The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, one of the largest social policy research and development charities in the UK has commissioned work to examine the relationship between communities and the changing nature of local democratic and governance structures. The research will have particular focus on the relationship between settled BME, settled white communities, and new BME and other communities.
The project is being carried out by a partnership of the Centre for Urban and Community Research at Goldsmiths, the Centre for Local Policy Studies at Edge Hill, Renaisi the regeneration company and Community Links.
The research asks:
- Which groups are heard and by what mechanisms? How do different communities end up getting access to power and services?
- Which groups are active outside the formal governance structures but are not heard through existing mechanisms?
- As new communities, including BME communities, move in how are the relationships between communities affected? Do communities close the door behind them, work co-operatively or champion newer groups?
- What do new governance structures mean for those expected to represent these communities?
The research will examine three case studies - a Northern town with a settled BME population, a Midlands city with a rapidly changing BME population, and a "hyper diverse" and rapidly changing London borough - with 'fluid' communities. A range of qualitative approaches will be used to examine the three areas.
Despite considerable debate surrounding the new localism agenda and double devolution, there has been surprising little research examining the inter-relationship between the current democratic and governance arrangements and the fluid nature of many modern communities in the UK.
The project will inform current thinking and policy, as the Government's white paper on local government, expected in the Autumn, and the Lyons Inquiry into Local Government is ongoing.