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OCTOBER 2016
From your ADEPT President

Autumn is well underway and it’s been a busy start. There have been a number of useful meetings with key government departments and fellow organisations, including the LGA, DfT, DCLG, BIES and HMT. I note that many of the Boards and Working Groups have also been meeting in recent weeks, which is good to see. I know that our Chief Operating Officer, Hannah Bartram, has been trying to attend as many as possible – if you would like me to come along your meeting, please do ask – I will make every effort to attend.

The President’s Team meeting invited Ian Hughes, Head of Policy for the LGA, to its recent meeting to discuss all things Brexit. From those discussions, we agreed that we would establish a Brexit work programme – there’s more detail on this below. There are strong links to the government’s developing Industrial Strategy, which I am also keen we seek to influence. A Green Paper is due around the time of the Autumn Statement (23 November). Perhaps in time for us to discuss at the ADEPT conference? Where we will also be talking about Brexit. 
 
Finally – the President’s Team had a discussion about the annual President’s Meeting. Many of you attended the successful event organised by Heather Barnes in Devon in May. Whilst a fantastic opportunity to network and have some good policy debate, the resources required to organise it are not inconsiderable. We discussed several options, and I will be writing to you separately setting these out and asking for your thoughts in the next few weeks.
 
Many of you will be attending the Annual Conference in less than a month – so I look forward to seeing you there!

Rupert Clubb

Newsletter contents

Please click on the relevant topic to go straight to the article.

Parliamentary roundup
Brexit update
Update on research projects
ADEPT Annual Conference
Board & Working Group updates
ADEPT Annual Dinner & President's Special Recognition Awards
Successful Regional Transport Conference
Heather Barnes retires
Lead In council playgrounds 
Recent media stories
Did you know?
Upcoming ADEPT meetings
Parliamentary Roundup

Devolution special
 
Local government reorganisation. Three words that should send shudders up the spine of any self-respecting minister appointed to serve at DCLG.  The discussions are inevitably as protracted as they are heated and the end result often passes a disengaged electorate providing council tax remains low and the bins get collected. On the face of it then, an ostensibly unattractive pastime for politicians in Westminster to be partaking in. Yet history is littered with attempts, successful or otherwise, to change the structure of how politics operates below Westminster - usually in the name of efficiency, proficiency or austerity. 
 
One such attempt has been ongoing for some time. The model they’ve stumbled upon was, in many respects, entirely predictable.  Devolution is underpinned by subsidiarity; the cherished principle for some in Government that decisions should be taken at the lowest possible level (see Brexit for details…). Austerity, the dominant component of modern centre-right economic thinking, requires costs to be cut; something many believe combined authorities can and will achieve. Mayors meanwhile are in line with the “buck stops here” accountability we’ve seen the Government embrace through the establishment of Police & Crime Commissioners. 
 
The mood going into Conservative Party Conference amongst councillors attending seemed cautiously optimistic.  Most bought into the concept of further powers through devolution, providing everything was properly funded and resourced. Most seemed to understand why combined authorities were favoured, although talk of unitary authorities being the true end game was never far away. It was the mayoral component that seemed to be particularly exercising those representing more rural and county authorities.  Nevertheless, hope remained that deals could be done on bespoke terms that reflected the individual nature of each given area. 
 
It therefore came as a great surprise to many when word went around the conference venue that senior governmental figures were briefing out a position of “no mayor, no deal”.  The despatching of parliamentary aides to stress to disgruntled attendees that devolution and cash had to go hand-in-hand with enhanced accountability didn't get the warmest reception.  Quite a few prominent councillors subsequently used fringe event speaking slots to indicate that the requirement to have a mayor would not wash in their local communities.
 
Post-Conference, the Government has continued to reiterate it’s “no mayor, no deal” line. The Secretary of State has held numerous private meetings with his backbench colleagues where the importance of accountability has been stressed. Those in rural areas find themselves increasingly squashed between defending the Government line and an increasingly hostile ear bashing from local representatives.  Lincolnshire County Council, by 43 votes to 17, has upped the ante by rejecting a combined authority with a directly elected mayor. The promise of an extra £15m a year seemingly mattering little. I confidently predict that, unless we see some changes in Westminster thinking, they’ll not be the last to try and scupper a deal not yet done…
 
Which brings us back to the start… local government reorganisation.  Three words that should send shudders up the spine of any self-respecting minister appointed to serve at DCLG…. and yet here we are again.  Questions will be asked, debates in Parliament will be had, the press will provide a boxing ring for disputes to be settled in… and the public will be broadly content if council tax remains low and the bins get collected.
 
One Lincolnshire Cabinet Member said after the vote that he was “no great lover of government of any sort”.  As we once again board the merry-go-round of local government reorganisation, his sentiments are perhaps something we might all find ourselves warming to!

Please click here to view the Parliamentary monitoring and here for the list of current consultations.
Brexit update
 
Brexit is likely to be the most significant issue that will affect and influence the work of ADEPT over the next few years. We need to position local government in those debates and issues which will affect us most.
 
