New issue of Local Government Association analysis and research bulletin

Local Government AssocationThe December 2010 issue of the Local Government Association’s analysis and research bulletin (pdf, 328kb) is now available.

The bulletin highlights new research and statistics on:

  • Employment, pay and workforce trends
  • Transport
  • Housing
  • Education and children’s services
  • Environment
  • Health and social care
  • Local government
  • Europe
  • Population and migration
  • Culture, tourism and sport
  • Crime and disorder
  • Communities and place shaping

The current and previous issues are available on the Local Government Association’s website.

Hyperlocal Govcamp West Midlands

Hyperlocal Govcamp West Midlands is an unconference for local government with an added hyperlocal flavour, taking place in Walsall on 6 October 2010.

The background to the event is ongoing innovation in public sector digital communications through means such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. This event is a chance to listen, learn, exchange ideas, talk and contribute to sessions on best practice.

It’s also a chance to learn more about the rapidly emerging field of open data from the perspective of local government officers and web developers.

An unconference is an event where the agenda is developed collaboratively before the event and on the day itself. Attendees take part in deciding what the event will cover and can run sessions themselves.

The event is open for people across the public sector as well as web developers and hyperlocal bloggers.

Related links

Inward investment into the West Midlands 2009/10 – a local analysis

In 2009/10 there were 84 inward investment successes in the West Midlands and another four knowledge-based investments. These investments created over 1,500 new jobs and safeguarded another 4,300.

Although these 88 investments represented the lowest number of jobs created or safeguarded since 1992/93, they also represented the 7th highest total number of projects since 1991.

Pie chart shows 38 inward investments in West Midlands metropolitan areas and 49 inward investments in the shire counties over 2009 to 2010Inward investment is usually spread reasonably evenly between the West Midlands metropolitan areas and the shire counties. In 2009/10 the shire counties attracted the majority of inward investment projects (55%). See left.

However, the metropolitan areas of Birmingham, Coventry, Solihull, Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton have attracted perhaps just over half of the projects over the years – see below. The number of jobs created and safeguarded also generally follows a similar pattern.

Stacked bar chart shows percentage of inward investments into West Midlands metropolitan areas versus shire counties between 1991 and 2010

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Up-skilling and diversification are key to growth and job creation across the West Midlands

Targeting investment on higher value added sectors such as digital media and medical technologies, and developing a workforce with the right skills to service those sectors would significantly increase job growth and the prosperity of the West Midlands according to new research.

The research (pdf, 498kb), undertaken by the West Midlands Observatory, shows that the potential benefits of targeting investment are substantial. If workforce skill levels in the West Midlands were increased to match the England average, growth in Gross Value Added (GVA) — the measure of economic output per head of population — over the next 5 years would increase by 2 percentage points from 10% to 12% and net new job creation would nearly double from 11,000 to 21,000. If in addition more businesses in higher value added sectors and clusters were attracted to the West Midlands, so that their share of economic activity reflected the position nationally, GVA would grow by some 23% by 2015 and more than 200,000 net new jobs would be created.

Local authorities, business groups and other key partners across the West Midlands are looking to achieve sustainable economic growth in jobs and GVA over the next 5 years. This new research shows how, in a time of austerity and funding cuts, the Observatory can provide authoritative and objective research to help decision makers target limited resources and do more with less.

The research (pdf, 498kb) provides an insight into the region’s existing and likely future skill needs. It has been produced to inform the development of skills and investment priorities that focus shrinking levels of public sector investment in areas that will maximise  impact.

A range of key investment locations across the region, including Longbridge and Eastside in Birmingham, Ansty Park in Coventry, i54 in Staffordshire, Coventry and Wolverhampton city centres and Dudley, Telford, Walsall and West Bromwich town centres, can play a key part in diversifying local economies.

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Speakers and slides: roundup of ‘Open data: challenges and opportunities’

The Observatory and Andrew Mackenzie co-produced an event called Open data: challenges and opportunities, held in Birmingham on 15th July.

Oliver summarised the event and asked for comments on practical steps, particularly ‘ways that the more able authorities and organisations might be able to help the less able, through sharing tools and techniques with the wider public sector.’

The hashtag for the day was #wmod10 – there’s an archive of tweets available.

In this post below, we’ve shared all of the presenter’s slides and, where available, provided the presentations with audio.

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Open data: challenges and opportunities

Photo by Andy Mabbett - @pigsonthewing

A star sudded cast of “Open data heroes” graced our event, Open data: Challenges & opportunities, yesterday. Following clear intentions expressed recently by David Cameron and Eric Pickles on opening up public data, it was clear that this was a well timed (and hopefully useful) event. Thanks to everyone who spoke and attended the event – a really great day. Special thanks to Andrew Mackenzie (@djsoup) and Richard Wilson (@rcw1969) for all the help pulling it together.

I was struck by a number of people passionate about using data to make a difference to their community or local area. From Will Perrin’s use of public data on his Kings Cross Environment site to fix street lights, combat drug dealing and remove abandoned cars through to local council officers such as Stuart Harrison at Lichfield District Council using innovative techniques, such as “My Area“, to help people access data from a number of sources.

