In the years since Local Economy was launched in 1986, globalisation has diminished the power of place-based leaders. Place-less actors, meaning people who are not expected to care about the consequences of their decisions for particular places and communities, have gained extraordinary power and influence in the modern era. This growth in place-less power has not, however, erased the power of local democracy. Viewed from an international perspective, many cities are pursuing socially and environmentally enlightened policies that are improving the local quality of life, and Melbourne provides an inspiring example. Since 2010 the UK Coalition Government has worked to diminish further the power of elected local authorities in England. Current proposals, requiring groups of local authorities to plead for bespoke powers, take the super-centralisation of the state to a new level. A different way forward is to learn from examples of bold, place-based leadership in other countries. New Civic Leadership (NCL), an approach that values solidarity, community empowerment and democratic social purpose, is put forward as an alternative to both centralisation and the outdated notion of New Public Management (NPM).
Hambleton, R. (2015). Power, place and the new civic leadership. Local Economy, 30(2), 167-172. https://doi.org/10.1177/0269094215570563