All posts by Tony Chapman

Who Runs the North East?


Prof Fred Robinson

Professor Fred Robinson has been working with Professor Keith Shaw and Sue Regan of Northumbria University on a major study of governance in the North East of England. The findings have just been published; the Report is now available at

The researchers looked at the region’s political structures and the local Councils, bodies and boards running key public services. The research covered 100 organisations in local government, health, education, arts and culture and housing. This unrivalled analysis of power and accountability shows that the North East’s public services are run by a narrow range of people: largely middle aged, middle class people who are not representative of the region’s population. The majority of those in charge are men, but women are more involved than they used to be.


Key findings are:

  • The North East today has very little clout. Most of the region’s MPs (26 out of 29) are in Opposition — and London is more dominant than ever. The former regional institutions have been abolished and — despite the rhetoric — there’s been little devolution of power to the regional or sub-regional level.
  • Local government has been weakened by austerity  and that’s on top of a continuing problem of low election turnouts.
  • Many public services are run by people who are appointed,  they can’t be voted out, so there is little democratic input.
  • There’s been a big increase in the involvement of women in governance. Now, 14 of the region’s 29 MPs are women, compared with 4 women out of 30 MPs in 2000. It’s the same on Councils: 43% of North East Councillors are women, compared with 23% in 2000. However, most senior positions are still held by men.
  • Many appointed boards still have male majorities, but the dominance of men has been steadily reducing. Even so, boards where the majority of members are female are very rare indeed.
  • In other respects, the people who run the North East are far from representative of the population. Very few are under the age of 45; very few are from Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds; and few are disabled. Most have professional backgrounds. There are far more accountants appointed to boards than people from BAME backgrounds. Seven of the 12 Councils have no BAME councillors. No less remarkably, hardly anyone running the region’s NHS organisations is disabled.

The report says that many voices are unheard, many points of view are effectively unrepresented. Big decisions about health and education have little or no input from many of the people who use these services.

There may not be much that the North East can do to counter the dominance of London. But organisations in the region could do much more to be representative and accountable. They need to be far more open about what they do; some of their websites, for example, certainly do not give the impression of transparency and openness. Boards should hold meetings in public and publish minutes of meetings, as a matter of principle and good practice. They should be thinking much more seriously about diversity in their governance and how to foster it; vague policies are not enough.

Fred Robinson said “This research provides the facts and figures that can be used to challenge and change existing practices. Public services need to be much more open and accountable, so that they are more responsive to local communities”.


This research was supported by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, Newcastle law firm Muckle LLP, and the Institute for Local Governance.

Third Sector Trends in North West England Report published

A major new report on the Third Sector in North West England has been published by Policy&Practice.  The study, funded by IPPR North and Garfield Weston Foundation, includes responses from 1,462 third sector organisations in the North West of England.

The work forms part of IPPR North’s ‘The Future of Civil Society in the North’ programme.  The first report on the programme was published by IPPR earlier in 2017 by Tony Chapman and Jack Hunter and is available here: Third Sector Trends in the North: a summary of key findings.

The work runs alongside two other major studies in North East England, funded by Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland (who are now responsible for the legacy of the Northern Rock Foundation Third Sector Trends study and for the development of future iterations of the project) and Yorkshire and the Humber funded by Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

Jack Hunter, Senior Researcher at IPPR North has reviewed the key points from the report in a blog which can be found here:

The North West England report is  available here THIRD SECTOR TRENDS IN NORTH WEST ENGLAND 2016.

Reports from Yorkshire and the Humber and North East England are also available at these web addresses:






Yorkshire and the Humber Third Sector Trends Study published

A major new report on the Third Sector in Yorkshire and the Humber has been  published by Policy&Practice  on Monday 17th July 2017.

The Third Sector Trends study has been running in Yorkshire and the Humber since 2010.  The first phase of the work, funded by Northern Rock Foundation established a baseline assessment of the size and structure of the sector. This work was carried out by NCVO and Southampton University.

In 2013, Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) funded a major survey of over 1,000 charities in the region in collaboration with Involve Yorkshire & the Humber and St Chad’s College, Durham University. A second phase of the work was undertaken in 2016, also by Professor Tony Chapman of  St Chad’s College – again generously funded by JRF.

The results of the 2016 survey chart the progress the Third Sector has made over the last ten years in tackling key social, economic and environmental issues in the region.

The work runs alongside two other major studies in North West England, funded by Garfield Weston and IPPR North, and in the North East by Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland who are now responsible for the legacy of the Northern Rock Foundation work and for the development of future iterations of the project.

