By Tim Palmer, Glyn Gaskarth
The local government system in shire counties is under pressure. Although the recent Local Government White Paper struck a cautious note, it is clear that councils are expected to change, while tight budgets increase the needs to find more efficient solutions.
The current system is confusing to voters and promotes conflict between different tiers of government. Yet conventional ‘unitary’ solutions are unattractive, reducing democratic representation and making local government more remote. Tim Palmer and Glyn Gaskarth argue that there is a better way: an innovative model of ‘federal’ county government, which streamlines bureaucracy and presents a unified public face, while power originates at a very local level and is delegated up where necessary.