Capacity Grid

This event is a Summit not a conference. The SOLACE Summit aims to provide a top quality programme which enables Chief Executives and senior managers to come together with our partners in other sectors to learn, debate and shape local government’s programme of action.

The 2012 SOLACE Summit will explore the broad theme of ‘Prosperous Places: leadership for a sustainable future’ through five concurrent work streams.  Each work stream will devote four sessions to discussion and examination of the key questions and issues.  Each will be led by an experienced facilitator and will include contributions from leading figures from local government, academia, think tanks, other parts of the public sector, the voluntary sector and private sector.  We are working to secure the best people for each of the sessions – in some we are still awaiting confirmations.  The work streams and their session plans are explained below.

With a number of working sessions across the five work streams there will be a lot going on.  At the end of Wednesday afternoon we will be holding an ‘Open Conversation’ session which will allow you to catch up on and feed in to any of the work stream sessions that you didn’t attend.


Whilst the economic climate remains challenging there is an onus on every place to ensure that it is doing the best it can to compete, attract attention and stimulate growth locally.  Government policy and direction is orientated towards ‘localism’ and a decentralisation of resources and effort.  However, at a time of austerity is it possible to take up this challenge and if so how?

John Till, Deborah Tate and George Pye from thinkingplace ( will facilitate this work stream, exploring the answers to these questions through the following discussion areas:

Driving growth locally – how a new place story drives competitiveness, puts you on the map and creates a sense of place. Steve Rumbelow, CEO at Burnley, will share his experiences in Burnley that show that ‘growing your own’ is possible if you know your story, use it to deliver differently and excite people to own it and tell it.

Place Leadership and creating place ambassadors. Contributors to this session will include Martin Reeves (Coventry CEO), Mike Wright, Executive Director of Jaguar Land Rover and John Forkin (Marketing Derby)

‘Transforming your place experience whilst ensuring development is a catalyst for the ‘change’ you want’ with Dave Bullock MD of Compendium Living and Simon Quin, Director at the Institute of Place Management (IPM)

Action Planning  What can we go away and do as individual Chief Executives, Local Authorities and as SOLACE? What do we need to happen from Government?


Much of the Coalition Government’s policy agenda has been framed around the pursuit of a more democratic Britain. This was, of course, the soul of the Big Society initiative, the heart of the Coalition’s localism drive and a key part of the rationale the controversial health reforms.

The building work came thick and fast in the form of the Police and Social Responsibility Act, the Localism Act and the Health and Social Care Act.  What does the arrival of newly elected Mayors, PCPs, Clinical Commissioning Groups, Police & Crime Panels, Health & Wellbeing Boards and Local Enterprise Partnerships mean for community governance and the leadership of place?  What is the role of SOLACE and the Local Authority Chief Executive in this emerging context and does it place at risk the creation of stronger local democracies; communities where citizens are empowered individually and collectively to make change in their own lives and in the lives of others?

The facilitator and contributors to this work stream are awaiting confirmation – invitations are being sent to a wide range of people from a variety of backgrounds.

Community engagement – solution not barrier.

Making Health and Crime Local.


Skills & Leadership.  This final discussion session will explore the role of the Chief Executive in this context and the implications for the leadership skills now and in the future.


Sir Michael Lyons coined the phrase “place shaping” during times of prosperity.  This was rapidly replaced by conversations about “place shielding” when the downturn began to bite.  Such shielding was to be temporary, a stopgap until the cavalry of inward investment reappeared at the top of the hill.  Now we know it will be a long time coming.  So the strategic challenge is how to “place make”, how to create prosperity without outside help.  To ignore it is to stare into the abyss.

This work stream, facilitated by Max Wide and Martin Cresswell of iMPOWER, will draw on experiences of working with Chief Executives to explore what local authorities need to do differently. The challenge is particularly acute in those areas where the public sector accounts for such a substantial proportion of GVA, where making savings risks tipping local economies over the edge.  The focus more than ever is on local economic leadership.

At SOLACE we will be bringing together people who have substantial experience of making progress:

Economic prosperity – the harder test.  Gavyn Davies, one of the leading global economists, will outline the reality of the challenge we all face.

Competitiveness through partnership – the challenge of local economic leadership.  Andrew Bacon (Leicestershire LEP Chair and British Gas), Simon Parker (NLGN) and Dave Smith (Sunderland CEO) will draw on their experiences to lead off this discussion.

Where is economic prosperity going to come from?  Professor Bernard King will recount how Abertay University created the largest computer games industry outside of the United States.

Skills & Leadership.  New challenges call for new approaches.  What are the skills we need and what does leadership look like in this context?


This work stream, facilitated by Catherine Staite of INLOGOV, will explore how public services can manage demand, build capacity and trust through stronger relationships with communities, co-production and behaviour change.

Local authorities and other public services need to move away from a deficit model which focuses on what people don’t have and can’t do to one which takes as its starting point that almost everyone has capabilities which they can use to improve their own quality of life and that of others.  Behaviour change and co-production can reduce demand and build social capital and resilience, commissioning only those things which people can’t do for themselves.

The work stream session will cover the following subjects.  Contributors are currently being invited and confirmed and will include leaders from local government, academia and the private sector:

Strategic Commissioning.  This will draw on the work being done in partnership with Eric Bohl (Activist Group) with support from BT and Civica and will feature a number of local authority case studies.

How can behaviour change approaches help us achieve less with less? Contributors to be confirmed

Community Entrepreneurship.  Contributors to be confirmed

Skills & Leadership.  A huge amount of political will and leadership skill is needed to challenge old thinking, devise better and cheaper solutions and then see through the changes in both organisational behaviours and use of resources to create a new model of public services.  This final session will examine where the skills gaps are now and how we can address them.


With so much or our time, and indeed the SOLACE Summit, being dominated by the twin challenges of economic growth and deficit reduction creating space to consider the future feels a challenge.  Decisions feel increasingly critical and problematic, harder choices are being made.  For any leader the guiding hand of evidence can provide the reassuring nudge of approval.

Local government is quick to recognise that much policy implementation can only be done at a local level. Should we, therefore, also recognise that with the desire for localism comes the responsibility to ensure implementation is firstly based upon robust evidence, but also delivers the analytics required to build the evidence of the future.  Using evidence to direct policy and commissioning decisions may increasingly seem just simple common sense, but investing in research and analysis with so many competing priorities is a difficult choice. More than ever, research needs to demonstrate its added value.

This work stream will be facilitated by Jonathon Breckon of the Alliance for Useful Evidence and a wide range of contributors have been invited.

Why evidence matters to local authorities? Martin Reeves (CEO, Coventry) and Alistair Neill (CEO, Southampton) will be joined by Philip Colligan (NESTA Public Services Lab) and a member of the Behavioural Insights Unit, at the Cabinet Office to open this discussion session.

Smart Local Government – applying evidence in the real world.  Contributors in this session will include Derek Myers (CEO, LBK&C and LBH&F), Mike Emmerich (New Economy Manchester), Trish Haines (CEO Worcestershire), Prof John Shepherd (Welsh Assembly Alcohol Advisory group).

Using evidence to generate financial savings and better outcomes.  Philip Colligan (NESTA Public Services Lab) and Louise Morpeth (Social Research Unit) will draw on their experiences of working with local authorities to achieve these outcomes.

Skills and Leadership.  The concluding session will explore the leadership skills we need to use evidence to direct policy and commissioning decisions effectively.


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