It is distressing to report that two of Bristol’s most respected civic leaders have received death threats in recent weeks. Mayor Marvin Rees, who is mixed race, and Deputy Mayor Asher Craig, who is black, have both made reports to Avon and Somerset Police, and a 27 year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of racially aggravated harassment. Here in this post we do not want to dwell on these shocking incidents. Rather, we want to draw attention to the strengths of Bristol’s leadership and highlight the launch of a new and ambitious collaborative effort. Launched at a City Gathering on 11 January 2019 the One City Plan maps out a strategy for Bristol for the period through to 2050. In this article, first published on the Local Government Chronicle website on 21 January 2019, Robin Hambleton suggests that local leaders can make a positive difference to the trajectory of their city.
The US mid-term elections indicate a troubling increase in the already well-known political divide between urban and rural areas in the USA. Put simply, rural areas backed the Republicans and cities and suburbs supported the Democrats. In this article, first posted on the Open University Place-based Leadership website, Robin Hambleton examines the recent US election results and considers the possibilities for progressive place-based leadership.
Can imaginative mayors form progressive governing coalitions that can tackle growing inequality in cities and other social ills? This is the central question addressed in a new series of articles published by the free online journal Metropolitics. In his contribution to this series ‘Inclusive Place-Based Leadership: Lesson-Drawing from Urban Governance Innovations in Bristol, UK’ Robin Hambleton outlines a way of conceptualising progressive place-based leadership, and reports on the steps now being taken by Bristol’s Mayor Marvin Rees, and other civic leaders in the city, to test this model in practice.
The Civic University Commission, launched by the University Partnerships Programme (UPP) in March 2018, is an important effort to lift the quality of debate about the changing role of British universities in modern society. In this Alternatives Paper, published in the online journal People, Place and Policy in September 2018, Robin Hambleton suggests that, while many British universities now see themselves as ‘civic universities’, few can claim to be world leading in this regard. The article examines the changing role of universities in cities and offers a number of suggestions on how universities can become much more active local leaders.
David Sweeting has edited a wide-ranging, international book on directly elected mayors. Published by Policy Press in March 2017, under the title Directly elected mayors in urban governance: Impact and practice, this book draws on examples from Europe, the USA and Australasia to examine the impacts, practices and the lively debates about mayoral leadership in different cities and countries. The book advances international understanding of mayoral governance and contains several chapters discussing mayoral leadership in Bristol. To find out more click here.
Can universities be more active in contributing to civic leadership in the areas where they are located? The Bristol Civic Leadership Project believes that they can, and Robin Hambleton wrote a short article for Times Higher Education on this topic. Published on 3 November 2016, ‘Pulling their weight‘ suggests that the new initiative by UK universities to encourage them to become more engaged with their local communities, known as Leading Places, can learn from the experiences of American public universities.
Robin Hambleton comments on lessons from Bristol for other cities in England. First published on the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) website on 31 March 2015 he suggests that the centralisation of power in Whitehall is holding cities back.