The modernization of local government is central to the government’s plans to revitalize the UK’s constitutional arrangements. Implicitly managerialist, the modernizing local government project also contains centralist and localist themes. Translated into policy, these themes are articulated as leadership, community, democracy and regulation. However, these elements are potentially contradictory and may produce tensions in the project that may be difficult to resolve. By reviewing the government’s aims to promote leadership, community and democracy in local government, it is also argued that the planned modernization of local government will extend further and into new areas the regulation of local authorities.