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  • Author or Editor: Guy Howard x
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‘New Labour’, as part of its democratic renewal and modernisation agendas, has championed new and different forms of decision making in public services. In local government this change can be construed as a shift in emphasis away from representative democracy towards partnership and participatory decision making. New Labour has encouraged the active involvement of citizens in their communities. For their part, local authorities are developing new approaches and structures to facilitate such engagement.

Local government, as in other areas of public policy, is also undergoing a new phase of reshaping and redefinition. There has been a shift in emphasis from hierarchies, to markets and now to partnership. This current emphasis on local authority partnerships has a number of strands – with other parts of the public sector, with the private and voluntary sectors, and with citizens and communities. This chapter is concerned with partnerships between local authorities and their citizens and communities.

The chapter explores New Labour’s democratic renewal agenda and its application to local government, before moving on to consider partnership and participation. It then examines examples of partnership being developed by a local authority, Birmingham City Council, particularly emphasising governance partnerships at the ward level. In analysing Birmingham’s approach, the way in which this authority is utilising its version of partnership is questioned. In particular, it identifies and analyses concerns that relate to the representativeness, social inclusion, accountability and utility of these governance partnerships. The chapter’s conclusions seek to draw out implications for the wider local government community.

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This article considers the degree to which achieving equity in Global North–South research partnerships is possible under current UK funding models. While there has been significant discussion with respect to the decolonisation of research, it will be argued that there is some distance between the language of equity articulated currently by UK funding bodies, and the realities of working as a project partner in the Global South. The article draws on the prior and ongoing experiences of a multidisciplinary team of researchers brought together by a UK-funded research project. In the interests of moving towards more equitable systems of knowledge production and dissemination, it explores the power asymmetries that can be inherent in Global North–South research partnerships, and the extent to which issues of coloniality continue to shape aspects of research agenda setting, project framing, impact, academic publishing and the division of labour within partnerships.

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