Municipal government to its zenith
in Explaining local government
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The 1835 Municipal Corporations Act enabled but did not compel industrial towns in Britain to establish municipal corporations, let alone to develop the publicly owned infrastructure. The status and influence of the great industrial towns were signalled by the magnificence of the town halls built as clubs for the industrial and commercial elites who comprised the majority of councillors and aldermen. The development of complex bureaucratic municipal government began at a faltering pace, motivated in some cities by locally sponsored political initiatives, but in others by a belated response to central government demands. The pace of change, however, accelerated from the 1870s, with substantial municipal purchase of infra-structure and energy companies, stimulated in part by the backward city of Birmingham catching up with developments elsewhere. This chapter focuses on the golden age of municipal government in Britain, incorporation and improvement of towns, consolidation of the boroughs, municipalisation of utilities, the government of London, professionalism and bureaucracy, the franchise, party politics, local elites, and civic pride and commercial interest.

Explaining local government

Local government in Britain since 1800

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