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LOCAL ELECTIONS: 'MONKEY' AND 'ROBOCOP' MAYORS PROMPT RETHINK

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By LGCnet political correspondent Robert Hedley ...
By LGCnet political correspondent Robert Hedley

The election of H'Angus the Monkey - Hartlepool Football Club's mascot - and 'Robocop' Ray Mallon in neighbouring Middlesbrough as the first elected mayors of those boroughs has prompted a rethink on the procedures involved. The success of the British National Party, not only in Burnley but in voting terms in Sunderland, for example has prompted the rethink.

All the areas involved are Labour heartlands. Peter Mandleson is MP for Hartelepool; former DTRL minister and now chairman of the commons home affairs select committee Chris Mullin is MP for Sunderland South. Tony Blair's Sedgefield constituency adjoins Hartlepool. DTLR secretary Stephen Byers' North Tyneside constituency is next door to Sunderland.

BBC Radio 5 Live's north east reporter Doug Morris said Mr Mallon's attack on 'the establishment', including the police establishment - and, by inference, Cleveland chief constable Barry Shaw - raised questions as to how they would work together.

Mr Morris said that even before the announcement of Mr Mallon's success - which everyone forecast - there was a lot of 'spinning' on the floor of the count. The message from the spin doctors, given the north east mayoral results, was that the way the system had been established needed review.

'We're expecting a white paper on regional government next week, and it's all going to be up for grabs in that. What they [the political advisers] say is to point to the local government elections and say they are completely the opposite of the mayoral elections', he said.

In Hartlepool, 60% of mayoral votes went to non-party candidates. In the council elections, only 5% went to independents.

The view was, in the north east, that the mayoral system was detached from the local government system.

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