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    The prevention agenda in Scotland is a worthy initiative, but the tensions inherent in its execution may yet undermine it

The prevention agenda in Scotland is a worthy initiative, but the tensions inherent in its execution may yet undermine it

The Scottish government is taking preventative spending seriously and is giving localities the resources and power to design and implement prevention programmes. Emily St Denny writes that this initiative recasts local autonomy as the capacity to express local strengths and identity, and to develop responses to local needs. However, the disparity across locales, compounded by the vagueness ‘prevention’, may yet undermine the […]

If the localism agenda is to fulfil its potential, councils need the power of the purse

The specifics of the Coalition Government’s Localism Act, passed to much fanfare almost exactly two years ago, were controversial and yet they did speak to a political consensus about the desirability of moving towards greater autonomy for local government. Writing about the publication of a new IPPR report, Sarah Armitage concludes that if the localism agenda is to fulfil its transformative potential […]

This defence of motorists looks suspiciously like an attack on local government

The government is suggesting that councils had implemented inappropriate parking charges that undermined the vitality of high streets, flying in the face of the available evidence. Richard Berry argues that regardless of the party in government, Whitehall has long had a propensity to blame local authorities for wider policy failures. This trend appears now to have intensified. While some motorists might be annoyed […]

Councils are almost powerless to prevent the spread of betting shops on local high streets

The London Borough of Newham recently failed in its attempt to block a new betting shop from opening. Richard Berry looks at the charges against betting shops, particularly the strongest of these objections and the one that is least used by detractors; that betting shop clusters have a negative impact on local economies. The simplest and best solution is to give local authorities […]

The Big Lunch: Creating a sense of community across the fragmenting neighbourhoods of Britain

Evidence suggests that social capital is important for people’s wellbeing. However, creating social capital in communities, especially in today’s economic climate, can be a challenge. The Big Lunch was created to provide a little “human warmth” through community meals that would be enjoyable social occasions and which also serve a more serious purpose of bringing neighbours together, creating new relationships and […]

Politicians often claim commitment to decentralising the state, but once in government they are unwilling to relinquish their own power

The nature of the British political system is such that Westminster is a bastion of concentrated power. Martin Smith, Dave Richards and Patrick Diamond argue that whilst politicians may actually call for more localism, they are loath to give up their own power. Any government’s commitment to localism and devolution is undermined where there is no willingness to entertain a new vision of British […]

The central government continues to believe that it, and not elected local authorities, knows best

George Jones and John Stewart describe the considerable freedom for action and initiatives by local authorities up to the Second World War. Central controls then began to escalate, culminating in the 1980s when their right to determine their own levels of expenditure when financed by their own taxation was ended. This trend has since continued. The 2011 Localism Act gives central government over one […]

We do not know if voluntarist and localised bodies can realistically compete with the financial might of multi-national private firms and existing public agencies

In recent years British Conservatism has sought to elaborate its own understanding of social justice as part of a broader project to ‘de-toxify’ its public image. Ben Williams argues that this has had important ramifications for the Conservative social policy agenda, leading to a spirited attempt to revive the values of voluntarism and its functionality as  an alternative source of public […]