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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.

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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
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Revival?
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
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
Anti-racism, equal opportunities, community cohesion and religious identity in a rural space, 1999 onwards
Sarah Hackett

local government policies and measures in Wiltshire and it focuses on the county’s local political approach to immigration, integration and diversity since the turn of the twenty-first century. It traces changes and continuities as Wiltshire’s local administration once again balanced national-level directive and mandate with local circumstances and particularism. As was the case during previous decades, local authorities were once again counted on to play an important role in delivering national-level policy. The 2001 Cantle Report requested that they ‘prepare a local

in Britain’s rural Muslims
Race relations, multiculturalism and integration, 1976 to the late 1990s
Sarah Hackett

multiculturalism developed against a backdrop of restrictive immigration policies, an ever-increasing diversification of migrant communities due to family reunification and the emergence of a British-born generation, and the persistent shift in the construction of difference from a focus on ‘race’ to ‘ethnicity’ to ‘faith’. This chapter focuses on local government policy in Wiltshire from the immediate aftermath of the passing of the Race Relations Act 1976 to the late 1990s. It charts an increase and diversification in the county’s immigrant, integration and diversity

in Britain’s rural Muslims
The early years, 1960s to 1976
Sarah Hackett

tackle discrimination and promote integration. Whether they were genuine well-meaning attempts to counter racial discrimination, or simply seen as a means to combat the social problems that black immigration was often linked to, they were central to Britain’s distinct race relations framework that prevailed well into the 1980s. 2 This chapter discusses local government policy in Wiltshire between the early 1960s and the implementation of the Race Relations Act 1976, which marked a key turning point in the county’s immigrant, integration and diversity policies and

in Britain’s rural Muslims