I HAVE been reflecting on the political culture in Darlington for a while, and it keeps occurring to me that the two most influential and perhaps most powerful positions in our town, the Leader of the Council and the mayor are in fact unelected.

How can this be acceptable in this day and age, that ordinary voters just don’t get the chance to vote for the people in these roles, just think about that for a moment?

As a serving councillor I find the ceremony and governance arrangements of the council rather bizarre and at times rather distant from the expectations of the modern world.

We even have to address the Mayor ‘Mr. Mayor’ irrespective of the mayor’s gender.

Now don’t get me wrong I’m a huge, huge fan of pomp and ceremony, in fact had I had the chance to vote in the referendum on whether Darlington was to have a directly elected Mayor, I just like 58 per cent of Darlington voters would have voted against it. But that was back in 2007, and things change, cultures changes, people’s expectations change and what’s classed as the ‘norm’ moves on.

Reservations about moving away from the current system would include the cost, the ceremony and perhaps some tradition being lost, however it shouldn’t cost us anymore, if fact it could save us money, and I see no reason why an elected Mayor couldn’t still wear the chains of office just like the Mayor does currently.

For me this is about how connected people feel towards the decisions that are made on their behalf, whether those decisions are viewed positively or negatively.

The first job of any leader is to create a connected community and in my opinion you can only do that through direct accountability to local people, who fundamentally feel, and are part of the process. The process which should start at the ballot box.

Perhaps it’s time to think again about what we want our town to look like and what we as residents want and expect from our Leader and Mayoral system.

Councillor Kevin Nicholson, B.E.M., Eastbourne Ward