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Call to make the town hall ‘more democratic’

Blackpool Town Hall

Blackpool Town Hall

Calls have been made to bring back a “more democratic” system of government to Blackpool Town Hall.

Former High Sheriff of Lancashire, Keith Gledhill, is leading the call to reintroduce the old committee system, which would allow more councillors to get involved in making key decisions.

However, Mr Gledhill’s plea has been discounted as making “little sense in a modern democracy” by Blackpool Council leader Coun Simon Blackburn.

Mr Gledhill’s call come after Fylde Council announced it is set to hold its own referendum on the issue in May after a campaign drew hundreds of signatures from residents across the borough.

He said: “I’ve never been involved in either local or national politics because being in business and having employees you need to keep your colours closely hidden.

“I just feel strongly about this and I think it’s about time that we went back to a proper system.

“I do feel that the present day councillors don’t really get much of a say.

“That’s the problem, we lose a little bit of democracy.”

Critics of the current system say it is undemocratic, with resolutions taken by the members of the cabinet.

But others argue it is faster than the old committee system in getting decisions made while important policy matters can still be scutinised by the council.

Coun Simon Blackburn (pictured), leader of Blackpool Council, said: “We keep our governance systems under constant review and will continue to do so.

“The old committee system, however, is a recipe for stagnation and procrastination which might appeal to some people but makes little sense in a modern democracy.”

Coun Tony Williams, who heads up the Tory opposition on the council says while he is not fully in favour of a return to the old system, he believes more elected representatives should have more of a say in the town’s major decisions.

He said: “I think there is an opportunity for a more balanced debate if all parties are involved in some of the larger decisions that affect the future of Blackpool.

“Quite often politics get in the way of progress.”

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