A discussion not to be missed

31 August 2021

On 21st September, Cratus is holding its third Chamberlain Lecture, which will be delivered by Bristol Mayor, Marvin Rees. Held annually, the Chamberlain Lecture is a celebration of local government and its ability to adapt and innovate in the face of unprecedented challenges.

Local government has long been an architect of change – repeatedly challenged to do more with less while maintaining vital services which local communities depend on. For those that work within or with local government, the last 18 months have broken all records in terms of transformation.

Overnight, councils had to completely remodel their service delivery, working around the clock to ensure that residents continued to receive essential services and that vulnerable members of the community were cared for.

The resilience and sheer hard work of local government is, sadly, not always understood or appreciated by the wider public. When the pandemic hit, community hubs were set up across the country.

Council staff rolled up their sleeves to call vulnerable residents, deliver food packages, and facilitate the vaccination rollout. From the outside looking in, it seemed like this all ‘just happened’. What residents didn’t see was staff working days, nights, and weekends to make sure local communities were looked after.

Not only did our councils react and respond at breakneck speed to the coronavirus crisis, they also focused on recovery and rebuilding our communities. No sooner had they dusted themselves down, they ploughed on with plans for securing inward investment, bringing our high streets back from the brink, and building partnerships with local businesses.

The dogged determination of local government exemplified over the last year, is summed up perfectly by the mantra of British MP and social reformer, Joseph Chamberlain: ‘If we fail, let us try again and again until we succeed’.

Chamberlain was an influential political figure who was one of the earliest social reformers of our times. And while his politics and ideology divided opinion, his contribution to local government was widely recognised and respected.

It is Chamberlain’s tenacity which inspired Cratus, the communications and public affairs agency, to launch the annual Chamberlain Lecture in 2018. The first lecture was delivered by Lord Heseltine, former Deputy Prime Minister, and was inspired by his well-known mantra ‘Show me the problem, show me the person in charge’ – something that resonates as much today as it did then.

The following year, the lecture was delivered by Lord Kerslake, former Head of the Civil Service and Permanent Secretary for the Department for Communities and Local Government, who delivered an equally inspirational and thought-provoking lecture.

This year, Bristol Mayor, Marvin Rees, picks up the mantle to deliver a lecture focused on sustainable and inclusive economic growth, the future for house building, and how cities can deliver on ambitious carbon and environmental goals.

Mayor Rees was thrust into the spotlight in June 2020, when protesters toppled the statue of Edward Colston from its plinth in Bristol and threw it off a quayside where the slave trader’s ships used to dock.

Recently the focus of a BBC documentary Statue Wars: One Summer in Bristol, Mayor Rees attracted widespread admiration at his measured response and management of the extraordinary event.

His deft and confident handling of the situation has reinforced his standing as one of the most influential political figures today. The first person of black African heritage to be elected Mayor of a major European city, he describes his election as an expression of a deeper commitment to building a fairer, more inclusive world.

Bringing investment and opportunity to Bristol has been a key focus for Mayor Rees. During his first term in office, he oversaw the building of almost 9,000 homes, announced the development of a mass transit system, and provided quality work experiences for over 3,500 children.

In his drive to combat inequality, Mayor Rees has established Bristol Works, where more than 3,000 young people from economically disadvantaged backgrounds are given work experience opportunities. And he is currently setting up another entity, a Bristol commission on social mobility, to empower the poor.

With Mayor Rees set to explore some of the key challenges and opportunities facing local government today, the lecture is vital viewing for anyone working within or with the public sector.

To secure your space at this year’s Chamberlain lecture, visit www.cratus.co.uk and search for Chamberlain Lecture

This article is sponsored content for The MJ from Cratus
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