The Newham Democracy and Civic Participation Commission was established by the Mayor and Council of Newham to:

• examine both the Council’s current Directly Elected Mayor system of governance (introduced to Newham in 2002) and the alternative types that exist in English local government, and to make recommendations on the best system of governance for Newham’s future, and;

• explore ways in which local residents will have opportunities to be more engaged and involved in local decision-making and the Council’s work.

They have now issued their final report available at https://www.newhamdemocracycommission.org/wp-content/uploads/Democracy-Commission-Report.pdf

The report is worth looking at for views on local democracy. The following are quotes from the document:

“Councils are having to think differently about the relationship they have with local people. Councils are not just service providers, emptying bins or running libraries – council tax is not like a “subscription” for these services. Councils are democratic institutions, and this demands a different approach to dialogue and participation.”

“Importantly this is not about an “all-powerful” Mayor bending everyone to their will - it is about “convening power”. It is easier for a person to argue their case when they have been elected by tens of thousands of people than where, like a conventional local authority leader, they have been elected by 60 other councillors. Democratic legitimacy counts for a lot in partnership working. This is supported by the conclusions of the Warwick Commission on Elected Mayors and City Leadership, which found that executive mayors’ roles need to focus on identity (promotion of the place), relationships (communication, building bridges and partnerships) and information (addressing how people get to know what happens in the area).”

We wonder how the current model in Croydon Council meets the needs of:

  • identity (promotion of the place)
  • relationships (communication, building bridges and partnerships)
  • information (addressing how people get to know what happens in the area)

We feel people might find it interesting to compare the review with that of the Dame Moira Gibb where “The Panel did not consider the Directly Elected Mayor as this was not within the scope of the Governance Review set by the Council” - Croydon Review.

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