Rebalancing the economy a vital measure for Local Authorities

9th July, 2015
ADEPT, the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport has welcomed the Chancellors moves to rebalance the economy in yesterday’s budget.

New President of ADEPT, Heather Barnes said: “Moving ahead with devolution is vital for economic growth across the UK. While we welcome the Chancellor’s measures that support the necessary rebalancing of the country’s economy, we urge him to be even bolder.
“The question of how to rebalance the economy is one for local areas. They are best placed to know what’s needed to unlock economic potential but require the flexibility to determine how that is best achieved. ADEPT is asking for ‘meaningful devolution’ where local areas have the freedom to create tailored deals with government that include real powers, responsibilities and funding.
The Association wants to see devolution extended to all non-metropolitan areas that want it, recognising that deals should also take into account the social as well as economic benefits that arise from bringing power closer to communities.
ADEPT’s membership now includes the Chief Executives of Local Enterprise Partnerships across England creating a synergy and closer relationships at the critical local strategic level.
In its dialogue with the previous government, ADEPT has pushed hard for a new programme of Enterprise Zones that include rural areas, rail upgrade plans in the East and South East, a broadband fund to improve connectivity in the South West as well as extended funding for Transport for the North (TfN), all measures included in the Chancellor’s speech.
However, ADEPT has consistently called for a long-term investment plan to ensure the future security of critical infrastructure including roads, rail, environmental and energy generation and they would like to see this addressed in future policies.
Heather continued: “Long-term investment to ensure the security of our critical infrastructure will protect our communities from future environment challenges caused by severe weather. Developing long-term plans for the secure generation and supply of energy for the UK must be an urgent priority when faced with so much global uncertainty.
“ADEPT will continue to work proactively with Government to ensure radical and innovative new approaches to the economic, social and environmental challenges facing the country will be addressed in more detail in the Autumn spending review.
“Good social infrastructure is critical to the development of sustainable and successful communities. We want to see an emphasis on new affordable housing, more high-quality jobs and training opportunities, progress on the joining up of health and social care services, as well as the wider digital and transport networks.”
One note of caution however was sounded by Mike Ashworth, Chair of the ADEPT Transport Board on the Chancellor’s commitment to use revenue from Vehicle Excise Duty in England for a new Roads Fund.
Mike said: “This is a good idea, but ADEPT are concerned that the new fund will only be used for the Strategic Road Network (SRN). The 95% of roads across the country that are not part of the SRN will suffer as a consequence as there is still a significant lack of funding for the roads ADEPT members are responsible for maintaining. However, both the principle and the investment are a positive step forward and we are keen to work with Government to address future funding.”
ADEPT is the voice of Local Authority county, unitary and metropolitan Strategic Place Directors across England with responsibility for the key place based services, including transport, environment, planning, economic development, housing and waste.