The White Paper Strong and Prosperous Communities has been issued by DCLG and like any such publication there is a lot to be welcomed within it and a few items that cause concern.
Recognition of the fact that local government has improved dramatically since 1997 is welcomed as is the notion of local government being the placeshaper and the body responsible for joining up public services within a geographic area. However, here lies the paradox it also contains concepts such as choice, contestability, community ownership which if implemented in a certain way could lead to the fragmentation of service delivery and ultimately the breakdown of a fourth 'c' collective bargaining. To me the formula of strategic leadership = co-ordination / fragmentation doesn't work.
Some of the other positives include the move towards self-regulation and the community call for action, which should reinvigorate the role of the backbench ward councilor so marginalised by the new executive structures implemented a few years back. The amendments to the Best Value regime are also overdue and the recognition of the importance of asset management is promising.
Overall the White Paper sends some positive messages but as always the over used phrase 'the devil will be in the detail' applies.