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Let the network take charge

Cecilia Routledge, Global Head of E-Mobility for vehicle charging specialist CTEK

2021 is the year for the EV charging infrastructure to shape up

By Cecilia Routledge, Global Head of E-Mobility for vehicle charging specialist CTEK

The Government has committed to phase out new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030, 10 years earlier than originally planned. This is a key step on the ‘road to zero’ for net zero emissions in the UK by 2050. And, as the number of rechargeable vehicles on Britain’s roads increases, the need for a robust, extensive charging network becomes ever more critical – not only to meet the needs of today’s electric cars, but also because the availability of public charging stations is a key driver for motorists considering making the switch to electric.

Research from UK think tank Policy Exchange reveals that, by 2030, the UK is likely to need around 400,000 public charge points, meaning that charge points need to be installed five times faster than the current rate. So 2021 really is the year when the EV charging infrastructure needs to start shaping up.

Cecilia Routledge, Global Head of E-Mobility for vehicle charging specialist CTEK, gives her views on the trends that will shape the growth of the UK charging infrastructure in 2021.

  • Government funding and incentives will drive expansion. In line with the Government’s vision to have one of the best electric vehicle infrastructure networks in the world, their 10 point plan for a green industrial revolution published last November has committed £1.3 billion to accelerate infrastructure roll out with a focus on rapid charge points for motorways and major roads, as well as more on-street charge points near homes and workplaces, in a bid to make electric vehicle charging as easy as refuelling a petrol or diesel vehicle. This includes £20m of funding committed to the On-Street Residential Grant Scheme for 2021/21, which offers local authorities 75% of the capital costs to procure and install on-street charging points.
  • Charging infrastructure will become a ‘must have’ for new builds and refurbs. Charging infrastructure will increasingly be front of mind for urban developers and architects during the planning process. To support the current and future take up of electric vehicles, action is needed now to make buildings e-fit for the future, and a Government consultation is underway on proposals to make charging points mandatory for all new builds.

For non-residential buildings, the Government’s proposals for mandatory EV charging points go further to also cover buildings under refurbishment and, longer term (by 2025), existing non-residential buildings, too.

  • Smart charging will come to the fore. As the number of vehicles requiring charge increases, focus will turn to the impact this may have on the National Grid, especially as CTEK’s research reveals most people plug in when they get home from work, when there is already peak demand for electricity.

CTEK Chargestorm Connected 2, EV charging point

There is a Government consultation underway proposing that all EV charge points sold or installed in the UK must have smart charging functionality included. Smart charging, which is incorporated into CTEK’s Chargestorm® Connected 2 charging points as standard, allows users to plug in and set their vehicles to charge during off-peak hours, when there may be cheaper tariffs and lots of clean, renewable electricity generation available too.

  • Continued debate on the charging infrastructure. We can expect further debate on the charging infrastructure, everything from payment standards to smart charging, to transmission capacity and load balancing. The market is also under review by the Competition and Markets Authority, whose study on the charging sector is looking to establish how investment can be encouraged, while also making sure this fast-growing sector works well for UK drivers.

The future of sustainable transport lies with rechargeable vehicles, and we expect 2021 to be the year when charging infrastructure is at the forefront of development to support the Government’s drive to phase out petrol and diesel vehicles.

CTEK is the leading global brand in battery care and power management and, with over 10 year’s experience in EV charging technologies. CTEK’s E-mobility solutions are available globally. Products range from individual EV charge points for home charging to larger corporate and commercial installations with multiple charging stations, load balancing and seamless integration with monitoring and payment equipment.

Contact details: www.ctekemobility.com

Cumbria’s new Blue Light Hub brings better service for community

The emergency services outside Cumbria’s new Blue Light Hub

A new Blue Light emergency services hub to better serve the local community has opened in Cumbria.

The multi-million pound Furness Peninsular Blue Light Hub brings services together under one roof for the first time in the south of the county.

Cumbria County Council has delivered the combined facility to home the county’s Fire and Rescue Service, Police and North West Ambulance Service.

Cllr Janet Willis, Cumbria County Council Cabinet member for Fire and Rescue, said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to see the completion of this fantastic new facility which will benefit the local community.

“Working together under one roof will provide even greater opportunities for collaboration with our blue light partners and will also deliver significant savings to the public purse.”

Cllr David E. Southward, MBE, Cumbria County Council Cabinet member for Economic Development and Property, said: “This new building provides a range of facilities for the Fire and Rescue Service, including the fire house where firefighters can train in a smoke-filled environment.

“This facility hasn’t been available in South Cumbria previously, so firefighters had to travel to Penrith to the closest fire training facility. This improvement creates greater training opportunities in the area and reduces travel time for staff.”

