Tessa Coombes, PhD Social Policy


I started my working life as a researcher/lecturer at UWE where I specialised in town planning, then I moved on to set up and run a community based regeneration project in South Bristol. I was then responsible for running a sustainable development charity working across the Avon area, before I took up a role at Business West and the Bristol Chamber of Commerce, where I led on policy, strategy and vision.

I was also a local councillor in Bristol for eight years leading on planning and sustainable development and have been involved in politics locally for over 20 years. I have now gone full circle and come back to the academic world as a PhD student, to challenge my thinking and continue my learning.

Research topic

Setting the agenda: housing policy and the Bristol mayoral election 2016

The focus of my research is on decisions taken about housing policy during the Bristol Mayoral election (2016). I’m looking at how agendas are set and policy priorities are decided during an election using Kingdon’s Multiple Streams Framework as a conceptual starting point.

My approach, using a form of policy ethnography, was to seek to understand and explain how mayoral candidates define problems and issues, and then how they decide what the solutions are and how they prioritise their decisions. I sought to explore who influenced the candidates, who they listened to, what tactics people used to get their voice heard and how effective they were.


Professor Alex Marsh and Dr David Sweeting

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