“What does democracy require of England’s local governments?”

Local governments should engage the wide participation of local citizens in their governance via voting in regular elections, and an open interest group and local consultation process.

Local voting systems should accurately convert parties’ vote shares into seats on councils, and should be open to new parties entering into competition.

As far as possible, consistent with the need for efficient scales of operation, local government areas and institutions should provide an effective expression of local and community identities that are important in civil society (and not just in administrative terms).

Local governments should be genuinely independent centres of decision-making, with sufficient own financial revenues and policy autonomy to be able to make meaningful choices on behalf of their citizens.

Within councils the key decision-makers should be clearly identifiable by the public and media. They should be subject to regular and effective scrutiny from the council members as a whole, and publicly answerable to local citizens and media.

Local governments are typically subject to some supervision on key aspects of their conduct and policies, in England directly by UK government in Whitehall. But they should enjoy a degree of constitutional protection (or ‘entrenchment’) for key roles, and an assurance that cannot simply be abolished, bypassed or fully programmed by their supervisory tier of government.

The principle of subsidiarity says that policy issues that can be effectively handled in decentralised ways should be allocated to the lowest tier of government, closest to citizens.”