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Farming minister Fitzpatrick says no’ to elected mayor for East End

PUBLISHED: 12:00 22 January 2010 | UPDATED: 15:30 05 October 2010

FARMING minister Jim Fitzpatrick has come out against having a directly elected mayor in his East London and neighbouring constituencies. He is opposed to the proposal for Tower Hamlets, he told a schools reception this-morning

By Mike Brooke

FARMING Minister Jim Fitzpatrick has come out against having a directly elected mayor in his East London and neighbouring constituencies.

He is opposed to the proposal for Tower Hamlets, he told a schools reception at Mile End’s Ecology centre.

Instead, he wants to retain the present system of a council leader chosen annually by the ruling Labour group, rather than a mayor voted by residents directly for a four-year term.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” he said, paying tribute to Town Hall bosses on the Labour-run authority for its Beacon’ status awarded in 2003.

Mr Fitzpatrick, speaking at the celebration for 68 East End schools taking part in the National Healthy Schools programme, questioned the motives of those pushing for a yes’ vote in the May 6 referendum.

“Why would council taxpayers want to fund another layer of bureaucracy and extra wages for a mayor and staff?” he asked. “We should be using all resources to protect services in these difficult times.”

He accepted that elected mayors can be a positive influence in local government, pointing at neighbouring Newham and Hackney as well as London itself.

But in Tower Hamlets, the council and the services provided “are working well” and the time for an elected mayor was “not now.”

An elected mayor would cover both his Poplar constituency and neighbouring Bethnal Green & Bow, his rival George Galloway’s seat. Mr Galloway is already campaigning for a yes’ vote.

The two go head-to-head at the forthcoming General Election for the redrawn Poplar & Limehouse constituency, Fitzpatrick for Labour, Galloway for Respect.


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