The council is going to change this at the May 2011 elections and this change will be to one of two types of leadership.
Either the new style stronger leader appointed by the councillors, or a leader elected by the ordinary voters, hopefully at the same time as they elect the councillors.
The council is obliged to engage in a public consultation about this issue, if you want to take part in this consultation your views have to be sent to the council by 15th December 2010.
Oddly enough the council doesn’t seem to have one of their normal consultation forms or interactive websites, that I can find, they don’t seem to have sent out a press release about this, in fact information on the council’s website about the whole thing is a bit on the sparse side.
Here is their webpage about it http://www.thanet.gov.uk/council__democracy/cllrs_democracy__elections/governance_models_consultation.aspx
Strange that this consultation doesn’t appear in their list of consultations either, see http://www.thanet.gov.uk/council__democracy/consultation.aspx
In the past all of the councillors who have expressed a view on this seem to be in favour of keeping the status quo. Well that isn’t an option anymore, so it would be interesting to hear what they think.
I have discussed this in some detail with some of the senior council officers and they seem to very concerned about the prospect of us, the electorate, choosing a leader.
At the moment they seem to be saying that no matter what the result of the consultation they wouldn’t allow a new leader to be elected at the same time as the councillors, as this would make the electorate electing a leader more expensive, what we apper to have here is a rigged consultation.
They are in effect saying that if you want to choose the leader of the council they will ensure that it is more expensive.
My main gripe with the current system is that the cabinet chooses the leader and the leader chooses the cabinet.
OK having written this, I have to admit that the workings of local government is not something that I understand that well, so it may contain mistakes and corrections would be welcome.