Welcome to Jam and Justice
In June 2015 the interim mayor of Greater Manchester, Tony Lloyd made the following statement:
“For too long people in Greater Manchester have felt disengaged from politics and politicians. Politics is often seen as something that happens down in London with no relevance to us here. The devolution agenda changes all that. Real power is being repatriated from Whitehall to the streets of Greater Manchester. That gives everyone a stake.
There has been criticism of this process that, so far, decisions have been taken behind closed doors and the public has been largely excluded. I understand those criticisms, which is why I want to assure the people of Greater Manchester that they must and will be involved. We are on the brink of change that is real and will be lasting. It is vital the public takes centre stage and is part of the debate.”
What are the limits and opportunities of devolution as a response to complex urban governance dilemmas?
He was talking, of course, about devolution. The UK Government’s promise is for a ‘radical’ rethink of the governance of England’s great cities. In a speech in Greater Manchester in May 2015, George Osborne, Chancellor of the UK Exchequer, announced to those present that ‘it is time for you to take control of your own affairs’.
Much hope has been placed on devolution to resolve long-standing and complex urban crises. Yet there are many questions over whether the practice lives up to the promise. In particular, concerns have already been raised by the community and voluntary sectors about the gap emerging between formal city strategy and the ambitions and concerns of ordinary people.
What might a real ‘devolution revolution’ look like?
What are the limits and opportunities of devolution as a response to complex urban governance dilemmas? What might a real ‘devolution revolution’ look like? What role can engaged research and practice play in making devolution matter?
These are some of the questions that a mixed team of academics and practitioners started work on in January 2016, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) until 2019, as part of the Urban Transformations programme.
What role can engaged research and practice play in making devolution matter?
Our project ‘Jam and Justice: Co-producing Governance for Social Innovation’ takes the devolutionary process in Greater Manchester as both context and opportunity to test alternative ways to govern cities. We will be building an Action Research Cooperative to co-produce social innovations and rethink urban governance for 21st century cities.
We hope our project can make space for different interests to develop and exchange knowledge and test creative responses to address complex urban governance dilemmas. We also have support from our international dissemination partner, Mistra Urban Futures, to share learning and experiences with partner cities in Cape Town, Kisumu and Gothenburg.
We have chosen to use Platform to help share our journey. Platform was built to support knowledge exchange between different communities and stakeholders in the city-region - building an urban history of the present through documenting Greater Manchester's efforts, successes and failures in trying to develop more sustainable futures. It is a fitting place for us to tell our story.
In the Jam and Justice collection, we will be posting blogs, sharing events, creating an archive of governance innovations, tagging articles under a ‘devolution’ theme and making a document library about devolution here in Greater Manchester and elsewhere.
Watch this space…and welcome to Jam and Justice.
You can also follow us @jamandjustice or email us at email@example.com
Contributed by Mark Burton
Contributed by Francesca Gains
I am a Professorial Fellow in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Sheffield. I describe myself as an interdisciplinary urbanist, interested in processes of transformation and change, particularly around governance and policy processes; the roles of universities in their urban environments; and the research-practice relationship.