To 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.
Jonathan Carr-West, Chief Executive of LGiU, reflects on the key themes and ideas to emerge from this body of work as we look to the council of 2043.
“Prediction is very difficult” said the physicist Nils Bohr, “especially when it’s about the future.” Whenever we make forecasts about the future we expose ourselves to error. Yet if we do not think about what might happen in the future we drastically curtail our ability to shape it. So we’re hugely grateful to the contributors to this collection who have been brave enough to venture a view on how local government might look a full thirty years from now.
The richness and variety of these contributions resist easy summary, but some key themes come through. There’s a broad consensus that local government must continue to reconcile diminishing resource with a growing set of complex challenges: how to reset local economies, how to care for an ageing population, how to provide young people with the skills they need and decent homes to live in, how to build resilient, supportive communities and many more.
There are different views about whether these challenges will be best met by much larger councils or much more local ones. And there is perhaps more hope than expectation about a radical transfer of power away from Whitehall and Westminster.
At LGiU we believe that’s a prize worth fighting for because the challenges we face are too complex and too particular to be solved by broad national solutions. Instead we must draw on the creativity and civic energy of local communities and we must think differently about our roles as citizens, seeing ourselves not simply as consumers of public services but as genuine partners in them.
Sadly, we do not have thirty years to plan this transformation. The challenge is now. The insights collected here do not constitute a plan or a road map, but we hope they will provide some points of inspiration from which to start.