Birmingham University is the venue today for the first in a series of seminars for a research project on putting policy into practice funded by the European Social Research Council. This is a joint initiative between the Institute of Local Government Studies (INLOGOV), Edinburgh University and APSE. Its aim is to test the practicalities of implementing policy and to gain insight into how policy design can better take place in conjunction with practitioners.
Alastair Merrick from Wolverhampton Council, Graham Bayliss of Sefton Council and myself are there to bring the practitioners viewpoint, whilst Leiden University in Holland is represented along with numerous U.K. based Universities such as Birmingham, Edinburgh, Manchester and De Montefort.
Much of the day is spent with the academics presenting papers and then all of us engaging in debate to tease out current problems. One of the main issues to emerge for me was the limited 'real life' and operational experience of some of the key policy makers in this country. The obvious influence of so many being from an Oxbridge background tends to point to a similarity of thinking and a lack of diversity in life experience.
The next event in the series will be more based on the operational practitioners presenting their views with the Academics playing the role of inquisitors.