Reshaping spaces of local governance? Community strategies and the modernisation of local government in England
The preparation of Community Strategies (CS) has been required of Local Strategic Partnerships and local authorities in England since the passing of the Local Government Act 2000. The authors examine the process and content of two CSs in southern England as part of an ongoing project to understand their impact and explore ways in which CSs may be prepared in a meaningful and effective manner. They critically evaluate a number of dimensions of CS formulation, including: the important role of local political and cultural context; the extent to which they reflect and reproduce a shift from representational to participatory forms of democracy; the impact of national policy agendas; the role of place identity; the relative influence of local government officers and members; and the dynamics and implications of particular forms of conflict mediation and consensus building. They conclude that the process of CS formation studied illustrates the tensions and opportunities contained within the Labour government’s modernisation agenda. Governmentalities of active citizenship and participatory democracy mingle with more representational and managerial modes of local governance, creating hybrid structures, processes, and outcomes that shape the process of strategy formulation. All this is set within a context of a dynamic and variable set of place identities and pervasive resource (inter)dependencies which both close down and open up the range of issues and interests that are drawn into the process of CS formulation.
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