Ian Murray poses once again the question of good governance in the affairs of Southampton.

Would you like an elected mayor?

My heart is definitely against the idea, having served in the old style of council at senior level I know that it is a system that works, by involving all of its members across the board in the formation of policy, I am equally aware that in reality the committees are driven by only one or two members, it works well if you have a strong opponent leading against you, for opposition is vital, it keeps you on your toes and strengthens your resolve.

However the city cannot thrive under the system that exists presently, consider the facts, a Cabinet exists of ten members each with his or her own sphere of influence. It is important to know at the time the decision is made it is, if my under standing of the present system is correct done only with the officers present, but the majority group itself is only 15 in number, can we really accept that all ten members of the Cabinet are au fait with not only the existing policy but the needs that he or she is there to serve? With the greatest respect I think not, it is then inevitable that policy is led by officers, this is not to decry their input but the sorry truth is that few of them have a deep and long standing relationship with the city, leaving them in the position that any guidance they give or initiative taken is invariably based on general principles, and general principles will not produce a thriving and articulate city.

In the event it would appear that the question posed needs to be answered, but for that the people require to know how a mayor functions with in the British system of local government, and on this I have to admit, despite my interest that I do not know and I suspect do many other people, the government have not helped by suggesting a referendum on the issue, after all if you ask the question do you want council tax scrapped the answer would invariably be yes, tell them that a result would be to close all the schools the answer would be quickly reversed.

The former prime minister seemed only to say it works in the US and that's good enough for me! And so it may, It is not the way I see it through my jaundiced view of America divided as it is between the rich and the poor.

I would like to hear from prospective candidates on the way forward as they see it, not simply as one contributor to your letter box put it when he boldly stated I am prepared to stand for the office of Mayor, he did not say why, and neither did he postulate a vision of what he stood for, if I am to vote for any individual on an issue of this magnitude, I want to know his qualifications, and I am not referring to business, his view on morality, transportation park and ride etc, education et al: and I would need to know where he would go to for advice, what committee structure would he establish, for sure as hell he would need one, if only for reference purposes.

Fortunately I am old enough to know that it will never be an office that I am likely to hold (having previously declined the position of mayor in the early seventies) and so here briefly is my personal truncated manifesto safe in the knowledge that I would never be called upon to deliver.

Education: Having been unfortunate in that I never had the opportunity to sit the 11 plus, I would have to accept that on this issue I would need help and so I would appoint an advisory board whose membership would include education professionals and members drawn from business, the political parties and other interested groups.

However in the provision of youth activities I would become directly involved, as a young man I was drawn into public life as a direct result of belonging to the Swaythling Youth club, all schools would be instructed to examine the recreational provision they make for the local teenager out of school hours, let the play grounds be used as they once were for cricket, rounders etc.

Transportation: Immediately I would institute a series of experimental traffic orders, which would include, traffic humps for 25 yards on either side of school gates on a surface raised by three inches, with single yellow lines on each side prohibiting parking during school hours.

At traffic lights a number of which would be selected, again on a six months experimental order treated as above with the lights deactivated for the length of the trial.

Similar treatment would be applied on a small number of round abouts.

These experiments would I believe resolve a number of safety issues, the powers exist presently and we must have the courage to try new ideas a respected leader (the late Alderman Sir James Mathew) taught me that mistakes can be rectified with lessons learned in the process, to prevaricate leaves you as a leader diminished.

Discussion would commence immediately with bus operators to provide park and ride facilities within a two year time scale, investigations would begin as quickly as possible, to provide under ground park and ride facilities on sports grounds at the city boundaries, many cities through out the world including Brighton, Hyde Park etc, use under ground parking, sports fields used in this way would be phased limiting any short term disruption, until the park is reinstated above ground.

Public open space: Woolston foreshore, I would investigate realigning the road to create a more spacious area, discuss with interested people the provision of a small viewing complex with platform and restaurant facilities, build a new bund wall and reclaim as much as is possible and desirable of the river bank, this would require private finance, subject to strict regulation I believe a new era would open a delightful haven of peace and tranquillity.

This is just a taster of what I would require of a new type leader for our city, before his nomination I would expect, no demand, that we be shown his vision of the future Southampton deserves.

And so my answer to your question is a qualified yes, but the candidate must provide a manifesto based on conviction, imagination, and above all, strength of purpose.

ALAN REYNARD (by e-mail).