The hub includes:

  • Fire house and tower training facility
  • Road traffic collision area for training scenarios
  • Appliance bay accommodating two fire engines and one ambulance
  • Operational facilities such as breathing apparatus workshop, drying room for fire fighters’ PPE and equipment storage
  • Office accommodation for Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service, Cumbria Police and NWAS.
  • Conference/meeting room facilities

A video to mark the opening of the Furness Peninsular Blue Light Hub can be watched here:  www.youtube.com/watch?v=yY7naqxXbmI

John Beard, Cumbria County Council’s Chief Fire Officer, said: “The Furness Peninsular Blue Light Hub provides much improved facilities for our staff in the Ulverston area. The building is also ideally located next to the A590 main road in Furness, which will help to maintain a rapid response to emergency incidents. We’re looking forward to working alongside our blue light partners and maximising opportunities for even closer collaboration.”

Superintendent for South Cumbria Matt Pearman said: “When the emergency services and other partner agencies work together the whole community benefits. The new hub will see experienced police officers working alongside colleagues from Cumbria Fire and Rescue, North West Ambulance Service, Cumbria County Council and others.

Cumbria County Council’s Furness Peninsular Blue Light Hub

“This will result in all agencies having a greater understanding of what is going on in the community and an enhanced ability to tackle the issues most important to the public.”

Roger Jones, NWAS Head of Service for Cumbria and Lancashire, said: “This is a much-needed step to upgrade the facilities at Ulverston and ultimately this new location should improve our response times to the public.

“There are many advantages to working so closely with our blue light and local authority partners, while the investment also delivers better value for money. The new station provides adequate space for current emergency and patient transport vehicles, and I’m sure our staff are excited to be working from a fresh, modern building.”

Caddick Construction was the main contractor for the new building.

Derek Billows, Contracts Manager at Caddick Construction, said: “This has been an exciting project for the team to deliver. The co-located emergency response centre will be a collaborative base from which the vital emergency services can provide an efficient response service and support for local residents. This successful project has further strengthened Caddick Construction’s commitment to the Cumbria region and its supply chain.”

Fire and Rescue Service staff have moved into the new hub, which replaces the old Ulverston fire station.

It is hoped an open day will be held for the local community when it is safe to do so.

Cumbria County Council secured £4.9m from the Department for Communities and Local Government’s Fire Transformation Fund for the project.

The new hub building links to an access road from the A590 to Ulverston’s Beehive Business Park, home to a number of national retail outlets.

The county council delivered the access road scheme, which unlocked employment land for development, on behalf of Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership.

Eric Wright Construction Ltd constructed the new road and signalised junction.

Edtech Charity LGfL joins Mayor of London and London Councils to help close the digital divide and provide 200,000 low-cost laptops for schools

Leaders launch digital exclusion taskforce to help Londoners get better connectivity, acquire digital skills and access devices

LGfL to provide 200,000 low-cost laptops for schools 

28% of children in state funded-education are disadvantaged 

The attainment gap between disadvantaged children and their more affluent counterparts currently stands at 18 months and is growing fast

“Closing the digital divide in London is crucial if we are to stem the widening 18 month attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their affluent counterparts”, said John Jackson, CEO, EdTech charity, LGfL – who recently joined the Mayor of London  and London Councils as part of Sadiq Khan’s Digital Exclusion Task Force whose mission is to #BridgeTheDivide.  LGfL will be providing schools with devices for their pupils and working with them to recondition older devices.  It will also be working to secure a wireless connectivity deal with a major mobile network.

Research conducted by the Sutton Trust and Teacher Tapp shows only 10 per cent of schools across the country reported all their pupils have a laptop – only a marginal increase from last March (seven per cent) (1). Meanwhile, Ofcom estimates that between 1.14 million and 1.78 million UK children (nine per cent) lack access to a laptop, desktop or tablet at home – and more than 880,000 live in a household with only a mobile internet connection (2).

To date, LGfL has provided 100,000 devices for schools across the country during the first lockdown and has recently ordered 100,000 more. However, fully meeting the demand remains a huge challenge, not least some equipment takes several weeks to arrive from the supplier.

Councils in London are currently assessing the need in their areas, with some reporting as many as 8,000 pupils still lack devices, even taking into account those which have already been ordered.

“LGfL has massive purchasing power as it buys on behalf of thousands of schools which delivers economies of scale saving schools millions of pounds ”, said John Jackson.  “Affordability is key”, he said – a comment echoed by Benjamin Kennor, Assistant Headteacher, St Fidelis RC Primary School in Erith, London Borough of Bexley, in this video, who was able to purchase a further 40 devices for the same price that he was going to pay with another supplier.

