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The Scottish Executive is set to block proposals to introduce directly elected mayors. ...
The Scottish Executive is set to block proposals to introduce directly elected mayors.

Local government minister Jack McAveety is expected to announce that the Executive will not adopt a mayoral system and keep lord provosts, who are non-political, unelected council representatives.

The issue was considered following a recommendation in the McIntosh report last year, and a spokesman for the Executive admitted there could be criticism of the decision for being at odds with Labour's programme of decentralising power.

Professor Alan Alexander of Strathclyde University said the rejection of the mayoral system is a reflection of public opinion in Scotland, despite allegations that Labour is trying to avoid a repeat of the London mayoral election which brought Independent candidate Ken Livingston to power.

Prof Alexander was part of the McIntosh Commission, which examined the possibility of elected mayors in Scotland.

'The rejection of the mayoral system is a very accurate perception of local government and public opinion,' he said. 'The McIntosh Commission found absolutely no support for the idea, and particularly well informed opposition from the public. There was certainly no groundswell of support. In fact, we couldn't find anyone with a good word for it.'

A task group on political leadership, set up this year, found an elected leader would provide a focus for the leadership role of councils and raise the profile of local government, but concluded that sharing power among a greater number of people would prove more effective.

'The major attraction of the concept of an elected leader, that it provides a focus of accountability and responsibility, is also its major weakness. Substantial power would be concentrated in an individual. The system of directly elected leader is potentially more open to corruption than the present system,' its report says.

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