Monday, August 22, 2011

Leicester: When mayors fall out

The establishment of a one-party state in Leicester has not meant there has been less argument in the city's politics. Labour is quite capable of having rows all on its own.

A couple of weeks ago there was a story in the Leicester Mercury about claims that the new elected Mayor, Sir Peter Soulsby, was purposely overshadowing the ceremonial Lord Mayor Robert Wann. Though the story originated with the city's only Conservative councillor, the Mercury was able to obtain the following quote from "an unnamed source close to Lord Mayor Robert Wann":
"The cream is being skimmed from the top of the Lord Mayor's engagements and it won't be long until it comes to a head in the Labour group."
Today it does seem to be coming to a head, but perhaps in the way that Wann hoped.

This evening's Mercury carries a report that Soulsby has reported Wann to the city council's standards board over claims he has had several parking tickets cancelled by a senior executive. The report goes on to quote Soulsby:
"Just before May's election a member of the public came to me with their concerns about a number of issues relating to a councillor. They also provided documents to back up these concerns.

"I promised to investigate the issues following the election and I fulfilled that promise. After gathering evidence internally I wrote to the councillor concerned.

"When I didn't get a response I spoke to the councillor, but the explanation I received was inadequate and I passed on the issue to the council's standards board."

He added: "Clearly as mayor I've got a responsibility to make sure that the very highest standards are being met within the council."
Actually, it is not at all clear that it is the Mayor's role to oversee ethical councillors among councilors. The executive mayor model is a bit of a mess, but it surely meant to be the councillors who hold the elected mayor to account.

And, while the allegations again Wann should be investigated, why is the Mayor getting involved? Surely he has enough to do without devoting his energies to doing down his enemies within the Leicester Labour Party?

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