Abstracts: August 18th, 2008

This collection of essays from the New Local Government Network is edited by Iain Roxburgh. The essays follow from a seminar of academics working in the field of governance. The writers overwhelmingly support the view that the balance in governance between the centre and the locality is wrong and something fundamental needs to be done about it.

A key issue that needs to be addressed is citizen involvement and voter turnout. A decline in personal contact is seen as a major factor in people feeling disconnected from their council and the decision making process.

An essay on the style and quality of leadership needed at local level argues for a facilitative style that constitutes a different way of exercising power and influence, which is more likely to be evident in mayoral authorities. Though Mayors are not “all powerful”, they are not so prone to be enfeebled as council leaders can be.

Another essay looks at the way in which devolution has turned into delegation. One effect has been to increase the leadership status and importance of the Chief Executive, since local authorities have been judged on their CPA scores and predominantly managerial criteria, rather than on the effectiveness of their policies in addressing the issues in their areas and their “place shaping”.

The publication is available from NLGN. http://nlgn.co.uk