Barbara Keeley MP

LABOUR MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT FOR WORSLEY AND ECCLES SOUTH

Barbara's Salford Advertiser Column, 19 January 2012

Salford Civic Centre

Every voter in Salford will soon have the opportunity to decide in a referendum whether to have a directly-elected Mayor or not.  I hope that the decision is made to stay with our current system of Leader and cabinet of councillors, keeping a traditional and ceremonial Mayor. Although a small number of councils have switched to trying an elected Mayor there have been real issues in places where this experiment has not worked.

The Council runs important local services and many difficult decisions have to be made by councillors. For example, Salford Council is responsible for care services for frail, older and disabled people. Salford has a good level of provision, being one of the less than 20% of councils that provide social care services to people with moderate needs as well as to those with substantial and critical needs. Preserving such vital services for the most vulnerable people in Salford at a time of Government budget cuts has meant our team of councillors had to make difficult decisions and choices. In my view, they have made the right decisions about these vital care services.

Under an elected Mayor all the power is in the hands of one person. If that person makes the wrong decisions the provision of vital services would be affected and vulnerable people may suffer. The city of Stoke voted to abolish the role of elected Mayor after the experiment there was judged not to have worked. In Doncaster, the administration of the directly-elected Mayor has been branded a failure by the Audit Commission and Ministers had to appoint a new Chief Executive and advisory board to take over running the Council.

Our country is facing economic turmoil and a Government which is pressing ahead with controversial policies like a major re-organisation of the NHS. I believe it would be better for Salford to stick to a tried and tested system of running the Council and our vital local services. 

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