Mayor Peter Davies and Doncaster Council set date for elected mayor referendum

Mayor of Doncaster Peter Davies Mayor Peter Davies said mayoral governance had "done Doncaster proud"

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A date has been set for a referendum on whether to keep an elected mayor in a South Yorkshire town.

Doncaster councillors said a referendum on the issue would be held on 3 May.

The alternative model, which is used by most councils in the UK, is to have a council leader and a cabinet of councillors.

Doncaster has had an elected mayor since 2002. Peter Davies of the English Democrats has held the post since June 2009.

Analysis

As people in 11 cities in England look to tick the Yes or No box for their own elected mayor this year, they might look towards Doncaster as a bit of an experiment.

Only a quarter of people actually voted in the borough's 2001 referendum, 65% of them opting to jump on board the Labour idea of directly elected mayors.

Over a decade later, it is then ironic that the Labour group on Doncaster Council is the one pushing the idea that the town should now get rid of the system.

They would say they are responding to public demand; in 2007 an 11,000-signature petition was handed in opposing the idea of one person running the council.

A new airport, football stadium and shopping centre prove a mayor has the power to get big projects done quickly, but it was a string of deaths of vulnerable children that raised serious questions about whether the town was being run in the right way.

The failure of the Children's Services department moved the Government to take control of the council in 2009.

James Vincent, BBC Sheffield political reporter

The elected mayor system in Doncaster has been the subject of considerable debate since it began.

The decision to have a referendum on the issue was taken after a three-month public consultation on the issue in Autumn 2011.

The referendum on 3 May is to be held alongside local council elections, and Doncaster Council estimates it will cost approximately £80,000.

Out of 1,225 replies, 90% voted in favour of the referendum.

If the system were to be changed to a council leader and cabinet model, the newly constituted organisation would take effect from 5 May 2013.

The leader of the council would be elected by, and be one of, the councillors.

They would hold the post for up to four years and could be removed if they lost the support of the majority of councillors.

On the same day as the referendum, other UK councils - including Sheffield, Bradford, Leeds and Wakefield - will hold polls on whether to switch to a mayoral system.

The elections for mayors would then happen on 15 November.

Salford has already opted to have a vote on whether to switch to a mayoral system.

Mayor Davies, who was elected in 2009, said: "I think mayoral governance has done Doncaster proud."

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