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LABOUR DENIES RELUCTANCE TO PUSH FOR MORE MAYORAL REFERENDUMS

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The government has denied it is reluctant to force mayoral referendums in Birmingham City Council and Bradford MDC ...
The government has denied it is reluctant to force mayoral referendums in Birmingham City Council and Bradford MDC after Labour won just three of the seven elections, losing two to bizarre candidates.

There has been speculation Labour will cool towards the policy after Ray 'Robocop' Mallon won in Middlesbrough Council, and H'Angus the Monkey - aka political novice Stuart Drummond - won Hartlepool BC. It also lost to the Liberal Democrats in Watford BC and the Conservatives in North Tyneside MBC.

Dr Peter Latham, secretary of the Labour Campaign for Open Local Government, said rowing back was a 'distinct possibility'.

A DTLR spokeswoman denied the government was 'disinclined or less inclined' to force referendums in the two councils where consultation on directly elected mayors has produced ambiguous results.

The government has said it is waiting for Electoral Commission research into allowing councils to publicise the issues more in the run up to a poll.

But the policy received a boost after Hackney LBC voted for a mayor and cabinet, and Stoke on Trent City Council a mayor and council manager, in polls held alongside the local elections. This means three more elections, along with Bedford BC, will take place in October.

New Local Government Network campaign manager Anna Randle said: 'The results should not put anyone off as the electorate was expressing its desire for a change in a way it could not before.'

Lewisham LBC mayor Steve Bullock (Lab) said: 'It is sensible for ministers to take time to digest the implications of the first round of mayoral elections - also the implications of some of the wider election results like Burnley.'

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