Stoke votes for new local government model after gay mayors

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The elected mayor of Stoke on Trent has said he is disappointed that voters in the city have decided to replace him with a council leader and cabinet system.

In an unusual and largely unreported election in 2005, Mark Meredith became the first gay man to oust another gay man as directly elected Mayor of Stoke-on-Trent.

The election was his first – he had never stood as a candidate before.

Directly elected mayors were promoted by Labour as a way of renewing local democracy,

Stoke-on-Trent City Council was the only council in England to have adopted the elected mayor and council manager model of governance.

However, this option has been withdrawn by the government and the city council must adopt one of two available options, an elected mayor and cabinet, or a council leader and cabinet, where a councillor is chosen as leader by other councillors. The council leader would then appoint a cabinet made up of councillors.

The second option was selected in a referendum on October 23rd.

The referendum vote was 21,231 for ‘Yes’, 14,592 for ‘No’ and the turnout was 35,902, which is 19.23 per cent of the electorate.

Mr Meredith said he was disappointed with the result of the referendum.

“In politics you win some and you lose some,” he told the BBC.

“We have to accept the results of the people of Stoke-on-Trent and we do need to move forward together.

“I wish the councillors the very best of luck. I will continue to work with those councillors over the next few months to try and improve the lot of our people here in Stoke-on-Trent.”

The switch to council leader and cabinet comes into force in May.