This suggests that Google has entirely dropped its early practice of (apparently) spidering (non-subscription) sites that covered local niches and populating local results with them. While this seems to be consistent with local results I'm currently seeing, it's hard to be sure.
If Google is paying (or bartering, or whatever) for local material, then some of the concerns that Google is becoming an aggregator and cannibalizing unwilling sites may be misplaced (though perhaps other issues arise instead ;) ). I don't want to pull this discussion off topic, but how Google gets its local data is implicit in the question.
dertyfern - I'm wondering whether you'd had a chance to notice whether there once were local businesses listed for the query that aren't appearing now, suggesting that a change has taken place.