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).
In the history of urban planning, we have seen regular paradigm shifts that often reflect broader societal developments as much as disciplinary trends and fashions. Few feuds in the discipline have reached the emblematic status that had the one between Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs about the future of New York city in the 1960s: Moses, the powerful planner, on the one hand, who believed that only a destruction of the existing structures could lead to better city, and Jacobs, the journalist-turned-activist, on the other, who wanted to protect precisely what the first one sought to extinguish. Jacobs firmly believed that it was the lively streets of her beloved Greenwich Village, the mix of cultures and lifestyles and the animated grittiness of the public space that made cities worth living in.
Journal of Place Management and Development, Volume 11, Issue 2: Special Issue: “Participatory placemaking: concepts, methods and practice”. Editor: Ares Kalandides
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Dr Paul O’Hare, a Fellow of the Institute of Place Management, is a Lecturer in Geography and Development at Manchester Metropolitan University. He has conducted research on the theme of resilience for almost ten years across a number of funded research projects. This has included work to develop the use of adaptive technologies for flood risk management, and efforts to use urban design to secure crowded public spaces from terrorist attacks.
He recently completed a UK Government (Defra) funded project that examined the development of surveying for property level protection from flooding (Surveying for Flood Resilience in Individual Properties). His current research examines: the contribution that civil society and citizens can make to risk management; insurance, flood vulnerability and maladaptation; and contested expertise in risk governance. From a practical perspective, he currently works with flood-affected localities to identify ways to help communities become more resilient to future flooding.
In the past he has launched guidance documents for citizens and stakeholders hoping to utilise property level protection (www.smartfloodprotection.com ), and has advised local and national government on the complexities of contemporary risk management. He is a member of several professional/ academic networks and regularly contributes to research and seminars uniting academics, practitioners, policy makers and NGOs. Continue reading “Meet the IPM: Interview with Dr Paul O’Hare”→
I recently had the opportunity to coordinate two workshops that included participation in urban development one in the town of Agios Nikolaos (Crete, Greece) and only a week later in the district of Wedding in Berlin, Germany. The details were indeed rather different, but the basic idea very much the same. In Crete the goal was to think about the town’s identity and to formulate some visions for its future. In Berlin it was about the future of the place: “What do we imagine our neighbourhood to be in 2020”. Both workshops were thoroughly enjoyable, as I always find working with people on the future of their places a very rewarding process. Continue reading “The problem with participation in urban development”→