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Independent think-tank, the New Local Government Network has this week formally announced the launch of the NLGN re...
Independent think-tank, the New Local Government Network has this week formally announced the launch of the NLGN research unit. As with NLGN's broader programme, the work of the unit will fall under two banners - local government modernisation in practice, and the development of an understanding of what governance means in a New Localist world. Referring to this dual focus, Warren Hatter, NLGN head of research said:

'It is clear that there is a place in the market for a flexible, independent public policy research resource which can add to the evidence base in both of these areas. This is what NLGN has been working towards for the past 18 months and we're delighted to have got together the people we needed to make this work. Having recently produced work for ODPM and CABE, we now have the credibility for further commissions from a wide range of bodies.'

A trio of NLGN's permanent staff will form the core of the research unit. In addition to Mr Hatter, who joined NLGN 18 months ago from MORI's local government unit, they include Natalie Arend, who co-authored NLGN's recent report on enhanced choice in local government services, and Emily Robinson, who previously worked at two other think-tanks, IPPR and the New Politics Network. The capacity of the unit will be supported by additional researchers and policy consultants, with input also from NLGN head of organisation, Anna Randle via her practical work with NLGN's local authority partners. As Mr Hatter remarked:

'NLGN is different from other think-tanks because we manage to engage both local authorities and the private sector, and have an important influencing role in Westminster circles. The research unit will differ from other research institutions because we don't just count modernisation - we are both in the thick of it and committed to it.'

NLGN's research unit has recently launched two major projects. Working with Regions - Making the New Governance Work is examining how vertical integration between levels of governm ent works and should work. Project leader Emily Robinson commented:

'We hear so much joining up horizontally but with the growing importance of the regional tier, it is time to find out what needs to be done to ensure multi-level governance works effectively. For example, how should policy made at regional level feed into local delivery?'

The research unit's other major project is New Ways to Modernise - Innovation in Partnership. Observing the background to this work, project leader, Natalie Arend remarked today:

'In talking widely to our private sector and local authority contacts, NLGN is finding out where the real innovation is happening - be it new partnership models or new forms of service delivery. This major piece of research aims to test why and how that innovation happens'.

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