The Inaugural Transition Wilmslow Lecture, 10th October 2016
We had a full house for our very first Transition Wilmslow Lecture!
We thought an Annual Lecture might be a way of appealing to a wider audience, demonstrating that Transition towns are not just about “green” issues but about sustainable communities in general. The Transition Network has set up a website “Reconomy” http://www.reconomy.org talking about different ways of thinking about the economy, and of course a number of Transition Towns (Lewes, Totnes, Brixton, Bristol, and even…at one point in history..Ambridge!) have their own currency. We invited Derek Whyte, Deputy CEO of Preston City Council, to talk about the work they have done with CLES (Centre for Local Economic Strategies) in Manchester, and a European Consortium, to look at how they procure goods and services, and ways in which they can procure more locally. It was good to hear they have significantly increased their local procurement, with benefits for local businesses and jobs.
We were delighted to have an expert discussion panel, with Dominic Oakshott from CEC, Richard Jones who was Director of Social Services for Lancashire and now undertakes consultancy work in social care and the charitable sector, and Catherine Mackenzie, Chair of Wilmslow Business Group. Dominic told us that CEC have been working to get more local procurement, and are up to around 25%; Catherine pointed out the challenges for small businesses in negotiating procurement challenges (large companies may have groups of lawyers negotiating these which makes it difficult for small enterprises) and Richard pointed out the real problems in local authority funding at present which make any economic model difficult. There was a lively discussion with the audience which, as always, raised more questions than it answered, but we agreed that there is a tension between local procurement and having processes in place to ensure fair tendering. There were lots of positive comments from the audience so we’d like to organise another lecture for next year: any suggestions for speakers gratefully received!