Petition could pave way to saving airport
REF the letters from Bill Snow and Tam MacPherson on Tuesday regarding the petition from Viable and their efforts to save the airport.
I do not believe that a march is the best way to achieve the goal of retaining the airport. It will cause inconvenience to the people of Plymouth and perhaps attract some momentary media attention but I believe it could, and almost certainly would, be ignored by the politicians. In my opinion, most petitions are of little use. Yes, there will now be a debate in the Council Chamber but what will that achieve?
It is my view that politicians of whatever colour are all much the same and there is nothing like the threat of an election to concentrate their minds and make them sit up and take notice. If the voice of the people is really to be heard, if the collective view of the Plymouth electorate is really to make a difference, then a referendum on an elected mayor would ensure that.
A petition, if it carries the signatures of at least 9,040 Plymouth residents whose names appear on the electoral roll, will result in a referendum that would give the Plymouth electorate an opportunity to vote for whether or not they wanted an elected mayor.
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If they said 'yes' then there would be an election. Bristol and Liverpool have recently voted in favour. If you look at the last time there was a 'consultation' on this matter in Plymouth the then leader of Plymouth Council was against the idea, as was the chief executive. But would you expect anything else? They would lose their power, they would not be in control any longer.
Tudor Evans was in favour of a referendum for an elected mayor in December 2010 but he was then in opposition. I believe the threat of an election would undoubtedly ensure that our politicians would be looking to secure votes, and the number who have signed the Viable petition could, and would, not be ignored.
If there is a real desire to save the airport use the system, use a petition, but one with some teeth. A minimum of 9,040 signatures from registered electors in Plymouth would re-open the debate and no politician could ignore close to 40,000 voters. I don't know whether or not the airport can be financially viable, but I do believe that the process of arriving at a conclusion should be thorough, fair and transparent.
It is my belief that a march will achieve very little and that there is only one petition that has any chance of achieving change to the benefit of everyone who lives or works in this city.