The topicality of Local Growth in an Era of Fiscal Devolution was such that this event, held at Manchester Metropolitan University on Friday, sold out. As you can see from the photograph above, some 50 place managers participated in the event, which was jointly promoted by the Institute and the Association of Town and City Management (ATCM).
The event was opened by IPM Chair, Professor Cathy Parker, who welcomed the widespread interest. Ojay MacDonald, the Public Policy Manager at ATCM, explained some of the changes that were happening to business rating in England and Wales and talked through the issues this might raise. The changes include legislation to extend local retention of business rates and introduction of property owner Business Improvement Districts outside of London (the electorate and the levy payers for BIDs in England and Wales are businesses rather than property owners, the normal approach in much of the US and Canada).
The audience then heard a video message from the Shadow Minister (Opposition spokesperson) on Local Government and Devolution who also chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on Town Centres before hearing about the detail of new Parliamentary Bill that has just been published from Nick Cooper, Policy Advisor, Local Government Finance Reform & Settlement, Department of Communities and Local Government. Nick explained the background to the legislation and the process it now must take to be enacted. A flurry of questions indicated the level of audience interest.
A panel debate opened the afternoon session looking at whether businesses need a louder voice in local government decision-making and this was followed by IPM Director Dr Steve Millington exploring Inclusive Growth in Town Centres. Stacy Birt of Tamworth Borough Council looked at supporting local businesses before the day was wrapped up by the outgoing ATCM Chair, Alexander Nicoll.
The morning session of the event was also attended by the current students on the MSc in Place Management and Leadership who were in Manchester for three days studying Principles of Place Leadership, Governance and Partnership Development. Fiscal devolution raises many issues of relevance to the topics being studied.
Ojay McDonald, Public Policy Manager at ATCM has pulled together a number of tweets and photos from the day's event.