The recent White Paper, Modern local government - in touch with the people, provides an important agenda to work on. Although the issues involved are not new, their significance has increased enormously.
Michael Clarke and John Stewart argue that there are fundamental questions about the way in which councils should work and relate to their communities and other organisations involved in local governance. This needs to be reflected in how local authorities go about their business. Structures and processes will need to adapt to the new requirements. Both elected members and officers will need new competencies and skills. Above all, conclude the authors, councils need to think through their approach systematically.