Local Government: Meaning And Theories Of Local Government

Meaning Of Local Government

Local government is a multi-functional authority responsible for a defined area and constituted by local election. Local government is the government difference, responding to different needs, and realizing different aspirations. “There must be a definite power to do things in a different manner from that followed in other area within the same area. If some local body has it in its power to govern in a different manner from other local bodies, there we must have local government”.

Theories Of Local Government

There are three dominant schools of thought, which deal with the role and scope of local government. These theories represent three different phases in the evolution of the concepts of local government.

1. Theory Of Efficient Service Delivery

The advocates of this theory established three core arguments for local government. They are the opinion that the local government:

1. Provides an opportunity for political participation.
2. Helps to ensure efficient service delivery.
3. Expresses a tradition of opposition to an overly centralized government.

To them, a local government is a relatively autonomous, multi-purpose institution providing a range of services, with a tax-raising capacity, and is controlled through the election of representative to oversee the work of full-time officials.

2. Theory of Welfare State

Theorists of welfare state regard the efficient value of local authorities as the strongest in favour of modern local government. Sharpe (In 1970) puts forward five roles a local government has to play. They include: coordinator, reconciler of community opinion, consumer of pressure group, agent for responding to rising demand.

However, Hill (1974) warns that local government runs risk if it neglects the involvement of the public in a meaningful way: “To be the effective provider of services, local authorities must be more than efficient. They must still be judged by that justices, fairness, equality and openness by which democratic society as a whole is judged”.

3. Theory Of Power Diffusion

Leading proponents of this theory include G. Jones and Stewart. They opined that the local government ensures that resources can be better matched to the diversity of needs. It is local and therefore closer to the citizen. This visibility makes it open to public pressure. However, they emphasize the argument that local government is an expression of the diffusion of power.

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