By John Fenwick

Howard Elcock, professor emeritus of government at Northumbria University, who has died aged 75, was the author of numerous books and articles, including a study of administrative tribunals and public inquiries, Administrative Justice (1969). His later publications included Portrait of a Decision (1972), Local Government (1982), Change and Decay? (1991) and Political Leadership (2001). Much of his work put forward the view that public leaders should be held accountable and behave ethically.

More recent research was on the new political management in local government, especially elected mayors. Howard was chair of the public administration committee of the Joint University Council between 1987 and 1990 and then chair of the JUC itself from 1990 to 1994. He was an executive member of the Political Studies Association between 1988 and 1993, and was elected a fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in 2002.

Howard was born in Shrewsbury, son of George, a coal merchant, and his wife, Marion, a secretary. Educated at the Priory school for boys, Shrewsbury, and Queen’s College, Oxford, he lectured in politics at the University of Hull between 1966 and 1981, before moving to Newcastle upon Tyne to become head of the school of government at Newcastle Polytechnic, which later became Northumbria University. He was visiting scholar at Fredonia State University, New York in the 1990s. Howard served as a member of Humberside county council between 1973 and 1981, becoming planning committee chair, where his tenure coincided with initial work on the Humber bridge.

Howard retired from full-time work in 1997 but remained an active researcher and writer. He served as chair of the north-east region of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) between 2006 and 2011. His main leisure interests were classical music, real ale and sailing. He served as commodore of two sailing clubs, including Tynemouth, where the vagaries of the North Sea did not appear to challenge his nautical skills.

Howard was a strong supporter of the traditional values of scholarship and had little time for the passing fashions of the modern university world. He was a mentor to many and gave his time freely. He was a one-off, living out his values in his lifelong commitment to the Labour party, the Cooperative party and the CPRE.

He is survived by his sister, Ruth, and brother, David, and by five nephews and a niece.

This article was first published by The Guardian.