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Strong Leader or Elected Mayor - New Choice Faces South Somerset

Sunday 31 October 2010, 22:53
By Dawn Haydon

South Somerset District Council is asking what the public think about South Somerset having its very own Mayor.

Electing a South Somerset Mayor is one of the two options that are being considered by South Somerset District Council, as part of the new arrangements for the council’s governance.

New legislation requires the council to change its current executive decision-making process to one of two options - a strong leader or elected Mayor.

Residents are being encouraged to take part in a consultation, which runs until Friday 19 November 2010, to give their view. The public are being asked to consider:

- Option one - the "strong leader" model, is similar to the current system in place at South Somerset, with a Leader elected by the councillors every four years. The Leader would be able to appoint and dismiss executive members, with the elected councillors being able to remove the leader during their term of office if they see fit.

- Option two would see a Mayor directly elected for a term of four years. The Mayor would then choose their executive, but unlike the first model there is no provision to allow for the removal of the Mayor during their term of office. Under the Mayor model, his or her executive committee submits the budget and strategic policies to the council, which can only amend or overturn them by a two-thirds majority.

Under either option there would be no changes to how the remaining Area and other Committees operate or their terms of reference. Ian Clarke, Assistant Director for Legal & Corporate Services and Monitoring Officer for South Somerset District Council said: "Whilst this is a matter that is unlikely to generate much excitement amongst the public, we would like to hear their views.

"The council has initially considered both options and feels that moving to the elected Mayor model is not appropriate in terms of either the increased costs involved in the elections or because of the fact that it removes the ability for a simple majority of members to not approve any proposals from the executive in terms of the budget or strategic policies. "However before it makes a final decision the council wants to know the views of its residents. We need to adopt new arrangements for the governance of our executive body by the end of December which would be introduced following the district (and parish) elections in May 2011."

Following the consultation, the council will make the decision on which of the two options to adopt at its meeting in December 2010.

The consultation runs until Friday 19 November 2010. Comments should be made to the Monitoring Officer at or in writing to South Somerset District Council, Brympton Way, Yeovil, Somerset, BA20 2HT.

For more information on the options please visit the special link on
the homepage at


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