CSS Solved Political Science Past Papers | Under the Unitary State System, how does the local government system work in the UK? CSS 2021 and CSS 2020
In the given question, the examiner demands to explain the working of the local government system in the UK, keeping in view its unitary state system, as a mode of governance.
The answer is solved on the given pattern, which Sir Syed Kazim Ali teaches to his students, who consistently score above 80% because of their attempting the questions. Read the answer carefully and notice all the steps that are taken to attempt the question.
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (abbreviated as “the UK”) is a confederation of three countries: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland’s province that works under the unitary state system. With powers being centralized in the centre of the state, its local government devolution plan has set an example for many federations for its effective governance. The Local Government Act of 1888 established various county councils. The chairman, aldermen, and councillors of these county councils were to be chosen by the people.
The working of local government in the UK has been divided into the following tiers:
- Unitary, Metropolitan, and London Borough councils
- Town and parish councils
- Police and Crime Commissioners
Local government in the UK has been and continues to be restructured continuously for several centuries. Although different types of local government existed in the Saxon and Medieval periods, it was not until the nineteenth century that the modern form of local government emerged. The Local Government Act of 1888 established 66 county councils, as well as a London County Council. The chairman, aldermen, and councillors of these county councils were to be chosen by the people.
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (abbreviated as “the UK”) confederates of three countries: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland’s province. There is no formal constitution, but each has its own set of local government legislation. Acts governing the devolved governments of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, which have a single-tier main local administration, are also included. There is no devolved government in England; instead, there are two-tier authorities made up of counties and districts (or boroughs) and single-tier councils called unitary authorities. Civic parishes are the lower tiers of local administration in England. Community councils exist in Scotland and Wales, but they are not a local government level; in Northern Ireland.
In the UK, either a one-tier system – unitary authorities – or a two-tier system – county and district councils – governs local administration. County councils, district councils, unitary authorities, metropolitan districts, and London boroughs are the five types of local government in England.
County councils are responsible for most public services in their respective areas and cover the whole county. Education, roads, transportation planning, passenger transportation, social care, libraries, trash disposal, and strategic planning are all responsibilities of county governments. There are numerous districts in each county. District councils, sometimes known as borough councils or city councils, cover a considerably smaller area and offer more local services depending on whether the district is a borough or a city. Housing, leisure and recreation, environmental health, trash collection, planning applications, and local taxes collections are all handled by district councils.
The number of lower-tier councils within a county varies according to the area’s size, topography, and special needs. County councils and the lower tiers, known as district or borough councils, share responsibility for the county’s overall territory. Although county councils are in charge of county-wide policy and planning, some services are shared between the two. District/borough councils have limited policy responsibility within their specialised roles and oversee a distinct set of services. Councillors are chosen directly and serve four-year terms.
Unitary, Metropolitan, and London Borough councils
In all four nations of the UK, unitary, metropolitan, and London borough councils function under a unitary framework and have the combined responsibilities of county and district councils. As part of a structural assessment of council demarcations in 2007, 16 English county councils and their subordinate levels applied to become unitary authorities to coordinate their service offering better and share back-office activities.
Many big cities and counties and some minor counties are unitary authorities, with only one level of local administration. City councils, borough councils, county councils, and district councils are examples of unitary authorities. In addition, Metropolitan districts, sometimes known as metropolitan district councils, metropolitan borough councils, or metropolitan city councils, are unitary administrations.
A unitary authority governs each borough in London. The Greater London Authority (GLA), on the other hand, administers London as a whole and shares responsibility for certain services. For example, education, roads, transportation planning, social care, housing, libraries, leisure and recreation, environmental health, waste collection, waste disposal, planning applications, strategic planning, and local taxation, Highways, transportation planning, passenger transportation, and strategic planning are all collective responsibilities of Unitary, Metropolitan, and London Borough councils in their localities.
Town and parish councils
The third stage of local governance exists in several regions of England. Parks, community centres, allotments, and military memorials are all under the jurisdiction of town and parish councils. They are elected entities with limited discretionary powers and rights as a realm of local administration. A parish council is not obligatory in any region of England. All parishes are required by the Local Government Act of 1972 to have a parish meeting. A parish meeting is not the same as a parish council in terms of legal status. It is required to have two meetings every year, one of which must occur between March 1 and June 1. A parish with more than 300 people may opt to form its own parish council, but it is not required to do so. Where there is a parish council, the parish meeting must be held once a year.
Their major goal is to gather community feedback and communicate it to the local government and other public authorities. Many community councils also engage in various additional tasks, such as fundraising, planning community events, implementing environmental and educational projects, and much more. Local governments have legislative control of community councils and adjust programmes to the specific conditions of their region in conjunction with community councils. Community councils get funds from the local government for administrative expenditures, the amount of which is determined by the local government.
Grants from other sources are also available to community councils for specific activities. On problems that impact the community, local governments and other entities consult with community councils. These concerns are heavily influenced by what matters to each community. However, community councils must be consulted on planning applications and new premises license applications or applications to modify the use of premises fundamentally. Many communities also choose to include community councils in the planning process.
Police and Crime Commissioners
In England, there are 38 Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) and four in Wales. Every four years, police and crime commissioners are directly elected. In addition, PCCs have the authority to assume responsibility for fire and rescue services in their jurisdiction.
In a unitary state, the central or national government has total control over all other political divisions or administrative entities. Although local governments in a unitary state like the United Kingdom carry out the central government’s directives and are dependent on it, their effective coordination and well-organized councils have made the United Kingdom an ideal state for managing state affairs with maximum public access for its citizens. In addition, the hierarchical segmentation of the territories has made things simpler for the people and for the statesmen to handle state matters effectively.
The local government is in charge of a variety of essential services for residents and companies in specific areas. Well-known functions like social care, schools, housing and planning, and garbage collection are among them. More than one million individuals work in local government in the United Kingdom, delivering more than 800 different services to local communities through a variety of various sorts of authority. The most frequent kind of local government is a local council, which is made up of councillors who the people choose in local elections. Councillors collaborate with residents and partners, such as companies and other organizations, to establish and implement local objectives. Permanent council personnel, or council officials, carry out the decisions and provide services daily.
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