People in South Devon say NO to an elected mayor in Torbay

The referendum was held after post holders were accused of making wrong decisions and having too much power Credit: ITV News

For the last eleven years the mayor has been the most powerful political figure in the Bay - but the post will now disappear in three years time after an overwhelming NO vote by people in South Devon.

The clock is ticking on the Mayor of Torbay, but there are three years yet before he stands down. Politics in the town hall will revert to old system of council leader with a cabinet or committees making the decisions. After five years at the helm the Mayor isn't surprised 62% of voters want his job to go.

Torbay Mayor Gordon Oliver says: "Local government for the electorate can be very frustrating, Things take so long to achieve. Very frustrating for me. We have achieved a lot, with my colleagues working with me, it is a team effort. We now have the South Devon Link Road. We waited a generation for it, it's now happened during my term, with the support of my colleagues. We have achieved a lot , but there's a misapprehension that the mayor has more executive powers than he actually has. I don't deal with planning issues or licensing, those are entirely council. And there isn't a great deal of difference between the two systems."

Torbay Council has had a mayor and cabinet since 2005 Credit: ITV News

Many people have always been sceptical about putting so much power in one pair of hands.

Adrian Sanders: "There's something very unBritish about one person being given so much power. People like their councillors to have a say in what happens in their authority. That isn't the case under the elected mayoral system. Councillors are pretty much on the perifery of the decision making process."

The idea of a Mayor was intended to give local authorities a business-like chief executive figure, but the business community hasn't been impressed.

Tim Godfrey of the Torbay Business Forum says: "It's been a very autocratic process. Decisions have been made that perhaps didn't have the full weight of the council behind them. I think that's a shame. I think a chief executive has to take his troops with him, and in this case he hasn't done that, perhaps."

Torbay's directly elected Mayor may go in three years, but by then we may have a directly elected regional mayor for the whole of the South West.