By Tim Palmer and Glyn GaskarthThe current two-tier structure of local government in shire counties is under pressure. Even though the recent Local Government White Paper took a cautious line on a move to unitary councils, the pressures on councils to find more efficient ways of working will be intense. This report makes recommendations for change.
The authors propose an alternative ‘federal’ or bottom-up county unitary, with power flowing upwards from local committees. The strategic centre, led by a county committee, would carry out those tasks that the local committees delegated up. A blocking majority of local committees could overturn decisions taken at the strategic level. Members would be elected for smaller divisions of around 2,000 voters, similar in size to current district wards. This would avoid the reduction in local democratic representation inherent in other models. There would be one council, replacing the current public confusion over functions, and a unified officer structure under a chief executive.
Published by Policy Exchange Limited. ISBN 0-9551909-9-1. www.policyexchange.org.uk