Elected mayor idea is refused

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HASTINGS will not have its own Boris Johnson after the council rejected the chance to have an elected mayor.

The Government had asked every local authority in the country to choose how they wanted to run their affairs, either through a directly elected mayor like the notorious Mayor of London or through the so-called strong leader and cabinet model.

Hastings Borough Council (HBC) launched a consultation to see what local people thought but received only two responses and at Monday’s cabinet meeting it was agreed not to support the elected mayor. That means HBC will be run by a leader, currently Labour head Jeremy Birch, and a cabinet made up of representatives of the main parties represented on the council.

Cllr Birch said: “The council will in essence continue with the system we have now. We all agree that it is better for openness, democracy and involvement that councillors are responsible for running the authority.”

Cllr Phil Scott, a former mayor, agreed: “I think an elected mayor would give too much power to one person.”

HBC solicitor Jane Butters said the change would slightly strengthen the leader’s role but said it would provide “more stability and better forward planning.”

The Conservative opposition supported the decision but Cllr Peter Finch did say he wished there was a third option that involved even more councillors than the ten who sit on cabinet and take the major decisions.

He said: “I still regret there is not some sort of committee system where councillors can be directly involved in more decisions.”