Tony Travers quite rightly outlines the changes in the regulatory framework which means we are unlikely to return to the days of ratecapping and defiance of central government. Statutory provisions and statutory officers are in place to prevent this happening.
So what is a new council elected in May going to do to manage the continued impact on communities of the austerity agenda.
There are not a lot of levers and even a free hand on council tax would be hugely regressive and unfair as even within London the range is so big that a 10% rise could be as little as £80 and as much as £ 300-400.
Cutting senior staff salaries is totally symbolic as it will save little money and drain talent.
A far more progressive approach is to follow the example of numerous local authorities around the country and embrace commercial opportunities. This is not about privatisation but about returning local government to its roots and providing electricity or extending waste services.
The key thing for a newly elected council is surely about delivering the best possible services it can to its communities, not refighting the battles of the 1980s or making grand political gestures.
The local elections have provoked media speculation about the possibility that changes within the Labour party might mean there will be one or more ‘Momentum councils’ after the May elections. A number of urban authorities have seen reselections and, in at least one case, an explicit move to oust the current leadership. It is never quite clear what a Momentum-led council would actually be. Presumably it would have a majority within the Labour group for a leadership which promoted policies close to the more radical of those espoused by Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell. Once in office it would need to re-order priorities and policy. Any such authority would be seen as emblematic of Corbyn-led Labour in power nationally.