It is time for local governance to be back in the reckoning for the United Kingdom. The Brexit cyclone has pushed British political life to the brink. The bad state of the UK economy has also contributed to the doldrums. Long-term challenges have come back to haunt British political life. There were drastic changes in the relationship between the state and its citizens. Technology has changed the way Britons interact with each other and with the government. There is also a sea of change in the expectations Britons have from their leaders and the financial institutions.
Lack of trust
There is a trust deficit in the public institutions along with the elites who administer them. The confidence loss has not come suddenly. It is the result of incremental scandals like the MPs expenses scandal and forced public services austerity. All of them was compounded with the EU referendum and the subsequent course of events.
The capacity of the UK central government is clearly stretched to breaking point. There is a distinct lack of capacity in Westminster to deal with the impact of these changes. The central government is clearly unable to navigate in local areas. This is an important shift in governance. It is clear that local government must play a much larger role when it comes to shaping the future of the country. More power is required to make decisions. A lead in the local communities is the need of the hour.
The British Government must release more power to regions and cities in the UK. This needs to be done as quickly as possible. However, there are no signs that the government considers this decentralization as an option. It has not yet made the preparations for radical changes this kind of governance needs.
The clear message from all these problems is that there must be a radical realignment of the relationship between the local and central governments. The issue of Brexit has made this change more vital. Even though the councils have chugged ahead with innovative new techniques for delivering and leading, London has been busy with matters which have no connection with the actual concerns of the local communities.
One possible solution is to create a mayors' senate. If this is done, the directly elected mayors will have more responsibility to get the job done. The local government must do a systematic review of the public finances. This should be done as quickly as possible.