Devolution, evolution, revolution … democracy? What’s really happening to English local governance?

David Blunkett, Matthew Flinders, Brenton Prosser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


The Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill 2015–2016[HL] was introduced into the House of Lords as Bill No. 1 in the 2015–2016 parliamentary session. The Bill forms a critical element of the government’s high-profile policy of devolving powers and responsibilities to local areas within England. The transition from first-generation ‘city deals’ to second-generation ‘devolution deals’ within five years provides a sense of the pace and development of the reform agenda but there is also a strong sense that something is missing. ‘Missing’ in the sense of an understanding of the specific type of devolution on offer, ‘missing’ in the sense of how an explosion of bilateral new ‘deals’ will be offset against the obvious risks of fragmentation and complexity, and ‘missing’—most importantly—in relation to the democratic roots that might be put in place to counterbalance the economic thrust and make the reform agenda sustainable. It is in exactly this context that this article argues that the full potential of the current devolution agenda will only be realised when the Conservative government fulfils its September 2014 commitment to wider civic engagement about how England is governed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)553-564
Number of pages12
JournalPolitical Quarterly
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2016
Externally publishedYes


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