At a time when Brighton & Hove Council is once again threatening the budget for youth provision in our city, and coming several years after West Sussex took a similar approach, it is encouraging to read that the Mayor of London is utilising his powers to fund diversionary youth work from the budget intended for policing and crime reduction. This sort of joined up thinking is clearly easier in a city like London which has much greater budgetary powers than Sussex, but it is the sort of approach that an effective Police and Crime Commissioner, working well with local Councils could achieve. Residents in Cambridge are currently preparing for an election for a Mayor across their County along with Peterborough, someone who will have similar powers to the Mayor of London. It would be interesting to explore what Councils such as Brighton and Hove, West Sussex and East Sussex along with Surrey could achieve together if there was one political leader across the whole area elected by all residents. The Mayor would have the power to focus attention on matters such as youth provision, alongside the impact on other services such as policing and even make demands on national agencies such as the Highways Agency, that individual Councils struggle to achieve. They would also be able to bring to the public gaze the Sustainability and Transformation Plans which the NHS is working on, but which at present remain hidden from view, despite the Governments rhetoric of public accountability. As we watch the Rail service in our region being dismantled by poor management on one side and failed industrial relations on the other, perhaps a single figure like a Mayor would be able to bring together GTR, the workers and the Rail Minister to establish a way forward that would prevent this once great rail system from collapse.
A shortened version of the above text was carried yesterday in the Argus as an opinion piece.