Author Topic: SURVEY: Directly Elected Mayors: Right For Swindon? - Right For You?  (Read 4923 times)

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Offline Geoff Reid

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This survey is easy to participate in, even for people who sometimes struggle with all things t'internet and interweb related! If you can receive an email the online version is a doddle.

We have produced a very short set of instructions in the very next post in this topic

We will also be producing a printer-friendly version so the survey can be passed to the large numbers of quill and inkpot enthusiasts. This should be ready by the end of the month, when it is we will publish the detail right here.

In the meantime, we ask:

Is it time to elect Swindon's first non-ceremonial Mayor?

Here's a quick bullet-point history lesson of how Swindon came to adopt the present politically appointed leader and cabinet model leadership structure.

  • Swindon Borough Council was established as a Unitary Authority in 1997

  • It replaced the former Thamesdown Borough Council

  • Which in turn had replaced the original Swindon Borough Council in 1974

  • 1998 saw the publication of the Government’s White Paper “Modern Local Government – In Touch with the People”

  • Using its own newspaper, 'Swindon News' Swindon Borough Council began informing the Swindon public of the Government’s views on the modernisation of Local Government

  • Local Government Bill published in 1999, which set out the Government’s “modernising agenda” and explaining the proposed options for new council leadership structures.

  • In May 2000 Council began operating an experimental “pilot” leadership structure, based on the “Leader and Cabinet Model

  • Local Government Act 2000 passed by Parliament and became law on the 28th July 2000

  • Swindon Borough Council now had to adopt one of three leadership structures specified within the act

  • The Act also specified that the views of Swindon's public be properly taken into account before this change could take place

  • Public consultation began in June 2001 by which time the 'experimental' leader and cabinet model had been in operation for 12 months

  • In June 2001 three leadership options were presented to Swindon's public: elected mayor+cabinet, elected mayor+council Manager and politically appointed leader+cabinet

  • Council distributed booklets and leaflets to numerous public outlets, (libraries, council premises, community centres etc), and to all 78,000 homes that existed in the Borough at the time

  • Council also gave video presentations to key partner and stakeholder groups

  • Council issued a special edition of the Swindon People’s Voice Survey to seek the views of all 2,640 members of the Swindon People’s Voice panel

  • Council describes Swindon People’s Voice survey and the Leaflet to all Swindon Households as 'quantitative surveys'

  • Council concludes: "this provides sufficient evidence to demonstrate that a “referendum” for the Borough would not provide a different outcome"

  • No trial for either of the "Elected Mayor" leadership options is held

  • No referendum is held

  • Council votes to retain leader+cabinet structure

There is a resurgent debate over whether the original consultation process was interpreted and acted upon properly by the elected members of the council in 2001. 

For example: The Swindon Peoples Voice survey did show 43.6% of respondents being in favour of the Leader and cabinet model but also saw the other 56.4% of the respondents rejecting the leader and cabinet model and opting for either of the elected Mayor options.
Another example of possible, (and perhaps a deliberate), misinterpretation of survey results arises from the 7,033 responses received from the 78,000 booklets delivered to every household in Swindon.  The 'Overall findings and conclusions' documents concludes:

"In terms of the Leadership options a significant majority (52%) supported the Leader with the Cabinet model, with 27% and 21% indicating a preference for Mayor with Cabinet and Mayor with Council Manager options respectively"

However, as the survey was distributed at the rate of one per household, and not one survey per registered voter it is impossible to tell whether the 7,033 returns represent the views of just one voter in each household or a consensus of voter opinion in each household. Furthermore, as the survey did not ask for a name, address or even if the respondent was on the electoral roll, the responses should have been treated as unreliable but were instead used to justify the change in leadership method without a further reference to, or polling the public.

The results from the council's other surveys were also significantly less decisive than the "Overall findings and conclusions" document seems to suggest, leading many to regard the 2001 conclusion:

"this provides sufficient evidence to demonstrate that a “referendum” for the Borough would not provide a different outcome" being difficult to support when compared to the published survey results.

Concluding the history lesson, Swindon now has a model of political leadership which might not have been adopted if the electors of Swindon had been able, or perhaps allowed to vote on the options available to them in 2001.

With public interest in Mayoral elections and referenda running high, we feel it entirely appropriate to ask the electorate to share its views on the subject of elected Mayors in 2008.

Is it time to review the way things are run?

Tell us now by clicking here and taking our survey.

If you wish to examine copies of the original surveys, results, accompanying documents and recommendations before you contribute to the survey please visit our Elected Mayors document reference topic where you can view and download the relevant material.

« Last Edit: August 01, 2008, 03:02:08 pm by Geoff Reid »

Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: SURVEY: Directly Elected Mayors: Right For Swindon? - Right For You?
« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2008, 09:36:04 am »
Instructions on taking the on-line survey

  • The survey page will appear and you are asked to enter your email address. .

  • Enter the requested details

  • Click the 'continue' button

  • The survey software then emails you *immediately*

  • Check the email account which you used to register your entry to the survey

  • *Check your 'spam' folder if you can't see the email in your inbox

  • Read the email

The email will look very similar to this:


Dear Geoff

You have been invited to participate in a Swindon-wide survey.

The survey is titled:

The 2008 'Elected Mayor for Swindon?' survey"

To participate, please click on the link below.


The Talkswindon eDem team (

Click here to do the survey:   

  • Click on the blue link at the bottom of the email - you will be immediately taken to the survey itself

Report problems by contacting

There will be a printed version of the Survey available by the end of June (2008)

« Last Edit: August 01, 2008, 03:03:48 pm by Geoff Reid »

Offline Tobes

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Re: SURVEY: Directly Elected Mayors: Right For Swindon? - Right For You?
« Reply #2 on: December 20, 2010, 05:19:36 pm »

An update within the Adver on the latest maneoverings by our political misrepresenentatives...
I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it - Voltaire 'Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessita

Offline Muggins

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Re: SURVEY: Directly Elected Mayors: Right For Swindon? - Right For You?
« Reply #3 on: December 20, 2010, 05:24:53 pm »
I'm starting a Muggins nag: The government, yes, this one right now, has said that councils can, if they wish, go back to the committee style.

Now I know that wasn't perfect, but it seems to me they were better days, and suggest we go back to that, until they can think of something better.
Lifes not always fair. Sometimes you can get a splinter even sliding down a rainbow. - Cherralea Morgen


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