Combined Authorities: A Loss of Urban Identity or Urban Imperialism?




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Peer reviewed


As a result of devolution to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the UK government has turned its attention to England, and a new legislative framework has been introduced for devolution to English local government. The latest wave of reform is focused on governance structures and a form of territorial re-scaling – the creation of combined authorities, headed by elected mayors. Combined authorities are created where groups of local councils can enter negotiations with government to agree the devolution of powers and finances through a ‘devolution deal’.

This process of reshaping the institutional settings within metropolitan regions has implications for the existing political relationships and territorial identities which are being combined into new ‘super authorities’. Political relations are being tested as municipalities within these regions seek to establish new institutions within which they can effectively govern within their own localities but also jointly across multiple geographical boundaries. There is also a question mark hanging over where the balance of power should lie within combined authorities, where different tiers of local government and different territorial interests (urban and suburban/rural) will have decision-making capacity. At the same time, existing territorial identities are also being tested, as these quasi-regional governing entities are established and senses of place are challenged.



England, local governance, urban identity, urbanisation, municipal administration, unitary authorities, combined authorities


Wall, R. and Jones, A. (2017) Combined Authorities: A Loss of Urban Identity or Urban Imperialism? ANNALES UNIVERSITATIS SCIENTIARUM BUDAPESTINENSIS DE ROLANDO EÖTVÖS NOMINATAE SECTIO IURIDICA, pp. 141-159


Research Institute

Local Governance Research Centre (LGRC)