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Out And About In Sunshine
Voting to wave goodbye to the role of city mayor
In Bristol, today, it was warm and sunny, and it was very pleasant being out and about, walking first to a nurse appointment at the medical centre, then off to cast my vote, before returning home again. Simple, little tasks performed whilst out and about, and the warm, sunny day providing the perfect accompaniment.
So, I cast my vote today. In Bristol, we are once again deciding whether we want a city mayor or not. As you will have gathered, I do not. After 10 years of very little, it is, in my view, time to dispense with that office. It’s a bit like damned if you do, and damned if you don’t. My view is that it shouldn’t just be a budget set by the mayor, but instead should be a budget agreed upon by the council.
The alternative view is that the previous committee structure was forever bogged down in debates and arguments, and never led to any significant change. The problem with the latter part of that argument is that the mayoral power to make such changes lies with the regional mayor, not the city mayor, whose hands are largely tied, and whose coffers are largely empty, especially when it comes to huge infrastructure projects, such as a radical overhaul of public transport provision.
To top it all off, we don’t just have 2 mayors for Bristol, but we additionally have a Lord Mayor. To be fair, that is largely a ceremonial role, and the incumbent is usually dressed in full regalia, doing things like opening buildings, bridges, summer fairs or similar. It is a strange throwback to a role of greater importance hundreds of years ago.
None of this will matter to the rest of the country, where council elections are taking place in many local areas. Each locality will, of course, be interested in their individual results, but the country at large is looking at the overall results in terms of loss or gain of seats, and loss or gain of control of councils. The ruling national government rarely does well during mid-term local elections, but this year, there is greater interest in this issue. On the one hand, Labour is looking to see if they have more support with Sir Keir Starmer’s leadership than they had with Jeremy Corbyn, at the last general election, where they took an absolute thrashing from the Conservative Party (The Tories). On the other hand, the Tories are hoping that they do well, because if they do not, Boris Johnson may well be gone, given all the ‘partygate’ nonsense, where he has, so far, dodged a bullet in respect of his premiership.
I am interested in all the details of these shenanigans, but I was far more interested in the beautiful flowers photographed earlier today, during a very pleasant and warm spring day.
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