Mark Meredith

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Mark Meredith
2nd Mayor of Stoke-on-Trent
In office
5 May 2005 – 5 June 2009
Preceded by Mike Wolfe
Succeeded by Position abolished
Personal details
Born Mark Joseph Meredith
(1965-08-21) 21 August 1965 (age 49)
Pyenest Street, Shelton, Stoke-on-Trent, England
Nationality British
Political party Labour
Residence Sneyd Green, Stoke-on-Trent, England
Occupation Businessperson, Mayor, Councillor

Mark Joseph Meredith (born 21 August 1965 in Shelton, Stoke-on-Trent) was the second and last directly elected mayor of Stoke-on-Trent in England. An openly gay man and former amateur boxer[1] he was elected on 5 May 2005, for the Labour Party, and defeated incumbent independent Mike Wolfe. In March 2009, Meredith was arrested on suspicion of corruption in office, but was never charged. He is now a Councillor for the Birches Head and Central Forest Park ward in Stoke-on-Trent, in addition to running his own business, Apollo Blinds.

Political career[edit]

A member of the Labour Party since 1982, Meredith held posts at various levels of the Labour Party, including time as a member of the national committee, representing the West Midlands, of the Labour Party's youth section, the Labour Party Young Socialists (LPYS) prior to its disbandment at the 1987 Labour Party Conference. He also worked for several years during this time as a youth organiser for the Militant tendency. A local businessman in the Stoke-on-Trent town of Hanley since 1991, he was selected as the Mayoral Labour candidate in December 2004, defeating four others to win the Labour nomination.

2005 Mayoral election[edit]

In the mayoral election of 5 May 2005, Meredith polled ahead of the Conservative candidate Roger Ibbs in second place, Mike Wolfe (independent), a BNP candidate and three other non-aligned independents.

Time as Mayor[edit]

He concentrated much of his efforts to bringing the City Council's long-term financial deficits under control.

In July 2007, Meredith formed a de facto executive model for Stoke-on-Trent City Council of Mayor and Cabinet in all but name. This first move away from the Mayor and Council Manager model (the only one of its kind in England) was generally welcomed by most political groups represented on the Council. The Council Executive was represented in its number from all three main political parties, Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrats.

October 2008 referendum[edit]

Stoke's second referendum was held after the government withdrew the option of 'Elected Mayor and Manager' executive arrangement. Democracy4Stoke campaigned ‘yes’: to replace the system with a ‘Council Leader and Cabinet’ system. ‘People’s Choice’ campaigned for a ‘no’ vote, i.e. for an ‘Elected Mayor and Cabinet’. After the referendum on 23 October 2008 the position of Elected Mayor in Stoke was abolished after a vote of 21,231 for 'Yes' (a council leader and cabinet), and 14,592 for 'No' (a mayor and cabinet system).

The referendum question was: "Are you in favour of the proposal for Stoke-on-Trent City Council to be run in a new way, which includes a councillor, who will be elected by the councillors of Stoke-on-Trent to lead the council and the community which it serves?"[2]

The turnout was 19.23%.[3] The result of the referendum was put into place on 5 June 2009 when Meredith's term of office ended, and the City Council elected a Council Leader, Conservative Ross Irving, to replace him.

Arrest[edit]

On 6 March 2009, Meredith was arrested on suspicion of corruption in office. High ranking local Conservative Party councillor Roger Ibbs was also arrested a week earlier on the same charge. The police inquiry was focused on the city council's attempts to close the splash pool at Dimensions Leisure Centre, in Burslem, the previous year.[4] He resigned all of his political positions on 8 March 2009 with the investigation ongoing.[5]

On 7 July 2009, Staffordshire Police announced that no further proceedings in the case were being made and that all charges against Ibbs were being dropped; Meredith having never been formally charged.[6] They disclosed that there was insufficient evidence to support any case for corruption against any of the men involved.[6]

Return to politics[edit]

Meredith ran for election in the council ward of Birches Head and Central Forest Park, motivated by the cutbacks announced by David Cameron's central government.[7] A dual seat ward, he topped the polls with 1,145 votes (25.92%), with unaffiliated candidate Paul Breeze also being elected.[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Tony Grew, 'Stoke votes for new local government model after gay mayors', Pink News, 28 October 2008
  2. ^ "'Confusing' question not changed". BBC News. 17 September 2008. Retrieved 24 October 2008. 
  3. ^ "City votes to eject elected mayor". BBC News. 24 October 2008. Retrieved 24 October 2008. 
  4. ^ "Emergency talks as elected mayor Mark Meredith arrested". The Sentinel. 6 March 2009. Retrieved 6 March 2009. 
  5. ^ "Breaking News: Meredith steps down amid corruption inquiry". The Sentinel. 8 March 2009. Retrieved 8 March 2009. 
  6. ^ a b "Former mayor will not face corruption charges". The Sentinel. 8 July 2009. Retrieved 6 May 2011. 
  7. ^ Hayley Harp (10 March 2011). "Ex-mayor Meredith wants your votes again in May elections". The Sentinel. Retrieved 6 May 2011. 
  8. ^ "Elections 2011: Stoke-on-Trent City Council results". The Sentinel. 6 May 2011. Retrieved 6 May 2011.