Councillor Tony Jackson, Leader of East Herts Council, looks to a future of locally raised finance and greater democratic engagement.
In 2043 unified public service will be at the heart of local authorities’ and local councillors’ responsibilities to a far great degree than today.
Co-ordination of public service delivery could be through ‘public service boards’ accountable to the directly-elected representatives. This should genuinely strengthen local democracy, decision making and influence.
Greater local freedom will be necessary to secure capital finance to fund longer-term projects, and for a range of local options to raise revenue finance to support service delivery, e.g. direct residential and business taxation and local indirect taxes such as sales and tourism taxes.
This presupposes that central government influence over local service delivery decisions is restricted, if necessary through legislation.
Administrative areas will need to be larger than a typical district but smaller than a county in order to ensure there is still a close connection to the democratically elected representatives within a community. Areas of perhaps 300,000-400,000 population with somewhere around 40-50 democratic representatives could be typical.
The strengthening of local authorities’ decision making powers and their accountability to communities for a wider range of public services will inevitably mean that senior democratic representatives will need to be accepted as undertaking a full-time role which is remunerated accordingly.
So in 2043 there could be greater independence for local authorities to raise finance, assume responsibility for public service delivery and genuinely shape their communities resulting in more democratic engagement by residents and businesses.