Next year will see a referendum in Bath and North East Somerset on having their council run by a directly elected Mayor.

This is due to a petition having reached the threshold of 6,437 votes – or five per cent of the electorate. In total there were 6,818 valid signatures.

The man behind the petition is Philip Raby, a local businessmen who has run a video shop and the Bath Film Festival. He says it would give the chance for the council to “rise above party politics”. That implies that he would like to have an independent elected – I wonder if he is after the job himself? If so, fair enough. However, I was mildly disconcerted to read that “he loves the bit in If… – a 1960s fantasy – where boarding school boys dressed as commandos swarm over rooftops and put a bullet between the headmaster’s eyes.”

Mr Raby makes a fair point in saying that the cost of the referendum will be very modest if it is held on May 5th when the Police and Crime Commissioner elections are taking place anyway.

In May, the Conservatives gained overall control of Bath and North East Somerset Council with a strong manifesto that included a proposal to reduce the number of councillors.

The Conservative council leader Cllr Tim Warren regards the referendum as something of a distraction which is understandable. On balance I favour more directly elected Mayors.  Certainly getting a petition going is a worthwhile pursuit for Conservatives in areas with complacent ossified Labour councils enjoying huge majorities. It’s a way of shaking things up. Whether the governance of Bath and North East Somerset needs shaking up is another matter. The residents will be able to decide.