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Member Blog - Recovery and Reset: how can we create a confident and collaborative place?

 

Read our latest blog from John Till who is Director of thinkingplace

In June we hosted a very thought-provoking ‘Creating a Confident and Collaborative Place: Recovery and Reset after Coronavirus’ webinar with the Institute of Economic Development. Panellists were Martin Reeves, CEO, Coventry City Council; Tom Stannard, Corporate Director – Regeneration and Economic Growth, Wakefield Council; Corinne Day, Programme Director, Newhaven Enterprise Zone and David Fletcher, Assistant Director – Economic Development, Hampshire County Council.

Apart from their contributions there was a lively Q&A session and we wanted to share some of the insights with you.

David highlighted that whilst there had been, and continued to be, a fantastic response to the pandemic this had produced ‘a need to be seen to be doing something’ approach in some places. He made the point that there was a barrage of funding pots, demand for shovel-ready projects etc, which were helpful but did not address the foundations of the economy. It was still vital to have a long-term economic view and a focused support for the global businesses across the UK who, as the wealth creators, ultimately put money in people’s pockets.

Corinne hoped the crisis had created headspace, openness and a willingness to do things differently, and that by following a stakeholder and shared view of the future for a place there was an opportunity to push past procrastination. It was imperative to match policy and delivery with that future-place narrative stakeholders aspired to. There is a real need to accelerate ‘let’s try it’, to show by doing, collaborating to deliver and starting from a position of ‘yes’ to what matters locally.

As Tom pointed out, the housing market is a critical barometer of recovery and it will need intervention in various ways to become buoyant again. Alongside this, job creation will be vital and there needs to be support for skills development, but this cannot just be for young people – it needs to be an ‘all ages’ approach to maximise the potential of opportunities such as a digitally-orientated economy. Devolution could also be a catalyst for doing things differently, building on the new regard for the public sector and frontline workers at a local level so that local solutions can really come to the fore.

From Martin’s perspective more power must be devolved so reset and recovery can be inspired and delivered by fantastic local people. Communities will need emblems of hope, a view of the future given how confidence levels have been so eroded. As there will be less major investment places need to focus on what they have, the assets that make them special, how they are distinct, and to package this in an authentic narrative. The future will be messier, greyer, fuzzier than ever before and this will require complementary approaches; will collaborations endure post-crisis?

And a few other points:

• There needs to be investment in the place beyond GVA and into wellbeing, healthy living, feeling part of a community; in other words, social value added.

• Culture is an emblem for the future and you can’t disinvest in one of the principal things that connects people (especially the young) with their place.

• If people across communities are going to enjoy and be part of a cultural experience they have to be earning so they can be mobilised locally.

• There shouldn’t be a competition between urban and rural: one isn’t bad and the other good, this is about connecting assets and how both work together.

• Lack of finance must not be an excuse for lack of ambition.

It was thoughtful, provocative, challenging and honest.

If you missed the session ‘live’ then you can catch up and watch the recording here.

For more of the same join us on Monday 20th July at 12 noon for the next session entitled ‘Reset and Recovery will rely on your place pillars: Business and Education’

To find out more and register just click here.

John Till is Director of thinkingplace (http://thinkingplace.co.uk/), a member of the Institute of Economic Development, and can be contacted at John.Till@thinkingplace.co.uk

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