PLANS to put Swindon Council’s decision-making power into the hands of a single person have been shelved.

The Government requires all councils to adopt one of two new executive arrangements – either a leader-cabinet executive arrangement, which is used by Swindon Council at the moment, or to have a directly elected mayor.

Despite indications two years ago that there could be a move towards the system where voters would directly choose who leads the council, at a meeting last week, councillors voted in favour of the leader-cabinet executive arrangement.

London’s elected mayor is currently Conservative Boris Johnson.

But Coun Garry Perkins, deputy leader of the council, said a change to that system was unlikely as the number of people taking part in the consultation had been low. He said: “We have to come to a decision by December 31. It has gone out to consultation and the number of people involved was very low.”

Any changes are due to come in to force after the 2011 local elections.

But Labour leader Coun Derique Montaut said that the existing scheme puts too much power in the hands of too few councillors but it looked likely to continue.

He said: “It would be difficult for us to support a strong leader model, however, we can see small problems with the directly-elected mayor system.

“For now it would be best to stick to the cabinet model.”

But some councillors were unsure what this would mean for the people as the powers of the leader and cabinet had not yet been made clear.

Lib Dem leader Stan Pajak said that a leader-cabinet executive arrangement was ‘not democracy by the people’.

“A directly-elected mayor is democracy in action,” he said.

“The theme of localism is strength of local democracy and I believe a directly-elected mayor is part of that.”

And Coun Andy Harrison(Lib Dem), who opposed the motion, said: “We are voting now for a system where we don’t know what powers the individual will have once they actually get the job.

“They are saying we are going to go for a strong leader model but we do not know what powers we are going to give them.”