Eastern promise…EoE Network

by LGcomms Chair Andy Allsopp

A looming general election is clearly a good way of getting people engaged on ‘big picture’ issues.

As this was indeed the context to the first LGcomms East of England Network meeting, I can only thank Rishi Sunak for going to the country next month. The East is the latest public service regional network to be established in England, alongside national networks in Wales and Scotland, and with more in the offing.

The East is huge region – there are 50 Councils, including 5 counties, 6 unitaries and 39 district, borough and city authorities. That’s more than Greater London or Scotland, for instance, by some way.

A quarter of that number in the East attended the session in Ipswich on 10 June, where the focus was strategic, region-wide, with an excellent campaign case study from Suffolk as well as practice and income generation/cost saving centred contributions from CAN and e-Shot, our valued commercial partners.

Transport East offered a comprehensive overview of their strategic priorities, with key issues such as freight, driving growth, rurality, dispersed population centres  – not to mention the probability of a new government with a commitment to a nationalised rail network and a strengthened commitment to net zero. The East isn’t short of  transport hubs, with two major international ports and three international airports, but improving connectivity between them and major population centres is difficult in an age of austerity.

The LGA updated on their recruitment campaign – and their developing public affairs strategy around the general election. Closer to home, Suffolk County Council’s recent consultation campaign on what devolution and a directly elected leader would mean (mirrored across the border in Norfolk) which provided much food for thought on how communities engage on the arcane world of local government.  

Most importantly, it was regional colleagues who set the agenda for the next session (which will be in the Autumn) including a focus on housing, pride in place campaigning, public affairs, and developing creative content.

Can’t wait. Huge thanks to Caroline Kennedy-Jones at Ipswich Borough Council for hosting, Matt Nicholls, Colm Howard-Lloyd, Esme Yuill, Andrew St Ledger, John Paul Danon and Daniel Hare for contributions and everyone for attending in person and online.


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