Accountability for the Mayor of Greater Manchester: Participatory Governance in the 21st Century*
Guest article by James Scott Vandeventer**
It has been over a year since Greater Manchester elected its first Mayor. Since then, Mayor Andy Burnham has worked to build the Mayor’s office as an institution almost from scratch and within the confines of the devolution agreement with central government. This is no small feat, and the Mayor’s efforts should not be overlooked.
Still, there are deeper underlying issues that exist in Greater Manchester, which the mayor needs to address. These relate to his own accountability to the over two and a half million people within Greater Manchester. He came to power in a democratic election. But likewise true – and widely known – is that the long-standing Labour majority across the city-region meant his election victory was hardly a surprise (1). With approximately 29% turnout, the mayoral election came nowhere close to capturing the majority voice of eligible voters in Greater Manchester (1).
The 8th International Conference on Tourism (ICOT), jointly organised by IATOUR, the Technological Educational Institute of East Macedonia and Thrace, the Municipality of Kavala, and Middlesex University in the UK, and sponsored by Δημωφέλεια (Dimofeleia) was held in the beautiful city of Kavala on the Greek mainland 27th – 30th June 2018.
The theme for ICOT2018 was Emerging Tourism Destinations: Working Towards Balanced Tourism Development. This resulted in a really varied and interesting conference programme with almost 60 papers presented in a number of tracks including: Serviceology of Hospitality & Tourism; Cultural & Heritage Tourism; Place Image & Various Stakeholder Perceptions; Special Interest Tourism; Current Issues in Tourism; Expenditure and Consumption in Tourism; Tourism Demand; Sustainability; Tourism Development & Planning; Hospitality & Marketing; New Business Models & Digital Disruption in the Tourism Industry; along with many tourism case studies. Continue reading “CONFERENCE REPORT – ICOT2018, KAVALA, GREECE 27-30 JUNE”→
We recently asked Keith Still (Professor of Crowd Science at Manchester Metropolitan University and Fellow of the Institute of Place Management) to comment on the recent fires in the Mediterranean from his point of view as an expert.
“Due to the recent spate of wildfires around the world, spreading at an alarming rate, it’s worth remembering the golden rules for safety.
One factor that appears to be underestimated is the speed at which fire spreads. Having seen scientific experiments and been subjected to both smoke and hot room escapes at the UK Fire Services College (Morton in the Marsh – https://www.fireservicecollege.ac.uk) this may be the major factor that require more public awareness. In my youth, kids would often set fires in the hills near us, nothing to the scale witnessed around the world, but enough to give me an appreciation of wildfires and how quickly they can spread.
Manchester is one of five European regions set to benefit from a new European fund designed to help regional and local governments to develop and deliver better town centre policy.
The Institute of Place Management (IPM) at Manchester Metropolitan University will utilise part of a £1.5 million grant from the European funding body Interreg, to investigate how companies, councils and other local groups can work together more effectively to improve their town centres. One of the major outcomes of the work will be a nationwide audit of Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) and their achievements.
The Corfu Symposium on Managing & Marketing Places is an annual event organised by the IPM and is dedicated to the theory and practice of place management and marketing. Unique among academic conferences, the Symposium offers scholars the opportunity to engage directly with place making, management and marketing issues as each year the event attracts place practitioners among our delegates and includes opportunities for all delegates to engage with local businesses, policy makers and other stakeholders.
The 5th Corfu Symposium on Managing & Marketing Places held 16th-19th April 2018 explored the utopian or dystopian visions associated with the place practices we study, promote or enact.
Over recent years, TED talks have become something of a global phenomenon; showcasing the work of the brightest brains from all over the World through their series of short, powerful presentations covering a whole host of topics. On 28th April 2018, Macclesfield, in North West England and close to IPM headquarters, hosted their own TEDx event to showcase just some of the forward-thinking ideas, research, and experiences from those with personal connections to the town. In TED’s spirit of ‘Ideas Worth Spreading’, TEDx Macclesfield connects people with a shared link to Macclesfield to spark conversations, share ideas, and help to collectively make positive changes to the town at a local level. The event was organised by Lynne Jones and Jude D’Souza with help from enthusiastic local volunteers. Jones explained the importance of holding such a renowned event in the town:
“Macclesfield (as perhaps any town) is grappling with a number of big issues – town centre regeneration, mental health service provision, local governance and democracy, supporting start-up businesses, and of course Brexit – but there are fewer public forums where real engagement can take place and ideas can be shared locally… The more of us who put something in, however small, the greater the sense connection and the stronger the community becomes. The danger is that we are living in silos more than ever, not hearing from those who hold different views…”
This event was about dismantling such silos, and creating a platform for cultivating a network of local people with a shared passion for making Macclesfield a more thriving place to live, work, and dwell. The event was a complete sell-out, with an audience of 100 local people gathering in Townley Street Chapel- a community hub in Macclesfield. Although the speakers covered a diverse range of topics, the presentations were threaded together by the common theme of how collaboration is key– something which is integral for generating any place’s vitality and viability.
