NLGN Chair calls on government to renew local government reform strategy
21 March, 2003

Gerry Stoker, Chair of the New Local Government Network (NLGN) think-tank and Professor of Political Science at Manchester University has called on the Government to implement a ‘more vigorous local government policy’ that recognises the broader political challenges involved.

Writing in the latest issue of the quarterly journal Renewal, Professor Stoker offers an assessment of high and low points of New Labour’s local government reform strategy from 1997 to date and argues that, unless the Government gets its future policies right its whole strategy of public service reform could fail:

    “Unless we involve people in the definition of their problems and the choice of solutions, we will produce a thin governing system that produces public services that patch over problems rather than going to their heart. We need to find governing mechanisms that involve people, and the local provides a key arena for such activity”.

The NLGN Chair concludes his analysis with an explicit reference to the ‘vital role’ played by local government in delivering community leadership and the political commitment necessary to deliver on such a vision:

    “It means providing the scope to local government to experiment, take initiatives and encourage within local communities the discretion and capacity to attempt new responses to old problems as well as developing new responses to emerging issues”.

Adding also that there is a real need for our local authorities to adopt more modern democratic structures:

    “Just as important is a return to the issue of how to construct a local politics that is engaging and capable of reconciling the demands of traditional representative democracy with the possibilities of a stakeholder democracy”.

NLGN media enquiries to Ian Parker – 020 7357 0116 /

Notes for Editors:
The New Local Government Network is an independent think-tank, seeking to transform public services, revitalise local political leadership and empower local communities.

Professor Gerry Stoker is Chair of NLGN. For details of his current work at Manchester University, visit the Institute of Political and Economic Governance website:

Professor Stoker’s article ‘New Labour needs local government’ appears in the current issue of Renewal, which also features contributions from Douglas Alexander MP, Trevor Phillips, Lord Hattersley, Polly Toynbee, Sue Goss and Dan Corry. For further information, visit For subscription enquiries, email or T. 020 8533 2506.