Sustainable Local Economies Seminar Series 2014
1 Ionawr 2015
During October, November and December 2014 PLACE teamed up with CLES (the Centre for Local Economic Strategies) to present a series of three seminars focusing of sustainable local economies. The seminars, organised by PLACE and CLES Associate Mark Lang, were well attended by a range of public, private and third sector representatives.
The first seminar was designed to think differently about our economy, highlighting the importance of supporting the development of local economic activity. Neil McInroy, CLES Chief Executive, spoke about CLES' work in supporting local economies across the UK and beyond. CLES has been the UK's leading local economies think tank for nearly 30 years, and over this time has supported the development of the local economies agenda in towns, cities and rural locations. Neil outlined CLES 'Resilience' model (http://www.cles.org.uk/research/resillience/ ), which it developed as a strategic relationship model for assessing the resilience of places focused on the relationships between the commercial, public and social economies. The model's principal assumption is that through improving the quality of the multitude of relationships within activity, synergies and innovative responses to the key challenges can be tackled.
Speaking alongside Neil at the first seminar was Dave Adamson, who recently co-authored the Deep Place Report on Tredegar with Mark Lang (http://www.regenwales.org/project_9_The--Deep-Place--Study ). Deep Place is an innovative approach to public service delivery and achieving more resilient local economies via a place-based methodology. Developed during the study of Tredegar, the Deep Place model maps the economic opportunities that could be achieved by a radical rethink of local economies and the way that public services are provided in disadvantaged communities. Operating at a local level where the scale of the problem can be adequately visualised and theorised, the Deep Place model produces practical proposals for economic recovery and poverty eradication.
The second seminar considered the role of town centres in the development of local economies. The guest speaker was Andrew Highway, Town Centre Development Manager at Caerphilly County Borough Council. Andrew talked about the work being undertaken in Caerphilly to support the County's five town centres. Following the Potas Review as a framework, the presentation outlined how Caerphilly uses a 'Unique Places' model to manage five town centres in the County Borough (http://your.caerphilly.gov.uk/sites/your.caerphilly.gov.uk.bargoedsbigidea/files/towncentres_uniqueplaces.pdf ). Andrew's presentation provided an excellent introduction to a wider seminar discussion on the future of town centres.
The final seminar was joined by Leighton Andrew AM, the Minister for Public Services. This was an opportune time for the Minster to join the seminar series, shortly before announcements that are pending regarding the future structures of local government in Wales, for which he is responsible. The seminar, which was also addressed by Neil McInroy, sought to consider the future role of public services in local economies. In his presentation the Minster chose to highlight the Deep Study work undertaken by Dave Adamson and Mark Lang as an example of how to think differently and imaginatively about the future of public services. Although the Minister was giving nothing away in terms of numbers of local authorities, there was a very interesting general discussion about the future form of local government in Wales, including a proposal by the WLGA around a combined authority for South East Wales, which the leaders of those authorities had that afternoon voted to explore.