At the Stevenage Borough Council Annual General Meeting on 10.6.2014, the 3 strong Liberal Democrat Opposition group voted against the imposition of yet another Labour mayor and Deputy, and had their votes recorded against the decision.
Leader of the Liberal Democrat Opposition, Cllr. Robin Parker, said that the vote against was not necessarily against the individuals concerned, but was on the issue of principle that the town’s mayor should not be a party political appointment. The current rule forced on the council by the huge Labour majority, is that the mayor must be a Labour councillor, even if they have few years’ service.
This has been their rule for decades, with the exception of the period 2007-2010 when an all-party agreement on the mayor was made by all three parties. The agreement was first suggested by Cllr. Parker over 32 years ago, but Labour did not agree it until 2007. Under it, all long serving councillors, of any party, had a chance of being mayor. During that time, one Conservative was allowed to be mayor for one year.
In 2010, the Labour group tore up the agreement for no reason that was ever given and, since then, Stevenage has had Labour’s mayor, rather than a town mayor.
Speaking at the meeting, Robin Parker explained that a permanent Labour mayor is an insult to the 60% of voters who do not vote Labour, and an insult to at least two opposition councillors who have served 16 years and 18 years respectively and who Labour refuse to invite to be mayor. He said: “It is as if somehow their service was not as good as a Labour member.”
He concluded: “The mayor should not be yet another party political appointment.”