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Thursday, 28 August 2014

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Change needed, says West Cumbria elected mayor group

A CAMPAIGN calling for a restructure of local authorities has reached Millom.

The petition was started by a group in Whitehaven calling for a directly-elected mayor in Copeland, to exercise more control over the borough’s budget.

Members are in the process of organising petitions to call for a referendum on the issue. To get that they need support from at least five per cent of the borough’s voters, or around 2,700 people.

The petition is being circulated by supporters of the campaign in Millom and Haverigg, and is available in the Bridge Cafe, St George’s Road, The Hair Gallery in Market Square and shops in Haverigg.

Bern Birbeck, spokesperson for the group leading the campaign, said an elected mayor in Copeland would be more democratic.

A statement on the group’s website said: “Local government needs to be transparent and accountable.

“With our current autocratic system, this isn’t the case. Change is needed.”

However, leader of Copeland Borough Council, Elaine Woodburn, warned a directly-elected mayor would not be able to do things any differently.

She said: “An elected mayor would still not have control over roads, pavements, education, transport, social services, children’s services or anything else that Cumbria County Council or the Lake District National Park deliver.”

Millom mayor Brian Crawford said he was undecided about the prospect, saying: “Generally people might think it would be a good thing because Millom does seem to be left out of some of the decisions that are made.

”Whether or not that’s true, that is the impression people have.

“Personally, I’m still thinking about it and the impact if would have.

“We feel in Millom we don’t have as much representation as we could have and maybe a mayor who was independent from the council would be able to get some more money. In the long term it depends who is actually standing as to whether I have confidence in them to do things differently.”

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