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Adam Bryan - first Excellence in Place Leadership session

9 January 2020

Adam Bryan, CEO of South East Local Enterprise Partnership shares his thoughts on the first session.

Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) have a different perspective on place leadership from other ADEPT members. We have a specific role, one that runs across local authority boundaries with no direct responsibilities for services, and yet as funders and providers of business support, sector-based projects and infrastructure, we are still place shapers.

Both personally and professionally, it made sense to me to apply for ADEPT’s Excellence in Place Leadership programme. With local authorities delivering many of the schemes we fund, and being such vital partners on our boards, it’s important to keep up to speed with the wider range of place responsibilities.

The first session focused on innovation in procurement. Although this is not squarely LEP business – we don’t contract directly with major suppliers, for example – it is important that in our relationships with government, we are able to speak with authority on the issues facing our local political partners.

As small business-led organisations, we can be more agile than local authorities, but we are more beholden to government policy frameworks. As such, we have to ensure that our projects are as resilient as possible. Changes to growth policy post-Brexit might mean that LEPs look somewhat different in the years to come and do not resemble the organisations that originally granted the funding support. In that sense, smarter working is essential for all of us and looking for solutions which can withstand organisational or policy change is directly relevant.

Whatever the future looks like, the signs remain that government want us to work in bigger units. This matters to the future direction of economic growth and environmental decision-making, and when it comes to the green agenda, the Government will invest only in those areas that get it right. We all need to be investable areas. The more that we can work with the leading local authorities within ADEPT, the better. It puts us all in a stronger position.

All LEPs could benefit from as broad as possible an understanding of place, bringing government policy together with planning and innovation to shape their local industrial strategies.

Conversations like this, about innovation in processes like procurement, that will open up new ways of engaging everybody on a bigger scale, is a valuable exercise and will lead to more effective outcomes across the country.

ADEPT’s Excellence in Place Leadership programme is sponsored by Amey. A Place Based Approach to Public Procurement is available here.

Paula Hewitt, Somerset County Council’s Director of Commissioning & Lead Commissioner and Economic and Community Infrastructure and ADEPT’s 2nd Vice President talks about the programme in The MJ.