Student essay winner: A Transport Solution for Congested Leicester – That’s right, Monorail!

By Chris Whiting / @ChrisRWhiting

CURA is proud to publish outstanding student contributions pertaining to pressing issues facing cities today. In today’s blog, @DMUPolitics MA student Chris Whiting discusses an innovative solution to transport problems in Leicester, asking whether a monorail system, based on the city’s forgotten tram network, could address a wide range of issues in the city.

Leicester’s Urban Transport Problems

If you have anything to do with Leicester, you will know one thing; being beaten by Nottingham at literally anything is totally unacceptable – yet it is the reality on transport.

The seven miles from the outskirts of the Leicester urban area (UA) to the city centre takes around 58 minutes by bus. In Nottingham, where public transport is more readily provided by an extensive tram network, the same journey will take just 32 minutes. As well as this, Nottingham-dwellers can use these service roughly every 10 minutes whereas those in places like Cosby are forced to wait up to 45 minutes between journeys.  

In fact, it isn’t just Leicester’s regional rival having an easier time with transport. Of the thirteen major urban areas in the UK, Leicester is one of only two to not have an urban rail system, with the other being the incongruously centred Southampton-Portsmouth UA. This deprivation in reliable public transport means Leicester is the 9th most congested city in the UK and in the top 100 worldwide[1].

With this lack of available transport comes a myriad of issues for Leicesterians; little affordable housing, even less suitable housing stock, a disassociation with the urban community and concentrations of wealth and deprivation. As the city council ploughs ahead with its flagship waterfront redevelopment project, concerns over working class displacement and detachment with the city centre have mounted, as was warned in 2017[2].

Worse yet, with other transport solutions, such as the new A46 expressway connecting Hinckley with Charnwood via Eastern Leicestershire, there are concerns that green space on the urban fringe could be sacrificed to accommodate for lazy solutions to transport capacity problems[3]. This problem alone should encourage the city to look to less environmentally destructive, and more innovative transport solutions.

Monorail – solution and challenges?

With these things in mind, it is crucial that the city addresses the issue of poor connectivity to its urban centre, without limiting urban space or undoing the council’s admirable push for pedestrianisation – but how? Simply, Leicester should reconsider the visionary idea of 1960s city planner Konrad Smigielski and construct an urban monorail system.

The benefits of this specific type of urban rail system compared to others are two-fold; one, its elevated operation means that already limited street space does not have to be surrendered to install it and, less importantly, its uniqueness among UK UAs would make it marketable from a touristic perspective.

More generally, however, A 2007 ESPON report gave Leicester score of 3.33 (out of 10) for transport, embarrassingly less than much smaller towns like Ipswich, Newbury and Rugby[4]. In fact, Leicester’s transport rating was the joint-worst of the aforementioned ‘big thirteen’ UAs, and third-worst among the country’s 16 largest metropolitan areas (see Figure 1).






Figure 1 – Transport Score of the 16 Largest UK Metro Areas
Source: https://web.archive.org/web/20150924002318/http://www.espon.eu/export/sites/default/Documents/Projects/ESPON2006Projects/StudiesScientificSupportProjects/UrbanFunctions/fr-1.4.3_April2007-final.pdf.

Whilst increasing the road capacity of Leicester’s metropolitan area may be the most conventional response and recovering the forgotten Leicester tram network (see Figure 2) would be the easiest, the installation of a monorail system would address more of the multi-faceted problems of modern Leicester where the other two ‘solutions’ cannot. For instance, a monorail would be less disruptive to the preservation and future expansion of Leicester’s limited green space.

Better yet, Leicester and Leicestershire’s Transport Board only scores two out of ten points for providing choice in modes of transportation, and 4.4 out of 10 for sustainability. An electrified rail system would make great strides to addressing both of these shortcomings. However, what is the most debilitating hindrance to such a project is the lack of funding for local transport. In the 2015-19 period, the central Department for Transport budgeted just £16.1m for Leicester and Leicestershire’s transport schemes, a tenth of Greater Manchester’s budget[5].

Of course, the confidence to pursue such a radical re-imagination of a city’s transport network is contingent on examples of success in other cities. In the pacific north-west of the United States, Seattle has reaped tremendous rewards from the introduction of its own monorail system. The rail’s newest line generates an 8% economic return, is more than twice as fast at peak times than the bus, and because of its elevated status reduces disruption to road users, and costs less in land acquisition than other forms of urban rail, like a tram[6].

