Page last updated at 12:56 GMT, Friday, 6 March 2009

Mayor faces final months in power

Mark Meredith
Mr Meredith became Stoke's mayor in 2005

Stoke-on-Trent's Labour mayor, arrested in a corruption probe, was voted into power in May 2005.

Like all directly-elected mayors Mark Meredith's remit was to provide strong leadership for his authority.

The idea behind the system of elected mayors, used in the US and parts of Europe, was to help reinvigorate local elections, where turnout can be extremely poor, and to give electors someone to hold to account over local services.

But in Stoke this idea has now been rejected.

The council cannot afford any distractions
Mark Meredith, mayor

Five months ago, in a blow to Mr Meredith, the Staffordshire city's residents voted to get rid of the position, for which he currently earns 69,190 a year.

It was the first time in Britain this had happened.

Currently the mayor and his chief executive make all the decisions, which are then scrutinised by the rest of the councillors.

This system is unique in England, differing from the way other mayors, such as London's Boris Johnson, run their administrations.

In October's referendum, electors in Stoke chose to return to having a traditional council leader and cabinet.

It means 43-year-old Mr Meredith's term as mayor will end in May.

Following the referendum result he said: "In politics you win some and you lose some.

Second arrest

"We have to accept the results of the people of Stoke-on-Trent and we do need to move forward together.

"I wish the councillors the very best of luck. I will continue to work with those councillors over the next few months to try and improve the lot of our people."

Mr Meredith's arrest followed that of another Stoke-on-Trent city councillor, Roger Ibbs, seven days earlier.

Mr Ibbs had been group leader of the Conservative and Independent Alliance but quit on Monday.

Children's portfolio

At the time of Mr Ibbs's resignation, Mr Meredith said: "Councillor Ibbs is facing a serious allegation and needs time and space to deal with it.

"It is right and proper, therefore, that he has stood down from his responsibilities on the executive and members' board.

"The council cannot afford any distractions. Its focus must be on helping the people of this city through the economic downturn.

"That is why I will immediately take over Councillor Ibbs's children and young people's portfolio.

"There are important decisions to be made, especially in the field of education.

"This week we have our meeting of the executive and members board. I am determined that it will be business as usual."

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