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Local Governance Research Unit 7th TED Strong Local Governments: Community, Strategy, Integration English Local Government: Too Big to be local; too little.

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Presentation on theme: "Local Governance Research Unit 7th TED Strong Local Governments: Community, Strategy, Integration English Local Government: Too Big to be local; too little."— Presentation transcript:

1 Local Governance Research Unit 7th TED Strong Local Governments: Community, Strategy, Integration English Local Government: Too Big to be local; too little power to be government 6-7 February 2014, Cluj Napoca, Romania Professor Colin Copus, Professor of Local Politics Local Governance Research Unit, Department of Public Policy De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester, LE1 9BH Tel: 0116.257.7819 @ProfCopusLG Email: ccopus@dmu.ac.uk web: www.dmu.ac.uk/lgruccopus@dmu.ac.ukwww.dmu.ac.uk/lgru

2 Local Governance Research Unit "Tip" O'Neil: Former Speaker of the House of Representatives All politics is local

3 Local Governance Research Unit Winston Churchill on being offered the Local Government Board in the1906 Government There is no place in the government more laborious, more anxious, more thankless, more cloaked with petty and even squalid detail, more full of hopeless and insoluble difficulties

4 Local Governance Research Unit A Quick history of English Local Government: 1 1835 Municipal Corporations Act (introduces democratically elected councils) The Metropolis Local Management Act 1855 (created the Metropolitan Board of Works, for London, indirectly elected) 1889 Local Government Act (creates elected county councils, including a London County council, replacing the MBW) London Government Act 1899 (creates 28 London Boroughs) London Government Act 1963 (creates GLC and 32 London borough councils).

5 Local Governance Research Unit A Quick history of English Local Government:2 Local Government Act 1972 –Reduces county councils from 58 to 47 –Reduces district councils from 1,249 to 333 Local Government Act 1985 abolishes the GLC and the six Metropolitan Counties Local Government Act 1992 –Introduces the creation of unitary councils Greater London Authority Act 1999 (creates the mayor of London and the Greater London Assembly) Local Government Act 2000 –Introduces executive directly elected mayors and council leaders and cabinets

6 Local Governance Research Unit The Structure of Local Government in England England Mayor of London & The Greater London Assembly 32 London Borough Councils. City of London 36 Metropolitan Borough Councils 27 County Councils 202 District Councils Aprox 9,000 Parish Councils 55 Unitary Councils (can also have parish Councils)

7 Local Governance Research Unit London Boroughs

8 Local Governance Research Unit London Boroughs: Political Control

9 Local Governance Research Unit The Counties Of England

10 Local Governance Research Unit Local Government: A Party Paradise Pre-1835 local government is controlled by a Tory-Anglican elite Post-1835 local government is largely a Liberal non- conformist elite But candidates hid any national party affiliation behind a range of non-party labels such as: –Moderates, reformers, economisers, improvers, progressives, citizens; any thing but tell the voters they were Conservative or Liberal Party supporters

11 Local Governance Research Unit Councillors in England May 2013: Type of Council ConLabLDUKIPGnOthers County11165383521472279 Unitary121911674221336254 London Borough 7138752441226 MBC397 1714 24712164 District5116173912511362644 Totals8,5616,0332,5161751431,067

12 Local Governance Research Unit Councillors in England: Three main parties –17,110 councillors – 92 % of Englands total councillor population

13 Local Governance Research Unit Councillors in England: Small Parties and Independents –1,510 councillors –8 % of Englands total councillor population –1,067 Independents –32 from 6 small parties (excl Greens and UKIP) –93 RA and political associations

14 Local Governance Research Unit 399 parties and political associations registered with the Electoral Commission

15 Local Governance Research Unit Small Parties with Councillors BNP UKIP English Democrats Respect SDP The Liberal Party Mebynon Kernow Greens

16 Local Governance Research Unit Small Party Numbers UKIP: 175 Liberal Party:15 Respect: 7 Mebyon Kernow: 4 BNP: 2 English Democrats: 2 Social Democrat Party: 2

