Modern Local Government
Publication Year: 2008
Modern Local Government is a unique assessment of local government reform from the perspective of both local and central government, which is fully informed an analysis of the role of the European Union. This text provides a systematic review of the reform of local government since the election of New Labour in 1997.
- Front Matter
- Back Matter
- Subject Index
- Chapter 1: Introduction
- Why Local Government?
- The Debate on Central-Local Relations
- The Context of Local Government Reform
- How Do They Do it Elsewhere?
- The Notion of Social Capital
- The Relationship between Local Performance and the Economy
- Chapter 2: Great Expectations – The Position in 1997
- The View of Local Government: The Legacy of Expectation
- The Concern of the 1997 New Labour Government: The Legacy of Fear
- Paving the Way for Reform
- Real Issues on the Agenda: Which Key Issues Did Local Authorities Face in 1997?
- Chapter 3: New Approaches to Decision Making in Local Authorities
- Introduction: Implementing Local Government Reform
- The New Council Constitutions
- Electoral Arrangements
- The Role of the Council
- The Role of the Executive
- Scrutiny and Overview
- The Emerging Roles of Local Councillors
- Reforming Local Government Representation at the Centre
- Chapter 4: Promoting Well-Being and the Community's Interest
- Understanding the Role of a General Power of Competence – The European Charter of Local Self-Governance
- The Duty to Promote the Economic, Social, and Environmental Well-Being of the Communities Being Served
- Promoting Community Leadership
- Community Strategies
- Community Leadership and CPA
- Community Strategies and Local Agenda 21 (LA21): Towards Environmental Well-Being
- Community Strategies and Local Development Frameworks (LDFs)
- Removing Plan Requirements
- Chapter 5: Performance and Freedoms
- The Role of the Audit Commission
- Best Value: Why Competition?
- The Best-Value Process
- Comprehensive Performance Assessment (CPA)
- Does Performance Assessment Work?
- Capacity for Delivery
- Freedoms and Flexibilities
- Chapter 6: Delivery with Partners – Procurement, Privatisation, Partnerships, Trading, and Choice
- Local Authorities as Employers
- Joint Service Delivery between Local Authorities
- Strategic Partnering
- The Lyons and Gershon Reviews: From Central to Local Delivery?
- The Growing Potential for the Voluntary Sector
- Chapter 7: Joining-up around Customers – The Role of E-Government
- The Problems of Silo Government for the Citizen
- Implementing Local E-Government
- Local Implementation of E-Government
- Developing and Implementing Priority Outcomes
- The Barriers to Citizen Engagement and Delivery
- Efficiency and E-Government
- Conclusions: Changing the Citizen's Relationship with Government?
- Chapter 8: Councillors, Standards, and Corruption
- The System before the Local Government Act 2000
- The Nolan Committee on Standards in Public Life
- The Standards Board for England
- The Conduct of Local Authority Staff
- Public Service Ethics
- Chapter 9: The Future of Local Government Finance
- Local Government's Constitutional Role and Finance
- Central Direction and Local Discretion – Assessing the Boundaries
- The Continuing Legacy of the Layfield Committee
- The Dynamics of Efficiency
- The Use of Property Assets – An Example of Improving Efficiency at the Local Level
- A New Freedom – The Case of Business Rates
- A New Localist Solution?
- Chapter 10: New Localism
- The Rise of New Localism
- Place Shaping
- Pressures for Reductions in Local Power
- Culture and Habit
- Chapter 11: Local Strategic Partnerships – The Way Forward
- Partnership Working – Programmes and Policies
- Local Strategic Partnerships
- How are LSPs Developing?
- The Future for LSPs, LAAs, and Public Service Boards?
- Chapter 12: Parishes, Town Councils, and Neighbourhood Working
- Developments since 1997
- Parish and Town Councils
- Devolved Working in Local Authorities
- Emerging Forms of Local Management
- Neighbourhood Development in the Future
- Chapter 13: Regions, Sub-Regions, and London
- Why Regionalism?
- Regional Working in England 1993–2004 – Moving from Central Ways of Working
- Regionalising the Centre
- How Have These Regional Arrangements Worked for Local Government in England?
