Urban Governance in a Diverse City - Paper Example

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Urban governance relates closely with urbanization. This association arises from the idea that without urbanization, there would be no need for urban governance. In 2008, UN-HABITAT established that the sum of persons residing in urban areas was the same as for those living in the rural areas. The reports of 2009 showed that the people inhabiting the towns had exceeded those in rural areas in total numbers. Whereas the urban areas had a population of 3.42 billion , the rural areas recorded populations of 3.41 billion. The same report estimated that a projection of the future years show an increase in urban population by more than eighty percent (Un.org 2017). Hence urban governance is needed to address the issues that arise with this increased urban population.

In urban governance, the government at the various levels exercises control and regulation over a town center, while considering the economics, planning, and zoning. This control can be at the national or county or state government levels. Most borough areas are cosmopolitan and have a diverse composition of people. Hence urban governance of such places has to consider all these different groups. London is one such city. London is the capital city of England and has been described as a global city as it is rich in art, commerce, transport, education, and fashion (Hubbard & Wilkinson 2015, p.599). As a result, it has also attracted a large population from all over the world, and of 2016 the populace was 8.63 million (Ukpopulation2017.com, 2017).

A Theoretical Perspective on Urban Governance

Liberalism is one of the theories of urban control that mainly promotes the notion of liberty and freedom of the individuals against the state authority. Hence, in this aspect, it upholds economic, political and social freedom of the people to make their own choices for their collective good. In another sense, the theory encourages collective decision making as opposed to substantive enforced laws and unstructured social organization of the people with minimal state intervention (Jessop 2002, 453). Liberalism also calls for deregulation of economic and social activities by the authorities and privatization of amenities. Foucault, in his book, The Birth of Politics, describes liberalism as more than just a theory but a way of doing things through ones self-regulation (2008). He further stated that limitation of a states intervention was a main way of enriching the state.

Neoliberalism, (a projection of liberalism in the new world), on the hand, according to David Harvey, mainly involves the strengthening of the value of capital and increasing the powers of an individual entrepreneur through solid individual property rights and the free flow of labor in the markets. Neoliberalism promotes free choices among the people with minimum or no state intervention especially through regulation of business practices. From the above, authors deduce that neoliberalism is mainly concerned with the shift from state socialism to capital socialism (Le Gales 2016, p.154). In line with this paper, neoliberalism advocates for the removal of urban governance so that the market economy in London can perform at its maximum without any hurdles from the government.

Diversity and Multiculturalism in London

Being the capital of England and a booming business hub, the land is one of the most populous cities on the European continent. This population consists of a wide variety of people from different cultures against the world. The 2011 census showed that about 37% of the population of London comprised of foreigners. This segment is a large percentage of the population and thus makes London the second most immigrant-populated city after New York. The composition of this foreign population includes Black (from Africa and the Caribbean) and Asian people (from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India) (Hill 2016). This combination leads to more than 300 languages spoken in the city of London. London also accounts for the biggest intake of immigrants in the whole of England.

The Migrant Rights Network in London revealed that London had experienced the highest rate of immigrants influx partly due to the new European Union membership when the countries of Central Europe and Eastern joined. London attributes this inflow to the fact that in 2004, the EU admitted new membership from countries such as Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, and Slovenia. London also has the highest population of residents born in areas away from the United Kingdom and residents who are born in the UK but are not its citizens. This increase results in a city that is a cosmopolitan and an international city. However, other migrants into the city came from war-torn countries as refugees and asylum seekers while others entered the city as economic migrants (Migrants' Rights Network 2017).All these different populations have different cultures and ways of life, and with their coexistence in one city, this whole myriad of cultures emerges.

Economic Consequence of Diversity

London is one of the key commercial cities in the world and has five major business districts. It generates about 30% of UK GDP with the finance sector being the leading contributor (McWilliams 2015). The city has shifted its attention as to how the administrative bodies and guiding principles can back an improvement in diversity used as an asset for competition in spaces such as marketing, creativity, and development of the labor market. This shift is to improve its economic performance even further. The Greater London Authority (GLA) facilitates the administration of the city of London and takes pride in the diversity of the metropolitan. The GLA has promoted diversity through activities that recognize all the diverse cultures in the town including the successful 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

However, one of the major contributors of the economic prosperity of London is the diverse labor force. London has attracted different activities into the city including investors, businesspeople and even students from across the world. The economy of London had flourished since the 1980s when the immigrants started flowing into the country comprising of highly skilled to average and less experienced workers. The governance of this citys population has been minimal hence promoting workers, and business-minded workers into the city. The city has incorporated all types of workers and has an enabling body, the London Development Agency that enhances the integration process of immigrant workers through activities such as training into the knowledge of the English language and job searches (Ambrosini&Boccagni2015).