The Local Government Association (LGA) has identified five priority areas for local government to seek to influence the Government’s EU exit negotiating strategy:
  • Local government's position post-Brexit – a more strategic view of devolution in England
  • EU funding – assurances on securing funding committed to local regeneration schemes up to 2020, and influencing the post 2020 funding regime. There are strong links here to the developing Industrial Strategy. Please click here to read Greg Clark's speech
  • Developing a new legal base for local government – identifying all the EU Directives and regulations that affect local government, and agreeing priorities and opportunities around these
  • Community cohesion, and the public sector workforce
  • Place-based impact – understanding how Brexit will impact on different places (regions and localities) and sectors in different ways, both risks and opportunities
The full LGA briefing note is on their website, click here to read it.
 
Ian Hughes (Head of Policy at the LGA) attended the ADEPT President’s Team meeting on 20th October. Of the five priority areas, the place-based impact is perhaps the biggest opportunity to help and influence the Government’s approach, to spot the unintended local/regional consequences of national decisions. ADEPT and its member authorities have a key role to play here in spotting these e.g. the impact on particular employers/sectors/universities.
 
The view of the President’s Team is that our principal routes of engagement will be via the LGA, and directly into the DCLG Programme Board. Neil Gibson will act as lead Vice President, and will be the main conduit for information into and back from LGA and DCLG (and SOLACE). Hannah Bartram and David Dale will provide support. A work programme will be developed, and Brexit will be addressed at the conference in late November, as well as in the work of the Sub National Boards and Subject Boards. We will need all member authorities to feed in place-based intelligence to help develop the overall narrative we will provide for the LGA and Government.

 
UPDATE ON RESEARCH PROJECTS

SMART Places: Innovation in the use of digital technology in place based services
 
The overall research theme ADEPT will use for a programme of integrated research strands over the next 12/36 months is ‘SMART Places: Innovation in the use of digital technology in Place based services’. At it's 13 September 2016 Management Board it agreed to pursue three strands:
  • Digital Innovation in the construction, use and maintenance of our Highways Asset (ADEPT Innovation Research 1)
  • Digital Innovation in planning places (ADEPT Innovation Research 2)
  • Digital Innovation in the environment (ADEPT Innovation Research 3)
Sonia-Davidson Grant will take the SRO role for the overall programme with support from Laura Newcombe as Project Manager. Together they will formally initiate the programme, set the scene for the ‘SMART Places’ programme and the overall outcomes/outputs sought, and will put in place arrangements to integrate leadership development and learning across the programme.

ADEPT Annual Conference- last chance to book!
 
The annual conference is now only three weeks away! Click here to book your place! Please click here to see the latest conference line up.
Board & Working Group updates

Traffic Systems Working Group
The Traffic Systems Group met in London on 11th October. There was a wide ranging discussion of current issues within the traffic signal and intelligent transport systems industry, including an update on TOPAS, the part ADEPT funded system for registering previously Type Approved Equipment against national technical specifications (more information available on the TOPAS website (www.topasgroup.org.uk), and Crown Commercial Services, Traffic Management Technology 2 Framework, which will provide a valuable alternative procurement route for local authorities purchasing traffic signal and intelligent transport systems equipment. For more information contact the Chair Adrian Gray (Andrian.gray@hants.gov.uk).

Environment Board
The Environment Board met on 12 October 2016 in London. Both the morning and the afternoon session’s were very well attended. The Board welcomed the new chair of the Energy Security Working Group, Carolyn McKenzie from Kent County Council. 
 
The morning session covered the EU Referendum and how important it was to work out what it meant for the environment. A decision was made to keep this as a standing item going forward due to the uncertainty surrounding it. A discussion on the developments and updates for each working group was then heard. The Board is looking to add members to the Natural Capital and Heritage Group and if you are interested in becoming a part of this group, please contact Amilia Holland, Environment Board Secretary: amilia.holland@eastsussex.gov.uk The morning Board meeting was brought to a close following a brief discussion on the Shale Wealth Fund.        
 
The afternoon workshop focused on Climate Resilience and how ADEPT can add value to discussions on this subject. Resilience covers the changing climate and the associated risks; environmental, agricultural and damage to social well being to name a few. Amongst those attending were the Committee on Climate Change, London Climate Change Partnership, South Gloucestershire County Council, LEDNet, the LGA and Defra. The workshop had two presentations, one on the climate change risk assessment process and the other on a system named HIRAM that maps highways infrastructure.
 
The Environment Board covers a diverse range of interesting topics and are always keen to hear different perspectives and views. If you are interested in attending a future meeting, please contact Amilia Holland, Environment Board Secretary: amilia.holland@eastsussex.gov.uk

Engineering Board
Having been unable to venture outside of London for any of its meetings since late 2014, the ADEPT Engineering Board headed for Warrington for a provincial meeting. On the evening of 6th October, the adventurous souls heard all about the circa £600m Mersey Gateway project and then, the following day, headed off to see first-hand this tremendous civil engineering project under construction. Many reminisced about the days spent out on construction sites in their formative years and looked on in deep appreciation of the scale and complexity of this new river crossing and its associated road infrastructure.

