Antanas Mockus, the mayor of Bogota, is a remarkable example from this decade. Mockus has used theatre and spectacle to get results. He sometimes wears a Superman costume, and hired over 400 mime artists to control traffic by mocking bad drivers and illegal pedestrians. He launched a ‘Night for Women’ when the city’s men were asked to stay at home and look after the children (and most did) and even asked the public to pay an extra 10 per cent in voluntary taxes (again, to the surprise of many, 63,000 did).
While that doesn’t strike me as Sir Steve’s style, I can certainly remember one former cabinet member dressing as Elvis to make some sort of policy point, which I think that was a one off. More seriously it seems clear to me that we do have the conditions locally where innovation and risk taking can take place, look at Love Lewisham from my time on the council or more recently the idea of a 20 mph zone for all residential roads.
It’s not really a surprise that Geoff points to our local chief executive Barry Quirk as an example of an innovative public servant, which certainly accords with my own experience of working with him. But I’m sure that Barry would be first to point to a culture both political and bureaucratic which allows Lewisham to be one of those places where a level of innovation is embraced.