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From the editor: Bold list reflects political instability

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No one can accuse our LGC100 judges of being anything other than bold this year. 

Nick Golding

Nick Golding, Editor, LGC

Nick Golding

Their judgements of who will wield the most influence in local government in 2018 reflect Theresa May’s administration’s loss of authority and the difficulty of bringing about reform in an era of austerity and national political instability.

Despite the reduced impact of ministers, that does not necessarily mean local leaders fill all the top slots. Indeed, two of our top four slots are held by the heads of quangos. Nevertheless, we should celebrate a reasonably healthy abundance of council leaders, mayors and senior officers in the upper reaches of our power list.

Only two combined authority mayors make it into the top 90 places, indicating a scepticism that they really do constitute the game-chaning power shift that the government believes

The difficulties of working with the government are also reflected in this year’s list, with lower placements for senior Local Government Association figures probably more reflective of the barriers they face lobbying a weak and divided minority administration than anything else.

There may be disappointment among some that only two combined authority mayors make it into the top 90 places, indicating a scepticism that they really do constitute the game-changing power shift that the government believes. Mayors’ placement reflects the many checks and balances built into combined authority constitutions. The ball is in mayors’ court to prove that they can use soft power and profile to bring about infrastructure improvements, drive investment and improve the co-ordination of work between councils.

Women fare better in this year’s LGC100 than our power list of 12 months ago, when they occupied just one place in the top 10. There has been a string of examples of women being appointed to top jobs in recent times and they now hold four of the top 10 slots. Nevertheless 34 women in the top 100 stops far short of being representative of the population as a whole. The ethnic make-up of those on the list is also far less varied than the make-up of broader society.

Thank you to our sponsors, BT and Sky AdSmart. And thank you also to our judges both for their time and for having the guts to take some tough decisions, which were often far from unanimous.

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