Only a Georgian Devolution Revolution, but maybe Catherine wasn’t completely wrong

Chris Game

If, like Catherine Staite, you’re Director of an organisation and you risk entitling even an ironic blog: “Oh dear, … I’m wrong again!”, you must at least secretly hope that your underlings will be tripping over themselves to assure you that of course you’re not, either before or now.

If so, two months must seem a disconcertingly long wait, but my personal excuse is that I was waiting for a suitable peg on which to hang my grovel. Let us give thanks, then, for last week’s Conservative Party conference. Even before Chancellor George Osborne’s rabbit-out-of-hat business rates announcement, it had amply validated Catherine’s concern about the party political primacy of the Government’s whole devolution policy. And its timing also offered a useful opportunity for an update on devolution developments since my own last blog on the topic some of which, I wondered, might have prompted her to modify her earlier pessimism.

Recapping briefly: Catherine’s blog was about how neither of the two key opportunities for local government that she hoped for from the Government’s Devolution/Combined Authority agenda – the development of a sufficiently sizable scale of operation to enable the delivery of ‘big ticket change’ (her business jargon, I’m afraid), and “to improve collaboration by drawing in reluctant partners” – looked, at least in late July, like being significantly realised.  Her vision of “a range of CAs operating at different scales and across varied geographies, receiving different devolution deals”, she felt, was proving to be self-delusion.

Her reasons included: George Osborne’s fixation with his Northern Powerhouse and metro mayors, and relative unconcern with counties and sub-regions; central government’s lack of either commitment or capacity to deliver effective devolution deals on any scale; and the sheer difficulty facing diverse and traditionally self-sufficient local authorities trying to develop convincing collaborative devolution bids within a ludicrously short time-frame.

The Treasury’s early September deadline was tough. Moreover, dictated by November’s Spending Review, it seemed to reinforce Labour sceptics’ suspicions of the Government’s whole strategy being more about the devolution of cuts than of powers, or, in the neat Newcastle version, passing the buck without the bucks. It was noticeable, however, that even some of those issuing such warnings, like Oldham Council leader Jim McMahon, were equally insistent that councils should still take “every bit of power from the Tories that we can. We have a responsibility to. It is our duty.”

For their part, ministers, or their civil servants, spent pre-conference week frantically negotiating, in order to maximize the political capital involved in such devolution giveaways by announcing at least one big one at the ideally located Manchester event. Cornwall’s (non-mayoral) settlement, rightly headline-making back in July, was politically now history, and it seemed the North East were being groomed as conference darlings. But then Sheffield City Region came up fast on the inside and breasted the tape on the Friday, before conference delegates had even convened.

Last year, the four South Yorkshire met boroughs comprising the CA were openly opposed to an elected mayor – and openly disappointed with the consequential paucity of their December ‘devo-lite’ deal.  Since then, though, the addition of five Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire districts as non-constituent members, the General Election outcome, and the Cities & Local Government Devolution Bill had changed minds. Having accepted an elected mayor as the non-negotiable price of a worthwhile devolution deal, the region is for the moment head of the Manchester-chasing pack.

If the Bill weren’t sufficient confirmation that an elected mayor is indeed the price, regardless of anything electors themselves might have to say, this new agreement is peppered with references to the functions for which “the directly elected Mayor of the Sheffield City Region Combined Authority” will be responsible, and of course accountable. These include strategic planning and the region’s transport budget – with the delivery of a ‘smart ticketing’ service – while at CA level council leaders will get access to funding of £30 million a year for 30 years to boost local growth and invest in local manufacturing and innovation. From what I could tell, the Sheffield leaders got at least close to their bid document ‘offer’, which brings me to the second part of this blog.

Given the tight deadline and the known difficulty some aspiring CAs faced even agreeing their full memberships, the total of 38 “landmark devolution bids” seemed to impress others as well as, very obviously, the Government itself.  The 38 included three from Scotland, one from Wales, and some constituting ‘expressions of interest’, rather than definite bids or, as DCLG Permanent Secretary Melanie Dawes put it, “offers that cannot be refused”. Several were manifestly eleventh-hour concoctions and/or overlapping, including no fewer than five from Yorkshire.  So, while the modesty was disarming, it was hardly news when Grant Thornton’s timely survey found “around 1 in 5” of their interviewed local government leaders conceding that their devolution proposals were “fairly” or “very weak” (p.41). Even so, in this age of adjectival inflation, it seems all 38 must be referred to, irrespective of rationale or content, as ‘landmark’ proposals (LPs), just as Manchester’s deals are always ‘ground-breaking’, and all working class electors patronised as ‘hard-working families’.