The 2016 study report can be found here THIRD SECTOR TRENDS IN YORKSHIRE AND THE HUMBER 2016

The 2014 study report can be found Third Sector Trends in Yorkshire and the Humber May 2014

Professor John Mawson becomes a Professorial Fellow at St Chad’s College

Professor John Mawson has joined St Chads College as an honorary Professorial Fellow.  John has a long-standing relationship with members of the leaders of the Policy&Practice team: Professors Fred Robinson and Tony Chapman.  They have worked together on a wide range of projects over the last six years on issues  surrounding governance issues across the third sector and public sector. Professors Mawson and Chapman also jointly supervise three PhD students in Durham University Business School.

John Mawson has a multi-disciplinary professional and academic background. He is currently the Director of the Institute for Local Governance in Durham Business School and has previously been Chief Executive of the pioneering West Midlands Enterprise Board Ltd., a local authority controlled venture capital institution which was to successfully operate across the region between 1981 and 2012.

In the academic world John was Director of the public sector MBA programme at the School of Public Policy, Birmingham University and went on to hold Chairs in Town and Regional Planning at Dundee University, and Public Policy and Management at Aston Business School. Between 2001 -2009 he was Director of the Local Government Centre at Warwick Business School.

In the world of practice, John has held Board positions in several private-public sector partnerships and community initiatives including serving as a Director of the West Midlands Technology Transfer Centre, Warwick Science Park and Greets Green New Deal for Communities.

Professor Mawson has published several books and over 100 journal articles together with official publications on the management of cities and regions. He has secured some 12 Research Council grants and raised over £4 million of research grants and consultancy from central and local government, the voluntary sector and research foundations.

In welcoming Professor Mawson, College Principal Dr Margaret Masson said, “John brings a wealth of experience to Policy&Practice. The College is delighted to welcome him as an honorary Professorial Fellow. We look forward to a new phase of development of our research, policy and practice initiative to make an even  stronger contribution to economic wellbeing and social justice in the North of England”.


Learning when not to do things, to keep things simple

As the ESRC funded ‘Keeping it Simple’ and ‘Sharing the Responsibility’ projects move to the final stage, a morning seminar was held on Friday 7th July at St Chad’s College  to discuss some of the key learning points from the project so far.

This is the first time in the project that public-sector organisations involved in the project have come together with other funding organisations, infrastructure bodies and practicing third sector organisations.

The purpose of the seminar was to discuss topics, including how to disaggregate different types of collaboration ranging from formal contracts, through partnerships, complementary relationships and good neighbourliness.

We also looked at issues surrounding the need for the measurement of impact and the way that contracts define beneficial outcomes of programmes. In the seminar, we had some self-declared ‘impact heretics’ who cast doubt on the value of nailing down project outcomes where this may not be possible or desirable.

The programme will now continue to produce four ‘what makes a difference?’ reports. Each of the short briefings will focus on learning points discussed in the seminar including ‘when not to measure impact’, ‘when partnerships do not need to be formal’, ‘when money isn’t the issue’, and ‘when the focus is the beneficiaries, not the organisations’.

Specially invited attendees at the seminar included:

Charitable Foundations

Rob Williamson, Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland; Clare Watkin and Julie Coxon, Big Lottery Fund; Nikki Crowther, Ballinger Charitable Trust; and, Harriet Stranks, Lloyds Bank Foundation.

Third Sector Organisations

Brendan Hill, Concern, The Mental Health and Wellbeing Group; Mark Davis, Middlesbrough Voluntary Development Agency; Sally Young, Newcastle CVS; Jane Hartley, VONNE; Gillian Peel, Age UK Darlington; Julia Bracknall, Carers Together; and Alisdair Cameron, Launchpad and ReCoCo.

Local Authorities and Health Organisations

Linda Whitfield, Gateshead Council; Natasha Tefler, Darlington Council; Sarah Perkins, Durham and Darlington Foundation Trust; Mark Adams, Redcar and Cleveland Council; and, Andrew Copland, NHS Hartlepool and Stockton CCG.


Professor Tony Chapman, St Chad’s College, Durham University; Professor Fred Robinson, St Chad’s College, Durham University; and, Professor John Mawson, Institute for Local Governance, Durham University.

Third Sector Trends in North East England

Third Sector Trends research has been running in North East England since 2008 and its most recent biennial survey report has just been published and is featured in today’s Guardian: 

This report presents key findings from the Third Sector Trends study in 2016 from across Northern England and specifically in North East England and for each of its four sub-regions: Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, County Durham and Tees Valley.  Key findings  can be found in the Highlights Report.

