The nation has spoken. We will be leaving the European Union and the prime minister has already announced he will step down. As a committed ‘remain’ voter, I’m hugely disappointed – but that’s democracy for you.
So what next for local government? With the Treasury tied up on a plan for life after Brexit, and no guarantee of a local government supporter in Number 10 after September, there is a very real chance the whole agenda for the sector could shift – but this must not be allowed to derail devolution.
The decentralisation agenda has come so far in providing local places with the tools to build economic growth – this will be even more vital as the private sector reconsiders its position in the UK under Brexit. As we shift to system of business rate funding for local government, stabilising the economy has got to be the first priority.
As European funds for councils dry up, local government must get its fair share of the money previously sent to Brussels. There may be votes in ploughing more cash solely into the NHS, but the government must not be tempted to throw good money after bad into a system of public services which prop up crisis management instead of addressing the root causes of the expense.
And after a dirty campaign, local government will be at the heart of rebuilding community cohesion in a country, which has faced a frenzy of xenophobia for political gain.
Britain is no longer an empire, we are a small island in an increasingly global world. The mantra ‘think global, act local’ has never been so apt.