- Ian LovelandIan LovelandProfessor of Public Law, City, University of London
This chapter examines the institution of local government. This topic is often neglected in constitutional law studies, on the rather simplistic basis that since the United Kingdom is not in a legal sense a ‘federal country’ it is only the national governmental system that merits close attention. The suggestion made here is that analysis of the role played by local government institutions reveals a great deal about the nature of ‘democracy’ within our modern constitution. The chapter focuses in general terms on the evolution of ideas relating to localism, tradition, and the ‘modernisation’ of local government and on local government’s changing constitutional status during the course of the twentieth century. More specifically, the chapter examines trends in the institutional structure of the local government sector (and especially the abolition of the Greater London Council and metropolitan counties in the mid-1980s), developments relating to the fiscal autonomy of local government throughout that period, the role played by the judiciary in determining the limits of local government autonomy, and changes in one of the most important areas of local authority activity – the provision of council housing.