Ensuring effective overview and scrutiny in a re-organised local government system : a case study of the move to unitary status in England

Thompson, Philip (2011) Ensuring effective overview and scrutiny in a re-organised local government system : a case study of the move to unitary status in England. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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Abstract

This thesis is a comparative analysis of the impact of local government reorganisation on the overview and scrutiny functions across four unitary local authorities in England. The creation of new unitary authorities in England in 2009 gave an opportunity to compare how they have maintained and developed effective overview and scrutiny functions previously undertaken by the former district and county councils. Investigating how this was achieved allowed reflection upon New Labour’s aims and objectives within the overall local government modernisation agenda and the wider discourse on local government, new localism and democracy. This research contributes to the knowledge previously established on overview and scrutiny by harnessing original empirical data from the unitary authorities. At the time there were no in-depth studies of how the transition to unitary status has affected and challenged patterns of overview and scrutiny developed in local authorities after 2000. The research for the thesis included a critical examination of the existing literature on local government and the overview and scrutiny function, was undertaken partly as a participant observer within the overview and scrutiny team of one of the case study authorities and through semi-structured interviews of council members and officers.

The research found the case study authorities have developed overview and scrutiny functions that: adhere to accepted good practice; reflect the culture of their authorities; is understood and valued by council members and officers; acknowledges the influence of party politics; is dependent upon dedicated officer support and finance and are playing a significant role in meeting New Labour’s aims of transparent, accountable and efficient local government. However it is unclear as to whether they are contributing to ‘new localism’ given their unsuccessful engagement of the general public and communities. The research has also augmented the typologies of effective overview and scrutiny advocated in the existing literature.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: accountability, localism, participation, democracy, governance
Subjects: L400 Social Policy
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Social Sciences & Languages
University Services > Research and Business Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Ellen Cole
Date Deposited: 18 Jun 2012 13:16
Last Modified: 09 May 2017 10:59
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/7712

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