The cost-effectiveness of their scheme even expands to reductions in costs associated with road accidents, parking charges and returning more time for users to be economically active elsewhere. Given, it would be a huge public investment, Seattle’s success was contingent on winning public support for the project, as the report showed. Leicester would need a similar seal of approval from its citizens but examples of monorails in similar sized urban areas like Wuppertal and Dresden indicate that it is achievable.

After all, Leicester’s city centre population has risen by 145% between 2002 and 2015 – the sixth highest rate of growth in the country[7] – and is now home to 14,700 people. This has several substantial effects; namely, the reduced capacity in the city centre means many residents are either pushed away from the urban centre or, to accommodate for them, space in the city is severely restricted instead.



Figure 2 – A Map of Leicester’s former Tram system
Source: Wikimedia Commons (2012). File:Leicester Corporation Tramways.jpg. [image] Available at: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Leicester_Corporation_Tramways.jpg [Accessed 8 Mar. 2019].

And as city centre living becomes the only viable choice for those making their lives in Leicester, the price of housing booms and displaces those on low incomes – a monorail would go some way to lessening those impacts[8] by making the idea of commuting from outside the UA far more viable than it is currently[9].

Whilst, Leicester itself is locally infamous for its often frustrating design, a monorail would promote the formation of an integrated hub of intelligently designed towns, suburbs, and the city itself. This radical congestion solution is exactly the sort of innovation that encompasses the thinking behind 1993’s Congress of New Urbanism.

The theory of New Urbanism is premised on the idea that amenities and culture be almost immediately accessible to all urbanites no matter their income bracket[10]. The resurrection of Leicester’s urban rail system would offer that and even provide incentives for greater cohesion between the city’s often fragmented points of interest instead of digressing with the ‘geographies of nowhere’ that have informed Leicester’s urban sprawl[11].

Where amenities are not immediately accessible to the urban population and commuting in and out of the city centre to access them is considered too much of a chore, Leicester begins to fail on several metrics. A monorail system is not a one-size fits all solution for Leicester’s extensive issues, but would be far from a marketing gimmick in turn.

New Urbanist thinking calls for cities to reform as ‘regionally important’, ‘culturally diverse’ and ‘transit-oriented’ – Leicester is only lacking in the latter category[12].

Of course, in the age of austerity, a new urban rail system will be hard for local authorities to devise but should financing arrangements be made by a purportedly supportive central government[13], Leicester could make real progress in alleviating some of its crucial problems with a single word – that’s right, monorail! 


[1] Traffic Index 2018. 2018. Ebook. TomTom. https://www.tomtom.com/en_gb/traffic-index/ranking/?country=UK.

[2] “Leicester Has An Opportunity ‘To Do Regeneration Differently’ — University Of Leicester”. 2017. Www2.Le.Ac.Uk. https://www2.le.ac.uk/offices/press/press-releases/2017/march/leicester-has-an-opportunity-2018to-do-regeneration-differently2019.

[3] “‘A46 Expressway – The Road To Ruin’ Says CPRE – CPRE Leicestershire”. 2019. Cpreleicestershire.Org.Uk. http://www.cpreleicestershire.org.uk/campaigns/strategic-growth-and-a46-expressway/item/2299-a46-expressway-the-road-to-ruin-says-cpre.

[4] EPSON. 2007. “ESPON Project 1.4.3 Study On Urban Functions”. EPSON. https://web.archive.org/web/20150924002318/http://www.espon.eu/export/sites/default/Documents/Projects/ESPON2006Projects/StudiesScientificSupportProjects/UrbanFunctions/fr-1.4.3_April2007-final.pdf.

[5] Where The Money’S Going: Are The New Local Transport Bodies Heading In The Right Direction?. 2013. Ebook. Campaign to Protect Rural England. https://bettertransport.org.uk/sites/default/files/research-files/LTB_report_250913_web_FINAL.pdf.

[6] Bisers, Dan. 2010. “Monorail – Transportation Benefit-Cost Analysis”. Bca.Transportationeconomics.Org. http://bca.transportationeconomics.org/case-studies/monorail.

[7] Mukadam, Ash. 2018. “Leicester Has Sixth Fastest Growing City Centre Population In UK”. Leicester Updates. http://leicesterupdates.com/leicester-sixth-fastest-growing-city-centre.

[8] Pegden, Tom. 2017. “Why House Prices Have ROCKETED In Leicester”. Leicester Mercury. https://www.leicestermercury.co.uk/news/business/leicester-house-prices-rocketing-75-944285.

[9] Martin, Dan. 2017. “‘Eye-Watering’ Numbers Of New Homes Needed Across County Revealed”. Leicestermercury. https://www.leicestermercury.co.uk/news/leicester-news/revealed-eye-watering-numbers-new-753730.

