Newham’s elected mayor referendum date same as London mayoral and assembly elections

Mayor of Newham Rokhsana Fiaz. Pic: Rokhsana Fiaz

Mayor of Newham Rokhsana Fiaz. Pic: Rokhsana Fiaz - Credit: Rokhsana Fiaz

A referendum on the future of Newham’s directly elected mayor will be held on the same day as the London mayoral election.

Councillors agreed a motion at a meeting in Stratford Town Hall on Monday which will see voters decide whether or not to scrap the current system on May 7, 2020, at the same time as choosing the capital’s next mayor and London Assembly members.

Cllr Hanif Abdulmuhit said: “We cannot risk having it in any other year where we risk the turnout being very low.

“I hear many people say residents will be confused about this. We need to stop telling lies and trust our residents to make the right choice.”

He argued holding the vote on the same date would save the council £500,000 with a planned commission already setting Newham back £100,000.

The Green Street West councillor added it would prevent voters taking a day off and stop schools closing for use as polling stations for an extra day.

He suggested turnout for the London mayoral and assembly elections would be boosted.

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Plaistow South’s Cllr Neil Wilson questioned whether voters would need time off when polling stations are open from early morning to late at night.

Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz said: “There will be a referendum so dudes chill out a little bit. It is important that any significant change in this borough fully engages residents.”

Under the Local Government Act 2000 there are three ways local authorities can be governed: a mayor and cabinet; a leader and cabinet or a committee system.

Other arrangements are possible with approval from the government.

Ms Fiaz attacked the three models as flawed saying the council has an opportunity to create an alternative that would build trust between people and those who represent them.

Council officers will present a report about the next steps, including what question to put on ballot slips, next year.

Setting the date takes forward the mayor’s manifesto pledge to change how democracy is done in the borough following the ousting of former office-holder Sir Robin Wales who spent 23 years in power.