Public need to have their say, says councillor bidding for mayor spot

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A BOSTON councillor who is calling for a referendum on appointing an elected mayor for Boston has accused his council colleagues of trying to sway the public on the matter.

English Democrat councillor Elliott Fountain is in the midst of raising a petition to force Boston Borough Council to hold a referendum on the change in leadership, but the Conservative-led council has said the public would be against the move, which it claims would lead to a hefty bill for the tax-payer.

The authority has based its claims on a public consultation held last year in which two-thirds of respondents said they would prefer to retain the current system - yet as only two per cent of the electorate responded to the referendum Coun Fountain said it was not an accurate representation of public opinion.

He aired his views after an article was published in council newsletter the Boston Bulletin entitled ‘You say no to elected mayor’, which he said was ‘undeservedly negative.’

In a letter to the Standard, he said: “To be using the words that the public consultation delivered a overwhelming response to anything is false. How can a public consultation that created only a two per cent response rate then create a overwhelming response?

“The only reason I believe there should be a referendum is that it is democratic and it fairly gives all of the people in Boston the choice to make their own decision who they wish to lead them and to represent them. The public deserve this choice.”

Council leader Peter Bedford said previously that the cost of a referendum could be up to £50,000, and if an election was forced it would lead to a further bill of more than £21,000 for the tax-payer.

He said: “This is money we don’t have, to put in place what would, in the opinion of the current majority, be an inferior system to the one we already have.”

Coun Fountain said he believed the cost of having an elected mayor would be less in the long term than the current system where the council pays a chief executive and funds a civic mayor and leader of the council, but Coun Bedford said he believes it would actually be more expensive, as elected mayors can command a salary.

The English Democrat councillor said he was aiming to change the system as he believed it was more democratic and made the leader of the council more accountable.