Headlines: October 10th, 2002

The New Local Government Network, an independent think-tank, is calling on the Government to take “a leap of faith” in its moves to decentralise power to local authorities in the UK and to establish a culture of local and regional democracy. In a new pamphlet Dan Corry and Professor Gerry Stoker welcome a recent shift in Government thinking that has seen ‘command and control’ techniques replaced by ‘steering centralism’, but argue that the process needs to go further and embrace a “genuine new localism”:The call for new localism is based on a need to spread capacity, responsibility and accountability more widely to improve the system of government. The authors contend that Central government should take its share of the burden but it should not try to carry it all. They see a combination of managerial and political decentralization as the best way forward.

In a foreword to the pamphlet Ed Balls, Chief Economic Advisor to the Treasury, sets out his view that it is not possible to run economic policy or deliver strong public services using the old, top-down, one-size fits all solutions, because today’s world is so complex. . He describes other weaknesses of centralization in terms of sapping morale at local level, destroying innovation and experimentation and failing to allow different policy areas to join up.