The Mayoralty is the position that can influence so many local Government issues and processes. What will Mayor Hawkins change?
Mayor Hawkins asked me what I would have done as Mayor in a wide-ranging and pleasant discussion. One of my plans which I relayed to him was to get rid of the Council Chamber platforms that raised CEO, minutes and presenting DCC staff above the level of Councillors, and to be a Mayor that abandoned the elevated throne for a Councillor level seat at the head of the big Council table, creating a physically level debating environment, rather than having Mayor and staff always talking down to Councillors. Little Mayor Cull would never dream of abandoning his high-chair, but Mayor Hawkins seems keen on reducing the elected member’s hierarchy, remuneration differences, and A-team/B-team issues. His choice of Deputy Mayor will indicate how much he values voter representation and Councillor experience over towing a party line.
I would also have made a number of changes to standing orders, including scraping the awkward requirement for speaking Councillors to stand, while all other DCC staff and Mayor could speak while remaining seated.
Mayor Hawkins replied that there were some traditions worth keeping like the Mayoral oil painting, with which I agreed, but the talking down to Councillors and having to stand traditions have long been symbolic of an elevated Bureaucracy wagging the dog of our so-called Democracy.
Opportunities abound for our new Mayor Hawkins to use his pivotal position to improve DCC decision-making.