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Referendum about the political leadership of Stockton Council

In July 2010 we asked people living within the Stockton Borough for their views about the way that Stockton Council should be politically led.

We asked if people would prefer to be governed by a Council Leader and Cabinet or Directly Elected Mayor and Cabinet.

The consultation was held as a result of an earlier consultation programme held during autumn 2009. It was originally agreed to organise a public referendum following the outcome of this consultation programme. However, the Council decided not to proceed with this due to limited public interest and the financial climate at the time.

Instead, information regarding the two executive models was sent directly to all Stockton residents, listed on the Electoral Register, and asked them to tell us which of the executive models they would prefer to see introduced by the Council.

The following responses were received:

  • 26,069 consultation slips returned
  • 13,445 in favour of a Council Leader and Cabinet
  • 12,513 in favour of a Directly Elected Mayor and Cabinet
  • 111 were void due to uncertainty

These views were then evaluated and considered when making the decision on how the council would be run in the future.

On 2nd September 2010, Cabinet considered the consultation replies and recommended to Council that the Council Leader and Cabinet Executive model be approved.


Your right to seek a referendum

A referendum is a direct vote in which an entire electorate is asked either to accept or reject a particular proposal. There are five different types of referendums which can take place and these are:

  • UK wide, national and regional referendum
  • Mayoral referendum
  • Referendum by local councils on local issues
  • Council Tax Referendum
  • Neighbourhood Planning Referendum


UK wide, national and regional referendum

The Political Parties, Elections and Referenda Act 2000 establishes a fixed legal framework for the conduct of any referendum held across the UK and also referenda held in Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland. It also applies to regional referenda within England.


Mayoral referendum

The Local Government Act 2000 set out a major change in the way local authorities in England and Wales are run. Most local authorities, except some of the smaller district councils in the area of a county council, operate executive arrangements.

There are three types of executive arrangement set out in the Act, two of which involve a directly elected mayor: mayor and cabinet, and mayor and council manager. The other involves a leader who is elected by councillors and cabinet.

Local authorities can consult on which arrangements local people would prefer. If there is a proposal to have an elected mayor, the local authority must hold a binding referendum. Many councils in England have already carried out consultations with local people on this issue.

Local residents can also call for a mayoral referendum by organising a petition signed by five per cent of local electors or more in England. This is known as the verification number. The Local Government Act 2000 requires councils to publish the revised figure based on the electoral register having effect on 15 February 2013. The revised figure for Stockton on Tees, which equates to 5% of the local government electorate, is now 7,103. This figure will be effective from 1 April 2013 and will remain in force until 31 March 2014.


Referendum by local councils on local issues

Referenda are now regularly used by local councils to test public opinion on local issues. These referenda are not regulated by law and may take various forms as the council may from time to time decide.


Council Tax Referendums

The Localism Act 2011 sets a duty on billing authorities, major precepting authorities (e.g. county councils, police and fire & rescue authorities, the GLA) and local precepting authorities (e.g. parish councils) to determine whether their relevant basic amount of council tax for a financial year is excessive. A council tax referendum will only be required to be held in relation to an authority’s council tax increase if the amount set by the authority exceeds the council tax excessiveness principles applying to that year.


Neighbourhood Planning Referendum

The Localism Act 2011 also introduced Neighbourhood planning as a new way for communities to decide the future of the places where they live and work by producing Neighbourhood plans. If the plan is found to be satisfactory (i.e. complies with the key legal requirements) with modifications if necessary, then the local authority must arrange for a referendum to take place. If more than 50% of those voting in the referendum vote ‘yes’, then the council would be required to adopt the plan.

For additional information about a referendum contact the Democratic Services team.