Placemaking is an established practice and research field. Sustainability Citizenship is an emerging concept that tries to understand the different socio-cultural dimensions used in the creation of places, but with a particular focus on: sustainability, social, environmental and/or economic means in the realisation of space(s), created from the bottom up. In our contribution for the special issue of the Journal of Place Management and Development on participatory placemaking, with the title“From placemaking to sustainability citizenship: An evolution in the understanding of community realised public spaces in Bogotá’s informal settlements” (https://doi.org/10.1108/JPMD-06-2017-0051), we discuss “sustainability citizenship” and how it may be a more appropriate concept to understand how urban space is created and transform in informal settlements in Latin America, taking as a example, barrios of Bogotá.
Sustainability citizenship and placemaking are linked through their “process-driven” approach to realising places and use of the citizenry to enact change. In Informal settlements, public spaces are created outside formal planning processes through alternative path dependencies and the resourcefulness of its citizens. Sustainability citizenship, rather than placemaking, can work outside formal planning systems and manoeuvre around established path dependencies, which offers an evolutionary step in the creation and understanding of community realised places in the global south. Continue reading “From Placemaking to Sustainability Citizenship”→
Manchester’s skyline is changing. Fast. While the dominant narrative is that dozens of the buildings transforming this skyline aim to provide more housing in the city centre, the recent report From Homes to Assets: Housing financialisation in Greater Manchester by Dr Jonathan Silver makes clear that these housing developments are overwhelmingly driven by financial institutions and actors who have identified Greater Manchester’s urban core as an attractive site for investment. Indeed, the primary function of these developments is financial speculation. We are witnessing the process of housing financialisation in Greater Manchester. For those concerned about the wellbeing and prosperity of the people living in Greater Manchester, as we are at Steady State Manchester, this poses the question: Does housing financialisation deliver a viable economy?
What is a viable economy?
As we at Steady State Manchester describe in our 2014 report The Viable Economy and in other publications, a viable economy is predicated on a shift in political decisions and societal actions away from the growth-driven instrumental rationality of neoliberal capitalism. Instead, a viable economy demonstrates greater resilience, localisation, and balance as economic activity is treated not an end in itself, but rather as a means to deliver a sufficiently prosperous future without growth. Further, a viable economy subordinates the economic system to the control of society, and organises around cultural attitudes favouring equality, solidarity and cooperation. Finally, a viable economy recognises the finite nature of ecological resources and embraces an ethic of stewardship by minimising imbalances to the planetary systems – including the climate, biodiversity, and nitrogen and phosphorous cycles – upon which human life depends.
“Housing financialisation treats housing as an asset that can, should, and must, generate profit.”
As our members will know, at IPM we spend much of our time conducting research into how we can make better places. Much of this work focuses on the high street, and whilst our towns and cities are clearly operating in a challenging environment, we are always keen to point out that this challenge does not signal their demise. Rather, it is reflective of a shift in how we use them, with retail no longer the critical fulcrum it once was, and it is down to place managers to develop the means of capitalising on this change in demand.
As this realisation sets in, towns and cities are increasingly looking for ways to complement their retail offer, encouraging visitors through other means. One way this is being done is through the development of a cultural offering. This is nothing new – planners and policy makers began to espouse the development of cultural activity in the early 1990s as a means of revitalising cities in the process of de-industrialisation[i], encouraging the rise of the ‘experience economy’[ii]. As a result, culture has, over time, become an increasingly common means of consuming a city[iii]. Continue reading “What can culture and the arts do for a place? “→
The paper aims to understand and describe the development of placemaking in spatial planning. Placemaking is a multi-disciplinary concept including Architecture, Spatial Planning, Geography, Ecology, Tourism, Art, Education and Nursing. Exploring the term “placemaking” from a multitude of viewpoints will allow developing an in-depth understanding of the concept in order to conceptualise global trends with regard to the topic. This exploration is informed by conducting an Integrative Literature Review (ILR). ILR aims at providing an exhaustive description of available research contributions. This exhaustive description includes both theoretical and empirical studies. Appropriate contributions are further explored by following a thematic content analysis and thematic synthesis method. From the thematic content analysis and synthesis, themes and sub-themes can be constructed. These themes and sub-themes are utilised to uncover global trends in research literature. By conceptualising trends, the construction of a comprehensive definition regarding the search-term is possible. Continue reading “Exploring theoretical trends in placemaking”→