LGfL has complemented the rollout off new devices with the recycling of old computers. Over 30,000 licences have been given to schools which enable them to turn old laptops into fully functioning Chromebooks within minutes.

Schools are also benefiting from HomeProtect, a web filtering solution, designed to safeguard children accessing the internet at home which has been made available for free for six months.

LGfL will also be launching a low cost, unlimited SIM card for children , to enable affordable access in the home for families and children who may not have access to broadband at home.

“We are delighted to support the Mayor’s taskforce, a critical development which will join up incredibly important work on digital inclusion across public, private and charitable sectors at a time of national emergency”, said John.

Local authority car park management boosted by touchless solution

Local authority car park management boosted by touchless solution

APT Skidata, the UK’s leading parking solutions business, has launched Path, an innovative parking solution that enables local authorities and operators to manage parking across multiple environments through a single ecosystem, with access to real-time user data.

Path is an app-based solution that allows car park owners and operators to simplify the parking ecosystem management and give their customers a consistent parking experience, as well as supporting a touchless parking environment.

The standard set-up of Path allows registered users to store their payment and vehicle details and set up ‘autopay’ for quick payment and fast entry/exit without having to touch a machine at any Path-enabled car park. It also provides customers with full visibility of their parking activity.

Path offers a new parking experience for all types of car parks including shopping malls, town centres, airports, hotels, hospitals as well as destinations and resorts. APT Skidata has taken a modular approach to building Path which means that it can be tailored to meet the specific needs of all these environments whether the set-up is ticketed, ticketless, barriered, or barrierless, using ANPR. It can also accommodate staff parking, corporate accounts, reservations, VIP drop off zones – all in one single app.

Car park owners and operators can use other Path modules such as ‘Pay Now’ for ticket systems which allows customers to use the Path app as a mobile pay station simply by entering their licence plate details and scanning their ticket. They can also use the ‘Permits’ module which allows users to purchase monthly, quarterly or yearly parking passes, removing costly administration from the car park operator.

Car park owners and operators can adopt the Path app as their own with a branding module that allows them to use their own logo, images and colour scheme. For those car parks looking to enhance customer loyalty, Path is a means of getting straight to a registered parker with ‘push’ notifications to offer things like free parking sessions, all day parking for a fixed fee, or other incentives to return.

Derek McClean, Head of Product at APT Skidata, says the Path app can provide local authorities and operators with the complete parking solution: “We are taking our knowledge and expertise of the parking ecosystem to develop digital solutions that meet the needs of our customers – the car park owners and operators – as well as in response to the changing expectations of car parking customers who want a more seamless parking experience.

“Path simplifies the transactional side of parking and gives parkers a payment solution in their pocket. It also helps to reduce the total cost of ownership of parking as it reduces the reliance on having so many pay stations.

“Drivers make many journeys and car park operators may have many car parks,” says Derek, “but there is one Path to support all of them.”

Regardless of the car parks connected on the network, Path provides real-time user data, which can help to provide invaluable insight into car park usage.

Derek says that development work on the app continues and new features and modules will be added in due course.

Landmarc welcomes new MOD report on climate change and sustainability

Landmarc Support Services responds to new Ministry of Defence (MOD) report: Climate Change and Sustainability Strategic Approach, issued on 30 March 2021.

Landmarc Support Services (Landmarc) welcomes last month’s report on climate change from Lt. General Richard Nugee, Climate Change and Sustainability Review Lead in Defence, in which he sets out how Defence will redouble its efforts to reduce its carbon emissions and protect the environment.

Landmarc manages the UK Defence Training Estate in partnership with the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) and plays a pivotal role in helping to mitigate the environmental impact of training activities.

The report sets out the threats posed by climate change and how Defence must work to mitigate its impact through three interlocking ambitions; adaptation and resilience, sustainability and net zero, and global leadership.

Mark Neill, Landmarc Managing Director says, “During 2021, the UK Government will make tackling climate change and addressing biodiversity a key priority, alongside ambitious and binding targets to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, with Defence playing a major role in helping to mitigate its environmental impact.

“As custodians of the UK Defence Training Estate, we are proud to support the biodiversity and sustainability of this unique and important landscape and are fully committed to the strategic ambitions set out in this report to ensure the Training Estate is sustainable for generations to come.”

Derek Walter, Landmarc Sustainability Manager adds, “The Training Estate has its challenges for sustainability. Firing weapons and driving heavy vehicles can all have a negative impact on the natural environment if these risks are not managed effectively. It is therefore our duty to maintain and promote the ecosystem of this important landscape to provide both a safe and sustainable training environment.

