Forging New Governance Through Localism
Moir, Eilidh Suzanne
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
This thesis examines the formal introduction of Localism in the South West county of Cornwall, UK. Using data taken from three distinct areas of the county, this work critically analyses strategies of Localism, where it takes place, who is involved and how it is performed. This research is contexualised within an era of localism, advocating the devolution of political governance with the aim to produce sustainable democratic communities. Changes to local government in 2009 saw Cornwall Council restructure from a two-tiered to a unitary local authority. The previous six district councils and one county council were dissolved and instead, Cornwall was divided into nineteen Community Network Areas with one centralised council. These Areas were provided with dedicated Localism officers, administrative and public service facilities and given the remit to employ the ethos of Localism to everyday interaction between the local authority and citizenry. This introduction of a formal style of conducting Localism followed the then Labour Party’s design for a Third Way; for revolutionising governance to make it increasingly civic-focused and for devolving local decision-making in the hands of communities. The findings of the thesis conclude that Localism has been a largely top-down endeavour by government and as such, widespread bottom-up governance has not been able to emerge through governmental structures. Local resistance to these structures, and the rigid frameworks and targets introduced by Localism, have meant that parts of Localism appear and disappear at certain moments. The ideological vision for Localism has therefore been interrupted, however it is through localism with a small ‘l’, historically part of the day-to-day operations of those at the heart of civic engagement, such as town and parish councils, which has emerged as pivotal in on-going local governing opportunities.
Cornwall Council; University of Exeter
PhD in Geography