Confusion reigns over Mayoral referendum – says local MP.

 

Bath’s Mp Ben Howlett is expressing concern that not enough people are aware of the referendum coming up on March 10th to decide what system of governance B&NES will have for the future.

Ben Howlett MP

Ben Howlett, MP for Bath.

In a press release today – Tuesday, February 2nd – Ben’s office says: “There are now less than six weeks until the Mayoral referendum in Bath, on March 10th and still a third of people surveyed were not even aware there was a referendum, with 58% stating they have received no information via the mail or local media’.

The Bath MP has been collating the information gathered from his on-line surveyt on the subject and says:

“I know enough people signed the petition to secure this referendum, but I remain concerned at the level of engagement with the process, and how little awareness of the matter there is not to mention the potential impact it could have on how our city is run.

I am personally concerned that an elected mayor is not appropriate for an area as diverse as Bath and North East Somerset (B&NES) and that it could lead to an increase in the cost of local politics. The level of misinformation on this issue is worrying – many people seem to still believe this is about a Mayor of Bath and not understanding it would cover all of B&NES.

I hope in the coming weeks more information will be forthcoming to enable residents to make an informed decision.”

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Meanwhile, B&NES has also issued a press release today – Tuesday, February2nd – with more information on how to vote and what you are voting for.

It reads:

“The question which will be asked in the Referendum is:

How would you like Bath & North East Somerset Council to be run?

By a leader who is an elected councillor chosen by a vote of the other elected councillors. This is how the council is run now.

OR

By a mayor who is elected by voters. This would be a change from how the council is run now.
You can vote at the Referendum if you are registered to vote, are 18 or over on 10 March 2016 and are a British citizen, a European Union citizen or a qualifying Commonwealth citizen.

Poll cards with details of the referendum and the location of polling stations will be posted to all registered electors during the first two weeks of February.

If you are not yet registered at your current address, you can do it online at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote. Those who would prefer to register using a paper form, can download a registration form from the online registration site or alternatively can request one by calling the Electoral Services Helpline on 01225 477333.

The deadline to register to vote in time for this referendum is midnight on Tuesday 23 February 2016.

If you can’t go to the polling station on Thursday 10 March, then if you have registered by 23 February you can apply to vote by post or you can appoint a proxy to vote on your behalf. The deadline for postal vote applications is 5pm on Wednesday 24 February 2016, while the deadline for proxy vote applications is 5pm on Wednesday 2 March 2016.

Dr Jo Farrar, Chief Executive and Electoral Registration Officer for Bath & North East Somerset Council, said: “Only people who are registered to vote can take part in the Referendum. People living in Bath and North East Somerset will need to be registered to make sure that they don’t miss out on having their say. Registering is easy and you can apply online in just a few minutes. Your vote matters, don’t lose it!’