The work of the Local Government Commission for England

Murray Stewart, Lucy Gaster, Gavin Smart

The Local Government Commission for England was responsible for making recommendations on structural change in shire England.

Its work, from 1992 when its first Chairman was appointed until its recommendations at the end of 1995, attracted political, professional and academic attention - and indeed widespread criticism.

This documented the working of the Commission and concluded that:

  • Despite a statutory framework and guidelines set by Ministers, the Local Government Commission for England operated with a degree of independence largely beyond the control of central government.
  • The Review was based on insufficient research and analysis in general (by Government and Commission) and on an inadequate understanding of the relationship between local government structure on the one hand and community identity, service effectiveness, and cost on the other.
  • In late 1993, the Government precipitated a crisis in the Review by speeding up the process, but the Commission was thrown off course largely by its own inability to respond adequately.
  • The Local Government Review 1992-95 contributed very little to long-term thinking about the territorial basis of government in England.