17 Local Governance Research Unit Characteristics of English Local Government: 1 Creature of statute No independent or constitutionally protected right to exist Boundaries, shape, size, structure, powers, roles, responsibilities and functions are set by central government Ultra-vires Funded locally and by central government Very big – the largest units of local government in Europe; size of English councils represents the victory of technocracy over democracy

18 Local Governance Research Unit Characteristics of English Local Government:2 Council boundaries do not reflect natural (or any) communities of place; rather they are administratively convenient lines on a map Points of the compass councils: –East Staffordshire –North East Derbyshire –South Norfolk –North Shropshire –East Hampshire –West Berkshire –West Lindsey –Mid Suffolk

19 Local Governance Research Unit Characteristics of English Local Government:3 AND councils –Redcar and Cleveland –Kings Lynn and West Norfolk –Basingstoke and Deane –Brighton and Hove –Bath and North East Somerset –Shrewsbury and Atcham –Oadby and Wigston –Blackburn with Darwen

20 Local Governance Research Unit Characteristics of English Local Government:4 And these places just dont exist –Three Rivers –Sandwell –Newham –Kirklees –Tendring

21 Local Governance Research Unit Characteristics of English Local Government:5 Synonymous with service provision, rather than political representation and government Not seen as a competitor to central government, more an agent of central government Dominated by the three main parties Run on party lines The party group system: councillors meeting in private to decide what they will do in public and discipline members who do not comply or express dissent

22 Local Governance Research Unit The Local Government Act 2000 Executive arrangements in all councils with populations above 85,000 –Directly elected mayors (a referendum required) –Indirectly elected council leaders (no referendum needed) –Council cabinets (maximum of 10 members) –Directly elected council cabinet

23 Local Governance Research Unit Three Scenarios for Local (sub-national) Government Doomsday Scenario The Sunlit Uplands Copus Flight of Fantasy

24 Local Governance Research Unit More of the Same? Reduction in the status and functions of elected local government Financial restraint and control from the centre Partnerships and governance continues to replace government Networks of unelected and unaccountable public (and private) bodies continue to erode local government to become the most powerful players in sub-national government.

25 Local Governance Research Unit The Peripheral Local State Supra-local networks Local networks Elected Local Govt Un Accountable Contested Public space Unaccountable contested public space Accountability But no power

26 Local Governance Research Unit Sunlit Uplands General competence Localism and decentralisation… leads to local govt …attracting roles and responsibilities from regional bodies and quangos Cross boarder co-operation to replace regionalism –Councils to decide partner councils and extent The power of influence (LEPs) Extension of economic development and trading powers Elected mayors and mayoral councils with more political powers

27 Local Governance Research Unit Copus Flight of Fantasy Smaller councils Less party control (new voting system) Legislative / ordinance, powers (not mere by-laws) Constitutional protection Control over own boundaries A wider tax base and taxation powers Power to decide how and what to provide Underpinned by wide use of citizen called referendum

28 Local Governance Research Unit Re-Positioning Elected Local Government A new purpose, to: –Bring accountability to governance networks –Question, shape, challenge and direct network members individual and collectively –Provide a democratically legitimised direction to supra and local networks –Shape inter-network activity and co-ordinate network activity.. –Above all provide sorely lacking democratic legitimacy

29 Local Governance Research Unit Pericles c. 495 – 429 BC Here each individual is interested not only in his own affairs but in the affairs of the state as well: even those who are mostly occupied with their own business are extremely well-informed on general politics -- this is a peculiarity of ours: we do not say that a man who takes no interest in politics is a man who minds his own business; we say that he has no business here at all.

30 Local Governance Research Unit Alexis de Tocqueville: Democracy in America ( 1994, p:63) The strength of free peoples resides in the local community. Local institutions are to liberty what primary schools are to science; they put it within the peoples reach…without local institutions a nation may give itself a free government, but it has not got the spirit of liberty


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