How did we get here? A timeline of events

2000 – The New Labour Government under Tony Blair brings in the Local Government Act, abolishing the committee-based system in local government and replacing it with the options of a Leader and Cabinet model or a Directly-Elected Mayoral model.

January 2002 – Newham residents vote to adopt the Mayoral model, with 68% in favour and 32% against, on a 26% turnout.

May 2002 – Robin Wales is elected as one of the first Labour Directly Elected Mayors

2011 – The Coalition government passes the Localism Act, reinstating the committee system as an option for local government.

February 2018 – Following a campaign by Labour party members, Rokhsana Fiaz replaces Robin Wales as Labour’s candidate for Mayor of Newham.

May 2018 – Rokhsana Fiaz is elected Mayor. In her manifesto, she says “The Directly Elected Mayor model of governance is broken in Newham” and pledges to hold a referendum on how the council is run during her first term, and set up a Democracy and Civic Participation Commission to look at Newham’s democratic processes.

November 2018 – Newham Council passes a motion calling for a binding referendum on Newham’s governance to be held by May 2020, with a choice between the Directly Elected Mayoral model and the Executive Leader and Cabinet.

September 2019 – A new motion is passed by Newham Council, overturning the motion of November 2018. It calls for a binding referendum to be held between June 2020 and May 2021, with the options to be determined based on the findings of the Democracy Commission promised by Mayor Fiaz.

November 2019 to February 2020 – The Democracy and Civic Participation Commission gathers evidence for a report proposing new options for Newham’s governance.

May 2020 – Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, all elections are postponed.

July 2020 – The Democracy Commission reports. It makes a number of recommendations for Newham – such as two-term limits for Mayors and more participatory democracy – but fails to suggest what the alternative option on the ballot paper should be, for the promised referendum on Newham’s governance.

July 2020 – A working party is set up by Newham’s Labour Group to establish the question on the ballot paper. It proposes that the options should be the Directly Elected Mayor or the Committee Structure – a real choice between two distinct options.

October 2020 – Newham’s Labour Group resolves to accept the decision of the working party and support a referendum between the Mayoral and Committee systems.

November 2020 – Newham Voting for Change is set up, to campaign for the committee structure in the forthcoming governance referendum.

December 2020 – Newham Council passes a motion establishing the date of the referendum (6 May 2021) and the choice between Directly Elected Mayor and Committee structure.

March 2021 – The Notice of Referendum is formally published by Newham Council.

19 April 2021 – Deadline to register to vote.

20 April 2021 – Deadline to register for a postal vote.

6 May 2021 – The referendum will take place….. Polling stations are open between 7am and 10pm. Make your voice heard!