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Ringen weighs in on constitutional reform

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Leading academic Stein Ringen has called for the “re-invention of local democracy” to be one of the main priorities in the Prime Minister’s constitutional reform plans.

Writing in today’s Financial Times, Professor Ringen, professor of sociology and social policy at theUniversityofOxford, argues the structure of local government inBritainmakes it impossible to devolve power from central government to localities.

“AcrossEurope, municipalities have an average population size of about 10,000 inhabitants,” he says. “InBritain, districts average about 110,000 inhabitants and metropolitan boroughs inEnglandmore than 300,000.

Britainneeds a system of municipalities and many more elected politicians to represent citizens’ interests. There are possibly too many MPs but certainly too few elected representatives locally.”

Professor Ringen, one of the most respected academics on democratic matters and a figure frequently quoted by ministers and their advisers, says the re-invention of local democracy alongside reform of party funding and the strengthening of Parliament must be the main focus of Gordon Brown’s constitutional reform plans.

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