A House of Lords debate on the proposal for a mayor for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough on the 2nd of March 2017 heard that Minister Andrew Percy MP (Brigg and Goole, Conservative) had apologised for the omission of the fact the majority of respondents to an online consultation were opposed to a mayor from the draft explanatory memorandum to the draft Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority Order 2017.
On the 7th of March 2017 I went on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire to discuss the story.
I noted that Cambridge’s local councils had supported the mayoral proposals in light of more information on the consultations which had been carried out including details of the online survey and an IPSOS MORI proportionally representative poll.
|Online Survey||31% supported a mayor; 59% opposed|
|IPSOS MORI Poll||57% support mayor, 25% opposed|
Some of the further points I made:
- We haven’t had a referendum on if we should have a mayor for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. Elected representatives shouldn’t treat consultation outcomes as if they were referenda. Elected representatives shouldn’t count up the number of consultation responses for and against a matter, but instead look at the ideas and arguments being made and weigh those up.
- It’s rather crazy that we live in a society where one of the final says on how we run Cambridgeshire goes to “Earl Sandwich” (the silly but historical name John Edward Hollister Montague adopts when making our laws). Mr Montague is an unelected hereditary member of the House of Lords.
- Cambridgeshire and Peterborough will be unique in having a mayor for a large area with a mix of rural and urban areas. An executive mayor is a term, and office, more associated with towns, or cities.
- What’d proposed isn’t localism and devolution; localism and devolution in my view would involve empowering local councillors. The proposals take powers over, for example roads, away from local councillors with the proposed changes, and adding a lot of confusion as to what those councillors we elect to Cambridgeshire County Council in May will actually do.
- Councillors in Cambridge have approved the proposals for a mayor, in my view, as a result of being bribed with £70m of funding for council housing.
- The mayor is to be the chair of a committee comprising representatives from each of the local councils; they’re not really a hugely powerful individual, just a committee chair.
- We could see council tax rise, or even a new line on our council tax bills, to fund the new mayor and combined authority. (See the funding section of the new regulations.
Elections for the mayor are being held in May 2017.