Opinion Former Article

ESRC: New team to navigate local government

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is delighted to announce the appointment of a new Local Government Navigator Team. Building relationships, raising the profile of social science research and identifying opportunities for collaboration will be the main focus of the team made up of three Knowledge Navigators.

Local councils and communities across the UK are facing unprecedented challenges. They are having to tighten their purse strings in the face of a period of sustained austerity, and respond to profound demographic, technological and environmental change. In order to adapt and respond to these challenges they need to access the best knowledge and understanding available.

The UK funds a huge amount of research that can benefit local authorities and the communities they serve. To help local government access this knowledge, the ESRC, in partnership with the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers (SOLACE) and the Local Government Association (LGA) are funding a knowledge navigator team who will provide an opportunity for councils to tap into this existing research base, exert more influence over future research agendas, and develop their own research and development capacity. They will also help the research community to connect better with the needs of the sector and the communities it serves to generate greater impact.

Three experts have joined together their experience and skills to be the 'Knowledge Navigator for Local Government'. They are: Professor Tim Allen, Dr Clive Grace and Professor Steve Martin.

Professor Tim Allen runs a consultancy business, and was formally Programme Director for Analysis and Research at the LGA. Prior to joining Tim headed the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Rural Strategy and Research functions.

Dr Clive Grace OBE is the former Director-General of the Audit Commission in Wales. He is currently a non-executive director of Nominet, one of the world’s leading internet registry companies. Clive was awarded an OBE for services to business and voluntary service to Communities in the 2013 New Year Honours.

Professor Steve Martin is the Director of the Centre for Local and Regional Governance Research at Cardiff University. Steve's research interests are in public policy evaluation and public service improvement and he is acknowledged as one of the UK's leading academic experts on local government policy.

Professor Paul Boyle, Chief Executive of ESRC comments: "Engaging with the local government community is a key priority for the ESRC and I am pleased to appoint our new Knowledge Navigators. Their complementary skills and experience make them ideal candidates for this role. By working in partnership with local government we will see benefits for academic research, the sector itself and ultimately for society at large."

Cllr Tim Cheetham, Project Lead for the Local Government Association's Improvement Board, said:

"With money tighter than ever, councils all across the country are having to be smarter about how we deliver a whole range of vital services, from picking up the bins to caring for the elderly. This vital new initiative will provide councils with better access to cutting edge research and help us conduct our own research to ensure we stay on top of the changing needs of our communities whilst having to make some tough decisions about the future of many services."

John O’Brien, Chair of the SOLACE Foundation says:

"For SOLACE there is tremendous advantage in matching up the supply of world class research with the demand for evidence in councils dealing with social and economic change in their local communities every day. This is what makes this partnership between the ESRC and local government so valuable. We look forward to sharing our programme of work with our members over the coming months and actively engaging them in it."

For further information contact:

ESRC Press Office:

Sarah Nichols
Email: sarah.nichols@esrc.ac.uk
Telephone: 01793 413122
Jeanine Woolley
Email: jeanine.woolley@esrc.ac.uk
Telephone: 01793 413119
Local Government Association Press Office:

To get in touch with Cllr Tim Cheetham contact:

Jacob Lant, Senior Media Relations Officer
Email: jacob.lant@local.gov.uk Telephone: 020 7664 3282
Mobile: 07766 115182
Professor Tim Allen
Telephone: 01608 682646
Mobile: 07813 799131
David Pye, Programme Manager Research 
Email: david.pye@local.gov.uk 
Telephone: 020 7664 3267
Andrew Collinge, SOLACE
Email: andrew.collinge@london.gov.uk
Notes for editors

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK's largest organisation for funding research on economic and social issues. It supports independent high quality research which has an impact on business, the public sector and the third sector. The ESRC's total budget for 2012/13 is £205 million. At any one time the ESRC supports over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and independent research institutes.
The Local Government Knowledge Navigator is a two-year project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.
The Local Government Association (LGA) is the national voice of local government. We work with councils to support, promote and improve local government. We are a politically-led, cross party organisation which works on behalf of councils to ensure local government has a strong, credible voice with national government. We aim to influence and set the political agenda on the issues that matter to councils so they are able to deliver local solutions to national problems.
SOLACE is the representative body for senior strategic managers working in the public sector in the UK. We are committed to promoting public sector excellence. We provide our members with opportunities for personal and professional development, and seek to influence debate around the future of public services to ensure that policy and legislation are informed by the experience and expertise of our members. Whilst the vast majority of SOLACE members work in local government we also have members in senior positions in health authorities, police and fire authorities and central government. For further information please contact; Graeme McDonald, Director of SOLACE on 020 7233 0081 or email graeme.mcdonald@solace.org.uk

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