The Models of Governance

London is one of the cities that have seen a shift from local government to urban governance. This government involves the oversight, coordination and regulation of the people and the activities of the city by the Greater London Authority through the mayor and the London Assembly. Pierre reiterates that governance involves more than just government intervention into the actions of the public but also looks at the incorporation of other non-government bodies such as institutions and non-state actors. He points to four models of governance including managerial, welfare, pro-growth and corporate authority. These models incorporate vital participants of the activities, the focal objectives that the models aim to achieve, the ways and means to achieve these objectives and goals, and the outcomes of the same.

The managerial model consists of the local authority carrying out an oversight over the activities in the urban set-up. This model also incorporates the involvement and contribution of the public and aims at improving the provision of public facilities for better economic outputs. The welfare model emphasizes the association of the state in economic activity and governance to the extent that the public relies on them for state funds. This ideal shows an anti-capitalist way of domination. The pro-growth model on the other hand advocates for the improvement on the public and private interactions to improve economic activities and growth in the fiscal status of the city is its foremost goal. Finally, the corporate governance models aim at achieving an equally distributive economy.

The Governance Process

The Greater London Authority is made up of the London Assembly and the mayor. The assembly performs an oversight purpose over the roles of the mayor. This body carries out different functions over the city of London. However, Borraz and Le Gales in their article Urban Governance in Europe opine that it is hard to understand what a government is or the process involved until one understands who or what is being governed (Borraz & Le Gales 2010, p.140). The authors also state that regulation of a city, though different from governance, is more or less intertwined. They point out to three forms of systems of a municipality including state regulation where the local government is in charge of how resources are used or distributed among the population, market regulation which is upheld by capitalism and cooperative regulation.

The governance process as carried out by the GLA includes strategic planning, policing and the transport sector. However, these are not carried out by the GLA as a body but by the mayor under the direct supervision of the assembly. In term of planning it is under the mayors docket to produce viable plans for the city, and through the approval of the assemblage, the Borough Council implements the plans (Sandford 2014). Concerning policing, the GLA has powers over services such as housing, the transport and the police sectors. Other services such as education are under the domain of the London Borough Council while the national government provides health services.

Leadership in Urban Government

As mentioned above, the city of London is administered by the Greater London Authority through the mayor forming the executive organ besides a legislature which is the London Assembly. The current mayor of London is Sadiq Khan, and the assembly is composed of 25 elected members. The Greater London Authority (GLA) is an establishment of the Greater London Authority Acts of 1999 and 2007. Before the existence of GLA was the Greater London Council. However, it was abolished in 1986 during the governance of Margaret Thatcher after they established that its functions could be carried out by the London Borough Councils. This abolition was the case until 1998 when through a referendum and the passing of the Greater London Authority Act; the Authority came into being in 2000 with a mayor and an oversight assembly (Authority, G. M. C. 2015).

However, the GLA does not function on its own as an authority but has bodies that enable its duties such as Transport for London that oversees the provision of transport facilities in the city and the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority that governs emergency services especially fire breakouts. The mayor of London is a political figure elected directly by the people of London for a term of four years. The mayor makes decisions and proposals to the assembly together with a budget, and it is upon the congress to propose amendments and can only turn down a mayors proposal with a two-thirds majority vote (Sweeting 2002, p.11).

Shortcomings of Urban Governance

Urban governance is a concept that emerged to improve the government oversight over the cities through a closer homebody. This notion is also meant to be a way to make it easier to manage the activities that take place in urban areas. Borraz and Le Gales pointed out that it is hard to efficiently manage a whole population especially in a city where some areas are not governed adequately and others are still behind in service delivery. As a result, the local governments op...

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