FORMER Deputy Prime Minister Michael Heseltine has called for directly elected leaders to be put in place across Britain in a bid to stop a new wave of riots.
The Swansea-born entrepreneur and Conservative peer called for the UK Government's plans for directly elected mayors to go beyond the 12 largest English cities.
Welsh Conservatives called for elected mayors in Cardiff, Swansea, Newport and Wrexham in a bid to drive forward improvements in the communities.
Lord Heseltine, whose landmark report, It Took A Riot, shaped Britain's response to the urban unrest of 1981, said such leadership was needed to drive through important changes in local authorities.
He said: "That is why it makes sense to empower all urban areas, not just the 12 chosen by the Government, with directly elected local leaders answerable to their electorates."
Lord Heseltine, who delivered his report when Britain had been shaken by scenes of violence in areas such as Toxteth, says that urgent action is needed to prevent society splintering and to break the power of "drug barons".
Writing in The Times, he stated: "I believe that the Prime Minister understands the scale of the problem. But he will need local leaders on his side.
He should involve them closely - and this means delegating power to them and creating incentives to drive their enthusiasm... Thirty years ago my report noted that problems festered in the inner cities because there were no local leaders to take charge.
"The problem is the same today. We need local leaders if we are to create one society, not two."
Tory Shadow Assembly Local Government Minister Janet Finch-Saunders supported the call for elected mayors and argued such leaders could transform Welsh cities. She said: "Giving people in our major towns and cities the choice to elect a figurehead who can be held to account for their actions would be a step forward in restoring power to Welsh communities.
"Elected mayors in Cardiff, Swansea, Newport and Wrexham would give local people more of a say in how effective public services can be delivered in their area."
However, Steve Thomas, the chief executive of the Welsh Local Government Association, did not expect the idea of elected mayors to win support across Wales.
He said the aim in Wales was to "make sure the community is very much involved in the running of the community. Centralising power in one person isn't necessarily the way forward."
In 2004 Ceredigion held a referendum on the option for a directly elected mayor but this was rejected by the electorate.
Plaid Cymru Arfon MP Hywel Williams said: "[We] are against the idea of transferring power into one person's hands without checks and balances. As we argued at the time when we opposed the referendum in Ceredigion in 2004, this can make a mockery of responsible local government despite the good intentions of those advocating them.
"Local councillors are elected by their communities, in many parts of Wales on a village by village basis, and we believe that they provide far more responsive and democratic representation for their constituents than a single elected mayor would."
A Welsh Government spokesman said: "The option for a directly elected mayor is a matter for the electorate and the local authority. The Local Government Act 2000 introduced the option for directly elected mayors in England and Wales."
"A petition signed by at least 10% of the electorate and presented to the council is the trigger for a referendum on the option of a directly elected mayor."