“This extends to forestry and habitat management across a number of areas designated as SSSIs, as well as preserving numerous scheduled ancient monuments across the estate.  In particular, it is pleasing to see Landmarc’s ‘no-mow’ trial highlighted in the report, which our team implemented at Westdown Camp on Salisbury Plain to help increase pollinating insect populations. The trial was so successful that work is now underway to roll the initiative out across the Defence estate.

“We are also responsible for a new £45 million net zero carbon accommodation programme, which is successfully delivering the Defence Training Estate’s first carbon negative buildings and will make a significant contribution to the government target to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.”

Access the full report here: www.gov.uk/government/news/defence-outlines-greener-future

For further information on the role Landmarc plays in delivering a sustainable Estate for future generations, please visit

www.landmarcsolutions.com

East Lancashire signs deal for early warning technology from Alcidion

East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust is to work with smart health tech provider Alcidion to provide vital tools to help thousands of staff enhance patient safety.

Thousands of NHS professionals across five hospitals in East Lancashire are to benefit from early warning technology that will help them detect and swiftly respond to deteriorating patients in need of urgent attention.

Alcidion’s Patientrack system will help staff intervene early to prevent harm when patients show signs of worsening conditions. The mobile electronic observations technology will integrate with the trust’s Cerner Millennium system as part an electronic patient record deployment announced earlier in February.

Nurses throughout the trust will use Patientrack as they carry out crucial observations. Integrating directly with devices used at the bedside to capture patients’ vital signs, Patientrack will use generated measures to automatically calculate a patient’s early warning score before alerting appropriate clinicians in the trust if and when they need to take action.

The new digital approach for bedside observations will end a reliance on paper-based processes, whilst acute care teams will also gain better visibility of the trust’s sickest patients and be able to better coordinate responses across the five hospitals.

Patientrack is well established in the NHS, having already had a significant impact in several nearby trusts in the North West and in hospitals in other parts of the UK. Clinical staff have used the system to help to dramatically cut cardiac arrests, to tackle deadly illnesses including sepsis and acute kidney injury, to help reduce high risk admissions to critical care, and deliver other improvements to patient outcomes.

Smartpage – a smartphone and web-based system for hospital communication and task management from Alcidion – will be deployed in parallel with Patientrack. This secure messaging system is helping NHS hospitals to move away from pagers and will integrate with the e-observations technology to push hard alerts to appropriate clinical teams so they can take urgent action. Staff will also use Smartpage to support the hospital at night workload, and to streamline patient handover between shifts.

Mark Johnson, chief information officer at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “We are driving forward our ambitions to enhance patient care and improve working life for staff through digital technology, both locally and in collaboration with our ICS colleagues across the region.

“Patientrack, which has delivered impressive results for patient safety in dozens of other NHS hospitals, accompanied by Smartpage, will be an important part of that digital roadmap and the deployment of our local EPR. We are confident that the experiences and learning from the deployment will support the regional objectives of having consolidated information for all patients. These are mobile technologies that our clinicians want to use, that can help to alleviate pressure and remove manual processes, and that can have a very immediate impact on patient outcomes and safety.”

The Alcidion technologies will be deployed across Royal Blackburn Teaching Hospital, Burnley General Teaching Hospital, Clitheroe Community hospital, Accrington Victoria and Pendle Community Hospital.

Lynette Ousby, UK managing director for Alcidion, said: “Now more than ever, clinicians need digital tools that make their lives easier, and that make the right thing to do the easiest thing to do. East Lancashire Hospitals is showing its desire to accelerate digital adoption on a significant scale very quickly. We are proud to be part of that – and it is heartening to be widening our reach with hospitals in the North West where Alcidion itself also has a growing presence and will soon be opening a regional headquarters in Burnley.”

How to Tackle Technical Debt

Sascha Giese, Head Geek™, SolarWinds

By Sascha Giese, Head Geek at SolarWinds

Most public sector organisations and their IT teams will be familiar with the challenge of balancing time between implementing new technologies against the need to keep existing systems running effectively. In some cases, organisations can do little more than focus on the latter, as budget constraints or a lack of resources mean they have to do their best with what’s available.

Among the many challenges this situation can create is one of technical debt, where organisations opt for an easy or quick solution instead of using a better approach that might take longer or cost more. The “debt” builds up when the problems this approach creates have to be addressed later, particularly when something breaks.

Like financial debt, many people consider this isn’t inherently a bad thing. IT teams everywhere work within limited budgets and are used to carefully managing some level of perennial technical debt. Problems arise, however, if the debt becomes too large and its impact becomes too challenging to manage and reduce.

When an organisation is in technical debt, it will often manage with what it has available until it breaks. In this situation, some compound the problem with workarounds and stopgap solutions. But when these are layered on the top of several other stopgaps, the technical debt gets larger and the process becomes cyclical.

