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Monday, 10 November 2014

Local Government & Planning Seminar - Wednesday 3 December 2014, 1.30pm

The NI Assembly will host a seminar on Local Government & Planning on Wednesday 3 December 2014, 1.30pm - 3.30pm. The event is free to attend; anyone wishing to register should email raise@niassembly.gov.uk.

The seminar is part of the Knowledge Exchange Seminar Series (KESS). KESS aims to promote evidence-led policy and law-making within Northern Ireland and is the first of its kind in the United Kingdom, formally partnering a legislative arm of government - the Assembly - with academia. Aiming to encourage debate and improve understanding, KESS provides a forum to present and disseminate research findings in a straightforward format, across the Programme for Government; making those findings easily accessible to decision-makers such as MLAs and Assembly committees, as well as the wider public sector.

KESS is jointly delivered by the Research and Information Service of the Assembly (RaISe), in partnership with Queen’s University, Ulster University and the Open University. For more information please visit: http://www.niassembly.gov.uk/Assembly-Business/Research-and-Information-Service-RaISe/Knowledge-Exchange/.




Local Government & Planning
Wednesday 3 December, 2014, 1.30pm - 3.30pm
The Long Gallery, Parliament Buildings, Stormont Estate


1.30pm: RaISe - Welcome
1.35pm: Assembly Committee Chair - Opening Remarks

1.45pm: Prof Colin Knox (Ulster) - Community Planning in Local Government - how do we do it?

One of the key reforms in local government reorganisation is the statutory power of community planning, which has been described as the equivalent of Delivering Social Change (OFMDFM) at council level. There is however a dearth of information on how to take the principles of community planning from concept to practical implementation in Northern Ireland. This presentation draws on a pilot study and sets out one approach to the outworking of community planning in local government. It will highlight potential tensions between community planning partners in relation to the issue of accountability: vertical accountability to the Minister, and Assembly and horizon accountability to the community planning partnership. It also offers insights into emerging central-local government relations and whether community planning could rebalance a devolved administration which has been centripetal in nature.

2.05pm: Mr Gavan Rafferty and Prof Greg Lloyd (Ulster) - Community Planning and Land Use Planning in Ireland’s Border Area

The convergence of local government reform in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland is occurring at a unique moment in the island’s history, allowing further consideration on how an inter-jurisdictional co-operative framework can foster collaborative decision making on cross boundary community planning issues. In Northern Ireland, the proposal to introduce community planning will herald the reorganisation of local government, together with the transfer of statutory land use planning functions from the centre to the new local authorities. The Republic of Ireland is also witnessing a strengthening of its local governance arrangements. The Local Government Reform Act 2014 will create new local economic and community plans (LECP), which facilitate the better integration of public bodies, social and community partners to collaboratively work on integrated plans for specific actions in communities. This presentation explores the interfaces between land use planning (reforms) and community planning (innovation) in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in the specific context of the border area. There are vertical, horizontal and lateral dimensions to this potential interface and the context is febrile with questions around culture, capacity and competence in executing the new governance arrangements on integrated service delivery and spatial development.

2.25pm: Dr Karl O’Connor (Ulster) - Policy making at the local level: Everyday policy making in our local councils

If greater powers are to be devolved to our new super councils, what type of institutions will inherit these powers and how will these powers be used? Existing public administration research would lead to the expectation of greater bureaucrat involvement in the traditionally more mundane aspects of policy formulation, while in areas of greater public and political interest greater political involvement in the decision-making process would be expected. Converse to these expectations, however, evidence from Belfast City Council suggests that the bureaucratic elite are found to play a pivotal role in the day-to-day management of power-sharing within the city. This presentation highlights research findings that identify two ‘typologies of bureaucrat’ within the Council; and these in turn provide an insight into what guides everyday decision-making. It further explains that the development of administrative capacity within our local Councils is a necessary condition not only for good governance and supporting local councillors, but also for conflict management. (The research was conducted using Q Methodology: a mixed method designed to measure core beliefs and values and was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council).

2.45pm: Discussion
3.15pm: RaISe - Closing Remarks
3.20pm: Networking and Refreshments

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