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President update: 15th September 2021

15 September 2021

As I write, the government has just published its Covid-19 response plan for the autumn and winter. Plan A focuses on encouraging further vaccine take up and booster doses for priority groups 1-9, introducing vaccines for 12-15 year olds and a renewed emphasis on test and trace and self-isolation for those testing positive. Plan B leaves the way open to a return to mask wearing in enclosed spaces, working from home and vaccine passports for larger gatherings should there be a surge in cases and increased pressure on the NHS. There are also plans in development for new foreign travel guidance to be published before the end of September. 

We can note that the expectation remains that local authorities will be “leading the response in their communities”. The Coronavirus Act regulations on self-isolation, enabling local authorities to respond to “serious and imminent public health threats” and the testing and quarantine requirements for UK arrivals will remain in place. However, many other powers will expire. For more information, please review the Covid-19 Response: Autumn and Winter Plan.

I had productive meetings with Emran Mian at MHCLG, where we talked about levelling up, Shared Prosperity Fund and County Deals, and with Ben Rimmington at BEIS, where we discussed the challenges in delivering net zero. Hannah and I also met with Deborah Sims, the new President of CIHT and talked about the potential for collaboration across many areas, including climate change and Live Labs. Carolyn McKenzie, the Chair of ADEPT’s Energy and Clean Growth Group gave verbal evidence to the Environmental Audit Committee inquiry, Mapping the Path to Net Zero. You can watch Carolyn in action here

Many of the regional and subject boards met last week too – at one point there were three concurrent board meetings – and it’s great to see the levels of interest in these boards. If you’d like to get involved but are not sure where to start – the board structure chart is here.

Phil Swann from Shared Intelligence has been conducting interviews with many of you, as well as with ADEPT partners, stakeholders and members of the civil service as part of their review into our Association and its influence. Interviews are still ongoing, but I’m extremely pleased to say that the initial findings are truly positive, both on the benefits of being an ADEPT member and the increasing influence and profile we have across our key sectors and Whitehall. We are expecting the report to be finalised by mid-October.

We are continuing to work on the skills agenda, with the current focus beginning to develop into two distinct areas – the next generation of place directors, and the skills shortage more generally. I was particularly struck by a conversation on reshaping our delivery models to include specialist ‘finishers’ alongside developing our people with essential broad-based skills.

ADEPT will be holding another of our successful ‘Lunch and Learn’ sessions on the 24th September, hosted by WSP. ‘Implications of the Government's Transport Decarbonisation Plan: A catalyst for change or a missed opportunity?’ will run from 12-12.45 and promises to be a fascinating discussion. Register here.

The 2021 National Traffic Managers Conference, which will be held at the Leicester Tigers’ Welford Road stadium on 13th October, is open for registration. Topics to be covered include street safety and the Clean Air Strategy, planning for the 2022 Commonwealth Games and a panel debate on road space. Find out more here and book your place here

Booking is also open for the ADEPT Autumn Conference, 18 – 19 November, which will be held once again at the Apex Hotel in Bath. It will be a great opportunity to meet in person, so have a look at the draft programme for Climate, Recovery and Renewal - looking ahead to a decade of action, and book your place here. Looking forward, the final Live Labs Expo, where we celebrate the success, collaboration and learning from this transformational programme will be held on 1st December at Derby County Football Club. Details to follow.

As ever, please 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.