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March 19, 2022, by David Brunnen

Palace of Westminster and river Thams viewed from South Bank
View of Palace of Westminster and river Thamesfrom the the South Bank (Pixaby)

It is a fine production, this glossy, expensively sponsored, statement of the bleeding obvious. ‘Accelerating Net Zero’ — getting CO2 under control before we lose it completely is a mighty good idea. But this report is a classic of penny-dropping moments.

In our over-centralised state, the management of pretty much everything is rooted in averages. Whitehall and Corporate HQs insist that ‘what gets measured gets done. So, they insist on measuring everything and then reducing the data to averages — with perhaps (if we’re lucky) a touch of regional granularisation. The resultant plans are no more than pretty average, and the end results are‘ below par’.

After wondering why so many grand intentions heralded by central government so often have such little effect, the crack team of consultants concludes that it might perhaps be a better idea if they let local government crack on with the job — and (steady on) fund them accordingly.

It is, no doubt, a triumph of analytical endeavour — calculating the market impacts of a ‘place-based’ plan versus a ‘place-agnostic’ approach. Why did anyone ever imagine that Whitehall knew best? How did they imagine that government policy should not be community-based or (deep breath) people-based? Are the citizens of Fareham to be regarded as units of productivity? Is that what Minister Gove means by ‘leveling up’ — an average flattening to conform to some base average?

The relegation of local government to the status of cost-reduced branch offices of UK plc is a serious waste of talent, poor leadership, and an ignorance of the great diversity and variability of local community needs. More than that, for an existential issue like responding to Climate Challenges, it might almost be construed as deliberate action avoidance.

Municipal Autonomy is only understood wherever it is practised — but not anywhere in Europe’s most over-centralized State.


This article first appeared at and is listed as part of the Groupe Intellex ‘Governance’ series on this Medium channel



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