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The transformation of many western liberal democracies in the late 20th century has had important implications for the practice of public accountability, compounding the problem of ‘many hands’. This article considers developments in academic debate and discusses how traditional modes of vertical accountability can be augmented by new horizontal mechanisms. New Labour’s approach to local ‘modernisation’ in England is examined, including, but going beyond, local government, to consider new institutions that seek to ‘join up’ local action. The article concludes that to manage the problem of ‘many hands’ requires specific intervention from local government in its community leadership role.

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In 1997 community leadership was placed at the heart of local government reform. However, despite policy commitments, its manifestation remains limited. This article explores why, beginning from a position that the term ‘community leadership’ is an elastic one containing multiple meanings. Informed by the interpretivism advocated by Bevir and Rhodes, four interpretations of community leadership are identified and discussed. Each is rooted in specific local government traditions and supported by policy and practice evidence. The delineation of these interpretations makes clear that each has different implications for the future of local government that need to be more fully understood.

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This article explores the relationships of policy makers and academic evaluators with each other and with evaluation over the life of the United Kingdom's (UK) New Labour. Drawing on experience of central government-funded evaluations and employing insights from governance and governmentality theories, it illustrates how the idea of evaluation as a source of ‘truth’ was valorised by policy makers as a means of dealing with emergent doubt, delineates the competing manifestations of ‘truth’ that were negotiated in the context of ‘new governance’, and reviews the contribution of new evaluation approaches to uncovering evidence of ‘the truth’. The article concludes that, despite considerable investment in UK policy evaluation, a disconnection between ‘evidence’ and ‘argument’ has limited the role of academic evaluators in the policy process.

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There seems to be a discourse in government that ignores the need for governance in the delivery of services and the management of neighbourhoods. The marketisation of a range of public services, from health to housing, has resulted in a focus on service delivery rather than governance. This chapter examines the orthodoxy of governance, and unpicks some of the assumptions in this debate. It asks who provides public services and does it matter – do people need government? The chapter argues that New Labour’s use of the idea of enabling drew from these interpretations, but in such a way as to offer a diminished rather than enhanced role for local government.

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Changes to governance institutions and practices in western democracies have created the conditions for multilevel governance, and have supported the development of new forms of political agency and organisation. This chapter sees government itself as engaged in processes of subverting or unsettling institutionalised governance processes by its emphasis on neighbourhood governance. It argues that the roots of this apparent disconnect between purpose and outcomes in neighbourhood governance are located in the differences between the values and practices of ‘big’ versus ‘small’ local governments and the tensions which arise when attempts are made to combine them. The chapter uses research evidence from an ESRC study of public participation to illustrate how the coexistence of these different interpretations generates conflict over the design and implementation of neighbourhood governance initiatives and creates opportunities for local citizens to subvert formal policy goals via strategies of reshaping, disruption, and sabotage.

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This chapter addresses the evaluation of social cohesion. It first determines some key evaluation challenges posed by the proposed definition of social cohesion. The chapter then situates these challenges in ongoing debates about the merits of different approaches to evaluation and highlights the potential contribution of recent developments in ‘theory-based evaluation’. Drawing on theory of change (ToC), it explores how these challenges may be met and the implications for evaluators. Three important debates have dominated evaluation research and practice. They concern the approach to evaluation, the methods used in evaluation, and the relationship between the evaluator and those being evaluated. The application of a ToC approach to the evaluation of social cohesion is also considered. There is an important relationship between evaluator and ‘subject’ in ToCs. Under New Labour, evaluation’s profile was raised and it was acknowledged as a key element in the government’s focus on ‘evidence-based policy making’.

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Case studies in public participation

Public participation is central to a wide range of current public policies - not only in the UK, but elsewhere in the developed and the developing world. There are substantial aspirations for what enhanced participation can achieve. This book offers a critical examination of both the discourse and practice of participation in order to understand the significance of this explosion in participatory forums, and the extent to which such practices represent a fundamental change in governance. Based on 17 case studies across a range of policy areas in two English cities, the authors address key issues such as: the way in which notions of the public are constructed; the motivation of participants; how the interests and identities of officials and citizens are negotiated within forums; and the ways in which institutions enable and constrain the development of participation initiatives. Much of the literature on public participation is highly normative. This book draws from detailed empirical work, theories of governance, of deliberative democracy and social movements to offer a nuanced account of the dynamics of participation and to suggest why experiences of this can be frustrating as well as transformative. This book will be essential reading for students of public and social policy and offers important insights for those directly engaged in developing participation initiatives across the public sector

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The Health Action Zone (HAZ) was the first of a number of ‘zonal’ initiatives established by the Labour government between 1997 and 2001 (see also Chapter Twelve on Education Action Zones). The purpose of HAZs was to “bring together all those contributing to the health of the local population to develop and implement a locally agreed strategy for improving the health of local people” (DoH, 1997a). The government was explicit that HAZ strategies would need to be wide-ranging and ambitious; address the causes of ill health, including poor housing, unemployment, inadequate diet and smoking; and improve service interventions both in the NHS and by other relevant providers. According to the then Secretary of State:

The NHS will have a major role – in identifying the things that make people ill – promoting public health and reducing the present gross inequalities in health. But we have got to use the whole machinery of Government to tackle things that make people ill. (DoH, 1997b)

Partnership was understood to be the key vehicle that would enable the resources of government to be brought to bear on improving health, reducing inequalities and improving services in a coordinated and coherent manner. HAZ partnerships would enable joint working between key service providers, including the NHS and local authorities, and would also facilitate the involvement of other interested stakeholders, such as community health councils, community organisations and the private sector. In order to achieve HAZ status, local areas would have to demonstrate their commitment to working in partnership to develop a local health strategy, in addition to justifying their bid with reference to prevailing health inequalities.

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This chapter examines the different theories of ‘neighbourhood’ that have informed the development of public policy. It considers also the shift in academic focus over time from an emphasis on neighbourhoods as a set of physical entities to neighbourhood as socially constructed objects imbued with meaning by residents. It notes that the normative neighbourhood discourse in current UK policy (and especially in England) brings together a number of policy strands from civil renewal, community engagement, and consumerism, to democratisation and decentralisation. It fleshes out the policy world that has been outlined earlier and the challenges that it poses, reminding us that neighbourhoods are complex, multidimensional, and dynamic.

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