New Year Message from our Chairman
Cllr Baroness O’Neill of Bexley OBE, Chairman of Local London shares her priorities for the coming year.
I wish to begin my annual message by thanking the Leaders and staff in each of our sub-regions’ member boroughs who continue to work tirelessly to support residents and businesses in the face of world-wide pandemics and global economic turbulence.
Local Government plays important, yet often misunderstood, roles in the lives of millions of people and I wish to acknowledge the efforts and dedication of my peers and staff across our nine boroughs.
Whilst we may face difficulties, this is also a part of London that has huge possibilities and unique strengths. I wish to highlight five of our priorities for this year:
1. Setting our direction with our new three-year plan
This year we will publish our three-year plan that will set out our joint vision for how Local London will support our member boroughs. This will be through focussed, strategic and practical work that adds value to the work our local authority partners do.
Through our programmes, policy and partnership work, we will focus on helping people, for example supporting residents back to work or into better paid employment, improving careers services in schools and colleges and improving skills levels of residents.
We will also focus on place, for example improving transport and digital connectivity and supporting the regeneration efforts of our member boroughs.
Sustainability will underpin everything we do.
2. Cost of living crisis support
Statistics show that the impacts of the pandemic hit this part of London harder than other parts of London and we have not fully recovered from this, meaning the increases in the cost of living will be a significant issue for many of our residents.
Each borough has been providing support – from warm places to financial advice – and this year Local London will be working even closer with boroughs to help them respond to cost-of-living increases.
Starting in January, the Local London team will be co-hosting cost of living and jobs fair events with partners in our boroughs to bring together a holistic package of support for those most in need. We have held a first event in Redbridge and have more planned across our local authorities.
3. Making the case for devolved funding
Our suite of Local London programmes have already demonstrated the impact that devolved funding can make to our communities. We will continue to make the case to Government for devolved funding where it will best meet the needs of our member boroughs. We will be proactive and flexible, supporting our members to apply for funds and applying and managing devolved funded programmes on behalf of our members where this makes sense. We are working hard to ensure that the UK Shared Prosperity Fund is targeted to areas where it can achieve best impact.
4. Working in partnership
Listening to our member boroughs we will continue to share the enormous growth opportunities in each of our sub-region’s boroughs.
We will work closely with the two national growth corridors that intersect our sub-region, the Innovation Corridor which stretches from north London through Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire, and the Thames Estuary Region which spans from East London to the North Sea coast in Essex and Kent.
There are huge opportunities for our residents to be part of – and lead on – the investment, business growth and innovation already taking place and planned in the coming year. This leads me neatly onto my final point:
5. Ensuring our residents are ready for future jobs
This sub-region is a prime location for growth in many job sectors – construction, green jobs, film, digital, food processing and hydrogen to name but a few. To help support residents to be future-ready, the Local London team will be kickstarting their work on developing a Local Skills Improvement Plan. Taking an innovative employer-led approach, the plan will set out to identify skills needs and how to meet them at a sub-regional level. We have commissioned research and will be developing a plan with our partner boroughs over the coming months.
Local London’s work will continue to evolve and focus on what is important for our member boroughs, their residents and businesses.
Best wishes for 2023,
Councillor Baroness O’Neill of Bexley OBE