- Chapter 14: What is the Future of Local Government?
- Shaping Influences for the Future of Local Government
© Janice Morphet 2008
First published 2008
Apart from any fair dealing for the purposes of research or private study, or criticism or review, as permitted under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, this publication may be reproduced, stored or transmitted in any form, or by any means, only with the prior permission in writing of the publishers, or in the case of reprographic reproduction, in accordance with the terms of licences issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency Enquiries concerning reproduction outside those terms should be sent to the publishers.
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To Robin, Sophie and Charlotte[Page vi]
The pace and scale of reform in local government always seems unremitting to those close to it. For a long period before 1997, the reforms all appeared to be focused on reducing the power and central role of local authorities, both in their democratic leadership of their communities and in being the first point of contact between citizens and government. The changes since 1997 have seen more reforms but, 10 years on, these are seen to be leading somewhere, stages on a journey that could take local government back to a point of local leadership, co-ordination, and direction. In their individual ways these reforms are frequently difficult to understand, and each has a life cycle that initially seems to introduce a very demanding target, which, after incorporation, provides the platform for the next stage of change. As a result of their response to this unremitting change, local authorities are now seen to be leaders of cultural transformation and improvement in the public sector. Local authorities still have much to do but are more confident about how to set about change and how to assess its impact on people's lives.
The scale of this change, the length of the route map – currently stretching to 2014 – is frequently overlooked in its entirety; there is an overarching direction although it seems very difficult for most to see it. There are problems on the way as well as excursions, diversions, blind alleys, and ‘highwaymen’ which all serve to feed weekly media but distract from a focus on the future. Sometimes these diversions almost seem intended to disguise other intents. This book is an attempt to set out some of the key elements of the reform agenda including the drivers for change before 1997 which still propel future actions. Understanding the way in which the reforms have been generated may provide some tools to understand the plan as a whole.
This book is also written to allow both central and local government perspectives on local government reform to be understood. There is little that is written about local government from a central government perspective apart from the formal policy documents which appear regularly. Through these an [Page xii]attempt is made to understand what the centre is thinking and the direction the centre sees for the local. Local government attempts to translate this policy into action. Those who write about local government seldom see an overall picture. Some become specialists in particular fields while, for those working in local government, every proposed change, coming as it does in an initially over-prescribed format, seems too much, and an attempt to undermine local government. What is clear is that the overall role and standing of local government has changed in this period, and for local government, an inability to recognise this could result in a failure to take opportunities and to provide much needed advice on successful policy implementation to central government. This approach has also meant that it is difficult for those coming new to local government to understand what is occurring – students, academics, and practitioners have little to use which can provide an overarching narrative. This book also fills this gap.
The germ of this book started when I was asked to give a presentation to a group of civil servants new to working with local government. The task was to provide them with an understanding of the system, the pressures, and the recent extent of change. This regular slot continued for a few years and started to be used with other groups and some postgraduate students. As time went by, it was clear that the gap between the reality of change at the local level and the understanding of this by academics and others was growing, and I was invited to write this book. During the time of writing much more has changed and helpful comments on the text have shown that the scale and speed of this catches many readers unawares. I hope that the book does fill some of these gaps and that, despite the jargon-filled world that we all live in, it is possible to make sense of what is here. I have tried to make each chapter reasonably self-contained, knowing that readers plunder texts for their immediate needs and I hope that this does not lead to unnecessary repetition for those who are more interested in an end-to-end read.
As ever, many thanks are due. First to Phil Allmendinger who invited me to write this book and has given continuing support as has Mark Tewdwr-Jones. I have found their assumptions useful in helping me set out my own views. Thanks also go to Chris Bellamy who has provided many useful and detailed comments on the text, taking time from her own major project to do so and for this I am very grateful. Other thanks go to Jane Foulsham and Andrew Whetnall who both had a role in helping me to develop a civil service perspective on these changes after I had spent nearly thirty years in local government. Of course, all opinions, errors, and omissions are mine. Finally thanks to Robin, Sophie, and Charlotte who put up with my constant tapping but who also bring their own considerable insights to the central-local relationship which are always revealing.Wandsworth 2007
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