It’s not just the political future of he York Council which is up in the air.
With the defeat of Keith Myers in the Acomb poll on Thursday, the City is desperately seeking a replacement to be the next Lord Mayor.
It is still the Conservatives turn to nominate. However, They are down to only two remaining members. To become Lord Mayor a Councillor must have at least 4 years service on the Authority. Many former post holders will feel that many more years of experience are required if someone is to make a success of the office.
.. and there is the first problem. Only Tory Paul Doughty from Strensall qualifies. He may, or may not, want to take on the exacting full-time role. If he does, then he will face the decision whether to nominate his partner as his consort or find another volunteer.
The Sherriff of York – nominated by the Lord Mayor – also forms part of the Civic Party. The holder does not have to be a Councillor. Given his interests in conservation, this might be an ideal role for Keith Myers, if he can get over his disappointment in not achieving the top job.
But suppose the Tories turn down the post. What happens then?
This has happened in the past. Groups unwilling, or unable, to nominate lose their accumulated qualification points.
The Council uses a points system which allocates each group on the Council a point for each Councillor that they have (at the end of May each year). The group with the largest number of points nominates the Lord Mayor for the following year. When a party nominates, they lose 47 points (equivalent to total the number of Council seats) and must start to accumulate points again.
The system has worked well. In non election years the likely incumbent has had plenty of time to prepare for the office, while smaller groups do qualify to provide the city’s figurehead. The Green party nominated the Lord Mayor for the first time a couple of years ago.
So, if the Tories turn it down, what happens then?
The Group with the next highest points total would be asked to nominate. That means someone will get only 3 weeks to prepare to take on the role from 23rd May. Many dates will already be in the prospective Lord Mayors diary .
The Labour group have the next highest points total. However only one of their number – their current Leader Janet Looker, who is also a previous Lord Mayor – has over 4 years experience. There are others who may qualify under a rule change agreed last year which allows those who have served for 4 years and who were re-elected on 2nd May to be nominated. However, that means an inexperienced Councillor being thrust into a new role with minimal time to prepare.
The task might be less daunting if the nomination goes to a former Lord Mayor.
All should become clear when the invitations to attend Lord Mayors Day are issued.
Good luck to whoever is passed the chains of office.