Mayoral ballot options are revealed

CIVIC chiefs have detailed the two options that will decide the outcome of a planned mayoral referendum.

The referendum, to be held on Thursday, November 15, will ask voters whether they want to retain the current mayoral system or opt for the committee system, which is committees made up of elected councillors.

A referendum is a vote, but instead of voting for a candidate, people are instead asked a question on the ballot paper.

The question will be:

“How would you like Hartlepool Borough Council to be run?

● By a mayor who is elected by voters. This is how the council is run now.

● By one or more committees made up of elected councillors. This would be a change from how the council is run now.”

The referendum will be held to coincide with the Police Crime Commissioner election and polling stations will be open between 7am and 10pm.

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Plans for the referendum, confirmed at a recent meeting of the full council, followed a major public consultation exercise which asked people which alternative system to the directly elected mayor they wanted to see on the ballot paper.

By law, only one alternative can be put forward and more than 800 people responded to the consultation, 75 per cent of which favoured the committee system, over the other alternative, a leader who is an elected councillor.

Mayor Stuart Drummond, who became the town’s first elected mayor in May 2002 has previously welcomed the chance for people to have their say.

Mayor Drummond currently receives a special responsibility allowance of £58,135 for his role as town mayor, as well as the basic allowance of £5,767.

The exact cost and structure of the committee system is yet to be decided.

To take part in the referendum, people in town need to be registered to vote and completed registration applications must be received by the Election’s Office by October 31.

There are three ways to cast your vote, in person, by postal vote or by proxy vote.

Once the polling stations close at 10pm on November 15, the votes will be counted and the results of the referendum announced on Friday, November 16.

If the majority of votes are to retain the current mayoral system then that will continue and a mayoral election held in May 2013.

Another referendum to change the system will not be able to be held for a further 10 years.

If the majority vote to change to the committee system, then a resolution would need to be passed and the change would come in next May, when the current mayor’s four year term comes to an end.

Committee members would then be elected from the existing 33 councillors at the annual council meeting.

For more information about the referendum or how to register, call the council’s Elections Office on (01429) 523088.