Ideally, public sector IT teams need to be given the resources to understand and manage their technical debt to keep it within their own acceptable boundaries of risk. But how can organisations assess their levels of technical debt, focus on buying the right technology, and learn to let go of old systems?

Bringing Chaos to Order

 In many of today’s complex IT environments where legacy technology integrates with newer strategic and point solutions, understanding the size and focus of technical debt can be a barrier to change. This is where chaos engineering can help by implementing programmes such as a ‘chaos monkey,’ which is designed to randomly turn systems off or delete them, so teams can identify weaknesses in their infrastructure and understand how to quickly remediate issues, including those caused by technical debt.

By creating problems on purpose, this approach can test software, equipment, and the internal processes in use across an organisation. In doing so, it can shed light on issues, from products that aren’t running well, to those not performing as promised or not communicating with other technologies.

Optimising Technology Procurement 

Ideally, each element of a modern technology strategy must work together to create a coherent approach with minimal technical debt, and this process starts with procurement. Providing the right set of tools—as opposed to purely focusing on the newest—is essential to effective integration and longevity.

A key requirement of any effort to purchase future-proofed technology infrastructure is each component within the environment should integrate effectively with every other product, system, and service running alongside it. For instance, the people and technologies in accounting must work with the IT security team, who must work with the network team and the developers—and so on.

As many tech teams will know, piecemeal procurement is often unavoidable, but unless there’s no option, decisions should be made with at least one eye on long-term impact and whether choices are increasing the technical debt burden or not.

Leaving The Legacy 

Most public sector organisations operate with some degree of legacy technology as part of their infrastructure, contributing to its wider technical debt. For example, this might mean using outdated versions of Windows that have gone “end of life” and no longer receive updates, because it’s the only version legacy applications will run on. In these circumstances, the technical debt might not just be functional or reduce compatibility, it might require major remedial expenditure and effort if an outdated platform becomes the source for a serious security breach.

Sometimes the justification is, so much money was spent on the technology in question that leadership wants to get as much use out of it as possible, even if it has long outlived its usefulness. Granted, it’s completely unrealistic to be constantly renewing, but future-proofing calls for a delicate balance between finding the best technology to solve bona fide technology problems and getting the biggest bang for your buck.

In the real world of fast-moving technology environments, limited budgets, and changing priorities, operating with zero technical debt is—for the most part—unrealistic. But paying down technical debt to a manageable level, where infrastructure can operate at peak efficiency without being at the mercy of its most inefficient components, is essential to maintaining solutions and services that meet organisational needs.

Transformative £452m Borderlands deal to unlock area’s economic potential

A £452m deal to unlock the economic potential of the Borderlands area has been formally signed by the UK and Scottish governments and local authority partners.

Ministers of the two governments and representatives of the five councils of the Borderlands Partnership signed the transformative Inclusive Growth Deal at a virtual ceremony.

The deal will reach all parts of the Borderlands area – sitting either side of the English/Scottish border – drive inclusive growth and deliver significant and lasting benefits for individuals, businesses and communities.

Investment covers the largest geographical area of any regional growth deal and is the first cross-border deal.

Partners say it will bring a transformative step change for the businesses and communities of the Borderlands by increasing productivity, growing the working age population, and delivering a more inclusive economy.

The projects of the deal aim to deliver up to 5,500 jobs and £1.1billion of additional GVA with a sustainable and inclusive approach to growth.

The Borderlands Partnership is made up of Carlisle City Council, Cumbria County Council, Dumfries and Galloway Council, Northumberland County Council and Scottish Borders Council.

The UK Government’s Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick, said: “The Borderlands Growth Deal will a new era of regeneration and opportunity as we build back better from the pandemic.

“The Ad Gefrin Visitor Experience and Distillery, and the Carlisle Station regeneration project are just two examples of schemes already benefitting from the deal which will create jobs and improve regional connectivity. We’re levelling up across the UK by investing in jobs, driving economic growth, and strengthening our cross-border links.”

Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, Michael Matheson, said: “Projects the Scottish Government is supporting through the deal will focus on reinvigorating town centres, expanding business sites and premises to stimulate business growth and job creation, maximising the region’s appeal as a leading outdoor and adventure tourism destination and equipping people with the skills they need to forge successful careers and contribute to their communities.

“The deal is focused on local people and local priorities, enabling the Borderlands area to create sustainable jobs, re-invigorate the economy, and build strategically for long term growth and prosperity.”

Cllr John Mallinson, Leader of Carlisle City Council and Borderlands Partnership Board Co-Chair, said: “It’s fantastic to announce the signing of the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal bringing fresh investment from Government of up to £350million to our region, alongside local contributions of over £100million.

