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President update: 1st February 2022

1 February 2022

Welcome to the first President update in 2022 – slightly later than usual and while Paula’s on leave, this time coming from our Chief Executive Officer, Hannah Bartram.

It appears as though we are at last emerging from the pandemic. We have a long way to go, but there are positive signs – as I write we are about to move to plan A – and we hope that this continues. However, our exit from the pandemic leaves us exposed to acute problems that will pose real challenges for the public sector. ADEPT is looking forward to working with the Treasury and other key government departments, to ensure we are properly equipped to meet these challenges as we work towards post-Covid recovery.

The Levelling Up White Paper will set out how the government will address some of these pandemic recovery challenges. Due for publication imminently, it is expected that the paper will focus on many place-related topics, including how to spread opportunities across the country in both rural and urban areas. We are looking forward to reading the document and ADEPT will, of course, prepare a full response, which will be published on the ADEPT website. We hope that the re-announced funding over the weekend will herald much needed new investment. The Leadership Team is also working with EY to develop some metrics top enable place directors to measure the success of programmes in their areas.

The continuing reduced demand for travel by bus and consequent shortfall in revenue is showing no signs of recovering to pre-pandemic levels by the end of March. Given the important contribution that public transport needs to make in delivering against the decarbonisation of transport strategy, it is no surprise that local transport authorities submitted ambitious plans that far exceed the funding currently available. We are looking forward to seeing the allocations and hope that the challenges of rural connectivity will be supported alongside the clear support of major conurbations that was apparent in the budget announcements last year.

The latest Leadership Team meeting featured an update from the Future Highways Research Group, led by Proving Services’ Simon Wilson. The group, which started out with 11 members, has not only grown to 34, but has expanded its partners to include work with Nokia and the University of Derby. Its work on a GHG toolkit for Scope 1 and 2 will be available to ADEPT members shortly. Current research also includes recruitment issues across the sector, and a GHG Scope 3 carbon calculator. Proving is still running its VfM benchmarking at a substantially reduced cost for ADEPT members, and all outputs from projects are free to ADEPT members, so keep checking the webpage for updates and more information 

As Paula mentioned in her last update, the ADEPT Spring Conference* and Presidential Awards Dinner** will take place at County Hall* and One Whitehall Place**, London, on 26th May. The conference theme will be ‘Levelling Up Locally’ and we are delighted to have secured Kate Raworth, the economist known for developing the concept of 'doughnut economics', as a keynote speaker. You will also be able to find out how our work with EY can make a real difference for your authority. Please book your place here. It will be an invaluable opportunity to explore what levelling up means for place directors and celebrate our achievements in person!

Our next Lunch and Learn session on 25th February will give an update on sustainable procurement and how it can help local authorities deliver on climate change ambitions. The session will run from 12.00 – 12.45. To book your place, please click here.

Earlier this month, the third cohort of the ADEPT Excellence in Place Leadership Programme (EiPL) began. Run in partnership with Amey, the first session focused on the topic of Levelling Up – the future sessions will be determined by the group. Neil Gibson, the EiPL facilitator, has reflected on the programme so far and reviews its success in driving innovation among Place sector leaders. You can read his thoughts in the latest EiPL blog, here.

The deadline for applications onto ADEPT’s Leadership Development Programme closed at the beginning of January. I’m pleased to report that once again we are running two cohorts. The programme promotes and supports excellence in leadership and is extremely popular. I’m so glad to see that members are valuing the unique opportunity it provides for aspiring place directors.

Our January Live Labs come from Buckinghamshire and Cumbria. The Bucks guest blog gives an update on Buckinghamshire’s partnership with Connected Places Catapult (CPC). Georgina Box, Systems Engineer from CPC, talks about the trials they’ve been running across the county on last mile mobility and the roadmap they’ve put in place. It makes for an interesting read, here. The latest blog is from Cumbria’s Matt Waning who provides an update on their trial using unrecyclable plastic in roads and how the wider Live Labs programme has influenced their thinking on future carbon reduction projects. You can read Matt’s blog here.

You can also take a look at our most recent climate change blog. David Dale reviews the events of the last 12 months – which included our own series of regional workshops on climate change and COP26 in Glasgow – and looks at plans for the year ahead. 

Please continue to check 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.