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About the ILG

We are a research and knowledge exchange partnership comprising North East England's five universities, local authorities, police and fire and rescue services and other key public sector agencies. Membership is based on an annual subscription.

Strategic decisions are taken by the Governing Board chaired by Councillor Paul Watson, Chair of the Association of North East Councils and Sunderland City Council.

The Board is supported by Management Committee chaired by Steve Stewart, Chief Executive of Northumberland County Council, and by a staff team led by Professor John Mawson, Director of the Institute.

Management Committee

The Management Committee comprises senior representatives from across the partnership. It meets quarterly.

  • Terry Collins (Chair), Durham County Council
  • Jane Hibberd, Sunderland City Council
  • Professor Susan Hart, Durham University
  • Ian Hayton, Cleveland Fire and Rescue Service
  • Marisa Jobling, Gateshead Council
  • Professor Rob MacDonald, Teesside University
  • Martin Finlayson, University of Sunderland
  • Ann-Marie Johnstone, Middlesbrough Council
  • Amanda Skelton, Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council
  • Janice Rose, Northumberland County Council
  • Claire McLaren, Hartlepool Borough Council
  • Julie Danks, Stockon-on-Tees Borough Council
  • Sarah McMillan, South Tyneside Council
  • Jacqueline Laughton, North Tyneside Council

Why the ILG?

At a time of unprecedented financial and economic constraints, there is a growing demand to transform the way in which public services are delivered. Enhanced collaboration between the North East's universities and public sector can make a significant contribution to tackling these challenges. The ILG is a key ally through transformation and change, in replacing research and intelligence capacity lost as a result of the changing regional architecture, it can play a vital role in providing a robust evidence base for decision making by public sector partners during their transformation processes.

Whilst there are already many excellent bilateral working relationships between individual universities and public sector organisations, many believe more could be achieved through greater collaboration and partnership working.

Much research undertaken in our universities is directly relevant to the local governance agenda but there is limited awareness or use of this research in local government or indeed more widely across the public sector.

There can sometimes be an atmosphere of mistrust and misunderstanding between the worlds of practice and research. These difficulties reflect different priorities and ways of working in the generation and use of research. Both worlds also share much in common in their requirements for information gathering, analysis and knowledge transfer.

The ILG is an intermediary, building bridges by tackling cultural and institutional barriers and facilitating collaboration for mutual benefit. It has a proven track record of delivery in brokering and facilitating useful research projects on time and to budget, in fostering a collegiate and open approach and the projects to date have delivered outcomes that have been welcomed and are making a difference.

Our objectives

We are unique in brokering research and knowledge exchange requirements and sourcing them through a virtual centre of local government expertise that reaches across the North East's universities. We were set up to:

  • foster a critical mass of shared academic and practitioner expertise focusing on continuous improvement and policy innovation in local governance
  • assist decision makers in addressing the challenges of economic and the chronological change by rethinking delivery models to provide more responsive and cost effective services for the citizen and pursuing community empowerment and joined up agendas
  • build a knowledge exchange to embed a culture of academic practitioner enquiry in local governance, transfer good practice and help co-ordinate research and learning amongst the local governance community
  • work with partners to attract research funding from research councils, charitable institutions, central government and international bodies
  • contribute to developing an evidence base and policy analysis to facilitate the North East's engagement in national policy debates and advocacy
  • work towards the establishment of high quality research and practice in local governance in North East England.

Our history

The concept of the Institute for Local Governance was driven by emerging public sector financial stringencies, the need to transform the way in which public services are delivered and the desire to promote world class research and practice in local governance. Underlying this was a view that enhanced collaboration between the North East's universities and public sector could make a significant contribution to tackling the opportunities and challenges. There were already many excellent bilateral working relationships between individual universities and public sector organisations, but many believed more could be achieved through greater collaboration and partnership working.

It was recognised that demands on the public sector to engage in research and intelligence activities had become more pressing, reflecting central government's preoccupation with evidence based policy making. While expectations had grown, research capacity remained stretched reflecting pressures on front line services with research activities the first to go. Yet the UK's Research Councils and other research institutions annually fund over £3 billion of university research, much of which was directly relevant to the local governance agenda. A study for the Economic and Social Research Council found that there was only limited awareness or use of this research in local government, and it seemed likely that this applied more widely across the public sector.

This is not just a British problem. The UK's Council for Science and Technology concluded that most advanced countries experience an atmosphere of mistrust and misunderstanding between the worlds of practice and research. These difficulties reflect different priorities and ways of working in the generation and use of research. However, both worlds also share much in common in terms of requirements for information gathering, analysis and knowledge transfer. It was concluded that what was needed was an intermediary mechanism which built bridges by tackling cultural and institutional barriers and facilitating collaboration for mutual benefit.

Against this background the remit for the ILG was established following discussions between the Association of North East Councils, Universities for the North East and other key partners, which led to the commissioning of a feasibility study in 2009. The final report for the North East Improvement and Efficiency Partnership (NERIEP) found: "overwhelming and enthusiastic support for the concept from all quarters".

Work was commenced to create the Institute for Local Governance and the inaugural meeting of the Governing Board took place in October 2009 when the ILG constitution was formally ratified. Professor John Mawson took up the role of Director of the Institute in January 2010.