By contrast to the far-reaching devolution settlements elsewhere in the UK, political agreement on the governance of England outside London remains unsettled. There is cross- party consensus on the need to 'decentre down' authority to regions and localities, but limited agreement on how this should be achieved. This paper explores the welter of initiatives adopted by the recent Labour government that were ostensibly designed to make the meso-level of governance more coherent, accountable and responsive to meeting territorial priorities. Second, it explores the current Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition's programme of reform that involves the elimination of Labour's regional institutional architecture and is intended to restore powers to local government and communities and promote local authority co-operation around sub-regions. Labour's reforms were ineffective in achieving any substantial transfer of authority away from Whitehall and, given the Coalition's plans to cut public expenditure, the likelihood of any significant recalibration in central-local relations also appears improbable.
- political parties