Government proposals to pass on fines incurred for breaking national and EU rules on matters such as air quality to local politicians are the logical next step in devolution and localism.
Here in London we have a directly elected Mayor with an enormous budget and significant powers but, other than facing the electorate every four years, very little accountability.
While the London Assembly can scrutinise the Mayor’s decisions they lack the ability to block or reverse them and Ministers and courts can step in only in exceptional circumstances.
Passing on responsibility for fines will significantly increase the accountability of future Mayors. If their policies breach regulations and incur fines they’ll be required to find the money either from existing budgets – which will impact on services – or by increasing their precept on the council tax.
Because any fines would affect all households, the proposals have the potential to increase interest in the Mayoralty and participation in the democratic process.
Even where a Mayor chose not to face the electorate again after running up huge fines, their legacy and reputation would forever be marred by the penalties they incurred.
Those of us who want greater powers for the Mayor and further meaningful devolution to the capital should recognise the need to ensure officeholders take responsibility for their decisions.