Daily Archives: 14th June 2019

Strengthening the wellbeing of market towns in the Rural North and Borderlands of England and Scotland

A seminar to debate new initiatives to create social and economic growth


A seminar organised by the Institute for Local Governance, (ILG). It will take place at the Beaumont Hotel, Hexham, Wednesday 10th July 2019, from 1.00 – 4.00 p.m.

Town centres have been under the spotlight recently as the economic viability of high streets have been put under intense pressure due to the changing patterns of consumer demand and behaviour, the consequences of online shopping for retail outlets and the pressures of business rates.

However, town centres invariably offer a wider range of opportunities in public service provision, leisure activities, events, socialising opportunities etc. But they are more than just hubs for such activity, they also represent a focal point for economic development and civic pride – they tell us something about local culture, our sense of place and about who we are. In the rural borderlands or England and Scotland, economic and social pressures may have been compounded by their relative isolation for major urban centres.

Often it is felt that market towns face a kind of double jeopardy because they are relatively small and isolated from key decision making centres. At one time many market towns were dependent for their economic wellbeing on agriculture and related rural businesses and services. But now, new sectors and enterprises are emerging, some of which can compete at a national or even international level utilising information and communications technology and able to recruit skilled workers and professionals attracted by the quality of life and local environment.

From a policy perspective, central and local government, their agencies and financial programmes are increasingly recognising the need to support rural and coastal towns and their centres. This seminar is about more than economic vibrancy, it is also about quality of life, community development, business engagement and place making.

The seminar will be chaired by Councillor Richard Wearmouth, Cabinet Member for Economy, Northumberland County Council and introduced by Professor Mark Shucksmith, Professor of Planning, Newcastle University

Speakers will include:

Simon Hanson, Federation of Small Business: on the contribution of small business to social wellbeing and civil society.

Chris Kolek, Director, Kolek Consulting: on the process of supporting business development strategies in rural areas.

Bryan McGrath, Chief Officer, Economic Development, Scottish Borders: on town centre regeneration in the Scottish Borders.

Jonathan Wallace, Senior Director, Lichfields: on the revitalisation of town centres in North East England.

Seminar presentations are available here:

Mark Shucksmith – ILG Market Towns Seminar 10th July

Chris Kolek ILG Market Towns Seminar 10 July 2019

Bryan McGrath – ILG Market Towns Seminar 10th July

Jonathan Wallace ILG Market Towns Seminar 10th July

Simon Hanson ILG Market Towns Seminar 10th July





The Institute for Local Governance is a North East Research and Knowledge Exchange Partnership established in 2009 comprising the North East region’s Universities, Local Authorities, Police and Fire and Rescue Services. Further information about the content of the event can be obtained by contacting: – tony.chapman@durham.ac.uk or john.mawson@durham.ac.uk



The future of civil society in Tees Valley

A seminar to discuss the way forward for stakeholders in the voluntary sector, charitable foundations and the public sector.

Friday 5th July 2019, Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough, 9.30 – 1.00

The voluntary and community sector (VCS) has maintained its role in supporting and strengthening the civil society in Tees Valley. It has done so in the context of a great deal of economic, social and political change. The aim of this event is to bring people together from the VCS, charitable foundations and the public sector to engage in a forward looking debate surrounding the changing policy and funding landscape and the positive contribution which the sector can make to the economic, social and environmental wellbeing of the area.

Perhaps surprisingly, given the challenges of recent years, the VCS has managed to sustain its contribution at more or less the same size and scale of activity. This has been achieved as individual organisations and groups have adapted and looked at new ways of accessing resource through trading, fundraising, public sector contracts, winning grants from regional and national foundations and from social investment banks. The mix may have changed in the sector’s basket of funding, but the overall volume of income seems to have remained much the same.

But it has not been easy and many VCS organisations say that they have had to work harder than ever to keep themselves going and supporting local causes that are important to them. With all these changes in mind, it seems like a good time to ask people to get together for an event. The event will be small but productive, with just 60 places, bringing key stakeholders from the VCS, public sector and charitable foundations together from across the five boroughs of Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland and Stockton-on-Tees.

At the start of the event, a panel presented views on the future challenges facing the sector, including policy trends, funding and investment context and potential collaborative initiatives with partners.

The event was chaired by Councillor Chris McEwan, Darlington Borough Council.

Nancy Doyle-Hall, Executive Director, Virgin Money Foundation: on the role of charitable grant making foundations and trusts in supporting civil society

Alison Collins, Investment Manager, Northstar Ventures: on the role of social investment in developing VCS sector strengths

Tony Chapman, Policy&Practice, St Chad’s College, Durham University: on changing funding relationships between the public sector and the third sector.

Following table discussion there was a second panel to debate with the audience the current situation across Tees Valley and its environs and the future prospects for the development of civil society.

Tracey Brittain, Middlesbrough Voluntary Development Agency

Karen Grundy, Community Programme Manager, Catalyst Stockton

Mike Millen, CEO, Redcar and Cleveland Voluntary Development Agency

Slides from the seminar can be found here:

Alison Collins – ILG Seminar 5th July 2019

Tony Chapman – ILG Seminar 5th July 2019

Introductory Slides – ILG Seminar 5th July 2019

Mark Davis ILG Seminar 5th July 2019

Mike Millen – ILG Seminar 5th July 2019