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President update: 30th September 2021

30 September 2021

The news is full of the effects of HGV driver shortages across the UK, something that many local authorities have felt for some time. Our waste services have been particularly hit by shortages, and as we look ahead to winter, we are all concerned with how gritting services and their essential role in safety and accident prevention might be impacted. Some authorities are also feeling the impact on passenger transport, particularly school bus provision.

In a recent wide-ranging meeting with Emma Ward and Stephen Fidler at DfT, we discussed the HGV driver shortage and potential impacts on both buses and winter services, the Decarbonisation of Transport Plan, the Comprehensive Spending Review, and the future of e-scooters. We also had a productive conversation on the Highways Act and the Road Traffic Act, both of which need updating in ADEPT’s view. I would like to take the opportunity to welcome new Transport Minister, Trudy Harrison and to thank Rachel Maclean for her interest and support of Live Labs, and to wish her well in her new role in the Home Office.

It was also good to see ADEPT being in referenced in Hansard! Environment Minister, Rebecca Pow, referenced both ADEPT’s climate adaptation guidance, written with Defra’s Local Adaptation Advisory Panel and the original Blueprint document which we co-authored with our coalition partners. Read more here.

I had a very positive meeting with the Presidents of ADPH, ADASS and ADCS, to discuss the potential for joint working and opportunities to influence government on issues that impact on all of us. We were unanimous that speaking with one voice on issues such as prevention, communities, and the value of localities is crucial if we are to convey the necessity of properly resourced local government and what it can achieve both for government agendas and our communities. We all recognise the importance of resilience in our workforces – both in terms of capacity and the critical skills needed as we move towards net zero and a more technological future. There was unanimous agreement that we should continue to meet, and to meet more regularly. To that end we will now be meeting quarterly to ensure that our joint agenda maintains momentum.

Members of the Leadership Team met with Philip Cox and Helen Golightly to discuss the future of local enterprise partnerships and the relationships with local authorities. There is potential for the results of the government review to be contained within the Levelling Up White Paper. We have been hearing that the government response to the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) report on levelling up, Infrastructure Towns and Regeneration, will also be within the White Paper. Read the NIC report here.

The appointment of Michael Gove to the new Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities is an opportunity for ADEPT to re-emphasise the indispensable role of local government, and place directors in particular, both to levelling up and in implementing the Environment Bill when it becomes law. We welcome a thorough rethink of the changes to planning legislation and again, want to emphasise the importance of local knowledge and community involvement in creating high quality, sustainable and energy efficient developments.

We’ve had two Live Labs blogs this month. The first from Commissioning Board member, Jason Pavey on Atkins perspective of the programme and how it is supporting digital evolution, here. The second is from Central Bedfordshire’s Jack Bower, who takes us through the Power Roads installation, part of the thermal roads trial. You can read Jack’s blog here.

Our Climate Change blog this month comes from our own Hannah Bartram who provides an update on the latest from the Blueprint coalition and its participation in a series of workshops with MHCLG (now DLUHC). Discussions included local authority workforce retention, resilience and capacity; funding, powers and resources; and of course, the vital importance of local authorities in achieving net zero.

Next week, we will be putting out a call for Expressions of Interest for the 2022 Excellence in Place Leadership programme. It’s a very successful and oversubscribed opportunity, so if you or your colleagues are interested, please look out for the emails and apply early.

Dates for your diaries! 

There is still plenty of time to book your place on the 2021 National Traffic Managers Conference, at the Leicester Tigers’ Welford Road stadium on 13th October. Topics to be covered include street safety and air quality issues, planning for the 2022 Commonwealth Games and a panel debate on road space. Find out more here

This year’s second Proving Services/FHRG Innovation Conference will be an online only event, to be held 9:30 – 13:30 on 21st October. Focused on climate change and the path to Net Zero Carbon, the draft release of GHG Scope 1 & 2 Guidance will be presented, together with a comprehensive assessment of progress and learning. There will also be the opportunity to discuss research proposals for developing GHG Scope 3 Guidance and the Carbon Zero Highways: Future Options programme in member-led, interactive sessions. Find out more and book your place here.

The ADEPT Autumn Conference, 18 – 19 November, is being held at the Apex Hotel in Bath and will be a great opportunity to meet in person. Have a look at the draft programme for Climate, Recovery and Renewal - looking ahead to a decade of action. Sessions include levelling up and building back better, the future of place, the competition for road space and what the Dasgupta Review means for sustainable growth. Book your place here.

Finally, booking is now open for the Live Labs Expo on 1st December. It will be a celebration event for all teams at Pride Park Stadium, Derby. So come and meet them and find out how they’ve adopted a broad range of new technologies from thermal roads to big data. 

As ever, please keep checking 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.