“The deal is an ambitious approach to cross-border working between Governments, local authorities and other partners which will boost economic growth by helping existing business, encouraging new ventures and bringing a wealth of improvements to our region.

“The deal will also provide crucial support to our region’s recovery from the Covid-19 emergency and ensure we set in place strong foundations on which to build back better and greener, delivering inclusive and sustainable growth.”

Cllr Mark Rowley, Executive Member for Economic Regeneration & Finance from Scottish Borders Council, who hold the other co-Chair position, said: “The Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal will have a transformational impact on the whole region, with the aim of creating 5,500 jobs, bringing in over four million extra tourists and improving mobile and digital connections thanks to the funding from the two governments and the additional investment the deal will attract.

“The unlocking of investment in our towns will generate a predicted £1.1billion uplift in the region’s GVA and the partners will be able to deliver individually and collectively a range of projects which will not only improve the area for existing residents but also encourage more to move here, which will help address some of the common challenges we face.”

The deal will deliver across four themes: improving places; enabling infrastructure; encouraging green growth; and supporting innovation, business and skills. Each theme has an agreed set of projects which will help deliver a step change for the businesses and communities of Borderlands by increasing productivity, growing the working age population and delivering a more inclusive economy.

£20 million funding is included for redevelopment of Carlisle Station and the surrounding area, to act as a gateway to the region. Work to assess the benefits and challenges of extending the Edinburgh – Tweedbank Borders Railway to Carlisle will also be progressed, including feasibility at the appropriate stage of business case development.

There will be use of up to £50m of Borderlands funding to transform Carlisle’s Grade 1 listed Citadels buildings into a new city centre campus for the University of Cumbria, expanding opportunities for local students and drawing in new students to the area.

The deal will support the delivery of a new Berwick Theatre while the skills and innovation work will include the development of a Mountain Biking Innovation Centre in the Scottish Borders. Funding will also support the development of Chapelcross in Dumfries and Galloway, as the region’s clean growth strategic investment site for low carbon energy generation and energy efficient businesses.

The deal includes investment of up to £31million in green energy projects and £7million to develop skills needed by the regional economy, along with much needed improvements in digital and mobile connectivity across the region.

The importance of the region’s towns will be the focus of the £50million Place Programme, which, along with significant investments in tourism and business infrastructure, will help position the Borderlands as a vibrant and attractive place to live and visit.

A CGI of Court Square, Carlisle station gateway

£18m will develop a series of projects along the length of Hadrian’s Wall (from Wallsend to Ravenglass) to improve the visitor experience and encourage people to explore different attractions within this unique World Heritage site.

£6m has been allocated to the ‘See More Lake District Cycling’ project which will encourage visitors to use more sustainable transport and help disperse the economic benefit from visitors to the Lake District World Heritage Site.

Cllr Stewart Young, Leader of Cumbria County Council, said: “This is a key milestone in a long journey, and fantastic news for the county, resulting from close working with the UK and Scottish Governments over several months and years to get to this point.

“It is very welcome that we now have confirmed levels of funding for our Cumbria specific projects and I’m really looking forward to seeing how they each develop and the many benefits that they will bring to the county.

“The deal is ambitious and will bring a much-needed economic boost post Covid-19 to aid our recovery in attracting tourists and businesses to come to Cumbria as well as enhancing the area for our residents and local communities.”

University of Cumbria Vice Chancellor, Professor Julie Mennell, added: “We are delighted that the deal has been formally signed and the transformational Citadels project, in partnership with Cumbria County Council and Carlisle City Council, is on track to progress.

“All partners have worked incredibly hard over many months to get to this point and we thank everyone involved for their tremendous commitment to our city, region and university.

“The role of Cumbria’s university in supporting individuals, our businesses, economy and communities to thrive has never been more important, and this strategic investment will extend our impact and reach further and for many decades to come.”

Delivery has started on some of the deal projects, following the release of early funding by the UK Government.

This includes top up funding for a Digital Voucher scheme supporting businesses and private customers to install high speed broadband; funding for the development of the Borderlands Energy Masterplan; £5million towards the building of Lilidorei, a large-scale new play village to enhance the visitor offer at the Alnwick Gardens, the start of the work to redevelop Carlisle Station and a £3million investment towards the Ad Gefrin Visitor Experience and Distillery in Northumberland.

For more information, visit the partnership website at www.Borderlandsgrowth.com 

THE TWELVE NEW PRINCIPLES OF GOVERNANCE FOR PUBLIC BODY NEDS

Mark Florman, chairman and CEO of Time Partners

Some years ago, I did some work on the difference in the duties and responsibilities of directors of private companies and directors of public bodies. I noticed that I was one of very few people who had taken an active role in serving on both. Following my participation in the Triennial Review of the Big Lottery Fund and its governance a few years ago, I conducted a comparative analysis between the governance of private companies and public bodies where it became apparent that the latter had more general and often vague requirements when it came to the role of directors. And so last year, I had the great privilege of being asked to work with the Cabinet Office on the development of new principles for the governance of public bodies, including all Departments of State, non-departmental public bodies and quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisations – of which I am immensely proud to see published towards the end of last week.

