President's Update

This blog page will feature regular updates from ADEPT's President, Nigel Riglar.

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President update: 17th February

17 February 2021

The success of the NHS vaccine rollout has been most welcome amidst all the grim news, ongoing restrictions and winter weather. Unfortunately. it has also brought with it increased speculation and leaks to media about how we get out of lockdown and how soon - the kind of mixed messaging that helps no-one. So far, all it seems to be is speculation, and the Prime Minister is certainly indicating that by taking it slowly, this could be our last lockdown. With reopening schools at the forefront of the first steps out of this lockdown, we are all waiting for the 22nd February roadmap with anticipation.

The Sustainable Growth Board welcomed MHCLG’s Cities and Local Growth Unit to their last meeting. Discussion was centred on the Levelling Up and Shared Prosperity Funds, with the former focused on infrastructure, and the latter on skills, communities and business. It looks likely that the process will again be managed through competitive bidding, and it was suggested that the prospectus for each fund will be published before May. There were some clear asks from the Board: clarity over delivery structures, capacity to deliver bids, that deprived areas exist all over the country, and that a more joined up approach from government, particularly between People and Place.

Several of the Cabinet Office’s Regional Heads of Place have attended sub-national board meetings in recent weeks (Midlands, South West, South East, East) to discuss how government views of Place. Again, we have consistently stressed the view that government must move away from siloed thinking, so it was encouraging that they were interested in how Place can be dealt with as a whole and across agendas.

As you know, we restarted the ADEPT waste survey this month, with the first report published last week. Unsurprisingly staff absences are causing problems for some authorities. 80% are reporting absences and up to 4% of authorities having to suspend non-essential services such as bulky waste, food or garden waste collections. Up to 10% are reporting moderate disruption to core recycling and residual waste services, but there has been no suspension of services and HWRCs remain open as usual. The press release is here.

The Excellence in Place Leadership programme has published the EiPL Customer Experience Toolkit, which aims to support local authorities and place leaders in particular, transform how we interact with our customers. The Toolkit came out of a session which asked ‘how can local authorities emulate the very best in customer centric engagement, service design and delivery?’ Find out more about the session in Chris Traill’s blog.

The Blueprint coalition, including members of ADEPT’s Leadership Team, will be participating in a series of cross-Whitehall workshops with MHCLG, starting in the first week of March. The discussions will focus on the key themes in the Blueprint for accelerating climate action and a green recovery at the local level. If you haven’t yet signed up, there is still time to add your voice to the growing support for empowering local authority action on climate change 

Finally, you will have received your letter from DfT confirming highways maintenance funding allocations for 2021/22. Although ADEPT members are aware that Covid-19 has impacted heavily on the nation’s finances, the financial settlement was nevertheless disappointing. We had hoped that the baseline funding level of £1.5bn for 2020/21 would have continued into 2021/22, so the reduction to £1.15bn means that, once again, local highway authorities will have to pare back on their maintenance work in the forthcoming financial year, despite an enormous backlog of work. We all want to see it return to the 2020/21 levels and ADEPT is continuing to work with DfT, MHCLG and HMT to evidence the positive impact of long-term investment in highway infrastructure assets.

Behind the scenes, we are working hard to bring you an exciting line up for the virtual Spring Conference. We will soon be publishing details for the welcome return of the President’s Awards for 2021. As you know we had to postpone last year’s awards due to Covid-19, so we are looking forward to announcing the opening date for entries shortly.

As always, keep watching our Covid-19 updates page for the latest news. Stay safe everyone.

More posts

  • 1 February 2021

    President update: 1st February

    I think I can speak for everyone when I say how the recent news about the UK’s COVID-19 deaths have saddened us all. We have all taken a moment, I am sure, to reflect on the people whose lives have been shortened and families who have been devastated by losing loved ones.

    Read more >

  • 20 January 2021

    President update: 20th January

    A belated Happy New Year!

    For many of us, I suspect 2021 couldn’t come fast enough. Although we can be forgiven for the ‘Groundhog Day’ feeling of finding ourselves in another national lockdown, the vaccine rollout shows us that there is an end in sight. I think we all accept that this will take some time and that we will still be working hard to maintain core services, but at least we are no longer wondering whether it will end at all.

    Read more >

  • 18 December 2020

    President update: 18th December

    Christmas is going to look very different for most people this year, but even so, it feels something of a relief to be coming to the end of 2020. Although there is plenty of work and more challenges ahead, and it is certainly not a time to be letting our guards down, I think we will all be glad to get this year behind us.

    I think ADEPT members can look back on a year that has been one of the hardest we have known, but also one where we can really say we have stepped up to do what we do best: support and advocate for our places, communities and people.

    Read more >

  • 30 November 2020

    President update: 30th November

    As I write, the Government has announced the local restriction tier system that will replace the national lockdown from December 2nd. With very few exceptions, we will be continuing to live with many restrictions in Tier 2 and Tier 3, which means a continued need to provide meaningful support to our businesses and communities.

    Read more >

  • 10 November 2020

    President update: 10th November

    The election of Joe Biden has come at the end of a tumultuous week for global leaders. Covid numbers are rising across the UK, Europe and US, and in England, we find ourselves in a second national lockdown and diverging ever more from the timings and strategies deployed in the devolved nations. Hopes for breaking the lockdown and lift cycle seem to be firmly pinned on a successful vaccine.

    Read more >

  • 28 October 2020

    President update: 28th October

    I think it’s fair to say that as we look down the barrel of a Covid-19 winter, most of us are concentrating on how to keep our communities safe, our poorest children fed and our businesses, well, in business. It’s been a truly difficult couple of weeks for colleagues up and down the country and we all know it’s not going to get any easier. We also know that we will all continue to work hard to support our communities and places and try to provide the very best public services under continuing exceptional circumstances. 

    Read more >

  • 14 October 2020

    President update: 14th October

    After much trailing in the media, the Prime Minister finally announced the 3 tier system for local lockdowns on Monday. I think it’s fair to say that these haven’t been received with wholehearted endorsement. Local authorities are facing inconsistencies in how these tiers are being applied across the country. There is some debate whether localised lockdowns are even working and re-emergence of conversations about the North-South divide in terms of economic impacts.

    Read more >

  • 29 September 2020

    President update: 29th September

    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. 

    Read more >

  • 15 September 2020

    President update: 15th September

    The rising number of coronavirus cases and the R number increasing to between 1 and 1.2 are obviously concerning, particularly in the northern areas of England and the Midlands and have prompted the Government to introduce the new ‘rule of six’ guidance. The Prime Minister’s introduction of Covid Marshalls took many of us by surprise with more details due out this week. One of the most pressing issues for us of course, is how they will be funded.

    Read more >

  • 1 September 2020

    President update: 1st September

    Managing the reopening of schools to all students has provided many challenges, not only for the Government and schools themselves, but also for place directors. We have been working out how we can ensure pupils can travel to and from schools safely using public transport, which has been a massive issue for ADEPT members, and most keenly felt by those outside more urban areas.

    Read more >