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Petition for elected mayor’ referendum great result for democracy

PUBLISHED: 14:15 23 November 2009 | UPDATED: 15:16 05 October 2010

Dear Ed, I KNOW of no other example of a referendum for an elected mayoral system being triggered by a popular petition of five per cent of the voters than the petition at Tower Hamlets. It is a great result for democracy

Dear Ed,

I KNOW of no other example of a referendum for an elected mayoral system being triggered by a popular petition of five per cent of the voters than the petition at Tower Hamlets in East London. It is a great result for democracy.

The combined official opposition of both Labour and Conservative parties has been overcome in order to let the people decide how they wish Tower Hamlets to be governed.

The Respect party is strongly in favour of switching to a mayoral system. The alternative proposal will place the decision over who will be council leader, with the enormous powers that go with it, in the hands of a small number of party officials.

If Labour has a majority on the council at the next local elections, the choice of leader will effectively be determined by two men, London regional party secretary Ken Clark and regional leader Len Duvall. Neither lives in the East End and neither has a clue who Tower Hamlets voters would prefer.

A mayoral system, on the other hand, puts the decision directly in the hands of the voters themselves. Parties may choose their candidates in whatever way they wish, but the voters will be free to reject them.

Some claim that the mayor will be too powerful. But we need strong leadership to address the profound problems we face in Tower Hamlets.

Labour doesn't seem to have any problem with this in neighbouring Hackney or Newham, both of which have elected Labour mayors. The Tories don't have a problem with it for London with Boris Johnson at City Hall.

So why not Tower Hamlets? A directly-elected mayor will have to account for their actions both to the voters and to an elected council at the Town Hall.

Cllr Abjol Miah

Leader of the Respect Group

Tower Hamlets Council

Town Hall, Mulberry Place, Blackwall


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