P.H. Taylor: ‘The Role of Local Government during the Second World War, with special reference to Lancashire’

Taylor, P.H., ‘The role of local government during the second world war, with special reference to Lancashire.’
Ph.D. completed 1992. Lancaster University

Abstract: This is a thesis concerning the effects of war on society and in particular that of World War Two on Local Government. It employs the idea of `test-dissolution-transformation’, brought about by the conflict, on the workings of the local authorities in a wide field of endeavour. These range from Civil Defence, evacuation and economic mobilisation, through the provision of a range of social services in general and those of education and housing in particular, down to aspects of post-war planning in a variety of areas. There is an emphasis on the geographical area of Lancashire and the differing administrative structure it contained in order to see how authorities in one of the largest areas of the country coped with the impact of war and the nature of their relationships with the central government. What emerges as a result of the war is a pattern of central government desiring to use local authorities as agents for the implementation of their own plans when they felt it necessary, but also a continuation of the semi-autonomous status for local governments as a reult of the essentially practical and useful nature of the local authorities exhibited during the war, and their expected functions in future administration. The thesis is not just one of central-local clashes of interest and power but rather a more complex story of changing inter-relationships not only between the centre and the localities but also within the local authority structures. The thesis raises the whole question of the extent of centripetal and centrifugal forces operating on structures with their own historical underpinnings, perceived roles and expected future developments. In an age with many questions on the issues of democratic accountability, devolved powers and financial responsibility and constraint the role of local government during a period of undoubted stress and uncertainty can give some insights into the factors at play.

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