Be prepared for Americanisation of our democracy

The imposition of either a Leader model or Mayor model for local authorities by Act of Parliament (H&H letters June 25 & July 2) will see the top-down Americanisation of local democracy and would represent a remnant of Tony Blair s legacy. Local democra

The imposition of either a Leader model or Mayor model for local authorities by Act of Parliament (H&H letters June 25 & July 2) will see the top-down 'Americanisation' of local democracy and would represent a remnant of Tony Blair's legacy.

Local democracy works best when grown, developed and managed from the bottom up by local people. However, UK political parties have such a powerful stranglehold on local democracy that any change or direct control by local people is nigh on impossible.

It is as if the concept of democracy and decision-making is the sole preserve of the political elite. Unless 'the people' or local authorities revolt, the boroughs have to choose between a Leader or Mayor by the end of the year, or the Secretary of State will decide for them (and has already indicated that it will be the Mayor model).

The new executive arrangements, which come into force three days after the London borough elections in May, ought to be extended to include elections for police chiefs and other heads of services, like health.


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If a local authority chooses the Mayor model there are tough procedural obstacles in place which discourage changing back to the Leader model, but not vice versa.

I hope our councils take a cautious approach and opt for the Leader model, and that if necessary, his or her removal is by simple majority and not by the less democratic option of a two-thirds majority.

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MARIO PETROU

St Ann's Road, N15

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