HARRY Reid is correct to call for reform in the governance of Scotland's cities; however, it is less certain whether his proposal to do so solely through the creation of directly elected mayors is the right way to go about it ("Case for elected mayors in our cities", The Herald, January 29).
Before considering such a step, it would be essential to examine the powers and responsibilities which the municipality should have, on the basis that the greater the mayor's authority is, the better the quality of individual who would be attracted to stand for election. In the cases quoted by Harry Reid, it is unlikely that Boris Johnson would have suspended his parliamentary ambitions to replace David Cameron to be mayor of Henley-on-Thames, or that Michael Bloomberg, pictured, would have stood for mayor of New York City had the post been a figurehead only.
It would therefore be a prerequisite of such a reform to repatriate to city councils those powers which have been centralised to the Scottish Government, including the right to set taxation for the people who elected them, and to retain the non-domestic rates which their businesses generate.
It is worthwhile to look at Nuremberg, Glasgow's twin city in Germany, where the very popular and successful Social Democrat Oberbürgermeister Uli Maly resists calls to step up to the Bundesland (federal state) level as he can be much more effective with the considerable local powers he already possesses. To expand the German model, it is also quite reasonable to envisage a Greater Glasgow on the same scale as the Hansastädte of Bremen and Hamburg, which are self-governing city-regions constitutionally equal to the Bundesländer.
This would also be a useful counterweight to the tendency of the Scottish Parliament to centralise the rest of Scotland into a kind of Greater Edinburgh; I am sure that any proposal to cut it down to size would be welcomed by most people beyond the Holyrood bubble.
Peter A Russell,
87 Munro Road,
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