These LPs were not public documents, and it was up to CAs themselves to release whatever details they wished. Any comprehensive comparison, therefore, has been impossible. Nevertheless, some attempted to do the best they could, perhaps most notably the Local Government Chroniclewhose analysis of 26 of the relatively more detailed English bids is summarized here in slightly amended and more easily comparable form.

CA devolution bids (2) (1)

Bid proposals were coded into 18 policy areas, including ‘Fiscal powers’, plus the expressed readiness to consider an elected mayor. This latter was obviously unnecessary for Greater London and Greater Manchester, vital for the other metropolitan/city regional CAs – the more so after Osborne’s announcement that they alone will be able to raise business rates and levy a dedicated infrastructure tax – but interesting too in the bids involving counties.

Catherine referred somewhat sceptically to what Treasury officials reportedly envisaged as an at least three-county ‘East Midlands Powerhouse’. In the end, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire agreed to submit a joint 19-authority D2N2 bid based on their two-county LEP, and there is talk, though not in the bid document itself, of an elected CA mayor.  However, Leicestershire stuck with its single-county, but also LEP-based, bid,  and, perhaps predictably, Leicester City mayor, Sir Peter Soulsby, has advised against another for the CA.

Whether these and the other county- and county/unitary-based bids will be judged to have, in Catherine’s phrase, “ticked all the boxes”, or at least a sufficient number of them, remains to be seen. Both East Midlands documents, and particularly the former, seem to me to constitute substantial and substantiated ‘offers’, the more persuasive in their having clearly emanated from directly relevant LEP and SEP (Strategic Economic Plan, not Someone Else’s Problem) experience and the partnership working involved, and the same could reasonably be expected of other such bids.

Moreover, even if boxes do remain unticked – and here I think Catherine may have been wrong – the signs are that it’s NOT “too late now”, particularly for these acknowledgedly more difficult multi- and cross-county arrangements.

Anyway, it’s the number, composition and comprehensiveness of some of these county- and county/unitary-based bids that I thought might possibly have prompted Catherine to wonder if she hadn’t slightly rushed to judgement and written off her hopes over-hastily. So I tried categorizing the 28 English non-city region bids (all those on the DCLG list, including Cornwall, not just those in the LGC list). It was obviously based in some cases on minimal knowledge and arbitrary judgements – particularly where whole-county LEPs are involved – but it provided a very rough statistical confirmation of what Catherine feared and what in the circumstances was only to be expected: that the bulk and probably a majority of these non-metropolitan bids – 15 of the 28, by my reckoning – would come from single counties.

The explanations will vary, but many will centre on the sheer shortage of time. Some took seriously ministers’ message about 5 September being the deadline for councils wanting to develop plans based on an existing or fairly solidly agreed Combined Authority with an elected mayor. Most counties, even more than most urban authorities, don’t want mayors, so why rush? But then over the summer the ministerial line changed to one of trying to drum up as many bids, or even expressions of interest, as possible – too late, though, for most counties, even if they’d wished, to respond other than individually.

Given a more generous time frame, and taking account of reported earlier discussions, it seems likely that at least some of, say, Norfolk and Suffolk, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire, Worcestershire and Herefordshire, Wiltshire (and Swindon), might have followed the D2N2 route and produced the joint, rather than individual authority, bids that the Treasury apparently favours. Which suggests that some may yet do so, and personally I’m particularly hoping the Oxon/Bucks/Northants combo progresses beyond its ‘England’s Economic Heartland’ transport alliance, thereby enabling me to note their questionable grasp of anatomy, with Bucks certainly appearing considerably closer to Gall-bladder-land.

Other existing multi-county bids, in addition to D2N2, include Surrey, West and East Sussex and Heart of the South West (aka Devon and Somerset), plus four that I categorized as primarily LEP-based: Cheshire and Warrington, the North East, Tees Valley, and West of England.

This left me with a motley group of 6, comprising Swindon, which may at some point resolve its ‘misunderstanding’ with LEP partners Wiltshire, Telford & Wrekin, which has since applied to become a non-constituent member of the West Midlands CA, and the shambles of Yorkshire, which would take a substantial blog on its own.

