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President update: 26th May

26 May 2021

With our Spring Seminar and AGM on Thursday, I’ve come to my final week as ADEPT President. What a strange year it has been. Apart from travelling to the Bristol Bath Railway Path to be interviewed for Countryfile about sustainable travel, my whole presidency has been done from my house. That makes me the lowest carbon president ever – which seems appropriate in a year that will end with COP26.

Despite so many of us working either solely or mostly from home, we have seen the reach and impact of ADEPT grow significantly, along with an increase in membership. With Covid having brought the importance of place and place services to the fore, we’ve been working with more partners and developed stronger partnerships with others. Online meetings have enabled the Leadership Team to meet more often, and we’ve had greater attendance and participation at national / regional board and working group meetings, which has been most welcome. As you know, we have started a new Planning Working Group chaired by Plymouth City Council’s Paul Barnard. Increased interest across the country has also meant we’ve been able to restart our Yorkshire and Humber Board with Karl Battersby from North Yorkshire County Council as interim Chair, and set up a new North West Board with Angela Jones from Cumbria County Council as Chair. I’d like to thank our new Chairs and welcome everyone participating. Please contact Hannah Bartram if you’d like more information.

I’m immensely proud of the role that place directors and their teams have played in tackling Covid and supporting colleagues in Public Health. I can see how this has started to change our thinking about how people and place interact, as well as the inequalities that our people face. Place directors need to work ever more collaboratively with directors of Children Services, Adult Services and Public Health to make sure place shaping and management is helping to tackle inequalities and reducing long term revenue pressure on health and social care services.

We also need to continue to argue for the involvement of our people in local place shaping and management – local democracy is inextricably linked with improving the lives of local people and the places they live and work in. We need to continue to encourage and demonstrate to government that involving local people in decisions that affect their lives and places is in the national interest. If we are to deliver a green economic recovery and quality housing that will contribute to creating resilient communities able to adapt to a climate changing world – there are no short cuts.

Mark Kemp, Hannah Bartram and several Rights of Way Officers met with DfT recently to discuss potential issues presented by level crossing closures. We are working towards securing further guidance. We will also be meeting DfT to support their work to develop guidance to support the bidding process for active travel capital funding in 2021-22.

We will be launching our updated Housing Policy Position at the Spring Seminar this week, so keep an eye on the website for that, along with a High Street Recovery map. We have also been working on our response to Defra’s Consultation on the Draft Policy Statement on Environmental Principles, which we will publish and submit next week.

Live Labs has just published its third White Paper, A New Approach to Monitoring & Evaluation. Working with Proving Services, the programme has taken a collaborative approach to the process, which is a step away from the traditional audit-based, problem-finding system. The Live Labs teams have responded very positively to this innovation, which has fully embraced the programme ethos of sharing learning, transparency and collaboration. Proving Services’ Karen Farquharson has written a new blog to accompany the launch and you can read the press release here.

The second cohort from the Excellence in Place Leadership programme has published its first blog. Kate Langdon, Interim Director of Environment, Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole has written about the first session, The Future of Place. You can find her blog, Vision building – can you map the future of place? here.  I’m looking forward to our Spring Seminar this week.

There is still just time to book your place on Reimagining places: a focus on town centres & high streets, although sadly, I think you will be too late for the goody bag popcorn! We will also find out who the winners of the ADEPT Presidents Awards 2021 will be.

Finally, I must say an enormous thank you to colleagues, partners and of course ADEPT members for what has been a fantastic, if unusual, time as ADEPT President. It has been a great honour to represent you and take our work forward through such a difficult year. I wish incoming President, Paula Hewitt all the very best for her year ahead, and hopefully, with restrictions lifting, she might even be able to prise the chain of office from Darryl Eyers!

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