Andrew Lightfoot: Case study

at Greater Manchester Combined Authority

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Strategic Director Public Service Reform, Greater Manchester Combined Authority

"The relationships between Greater Manchester’s universities and local government have been greatly improved as a result of my CSaP Policy Fellowship."

With devolution agreements giving Greater Manchester Combined Authority more powers and responsibilities, I am open to any opportunity that can help make a success of this exciting new approach to local government.

I started my CSaP Fellowship with no preconceptions other than the view that meeting world-class authorities on subjects relevant to my role had the potential to be enormously beneficial.

The briefing from CSaP was superb, and really gave me a good sense of what to expect from my meetings with academics. In preparation, I honed some broad areas that I wanted to explore more rigorously. Although it was hard to see why I was scheduled to meet with certain academics, often it was these seemingly more peripheral experts that gave me the most value.

In the past, the relationship between Greater Manchester's universities and local government has been fairly ad hoc. This meant that many opportunities for partnership and collaboration were lost. Inspired by CSaP’s setup, I have been working with Alan Harding, our Chief Economic Adviser, to formally structure these institutional relationships to better harvest the research potential of Greater Manchester. Professor Hilary Pilkington’s contribution to our Mayoral Commission on community cohesion and radicalisation is a perfect example of this.

The outcome of these more structured relationships has been the establishment of a combined authority and academic network. The aim of this network is to share best practice and insight amongst the Combined Authorities to maximise their potential for success.

The Fellowship also supported the development of GMCA’s health and social care policy and the health devolution agenda. During my meetings, I was made aware of some important recent research that might not have come to my attention otherwise. This work informed discussions around the organisation of public health functions in Greater Manchester.

If I was pitching the Fellowship to someone about to participate, I would say that it is a really intensive exposure to a wide range of relevant experts. It’s an investment that will potentially stand you in good stead for the next 20 years.