Introduction and Summary

Reform proposals and existing council arrangements are made up of three different elements: issues, geographical areas and decision-making. Each possible way of structuring local government puts these elements or building blocks together in different ways.

The papers in this set outline these different building blocks:

  1. The first paper considers the question 'What issues should be decided at what level of government?' Government takes place on several levels: national, regional, in counties and districts, and in towns and parishes. What services should be delivered at what level?
  2. The second paper considers the question 'Who exercises power?' Ordinary citizens, elected politicians, businesspeople, trade unionists, and representatives of many other groups could have a say. What powers should they have? And is it better to elect a single figure such as a mayor or to elect a collective body such as a council or regional assembly?
  3. The third paper considers the question 'What areas should local councils or regional authorities cover?' They could follow traditional boundaries, such as counties, or cover areas that are based on current patterns of commuting and business links. The areas could be small – focusing on local neighbourhoods – or much larger.

Building Blocks