At the start of a new year it's fun to speculate about what the future holds. More elected mayors, more power to the cities, more budget cuts, more services outsourced, more contracts to place, more scope for corruption, more bankruptcies and emergency takeover squads.
Elected Mayors with the power to make our cites work, to cut through the bureaucracy, the ability to make dysfunctional political parties work together, to get faith groups and community groups to stop competing for scarce resources and start cooperating, to get businesses to invest ,to help city universities become world class and for the Mayor's office to deliver an efficient transport systems.
More use or abuse of the social media to inform, consult and empower citizens or to manipulate public opinion , create the illusion of openness and share inappropriate "jokes".
So will it work in Birmingham like it has in Barcelona or will it go the way of Detroit? Will more power to big cites and high profile leaders result in their rejuvenation and a boost to the economy of surrounding areas? Or will we creat personal kingdoms where public service contracts and grants are used to maintain personal power, vote rigging undermines the legitimacy of elections, ethnic groups are played off against each other, officers are corrupted and public opinion is manipulated by a local media in the pocket of the Mayors office. Will it be like the fictional mayor of Chicago in Boss or the reality of Tower Hamlets in London where the government has sent in an emergency takeover squad!