Governance, partnerships and central control
Although local authorities are elected and hence accountable to the local population this is, in practice, very difficult if central government controls are too constraining and if, as at present, a large number of local services are provided by non-elected bodies. Central/local relations are crucial to an understanding of the way local government works and to recognising its role within the world of local governance, a world which increasingly incorporates partnerships between a wide range of agencies. Unfortunately the relationships are far from simple, being characterised, according to Rhodes (1981, p. 28), by ‘ambiguity, confusion and complexity’. Relationships vary over time, from authority to authority and from service to service.