Local Politics Specialist Group One: Councillors: Political Innovation, Reform, Change and Challenge in Local Politics

Room: 
Room D, City Hall
Time Slot: 
Wednesday 28th March 11:00 - 12:30
Panel Chair: 
  • Professor Colin Copus (De Montfort University)
Panel Members: 
  • Professor Colin Copus (De Montfort University)
  • Dr Michael Cole (University of Liverpool)
  • Miss Rachel Wall (De Montfort University)
  • Dr David Sweeting (University of Bristol)
  • Mr Neil Barnett (Leeds Beckett University)
  • Emeritus Professor James (Jim) Chandler (Sheffield Hallam University)

Studies of innovation in local government tend to focus on managerial and administrative processes (Osborne, 1998, Borrins, 2001, Newman et al, 2001, Andrews, et al, 2003). By comparison how councillors innovate politically or how innovation in local politics affects long-standing political dynamics has been given less attention (see, Leighton and Lopez, 2013). Moreover, there is little recent understanding of how the life of the councillor beyond the council is affected by, and affects, how councillors operate in office and the degree of political innovation they can bring about (see Barron, et al 1898 and 1991). Understanding local political innovation has become more important given austerity and central government inspired reform of local government (See, Copus, et al, 2017). The effectiveness of local responses to the pressures for reform and innovation depend on the strategies local government develops in a situation where councillors wield influence rather than power over complex governance networks (Egner, et al, 2013). The panel will explore and develop the concept of local political innovation to explain how councillors and councils develop (or are prevented from developing) imaginative approaches to complex social, economic, financial and political problems and external pressures for reform. Papers will address the following questions:

  • What strategies can councillors use to energise political action and change?
  • How to the legal, electoral and constitutional limitations on local government and the personal life of the councillor beyond the council, energise or hinder political innovation?
  • To what extent do the ambiguities, tensions and paradoxes inherent in councillors’ roles shape the potential to innovate politically and respond to external challenges and reforms?
  • How can the concept of political innovation be developed and theorised?