Calling in the bridge-builders

Effective co-operation between central and local government relies as much on people acting as ‘bridge-builders’ to navigate the differences in approach as it is does on any hard skills writes John Copps.

With COVID-19, public servants have the tough job of trying to control an unseen, unpredictable enemy. In doing so, it has exposed a simple truth: that central and local government are reliant on each other to get things done.

At the start of the pandemic, there was a broad acceptance that top-down national policy, applied to all parts of the country, was the right way to address the challenges we faced. But following the early days of the pandemic, the debate about the roles and effectiveness of central and local government in delivering the on-the-ground response became more fraught.

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