John Hamilton announces the return of the Bring Back Democracy campaign …
Way back in 2001 a referendum was held on in Lewisham and two other London Boroughs on whether to bring in a directly elected executive mayoral system. Only 18% of the electorate voted and the result was 16,822 in favour and 15,914 against.
Steve Bullock was chosen as the Labour candidate over the incumbent leader of the council at the time, Dave Sullivan (who went on to found Renewal). He has been mayor ever since.
The Executive Mayor can govern with a cabinet of between 2 and 9 members, selected by the Mayor, who are paid an additional allowance of between £13,000 and £40,000 on top of their councillor allowance of £9,812.
The mayor can delegate responsibility to his cabinet or just let them advise him. He is entitled to take the decisions and he has had a poor record in the 16 years he has been in the post.
The law provides for further referenda to be held to change the system and the launch of the Bring Back Democracy campaign in Lewisham was in 2006 when the 5 year moratorium since the first referendum had expired. Councillors voted narrowly not to hold a new referendum, Labour winning against the combined weight of Lib-Dems, Greens and Socialist Party councillors only because the two Tory councillors, who had supported the call for a special meeting to be held to decide the matter, failed to turn up for the meeting, presumably having been given an incentive to do so by Steve Bullock or someone else in the Labour party, who flew two of their own councillors back from their holiday in Spain in order to win the vote.
The law has now changed and a petition signed by 5% of the electors can trigger a referendum on the question so that is what has been started up by the original founders of Bring Back Democracy: Nicholas Ingham and John Hamilton. They are being supported by activists in Labour’s Momentum group, by the Green Party, by the Lib-Dems, the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition and by Lewisham People Before Profit. The Lewisham Branch of Unite recently held an informative public meeting which agreed to push ahead with a new referendum.
Contact the campaign and start collecting signatures from Lewisham electors by sending us a message via the Contact Page.
Alternatively send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org