For now, our Pageflakes page pulls together a lot of the content from the day. Some of the speakers have already shared their presentations (via Slideshare) and they are accessible through pageflakes. We’ll sift through and pull out useful links and information over the next week and will post an update here.

For those that were at the event, or following on twitter via #wmod10, can I encourage comments below on practical steps we might take to move ideas from yesterday forward. In particular, ways that the more able authorities and organisations might be able to help the less able, through sharing tools and techniques with the wider public sector. We discussed writing a crowd-sourced report directed at high level policy makers sharing ideas and practical ways forward.  Do you think this is the best approach? What else did you pick up on? Let’s keep the discussion going.

Updated resource guide for Local Economic Assessments

Understanding local factors in a local area’s economic development, how these have developed, how they’re predicted to develop, and which factors are (or have potential to be) particularly significant — will be essential in informing developing Local Enterpise Partnerships (LEPs) and economic strategies. Equally, the functional relationships between local areas is likely to become more important in policy-making.

With regions no longer the focus of evidence-gathering and policy-making, and an increased emphasis on local decision-making, Local Economic Assessments are an opportunity to focus the collection of evidence to understand the impact of new national policies and to develop local economic ‘stories of place.’

The intelligence in a Local Economic Assessment can also highlight where resources can most productively be targeted to improve local economic development.

To help Local Authorities prepare their Assessments, we’ve created a new web-based resource guide, building on an earlier version circulated in May. This addition to the Observatory’s resource catalogue signposts resources relevant to Local Economic Assessments produced by a range of organisations, as well as the Observatory’s own research.

The resources are grouped into six areas, based on the themes set out in LEA guidance published in March 2010. While that guidance is no longer statutory, it’s still a useful framework to draw on.

The themes you can search by are:

Within each theme, you can search for:

  • Data sources: datasets and primary research
  • Analysis: interpretation of data and other evidence in the West Midlands and local authorities
  • Guidance documents: examples and methodologies for you to follow if you wish
  • Other resources: examples of research from outside the West Midlands, and useful links to other websites and research networks

We hope you find this resource guide useful. You can be notified when new resources are added via this RSS feed or email alert. If you have resources you think others would find useful, please submit them to our Resource Catalogue (requires login) or contact stephen.howarth@wmro.org.

Oneplace – how are your public services performing?

The 9th December 2009 saw the launch of a new website – Oneplace -  providing detailed information on how good public services are in your local area. The site includes independent information about how councils, police, health services and others are tackling some of the major issues in every area in England.

The purpose of the website is to use information gathered for Comprehensive Area Assessments (CAA) to try and help the public find out more about the quality of public services in their area.

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Feedback on Sharing Information Digitally event

Cutout figures connected by green light

We hosted an event on Sharing Information Digitally on 7th October 2009 at Millennium Point in Birmingham.

We tried a new structure for this event—part traditional presentations, part practical sessions—and thought we’d share some feedback on the event (from attendees and ourselves).

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Local Government Association research bulletin September 2009

Local Government Association logoA new edition of the LGA analysis and research bulletin (PDF, 220kb) has been published by the Local Government Association (LGA).

The bulletin features research from the LGA group, as well as the wider research community, on key issues and developments in research impacting on, or of interest to, local government.

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Place Survey results 2008

Logo of Department for Communities and Local GovernmentThe results of the Place Survey 2008 have recently been released.

This is a national survey administered by local authorities. It aims to collect consistent national data on the way people feel about their local area and the way in which their local authority is run.

We can use the results of the place survey to compare the West Midlands region as a whole to other English regions, and to compare local authorities within the West Midlands to one another.

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LARCI announce pilot placement fellowship scheme

Logo of Local Authority Research Council InitiativeThe Local Authority Research Council Initiative (LARCI) has announced a pilot Placement Fellowship Scheme (PDF, 24kb) which aims to assist local authorities in meeting their key strategic challenges.

The purpose of this scheme is to encourage local authorities and academic researchers from any discipline to put forward projects with which they require access to expertise. Researchers and local authorities are then encouraged to work together, providing an opportunity to facilitate knowledge exchange within local government and across academic networks. Continue reading

Launch of the first Place Survey results

Cobbled lane in HerefordshireResults of the first Place Survey were launched today providing information on people’s perceptions of their local area and the local services they receive.

The survey collects information on 18 national indicators for local government, used to measure local government performance for 152 county councils, metropolitan district councils, London boroughs and unitary authorities.

Communities Secretary John Denham said the results of the Place Survey—based on more than 500,000 people’s views and perceptions about where they live—demonstrates the importance of listening to local people and what they want for their local area.

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LocalGovCamp unconference for local government

LocalGovCamp an unconference for local governmentLocalGovCamp is an unconference for local government being held in Birmingham at Fazeley Studios on 20 June 2009.

The event will be will be a gathering of people interested in how local government needs to adapt to a world of social networks and data sharing.

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January 2009 Local Government Association analysis and research bulletin

Local Government Association logoThe Local Government Association have published their January 2009 analysis and research bulletin (PDF, 629KB) on the key issues and developments in research relating to, or impacting on, local government.

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