Power and administration in two Midlands cities, c.1870-1938
Municipal government mattered as much in the 1930s as it did in the 1870s. Taking a case study of a prestigious urban institution in Birmingham and Leicester, this thesis explores the role of the Watch Committee in interacting with other local, national and professional institutions in administering urban police and fire services. A melding of approaches prevalent within the disciplines of public administration and urban history facilitates a thematic approach to the nature and practice of administrative power. R. A. W. Rhodes' model of power-dependence, modified and reinforced through recent research into policy networks and communities, allows the modem urban historian to explore the interplay between structure and agency within intergovernmental relations between 1870 and 1938. Through an analysis of legal, financial, organisational, political and informational resources, this thesis argues that neither central nor local government dominated the decision-making or policy implementation processes. Governmental institutions negotiated and interacted amongst themselves through a variety of networks, both locally and centrally initiated, for their access to such resources. Ultimately, powerful and prestigious county boroughs continued to influence national decision-making structures throughout the inter-war years. The Watch Committee was an independent institution and consisted of experienced and expert members. Through its close relationship with the Police and Fire Departments, in particular their chief officials, the urban dimension of `police' policy remained integral despite increasing central regulation of local services during the period under review.