Mayor pledges to continue focus on election promises after Newham referendum result

East Ham Town Hall

People in Newham voted to retain the directly-elected mayor model of governance in a referendum held on May 6. - Credit: Ken Mears

Voters in Newham have chosen to retain the position of directly-elected mayor.

A referendum on how the borough is governed saw 45,960 votes cast on May 6 in favour of the mayoral model (56 per cent), meaning the way Newham is run will stay the same.

In total, 36,424 votes were cast in favour of the alternative choice, the committee model (44pc).

The total number of votes counted was 85,087. There were 2,703 ballots rejected, according to Newham Council, and the turnout was 38pc.

Mayor of Newham Rokhsana Fiaz.

When seeking election as the Labour candidate for mayor, Rokhsana Fiaz inferred the existing mayoral model of governance was both corrupt and corrupting - Credit: Ken Mears

Mayor of Newham, Rokhsana Fiaz, said: "Voters have exercised their right to choose their mayor as the leader of the council so they can choose their advocate to deliver on manifesto promises and to hold them to account directly."

Ms Fiaz promised to hold the referendum when she ran for office in 2018.

"Delivering on the promises I made when I became mayor is what I’ll continue to focus on because I want residents to enjoy the better Newham they deserve and ensure we shape the future of the borough together with hope, optimism and renewed purpose."

The mayor identified listening to people as her "top priority", citing citizens' assemblies and the involvement of locals in shaping Newham's budget as proof.

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A spokesperson for Newham Right to Vote, which campaigned to keep the mayoral model, said: "We welcome the confirmation from the people who count - the voters - that the mayoral system of governance is right for Newham.

"This result now closes the debate and perhaps now we can move forward together to build a better Newham, putting people at the heart of our decisions."

Josephine Grahl chairs Newham Voting for Change, which backed the committee model.

Under this system, decision-making powers would have rested with councillors, who would have appointed a leader and set up committees to make decisions; the leader would have had no individual powers.

Ms Grahl said: "Although it is disappointing we did not win, it is encouraging to see people engaging in the debate about how their council is run."

She added campaigners were encouraged by Ms Fiaz's commitments to widen participation through citizens' assemblies and the trialling of community councils.

"We hope the mayor recognises Newham voters are enthusiastic about more open and transparent decision-making at all levels," she said.