LibLink: Dorothy Thornhill: Harry Potter and my spell as England’s longest serving woman mayor

This month, Dorothy Thornhill stepped down as Mayor of Watford after 16 years in tole. She was always very popular and left a great legacy for her successor, Peter Taylor.

She wrote for the Guardian this week about her years as Mayor, which included supporting the establishment of the Harry Potter Experience.

She looked at the advantages of towns having a directly elected Mayor:

At one level mayors have no more direct power than council leaders. But they have more soft power. You are the mayor of a place, not just the leader of a council. The mandate from the public gives you a licence to interfere in things that are not your direct responsibility. I used this in various ways: supporting efforts to bring Warner Studios (now the Harry Potter Experience) to the Watford area, getting town centre businesses to agree to a business improvement district, and influencing policing policy in our town centre in a more liberal direction.

She remembers using a bit of creative thinking to help save her local A and E Department:

I like to think that my persuasive powers made a difference in keeping hospital A&E services in Watford when they were under threat; but being able to make council-owned land available to the hospital for improved access and facilities certainly did. I was not in charge of the local NHS, but people expect their mayor to support the hospital, and the authority of the mayoralty enabled me to move quickly to secure its future.

And having a Mayor gives voters a bigger say in the strategic plans for their town or city:

Having a mayor gives voters a real choice about the future of their town or city. Often local elections are focused either on national politics (sending the government a message) or on who will speak up for a particular ward or neighbourhood. Strategic questions are often not even debated. Voters don’t get to weigh up who will be best at running the council, because the leader is chosen by councillors of the victorious party behind closed doors, once the election is over. Mayoral elections mean candidates cannot escape setting out their rival visions and policies for people to choose between.

Voters seem to agree:

Possibly the truest word anyone said to me about the mayoral system was a resident who, after berating me for changing my hairstyle too often, said: “I don’t always agree with you, but I know who you are, what you are doing and why.”

You can read the whole article here.

* Newshound: bringing you the best Lib Dem commentary published in print or online.

Read more by or more about or .
This entry was posted in News.
Advert

One Comment

  • Lorenzo Cherin 16th May '18 - 12:34pm

    Baroness Thornhill is a strong figure we should respect and her legacy we should seek to grow from, as is the able and popular Peter Taylor.

    We should realise elected mayors of towns and cities are the way forward, the way of every democratic nation in the world except contrary uk.

    I have no liking for the recent pwerhouse false area mayoralties, add ons to cities. Equally the absurd regional assembly model, along the lines of assemblies based on areas that are not identifiable regions.

    Elected town and city mayors speak and work for areas that are identified and this is understood, shared across that place. They can make an impact based on their individuality and that area and it’s identity.

    We should support it along side a democratically chosen council and cabinet.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarJohn Marriott 24th May - 6:47am
    I agree with David. In fact I wasn’t really quite sure what he was trying to infer. Was it an example of irony or sarcasm?
  • User AvatarJoeB 24th May - 1:27am
    Peter, the former Portugese colony of Macau is one of the wealthiest regions of the world in terms of per capita GDP. It has its...
  • User AvatarGlenn 23rd May - 11:10pm
    Nick Baird I sort of agree, but I associate a lot of the language of identity more with American politics and campus culture than anything...
  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 23rd May - 9:41pm
    It seems to me there is a sub-text in the idea that 'we should help people in communities to take and use power'. I think...
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 23rd May - 9:19pm
    I'm afraid it didn't have the impact of referring to Gordon Brown as Mr. Bean.
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 23rd May - 9:17pm
    @ Richard Underhill "The context could have included the fact that Heath’s predecessor Sir Winston Churchill had offered a Cabinet post to a former Liberal...