Citizens, Consumers and Councils: Local Government and the by John Gyford (auth.)

By John Gyford (auth.)

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Family and household structures came to display an increasing variety, as shown by the growth in cohabitation, single parent families and serial monogamy arising from divorce and remarriage and producing complex extended family networks. The house building industry reflected this variety as its building stock diversified away from the family semi-detached to embrace the studio apartment, the starter home, the executive house with granny annexe and sheltered housing. The cause of the single parent family had been one of the first of a new wave of self-help and mutual aid groups when the National Council for the Unmarried Mother was relaunched as the National Council for the Single Parent Family.

That new initiatives could not and should not be in the form of large-scale aid administered from on high. They had to come from the roots and move upwards .... It is easy to laugh at middle-class worthies campaigning ... But they did inculcate in the public consciousness an awareness of the limitations of scale, of the exhaustion of resources and of the interdependence of humankind. They made it possible for a new kind of countervailing power to be deployed, appropriate for an age of depletion (Whitehead, 1985, pp.

The sense of civic purpose which underlay the aspirations of Webb and Hobson and the achievements of Chamberlain found its ultimate organisational expression in the single-tier, multi-purpose county boroughs of the great and middling industrial cities and towns. From the imposing town halls of these authorities were administered the whole range of sanitary, health and utility services which had operated in piecemeal fashion before being taken under their wing. With the town halls securing control of education in 1902 and of Poor Law functions, including hospitals, in 1929 and with the development of new powers in fields such as housing and town planning, there was scarcely any area of the city's 'common life' upon which the county borough council did not touch at one time or another.

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