Croydon Council to hold referendum over council leadership

Last year more than 20,000 people signed a petition calling for the council leader to be replaced with a democratically elected mayor.

The campaign for a democratically elected mayor of Croydon (DEMOC) launched in February last year and handed their petition to Croydon Council in September.

The council’s ruling Labour group has now confirmed it plans to hold a referendum in October – this decision is set to be debated by the councillors at a meeting on January 25.

It comes as the council faces a major financial crisis with an overspend of more than £60 million and emergency spending restrictions in place.

Currently Croydon uses the leader and cabinet model – this means the council leader is chosen by members of the ruling party.

A directly elected mayor is the system used in Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Watford.

It would see the current council leader replaced by a mayor chosen by Croydon voters.

Under this system the ceremonial mayor in Croydon would be renamed the chairperson of the council and undertake the same responsibilities, including chairing full council meetings and attending local events.

This will be one of the options on the ballot paper and over the coming months it will be decided what the second option will be.

This will either be the current leader and cabinet system or a committee system where the council would be divided into politically balanced committees to make decisions.

This would mean overview and scrutiny committees would no longer be required.

Leader of the council, councillor Hamida Ali, said: “Croydon Council is under new leadership, and we know that many residents want to see this debate and choose the governance model that will shape how the council is governed in the future.

“Holding the referendum in October means there will be plenty of time for local people to consider the issues involved and weigh up the merits of the different options.”

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