New directions in economic development: Localist policy discourses and the Localism Act

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Journal Article
Local Economy, 2013, 28 (3), pp. 257 - 274
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Since entering office in 2010, a distinct grammar of localism has pervaded the UK Coalition Government's philosophical outlook inflecting localist policy discourses and practice. This article, written in June 2012, considers the implications of this new grammar for the scope, organisation and mobilisation of economic development interventions, through a focus on the 2011 Localism Act, which applies to England and Wales. Interpreting these changes through a localist conceptual prism, which helps to refract varieties of localism, it raises some serious concerns regarding localism in action through exposing the controlling tendencies of central government. Analysis is also directed towards the uneasy relationship between centralised powers, conditional decentralisation and fragmented localism. Nevertheless, emergent practice serves to demonstrate how 'constrained freedoms' can be negotiated to undertake innovative actions. It concludes by suggesting some foundational elements that would support the notion of 'empowered localities' that may secure the government's imperative to enable private sector-led growth. © The Author(s) 2013 Reprints and permissions:
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