[10] Carswell, A. (2012). The encyclopedia of housing. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: SAGE Publications, pp.513-516.

[11] MacLeod, Gordon. 2013. “New Urbanism/Smart Growth In The Scottish Highlands: Mobile Policies And Post-Politics In Local Development Planning”. Urban Studies 50 (11): 2196-2221. doi:10.1177/0042098013491164.

[12] González, Erualdo Romero, and Raul P Lejano. 2009. “New Urbanism And The Barrio”. Environment And Planning A: Economy And Space 41 (12): 2946-2963. doi:10.1068/a41360.

[13] Martin, Dan. 2018. “Plan Unveiled To Build City Tram Network – If Tories Win Election”. Leicestermercury. https://www.leicestermercury.co.uk/news/leicester-news/plan-unveiled-build-tram-network-1478321.

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Student essay winner: The Cost of the Jewels in Crown Heights

How the sharing economy hollowed out Brooklyn?

By @DMUpolitics student Michaela Cracknell /@kyliecracknell

CURA is proud to publish outstanding student contributions pertaining to pressing issues facing cities today. In this blog, MA Politics student Michaela Cracknell explores the relationship between gentrification, Airbnb and tenant displacement, in an historic neirbourhood known as Crown Heights in Brooklyn.

Tenant union activists demonstrating in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, for affordable housing.

Image from: https://www.bsdcorp.org/2016/03/bridge-street-is-at-the-forefront-of-preventing-tenant-displacement/

“I’ve seen it when nobody wanted to live here,” she said. “As soon as I started to rent an apartment, the rents went up, and now it’s like we’re not even good enough to stay in the neighborhood anymore.” These are the words of long-time Crown Heights resident Angelique Coward from an opinion piece interview in the New York Times.

Ms. Coward is one of many residents from the Crown Heights community that was forced out of her home by rising rents (a 39% increase from 2010 to 2018[1])[2] and pressure from landlords to make room for those with deeper pockets.  

Gentrification in this historic Brooklyn neighborhood has made it a desirable location for further investment into the tourism industry including a spike in ‘AirBnB’ rental properties. However the increases in this sector of tourism has had a negative effect on the amount of affordable housing in the area.

Gentrification in Crown Heights

The gentrification issue is effecting formerly low income neighborhoods all over the world, Crown Heights is just one example of the issue at its worst. But what do we mean we say the “gentrification issue”? Clinical Psychologist David Ley simply defines it as “a transition of inner-city neighborhoods from a status of relative poverty and limited property investment to a state of commodification and reinvestment.” [1]

In Crown Heights we can see this transition by looking at the rise of expensive bars and restaurants, art galleries, and coffee shops that are replacing food markets and affordable corner stores.  We can also look the aforementioned rising rent costs in the area. According to an MNS market report, from 2015 to 2016, Crown Heights saw the largest increase in rent of any Brooklyn neighborhood (7.6% increase).[2] But is gentrification a bad thing? Urban theorist Loretta Lees would say yes, citing that gentrification leads to deeper social segregation and displacement[3].

For Crown Heights, that has become reality with poorer minority groups being forced out of the inner city to make room for a growing affluent presence. This displacement of these groups in larger cities contributes to an acute friction in social and racial relations that already runs deep in the United States.  This tension can be even further amplified when areas that once served as havens for those surviving on lower incomes are turned into profitable epicenters for wealthy investors and developers.

The Role of Airbnb

 Gentrification also often leads to an area becoming more popular to tourists and this can open the door for in investors in different sectors of tourism industry like for example the hospitality/accommodation sector of the ‘sharing’ economy.

This new ‘sharing’ economy can be defined as a sharing, exchanging or renting of goods, services and properties by individuals. Meaning individuals are able to share what they own or a service they can provide with others for a profit. This could be something as simple as washing someone’s car or renting your home out to tourists.

Some economists, like Martin Weitzman, argue that this new economy could end stagflation effect and create an equilibrium among wages[1]. While we can‘t ignore the positive benefits of this new system on the microeconomics of the urban area, what are the costs? In the case of Crown Heights, it’s displacement due to a lack of affordable housing.

‘AirBnB’ is just one of many popular platforms for the sharing of individual’s properties as temporary holiday rentals for tourists and travelers. These types of accommodation are becoming increasingly popular in desirable global cities like New York. AirDNA has compiled extensive data on ‘AirBnB’ properties in Crown Heights. Their data reveals that since 2010 there has been a nearly a 25,000% increase in AirBnB rentals in the neighborhood. With rental properties exploding and rents rising in Crown Heights, it leads one to ask, where can people actually live, affordably?


