Letter: How to revive our town halls

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Sir: Your admirable leading article (23 July) on diversity in local democracy, notably by the election of executive mayors in those places where they can thrive, overlooks the means whereby "local power grows out of a local political context and reflects its idiosyncrasies".

The dismay over and the disaffection from politics in Britain today stems from our outdated political process and the belief by growing numbers of people that the overriding party caucus system no longer reflects their wishes, certainly as far as the young and ethnic minorities are concerned. Hence the boom in single-issue campaigning.

Hence too the demand for electoral reforms. Indeed, how stimulating it might be to have primary elections for executive mayors rather than dreary local elections where nobody knows the candidates and where national concerns more often than not decide the way that roughly a third of the electorate vote. Let's have some local razzmatazz.

There are welcome signs that the public want to play an inherent role, in local democracies. Some councils are experimenting with limited local referendums and consultation exercises using citizens' juries and the like. These need to be supported.

Yet local government, which can still be the true engine of change and devolution despite the centralisation of decision making, receives no sustained positive coverage in the media, even at local level in too many cases where pathetic journalism fails the people. We need to change that too.


London NW6