The Third Sector Trends study was conceived and originally commissioned by Northern Rock Foundation with research conducted by the Universities of Southampton, Teesside and Durham. The Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland was a co-funder of the research and is now responsible for its legacy. The Community Foundation is now collaborating with partners including St Chad’s College at the University of Durham, Joseph Rowntree Foundation and IPPR North to expand and continue the research.

The Third Sector Trends survey was designed to explore the structure and dynamics of the Third Sector and to examine how individual Third Sector organisations (TSOs) fare over time in the context of change. The biennial survey which runs across the North East of England and Cumbria received the following levels of responses; 2010, n=1,055; 2012, n=1,700; 2014, n=1,318; and in 2016, n=1,369.

The final report can be downloaded here:

The Third Sector in Bradford

Professor Tony Chapman spoke in Bradford City Hall Council Chamber on 29th June about his research on the Third Sector in the City. The presentation was based on 167 responses, the best result for a single local authority in a wider survey on the sector across Yorkshire and the Humber.

The audience was a mix of voluntary sector and public sector participants who wanted to know what the key trends were in the funding and financial wellbeing of charities in Bradford.

The session was opened by Councillor Abdul Jabar who has Cabinet responsibility for neighbourhood and community safety in the city and chaired by Amria Khatun of Bradford Council Strategy Office for Stronger Communities.

The presentation, which draws on data from the JRF funded Third Sector Trends study in Yorkshire and the Humber, shows that the voluntary sector in Bradford is resilient but that organisations are more likely to be facing financial vulnerability than in Yorkshire and the Humber as a whole.

The event was organised by Paul Colley of Community Action Bradford and District and joint funded with City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council.

The full report is available here: THIRD SECTOR TRENDS BRADFORD 2016

Blurring the lines of responsibility in emergency services

When does partnership end and dependence begin?

A seminar organised by the Institute for Local Governance. It will take place at Teesside University, Vicarage Road, Darlington DL1 1DR on 23rd June 2017,  9.30 – 1.00

The political language surrounding partnership working is appealing.  Originating from many initiatives established in New Labour governments, partnership became a catch-all phrase to encourage ‘joined-up working’, determining ‘what works’, and producing ‘added value’. When there’s plenty of money on the table, partnership working is easier because notions of shared responsibility don’t necessarily include expectations of sharing out resources. But when money is very tight, things change.

Austerity measures have weakened the provision of services to some of society’s most vulnerable people; such as people who are homeless, people with severe mental health problems and people suffering from alcohol or drug addiction. All too often such factors are inter-linked – which makes the situation more complex because lines of responsibility become blurred.

If agencies are obliged to water down or withdraw support for essential services, those partners which feel a strong sense of duty to maintain provision often try to fill the gap. Quite often such responsibilities fall to the emergency services – but with what consequences for their officers and for those other areas of responsibility for which they have a statutory duty to attend.  How are key services, including  the Police, Fire and Rescue, Ambulance, Health and Local Government responding to the challenges?

In policy terms, the Government has intervened through a series of legislative devices including the Policing and Crime Act 2017 which enables Police & Crime Commissioners, if there is local support, to oversee the local Fire and Rescue Authority. Similarly, the development of Combined Authorities could empower “Metro-Mayors”  to play a significant role in governance of emergency services.

These developments, taken together with increasing budgetary pressures on all three emergency services, are producing new levels of complexity in the delivery of emergency services and various initiatives to secure enhanced collaboration. The big question for the seminar is not just to ask how service providers in the public, local government and voluntary sectors can continue to tackle front line issues, but also to look at how to alleviate problems before they become too severe or prevent problems in the first place.

The seminar’s starting point is not crisis management,  but it is a chance to explore what needs to be done and can be done to prevent situations arising and to ensure that those in need are channelled to agencies that have the expertise to meet their complex needs. How can collaboration across service area boundaries help maximise the use of resources and enhance efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery?