According to AirDNA, there are currently 1,090 active ‘AirBnB’ rentals in Crown Heights
https://www.airdna.co/vacation-rental-data/app/us/new-york/new-york/crown-heights/overview

Challenges to Gentrification

The answer to that question, unfortunately, is nowhere. Of the 1,090 active Airbnb rental properties in Crown Heights over 50% of them are entire home rentals. Meaning that properties that could serve as much needed affordable housing, are being used as strictly for-profit holiday rentals. This is where we see the correlation between Airbnb and displacement.

 People who have grown up and lived their whole lives in Crown Heights are being forced into other boroughs, out of New York all together, or on the streets due to lack of affordable housing. A report from New York’s Independent Budget Office found that from 2002-2012 families entering homeless shelters came in largest numbers from East New York, Bedford Stuyvesant Heights and Crown Heights.[1]

But the community is beginning to fight back against this inequality of housing. The Crown Heights Tenant Union, founded in 2014, has become active in protesting to demand protection for low-income tenants, fair rent prices and rights to repairs. They currently have over 40 member buildings and continue to hold peaceful demonstrations to fight against rampant gentrification, displacement, and illegal rental overcharges.[2]

The urban has always been the epicenter of progress and not many would argue that progress is a bad thing. However, often there are those who get left behind as the world marches forward. Crown Heights is becoming gentrified as New York progresses to a more global city attracting people and investments from all over the world. Though these investments, specifically those is the Airbnb market, are causing residents to be displaced due to a lack of affordable housing.


[1] New York City Independent Budget Office (2014). Fisical Report. [online] New York. Available at: https://ibo.nyc.ny.us/iboreports/2014dhs.pdf [Accessed 23 Feb. 2019].

[2] Crown Heights Tenant Union. (2015). Crown Heights Tenant Union – About Us. [online] Available at: https://www.crownheightstenantunion.org/about-us [Accessed 23 Feb. 2019].


[1] Weitzman, M. L. (1986) ‘The Share Economy: Conquering Stagflation’, ILR Review, 39(2), pp. 285–290. doi: 10.1177/001979398603900210.


[1] Ley, D. (2003) ‘Artists, Aestheticisation and the Field of Gentrification’, Urban Studies, 40(12), pp. 2527–2544. doi: 10.1080/0042098032000136192.

[2] MNS. 2016. “Brooklyn Rental Market Report”. MNS. http://www.mns.com/pdf/brooklyn_market_report_feb_16.pdf.

[3] Lees, Loretta, Tom Slater, and Elvin Wyly. Gentrification. Routledge, 2013.


[1] “Uneven Burdens: How Rising Rents Impact Families And Low-Income New Yorkers”. 2018. Blog. Trends & Data. https://streeteasy.com/blog/nyc-rent-affordability-2018/.

[2] Yee, V. (2015). Gentrification in a Brooklyn Neighborhood Forces Residents to Move On. The New York Times.

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CURA Annual Lecture

We are delighted to announce details of CURA Annual Lecture 2019:

Speaker: Dr Sarah Marie Hall  , the University of Manchester

Title: “From ‘community’ to ‘social infrastructures’? Repoliticising social relationships and responsibilities in austere times”

Date: Wednesday 12 June 2019

Time: 6-7.30PM

Venue: Hugh Aston Building, DeMontfort University, room HU0.08

Abstract:

This talk explores the uses and misuses of ideas of ‘community’ in times of austerity, alongside more recent developments around ‘social infrastructures’. Where state involvement, investment and responsibility has been sharply retreated over the last ten years of austerity Britain – and arguably more under the project of neoliberalism – it is to community members that policy-makers often look to shoulder the burden; from elderly and childcare, to community services, to educational and arts institutions. Whether filling the gap as volunteers, informal and formal care providers, or over-stretched public sector employees, this is also an inherently gendered burden, and so too an unequal one. Emerging critiques of the everyday politics of austerity have highlighted concerns about this simultaneous reliance on and erosion of social infrastructures, whereby the majority of state investments remains on physical infrastructure like transport, housing, military – what we might call ‘potholes over people’. This comes at the expense of investment in what Pearson and Elson (2015, p. 26) coin ‘social infrastructure’: the provision of ‘health [care], education, childcare, social housing and lifelong care which benefit all, not just the few’. I argue that the concept of social infrastructures offers further possibilities to connect socio-economic policies with everyday lives, centring the political in analysis, and acknowledging upfront that social relationships, like material infrastructures, require investment. However, critical work by feminist scholars and activists on social infrastructure have to date been typically misinterpreted at best or ignored at worse. I make the case for greater enagement with these ideas, including how an infrastructural approach focuses on interconnectedness and power dynamics between individuals involved in the everyday construction and maintenance of social infrastructures, which are likewise steeped in questions about deep-seated and structural inequalities.

