Canvassing for this month's local elections, I was struck by the large increase in the number of people who avow (almost with pride) that they never vote in local elections. It seems that the policy of stealthy centralisation is working and the grass roots are beginning to fray at the edges. As one who believes that effective, independent local government is essential for a healthy society, I hope this trend can be reversed. I do not think this can be taken for granted in the present climate. People who believe in local government must say so loud and clear.