Right-sized public services

All eyes will be on Warwick next month for the District Councils’ Network’s annual conference, the first major fixture in the local government calendar of the new decade.

Just weeks after the General Election, this will be the first opportunity for new secretaries of state to directly address council leaders since being elected, now Brexit is ‘getting done’.

As the Government considers more ambitious reforms to public services than might have been anticipated just four weeks ago, the stage will be set for district councils to demonstrate our central role in driving the nation forward one local economy at a time – getting it ‘match-fit’ to compete on the global stage.

Our conference will focus on exploring how all public services can be ‘right-sized’ around the citizen, using district councils as the essential building blocks to deliver stronger economies and better lives.

It will demonstrate a flexibility to work together across the economic areas around which people live their lives and companies do their business, being ready, agile and focused on the prize. 

Conference will recognise that close co-operation across local economies, blind to historic administrative boundaries, is essential if we are to make a compelling case for investing the UK Shared Prosperity Fund – the replacement for EU regeneration funding – in the local infrastructure and passenger transport improvements that drive quality of life and job opportunities for every resident and business in our economy.

If devolution is back on the agenda then we should be in the driving seat, making the case for powers that can be transferred to the individual instead of stopping at the county line. The Government must seize this second chance and get it right, and we must ensure it does.

While never forgetting our representational role, we’ll debate recasting services to geographical areas that make sense to the resident and at a scale that will deliver outcomes for their families and businesses, and achieve value for money.

We look forward to a stable financial future for local government, one that allows councils to take advantage of the incentives to grow local areas and that has the freedom to innovate; a future where everyone can grow a stake in their local society supported by a local council that’s on their side.

With all this in mind, districts will be getting the new decade for local government under way next month at our conference in Warwick. What our visiting ministers need to take away is that it is districts – backed by sustainable long-term funding – that are best placed to drive the way forward in the decades ahead.

Speakers at the District Councils’ Network conference

The District Councils’ Network’s annual conference takes place at Chesford Grange, Kenilworth, Warwick, from 6-7 February. Guest speakers – to be confirmed – include senior ministers, shadow ministers, chief executives, senior councillors and senior speakers from the LGA.

Confirmed speakers so far include Sir John Curtice, Professor of Politics at the University of Strathclyde, a leading expert in political and social attitudes and electoral behaviour who commented extensively on the General Election; Mark Farmer, the Government’s Champion for Modern Methods of Construction (house building) and Chief Executive of Cast Consultancy; and Peter Gladwell, Head of Public Sector Partnerships, Legal and General.

The conference will cover a broad range of major issues across two days, such as devolution, housing, the environment, health and commercialisation. For more information, please visit https://districtcouncils.info/events/dcn-annual-conference-2020/

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