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Local Government Finance: The 1990 Reforms

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Abstract

In this commentary we describe in detail reforms taking place to local authority finances and analyse their effects on local authorities and local tax payers. The study includes the results of a major survey undertaken by the Institute of Revenues, Rating and Valuation of local authorities' experiences in introducing the administrative arrangements for the community charge.

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... The reasons for this situation are as follows: (1) there is no requirement for local authorities and municipalities to provide a fully accessible public toilet; (2) there is no user-participation process with a focus on the toilet needs of diverse people; and (3) public toilet provision is costly to maintain, both financially and environmentally (Aker and Tasdemir, 2010;Ersoy, 1989;1999;Gulluce, 2004). Moreover, toilet governance in Turkey is fragmented. ...
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Provision of public toilets is not only a matter of land use, but also an essential design and planning concern. This study examines the following questions through an explanatory study. (i) What problems do public toilets pose? (ii) What toilet facilities do people require most and/or most emphasize would affect the way they use land and participate in social life? (iii) How do demands, needs, and expectations around public toilets change depending on gender, age, and ability? We conduct a survey of 300 people in fourteen public restrooms in the city centre of Ankara, Turkey. According to factor analysis results, public toilets should be seen as potential urban spaces and initial opportunities for sustainable urban developments and liveable cities.
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The majority of the governing and administering of Britain occurs away from the confines of Whitehall and Westminster in a large number of non-central government organisations that can be found throughout Britain. These organisations, as with the rest of the political-administrative machinery of the state, have undergone a number of distinct transformations over the past fourteen years. The extent to which these changes constitute a real revolution, and the implications of them for the management and administration of the services that the people of Britain receive, are important issues not only in their own right but also in terms of the possible shape and direction that these parts of the governmental machinery will assume in the future.
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The findings and conclusions of this paper are not subject to detailed review and do not necessarily reflect the official views and policies of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. Please do not photocopy without permission of the authors. Contact the authors directly with all questions or requests for permission.
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The most widely used typologies of European local government systems are based on research conducted in the 1980s. The most popular are those of Page and Goldsmith (1987), distinguishing between Northern and Southern European systems, and Hesse and Sharpe (1991), distinguishing between Southern, Northern and Anglo-Saxon models. The rare attempts to include the Eastern part of the continent are far from comprehensive or satisfactory. They usually view the whole region as a distinct group, referring to its specific historical background and recent radical decentralisation (Bennett 1993, Heinelt and Hlepas 2006). Disappointingly, the same approach is presented in the most recent comprehensive analysis of European local government systems (Loughlin et al. 2010). This article tries to fill the gap produced by this simplification, by offering a comprehensive picture of the variation within the Eastern European region and suggesting a first attempt at a typology of around 20 countries of the region. The criteria for this typology refers to those used in earlier classifications of the Western European systems and include: (i) territorial organisation and tiers of elected local governments, (ii) scope of functions provided by local governments (functional decentralisation), (iii) financial autonomy, (iv) horizontal power relations within local government institutions (election systems and relationships between mayors and councils).
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The introduction of the Community Charge - or 'poll tax' - in April this year brought the issue of local government finance to the forefront of British politics. The heated political controversy, and the radical nature of the reforms to local domestic and business taxation, have generated considerable academic analysis and comment, not only in Britain but also abroad. These have clarified many of the key issues in the reforms - the Government's objective of greater 'accountability' in local government, the effect of the new system on the tax levels required to finance local spending, the distributional incidence of the new tax, and the question of administrative cost. But comment in some of these areas has had to be speculative; in advance of experience, some key parameters have been uncertain, with few obvious precedents in either UK or overseas experience. In this paper we present some early evidence on the operation of the new system in practice, both to provide a commentary on the first months of the Community Charge, and to identify what can be learned from experience in the first year.
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