The purpose of this paper is to explore the nature and influence of organisational culture and respective values and norms on implementation of the Localism Act by English local authorities. Specific implications for dealing with strategic change are identified, explained and critically evaluated. Data were collected using exploratory in-depth interviews with officers in English local authorities. The focus was on operational complexity, identification of organisational culture and its impact on implementation of strategic change. Professionals indicated that local authorities are currently hit by cost-cutting measures, but real strategic change is inhibited by both powerful organisational culture and lack of government-supplied resources. Findings also showed that local authorities face a variety of contemporary challenges in dealing with change due to contextual idiosyncrasies. The paper builds on and extends existing literature that has applied organisational theories to the public sector. The paper highlights substantive barriers to change in English local authorities that have potential negative implications for community empowerment and service provision, and effectively hinder strategy implementation. The empirical paper is novel in reviewing, developing and applying models of organisational culture and strategic change to local government by looking specifically at the challenges of strategy implementation at operational levels using the example of localism. Its specific theoretical contribution is data generation that shows a tangible impact of organisational culture on policy implementation in local authorities.