Ex-editor urges Torbay to turf out Lib Dem council 'clique'

A former regional newspaper editor has launched a one-man bid to get Torbay Council effectively sacked and replaced with an elected mayor.

David Scott, who used to edit the Birmingham Daily News, the Romford Observer and the Banbury Guardian, was president of Torbay Liberal Democrats – but he resigned in February in disgust at the way the party was running the council.

Using local government expertise gained from his job as a regional newspaper consultant and trainer, Scott has launched a campaign to force a referendum on replacing the existing council cabinet with an elected mayor.

He needs to collect 5,012 signatures to force the vote and has so far obtained more than 3,000.

He said: “The Lib Dems got control in May 2003 and put their allowances up by 65 per cent, despite fierce opposition in the town and within the local party. It culminated in the Herald & Express calling for the entire council to resign.

“They were capped by the government because of the size of the council tax rise, and in a tourist resort they closed half the public loos.”

Scott has spent £500 of his own money on the campaign so far and has put together a website on the subject: www.torbaymayorcampaign.com. He says he is not currently interested in running for the position himself as he too busy working as a training consultant for more than 200 local newspapers across the UK. Scott was mayor of Maldon, Essex, in 1979.

Torbay would become the 12th area in the UK to get a directly elected mayor under the provisions of the Local Government Act 2000.

Scott said: “In the process we’ve got at the moment, the leader of the council is elected by a small political clique. An elected mayor would put his CV before the public and let them choose.

“We would still have councillors to keep the mayor in check and twothirds of them can veto anything in the mayor’s programme.”

Scott, who is a history buff, quotes Cromwell’s statement as he dissolved the Long Parliament in his campaign: “You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately… Depart, I say and let us have done with you.”

By Dominic Ponsford

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