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President update: 15th July

15 July 2021

At the recent Leadership Team meeting, we welcomed Tom Walker from the Levelling Up Unit, which is tasked with bringing forward the Levelling up White Paper currently scheduled for the autumn. It was helpful to know that government understands the agenda to be broader than economic growth and big infrastructure, with health and education emphasised as well. There was also recognition of net zero and how the workplace might look post-Covid.  

At the same meeting, Sophie Jones, Programme Manager for Building with Nature, spoke about the organisation’s work supporting local authorities to deliver high quality green infrastructure. You can find the slide deck here. In addition, WSP Head of Future Mobility Giles Perkins, presented on the ‘30 minute rural community’, leading to a lively discussion on the future of rural transport services. The slide deck is available here.

I was able to feedback some of these issues into a recent meeting with senior officials at DfT. We had a productive discussion on a wide range of topics including the comprehensive spending review, issues relating to level crossings and rural mobility. We also talked about moving traffic offences, the future of Live Labs, the transport decarbonisation plan and the net zero review due to happen over the summer. I was also able to bring up the impacts of the shortage of HGV drivers, particularly for local authority waste collections, which I know is an issue for many of us.

The Waste Working Group has published ADEPT’s response to Defra’s Consistency in Household and Business Recycling in England consultation. This is a vital issue for waste services and we stressed our view that Extended Producer Responsibility is critical and must come first, and that to implement successful changes to services requires resource, funding certainty and the input of local authorities. We welcome the government’s ambition, but we must get the detail right - waste prevention comes before collection. We also supplied a covering letter emphasising the complexity and inter-relatedness of these issues, which we felt could not be easily addressed through the questions asked. You can read the documents here

The latest Excellence in Place Leadership blog comes from Carolyn McKenzie, Chair of the Energy & Clean Growth Working Group. The third EiPL session posed the question, ‘What could a more comprehensive approach to nature conservation renewal look like?’ Carolyn discusses how a change in organisational thinking is vital to create effective policy, operational change and that sometimes elusive joined up approach, to reach through our partnerships and supply chains. For me, the piece chimes with the ADEPT priorities this year of collaboration, climate change and Covid recovery.

To support members with their work on climate change, we have updated our Climate change support & resources map, which provides links to useful organisations, publications and tools. Our most recent Climate Change blog is from Lucy Bush, Research Director of Britain Thinks. The subject this month is deliberative consultation, and how the thinktank worked with Warwickshire County Council to engage with communities on the sometimes contentious subject of reducing car usage. We have also uploaded the slide decks from our recent Lunch and Learn sessions held on 24thJune. I’m glad to say these were really well attended and the feedback has been positive, with people welcoming the opportunity to meet with our Subject Boards. We hope to run more in the future – watch this space.

As you know the Live Labs programme covers a broad range of trials from kinetic and thermal energy to e-scooters, living walls and adult social care. We have published a new slidedeck which provides the latest information on each individual Live Lab. The latest blog comes from Transport for West Midlands, whose Live Lab focuses on network resilience. One of the most fascinating elements of their trials has been the development of granular personas, eight groupings of distinct characteristics that have been broken down into 14 different personas. The aims of this work are to better understand the travelling public, communicate more effectively with these groups and ultimately, bring about a behavioural shift towards sustainable journeys. Find out more here.

As promised, I now have the details for the latest ADEPT/CIPFA free webinar, Building the business case for renewable energy. The session, taking place from 11am-12pm on Wednesday 21 July, will focus on how place directors, finance directors and their teams can work together to build the business case for local authority investment in renewable energy generation and storage. You can register here 

The easing of final lockdown restrictions next week, alongside case numbers continuing to rise, is bringing a lot of uncertainty still for our communities and local businesses, particularly for the vulnerable and the many who have yet to have their vaccinations. As place directors, we would encourage everyone to still wear their masks when entering public buildings, in shops and while travelling on public transport. The vaccinations have done much to weaken the link between transmission and hospitalisation, but it is not a failsafe and the Delta variant of Covid-19 is spreading widely and rapidly.

Finally, keep checking our COVID-19 updates page for news, as well as the ADEPT website, where we publish a whole range of updates and documents to support members.