Unravelling Government Estates Strategy

Local Government Estates
8th February 2019

DragonGate Associate Steve Atkinson remarks on the “Unravelling Government Estates Strategy” – Local Government Roundtable hosted by Kinnarps 1st February

The overwhelming conclusion was that, in order to achieve anything of meaning, moment and sustainability, ‘leadership’ is crucial. The most effective outcomes are achieved where the main protagonists are of one mind. This does not happen overnight – it requires careful thought and planning. Most importantly, it requires the identification and agreement of a common purpose and consistency in approach in its realisation.

‘Leadership’ is not taught! It is a frame of mind. It arises from a world view which focuses on altruism and the greater good; not traits for which many in senior positions are renowned. Too often single organisational objectives take precedence over wider social or economic needs; the organisation being at the centre of activity, not those it is there to serve.

What is more, those in central government, who ought to lead, too often fail to do so and themselves get locked into departmental silos. A key message was that they should practice what they preach and engage in interdepartmental discussion and planning; be decisive, not vacillating, within an overarching goal…and then be consistent in the implementation. Indeed, there were a number of examples of departments – and sections within departments – which at best worked in isolation and, at worst, activity worked in opposition to each other. Unfortunately, the same is true locally also (e.g. at County/District levels).

At the heart of any successful project must be the ‘vision’. Without that, all else will fail. It is true that all the elements must be present in greater or lesser degree for success to be achieved, but a clear vision, continually articulated and reinforced, is vital. It need not be complex; in fact, the simpler the better. And, if it involves relocation, it must relate and be related to the local needs of the area being considered, not just the needs of that department or organisation. To develop a vision or a strategy, without reference to local needs and circumstances, will not secure its full (or any) potential. Local and central government must share the same vision for the locality. The clear message here was: do not parachute something into an alien area or one where the needs are at odds with the strategy. Do your local homework first!

Steve Atkinson is an Associate at DragonGate Market Intelligence and former local government chief executive

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