Straw in call for full-time mayors

LOCAL councils should have full- time elected mayors to act as a political focus for the community, Jack Straw, the Opposition spokesman on local government, said yesterday.

He told a Labour Party conference on local government in Bournemouth that councils had to be more visible, exciting and professional. 'We must certainly look at the idea of having fewer council committees and perhaps fewer councillors, alongside an extension of community and parish councils.'

He argued for some full-time, properly paid councillors to run 'our local authorities, but with a clearer distinction between the role of the offices and that of the elected representation'.

It was the duty of councils to stand up for their communities against the overweening power of the state, Mr Straw said.

He later added: 'Local government has a problem of status. It is a vicious circle. As more powers have been removed, it has become less attractive to people of high calibre.

'A full-time elected and paid mayor would be able to focus on the needs of the community. We need to look abroad, to France, Germany and the United States. Our local government is still very largely built on a Victorian committee structure. It needs to change.'

Last night Mr Straw claimed that the Government's policies towards local government are making the recession worse.

'The very services which are most under pressure from the mounting army of unemployed - social services, education, welfare, housing - will be cut, charges will be increased; while those services which cater for people whether in work or out of it, from libraries and schools through to public transport and the road system, will all suffer a degradation in their quality.'

He added: 'For every 10,000 local authority jobs lost which add 10,000 to the dole, the cost to this country, in benefits paid out and tax foregone, will be pounds 900m. So a myopic policy aimed at saving a few million will instead cost the country hundreds of millions.'

Mr Straw said that the Tories had been trying to smear Labour in local government for years. 'That's what John Major was up to on Wednesday - going for the big lie - claiming that after 14 years of continuous Tory rule it was Labour to blame for the state of Britain, trying to pretend that the intense social problems now faced in our inner cities . . . were not the product of his own policy, but of ours. Isn't Mr Major aware that he is the Prime Minister?'

He said the Tories now had more power at their disposal than any peacetime government this century.' The party of Joseph Chamberlain now has a local government policy of which Joseph Stalin would have been proud.'

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power