The past ten years have seen local government in the UK facing two major challenges: to survive in the face of Thatcher government hostility, and to adapt to enormously powerful forces of economic restructuring which have also been encouraged by government policies. The key aspects of these changing fortunes of British towns explored in this important new book is the ability of individual localities to exercise any control over their own growth and decline. Place, Policy and Politics examines local political initiatives seeking to influence economic and social development in seven sharply contrasting localities, ranging from the outer council estates of Merseyside to the boom towns of Cheltenham and Swindon. Throughout their analysis, the contributors, drawn from a wide range of social science disciplines, address the vital questions in the debate over local policy initiatives, including: * To what extent are localities able to harness trends in the national and international economy to provide jobs and a better standard of living for their inhabitants? * Why do local authorities vary in their capacity to initiate economic policy? * To what extent do national urban and other policies inhibit or encourage their efforts? * How might central government modify its policies to facilitate the prospering of localities?