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.



Long-term Strategic Planning in New Zealand

Strategic planning is a management tool introduced during the recent period of public sector reform intended to improve the efficacy and efficiency of public organisations. Councils in New Zealand, like elsewhere, were quick and enthusiastic adopters and a range of innovative approaches was developed. However, 20 years on, that innovation is at risk of being lost because of an increasing emphasis on accountability and compliance.1 Long-term council planning is required to address multiple objectives, with the risk that ‘strategy’ will be crowded out. It is not clear whether the emphasis on accountability and financial planning allows sufficient space for innovative engagement with citizens about possible futures.


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