Please contact jenni.cauvain@dmu.ac.uk or adam.fishwick@dmu.ac.uk for further details / enquiries.

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Urban Informality: An International Workshop

Linking informal working practices and the governance of everyday life

Thursday 27 June | HU2.37, Hugh Aston Building, De Montfort University, Leicester

This workshop will seek to trace the possible relationships between dynamics of informality that cut across  governance, work and ordinary life. It will explore relations between longstanding community practices of survival beyond (but without excluding) the formal institutions of the state, the persistence and transformation of informal economies and their impact on work, class formation and collective organisation, and the modes of local governance that continually (re)emerge to manage and respond to these features of urban informality. The aim is to understand possible configurations of hybrid practices in informal modes of work and life and the informal practices and institutions that emerge in interactions between ordinary citizens, local authorities and grassroots forms of entrepreneurship, exploring the various means by which individuals and communities navigate these complex formations of urban informality. Please register a place by 21 June, see details below.

Contributions will address these themes by asking:

(1) How do individuals and communities organise their daily lives to survive (or to thrive) in these settings?
(2) To what extent do they construct alternative modes of social, political, and economic organisation to fill gaps left by the withdrawal and/or non-existence of formal institutions?
(3) How far are these intentionally, or not, supported by state institutions and actors?
(4) What connections can be made between these distinctive areas of urban informality at work, in everyday life and in the associated forms by which these are governed?
(5) To what extent does urban informality, developed through the intersections of work, community and life, create identities that help overcome economic, political or social crises?

 

Programme

 Welcome and introduction (9:30-10:15am)

Adam Fishwick and Valeria Guarneros-Meza (DMU)

 Session 1: Living through the boundaries of urban informality (10:15am-12:00pm)

Colin Marx (UCL): ‘Getting between informal working practices and the governance of everyday life’

Jacob Nielsen (Liverpool): ‘Navigating formalisation: migrant hostel dwellers and the banking system’

Begoña Aramayona (Autonomous University of Madrid) ‘Let’s kick out the trash: (In)formal securitisation and Morality by ‘civilised’ residents in a working-class area of Madrid’

Lunch

 Session 2: Urban informality and politics beyond waste (1:00-2:45pm)

Maurizio Atzeni (CEIL, Argentina): ‘Local politics and workers’ organisational practices in the waste collection and recycle chain in Argentina and Chile’

Precious Akponah (Leicester): ‘The social life of rubbish: an ethnography in Lagos, Nigeria’

Louise Guibrunet (UNAM, Mexico): ‘Is there a place for informal workers in the urban sustainability project?’

Coffee break

Session 3: Rule-making and breaking under urban informality (3:00pm-4:45pm)

Ismael Blanco (UAB)*, Vivien Lowndes (Birmingham) and Yunailis Salazar(UAB)*: ‘What is the relationship between formal rules and informal practices within participatory governance, and how has this been impacted by austerity? A case study of Barcelona, 2008-19’

Raphael Bischof (DMU): ‘Secure tenure in a world heritage site: alternatives for housing and protection of landscape in central Salvador, Brazil’

Theodor Born (QMUL): ‘Blurring state prosaics: precarity, bureaucracy, and urban informalities among Latin American migrants in London’

Closing (4:45-5:00pm)

Registration is now open, send your interest in attending by 21 June 2019 to: adam.fishwick@dmu.ac.uk

Only a limited number of participants will be able to register for the full-day workshop.

The workshop is hosted by De Montfort University, Leicester. Co-sponsored by the Centre for Urban Research on Austerity (CURA), People Organisation and Work Institute (POWI) and Local Governance Research Centre (LGRC).

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Concrete Peace: Building Security in Colombia

