R4U proposes to make election of Saffron Walden Mayor transparent and democratic – Press Release

Residents for Uttlesford (R4U), the local party of towns and villages, has proposed that the Saffron Walden Mayor be selected by open and transparent voting rather than the arcane ‘seniority’ practice currently adopted.

Mayors are generally elected by an open vote of councillors. This is not the case in Saffron Walden, and so local party Residents for Uttlesford wants to make the process more democratic. Currently the Town Council selects the mayor using a complicated ‘seniority’ practice. A councillor is eligible after serving for 2 years and may only serve as mayor twice. The longest serving councillors of those eligible are then automatically selected as the next mayor and deputy, and then approved by the full council.

Cllr Paul Gadd (R4U)</
Cllr Paul Gadd (R4U)
R4U’s Leader at Saffron Walden Town Council, Cllr Paul Gadd said “Saffron Walden has a practice of selecting a mayor and deputy that is not fit for 21st-Century democracy. It is based on a system that rubber-stamps the longest-serving councillors into the job by a backroom agreement. The town has been served by some excellent mayors in the past, but this ‘seniority’ practice is obscure and needs opening up. We are proposing that instead any town councillor will be able to be nominated for the role, and voting will be undertaken by the Full Council in public. This new system would be more transparent and democratic, and importantly would provide a choice of candidates.”

Mayor Heather Asker
Mayor Heather Asker
Current Saffron Walden Mayor Cllr Heather Asker said “It is an honour and privilege serving as mayor, but it is clear to me that the way the town selects a mayor has to change. It is out of step with what happens at most other councils, and it is not what people expect of a genuine democracy. I wholeheartedly support this new proposal – it is the right thing to do.”

R4U will propose the changes at the full Saffron Walden Town Council meeting on 11th February at 7:30PM in the Town Hall. The meeting is open to the public.

About Residents for Uttlesford

Residents for Uttlesford (R4U) is the local independent party of north-west Essex towns and villages. Formed in 2014 by a number of residents’ groups, the party believes that on local issues residents should decide, not Westminster parties. R4U’s success has been based on the desire to give local people a voice and implement long range strategic and sustainable plans for their area.

R4U leads Uttlesford District Council (UDC). In its first election in 2015 it became the second party at UDC. In the May 2019 R4U took majority control of UDC by gaining two-thirds of the seats. Since then it has set about re-engineering the now award-winning council operates, rebuilding the finances and fixing how planning is done. In 2021 the party won half the Essex County Council seats in Uttlesford district.

R4U also leads Saffron Walden Town Council, where under its stewardship the council has rebuilt finances, invested in community assets, and won multiple awards, including the best run council in Essex. It is a minority party on Great Dunmow Town Council.

Residents for Uttlesford can be found on the web at www.residents4u.org.