The Government is keen to force us to change the way we operate. This is not as a result of any ground swell of public opinion, but rather because they have a 'new idea'. Personally I'd rather they went to lie down in a darkened room and had another idea. In the meantime we will have to go along with their dictat but we will take the opportunity talking to our local communities to see how we can best improve our governance arrangement.
I have long held the view that if there is to be a major revival of public involvement in local government it will only about when we take control of our own taxation, answer at the ballot box for our actions and have real and important jobs to do. Sadly Labour(new and old) are not prepared to let local government take that responsibility and spend vasts amounts of public money and time ineptly micro managing us. There are now so many unelected public bodies locally carrying out the central governments wishes. There is no democrat oversight or control over them and all their cash comes from central government. PCT's, Hospital trusts, Housing Associations, Partnerships now dominate local public services and bureaucrats are focused on satisfying central governments whims and prejudices rather than responding to local democratically voiced concerns. Officers look at you in a disbelieving way when you tell them that elsewhere in Europe local government is responsible for and raises the taxation for health, policing, education etc. They have been so brain washed by the centralising power of Whitehall that their minds can no longer envisage a decentralised alternative.
Sadly such an option is not on the table now but we must do our best with the role we have and pray that one day central government will become as efficent, corruption-free and responsive as local government is today. I have been charged with overseeing the review. The first background briefing can be found here: https://web15.sefton.gov.uk/Published/C00000386/M00003619/AI00003391/$GovernanceReview011008.docA.ps.pdf