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Middlesbrough votes to keep its mayor
A MAYOR will continue to lead Middlesbrough Council when Ray Mallon steps down, residents decided in a referendum which lured only 15 per cent of voters to the polling booths.
There were 8,674 votes cast in favour of keeping the existing elected mayoral system against 6,455 wanting to revert back to an elected council leader and cabinet.
After polling stations closed at 10pm it took little over two hours for the results to be announced this morning by returning officer, Richard Long, at Middlesbrough Town Hall.
Mr Mallon, a former police officer who has held office as an independent since 2002, has already announced that he will be stepping down from the Labour-strong council at the end of his latest term in May 2015.
Labour councillor, John McPartland, who thought the mayoral model gave too much power to just one person, said he was disappointed by the result.
“This is the democratic will of the people of Middlesbrough so I accept it,” he said. “What an exciting mayoral campaign we will have leading up to 2015.”
Fellow labour councillor, Tracy Harvey, added: “Clearly I am disappointed, I was hoping Labour would be running the council as of tonight, but it's not over until it's over. We will have to take our Labour mayoral candidate to the vote again. People have clearly supported the mayoral system. Ray Mallon has been a superb mayor as the results have proved but I am disappointed as a Labour councillor."
Len Junier, another Labour councillor, said he was more disheartened that so few residents had turned out to back either system of governance than the outcome. “Instead of being about personality we need a mayoral candidate who cares about the people of the town and what they want. Our biggest job now is to affect the disaffected people who did not come out to vote.”
Andy McDonald, Labour MP for Middlesbrough, added: “This is not a question of anyone winning or losing, but the people of Middlesbrough expressing what model of government they want.”
Liberal Democrat councillor, Maelor Williams, said he was surprised at the number of people who wanted to keep the mayoral system. “I am not happy with the result at all, there will be too much power concentrated on just one man,” he said. "And it will be a burden for all the groups when there are three simultaneous elections on one day – general, council and mayoral.”
However, Andy Preston, the first person to express his intention to stand as mayor if the residents still wanted one, was quietly celebrating.
“I'm really pleased because so many people put so much effort into this and to get a strong majority against the odds,” he explained. “Five weeks ago people said it was almost impossible so I'm pleased. I always thought it was possible. It says that the community did not want power taken away from them.”
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