Local Government System in England
LOCAL GOVERNMENT SYSTEM IN ENGLAND - ABHIRAMI THIRUMENI T
The England local government which is centuries-old has received its structure and shape from charters and parliament Acts. These has established Corpus jurisdiction of the central and local government. These two systems are separate systems and the delegation of jurisdiction is in such a way that it has made it completely autonomous so that the central government cannot interfere in the works of the local government. Hence, the local government has a number of responsibilities and the same work is independently done by the local government without the interference of Central and also that the central has no supervisory powers over the local government. This system is considered as a best example of local self government system and also it has now strengthened in the 21st century.
The Legal Structure
The local government in England operates under euther a one tier system of unitary authorities or a two tier system - County and District Councils. There are five types of local authorities in England. They are:-
1. County Councils
There are 26 county councils in the two tier areas. They are responsible for education, waste management, social services, transportation, highways and strategic planning.
2. District Councils
In two tier areas, each county council is subdivided into two districts for which there is an independent district council. There are 192 district councils. Their responsibilities are housing, leisure and recreation, environmental health, waste collection, planning application and local tax collection.
3. Unitary authorities
There are 55 unitary authorities. Many large towns and cities and some small countries are unitary authorities, that is, they have only one tier of local government. These are mainly citie, urban areas and large towns, although there are six country councils that are unitary, that is, have no district council beneath them. Their responsibilities include all local government services like education, highways, social services, waste collection and disposal, etc.
4. Metropolitan Districts
These are also unitary authorities. There are 36 metropolitan district Councils which cover 6 large urban areas. Their responsibilities include all services like education, highways, waste disposal, civil defence, police, etc.
5. London Boroughs
These are also unitary authorities. There are 32 London Boroughs. They provide nearly all the sevices in their area. However, the Greater London Authority provides London wide Government including special responsibilities for police, fire, strategic planning and transportation.
6. Town and Parish Councils
They acts as a third tier government. These are below district councils and unitary authorities. They do not have statuary functions and are often responsible for local small services like parks, allotments, community centres and war memorials.
7. Isles of Scilly
It is a unitary authority. It has its own waterathority Air authority and other powers.
The Local Government Act, 2000 set out the governance models that must be operated by local authorities:
✓ a mayor and cabinet executive
✓ a leader and cabinet executive
✓ the committee system
✓ or other arrangements approved by the secretary of state.
Local people can have a say on the governance model adopted by the local authority via, a referendum in certain circumstances.
Numbers of Councillors
The number of councillors of for each local authorities decided by the independent Local Government Boundary Commission for England. It has responsibility for electoral arrangement in local authorities. The secretary of state and local government has no role. The councillors are elected for a term of 4 years.
Powers and Functions
The functions include, education, highways, waste disposal, civil defence, police, etc. Under the Local Government Act, 2000 councils have general power to promote economic social and environmental well-being of their area. However, they are permitted to do things that the common law Act of parliament has allowed. Councils could promote local Acts in parliament to grant them special powers.
The Localism Act, 2011 has extended the well being power, to the power to do anything that the individuals do. This means that, nothing is ultra vires that a local authorities wishes to do. However, it has not been extensively used.
Governmental Control over Local Government
the England Central Government set out different types of controls over the local government. By 1930s, the local councils were independent. There was some light regulations. parliament wanted them to provide some services like schools, waste management and give them a range of powers to do such things. The central controls developed in several stages:
✓ after 1945, the expansion of the welfare state meant health and social security was controlled centrally
✓ Central Government also became more involved in making sure that the social housing was built and began to intervene in education
✓ by mid 1970s, economic problem was an issue and the government wanted to reduce expenditure. Local government was an easier target than trying to control over Central Government spending.
✓ in 2010 a reduction in public expenditure was seen
✓ then they often dependent on voluntary work by people.
Tax and finance: the tax collected was Central and local government functions where on grants from Central rather than of its own as what it got were fees from park, etc. The central government control over grant by reducing it.
No written constitution: since there is no written constitution, local government cannot get protection like other countries from central government. Central Government can pass legislations on local government.
Regulation: Central government has increasingly regulator local government. Legislation has given government wide-ranging powers to intervene.
Judicial Control over Local Government in England
the first control over the local self government in England by judiciary was the abolition of municipal charter. The powers of the judiciary over the local authorities may be exercised:
a) where the authorities go beyond the powers granted to them by the statute: The function of the court is to see that the local authorities do not exceed their powers. The acts done which exceeds power is void. Such excess of power use occurs when the local authorities wrongly exercises authorities which does not possess.
b) where the authorities are not performing the duties imposed on them by the statute: The courts interview in cases where the locals authority fails to comply with the statutory obligations. In this case, the remedy is enforcement of obligation. If the local authority has a duty towards an individual, the individual possess the right to press for the remedy in the event of nonfeasance or misfeasance. It me so happened that the local authority owes an application to the public in general.
c) where the authorities exercise functions subject to appeal to the courts: Exercise of powers by the local authorities subject to the appeal to the court.
In the above stated cases, the remedies which are available through courts are:
1. Ordinary remedies;
I) criminal prosecutions
II) action for damages
III) action for an injunction
IV) action for declaration
2. The prerogative writs
I) habeas corpus
IV) Quo Warranto