An examination of the role of the concept of the community within the current reorganisation of English local government
The thesis will examine the role and impact of the concept of the community within the structural reorganisation of English local government between 1992 and 1995. The methodological approach adopted within this thesis has been to compare the use, application and significance of the community with a case study of a specific local authority and its preparations for reorganisation. The authority in question was Wychavon District Council located in the County of Hereford and Worcester. The conclusions from this case study were then compared to the role and significance of the community in the reviews of other local authorities in England. This study produced two important results. These were that there was an established body of literature which argued that the community could be of value to local government and that the community should be identified by measuring individuals sense of belonging and feelings of attachment, as well as such daily activities as shopping and working (which help to stimulate these feelings). The then Conservative Government even instructed the specially appointed Commission to apply this particular interpretation of the community to their reviews, and to attempt to base any new unitary authorities upon the social and spatial area it created. The Conservative Government also gave the Commission a Community Index to assist with the identification of communities, and appointed the pollsters MORI to support the Commission with the task of identifying the emotional and more subjective senses of community. The Commission eventually came to rely entirely on the MORI polls, and whilst these polls attempted to faithfully apply the Governments interpretation of the community, they unfortunately produced small and often complex communities, which the Commission felt could not be applied to its reviews. This therefore led to the community becoming a secondary consideration to the factors of cost and efficiency. Furthermore the problematic nature of the community - that is, the production of small and complex communities - was repeated in this thesis' own survey of community identities in the District of Wychavon. In fact this authority's proposals for reorganisation were based almost entirely upon the factors of cost, size and efficiency.