Austin Zeiderman, LSE

CURA/ PPP seminar

Date and time: 16th May 2019, 4-6pm

Venue: Hugh Aston Building, Room HU2.06, DeMontfort University

Abstract

Public and scholarly debates in Colombia frequently gloss the work required to achieve peace as la construcción del posconflicto, or “the construction of the post-conflict.” These debates usually surround the question of how to build the legal and bureaucratic institutions necessary for transcending a half-century of violence and ensuring a stable and lasting transition. Less attention is being given, however, to the work of building post-conflict Colombia in a concrete, physical sense. Focusing on the nationwide process of development aimed at laying the material foundations of a new society, this article examines the political potency attributed to the built environment at this critical conjuncture. Taking inspiration from a felicitous phrase coined by the Ministry of Transport’s Twitter account, #PazEnConcreto, it highlights the real-and-imaginary work that goes into building a “concrete peace” through the construction of things like roads, airports, and bridges. How exactly can peace be built out of substances like concrete? By examining two infrastructure projects endowed with the power to bring about peace and prosperity, the first objective is to shed light on the model of security and development according to which Colombia’s future is being imagined, designed, and built. The second objective is consider what these cases suggests about the political agency of the material world. Fine-grained analysis of both the political imagination and the lived experience of peacebuilding reveals the relationship between infrastructure and peace, and the capacity of the former to generate the latter, to be thoroughly contingent. Building infrastructure may produce the conditions for peace, it may reactivate latent dynamics of conflict, or it may do nothing at all.

 

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Power and Capacity in Urban Climate Governance

Pete Eckersley, Nottingham Trent University

LGRC/ CURA seminar

Date and time: 8 May 2019, 3-5pm,

Venue: Hugh Aston Building, HU3.96, DeMontfort University

Abstract

This LGRC/CURA seminar, which draws on the findings of a monograph published in 2018, introduces a new framework to help understand how different systems of government shape policymaking arrangements at the municipal level. By applying the framework to climate governance in three sectors (climate change strategy, planning and each council’s own corporate activities), it will show how low levels of resource interdependence between central and local government in England, exemplified by austerity funding cuts, mean that Newcastle Council has to rely heavily on other horizontal actors to achieve its climate objectives. In contrast, Gelsenkirchen Council receives substantial support from higher tiers of government, which gives it greater control over policymaking within the locality.

Ultimately, therefore, it highlights how ‘vertical’ intergovernmental relationships influence ‘horizontal’ interactions between municipalities and other local actors, and ultimately shape policy objectives and outcomes at the local level. It also reveals how urban policymaking arrangements in both Germany and England are evolving, as municipal governments seek to increase their capacity to address challenging policy problems whilst facing resource constraints.

Dr Peter Eckersley is a Senior Research Fellow at Nottingham Trent University with interests in public policy, multi-level governance, sustainability, austerity and public accountability. Prior to working at Nottingham Trent, he held postdoctoral research posts at Newcastle University, the University of York and the University of Sheffield, and before entering academia he spent ten years as a policy and management adviser at the Chartered Institute for Public Finance and Accountancy. His monograph, Power and Capacity in Urban Climate Governance, came out in 2018 and he has also published in a range of political science, public administration, geography, management and accounting journals.

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CURA Events Spring/Summer 2019

CURA is pleased the confirm a lively programme of events in May, June and July, as follows:

Date & Time
Event details
8 May
3-5pm, HU3.96
P Eckersley, Nottingham Trent University
LGRC/CURA seminar
16 May
4-6pm HU2.06
PPP/CURA seminar
29 May
2-4pm
HU3.96
M Geddes, Warwick University
CURA seminar
12-13 June
12 June
6-7.30pm
HU0.08
CURA Annual Lecture by Dr Sarah Marie Hall
19 June
24 June
4-5.30pm
HU2.41
M Atzeni Centro de Estudios e Investigaciones Laborales, CONICET
Local politics and workers’ organisational practices in the waste collection and recycle chain in Argentina and Chile
POWI/LGRC/CURA seminar
26 June
2-4pm
HU3.95
J Blamire, University of Exeter
The Political Geographies of Brexit in Leicester: An Ethnographic Analysis
CURA seminar
27 June
1-4 July

 

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Revolutionary and reactionary urbanisms: La Paz, El Alto and Santa Cruz, Bolivia

Mike Geddes, University of Warwick

Date and time: Wednesday 29 May 2019, 2.00-4.00pm

Venue: Hugh Aston Building, Room HU3.96, DeMontfort University

Abstract

Urban identities in Bolivia have historically reflected, but also significantly shaped, the country’s complex and conflicted history.

La Paz, a culturally primarily indigenous city situated in a great bowl-like valley high in the Andean region of Bolivia, was founded by the Spanish conquistadors and was historically a site of colonialist domination. In the late 20th and early 21st century, La Paz was the locus of struggle between conservative governments and oppositional forces. But it took a new urbanism to tip the balance towards the opposition and the eventual accession to government of the MAS government led by Evo Morales. This was El Alto, a new city on the lip of the bowl in which La Paz lies, populated by large scale peasant migration from the surrounding Andes. From El Alto, massive demonstrations poured down into La Paz, and were instrumental in forcing the defeat of the neoliberal regime in a revolutionary moment installing the first indigenous/socialist president and government of Bolivia.

