A belated Happy New Year!
For many of us, I suspect 2021 couldn’t come fast enough. Although we can be forgiven for the ‘Groundhog Day’ feeling of finding ourselves in another national lockdown, the vaccine rollout shows us that there is an end in sight. I think we all accept that this will take some time and that we will still be working hard to maintain core services, but at least we are no longer wondering whether it will end at all.
With various reports on the timings of vaccinations and a warning that we may need annual vaccinations and restrictions next winter, realistically we need to turn our minds to what living with COVID-19 permanently might mean. It is not going to be as simple as vaccinate everyone and the problem goes away – it is a global pandemic that can throw up different variants and countries have vastly different vaccination rates.
And that is before we consider the long term implications for our economies and communities, as well as the fundamental problems with the many inequalities in our society that the pandemic has shone a much needed spotlight on. All of these have a huge bearing on how we to shape and manage our places in the coming years.
Right now, though, we are in the middle of a huge crisis. The NHS and our public health colleagues are under immense strain. Amongst our own key services, many members are seeing rising numbers of staff absences due to sickness and self-isolation. Once again, we find ourselves redeploying colleagues and working hard to provide our communities with day to day services. We will do it as we have before, I have no doubt.
As I begin to plan handing over to our next President, Paula Hewitt, in May, I think ADEPT’s priorities will remain firmly focused on how we best support our members. The Sustainable Growth Board will be examining economic growth and recovery – what that might look like for our high streets and town centres, as well as our communities. Decarbonisation and tackling ‘baked in’ climate change, will continue to be a focus across all our workstreams, particularly in the lead up to COP 26 in November. I would encourage you to read and sign up to our Blueprint to support the key role of local authorities in reaching the net zero target. The Local Economic Recovery and Devolution White Paper still appears to be missing in action, but we will continue to advocate for greater local powers and resources to support our places.
To that end we will continue to work with our fellow professional associations to argue for a bigger piece of the cake for local authorities. Coronavirus has shown how vital our role is in supporting communities and economies, in enabling better health and wellbeing and that we are indispensable both in recovery and addressing climate change at the local level.
ADEPT is your association and we work hard to find new ways to support our members. This year we will be hosting a new stream of webinars as well as our usual conferences, membership programmes and workshops. That includes the Spring Conference and Annual Awards Dinner in London on 27 May. To find out more please keep an eye on the ADEPT website or contact Hannah Bartram.
Finally, we are running a new Public Rights of Way survey, and your teams should have had an email. It’s a short survey, but vital to understand the increased pressures facing our teams. If you don’t think you have received the survey, please contact Hannah. We’re also resuming the waste survey, so please look out for an email on this too.
As always, keep watching our COVID-19 updates page for the latest news. Stay safe everyone.