Achieving effective local collaboration, a strong theme of the previous Labour government, may actually become more important given Coalition government policies emphasising decentralisation and encouraging alternative providers of public services. Therefore, it remains essential to learn from experiences of collaboration especially as, despite significant research, few studies explicitly identify guidance for improving this practice that is of specific relevance to local policy actors. In order to do so, a decentred and ethnographic approach was adopted to examine collaboration in a case study of a Sport and Physical Activity Alliance in Casetown, a medium-sized city in the south of England. Findings from this case study reinforced those found in other studies that pointed to the constraints of targets imposed by the Labour government, ingrained approaches to public administration and lack of open acknowledgement of power differentials impeding the development of effective collaboration. Drawing on the suggestions of those involved in the alliance, an alternative vision of collaboration is advocated, focused on shared learning and bottom-up implementation within more fluid and open structures in which there would be greater scope for the exercise of agency on behalf of those individuals and organisations involved. As during the period of the Labour government, aspects of current wider policy agendas may impede as well as support the development of this alternative vision of collaboration. Nevertheless, it is argued that reflexive local actors may collectively be able to address the contextual challenges that exist in order to develop more effective forms and practices of collaboration.