The stability of the Morales government remained threatened however by the presence in the lowland east of the country of opposition forces based in large scale agriculture and centred on the city of Santa Cruz. The largest city in the country, culturally Spanish and the focus of economic and industrial dynamism in contrast to the poverty of the Andean region, Santa Cruz epitomised the continuing strength of the forces of reaction in Bolivia.

The paper will explore the contribution of these contrasting urbanisms to ongoing processes of change.

 

Professor Mike Geddes

 

Background

My academic background is in history and geography (BA Southampton) and urban and regional studies (PhD Sussex).  From 1989 to 2008 I was Senior Research Fellow, Reader and Professorial Fellow in the Local Government Centre, Warwick Business School.  My research spanned a range of issues in local politics and public policy, with particular interests in theories of the state and cross-national comparative analysis of patterns of local governance under neoliberalism.

 

Current research

My interest in cross-national comparative analysis led to my current research focus on aspects of contemporary politics and policy in Latin America, especially those countries with more progressive political regimes.  Specific research topics include radical initiatives in local politics and governance; political and policy programmes which claim to challenge the hegemony of neoliberalism; and projects to ‘refound’ the neo-colonialist and neoliberal state.  I am particularly interested in contemporary politics and policy in Bolivia.

 

Selected publications

Geddes M N (2019  Forthcoming)  Co-editor.  Latin American Marxisms  Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Geddes M N (2019 forthcoming)  Megaprojects:  Capital, states and civil society in Latin America. In Latin American Marxisms  Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing

Geddes M N (2016) What happens when community organising moves into government?  Recent experience in Latin America, in Shaw M and Mayo M (Eds) Class, Inequality and Community Development, Bristol: Policy Press.

Geddes M N (2014) The old is dying but the new is struggling to be born:  Hegemonic contestation in Bolivia.  Critical Policy Studies.8, 2, 165-182.

Geddes M N (2014) Neoliberalism and local governance: radical developments in Latin America.  Urban Studies.  Online 7 January, DOI: 10.1177/0042098013516811.

Geddes M N and Sullivan H (2011) Localities, leadership and neoliberalisation: Conflicting discourses , competing practices.  Critical Policy Studies, Vol 5 No 4, 391-493.

Geddes M N (2011) Neoliberalism and local governance: Global contrasts and research priorities.  Policy and Politics, 39, 3, 439 – 447.

Guarneros-Meza V and Geddes M (Eds) (2010) Symposium on local governance and participation under neoliberalism.  International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 34, 1, 115-173.

Geddes M N (2010) Building and contesting neoliberalism at the local level: Reflections on the symposium and on recent experience on Bolivia.  International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 34, 1, 163-173.

Geddes M N (2008) Marxist theories of urban politics, in Davies J and Imbroscio D (Eds) Theories of urban politics. London: Sage.

Fuller C and Geddes M N  (2008) Local governance under neoliberalism: Local state restructuring and scalar transformation Antipode 40, 2, 252-282.

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Conversing with Goliath: Participation, mobilisation and repression

Dr Valeria Guarneros-Meza of CURA reports from an ongoing investigation into environmental conflict in Mexico. Outputs from the collaborative research “Conversing with Goliath” have recently been reported in Mexican media, see details below.

 

Despite the normative framework promoting consultation and participation of communities in the implementation of extractive megaprojects, violent conflicts have increased in Mexico since the introduction of the 2013-14 legal reforms of mineral, hydrocarbon and alternative energy projects.

In finding answers to this paradox, the questions that drive this research are: What strategies have been used by the different actors to manage the above mentioned conflicts? How have the different sub-national contexts of government capacity impacted on the strategies followed? What have been the main obstacles and opportunities for implementing participatory institutions? How have informal and illegal practices intersect in these processes? What have been the main results in the economic, environmental protection and rights (human, political, social) spheres?

In the first two years, the project has delivered a comprehensive newspaper review (Jan 2006-Jan2019) of all environmental conflicts published in the Mexican media. An analysis of the results was widely disseminated in Mexican media outlets on 27 February 2019. To read a summary and consult the cartography of over 800 conflicts visit here (in Spanish).

Other outputs from the project include a juridical analysis of all the laws related to the extractive industry in Mexico and the problems of coordination and coherence of such legal framework, available online (in Spanish).  For a brief English summary of the initial findings of three in-depth case studies (Sonora, Tabasco and Oaxaca) of extractive industries and their impact on communities, visit here (pdf).

