Following its New Year launch, local MPs, Rory Stewart and John Stevenson, have added their support to the “Cumbria Yes” campaign, which is calling for the creation of a directly-elected mayor for Cumbria that will change the way in which the county is governed. Both MPs have been strong advocates for greater localism since their election in 2010. Rory Stewart has served as Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Local Democracy, and has previously helped champion similar local campaigns, such as the setup of Penrith Town Council and the Penrith Business Improvement District. John Stevenson was central to the campaign for a directly-elected mayor for Carlisle. Mr Stewart and Mr Stevenson have urged all Cumbrians to get behind the campaign in what they call ‘a huge opportunity to redistribute more power and control back into the hands local people.’
The “Cumbria Yes” campaign requires 5 per cent of Cumbrian voters – which equates to about 19 000 people – to sign the petition over the next twelve months, in order to trigger a county-wide referendum. It is currently planned that this would take place in May 2016, and if successful, it would see an election for Cumbria’s first mayor held later on that year or in 2017.
Rory Stewart said:
“This is a great, local and apolitical campaign, that has arisen from a call by local people for a change over the way in which Cumbria is governed. The Scottish referendum that took place last year, was a massively invigorating exercise of democracy, and it is in no way surprising to see this energy and passion spill across the border, with Cumbrians now demanding a greater say over the political issues that matter most to them. A Cumbrian Mayor is a call for greater control over the future of our local communities, and a bigger say over the way in which our local services are run. It leaves no doubt where responsibility and leadership lies on local affairs, and means every Cumbrian knows exactly who to hold to account when problems arise. I hope everyone will get behind the “Cumbria Yes” campaign and add their name to the petition.”
John Stevenson said:
“I have long been a strong advocate for Elected Mayors up and down Britain, having campaigned for one in my constituency of Carlisle. The idea of a Cumbrian Mayor is a concept that I support. It would bring clear, transparent leadership to our county. This is something that local government would benefit from in Cumbria. Cumbria is a long way from London and I believe that a Cumbrian Mayor would be able to better sell our county locally and nationally. I will certainly be putting my name behind the petition.”
Chairman of Cumbria Yes Ben Berry thanked the MP’s for their support:
“A Directly Elected Mayor for Cumbria will bring massive benefits for the County. It’s cheaper, makes the leadership accountable and gives every Cumbrian a say. I would like to thank Rory and John for backing the campaign and I look forward to the other Cumbrian MP’s doing the same.”
To sign up to the “Cumbria Yes” campaign add your name to the petition.