Speakers include:

  • Professor Howard Davis, Professor of Social & Local Policy, Faculty of Health & Life Sciences, Coventry University
  • Chief Superintendent Jane Spraggon, Head of Command, Strategic Demand Management & Harm Reduction Command, Durham Police
  • Jim Cunningham, The Community Peer Mentor – Project Coordinator, Office of the Durham Police Crime and Victims Commissioner, Durham Police
  • Chris Lowther, Chief Fire Officer, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Services
  • Professor Eileen Kaner, Professor of Public Health and Primary Care Research, Newcastle University
  • Kelly Stockdale, School of Health, Teesside University

This is the fourth seminar in the current season which covers a variety of topics including: welfare reform, revitalising coastal communities; graduate retention and recruitment; and, tackling the democratic deficit in the context of devolved responsibility. The seminar is free to attend, but places are limited and they tend to book up quickly, so please register your attendance via: Janet Atkinson, Institute for Local Governance, Durham University

The Institute for Local Governance is a North East Research and Knowledge Exchange Partnership established in 2009 comprising the North East region’s Universities, Local Authorities, Police and Fire and Rescue Services.  Further information about the content of the event can be obtained by contacting:- or


June meeting of the Young People and Society Study Group

The next meeting of our Young People and Society Study Group is on Thursday, June 22nd from 3.00 – 5.00 in In the Horsfall Room, Ramsay House, St Chad’s College, 26 North Bailey (a few doors down from the Main College building).

Coffee/tea/juice and biscuits will be available from 2.45. Ramsay House, .

We have two speakers and a discussion item.

Professor Roger Smith, School of Applied Social Sciences

‘Diverting our attention. Why doesn’t the state care about youth crime and is this a good thing?’

José Luis Mateos-González, School of Applied Social Sciences

‘Student Migration: European present, uncertain future: what can British higher education lose after Brexit?’   Following these presentations and discussion, Iain Lindsey will lead a discussion on a potential new grant application on addressing obesity in primary schools.

Following these presentations and discussion, Dr  Iain Lindsey will lead a discussion on a potential new grant application on addressing obesity in primary schools.


Graduate enterprise and employability

A question of ‘retaining’ or ‘attracting’ graduates to North East England?  

A seminar organised by the Institute for Local Governance, Bridges Room, Gateshead Council, Civic Centre, Gateshead, Friday 26th May 2017, 9.30 – 1.00

Recent research from the Centre for Cities demonstrates that the North East is leeching graduates to the London and the South East of England.  The exodus of talented young people is undoubtedly a cause for concern – which has been reflected in policy statements from both the North East Local Enterprise Partnership and the Tees Valley Combined Authority. But is it the right to put too an strong emphasis on the retention of North-East graduates to secure the future of the North East economy, or should more emphasis be placed on the attraction of graduates to harness the opportunities the region presents to them?

The seminar will consider issues surrounding employer demand for graduates and ask whether the ‘offer’ presented to prospective candidates is right for graduates as well as for the region.  The seminar will also focus on the quality of graduate employment in the region by identifying the extent of ‘under-employment’ of graduates and debating it’s consequences for the incumbents of such jobs and for the region more generally.

Speakers will look at the current Creative Fuse initiatives to improve interactions between business, universities and the public sector to promote new ventures in creative industries using digital technology, arts, traditional and new communications media.  A specific case study will be presented on digital innovation and the incubation of graduate businesses at Digital City in Middlesbrough to demonstrate how long term initiatives take root.

The seminar will be Chaired by Jonathan Blackie CBE, Visiting Professor Northumbria University. Speakers will include:

  • Shona Duncan, Head of Skills, Education and Employment, Tees Valley Combined Authority, on graduate employment and underemployment in Tees Valley
  • Laura Woods, Director of Academic Enterprise, Teesside University, on the achievements and ambitions of Digital City for graduate enterprise
  • Michelle Rainbow, Skills for Business Manager, North East Local Enterprise Partnership, on the changing skills needs and generation of labour market strategy
  • Helen Ross, Project Manager, Creative Fuse North East, on building relationships across NE universities and businesses to promote graduate employment and enterprise in creative industries
  • Paul Swinney, Principal Economist, Centre for Cities, on causes and extent of graduate migration from North East England

This is the third seminar in the current season which covers a variety of topics including: welfare reform, revitalising coastal communities; evidencing personal wellbeing and social value; tackling the unforeseen consequences of unmet need; and, tackling the democratic deficit in the context of devolved responsibility.

The Institute for Local Governance is a North East Research and Knowledge Exchange Partnership established in 2009 comprising the North East region’s Universities, Local Authorities, Police and Fire and Rescue Services.  Further information about the content of the event can be obtained by contacting:- or

Presentation slides are available here: Laura Woods on Digital CityPaul Swinney on Graduate Migration; Helen Ross on Creative Fuse; Shona Duncan on Tees Valley; Michelle Rainbow on the North East LEP