Devolution is not the only way to vote for a mayor.
I was asked to vote on a series of visions created by aspiring civic leaders. I was impressed. They all had clear aims to tackle a particular issues and had developed effective, low cost ways of implementing doing so. They had done all the things that help civic leaders really have an impact on their communities.
I was particularly impressed with the breath of areas that they were trying to tackle.
Green and tidy
One aspiring mayor had a clear and solid vision for a cleaner, greener community. There was a twin focus in the plans, as well practical projects to clean up the community, there was also an educational element.
To implement the visions they had planned litter picks, poster campaigns and a tree planning programme. All solid achievable stuff.
Fit and healthy
Another upcoming civic leader had tackled getting people healthier and reducing road traffic. The idea was simple, walk more and drive less. But there was also more to it than that. Walking was viewed as a great way to get families doing things together in a healthy and cheap way.
Quote: “My aim is to get the community involved in keeping active and bring everyone together.”
Connected and engaged
But my favourite was a vision involving a strong focus on community cohesion. The hope was to bring the community together by increasing understanding, “By spending time with people from different cultures we can learn a lot about each other.” The plan for the year included many events to help people appreciate the traditions and feelings of their neighbours.
It was pointed out that the neighbourhood was the starting point but that it would soon spread, “Beeston, then Leeds, then the world will be a much better place if we work and live.”
What impressed me
The quality of the manifestos for office was very high. But that’s not what impressed me.
All of the candidates were primary school children.
They were actually running for Leeds Children’s Mayor and you can vote, if you are under 18 and you live in Leeds. And I’d be happy to vote for any of them, their visions where realistic, well developed and timely.
You can read the full range of manifestos here: http://www.breezeleeds.org/HaveYourSay/Pages/Leeds-Childrens-Mayor.aspx. They are impressive.
They are particularly impressive as I’ve meet far too many adult mayors that just don’t have a clear vision for their time in office. There are too many civic leaders that could learn something from these children.
That gives me an idea
Maybe we should get all aspiring civic leaders to submit their plans for their time in office to the public. Maybe they should face a public vote. I’m not suggesting we should turn the mayoralty into a kind of X-Factor but if it results in visions that are half as good as those that the children of Leeds have come up with, the country will be a better place.