War of words after Torbay MP Adrian Sanders' call to 'get rid of' Bay's elected mayor
A WAR or words has broken out after Torbay MP Adrian Sanders made a call in Parliament to 'get rid of' elected mayor Gordon Oliver.
Mr Sanders later insisted he was talking about the mayoral system.
But Mr Oliver has accused him of 'scoring political points'.
Mr Sanders' comments in the Commons came as Government spending levels were announced for local authorities by Local Government Minister Eric Pickles — it has been confirmed Torbay will now be faced with a £10million budget cut next year.
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Mr Sanders said: "I am thankful for the grant settlement for my area which looks more generous than that for most other areas of Devon.
"However, we could go a lot further if we could get rid of our elected mayor and his unaffordable glory projects.
"Will the Secretary of State overturn the decision of the last Government and allow people to have a referendum before the end of the current mayor's term of office?"
Minister Mr Pickles said: "I was rather hoping that, in the spirit of Christmas love and understanding, I might be able to bridge a rapprochement between him and the mayor.
"They are both wonderful people and it is a matter of some regret that they seem not to get on."
Speaking after making his comments to the House, Mr Sanders said: "I'm talking about getting rid off the post of mayor which everybody, including the mayor himself, seems in favour of doing.
"During these tough economic times getting rid of the post could save some small money and allow a wider group of people to take decisions which affect the Bay. For once the idea of a third harbour would be quashed, ideas like importing palm trees or creating a velodrome would not have been taken."
He said he had asked for a decision by the last government to extend the time for people to have a referendum on the elected mayor system to be reversed so local residents wouldn't have to wait five years.
Mayor Mr Oliver said it was disappointing for the local MP to choose such a 'serious issue to score political points when he voted for the austerity cuts the people of Torbay are now facing'.
He said: "The reduced funding available to us will mean tough decisions; some services will be reduced; some will need to be delivered in a different way and some will stop altogether.
"I am committed to continuing to consult and involve our communities in making these difficult choices to ensure a healthy, prosperous and happy future for the Bay."
Labour Cllr Darren Cowell said he welcomed Mr Sanders' views on the mayoral system saying it reflected what all three parties in the Bay have been saying for years.
He said: "All three parties oppose the elected mayor position, including the current mayor."
Lib Dem group leader Cllr Steve Darling said: "Involving more people in the decision making process would help throw some of the crazy schemes overboard early on especially when every penny counts."