Councils must do it for themselves


© Kevin Jarrett - Maker Faire NY 2014

With Westminster and Whitehall distracted local government must look to itself to improve the lives and prospects of their citizens.

For those involved in local government looking to improve the lives and prospects of their citizens, there is one certainty in this increasingly uncertain post election, pre-Brexit world. Westminster and Whitehall have entered a period of introspection and confusion that could go on for a decade.The redrawing of national policy lines and the horse-trading that goes with it is dangerous for the localism agenda. So, whatever needs doing, Councils are going to have do it for themselves. This applies equally to those Councils in combined-structures and those in splendid isolation.
As the big beasts of national politics manoeuvre for position and try to improve or maintain the grip they have on "power" they will, without doubt, be tempted to put pressing local plans on hold or worse still allow a loss of momentum to kill-off some planned initiatives. 
This is not a party political issue. In the new real politic, horse-trading will be the one ever present reality for all political parties that want to get and hold power.
Today brings reports that the Democratic Unionist Party are effectively asking for the Conservative Government to promise an additional £1,100 per person to be spent in Northern Ireland as the price of their support. Financial support for the devolved nations is calculated using the Barnett formula. If applied the formula would require an extra £35 per person to be spent in Scotland, England and Wales for every £1 increase in spending in Northern Ireland.
This does not however mean that there will be any measurable increase in the amount of money finding its way to the regions. It is however certain that finacial support already promised for regional and local initiatives will have to be "re-purposed".  
The present move towards the devolution of executive powers and budget autonomy to local government must not just continue but increase and widen in scope.
As the media partner for Connected Local Government 2017. We have worked with the organisers to develop a new stream, The Future Is Local, which will widen the scope of the conversation and bring into focus a number of issues central to the localism debate. 
The Future Is Local stream will offer opportunities to take part in debates on
  • Women in local Government
  • Making a business of council services
  • Physical security and the rise of the drones
  • Breading excellence by learning from excellence
  • The age-friendly council
  • Autonomous vehicles – driving radical change in the delivery of local services
  • Information assurance the key to Cyber Security
In other streams, disruptive innovations by Councils including Birmingham, Devon County Council, Essex, Islington, Kirklees, Leeds, North East Lincolnshire, Suffolk, Tower Hamlets, Tri-borough, Warwickshire, West Midlands, will be provide case studies in such areas as:
  • Personal data consent capture & management
  • Dmart city modelling and data management
  • Crowd-funded digital collaboration
  • Digital and data infrastructure for future transport
  • Social value exchange to get resources to communities
  • Online process transformation for parking and travel
  • Self-service adult social care assessment
  • IoT and the elderly
  • Networks for safeguarding & care outcomes
  • Digitally inclusive service design
  • Using digital to maximise transport capacity



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