This blog, already over-long, I’ll bring to a close with two very brief conclusions. One, to date, both the Chancellor’s business rate plans and his devolution deals balance too calculatedly their freedoms and checks to constitute, outside the heady excitement of a party conference, a ‘Devolution Revolution’. Two, given what we know of local government’s initial positive response to the Government’s devo agenda and that the door seems definitely still open, I’d suggest Catherine’s early optimism has certainly not yet proved entirely misplaced.

Chris Game - pic

Chris Game is a Visiting Lecturer at INLOGOV interested in the politics of local government; local elections, electoral reform and other electoral behaviour; party politics; political leadership and management; member-officer relations; central-local relations; use of consumer and opinion research in local government; the modernisation agenda and the implementation of executive local government.

The emergence of city regions

Jon Bloomfield

The structures of sub-national government in the UK are about to undergo major change not just in Scotland but across the major conurbations. As George Osborne has said “In a modern, knowledge-based economy city size matters like never before.”

This is not an isolated UK view. I have recently undertaken a study on metropolitan governance for the Council of Europe. The trend is clear across the developed world. Increasingly, the new models of economic growth look for clusters of activity and interactive networks, which combined with longer distance commuting is helping to reconfigure economic activity towards larger conglomerations.

Across Europe, there are more than one hundred and thirty conurbations that fall into this category. In total, including Turkey, more than 200 million people live in these metropolitan regions accounting for more than one third of the overall population.

Economic development, transportation and spatial planning are the defining issues of metropolitan governance. These are the core themes that feature most commonly in the activities of metropolitan regions, especially given their need to compete on an increasingly pan-European and global scale. In order to manage these developments new types of supra-urban government organisation have begun to emerge, so that political boundaries are able to reflect a changing economic and social geography.

Metropolitan governance has emerged in an ad hoc fashion across Europe. However, in essence we can discern three basic models:

  • Type 1, the strong model, where elected metropolitan authorities are entrusted with specific competences to address a range of issues, usually with their own executive organisations and significant budgets. This is common in the larger French cities – Lyon, Lille, Toulouse; major Turkish cities; Madrid and Barcelona; and in the UK London.
  • Type 2, the combined model, which creates joint metropolitan bodies (combined authorities) with formalised agreements entrusted with broader local and strategic functions and powers, run by representative drawn from various levels of government (indirectly elected or appointed) usually avoiding new government layers. Greater Manchester is the best UK example.
  • Type 3, the soft model, which offers cooperation and collaboration on a voluntary basis when common support is required. The report cites examples in Sweden, Germany, Austria and some emerging trends in East European cities.

In addition, given that commuting lies at the heart of the emergence of metropolitan regions, many conurbations do not have any overarching metropolitan governance structures but rather have a stand-alone, sectoral transport authority.

The report indicates that over time as the sphere of metropolitan governance becomes established, the demand for these areas to be able to raise their own revenues will grow. It also suggests that as good practice central government should set both the economic criteria and framework for accountability for a city region but should neither determine its geographical shape nor its political structures. This needs to be an organic development decided and agreed by the local partners. This is a major bone of contention in the UK, where central government wants to impose elected mayors on areas regardless of local wishes. At the same time the report is very clear that there needs to be a clear division of tasks and responsibilities between all the public authorities within the metropolitan region, so that they and citizens understand clearly who is responsible for what task

Jon Bloomfield is an expert on EU funding, European and EU issues of regional and local government who carries out research in the EU and contributes to post-graduate programme.

The future is Intercommunality – yes, but with whom?

Chris Game

Rom com/date movies aren’t really my thing, so my excuse for watching the recent Words and Pictures was that I was a captive plane passenger – and that the ever-watchable Juliette Binoche was playing a rheumatoid arthritic abstract painter and prep school art teacher. The title refers to the silly challenge she charily accepts from alcoholic poet turned plagiarising English teacher, Clive Owen, to ‘prove’ whether Words or Pictures are more meaningful.

One of the Owen character’s numerous obnoxious ways of irritating colleagues is with his show-off polysyllable game: I’ll give you a five-syllable word, you give me one of six syllables, etc. Binoche, at least initially, won’t play, which, while entirely understandable, I personally found slightly disappointing, as I could SO have helped her.

