To say that it has been a turbulent time in politics is a bit of an understatement. It’s perhaps an understatement, too that local government has kept delivering and continues to examine respond to new challenges with competence and consistency.
But that is not enough. The devolution agenda has given local government a renewed appetite for leading broader community aspirations and providing a platform for wider public service innovation.
In a post-Brexit world the future of local government is both more challenging but also potentially more exciting. It can be argued that the Leave vote was partly a desire to give remote powers a kicking – as much in Westminster as Brussels. Perhaps the answer to some of this dissatisfaction is to bring power closer to the people and local government is the best forum we have for both more responsive representation and more participative democracy.
Throughout the summer we published a follow-up to Municipal Futures, a series of essays we published in May 2014. In that publication we looked at the future of local government and called for a more powerful, more responsive, more networked and more devolved local government. We’ve seen some of our agenda realised.
Future Local delved deeper into some of these themes, but also looked at the future of an even more independent local government with clear powers, clear vision and a clear role in driving prosperity and ambition locally. Some of the areas we cover are:
- Sovereignty: A look back at pre-war local government to make the case for a more muscular municipalism.
- Creative destruction: The need for a better narrative about democratic renewal in our devolution plans.
- A written constitution: The need for a constitutional settlement in a post-European age which establishes clear and un-erodable powers for local government.
- The financial future of local government, including a more solid fiscal base and new forms of taxation.
- Local leadership: The potential for more impressive and diverse local leadership in a devolved system and the support these leaders will need.
- At the centre of local economic life: A more aggressive and innovative role for local government in promoting local growth.
- Global participation and leadership of British local authorities.
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