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Failure of consultation

Swale Council leader Andrew Bowles
Swale Council leader Andrew Bowles

by Hayley Robinson

Only 13 out of 127,000 residents responded to a public consultation about whether Swale should have a directly-elected mayor.

And of these, only nine were in support of the move.

For the council to consider changing its structure it would have taken more than 4,000 people to respond to the consultation.

Council leader, Cllr Andrew Bowles, said: “I’m surprised we got 13 responses to be honest.”

Currently the council has an annually selected leader – Cllr Bowles, leader of the Tory group which has the most seats on the council – and an executive committee made up of councillors.

But under the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007, the council has to change its arrangements to one of two options, a new style leader and cabinet executive or an elected mayor and cabinet executive.

At a full council meeting on August 11 councillors voted in support of the leader and cabinet model, which is most similar to the current structure.

Cllr Bowles said: “It cost one borough with an electorate half the size of Swale £40,000 for an elected mayor so for Swale you would talking about £80,000 out of the budget."

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