As set out by the Institute of Directors (IoD), Non-Executive Directors (NED) are appointed to the boards of organisations to bring independence and impartiality, their wide experience, specialist knowledge and personal qualities. These new principles go beyond the “Nolan principles” of public life and set out a recommended 12 essential qualities for NEDs. I believe that it is important not only to understand the principles, but also to really acknowledge why they represent an important progression in public body governance.

A NED brings many things to the table: high amongst them is their invaluable expertise. When sharing this unique knowledge, the NED must act with the best interests of the organisation in mind. As a body that is linked to public services, the advice given must therefore be in line with public interests and with the intention of furthering public good. Moreover, the expertise is to be used as a vehicle to serve the broader mission and duties of the sponsoring Secretary of State and their Department. This will allow the objectives of the organisation to remain on the same path as those of the governmental department with which they are aligned. Finally, the expertise of the NED would be utilised to enable compliance with the statutory duties of the organisation. Again, this is to ensure that the mission and vision of the organisation act in line with public interest and the goals of the relevant government department.

Crucially, it is important for a NED to maintain a sense of independence from the executive. This is in order to allow them to fulfil their role as an objective observer of the organisation: someone who is there to advise from the outside looking in. When devising the principles, this is one that I saw as particularly relevant to ensure that our public bodies are fully and efficiently regulated – both for their and the public’s greater good. The private sector’s clearly defined regulation when it comes to their directors of course influences the public sphere and, rightly, is managed so that what we may not be able to see behind closed doors is still acting for the best intentions. When it comes to the independence of NEDs of our public bodies, I felt even more so that we needed clear regulation to allow it to fully succeed. This includes the duty to monitor the performance of the organisation and report such performance to the public in a regular manner. We live in a world of information overload and people expect transparency and data on demand. It is therefore the duty of the NED to scrutinise the organisation and allow this data to be brought clearly to the public.

Closely related to this, it must be clear that the role of the NED is to support the organisation in its goals and allow it to flourish. The scrutiny is needed, but only so far as its intended outcome is to ensure the continued success and development of the organisation. This means support in its clearest sense, allowing management to feel heard and valued. The intention is to create and promote a culture that respects diversity of people and opinions. As a public body, the organisation should reflect the public whom it serves, and it is the role of a NED to advocate for this reflection. There are also more hands-on aspects that come under this umbrella of support, such as participating and endorsing routine reviews within the organisation. This allows for a healthy appraisal of the direction of the body and means potential issues will not go unnoticed over a long period of time.

Ultimately, what does this all mean? Well, I believe that the principles will for one thing show that our semi-public administrative bodies cannot live a life alone – they must work in tandem with their Departments of State to ensure a complete alignment of vision and mission. If the principles are followed fully and effectively, we should end up driving much greater efficiency across the civil service and the state overall, driving performance and results for all citizens.

Mark Florman is the chairman and CEO of Time Partners, an investment and strategic advisory firm, focusing on private markets globally. They help investors, families and entrepreneurs invest across the private capital landscape, aligning their investment strategy with their goals and beliefs. Headquartered in London, Time Partners sports a network of international partners and offices in Los Angeles, Houston, New York, Hamburg, Athens, Cape Town, Singapore, Tokyo and New Zealand.

Can a social value dividend help the public purse invest for a better future?

The new model for government procurement promises to help the nation ‘build back better’, but delivering on its full potential will require a shift in mindset from service buyers and procurement teams.

Whether it’s opting for a green energy tariff or making sure the fish we buy is from sustainable sources, consumers increasingly use their spending power as a force for good. The same should apply to the near £300bn spent each year by the UK public sector on goods and services.

As part of the focus on building back better after the pandemic, the Government has cemented a new tool to leverage the huge public purse to deliver impact across society and help tackle the climate and environmental crises.

While ensuring value for money remains the priority in central government procurement, from January all new procurements covered by the Public Contracts Regulations (2015) also have to explicitly evaluate the ‘social value’ of bids rather than just “consider it” which has been the case since the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 was introduced.

As part of the evaluation of bids government departments must now use the social value in procurement model to assess and score a supplier’s social impact. That can include helping with the recovery from Covid-19, providing local jobs, environmental good practice, tackling workforce inequality and promoting health and wellbeing – a broad range of areas which provides some flexibility to procurement teams.

