Here is the letter I sent to the Morley Observer and Advertiser for this week's paper. A slightly sanitised version was printed.
I am writing in reply to the letter entitled ‘Electorate will not participate’ from Derek Bradley in last week’s letters page.
Councillor Bradley makes some interesting points. I regularly attend Morley Town Council meetings along with a few other local activists, and it is true that there are usually very few members of the public in attendance. The possible reasons for this are many, but I would suggest that the disgraceful behaviour of some of the Morley Borough ‘Independent’ councillors is one of the prime factors causing Morley residents to keep away from these meetings.
An example of such behaviour is the way in which the once non-political role of Mayor of Morley is now cynically abused for the benefit of the Morley Borough Independents Party.
This brings me nicely to the question of whether or not Morley’s Mayor should be elected directly by the voters of Morley. The Morley Borough Independents, of course, will claim that the current system is good enough, as it allows to choose their Mayor every year without the wishes of the voters of Morley being taken into account in any way.
The current system allows the ruling group on the council (currently the ‘MBIs’) to abuse the office of Mayor, for example by letting them select one of their members who they want to receive an increased level of publicity, such as a councillor who is soon to seek election to Leeds City Council and would welcome the extra publicity in the local press.
It has also allowed them to provide us with the spectacle of Terence Grayshon becoming Mayor, with Judith Elliott bizarrely claiming the title of his ‘Mayoress’. You could not make it up.
A direct election every year for the voters of Morley to choose their Mayor would clearly be more democratic than the current system, and in principle I would be very much in favour of such a move.
Perhaps injecting some real democracy into the process of electing our Mayor will inspire confidence in local voters and finally make them feel that the Mayor of Morley is someone who truly represents them, rather than just another career-politician using the office to promote themselves.
And who knows, maybe then we will see more members of the public at our Town Council meetings!