LGiU the council of 2043: Andy Sawford MP

30birthdayTo mark the LGiU’s 30th anniversary we invited 30 contributors to gaze in to a crystal ball and tell us how councils will be different in 2043.

Andy Sawford MP, Shadow Local Government Minister and former LGiU CEO predicts that by 2043 the voice of local democracy and local communities will be stronger and louder.

Congratulations to the LGIU on your 30th Anniversary. I am very proud to have been part of your past and hope to work with you towards a bright future for the LGIU and for local government.

The world is changing rapidly and councils will be at the forefront of shaping how our communities meet the challenges and look for the opportunities. As globalisation continues and the world becomes more inter-connected, our councils will forge new partnerships with towns and cities. Where today our partnerships, such as LEPs, are shaped with near neighbours, in thirty year’s time councils will have forged stronger links for our economies, skills, energy needs, and health and wellbeing. With these relationships will come more political power across the world with the voice of local communities and local democracy heard more loudly.

Demographics will be a powerful driver of change. Councils need to meet the needs of people who are living longer and more active lives. Councils must shape communities where people can live, work and access services in a more flexible way. One example is through a greater emphasis on lifetime housing.

Technology will continue to change what we do and how we do it. People who provide council services will increasingly be out in communities rather than at a desk. Handheld devices are already changing this, but new wearable technology will create more opportunity. Technology will help us meet other challenges too, such as community energy needs.

Our climate is predicted to continue to change and this will impact on everything from transport networks to agriculture and leisure. Councils must continue to think ahead as they plan new developments and work to ensure community resilience.

Democracy will become much noisier and vibrant I hope, with councils engaging communities in new ways, both by becoming more representative and by using opportunities such as social media. People of all ages will expect to be kept informed and to participate in their councils, local businesses and community groups, and wider civil society. Councils will need to adapt formal decision making processes into much more participative democracy.

Funding will be more connected, so that councils are working more effectively across local and national government, and with business and charities, to make the public pound go further. Total Place ideas, where councils are able to lead on local public spending by bringing together many budgets and combining services, will be the reality, and with it councils will have become more independent of central government.

30 years will pass in the blink of an eye and the only thing we know for certain is that the future will bring surprises. The LGiU’s role will be more important as we go forward, keeping councils informed, generating and sharing ideas, and championing local government. Happy Anniversary and good luck!

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