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Target close for elected Mayor petition

PUBLISHED: 10:20 29 March 2010 | UPDATED: 17:14 30 June 2010

A campaign to get a directly-elected mayor for Great Yarmouth is nearing its target and could see the people of the borough take part in a referendum on the plan in the autumn.

A campaign to get a directly-elected mayor for Great Yarmouth is nearing its target and could see the people of the borough take part in a referendum on the plan in the autumn.

The organisers of the scheme to give Yarmouth a democratic mayoral voice have collected 3,000 names on a petition and only need another 500 signatures to trigger a local poll on the idea.

Labour Party members Trevor Wainwright and Mick Castle predict they will get the 500 names needed by May.

They will then send off the petition to Yarmouth Borough Council which will pass it on to Whitehall.

The Department for Communities and Local Government will then scrutinise the petition and any accompanying response from Yarmouth Borough Council to decide if a possible referendum should be held.

It is thought that a referendum could be held as early as the autumn.

If any referendum results in a 'yes' vote then future mayors will be directly-elected instead of being chosen by councillors.

The new post will have a hands-on approach to running the council instead of just being a purely ceremonial role.

Mr Castle, who is borough councillor for Central and Northgate ward, said yesterday he would consider running for the post of directly elected mayor and hoped the new post could be apolitical.

However Mr Castle did admit that he could run against candidates such as Harry the herring or Sidney the seagull in any mayoral election - similar to scenes of H' Angus the Monkey being elected mayor for Hartlepool in 2002.

Mr Castle said: “I think there is enormous appetite in Yarmouth to have a directly chosen mayor who would be hands on and known to everyone in the borough.

“Having a directly elected mayor should lead to an increase in local democracy and accountability.”

Mr Castle and Mr Wainwright have said that if their petition reaches 3,500 names by the end of April or early May they will delay sending it the borough council because of local elections on May 6 and the strong possibility of a General Election the same day.

To support the petition call Mr Castle on 01493 844552 or email michael.castle50@ntlworld.com or contact Mr Wainwright, the former head of borough council's Labour group, on 01493 441001 or email trevwainwright@btinternet.com

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