New mayoral post: what does it mean?

Cllr Mark Crowther
Cllr Mark Crowther

VOTERS have said they do not know enough about the role of a directly-elected mayor to make a judgment in May’s referendum.

An opinion poll showed 90 per cent of people felt ill-informed about the pros and cons of having a directly-elected mayor ahead of the referendum on Thursday, May 3.

UKIP's Arnie Craven

UKIP's Arnie Craven

The poll, conducted by GfK NOP, also concluded that support for the new post was weaker in Wakefield than anywhere else in Yorkshire.

Readers have contacted the Express in recent weeks to ask for clarity on the new post.

Wakefield Council previously said it was waiting for the government to clarify the powers of a new mayor.

But this week it announced information had been made available online, and that leaflets would be posted out to voters next week.

The directly-elected mayor would be elected by the public, whereas the current council leader is elected by other elected councillors.

The mayor would appoint a cabinet, which a council leader does currently, and would also make a call on which decisions are made by themselves alone, by their cabinet or by council officers.

The council’s budget report said it could cost up to £270,000 to create the new post, including the mayor’s salary.

Conservative group leader Mark Crowther said his party would be encouraging voters to vote ‘no’ at the referendum.

He said: “What we have currently in Wakefield isn’t ideal, but it works. The danger in an elected mayor is power to one individual, who would be irremovable for about four years.

“There is also a cost for the whole mayoral process and for a salary for the mayor. We don’t need to be spending money on that at this time.”

But Arnie Craven, of Wakefield’s UK Independence Party (UKIP) group, wrote to the Express this week to announce he would bring a national ‘yes’ campaign to the city.

He said the new system could actually save money and suggested it would give more power to the public.

l See Letters p24 for more.