Instantly I expect people to assume I have my facts wrong when I use the word "president" instead of mayor, but let's be clear, the proposal that the Tories have pushed whereby large cities in England would have directly elected mayors with presidential powers which allow them to make councillors almost totally redundant is the last thing that local democracy needs.
It is hard to name an area where having a directly elected mayor has lowered costs or led to a resurgence of interest in local democracy. Do the people of Hartlepool feel better off for having a directly elected mayor ? Is turnout any higher in Doncaster because they have a directly elected mayor ? Are people any happier in Newham because they have a directly elected mayor ? Of course, everyone knows the answer is no. In fact, the election of a mayor, where your vote makes less difference due to the whole constituency nature of the voting, renders your vote less worthy and makes the council more remote. Knowing that your local councillor essentially becomes someone who just lobbies on your behalf but has no real power is hardly strengthening local democracy.
What Cameron needs to do if he really want to roll back the centralisation that started under Thatcher and was continued and accelerated by Major and Blair is to return real power to council and allow councils to raise their own taxes through a local income tax or some other form of local taxation. Only when councils are really accountable for their spending and their own decisions will people take proper notice and interest in what local councils do.
Sadly Dave's plans to further remover powers from councillors and hand them to one person is not what most of us would call democracy.