Mayoral debate: Newcastle
By 5 live political reporter Matt Cole:
The box is soggy. Hardly surprising really given it’s barely stopped raining. But more on that in a moment.
Driving up to Newcastle from 5 live’s Salford HQ I passed Manchester, Leeds and Bradford, just to the of Wakefield - four of the other ten cities having referendums on having a mayor.
There are ten in all; Nottingham, Bristol, Coventry, Sheffield, and Birmingham making up the rest.
So the mission seemed simple: ask people in Newcastle what they know about Mayors and the campaigns for and against.
”Frank” submitting almost a manifesto: Less street art, more street cleaning, and jobs creation too.
That’s where the soggy box comes in. It’s our 5 live ballot box – into which we asked people to pop their ideas of what they’d do if mayor for a day. It wasn’t meant to be soggy; Newcastle’s weather took care of that.
To be blunt, the good folk of Newcastle I found didn’t seem too aware of the fact they’ve a referendum next week, and say they’ve little idea of what Mayors can do…which chimes with reports from many of the other cities where campaigning and engagement appears hardly at fever pitch.
However they do have plenty of ideas on what they’d do if in charge for a day. The most repeated idea? Change the name of the Sports Direct Arena back to St James’ Park.
Close to a lot of peoples heart that one, but they did engage on politics too. Cut homelessness, spend less on street art and more on street cleaning, do something to cut youth unemployment, sort out the bus routes.
Much of this does fall under the power of the Mayor to do – if the city chooses to have one.
I don’t think they’ll have much joy on the stadium name though.
My favourite idea was the girl who suggested that if Mayor she’d build a roof over the city so there’d be no rain. Looking at our soggy ballot box and my wet feet I’d say Amen to that.
After-all, councils or mayors can sign off on big infrastructure plans, so if elected she might just be allowed to do it (subject to planning committee approval…).