It’s been nearly a week since the referendum on whether Nottingham should have an elected a Mayor – and the majority of voters decided not. Perhaps now is the time to reflect on the decision.
28320 people voted to keep arrangements as they are now – 20943 voted in favour of changing the council being run by a Mayor elected by voters – giving a majority of 7,377 to the ‘no’ vote. The split was approximately 57% for and 43% against. The turnout was 23.9% of all eligible voters.
Nottingham was one of the ten largest cities in England chosen for potential change. As it turned out nine out of the ten cities chosen had a ‘no’ returned. Just Bristol agreed – and they will hold an election in the Autumn. In Doncaster they chose to keep their Mayor who was appointed first in 2001.
So what went wrong?
Regrettably the debate didn’t really start. The present Labour Leadership in Nottingham ran a negative campaign which was really a lost opportunity. There were no details behind their headlines. Some of the tactics (such as the racist leaflet) were below the belt. The £1m cost was never justified – and was just political spin in my view. To that end it worked.
But in my various conversations over the last few weeks with the business community at large the anecdotal evidence was that Nottingham needs a change. The business community don’t get a vote! But they do shape and influence the City. I never met anyone who said it was a waste of money.
I am still of the view that this is a good place, but it’s not great. Nor is it as good as it could be. We are in danger of become more marginalised – especially as the current leadership continues to fight Government.
I have heard too many negative stories in the last few weeks. One London Developer said to me, “you have no idea how difficult it is to invest in your City”. Word gets around and this is not good.
We need to wake up and smell the coffee. A win it may have been, but it wasn’t a whitewash. I hope that the Council take notice that there is an undercurrent – and it’s not in favour of the way things have always been.
Time to drop the Mayor story from here, but not the sentiments. Nottingham needs change to make change.