We’ll always have Paris

…which is just as well as it’s more than a month since I attended an international seminar in the Hotel de Ville (City Hall) in Paris on “Innovations and the Making of Metropolitan Identity”.

I spoke on London’s experience of metropolitan government, and in particular metropolitan leadership, alongside Ernesto d’Albergo of the University of Rome La Sapienza, and Gilles Pinson of the Institut d’études politiques de Bordeaux.  My slides are attached here: Mark Kleinman Colloque International Paris Nov 2013.

The workshop was very well attended, with a mixture of government officials, academics and graduate students, and there was a lively discussion ranging from the specifics of how metropolitan government worked in London to some of the broader and more theoretical issues of metrop0litan governance and re-building citizen trust in government at all levels.

One participant lamented the lack of (in his view) an effective metropolitan tier for ‘Greater Paris’ comparing the City of Light unfavourably with the metropolis at the other end of the Eurostar line. I began to wonder if I had perhaps slightly over-sold London’s governance arrangements, and so pointed out that less than 20 years ago, there was no metropolitan tier in London, no popular campaign at that time for its re-instatement,  and the most exciting development being the conversion of the headquarters of the former Greater London Council into an aquarium.

Metropolitan governance proceeds by fits and starts rather than on a smooth utility-maximising trajectory.

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