New Century Local Government

Commonwealth Perspectives

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Democratic decentralisation through ‘conventional’ institutions of local government is facing increasing challenges, whether from financial pressures, questions of representativeness, difficult central-local relations and from a perhaps growing belief that local government has failed to realise its potential and there may be better ways of achieving societal goals. It is clear there is need to contemplate quite radical change to ensure local government becomes or remains ‘fit for purpose’.

This collection of papers illustrates the way in which the role of local government is evolving in different parts of the Commonwealth and provides practical examples of new local government at work. It showcases emerging practice, and highlights success stories from new ways of working and challenges confronting local government in both developed and developing countries.

New Century Local Government makes a very valuable contribution to helping understand the changing role of local government, and will ensure that practitioners are up-to-date with the most innovative initiatives in local government planning and administration.




In 2009 the Research Advisory Group of the Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF) came together for its biennial research colloquium in the lead-up to the Commonwealth Local Government Conference. Discussion was shaped by an awareness not only of the many challenges facing local authorities across the Commonwealth, but also of underlying changes in the nature and perceptions of the fundamental role of local government. The latter reflected a number of drivers, including globalisation and economic imperatives; decentralisation policies and the evident failings of central governments to deliver desired outcomes at local and regional levels; the emergence of ever-larger metropolitan centres; fiscal constraints following the global financial crisis; and the need for local government to contribute more substantially to the delivery of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.


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