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Torbay consults on post-mayor options

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Torbay BC is considering its future governance after councillors voted to hold a referendum on whether to abolish the post of elected mayor.

Consultation is due to end next week on which governance system the south-west council should use if residents vote to scrap the post.

The current mayor is Gordon Oliver (Con). Despite his political affiliation, Tory councillors in July passed a motion calling for a referendum on whether to scrap the post, which is now expected to coincide with the police and crime commissioner election in May 2016.

Councillors will consider a report on the consultation’s findings – which will recommend whether the alternative posed in the referendum will be a leader and cabinet model or the committee system – at next month’s full council meeting.

Any change would take place at the end of Mr Oliver’s term of office in May 2019.

The motion passed in July, proposed by Conservative group leader David Thomas, noted: “There is a groundswell of opinion that the council should review its current mayoral system of governance, from both the community and a number of elected members on the council.”

Torbay’s mayoralty has had a complicated history. It was created after a referendum in 2005 before which there had been frequent changes of control between the Tories and Liberal Democrats and the council had been rated ‘poor’ by the Audit Commission.

The first mayor was Nick Bye (Con) who defeated Mr Oliver, who stood against him as an independent.

At the 2011 election the Tories deselected Mr Bye, who then stood for mayor as an independent, and instead selected as their candidate Mr Oliver, by then a Tory, who won the election and was re-elected in May. Mr Bye became a Tory councillor last May.

If voters do scrap the mayoralty, Torbay will join Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Hartlepool BC in having introduced but then rejected the model.

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