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Local Governance Research Unit


Consultancy, research and policy-advice to councils and others concerned with aspects of local governance.


Prospects for codifying the relationship between central and local government.

Consitutional Committee

The first annual research report for the Department has been published.


Internationally recognised centre of excellence on local government

The Local Governance Research Unit, based at Leicester Business School, is an internationally recognised centre of excellence for theoretically informed, robust and rigorous policy relevant research into British and comparative local governance. Our international and comparative work focuses on public governance, local political leadership and local politics, community cohesion and local citizenship, neighbourhood governance, local democracy and local politics. We also have a broad research interest in all aspects of local governance. Our high-quality research meets the needs of academics, policy-makers and practitioners at the international, national, regional and local level. We are committed to providing a strong and vibrant link between academic research and the needs of the research user.

The Unit undertakes research for a wide variety of bodies, ranging from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), to pan-European bodies such as the Council of Europe, through to Government departments, such as the Department of Communities and Local Government. We also provide consultancy, research and policy-advice to individual councils and others concerned with aspects of local governance.

We are actively involved in supporting the research of two Parliamentary Select committees: the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee and the Communities and Local Government Committee.

The LGRU has strong research links with other leading universities in the UK and across Europe and the USA.  We are key participants in a number of international research projects and research networks. Members of the Unit are editors of international journals, members of editorial boards and of international and national expert advisory committees and directors and convenors of academic committees. Unit members are regular presenters at a range of academic and policy conferences and are at the forefront of academic and policy debates.  

Professional and Executive Policy Seminar Series  


Recent Policy Papers:

Paper 1: Aspects of the Coalition Government Policy Paper 2: Codifying the Relationship Between Central and Local Government


Political Studies Association: Local Politics Group Ghent University: Centre for Local Politics Political Studies Association Interpretive Political Science Group Local Government Association Local Government Information Unit

LGRU Activities

Professor Colin Copus, was an invited key note speaker at the #Notwestminster conference on 13 February 2016 at The Media Centre in Huddersfield. #Notwestminster is a group dedicated to the redesign and strengthening of local democracy and to encouraging civic engagement and public participation. Professor Copus was asked to speak on the theme of his book: In Defence of Councillors. You can view his passionate defence of councillors, here:

Councillor Commission

The quality and effectiveness of local government and local democracy rests on the contribution made to both by councillors as elected representatives. The office of councillor is one of the most fundamental political positions in any democracy and it is the political office through which localities, and the communities within them, are able to govern themselves. Councillors live in close proximity to those they govern, represent and serve and they are part of the communities about whom and for whom they make political decisions that will have lasting consequences for local well-being.

The Local Government Research Unit has launched a Councillor Commission to conduct an independent review of the role and work of the councillor and of the contribution made by councillors to the governance of their communities and the country. The Commission’s aim is to provide policy-makers, that take decisions about the structure, function, role and purpose of local government and democracy, with a better understanding of the office of councillor and of the contribution councillors make to their communities. Its aim is also to further public and policy debate and understanding about local government and local democracy.

The terms of Reference of the Commission are:
To explore and consider the roles, functions, tasks, responsibilities and powers of the councillor so as to assess their relevance and effectiveness in enabling councillors to sustain a viable system of local democracy, local leadership and local government. It will examine the daily experiences of the councillor in their office as a politician and representative, to understand how far and to what effect councillors can shape their communities and the actions, activities and polices of private and public organisations operating within and beyond the boundaries of the council. The commission will examine the quality of support councillors receive from their councils in conducting their activities and examine ways of strengthening and enhancing the role and status of the office of councillor.

The Commissioners
The Commissioners are as follows:

Colin Copus (Chair) (Professor of Local Politics, De Montfort University)

Sir Merrick Cockell (Chairman, UK Municipal Bonds Agency plc and London Pensions Fund Authority)

Jessica Crowe (London Borough of Sutton Executive Head of Customers, Commissioning and Governance)

Councillor Mike Evans (Whiteley Town Council) nominated by the National Association of Local Councils

Heather Jameson (Editor, Municipal Journal)

Jacqui Mckinley (Executive Director, Centre for Public Scrutiny)

Lord Gary Porter (Chairman of the Local Government Association)

Anthony Zacharzewski (Director, Democratic Society)

The work of the Commission is being supported by Clive Betts, MP, Chair of the House of Commons Communities and Local Government Committee. Although the Commission is independent of the committee it will submit its final report to the chair of the committee for consideration.


18 December 2015: Formal Launch and call for evidence

January to August 2016: Collection of evidence through formal written submissions and workshops with councillors and other interested parties

May 2016: Interim report

September 2016: Final report


Submitting Evidence
Written evidence can be submitted direct to the Commission at any stage during the inquiry using the following email address:

A series of regional workshop and evidence gathering events will be organised throughout the inquiry and to express an interest in participating in these please contact Professor Colin Copus or Suzanne Walker (see below)


Further Information
For further information on the work of the Commission or about submitting evidence, contact Professor Colin Copus:  or Suzanne Walker:

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