In May this year, 2015 the residents of Copeland elect the borough’s first Elected Mayor, Mike Starkie.
The role of Elected Mayor has replaced that of council leader. The main duties of the Elected Mayor include being the council’s principal public spokesperson, giving overall strategic direction to the council and appointing the Executive, one of whom must be nominated to be the deputy mayor. As Elected Mayor of Copeland, Mr Starkie has appointed a four person Executive, representing the political make-up of the Council – himself an Independent, Deputy Mayor Coun. Lena Hogg and Coun. Dave Banks, two Labour, and Coun. David Moore. The current role of Civic Mayor is now carried out by the Chair of Council, Coun. John Kane. The Chair of Council will continue to carry out the civic and ceremonial duties as well as chair the meetings of council.
The detail of how policies and the budget are approved changed slightly after the May elections, however the Elected Mayor cannot by themselves approve, reject or change council policy. For example the Elected Mayor presents budget proposals to Council and if councillors want to amend or reject them, a majority vote will force the Elected Mayor to look again at the proposals. At the subsequent meeting of Council, the Elected Mayor will resubmit the proposals and they will need to be approved by a simple majority. However if Council wishes to amend or reject the proposals it will need a two thirds majority of those present and voting to do so.
There have also be some changes made to the Council’s constitution to reflect the new model of governance under the Elected Mayor. However the powers that the Elected Mayor and Executive will have will be the same as the former Leader of the Council – this is set out in law. Councillors still have the power to challenge decisions taken by the executive through the Overview and Scrutiny process and in full council.