Research Project

Joining-Up Local Democracy: Governance systems for new localism

Dan Corry, Warren Hatter, Ian Parker, Anna Randle anSince NLGN published its call for a refashioning of the relationship between central and local government in the UK, the phrase ‘New Localism’ has captured the imagination of policy makers and practitioners alike – with civil servants and politicians across the main parties increasingly keen to reveal their decentralising rhetoric.

However, the success of ‘New Localism’ has also brought problems. These have included both ill-founded attacks on its core values and a confusion as to how devolved governance should be given institutional form. Pessimists fear that some proposals from Government ministers will lead to fragmentation and virtual anarchy at local level. More optimistic supporters meanwhile, have still been left asking ‘So how will it all join up locally?’.

Joining-up Local Democracy: governance systems for new localism takes the debate back to basics and considers both the main principals on which sound local governance should be built and the criteria by which to best judge its performance. Proposals for the introduction of local directly elected bodies in health, the police and elsewhere are also assessed, as is the case for increasing the power of councils to join up services. In concluding, the authors argue that our increasingly complex society demands a pluralist approach to local governance with a strong but by no means exclusive role for local government.