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President update - 14th April

14 April 2021

Welcome back from the Easter break everyone, I hope you have all managed to enjoy some well needed time off.

I wanted to start this blog by taking a brief moment to acknowledge Prince Philip’s passing and his many long years of service. On behalf of ADEPT, I would like to offer our deepest condolences to the Queen and the Royal Family.

I would also like to take this opportunity to reflect on the sad news of Steve Berry (one of our friends in DfT) passing away. As has been noted elsewhere, Steve was indeed nothing short of a legend in the highway world and we were fortunate to have worked with him for many years. He was a key protagonist for the Live Labs programme , helping to secure Ministerial support and funding. We will miss him greatly.

With Easter, there is not a lot to report on in this blog. This week has seen the long awaited opening up of the high streets, with retail, pubs & bars and personal care able to open their doors. One of the biggest recent headaches for place directors across the country has been the increase in littering in our parks, town centres and green spaces when people have gathered together outdoors. We all hope with each stage of opening up, we might see a return to people taking their rubbish home with them. Clearing up volumes of litter is not only depressing for our waste teams, but uses up budget and resources for waste services that we can all ill afford, and we will be raising the issue in our work with Defra.

Following on from the publication of ‘Blueprint for accelerating climate action and a green recovery at the local level’, MHCLG offered to co-ordinate a series of themed workshops bringing together the blueprint coalition with government departments including BEIS, Treasury, DCMS and Defra. These Chatham House conversations are proving both useful and challenging. The most recent workshop discussed many of the asks included in the blueprint document, including finance, governance and monitoring of carbon. We also had a useful discussion on the differences between the problems facing the rural and urban environments and how one size definitely cannot fit all. Future workshops will focus on planning and retrofit, transport, and nature.

The Building Safety Bill is an emerging issue for local authorities, and one where we will need to understand our role and responsibilities and where the costs will lie – for example in planning and building control. As the membership organisation for place directors, ADEPT will be keeping a close eye on emerging information.

Just a reminder that there is still time to sign up to ADEPT / Proving Services Highways Innovation webinar on 22nd April which will provide updates on the activities of the Future Highways Research Group. To register for this free event, please email Helen on [email protected].  

The latest Live Labs guest blog comes from the Suffolk team. Dr Hannah Steventon from the University of Suffolk talking about her work engaging young people with the Live Lab’s trials and the International Space Station!

There is still time to enter our Annual President’s Awards. This year’s categories are Delivering Clean Growth (sponsored by WSP), Digital Innovation/Technology (sponsored by Ringway) and Shaping Places for People (sponsored by Atkins). Download your entry form here.

Finally, don’t forget to book a place on our virtual Spring Seminar, Reimagining places: a focus on town centres & high streets. Both the Awards ceremony and the Spring Seminar will be held on 27th May, with the ADEPT AGM before.

As always, keep watching our COVID-19 updates page for the latest news. Stay well everyone.