Political commitment by the UK's environment cities to the expectations of Agenda 21
The literature attributes a great deal of activity in many UK local authorities to their commitment to the •sustainable development green ideology of the Earth Summit's Agenda 21 action plan for managing our Planet's future. Most studies of this response have focused on behaviour and process, including that of some of the four UK Environment City local authorities, alleged front runners in this field ie. Leicester, Middlesbrough, Leeds and Peterborough. This thesis, however, examines closely the degree of actual political commitment by the leaderships of these local authorities and the effect which the EC Programme has had on them. The assessment of EC leadership commitment is made against the radical assertion that Agenda 21 expects local authorities to lead a major shift of both behaviour and altitude. In part, the assessment relies on a novel use of Schein's (1987) method for uncovering levels of culture in combination with a new typology of political commitment. It is found that actual, as opposed to declared and organisational, ideological commitment is generally weak though varying widely between the local authority leaderships and is strongest in Leicester, the 'lead' Environment City. Explanations are presented for this. From public policy agenda building and implementation theory perspectives, the designation of 'Environment City', itself, is judged to have been effective in influencing behaviour and to a more limited extent, deeper levels of commitment. Theory improvement helps to explain this through several newly defined concepts including those of 'public policy franchising', 'issue wooden horsing' the 'politics of embarrassment' and 'grand mastery'. Other insights into how greater commitment by local authority leaderships is encouraged is drawn from the case studies including the utilized opportunity for greater local governmental power offered by the Agenda 21 role and the existence of environmental 'statesmanship'. Citizens in the Environment Cities are found to be more environmentally positive than has been reported of the UK population at large. Also, local level evidence is presented of the nationally observed positive relationship between our concern for each other as 'welfarism' and our concern for the rest of nature as 'environmentism'.