Make the right choices locally

By Dr Jane Martin | 25 February 2016
  • Dr Jane Martin

The excitement about devolution to local government continues apace. Understandably much of the focus is on governance: shadow boards, strategic partnerships, joint commissioning, membership, voting, structure charts. The machinery is in overdrive. It comes in the best interests of the public, be it better value for public money, better integrated services better outcomes for local people. Or in civil service speak: ‘improved exercise of statutory functions through the establishment of restructured local authorities’.

In the midst of all this excitement I want to ask what will the public make of it? Local authority officers have a very good track record of engaging local communities, enabling the voice of local people and responding to their concerns. While the direction of travel in recent years has been towards local community decision-making and delivery I do wonder whether the benefits of greater devolution from central to local government might actually result in greater centralisation at the local level. And if so, I ask myself how the new arrangements will maintain the community links we know are so important.

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