For starters, I know that the seven-syllable word most frequently used conversationally was calculated (don’t ask!) to be, not homosexuality, which was one of the commoner guesses, but telecommunication – followed pleasingly by the one that describes INLOGOV: interdisciplinary. In the near future, though, it will surely be intercommunality – at least in local government conversations, most of which currently seem focused on Combined Authorities (CAs).

At present, we have just five: Greater Manchester, very much first off the blocks in 2010/11, followed earlier this year by West Yorkshire, Liverpool and Sheffield City Regions, and the North-East. But over the past fortnight alone, quite apart from the general ‘Please sir, can we have some of whatever Scotland’s getting’ pleas, we’ve had almost daily reports of CA discussions – among five Tees Valley councils, all 14 in Lancashire, some or many in Hampshire, six in West London, and four (or maybe five, six, or more) in the West Midlands, all seeking, through the formation of CAs, to grab some of the devolution goodies that Greater Manchester negotiated with George Osborne in exchange for a directly elected metro-mayor.

Of course, only in the UK could it possibly be deemed nationally newsworthy that a number of contiguous local authorities were thinking of working together in the interests of more efficient service delivery. I’m no specialist, but even I recall back in 2007 a whole book of country case studies of Inter-Municipal Co-operation in Europe (ed. by Hulst & van Montfort), demonstrating what a widespread phenomenon it had become in much, if not most, of Europe.

One reason I recall it is that it appeared around the same time as an article by Josie Kelly (Aston U) entitled ‘The Curious Absence of Inter-municipal Co-operation in England’ – a curiosity, I felt, that evaporated quite quickly, once you considered surely the single most basic explanation: namely, the structure and sheer scale of our local government.

With that in mind, let me start this brief backstory with a few figures on scale. England’s population is 54 million, and we have 326 unitary or lower-tier district authorities, with an average population of 165,000. The equivalents in France, population 66 million, are 36,700 lower-tier communes, average population 1,800.

Most communes date back to the 1789 Revolution, and the French are very attached to them – voting for their councillors and mayors in roughly twice the numbers we do. Successive Presidents tell them this ‘millefeuille’ structure of micro-communes is outdated, inefficient and must be reformed, but French citizens care more than us and they resist. No enforced mergers, humongous ‘local’ authorities, arbitrary boundary lines on maps, and meaningless council names for them.

So, French governments were forced to develop a compromise: intercommunal cooperation. By a mix of threats and incentives, communes were persuaded to group themselves into some 2,500 cooperative communities of varying shapes and sizes.

Biggest, most integrated, and with most powers and fiscal autonomy, are 16 urban communities (communautés urbaines) for the largest metropolitan areas. Smaller urban areas have communautés d’agglomération, and rural areas, without an urban core of 15,000 residents, have communautés de communes, which account for the great majority of the total.

With its ultra-local communal structure, France’s network of inter-municipal co-operation is one of Europe’s most extensive. But Spain has its mancomunidades (municipal associations), Italy its Unioni di Comuni (municipal unions), Germany Zweckverbände, and so on. As in so many things European, it is we who are the real exceptions. England’s enormous and largely self-sufficient local authorities, and their minimal responsibility for what in many countries are still public utilities, mean that our insularity has extended to a near absence of formal inter-municipal co-operation.

But the future, we’re told, will be different. The future is partnership working in general, and Combined Authority intercommunality in particular – which is fine, unless you happen to live, as I do, in Birmingham. First, you find you’ve missed out on the possibility of living in a regional Powerhouse, like a good chunk of ‘the North’ apparently will be. And second, it’s far from clear exactly who, when the music stops, we’ll be communing with.

Our problem, as ever, is Manchester. I had occasion last year to puncture its pretensions to be ‘Britain’s second city’ but now, it seems, it’s become English government’s José Mourinho, the special one. Worse, like Chelsea’s manager, it not only has a powerful and supportive backer, but is also pretty smart itself.

That smartness was seen in the city council’s being first to utilise Labour’s 2009 Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act by orchestrating the creation of a Greater Manchester Combined Authority. The Act’s chief purpose was to set up local authority leaders’ boards to replace the abolished Regional Chambers, but it also provided for the creation of combined authorities covering multiple, contiguous local authority areas. In fact, the GMCA recreated the Thatcher-abolished 10-borough Metropolitan Council, by pooling newly devolved powers on public transport, skills, housing, regeneration, waste management, carbon neutrality and planning permission.

