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History

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.

Categories
History

E. McPherson: ‘The Impact of the Second World War on Local Authorities in South Lancashire 1935-45’

McPherson, E., ‘The impact of the Second World War on local authorities in South Lancashire 1935-45’
Ph.D thesis, 1995. Manchester University

Abstract: This thesis is an attempt to ascertain the war’s effects on local government and its work using evidence contained in thousands of documents from the archives of some fifty local authorities in south Lancashire during the period 1935-46. It details the impact on the major traditional functions such as education, transport and fire services, in addition to the new duties which central government was happy to be able to pass on to local authorities for implementation. These included ARP, shelters, nurseries, salvage, emergency feeding, fire prevention and the responsibility for evacuees and refugees. Consideration is also given to broader issues such as finance, staffing and the work of the councils – including (for the first time) the effect of the banning of elections for the duration of the war, and the changes which took place in the balance of power both within the local authority and between central and local government. The local authority had that unique combination of features which no other organisation could boast. It had the local structures in place, the contacts, the local knowledge and the roots within the communities. It was well-experienced and well-equipped with the organisational ability to cope with most problems, and it was an apposite choice in the early 1930s to be the agency charged with providing ARP. Consequently, whenever the Government had a messy, unpopular, cumbersome and essentially local service to administer and organise, it deposited the problem immediately and firmly into the convenient lap of the local authority. This study shows that in spite of the enormous pressures which local authorities were called upon to bear; the unexpected and unfamiliar duties they were required to carry out and the depressing shortages in staff and resources with which they had to cope, they performed magnificently during the war.