This accessible text summarizes and explains the structure of British local government, focusing on key changes introduced during the Thatcher/Major years and initiatives implemented by the current Labour administration. While offering a detailed discussion of these policies, the book examines how local government has sought to respond in a proactive way to a range of important social, political and economic changes. Readers are introduced to local government as a lively and complex site of political engagement. British local government is set in a wider political, social and theoretical context. Throughout, the authors argue that the attempt by the Thatcher and Major administrations of 1979--97 to push local government into the role of merely administrating centrally defined policies was largely short--circuited. While outlining and explaining these changes and their effects, the authors argue that far from being defenceless victims of central government, local authorities devised numerous strategies to protect their independent policy--making role.
The authors go on to examine the proposals for change introduced by the Labour government and assess their implications for local government in the twenty--first century. This book will be essential reading for lecturers and students of local government, politics, public policy and urban policy, as well as practitioners.