Though conceived under Labour, the GMCA’s establishment dates from 2011 and, perhaps surprisingly for an invariably Labour-dominated body, its principal backers have been Coalition ministers and most notably northern MP and Chancellor, George Osborne. Manchester especially has consistently opposed elected mayors, the Government’s proclaimed condition for further devolution. Nevertheless, it was the GMCA’s 2012 City Deal that included a ground-breaking ‘earn back’ tax provision, enabling it to recoup annually from government up to £30 million from increased business rates for reinvestment in a revolving infrastructure fund.

None of the other seven 2012 City Deals – even Liverpool’s, announced on the very day the city council took the decision itself to have an elected mayor – were as expansive, and the reason seemed inescapable. Though called City Deals, ministers had to negotiate any regional dimension they involved, not with a statutorily based, politically led, service-delivering CA, but with Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) – voluntary, business-led, minimally resourced alliances of councils and businesses that help coordinate local economic development. More than talking shops, but not serious intercommunality.

You didn’t need a weatherman to know the wind direction. City-based LEPs, particularly where wholly or largely coterminous with a former metropolitan county, began negotiating for CAs, and, as noted above, there are now four more, leaving the West Midlands as the only ex-met county without one. Meanwhile, both major parties claim to see CAs, rather than ever larger merged councils, as the best vehicles to implement their vague, fluctuating, but still important devolution plans. For the present, though, the dealer’s chair is still occupied by George Osborne – yes, this is definitely Treasury, not DCLG, stuff – and first bidder for the next wave of devolution deals was once again Greater Manchester.

This time a price tag came with the Chancellor’s ‘Northern Powerhouse’ deal – a required and reluctantly agreed directly elected metropolitan mayor. The £1 billion of devolved funding and services s/he will share with the CA, while unremarkable in many EU countries, constitutes a big deal here, and everyone else desperately wants one too. The problem is that not everyone has Greater Manchester’s nicely polycentric coherence – seven of its nine surrounding boroughs sharing borders with the core city; or its unambiguous identity, its established record of intercommunal cooperation, and, above all, its undisputed name.

Demonstrably, the West Midlands doesn’t, which is why the recent stream of feverish announcements from local council leaders has seemed half-baked, unconvincing, and – who knows? – even potentially self-defeating. First, a West Midlands CA of Birmingham and the four Black Country boroughs (Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall, Wolverhampton – all Labour), with Coventry (Labour) an unsigned probable, but Solihull (Conservative, and Coventry’s only contiguous borough) an unsigned reluctant, which raises questions at the very least about an integrated transport policy.

Then, there are the Worcestershire and Staffordshire districts in the Birmingham/Solihull LEP and those in Coventry/Warwickshire LEP – apparently, they’re maybes or haven’t-yet-been-askeds. An elected mayor, twice rejected by Birmingham, is an unmentionable, and as for the name – the obvious but toxic Greater Birmingham? West Midlands? Birmingham City Region? Mercia?? Nobody is keener than I on the devolution of significant powers and fiscal discretions to our cities and city regions, but even I would take some convincing about somewhere that couldn’t make up its collective mind on its area, composition, name or form of governance.

gameChris Game is a Visiting Lecturer at INLOGOV interested in the politics of local government; local elections, electoral reform and other electoral behaviour; party politics; political leadership and management; member-officer relations; central-local relations; use of consumer and opinion research in local government; the modernisation agenda and the implementation of executive local government.

George Osborne’s budget surplus: paid for by local government

Chris Game

In his party conference speech on Monday, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announced that a Conservative Government would seek, by the end of the 2015-20 Parliament, to have eliminated completely the roughly £120 billion national deficit and be running a budget surplus. It would do so, moreover, without raising taxes or cutting capital spending. The audience and most of the business world applauded, naturally, while Labour spokespersons seemed at least temporarily stunned.  The best immediate response they could manage was that the Chancellor’s record for meeting his past deficit-elimination targets was pretty flaky, so why should this one be any different.

