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Road map produced for wide-spread local government improvement

23 February 2009

A new report published by Cardiff University has produced a ten-year road map which could lead to further widespread improvements across local government in England.

Based on five years evaluation of performance improvement in English local councils, the Centre for Local & Regional Government Research, a joint initiative by Cardiff Business School and the School of City and Regional Planning, has today (24 January 2009) launched its key findings, including a series of recommendations for further improvement over the next 10 years.

Carried out on behalf of the Department for Communities and Local Government, the research assessed the cumulative impacts of the more than 20 Government policies introduced as part of the Local Government Modernisation Agenda. The policies followed the 1998 and 2001 Local Government White Papers, and were designed to raise the quality of local public services and increase democratic accountability.

The three summary reports published today focus on the main themes of the government’s programme for change:

  • improving performance in local government;
  • improving local democracy; and
  • improving the governance of places.

Professor Steve Martin, Director of the Centre for Local & Regional Government Research, said, "Local councils are under increasing pressure to deliver value for money and provide open and inclusive services. This detailed and long-term study has shown that Government policies have indeed played an important role in encouraging the kinds of improvements in the performance of local councils over the last decade expected by local citizens."

The reports concluded that some policies had been more effective than others and that rates of improvement have varied between services. The authors also highlight the need for new approaches to support and help councils rise to challenges that they will face over the next ten years including climate change, the ageing of the population and the impact of the economic downturn.

Findings from the research, carried out in partnership with experts from the University of Birmingham, De Monfort University and the University of West of England, have already been adopted in new policies introduced by the Government. Researchers at the Centre for Local & Regional Government Research are currently undertaking a similar study of the impact of the Welsh Assembly Government’s policies on local councils in Wales.

The full reports and summaries are available here.


Notes to editors:

1. The research team was based at Cardiff University and included experts from the University of Birmingham, De Montfort University and the University of the West of England.

2. The Centre for Local & Regional Government Research is acknowledged internationally as one of the leading centres for policy relevant academic research on local government policy and management. It specializes in research on public service improvement and over the last eight years it has attracted more than £8 million of research funding from research councils, UK Government Departments, the Welsh Assembly Government and a range of other agencies - in the UK and overseas. It is at the forefront of academic debate and has strong links to senior policy makers at the very highest levels in the UK and internationally.

3. The Centre for Local and Regional Government Research is a joint initiative by Cardiff Business School and the School of City and Regional Planning. Cardiff Business School is the largest department of Cardiff University, and one of the most successful business schools in the country - it was ranked fourth in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise and its extensive links with public and private companies, government agencies and universities throughout the world have helped earn it an international reputation. The Department of City and Regional Planning is one of the UK’s foremost Planning School - both for the standard of its teaching and research output. In the latest Research Assessment Exercise it was ranked third in the UK.

4. Communities and Local Government sets policy on local government, housing, urban regeneration, planning and fire and rescue. They have responsibility for all race equality and community cohesion related issues in England and for building regulations, fire safety and some housing issues in England and Wales. The rest of their work applies only to England.

5. Cardiff University

Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities and is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s most research intensive universities. Among its academic staff are two Nobel Laureates, including the winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine, Professor Sir Martin Evans.

Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning.

Visit the University website at:

Further information:

Professor Steve Martin
Centre for Local & Regional Government Research
Tel: M: 07773 381 107

Dr James Downe
Centre for Local & Regional Government Research

Tel: 029 2087 5298

Lowri Jones


Telephone: 029 2087 0995
Extension: 70995


Lowri Jones_thumbLowri has a BA in Sociology and a Masters in Marketing. Lowri began her career as a PR consultant in the north east of England. On moving back to Wales, she worked for some of Wales’ leading public relations consultancies, directing PR campaigns for public, private and third sector organisations. Lowri moved in-house at Cardiff University in 2007 originally as part of the Public Relations Team, taking up the post of Public Affairs Manager in 2010.

Main Areas Of Responsibility
  • Development and implementation of the University’s public affairs strategy to enhance the University’s profile, reputation and relationships with political stakeholders in Welsh Government, National Assembly for Wales, Westminster, Whitehall and the wider policy community
  • Internal ambassadors programme
  • Coordination and arrangements of key political events and visits by political stakeholders and other VIPs
  • Political briefings and monitoring