Former Liberal Democrat Deputy Mayor Derek Scudder is of course deliberately misrepresenting Labour’s position on the mayoralty (Labour is in denial, Opinion, March 2).

A Labour Council would not unilaterally abolish the mayoralty but we would give Watford residents the opportunity to vote on whether they wish to keep an elected mayor in a referendum. That’s democracy is it not?

The Liberal Democrats also promised a referendum on the future of the mayoralty but quickly binned that promise when they got their hands on the power of the office.

The position of deputy mayor is yet another example of the politics embedded in this system of local government. Derek Scudder stood down last year to make way for a new Deputy Mayor. This position, appointed by the Mayor in her rights of patronage, has been filled by her hopeful successor – now revealed as the Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor.

Prior to his ‘resignation’, Derek Scudder undertook no civic functions as deputy mayor. All of those publicity attracting activities were taken by the Mayor herself or in a few cases given to the former position of Mayor now known as ‘chair of the council.’

Since the appointment of a new Deputy Mayor/Liberal Democrat Mayoral candidate, the Mayor has suddenly started delegating many civic functions to her deputy, with the obvious motive of giving him exposure and publicity in the run up to an election.

This is a blatant abuse of power and one which senior council officers should have stopped. But such is the all-powerful position of the Mayor that the Liberal Democrats get away with it.

The fact is that there are insufficient checks and balances in the current elected mayoral system. Big political decisions are made by the Mayor behind closed doors. With a Liberal Democrat majority on the council and with a Liberal Democrat Mayor, no councillor except the Labour opposition is going to hold the Mayor to account. But with a two thirds majority necessary to overturn a mayoral decision, with no Conservatives and just eleven Labour councillors, the Mayor is all-powerful. And at a cost of £210,000 a year, we are paying for it.

In May, voters will have the opportunity to vote in a Mayor committed to pluralism and giving the people a choice on whether to continue with this system. They should take it.

Mike Jackson

Chairman, Watford Labour Party