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Title: Delivering effective public services : the case of Local Area Agreements
Author: Nurse, Alexander
ISNI:       0000 0004 2729 1645
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis investigates Local Area Agreements as a tool for the effective delivery of local public services focusing on three main areas: - Centre-Local Relations and the Vertical Governance of LAAs - Intra Local Relations and the Horizontal Governance of LAAs - Learning from LAAs to improve the future practice of local public service delivery. In exploring these areas, the thesis draws upon several academic theories; principally the Strategic Relational Approach and New Institutionalism. These themes are explored in a two-tiered methodology. The first is a national overview survey of LAA practitioners which then informed the second stage; detailed interviews across two case study areas (Liverpool and St Helens) as well as with civil servants and elected politicians from national government. In relation to vertical-governance, the thesis discusses the national indicator dataset and the ability for areas to adequately focus on local policy priorities, the top-down governance of LAAs and a discussion about the role of Government Office for the regions in negotiating and delivering LAAs. In relation to horizontal governance, the research identifies both stronger and weaker actors within the local governance process, discusses the value of differing actor approaches, investigates how internal accountability affects the relationship with a wider partnership and discusses the role of elected members. The final section discusses how practitioners feel that LAAs could be improved, before discussing how current Coalition policy addresses these concerns, before drawing some final conclusions about the relative success of the LAA project. The findings show that despite initial overtures of greater local discretion over setting priorities, strong central control remained. In particular, this was seen through the indicator selection process, with areas adopting indicators that were not seen as local priorities. At the local level it is shown that a long or short term operating horizon affected how actors worked with the LAA and that those actors that traditionally operated on shorter time scales (i.e. police, fire and rescue service) were more likely to register frustration with longer term bureaucratic processes. It was also found that those actors that viewed partnership working on LAA targets as an investment for long term results were viewed as being more effective than those which simply saw it as a cost. In terms of Coalition policy in the post LAA period, it appears that many lessons have gone unheeded, particularly around the components of effective partnership working. However, the new City Deal programme presents a renewed sense of optimism for effective (and locally responsive) local public service delivery.
Supervisor: Batey, Peter; Sykes, Olivier Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: HT Communities. Classes. Races ; JS Local government Municipal government