Headlines: May 25th, 2004

A new centre of expertise in local government and politics opens today. The Local Governance Research Unit is based at De Montfort University in Leicester and will focus on research in key areas of local governance including public participation, political leadership and e-democracy.The Unit brings together the University’s research in the field of British and comparative local government. Many of the staff are internationally recognised in their fields, which include -local democracy and voting systems, local political leadership and management including executive models and scrutiny and issues facing rural local authorities as well as public participation and e-democracy and voting options.

In addition researchers will provide consultancy for local councils and undertake studies for bodies such as the Economic and Social Research Council, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Council of Europe and Government departments. The unit also aims to foster existing strong research links with leading academics at universities in the UK and across Europe and the United States.

Chief executives and other practitioners from local authorities will be at today’s launch with academics and representatives from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, the Improvement and Development Agency. A seminar, ‘Innovations in Local Democracy,’ will include presentations from key members of the LGRU team.

The unit’s director Dr Lawrence Pratchett said because the team was not dependent on government grants its research could be truly objective and at the same time be accessible and relevant to policy makers. Working with Dr Pratchett will be five additional academics and three research students. More information on the LGRU can be found at www.dmu.ac.uk/lgru