Headlines: October 7th, 2002

A local government think tank is setting up a forum designed to offer practical help and support to the country’s first directly elected mayors.The New Local Government Network says its Mayoral Forum will develop important relationships between mayors, chief executives, other senior officers and key agencies. It will also respond to the needs of mayors arising from regular discussions on policy and strategy and offer action learning through visits by the mayors to other local authorities as well as through visits by mayors from other countries.

NLGN’s Executive Director, Dan Corry said the aim was to make the forum the UK’s mayoral centre of expertise. “Having long been closely associated with the mayoral agenda, our attention is now firmly focused on how the mayor’s are performing as part of the reality of local government, ” he added.

News of the forum comes after the Network stressed the importance of elected mayors in strengthening local democracy as part of its response to the government’s consultation paper on plans for intervention in failing councils. In its submission it questioned what it saw as the watering down of an earlier White Paper statement on mayoral referenda in poorly-performing authorities’ areas. ” Since such a calamitous breakdown in performance often stems from a breakdown on the political side the electorate should be given the chance to vote on a very different government structure, ” the response said.

The forum’s work will be led by NLGN’s Head of Organisation, Anna Randle, who previously co-ordinated its mayoral campaigns programme.