Campaign for a committee structure


For the directly elect mayor: 45,960 (56%)

For the committee system: 36,424 (44%)


Newham Voting for Change is disappointed with the outcome of the governance referendum but the fact that 44% voted for the committee system shows that there is significant support for a more cooperative and collaborative politics.

Our campaign focused on democracy and inclusion and we must accept that the people of Newham have spoken. After twenty years of a directly elected mayor, they have opted to stick with that system for at least the next decade.

We would like to thank everyone involved in our campaign for their hard work over the past few months and congratulate those in the pro-mayoral ‘Right to Vote’ campaign for their part in helping residents understand the important issues at stake.

Newham Voting for Change also pays tribute to Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz for keeping her promise to hold a referendum and for ensuring that voters had a real choice on the ballot paper.

Chair of Newham Voting for Change, Josephine Grahl said, “although it is disappointing that we did not win it is encouraging to see local people engaging in the debate about how their council is run. While the directly elected mayor system will continue, we are encouraged by commitments made to wider participation through citizens’ assemblies and the proposed trialling of small-scale community councils where some powers are devolved to local areas. We hope the mayor recognises that Newham voters are enthusiastic about more open and transparent decision-making at all levels within the council.”



On 6 May 2021 Newham Council will hold a referendum on how the Council should be run. Every Newham voter will get a vote on whether the Council should be run by a Directly Elected Mayor (the system we have now) or by a system of committees made up of elected councillors.

WHY a referendum?

Rokhsana Fiaz, the mayor of Newham, made a commitment in her election manifesto in 2018 to hold a referendum on the borough’s governance arrangements by the end of her third year in office. She is keeping her promise by holding this vote on 6 May 2021. The council has passed several motions approving the decision.

Read more… A timeline of events

WHAT are the choices?

Voters have the option to keep the current arrangements, with a directly elected mayor, or change to a committee model of governance. Full details of the referendum have been published on Newham Council’s website.

WHY are you campaigning for the committee structure?

We are campaigning for a change to a Committee structure in the council.

This means the council will be run by committees made up of elected councillors – usually a committee for each of the different areas, like Housing, Education, Social services, Health, Planning and Crime.

The committee system is:

OPEN – there is more opportunity for citizens, experts and communities to have their say and influence decisions

REPRESENTATIVE – all council members have input into decisions, not just the Mayor and Cabinet

CO-OPERATIVE – councillors have to work together to make decisions

ACCOUNTABLE – every councillor takes a role in making policy and seeing decisions enacted

Read more… Ten reasons to vote for change

Cllr John Whitworth reflects on the history of the referendum and our campaign