Ely’s mayor has spoken out over the controversy surrounding the City Council – and agrees more should be done to “engage with the people”.
Cllr Lis Every, who is chair of the city council, says there is a selection process for appointing members on to the authority and that “nothing is being kept private”.
Cllr Every, who is both a city and district councillor for Ely, says, however, that the city council should do more to engage with local residents.
In recent weeks residents have been calling for new members of the city council to be elected by a public vote instead of being selected via a majority vote from fellow members, which is what currently happens.
The city council cannot confirm when an election last took place, but it is thought that there has not been one for around 20 years.
Under section 82 of the Local Government Act 1972, the council is only required to hold an election if 10 or more residents request that one takes place. However, it could still choose to hold one.
Speaking to Ely News, Cllr Every said: “I want to assure residents that the only reason there hasn’t been an election for some time is because there hasn’t been the need for one.
“If more people applied to become city councillors and more residents formally asked us to hold an election I’m sure we would.
“A lot of people have accused the city council of being very private and creating some sort of clique but that is 100 per cent not the case.
“When I first joined, new members were simply appointed without us even meeting them or knowing who they were – all we had was paperwork.
“We recently changed things and now we ask all the candidates to give us a little presentation. It means we know them and we’ve been overwhelmed with the quality of the candidates.
“We’ve got some fantastic members with some fantastic skills and we are a team. We are doing things for Ely.”
Cllr Every added: “I agree we need to do more to engage with the people and to let them know who we are.
“We’ve recently set up a new communications and PR working party to improve both our internal and external communications, so I’d like to think this will help.
“Some people have also suggested our website is improved with photographs and information about each member, and I agree.
“The district council does it and so should we, so we are working on this.”