'Make infrastructure projects happen'
With the debate raging on how best to solve the financial crisis, restore the euro zone and generally get out of the current mess, there is a conversation about investment. Whether investment in our infrastructure is going to be (part of) the solution and a question about what the role of local government might be.
At Local Partnerships, sitting between the Treasury and the LGA, we see many innovative attempts to answer the ‘infrastructure question’. It’s very clear to me that local government is not taking enough credit for the good work that it is achieving.
With DEFRA, many local authorities are involved in the Waste Infrastructure Development Programme (WIDP) building facilities which will divert waste from landfill, achieving multiple benefits for their communities.
The problems of ensuring that the infrastructure projects actually happen are not to be underestimated
Others are engaged with the programme to bring broadband to rural areas to facilitate business growth, personal connection and commerce (known as BDUK).
Whilst these are examples of very traditional and very modern infrastructure, there are many others. Not all are as large as the new Mersey Gateway Bridge or as basic as investing in energy efficient public buildings, or as innovative as local solar farms or micro power generation; but all show a determination for Local Government to play a role.
The problems of ensuring that the infrastructure projects actually happen are not to be underestimated; whether raising the finance, convincing the community that diverting scarce funds into long term projects or persuading the auditors that growth is worth the use of prudential borrowing.
But at Local Partnerships we can see that behind the rhetoric and the associated anxiety, local government is positively engaged in shaping the answers. In making infrastructure projects happen we are also contributing to the wider debate and economic wellbeing too. It’s in all of our interests that this continues and the work continues. And of course we are always here to help!
Helen Bailey, chief executive, Local Partnerships