Elected mayor proposal is up for discussion

IPSWICH: Could Ipswich be in line for a London-style elected mayor?

Councillors are to debate installing a directly elected mayor during next week’s full meeting of the borough council.

But the move is expected to be rejected in favour of sticking with the current “leader and cabinet” system of running the borough.

The previous government told councils they must reconsider ways of running their business – and this could cause a headache for authorities like Ipswich in the future.

Until now councils have chosen a leader, who then selects a cabinet or executive, every year. Now they will choose a leader for four years in an attempt to introduce continuity into the authority.

But for a council like Ipswich in which a third of the council is elected every year, that could cause problems.

Current leader Liz Harsant – who heads a Tory/LibDem administration – said: “Electing a leader for four years is fine if you have all-out elections every four years.

Most Read

“But in somewhere like Ipswich it is quite conceivable that power will change during that time.

“There would have to be a mechanism to change leaders in that case – you could not have a leader from one party and another party with the majority in the council chamber.

“I don’t really know why we have to change the way things are at the moment – it has worked well until now. I had hoped (new local government secretary) Eric Pickles would have changed it by now but we have to go ahead with this vote on Wednesday.”

Mrs Harsant has led Ipswich council since 2005, but the Labour opposition is hopeful of regaining power at next May’s elections when a third of the seats on the council are up for grabs.

n Should there be a change in the way the council is run? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk