I’m Nigel Riglar and I’m ADEPT’s President for the coming 12 months. Firstly, I want to thank Darryl for a fantastic year, which has seen ADEPT continue to grow and expand its work supporting members, increasing influence as well as working on the challenges of climate change, Brexit planning and now Covid-19.
This year has also seen ADEPT build its relationships with our fellow Associations across Public Health, Adult Social Services and Children’s Services. These will be vital in the coming year as we make the case for place, people and communities. There is no doubt that we need to encourage Government to understand the value of local authorities and the services we provide and how vital a whole-system, integrated approach, will be to short term recovery and the longer term transition to a new normal.
Having just come out of ADEPT’s digital Spring Conference, it was exciting to see how our members have responded to the crisis and thinking ahead to recovery and renewal. We will share the thinking and learning that have come out of this over the coming months in our new policy positions and through the work of the Economic Recovery and Renewal Task Force.
One thing I will be taking out of this will be just how much discussions focused on our people and communities. Covid-19 has not been the great leveller that was first thought. A deepening of inequalities – in educational attainment, impacts on young people, housing, unemployment and of course health - were uppermost in our minds.
Much of the discussion focused on whether we were seeing the ‘death of the office’, and how our communities were changing - shopping locally, using local green spaces, walking and cycling more – as one contributor said, we need to make our urban environments greener. For many people, these changes are welcome. Improvements in air quality, reduction in road use and reallocating road space to walking, cycling and e-scooters are all moving forward far faster than we could have envisaged even two months ago. How can we, as place leaders, embed these changes into our new normal?
Of course, this doesn’t mean we can or should get ahead of ourselves. ADEPT members are still delivering critical services. Getting through the the next 18 – 24 months will be challenging and our work needs to be rooted in responding to the needs of our people – building resilient communities will continue to be critical to rebuilding and reshaping our places.
Collaboration will be key, with our partners, stakeholders and with Government. As we move forward through these difficult times, we will need to increase our influence, be bolder, be constructive, but also challenge. Our places need local services and local leadership more than ever.
I think ADEPT’s 2020 Spring Conference was summed up by Darryl in his closing remarks. ADEPT members will need to be brave in our thinking over the year ahead, but we can shape a better and cleaner future.
In what will be a tough year for services and placeshaping, let’s keep our places extraordinary for our people.