Letter: A better way to rule London

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Sir: Your report on the mayor of Barcelona makes interesting reading and I am pleased that The Independent used it to highlight the debate about the governance of London.

London is unique among major world cities in having no single elected city government or figurehead. Barcelona is certainly an inspiration. The Association of London Government has been campaigning for an elected strategic authority for London.

London is much bigger than Barcelona (seven million population compared with Barcelona's three million).

It might be difficult for a mayor to always "be in the right place at the moment the citizens' wishes are expressed" or even single-handedly to bring together the partnerships and inward investment needed.

The big challenge, once a Labour government is elected, will be to define the role of the new strategic authority - and possibly an elected mayor - to work in harmony with the London boroughs, who will still be the ones providing services and making day-to-day decisions.

An elected mayor would be an exciting prospect for many Londoners and could certainly provide political leadership and a focus to regenerate civic pride, but he or she will need to listen to the public and other elected politicians to help shape London's vision and direction.

Councillor TOBY HARRIS

Chair, Association of London Government

London SW1

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