This project is sponsored by the British Academy-Newton Advanced Fellowship Grant (Ref. AF160219). The lead investigators are: Dr. Gisela Zaremberg (FLACSO-Mexico) and Dr. Valeria Guarenros-Meza (De Montfort University)

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Municipalism 2019: An International Exchange

Registrations are still open  for the 2nd conference on Municipalism, to be held at De Montfort University (DMU), Leicester, 4-5 April 2019. Registrations will close on Monday 1st April 2019, at 17:00 (GMT).

Abstract

In the last decade, austerity has had a significant impact on the local sphere. Budget squeezes, public services cuts and institutional restructuring came along with growing social needs, and local governments have struggled to keep providing the goods and services needed to stay afloat. However, we have also seen how the local sphere can also be an ideal lab for democratic experimentation and social innovation. Spanish, and particularly Catalan cities with Barcelona at the forefront, have been examples of municipal experimentation over the past few years under the idea of the New Municipalism. However, what is New Municipalism? Is New Municipalism an effective answer to austerity? How is New Municipalism delivered?

The Centre of Urban Research on Austerity (CURA) at De Montfort University, Leicester, in collaboration with the University of Girona and the Betiko Foundation, is holding a two-day conference to discuss all these issues on 4th and 5th April 2019. The conference is organised in the form of an international exchange between academics and practitioners. The conference builds on CURA’s  “Municipalism in the 21st century” conference held in June 2018.

Municipalism 2019: an International Exchange programme includes sessions to discuss the concept and definition of New Municipalism, and roundtables where experiences and reflections on how to deliver Municipalism are shared, creating an environment in which cities can learn from one another.

Conference programme


4th April

9:00 am to 9:30 am

Hugh Aston Building Atrium

Registration and Reception
9:30 am to 11:00 am

Queens Building 1.10

Municipalism 2019: The State of the Debate

Prof Jonathan Davies (DMU-CURA)

Dr Ismael Blanco (UAB-IGOP)

11:00 am to 11:20 am Coffee Break
11:20 am to 1:00 pm

Queens Building 1.10

SEMINAR: What is the new municipalism? Theoretical and Practical Approaches

Keynote speaker: Dr Angel Calle (Córdoba University)

Discussants: Prof. Steven Griggs (DMU-LGRC)

1:00 pm to 2:00 pm Lunch Break
2:00 pm to 4:00 pm

Hugh Aston Building 3.04

ROUND TABLE: Building counter-hegemony through the new muncipalism

Speakers: Dr Mercè Cortina-Oriol (DMU-CURA), Joan Cuevas (Bofill Foundation – Sabadell City Council), Quim Arrufat (DESC – UB), Dr Bertie Russell (University of Sheffield),

Moderator: Dr Ben Whitham (DMU-CURA)

5th April

9:00 am to 11:00 am

Clephan Building 3.03

PRACTITIONER ROUND TABLE 1: Delivering New Municipalism: Towards Economic and Social Equality

Keynote Speakers: Pilar Castillejo (Ripollet City Council), Agnès Rotger (Badalona City Council), Cllr Asima Shaikh (Islington Council), Neil McInroy (CLES)

Moderator: Anaïs Varo (UdG)

11:00 am to 11:30 am Break
11:30 am to 1:30 pm

Clephan Building 3.01

PRACTITIONER ROUND TABLE 2: Delivering New Municipalism:

Re-building Local Democracy

Keynote Speakers: Jose Téllez (Badalona City Council), Ivan Miró (Cooperativist movement Barcelona; Fanny Malinen (Research for Action), Andrew Ross (Unite Community)

Moderator: tbc

1:30 pm to 2:15 pm Lunch
2:15 pm to 3:00 pm

Clephan Building 3.03

Mapping the New Municipalism: Introducing Atlas del Cambio

Dr Ricard Vilaregut (UdG-CURA) and Dr Ángel Calle (University of Córdoba).

3:00 pm to 3:15:00 pm Break
3:15 pm to 5:15 pm

Clephan Building 3.03

PRACTITIONER ROUND TABLE 3: Scaling Municipalism: Beyond and above the City

Keynote Speakers: Carles Escolà (Cerdanyola City Mayor), Dolors Sabater (Badalona City Mayor 2015-2018), Cllr Emine Ibrahim (Deputy Leader – London Borough of Haringey), Matthew Brown (Leader – Preston City Council)

Moderator: Dr Adam Fishwick (DMU-CURA)

5:15   pm to 5:30 pm

Clephan Building 3.03

CLOSING REFLECTIONS AND NEXT STEPS

Prof. Jonathan Davies (DMU-CURA)


 

 

Please follow the CURA blog for confirmation of further speakers and other announcements.

The conference is free of charge, and limited space are available. Please book your place online. Registrations will close on Monday 1st April 2019, at 17:00 (GMT).

 

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