In fairness, they had cause to be taken aback. The last time a government managed what is sometimes termed an absolute budget surplus – meaning it generated more revenues, including tax yields, than it spent – was in 2001, and it’s only happened about seven times in the past half-century. Not as rare, then, as a Brit winning Wimbledon or the Tour de France, but more so than England winning the Ashes (10, if you were wondering), and excuse, surely, for another spasm of flag-waving and nationalistic celebration?

Possibly, though probably not for most of those in or reliant upon local government, for whom it’s hard to know which scenario would be more painful: the achievement of a surplus by 2020, or being forced to aim for one and not achieving it.

The problem is that this budget surplus isn’t quite the kind of target that Local Government Association Chair, Sir Merrick Cockell, suggested subsequently at a Localis conference fringe event.  He observed that a surplus could be arrived at by one of two ways – either by government planning for the public finances to go into the black following spending reductions, or through growth in the economy increasing revenues.

Technically, of course, Sir Merrick’s right. But, wearing his LGA hat, he must know that a budget surplus by 2020 is not going to be achieved under a Conservative or Conservative-led Government either by some hitherto undreamt of explosion of economic growth, or by two lines on a graph, expenditure and revenue, each moving chummily towards the other and eventually converging.  He must know, because he’ll have seen the projections, that in this instance one line, revenue, stays unhelpfully almost horizontal throughout virtually the whole of the relevant  period, leaving the expenditure line to do all the converging on its own.


The graph is drawn from projections published this July by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), to which local government followers of LSE’s Professor Tony Travers are regularly commended, most recently in his article in this week’s Public Finance. More specifically, the projections are from the supplementary data published alongside the OBR’s annual Fiscal Sustainability Report, of which this summer’s was the third.


Total Managed Expenditure (TME) covers all spending by central government, local authorities and public enterprises: both the directly controllable Departmental Expenditure Limits (DEL) – the budgets set for departments, Non-Departmental Public Bodies and local authorities in the three-yearly Spending Reviews – and the frustratingly uncontrollable Annually Managed Expenditure (AME) – departmental spending that can’t reasonably be restricted to three-yearly cycles (mainly social security benefits, tax credits and public sector pensions) plus debt interest. Public Sector Current Receipts (PSCRs) are largely taxes and National Insurance Contributions.

There are two potentially deceptive features of the graph as I’ve set it out: the conflated vertical axis, and the 2010-11 starting date. Between them, they have the effect of emphasising the single-year spending blip in 2013-14 and de-emphasising the remarkable nature of the trend.

The historic trend of public spending is, if I correctly recall my Latin, prorsum et sursum, onwards and upwards. Between 1956-57, the year I went to the secondary school in which I learned that Latin, and 2009-10 there was an average growth of 3.2% a year; from 2000-01 an average of 4.7%.  We’re now in an 8-year period in which it’s projected to fall by an average of 0.3% a year, in the middle of which a small upward AME lurch is but a proverbial pimple.

Sharp-eyed readers will have detected by now that, rather disappointingly after all that earlier talk of convergence, the two main lines on the graph don’t in fact converge – in 2020 or indeed at any subsequent date. The gap – the public sector net borrowing requirement – has certainly lessened, from 9.9% of GDP in 2010-11 to 6.8% in 2013-14. But the OBR’s current forecast still shows a gap of 1.5% (around £30 billion) in 2019-20, and that, of course, is one measure of the scale of the surplus problem.

The PSCR line, having struggled up to 38% in 2011-12, just stays there, projected by the Office for Budget Responsibility to fluctuate throughout the rest of the decade by barely half a percent, presumably irrespective of the political complexion of the post-2015 Government.

So, even if the Chancellor hadn’t confirmed that the deficit-vanishing trick was going to be accomplished without tax increases, it’s clear that whatever convergence there’s going to be will have to come, as suggested on the graph, from further spending cuts – and at a time when the long-term spending pressure of an ageing population is already growing by the year.

The OBR has a whole mini-vocabulary for deflecting responsibility when particularly its longer term forecasts turn out rather differently. My addition to the graph, therefore, is what they’d call an illustrative, broad-brush projection, rather than a precise forecast. The thing is, I can’t rid my mind of the image of a black arrow, heading straight for local government.


Chris Game is a Visiting Lecturer at INLOGOV interested in the politics of local government; local elections, electoral reform and other electoral behaviour; party politics; political leadership and management; member-officer relations; central-local relations; use of consumer and opinion research in local government; the modernisation agenda and the implementation of executive local government.