Abstracts: March 23rd, 2005

By Gerry StokerThis pamphlet from the New Local Government Network calls for a radical rethink of the purpose and structure of UK local government, and its replacement with a new system made up of powerful community governance and strategic level, ‘super-sized’ cities and counties. It argues that it is necessary to reinvent local government to meet the new circumstances of the 21st Century and develop institutions that can help sustain urban, suburban and rural lifestyles.

Professor Stoker’s proposals are based on a reassessment of the core purpose of local government to make it more meaningful to people in their everyday lives and offering ‘community leadership’. To do so, requires the creation of conditions for sustainable communities in the areas of transport and social mobility, the management of the environment, personal safety, community cohesion and economic inclusion. There is also a need to sustain and facilitate the growth of more self-organising capacity by giving people a stronger sense of involvement in their communities. Responsiveness and productivity would be developed by delivering public services more efficiently and effectively.

The author illustrates how the concept would work in practice. The City of Manchester could become a ‘super-sized’ city bringing in Tameside, Trafford, Salford and Stockport. There could also be a South Lancashire ‘mill town’ grouping of Oldham, Rochdale, Bury, Wigan and Bolton. These two new groupings would constitute authorities on a scale to be strategic.

The pamphlet is published by The New Local Government Network and is available from info@nlgn.org.uk.  11.25 pounds.