In between was the more serious business of the Engineering Board’s meeting. Much welcomed at Board meetings of late has been the attendance of senior Department for Transport representatives - and their presence again was greatly appreciated as there was much to reflect on. Discussion ranged from the confirmation that the new Well-Managed Highway Infrastructure document would be officially launched by Andrew Jones MP, the Roads Minister, towards the end of the month (now accessible at http://www.ukroadsliaisongroup.org/en/codes/index.cfm) to other topics such as:
  • Clarification over the Incentive Fund self-assessment questionnaire submissions, particularly the submission date now being identified as the end of December;
  • An update on the second tranche of the Challenge Fund, which will be a two-stage expression of interest followed by a business case for those submissions thought suitable for further consideration and funding allocation from the £300m remaining sum;
  • The Department for Transport’s growing interest in exploring new technology and maintenance techniques for national application; and
  • The creation of a Highway Maintenance Efficiency Programme (HMEP) Strategic Steering Group to oversee the migration of the work thus far away from the DfT and into the highways sector – a process that ADEPT will be involved in.
The Engineering Board also received a presentation from John Reed of Durham County Council on how it had achieved Band 3 self-assessment status at the first attempt – a not insignificant achievement! John’s presentation gave those attending some serious food for thought and the encouragement that we can all get there too.

Flood & Water Management Board
The Flood and Water Management Group met on the 4 October 2016. The meeting was well attended with 24 attendees. A discussion was held on the Devon and Exeter legal challenge against SW Water for removing assets off the register and also covered the implications of removing these assets. Topics discussed during the rest of the meeting included; how a local levy can be used, sharing best practice amongst Local Authorities and the additional funding for flood risk management now available. The Group also discussed development of the skills matrix where Local Authorities had not been able to complete their flood risk assessment. The EA and Defra will be attending the next Flood and Water Management Group which is taking place on 6 January 2017.
Annual Dinner and President's Special Recognition Awards
 
The date... Thursday 26th January 2017

The venue...One Whitehall Place, London
 www.onewhitehallplace.com

Cost: Members: £75 (inclusive of VAT)       
Non members: £105 (inclusive of VAT) 
Dress code: Black Tie

Following last year’s success, we’re delighted to announce that the President’s Special Recognition Awards are back! Rupert Clubb, ADEPT President, wishes to acknowledge the work of ADEPT members across the country. He will present awards to those projects which best demonstrate delivery against the key themes of the ADEPT Policy Prospectus:

1. Meaningful devolution for all communities across the UK- examples where the principles of devolution are already being embedded.

2. Powers to plan and grow successful communities and placeswork to create successful, sustainable communities and places in high quality environments where people can live, work and contribute throughout their lifetimes.

3. Long term funding to prevent, prepare and respondinitiatives that allow communities to prevent, prepare and respond to the wide range of economic, social and environmental challenges currently facing the country.


To enter your project please submit a tweet length summary and 500 words outlining your project and its impact by 9th December to Laura Newcombe, ADEPT Policy Officer, at laura.newcombe@devon.gov.uk.

To reserve your place at the Annual Dinner please click here.
SUCESSFUL REGIONAL TRANSPORT CONFERENCE
 
     
 
10th November 2016
Macdonald Hotel, Manchester

ADEPT is delighted to support the Successful Regional Transport 2016. To book a place and see the conference programme click
here.
HEATHER BARNES RETIRES


 
Our immediate Past President Heather Barnes, Strategic Director Place at Devon County Council, retires this month. We wish Heather and her husband Peter lots of happiness in their new life in France.
LEAD IN COUNCIL PLAYGROUNDS
 
Following on from the article on 'lead in council playgrounds' in September's 
newsletter (click
here to go to it) The LGA is still keen to find out if any councils are experiencing any problems with newer equipment being purchased to better understand the scale of the issue, if it exists.
 
If you have any information please contact Eamon Lally, Principal Policy Adviser, Eamon.lally@local.gov.uk.
SHALE WEALTH FUND

ADEPT recently submitted a response to the Government consultation on the Shale Wealth Fund, click here to read more.
RECENT MEDIA STORIES
 
9th September- Flood review is 'sticking plaster' solution- Surveyor

15th September- Rail industry needs to 'get on board' with station revamps- Surveyor

4th October- New homes funding 'must support creaking infrastructure'- Surveyor

To read these stories in full please find the links in the communications report here.
Did you know?
  • Working with the Government, ADEPT keep over 117,000 miles of road repaired, maintained and enhanced to keep our communities on the move and our commerce thriving
Upcoming ADEPT meetings
  • Soils & Materials Design & Specification Working Group- 1 November
  • National Bridges Working Group- 3 November
  • West Midlands Board Meeting- 3 November
  • South West Board Meeting- 3 November
  • Highways 'Seeing is believing' 2016- 9/10 November
  • East of England Board Meeting - 18 November, Cambridge
  • Planning, Housing & Regeneration Board- 18 November, London
  • ADEPT Annual Conference - 24/25 November, Manchester
The ADEPT website now had an Events Calendar – this lists all forthcoming Board and Working Group meetings. To get an event listed, please contact secretariat@adeptnet.org.uk
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