County council leader Peter Jackson has dismissed the idea of holding a referendum on plans for an elected mayor North of the Tyne.
Here’s why he should change his mind.
The North East is the only region in England that has voted against devolution, overwhelmingly in 2004, largely on the basis that people did not want an extra layer of local government.
The elected mayor proposal brings a new combined authority, extra to existing authorities. No one locally has asked for this, no one has campaigned for this at an election, and no one has voted for it.
The world has changed since 2004. There may be a case for devolution, but it is undemocratic to go against the decision of a referendum without another one. Or is this what they will eventually decide to do over Brexit?
Coun Jackson has spoken of the cost of a referendum, but how can this compare with the costs of a new authority and mayor. What about the costs to democracy?
Democracy is under threat from terrorists who kill schoolchildren at a pop concert and from others who murdered a woman MP in the street. Democracy should be supported by all of us, not undermined by people who are, themselves, elected.
Our politicians and the government intend to hold a ‘consultation’ on this matter, but consultations are meaningless. Votes are what count.
Devolution would be strengthened by a referendum. On the other hand, if we opposed it, that might just show that there is something wrong in the proposal, again.
We should be allowed to vote and politicians of all parties should remember to whom they are accountable. Our money, our councils, our government, our democracy.