A joint project by Centre for Public Services and the Sustainable Cities Research Unit, University of Northumbria involving the Wainwright Trust, Millfield House Foundation, Newcastle UNISON, the Public and Commercial Services Union and the Northern Region of the TUC. The first theme is an analysis of the ‘state of governance’ and the systematic erosion of democratic institutions through neoliberalism and corporatisation and marketisation in particular. It will also examine alternatives strategies how a multi-cultural and sustainable city built on social justice can be created. The second theme is the relationship between democracy and the quality of life. This theme will examine how more sustainable local and regional economies can be developed, enhancing both urban and rural quality of life.