With just over three weeks to go before Nottingham goes to the polls to decide whether to have a Mayor or not the level of debate has been woeful at best. The highlight of news coverage seems to have been that the Council spent £900 on posters for the ‘no’ campaign when they shouldn’t have done.
It seems to me that the present leadership are opposed to the idea predominantly on the basis of the cost. The tweets of the leader of the Council are generally produced by “£1m Mayor” followed by why we can’t afford it? Is this as good as the argument gets – it’s about the money?
It is suggested that the cost over 4 years will be £1m. But it is difficult to see what that figure is made up of. It suits the Politicians to wrap the no argument up in cost issues.
They say Nottingham can ill-afford it against the background of the swingeing cuts. But frankly some of the cuts were overdue. Indeed in the private sector, we were cutting as soon as the recession hit – not two years afterwards, when backed into a corner.
But I have two particular concerns. The first is our perception nationally. Our reputation in Whitehall is hardly good. We are after all, the only Council in the Country who will not publish expenditure over £500. The new Mayors are to be invited to two Prime Minister led cabinets each year. Do we really want to be kept out of those meetings? Is this where future big projects will get aired? Probably.
Then there is how the City is performing. Certainly there are some great things here, but do these happen in spite of the Council? Does the City really have ambition as it says? The world of 2012 is very different and the opportunities are fewer than ever. It is tough out there. We have some great assets, but are these capitalised on? One example is The Castle and Robin Hood. It’s a joke. I left the Sheriffs Commission two years ago – sadly another talking shop. This needs shaking up!
Nottingham could be a great place – but the current set-up isn’t taking it forward in my view. We need a change…
So I vote Yes for a Mayor.
What do you think?