I’ve had a few days to reflect on the Mayoral election here in Torbay. When I decided to run for Mayor I knew it was a huge commitment both in time, energy and money. I also appreciated that as an independent candidate I was starting from scratch without a party behind me. No press office or media advisors and no core group of voters behind me. Of course, that also meant that if elected I would have been free to stand up for everyone in The Bay, regardless of what political party they belonged to, how rich or poor they were or whether they were business owners, students, employed or unemployed!
On election day 61,222 Torbay residents exercised their democratic right and went to the polls. Every x counted represented a person in The Bay and I want to thank the 5,846 individuals who voted for me as their first choice and the thousands who named me as their second choice. I was honoured and humbled knowing that these votes came from people who wanted change and a Mayor who would be loyal to them not just a party.
I may have been unsuccessful but I don’t regret running at all! Campaigning over the past few weeks led me to meet so many great people who spent time telling me what matters to them, their families and their businesses. I now have a much clearer idea of what a ‘Better Torbay’ could look like.
I proposed solutions to heal the chasm between Brixham and Torbay; to demolish the hurdles in front of business that stifle and run down our town centres; to bring community into the centre of decision making so that residents don’t feel marginalised and cut off; to manage and limit the effects of a £45 million black hole in our budget that could devastate public services, health and social care, tourism and retail but above all to build a stronger Torbay through unity rather than division. Whilst I could have instigated solutions, I would have liaised and worked with communities, with councillors and business leaders. Real meaningful consultation means listening and acting upon constructive and informed input, not just paying lip service and then acting against advice.
Mayor Oliver promised a referendum whilst campaigning on the elected mayor role. He has now, gone further, come out and said on TV that he doesn’t believe in the office of Mayor. I still do! For it is the only way, with the right type of mayor that decisions can fall back to the people rather than a party. A divided house can never stand! An Independent Mayor could steer the council, listening to the voices of all parties but ensuring that decisions were made for the greater good of Torbay not determined by party policy.
After the count was over, people came up to me of various parties and asked would I still help. I remain, as ever, committed to creating a ‘Better Torbay’. I will continue with the work as I currently do within tourism, finance and voluntary organisations and happily assist in any way I maybe asked because one thing I am certain of is that we can only secure the future of The Bay and see it thrive if we work together and put aside political differences.