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President update: 31st July

31 July 2020

The news has been concerning this week, with the reintroduction of some lockdown measures across areas in the north of England, as well as the requirement to quarantine for travellers returning from Spain. The measures serve to highlight that coming out of lockdown is not an easy process, and with increases in cases across Europe, a reminder of how connected we are with our friends.

Local authorities are taking over responsibility for local outbreak management, but as we’ve seen with this most recent announcement, the need for swift decision-making can mean Government making announcements at speed, leaving little time for local preparation. For place directors, it is critical that we are plugged into local outbreak management boards and have ever closer relationships with our colleagues in public health. 

We are becoming increasingly confident at hosting webinars for members; the focus this week was on climate change. We were fortunate to have three very engaging speakers – Louise Marix Evans from the Committee for Climate Change, Ashden’s Cara Jenkinson and our own Sue Halliwell. Louise spoke on and answered questions on the CCC’s pathway to net zero work, Cara focused on the recently published partnership report Blueprint for accelerating climate action and a green recovery at the local level and Sue talked through how ADEPT is carrying forward its work on climate change. The slides are available on the Climate Change Hub (here).

As well as this, Sue managed a session capturing members’ views on key questions: whether Covid-19 was impacting on the implementation of climate emergency plans (mostly no); whether councils were turning to external support to develop plans (yes and mostly from the private sector) and what support could ADEPT best provide for members (influencing government).

Our Active Travel Policy Position was published this week at the same time as the Government announced its Cycling and Walking Plan for England. In it we argue for a single active travel fund to support permanent change and to embed walking and cycling into our transport network.  

This week saw the publication of our 14th waste survey. It is clear that collections of household waste and recycling are stabilising, with normal operations across 92% and 82% of responding councils, respectively. 77% of councils are reporting normal collections of food waste, 90% for garden waste and 73% for commercial waste. Unsurprisingly there is a significant increase in commercial waste compared with the beginning of lockdown as more businesses, shops, pubs and restaurants reopen. 

The Sustainable Growth Board is continuing its work both on recovery and renewal. The minutes of the planning workshop have been published on the website here. We’ll be publishing the notes of the workshop on town centres and high streets soon.

The update is now taking a holiday for the next few weeks and will return at the end of August. As always, keep watching our COVID-19 updates page for latest ADEPT news.