Levelling the field

Social value will account for a minimum 10% of an overall score and the approach will apply tests that the Government says all bidders, including SMEs, social enterprises and charities, will be capable of meeting.

Given that central government alone spends some £49bn each year on contracts for public services, there’s a significant opportunity to deliver meaningful improvements from this change.

The argument made is that this could even widen the pool of contract bidders, as small bidders can highlight the direct added value they can generate in the communities they work in.

Challenges for procurement teams

However, achieving this change represents challenges for procurement teams. Some will have significant experience in defining and assessing social value in tenders, but for many it will be new territory.

The practicalities of quantifying and assessing what social value is means there will inevitably be a process of learning and understanding needed to ensure organisations get the most from this new model.

From Gemserv’s experience of supporting public sector organisations with their procurements, we know asking the right questions of bidders and assessing their answers consistently is crucial to ensuring procurement delivers best value across all measures. Transparency also plays a key part in ensuring bidders understand what is required, and it will be key for procurement teams to provide bidders with clarity when applying social value metrics.

  • The new Social Value in Procurement model to assess and score a supplier’s social impact can help support the recovery from Covid-19, provide local jobs, environmental good practice, tackle workforce inequality and promote health and wellbeing
  • As central government spends some £49bn each year on contracts for public services there’s a significant opportunity to deliver meaningful improvements from this change.
  • However, achieving this represents challenges for procurement teams. Some will have significant experience in defining and assessing social value in tenders, but for many it will be new territory.

With a wide range of metrics to consider we think some will be easier to assess than others. Carbon performance is a pretty straight-forward area to examine with well-established metrics and reporting protocols. But to properly assess a bidder’s wider environmental performance, and filter out so-called ‘greenwashing’, expertise is needed in areas such as assessing environmental impacts across complex supply chains. Measuring impact on wellbeing and other social value contributions is similarly fraught with challenges.

Although a key aim of the new model is to open up contract opportunities to a wider pool of businesses and bring more innovation to public service delivery, procurement teams will need to consider the fact that larger companies are likely to have much greater resources on hand to demonstrate social value than smaller firms.

Profit with purpose 

The change does represent an opportunity for businesses to benefit from valuable government contracts, and comes at a time when many in the private sector are increasingly looking to become more impact-driven with profit and purpose going hand in hand rather than being seen as a trade-off. This is in face of huge societal and environmental challenges, and it is right – indeed a moral obligation – that businesses should play their part, and reap the rewards of doing so.

That trend is highlighted by initiatives such as B Corp, an accreditation scheme for businesses which meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability.

The accreditation process is very rigorous – something which Gemserv can testify to as we are currently on the journey ourselves. For businesses looking to demonstrate social value, examination of their performance across everything from supply chains to employee relations is a valuable process to go through in itself. For those who do achieve accreditation, it should also help with highlighting their social value contribution to potential customers and other stakeholders. Indeed, procurement teams could start to use accreditations such as B Corp to enable bidders to demonstrate their social value credentials.

It’s still very much early days for the new social value model and it will take time for procurement teams to adjust to what is quite a significant change when their resources are already stretched due to the pandemic.

However, with the right approach it presents an exciting opportunity to deliver meaningful change which can benefit every corner of society.

Article by: Trevor Hutchings, Director of Strategy, Communications and Public Sector, Gemserv

30M INVESTMENT TO PROVIDE CHANGING PLACES TOILETS

More than 250,000 disabled people in the country will benefit from greater access to life-enhancing Changing Places toilets, as the Government announces a new £30m fund to increase the number of facilities across England.

Announced today by Regional Growth Minister Luke Hall, the move follows changes to statutory guidance that came into effect from January

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Covid Safe Elections: Essex firm helping Local Authorities tick the right box

Essex based business, keep2m.co.uk, have been busy supplying sneeze screens, information sticker packs and mobile temperature measuring equipment to authorities across the UK with a syndication of London boroughs recently buying over 1500 sneeze guards for the election and then increasing their order for use by staff in their offices too.

Neil Levett, Director of

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Freeport East

Freeport East was one of eight new Freeports announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak in his budget speech.

Centred upon the Port of Felixstowe and Harwich International Port, both operated by Hutchison Ports (part of the CK Hutchison group) the partnership includes a strong public sector element including South East and New Anglia LEPs, Suffolk and

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BUDGET: Comments and reactions sent to GPSJ

NCB statement on Budget 2021

Anna Feuchtwang, Chief Executive of the National Children’s Bureau, said:

“The full effect of the pandemic on families’ finances will only be fully appreciated as the furlough scheme and other measures that protect jobs are wound up at the end of September. Yet this is the moment that the Chancellor

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