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Local government in Britain since 1800
Author: J. A. Chandler

This book presents a history of local government in Britain from 1800 until the present day. It explains how local government in Britain has evolved from a structure that appeared to be relatively free from central government interference to, as John Prescott observes, ‘one of the most centralised systems of government in the Western world’. The book is an introduction to the development of local government in Britain but also balances values and political practice in relation to the evolving structures to provide a theory of the evolution of the system. It analyses local government prior to 1832 and its subsequent development into the uniform two-tier structures of the twentieth century. The book argues that the emergence of a ‘New Liberal’ national welfare state and, by the 1920s, the growth of the Labour Party, created pressures within central government to control local governments. This has led, post-1945, to the creation of larger, less-local units, and to further restraints on local autonomy, as electoral competition among National Parties to offer better public services and local economic growth ensures that national leaders cannot leave local authorities to administer to local needs as they see fit. The conclusion compares the development of British centralism with the pattern of central–local development, as well as the relative conservatism in re-structuring the systems in the United States and France.

From New Labour to the Big Society
Author: Hugh Atkinson

There is a widespread view that local democracy in Britain is in deep trouble and that people face a crisis of civic engagement and political participation. This book counterweighs the many negative accounts that seek to dominate the political discourse with talks on political apathy and selfish individualism. It commences with an examination of theoretical debates as to the meaning of local democracy and related concepts. The book looks at the policy agenda around local democracy in the context of the developing nature of central/local relations since 1979. It considers the available evidence on level of political participation and civic engagement by looking at eight themes. These include the state of formal politics, forms of civic engagement, community identity and the emerging world of the internet/world wide web. The book also looks at nine key aspects of the reform of local democracy over the last fifteen years, including local democracy and the New Labour reform agenda; the constitutional position of local government; and double devolution. It focuses on the so-called 'crisis of formal democracy' at the local level. The book ascertains the recent developments beyond the realm of elections, political parties and formal political institutions. It then concentrates on local services and policy attempts to widen public participation in the shaping and delivery of such services. Finally, the book discusses the concept of sustainability and regeneration strategies to build sustainable communities, both physical and social.

Abstract only
Provenance and decline
Bill Jones

The importance of local government seems obvious, in that what matters most to people are the things which affect them and their families on a daily basis: their environment, street hygiene, safety and so forth. Yet in the twenty-first century, local government in Britain can sometimes seem less than relevant, with few people aware of its existence and caring even less. Given such indifference, it is hard for this lowest tier of democratic government to assert itself. However, it still disposes of billions of pounds every year, employs over 2 million people and

in British politics today
Abstract only
Bill Jones

The previous chapter examined the emergence of local government, together with its reform and workings. While the dominant theme was one of decline, this chapter considers whether more recent developments have suggested it might be possible to discern some kind of revival. Writing in the Guardian on 3 September 1997, Tony Blair declared: ‘Local government is the lifeblood of our democracy’. While more cynical observers might dismiss this as anodyne political rhetoric, there have been a number of signs, both from the earlier 1990s and since the Labour

in British politics today
A post-colonial reassessment of cultural sensitivity in conflict governance
Kristoffer Lidén and Elida K. U. Jacobsen

6 The local is everywhere: a post-colonial reassessment of cultural sensitivity in conflict governance Kristoffer Lidén and Elida K. U. Jacobsen Introduction The problem of sensitivity to ‘the local context’ is a recurrent theme in scholarly and political debate on global governance, including international development aid, humanitarian assistance and, more recently, international peace operations associated with ‘liberal peacebuilding’.1 Global, or ‘transnational’, peacebuilding governance is repeatedly seen as having inadequate concern for social and cultural

in Cultures of governance and peace
Reflecting a nation’s past or merely an administrative convenience?
Colin Copus

Introduction In Britain central government decides the shape, population, responsibilities, powers and functions of councils in England. It is central government which can, and does, abolish councils, or entire layers of local government which lacks even the most basic constitutional protection, including the right to continued existence. While

in These Englands
J. A. Chandler

5 Restructuring local government Few across the British political spectrum were satisfied with the evolution of the local government system following the 1832 Reform Act. While municipal government could lead the way to reform, the system could not evolve in rural areas because of the lack of any workable consensus in Parliament that could establish multi-purpose local government structures. The legislative compromises and resultant ad hoc developments were creating as complex a pattern of local government in rural areas and small towns as existed in the

in Explaining local government
J. A. Chandler

1 Local government before 1832 There is little left of the Roman administrative legacy for the provinces of Britain. Towns were established under Roman practice as coloniae and municipium for retired soldiers who were granted citizenship of the Empire.1 Other townships, civitates, established by Britons were recognised as following local tribal laws:2 ‘A large measure of local government was conducted by the British themselves with official supervision and encouragement.’3 All that remains of the Roman legacy are some of the towns themselves, including London

in Explaining local government
Christian Lo

context through an overview of the dominating narratives describing the development of local government, the municipal organization and political culture in Norway. While these narratives inform the analysis of policy processes in the later chapters, their relevance will also be critically explored as their explanatory powers are put to the test. The chapter begins with a brief historical overview of the major institutional developments that have given the Norwegian municipality its present form and function. In order to convey the wide scope of

in When politics meets bureaucracy
Derek Birrell

7 The role of local government The introduction of direct rule coincided with the reorganisation of local government. Local government reform had become one of the main priorities of the British Government during the period 1969–72, although proposals for reforming the existing structure had been put forward in the late 1960s. The old system of local government had existed since the nineteenth century and was similar to the system in Britain with two all-purpose county boroughs, Belfast and Londonderry and a two-tier system for the rest of the province with six

in Direct rule and the governance of Northern Ireland