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Wednesday, 2 January, 2002, 21:58 GMT
Ex-soccer star bids to be mayor
Bernie Slaven
Bernie Slaven: Mayoral bid
A former footballer from Glasgow is planning to stand as Middlesbrough's first directly-elected mayor.

Bernie Slaven, 41, achieved legendary status on Teesside when he scored almost 150 goals for Middlesbrough football club.

The Castlemilk-born striker is still worshipped in the region where he is a well-known football pundit.

He said that his decision to stand for the powerful position as Mayor of Middlesbrough is more than just a gimmick.

Bernard Slaven scores for Middlesbrough
Bernie celebrates a goal for Middlesbrough
He said: "I don't really know what the job entails. I don't know much about politics. I have never claimed to know about politics.

"But if it is down to popularity and personality, then I think I'm half way there."

Slaven arrived in Middlesbrough in October 1985 after an acrimonious departure from his previous club Albion Rovers, for whom he had been top scorer in Scotland the previous season.

He had refused to resign for the Scottish outfit, and was working as a part-time gardener when Boro boss Willie Maddren picked him up for 25,000.

The striker, who had also played for Morton, Airdrie and Queen of the South, played for Boro for eight years, scoring 146 goals in 381 games.

Directly-elected mayor

Mr Slaven, who won international caps with the Republic of Ireland, said his upbringing in the socially-deprived Castlemilk scheme had helped form his character.

Mr Slaven said: "I don't forget my roots. I may be doing okay at the minute, but I still don't forget my background and it has put me in good stead."

The votes of Middlesbrough decided in October in favour of introducing a directly-elected mayor.

The ballot on Teesside was one of six held in various parts of the country, the latest in a series of exercises designed as part of the Local Government Act 2000 to improve local democracy.

It is part of the process which gave Scotland and Wales devolution and gave London its first directly elected mayor, Ken Livingstone.

If Mr Slaven does stand for the post he will face tough competition from a controversial policeman known as 'Robocop'.

Ray Mallon
Ray Mallon: Robocop
Detective Superintendent Ray Mallon shot to fame in early 1997 when he pioneered "zero tolerance policing" in the UK.

The policy was similar to methods used in New York, and held responsible by that city's mayor, Rudolph Giuliani, for a big fall in crime.

It involved clamping down on even minor crimes such as graffiti-spraying, dropping litter and vandalism.

The elections are expected to take place on 2 May.

The mayor, who would be elected for a four-year term, would be able to draw up a draft of the council's policies and budget with a small number of other councillors.

While the full council would actually decide those budgets and policies, it is the mayor and their close circle who would set the priorities and decide how to use the authority's resources to deliver on the council's programme.

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 ON THIS STORY
Gerry Gay reports
"He now does his talking off the pitch."
See also:

18 Dec 01 | England
Vote call for city's elected mayor
01 Dec 01 | UK Politics
Livingstone seeks more powers
15 Nov 01 | England
Stoke group wants elected mayor
19 Oct 01 | UK Politics
Sedgefield votes no to elected mayor
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