May - July 2016: Three months, three major publications...

As Visiting Professor of Practice at CURDS, Newcastle University, I was delighted to work with colleagues to synthesise and develop our experience of and perspectives on England's 'devolution revolution'. Our report "Decentralisation: Issues, Principles and Practice" was launched and well received in May 2016. We seek to move away from Osborne's ad hoc political haggles and tactical deals to put devolution on a much more robust, well-founded basis in a rebalanced local and national state.

The other two major pieces of work owe a debt of gratitude to Kevin Richardson of HEFCE. We co-authored "How smart is England's approach to Smart Specialisation?: A Policy Paper" published in European Planning Studies.

Kevin was also a generous contributor to the hearings of the University of Warwick Chancellor's Commission into the future roles of the University in Coventry, Warwickshire and the Midlands.

I am immensely proud to have been Executive Commissioner of the Commission. Our Final Report was launched on 6th July 2016. The Commissioners and myself expect it to help shape the future of Midlands Engine, West Midlands Combined Authority, Coventry and Warwickshire, and local communities, through enhanced proactive University contributions.

More broadly, we believe the roles and responsibilities of universities in cities and regions is even more important in the post-referendum uncertainties. We hope our report will assist many universities and local leadership teams refresh their collaborative agendas.

A report of which I am immensely proud. Can it help shape university relations with cities and regions in these uncertain and traumatic times? 


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  • September 2016: Every place needs to be refreshing its local growth goals and priorities in the aftermath of the referendum and change of Government. Immensely enjoyed producing thought piece and facilitating workshop/roundtable with Gloucestershire Economic Growth Joint Committee and partners...
  • August 2016: Great to be working with Mike Dearing of AMEO on the West Midlands Growth Company proposed by the WM Combined Authority - ambitious, challenging, and highly relevant.
  • Summer 2016: Need to think through new models of growth, development and regeneration in the aftermath of the BREXIT referendum - urban policy and cities; industrial strategy; underperforming places; and the rebirth of regeneration. 
  • July 2016: Proud to have launched the University of Warwick Chancellor's Commission final report on the future role of the University in Coventry, Warwickshire and Midlands, for which I was Executive Commissioner. Complements my June Planning column on the potential impact of the HE Bill and White Paper on University expansion and/or contraction in your town or city.
  • June 2016: One of the most momentous and disgraceful political moments of the century as 16m England and Wales voters (and under 26% of the UK population) vote for BREXIT. I took no pleasure in 'calling it right' from the referendum absurdities of April's "Anxious, angry but always an European" to May's "Democracy in terminal decline", the tragedy of Jo Cox and the impending "crisis of June 23rd", and the unravelling of results (and BREXIT lies) in the immediate aftermath. It is a sad portfolio of pieces, rounded off by my allegation of the disgusting criminal incitement of hate crimes by our purported Justice Secretary. Still as angry as ever!
  • June 2016: This LGIU briefing attempted to position Queen's Speech impact on and relevance for devolution and local growth. Seems like a different era!
  • May 2016: "How smart is England's approach to smart specialisation? A Policy Paper", co-authored with friend and colleague Kevin Richardson has been published by European Planning Studies. Let me know if you can't get behind the paywall! Complements the completion of a piece of work on Synergies of EU structural and RD&I funding undertaken with Joe Marshall of NCUB and Adrian Healy, Cardiff University - again let me know if you want further details.
  • May 2016: Launched the latest CURDS report "Decentralisation: Issues, Principles and Practice" of which I am delighted to be co-author. Followed this up with a look at the Planning dimensions of the report in my regular monthly column.
  • April 2016: Another enjoyable contribution to Swedish local government leadership development programme - providing an iuntroduction to UK local government. If you are interested in further details of this piece of work please get in touch.
  • April 2016: Delighted to be invited to join the Innovation Council of Greater Lincolnshire LEP, and to be working with Mary Stuart, Chair of the Council and VC of University of Lincoln
  • April 2016: How the Budget impacts on local growth and devolution explored with LGIU in this briefing and a stimulating workshop at which I made this presentation.
  • March 2016: A piece on primary urban areas, Centre for Cities Cities Outlook 2016, and Grimsby's 'relegation' from the 'top-63' UK cities!
  • March 2016: Interested in 'synergies' between different EU funding streams (and with national and local programmes)? Get in touch to get involved in BIS project on which I am working with NCUB.
  • March 2016: Serious intent in HotSW devolution as we convene and make progress in two major workshops - on Governance, and on Productivity growth respectively.
  • February 2016: An unexpected but exciting short visit to Colombia to contribute to British Council's Global Education Dialogue on University roles in national and city development. See my presentation here.
  • February 2016: Both government and the Midlands Engine missing a real trick in NOT promoting Birmingham as a serious alternative solution to london's airport capacity challenges -
  • January 2016: A pleasure to be working again with colleagues in Heart of the South West (HotSW) on their devolution agendas. Following a major workshop on 22/01, the prospectus was approved by over twenty partners and formally submitted to Government in February.
  • January 2016: New Year, new extensive and intimidating challenges for local growth agendas - the LGIU blog and fuller briefing...
  • Xmas/New Year 2015/16: Do you believe in Father Xmas? Seasonal greetings with read-across from some of the great Xmas anthems...




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