Dear Mr Gove
Re: Levelling up locally
I write on behalf of the members of ADEPT, the professional body that represents ‘directors of place’ from county, combined and unitary councils across England along with directors of LEPs, corporate partners drawn from the private sector, and our sister associations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and.
We were delighted to see that levelling up was at the heart of the speeches that you and the Prime Minister gave at the Conservative Party Conference last week and look forward to the forthcoming white paper. As executive officers within local councils, we are committed to the four objectives that you have set out. Levelling up is all about place; it is not about north vs south or urban vs rural. To achieve levelling up at a place level requires a whole range of interdependent economic, social and environmental services to work together. Our role as place directors is to help our places to ‘self-level’, to join things up and to support our council leaders in making things happen and improving opportunities for our local communities and businesses.
Councils have demonstrated throughout the Covid pandemic that when they are trusted by government, they deliver. We know that senior civil servants across those Whitehall departments we regularly work with, think this too. Perhaps as a consequence I think there is a real buzz around local leadership. People are inspired by the opportunities to take a bottom-up approach to tackling the ingrained problems and new challenges facing the UK. Place directors have varied professional backgrounds, which brings diversity of thought and approach to the debate.
As place directors, we can help our local leaders and you to achieve some quick wins whilst other, longer-term objectives are put in place. We can have those practical conversations with you and your civil servants as we know what the issues are locally and we join up the infrastructure, housing, economic, environmental strategies, programmes and funds that create sustainable places. The breadth of the ADEPT portfolio means that we can help join up across Whitehall as we have good relationships with the key spending departments (Defra, DfT, BEIS, DCMS as well as DULHC). In addition, we have good relations with our sister associations representing public health, adult social services and children’s services and the Local Government Association.
With the right support from government, councils can mobilise communities and businesses to help deliver levelling up. I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you, and your officials, to discuss what we are already doing across our local places, what more we can achieve, and how we can support you and our local council leaders in achieving the levelling up agenda across the country.
Paula Hewitt, ADEPT President 2021/22