How does localism for standards work in practice? The practitioner’s view of local standards post Localism Act 2011

Feild, Paul Richard (2015) How does localism for standards work in practice? The practitioner’s view of local standards post Localism Act 2011. Doctoral thesis, London Metropolitan University.


This thesis examines the new regime brought in by the Localism Act 2011 for promoting and maintaining standards of conduct of members of English local government. It asks how practitioners can improve their practice in the implementation of new legislation addressing the issue of standards of behaviour of locally elected politicians. The legislation was highly controversial in reversing the approach taken by the previous Labour government of a national oversight regime and addresses the issue of public confidence in local elected representatives by leaving decisions to take action regarding standards to local authorities. This is a form of localism.

The thesis adopts the methodology of action research combining two specific elements of insider action research and participative action research. This is achieved through reflective consideration of own practice and working with a regional partnership of public sector professionals charged with the responsibility of administering and applying the legislation to deal with complaints. The participants are at the most senior level of their professions and they contribute through rigorous semi structured interviews supported by public sector performance indicators. This provides robust qualitative and quantitative data which enables an original assessment of the implementation of a controversial piece of legislation. The thesis provides evidence to support the finding that the Localism Act’s duty on local authorities to promote and maintain standards of conduct of members is subject to local culture and by the removal of the national oversight of the former Standards Board, Standards for England and the Audit Commission, standards can only be maintained and improved by close regard to the Committee for Standards in Public life guidance and practitioners working together as in the sample partnership applying best practice Critical Success Factors and actions to promote the raising of standards of elected members. This thesis identifies such Critical Success Factors and provides a narrative of the author’s improvements in practice as the research proceeds. As action research is used as the method, it is intended that the findings of the research will be fed into further action research cycles.

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