The best of Democratic Audit’s 2014 coverage of local, regional, and sub-national government

This year, the Scottish independence set in motion a chain of events which may, or may not, lead to greater powers at the sub-national level for the English regions, and city areas. Here are some of the best articles that Democratic Audit has carried in 2014 which deal with local, regional, and sub-national government. 

3898674828_49fa8d9e7d_zThe North of England needs a devo-max government. Here’s why:

The Chancellor George Osborne recently announced the creation of a combined Greater Manchester Mayor, despite the rejection of a similar mayoral system for the Manchester local government area. Michael Dawson of Campaign for the North argues that Osborne’s proposals miss the point, and that what is needed is a devo-max Government with tax raising powers for the whole North of England.


County Flag of Greater ManchesterA northern powerhouse, or an unwelcome imposition? Experts respond to George Osborne’s Greater Manchester Mayor proposals

The Chancellor recently announced that in order to help make his “Northern Powerhouse” idea reality that the Greater Manchester City Region would see itself gain an elected, “London-style” Mayor, despite residents of Manchester City Council narrowly rejecting proposals for an Directly Elected Mayor for their local authority in 2011. Democratic Audit asked experts to respond to the news, with mixed results.


sutton coldfield signParish councils can empower local communities, but we need more of them in cities

Parish councils, the lowest level of local government in the UK, tend to be synonymous with rural communities. But the government has taken steps to make it easier to create new councils, which have been seized upon by campaigners in a number of urban areas. In this post, Richard Berry discusses the trend and considers the prospects of an increasing number of parish councils transforming UK local government.


10356686835_2a1b6ccfe4_zIf the rest of the country is to catch up to London, we need a Great North Plan

Since the introduction of the London mayoralty, London has enjoyed a level of strategic planning which has allowed it to speak with one voice in putting the case for greater infrastructure and economic development. The rest of the country does have this advantage, and IPPR North’s Bill Davies argues that in order to bridge the gap we need to think about new ideas to help catch up, and to put together a “Great North Plan“. 


Ed Miliband

Labour’s plans for city and regional devolution are welcome, but don’t go far enough 

On Tuesday, Lord Andrew Adonis released his report on regional growth in the UK for the Labour Party, which was welcomed by Ed Miliband as ‘long-term plan to show that there can be jobs in every part of country’. In responding to the plans, regional economic policy expert David Bailey argues that the plans represent a step in the right direction, but stop short of what is needed.


imageScotland’s independence referendum is spurring the desire for political devolution in England

Arianna Giovanini and Joanie Willett explore the uneven path of English regionalism, focusing on two cases: the North East and Cornwall, during and after the New Labour government. Scotland’s referendum has reminded people that there are alternatives, and that regional devolution is a possible solution to a London-centric problem. England’s regional identities and inequalities are only going to become more visible and more politicised the closer we get to September.


4239917549_d0fe90c845_zTailored devolution would bring tangible benefits to cities and improve the quality of local governance

Local government boundaries very rarely correlate well with local economies, meaning that some authorities are at the mercy of political forces beyond their control. Discussing a new Centre for Cities report, Zach Wilcox argues that different local authorities can better work together by fostering formal collaborations like combined authorities, as well as through other less formal ways of working together. He encourages government to offer incentives in the form of tailored devolution for those councils which do take on formal collaborations.


Edinburgh's Holyrood Castle, opposite the Scottish Parliament (Credit: vgm8383, CC BY NC 2.0)

More devolution would benefit and improve the whole of the United Kingdom

Later this year, Scotland will vote on whether to become independent. But while the debate about the country’s future has necessarily been between the maintaining the current union as is, or full independence, what most Scots want more than either is greater and better devolution. Here, Guy Lodge and Alan Trench argue that welfare should be devolved as the next stage of a journey towards a deeper and better devolution settlement. 

Note: this post represents the views of the authors and not those of Democratic Audit UK or the LSE. Please read our comments policy before posting. 

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