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Elected mayor debate

PUBLISHED: 11:08 20 August 2010 | UPDATED: 11:57 16 September 2010

GREATER powers and a longer term of office for the leader of Great Yarmouth Borough Council will be debated next week.

A decision on how the leader is chosen and exercise of executive powers from May will be made by the council's cabinet on Wednesday night.

GREATER powers and a longer term of office for the leader of Great Yarmouth Borough Council will be debated next week.

A decision on how the leader is chosen and exercise of executive powers from May will be made by the council's cabinet on Wednesday night.

The meeting comes as democracy campaigners prepare to re-submit their petition demanding the council's leader is directly elected by the people of the borough.

But a report to the cabinet suggests the council should choose to have a leader who is elected by a full council and stays in post for four years.

The modified role will see all executive decisions vested in the leader, who will be given the power to delegate decisions to the cabinet, single cabinet members or officers.

The present role of leader, currently held by Conservative Barry Coleman, is chosen by full council and lasts a year.

Executive decisions are split between the full cabinet, single cabinet members and officers.

If approved, the leader would also choose the cabinet from May instead of the present situation of members being elected by the full council.

On Wednesday the cabinet will also look at the suggestion to have a directly elected leader/mayor for the borough.

But the cabinet report says: “It appears likely that the council will opt for the modified leader and cabinet arrangements, which will be similar to the arrangements that have operated for the last eight years.”

However, Mick Castle, a campaigner for a directly elected mayor, has pointed out that the report admits the government says that a leader selected by the public could readily deliver “strategic leadership, sharp accountability and effective and efficient decision-making”.

In July, Mr Castle and other campaigners received a setback in their quest to have a mayor chosen by the electorate after the borough council ruled out 1,878 names on a petition because they were not filled in correctly.

Because of the shortfall the petition failed to gain the support of 5pc of the electorate to trigger a referendum demanding the ceremonial role of mayor be scrapped in favour of directly elected executive mayor.

Mr Castle, who is preparing to re-submit the petition, said the cabinet should grasp the nettle on Wednesday and plump for the option of a directly elected mayor.

The council's ruling Conservative group has said it opposes the role of directly elected mayor as the present system works well and a referendum and any subsequent mayoral vote would cost £80,000.

Once the cabinet chooses its preferred leadership option it will go a public consultation and be discussed by a special council meeting by the end of the year.

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