Page last updated at 18:25 GMT, Wednesday, 28 May 2008 19:25 UK

City 'short-changed' by politics

Mark Meredith
The city's mayor Mark Meredith said everyone needed to work together

A body set up to look at politics in Stoke-on-Trent has said there is a "deep-seated malaise" and its people have been "short-changed".

The Stoke-on-Trent Governance Commission, which includes university representatives, was established by Local Government Minister John Healey.

In a report it recommends reducing the number of councillors and holding full elections every four years.

The body also urged people to become more actively engaged in public life.

System 'damaged'

It is presenting its report considering the options for the future to Mr Healey and the city council.

The commission's chair, Prof Michael Clarke, the vice-principal of the University of Birmingham, said: "We have heard from and talked to many people in Stoke-on-Trent.

"There has been an overwhelming consistency in what people have said to us.

"We are dismayed at the extent to which the city's political system is damaged."

None of us should be living in denial but now it's about working together
Elected mayor Mark Meredith

The group said the question of which political model would be chosen this year - mayor and cabinet or leader and cabinet - was less important than the need to tackle "serious underlying issues".

It said the council and local MPs must agree a protocol to underpin their respective roles and relationships and national parties should reconstruct the machinery of the local parties.

It called for a board of local stakeholder representatives to which the council would be required to present its plan for implementing the commission's recommendations.

The commission said the council should work to "rebuild community and citizen engagement with the affairs of the city and increase the involvement of young people and Stoke-on-Trent's diverse communities".

The commission also includes a university vice chancellor, company chief executive and former chief executive of North Staffordshire Race Equality Council.

The city's elected mayor Mark Meredith said: "All elected members need to hold up their hands.

"None of us should be living in denial but now it's about working together."

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