In a drive to make local government as interesting and popular as generations of Westminster's politicians have believed it ought to be, the reform of local government as become as English an obsession as the weather. Throughout the 20th century a range of subjective criteria have been developed to justify reorganisations of local government, along with increasingly complex models of how subjective measures can be used to justify change. The complex and time-consuming procedures that characterised the 1929 'review' of local government were compounded by a layer of additional complexity in the, eventually abandoned, review of 1945. By then the development of urban spatial planning as a discipline had given policy makers a renewed optimism in their ability to effect scientific change, and the complexity of post war local government reorganisation increased incrementally. The Government in 1992 and again in 2003, avoided the question of identifying what the purpose of local government was, and establishing cross-party consensus on how it might be established. Instead, local administration has become synonymous with local democracy, whilst being referred to under a generic title of 'local government'. Proposals to reform one have created concerns regarding the future of the other. This confusion, along with a general lack of interest by the general public has led to a scenario where government ministers have become defenders of the status quo, or champions of change, but rarely informed arbiters of reform. With the benefit of 170 years of evidence to draw from, objectives that stood little chance of success remain stated outcomes of local government reform. It will be shown that fanciful claims have not been consigned into the dustbin of history, but have incrementally produced heirs.
|Date of Award||2007|
- Nottingham Trent University