As rising numbers of COVID-19 cases continue across the country and the difficult situation for many students dominates the news, we are also facing the prospect of greater national restrictions. Parliament is concerned over the lack of scrutiny of emergency powers and there are still issues with the track and trace app. For many of us, it might also feel like Groundhog Day, as we continue to wait to find out about Tranche 2 of Active Travel Funding.
As you know we have been working closely with the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), the Association of Children’s Services (ADCS) and the Association of Directors of Public Health (ADPH) to argue for a bigger funding pie for local authorities. This message is a vital one to send to Government in all our communications work and with the impacts of COVID-19 across all our services, becomes ever more important. The role of local councils in health, recovery and care at the local level is of national importance. We will shortly be issuing a second joint statement that recognises the pressures we all face and what we need from Government to continue to tackle climate change and provide the inclusive, sustainable, safe and resilient communities we need.
It’s a busy time for ADEPT. We’ve submitted our response to the Comprehensive Spending Review and to the Environment Agency’s Challenges and Choices consultation. I’ve been working with the Local Outbreaks Good Practice Network emphasising the role of place alongside public health issues. I’ve spoken at both the LGC climate change conference and Landscape Institute Green Recovery conference. I also attended my first meeting of the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) public health research advisory committee meeting.
Last week, ADEPT held one of its regular Corporate Partners Seminars on Economic Recovery, Devolution and Planning with contributors Tom Walker, Defra’s new Director of Environmental Strategy, Victoria Hills, Chief Executive of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) and Simon Edwards, Director of the County Councils Network. Tom shared his new remit, which includes leading on the 25 Year Environment Plan. He expects to see the Environment Bill back before the House in October. Victoria took us through the RTPI’s response to the Planning White Paper and the vital role of planning in green recovery, while Simon talked through his perspective on the progress of the Recovery and Devolution white Paper – will we see it in the Autumn or still be waiting at Christmas?
Briefly, our 16th and final Covid-19 Waste Survey found that local authorities are continuing to provide core services at a normal or near normal level. For the week beginning 7th September, councils reported a significant reduction in the impact of staff absence due to self-isolation or illness. Obviously with case numbers rising, this is something we will continue to monitor closely through the ADEPT Waste Group and surveys will be reinstated if needed.
With the guidance changes that came in last week, the ADEPT conference (November 5-6) is now going completely virtual. We will be working with Aldercross and our new events company SAS Events to make this as interactive and interesting as we possibly can, and look forward to seeing as many if not more of you than last year! To see the latest programme click here, and to register to attend, click here. For those that have already registered to attend in person, Alison from Aldercross will be in touch shortly to confirm details on your virtual ticket and refunding the difference in cost.
It’s not too late to sign up for the National Traffic Managers’ Virtual Conference on 7 October, with speakers from DfT, Jacobs, The Tree Council, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders and the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership. Find out more here.
Finally I’d like to encourage you all to sign up and show your support for our five immediate priorities for a green recovery. This comes from our partnership work on the Blueprint for accelerating climate action and a green recovery at the local level with Ashden, Friends of the Earth, Grantham Institute - Climate Change and the Environment (Imperial College London), Greenpeace UK, London Environment Directors’ Network (LEDNet), the Place-based Climate Action Network (PCAN) at LSE and Solace.
As always, keep watching our COVID-19 updates page for the latest ADEPT news.