The current economic turbulence is sending out waves which will hit at the heart of communities and their economic futures. The immediate and potential impact is clear and we will need to brace ourselves for the possible fiscal fallout of further recession. Our job in local government is complex, but our purpose is to make simply to galvanise action to protect and develop our communities. The need to secure future economic stability is a critical success factor. We need to think hard about our part in recovery and support our local economies and communities to deliver sustainable growth.
To do this we need to think about the area’s core business, what it should be looking to do in the future, how its history emerged from its geology, physical geography, agriculture and social geography and how we might exploit where we are now. Against that we need to map the various roles of local government and any openings that may arise from the new legislative and planning framework, whilst also considering some of the risks that are there to be grappled with too. Working with our elected members as local entrepreneurs we need to use civic leadership, community engagement, deliberation, regulatory tools and the way we commission and deliver services to promote our local economies and those around us. This needs to lead to investment in place, skills and hope not just from the outside but from within communities.
However this cannot simply be an approach which seeks growth at all costs. We need to remember that short term economic revenue growth and long term economic capital value are not the same thing. We have to be wary of attractive choices that prevent longer term more sustainable options, the hard choices that might have to be made despite vociferous opposition by particular interest groups and the fact they may have a point. And this is the added value that we should be bringing to the Local Economic Partnerships.
So whilst things are hard, let’s try and get a good place on the starting grid, and help neighbouring areas to do so too. Don’t wait for the international recovery, get on with protecting and creating local opportunities, skills and resilience by developing effective relationships with people across the local economy.