By being both commercially and socially conscious when managing their assets, local governments have an opportunity to address some of their greatest challenges and truly embrace their role as place shapers. But they must use intelligence wisely in order to do this.
People don’t think of themselves as living in local authority areas, but neighbourhoods. It is at this level that citizens first start to identify with and interact with their local state. This is the vital role that parishes play in being the first – and most local – point of call.
Be careful what you say about older people. The people we call ‘bedblockers’ and ‘frequent flyers’ today are actually a message from our own futures. One day you might be stuck in a hospital bed you’d much rather leave, wishing that younger people and policy makers could be a little more sensitive to your predicament.
Councils have come a long way in changing how they think about their places and the services they offer their citizens. Many are looking at new approaches to place, based not on outputs, nor on how they run individual services, but on the impact they can have on the people who live in their districts. […]
Recommendations from an expert panel on how to overcome barriers to service integration could represent a giant leap forward if councils can help prove that reforms can lead to savings.
The truth is that local government is already restructuring. Many districts and some counties are integrating and sharing their services, while combined authorities and increasing integration of health and care will demand new approaches to governance and sovereignty.
The West Lothian question does need addressing, but this can only be done in the context of a wide-ranging consideration of the future governance of the UK and England in particular. This can’t and shouldn’t be attempted on the same timescale as further Scottish devolution.
The implications for all of the UK of the Scottish Referendum are profound. Both for all four nations and within them, the referendum has significantly changed the balance of the debate about governance at all levels.