A Theory of Welsh Governance

When we decide how we want to run our country we choose a balance between three different ‘governing mechanisms’:

• We can invest all power into the centre which applies standard rules for the administration of public services. Things become more equal but it is bureaucratic and not at all participative;

• We can extend markets into all forms of activity and rely on contracts to regulate how we get on with each other. Things become more unequal. We choose one service or another but do not engage directly with each other;

• We develop inter-active networks between a variety of forms of government and citizens in their communities of place and interest. Relationships are continuously negotiated and develop through trust.

As governments develop they tend to evolve from simple hierarchies into complex networks which ever more share responsibilities with active citizens.

The Williams Report recommends that we simplify Welsh government into a handful of local authorities ever more accountable to the centre. The aim is to take Wales backward to an ever more hierarchical, militaristic, form of government; less engaged with active citizens, more concerned with rules than innovation. It takes us back to the 19th century rather than forward to the 21st century.

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1 Comment

  1. How true you are. The Welsh Local Government reorganisation numbers game – should it be six or twelve? Why not look at the best model of DELIVERING local services (depending on how many are going to remain being delivered by local authorities following the continuing austerity cuts) and then see what structure is appropriate for Wales? City Regions? How are these going to fit into a pattern of governance in Wales, given whatever the local government structure is to be (or not to be) – that is the question! Governance at the community level – a bit of a shambles in Wales, compared even with England; and yet there are part statutory and none statutory services that local authorities are currently trying to pass down to the ‘voluntary’ / ‘third’ sectors; a more effective level of governance at the community level could assist in these circumstances (perhaps including a more consistent distribution of Town and Community Councils?). Joined up thinking – now I’ve heard that before. Where is the debate?

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