alongside this year’s local election.

A “yes” vote would see a election held later in the year to choose Wakefield’s first directly elected mayor.

The debate will run from 1pm-2pm.

Organisers said more speakers were being confirmed.