But without genuine devolution of power to a local level it would be, literally, a box ticking exercise.
I agree. I'd like to see both, but I doubt either will ever happen. One without the other would be counter productive.
At present, we vote in local elections for representatives who have the ability to act as little more than puppets, rubber stamps or whipping boys for central government. No wonder few people of stature bother to stand for election and many of the dwindling few who do bother to vote use local elections as a means to register a protest against whichever party (or parties) are running central government at the time.