Opening plenary


Room: Main room

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Building community wealth in the cracks of a broken economy

CLES’s Chief Executive, Sarah Longlands, will kick off the day by reflecting on a turbulent year for our places and looking ahead to how they will fare after next year’s elections.

Our keynote address will come in the form of a video provocation from world renowned economist, author and speaker, Ann Pettifor. Ann will provide a thought-provoking challenge to attendees about their role, as local economists within a global economy. She will argue that local economic changemakers – communities and public servants alike – are often crippled by inertias and resistance generated by the global economic system but that they are the key to delivery of a green new deal.

Ann will close with a provocative question for our panel of place leaders and thinkers who will discuss the implications of her remarks for local economies before we take questions from the floor.

Sarah Longlands has been the Chief Executive of CLES since 2021, having previously been the organisations’ Director of Policy from 2007-2011. She is an expert in regional and local economic development and argues for economic and social justice and the creation of places which enable people to live good lives. Prior to (re!) joining CLES, Sarah was Director of IPPR North, the dedicated think tank for the North of England and began her career in local government, working in County Durham and North Yorkshire.  She has a PhD in Urban Studies from the University of Glasgow.

Ann Pettifor is a political economist and is best known for predicting the Global Financial Crisis of 2007-9 with her book: The Coming First World Debt Crisis (Palgrave, 2006). In 2008 she (together with colleagues from the economics and environmental sectors) co-wrote the original Green New Deal (GND). Later US Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez adopted the Green New Deal during her successful 2018 Primary campaign. In 2019 Pettifor published The Case for The Green New Deal.  She has been awarded honorary doctorates by Newcastle University, Helsinki University and the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).

Carolyn Wilkins is the Chair of CLES’s board of Trustees. She has over 30 years of experience in the public sector, working at local, city-region and national level. She is currently a professor at the Birmingham Leadership Institute, University of Birmingham focused on leadership required to make progress on the most pressing contemporary challenges.  Her academic interests include leading across boundaries and the relationship between trust and control in organisations and systems. She is a Trustee of the Kings Fund, a member of the NHS Assembly and the Chair  of Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Kevin Albertson is an eclectic economist with a background in statistics and economics. He is a member of the Decent Work and Productivity Research Centre, is author/co-author of over 40 refereed academic articles and book chapters, and is co-author/editor of eight books, including the Haynes Guide How to Run the Country and Decent Work: Opportunities and Challenges. Kevin’s work ranges from business and social forecasting and the evaluation of government policy to the impact of globalised liberal markets on the political economic prospects of the UK.

Bev Craig became Leader of Manchester City Council in December 2021. First elected in 2011 as a Burnage Councillor, she held a range of responsibilities on Manchester City Council, including serving for four years as Executive Member for Adult Social Care, Health and Wellbeing, then as Deputy Leader overseeing resources, capital programmes, social value and digital. As Executive Member for Adults, Health and Wellbeing she led the city of Manchester’s Covid-19 health and community response, managing the crisis and focusing on a more equal recovery.

Kaya Comer-Schwartz is the Leader of Islington Council and has represented Junction Ward since 2013. Kaya was appointed Executive Member for Children, Young People and Families in 2019, previously serving as Executive Member for Community Development. Kaya’s professional background is in the charitable sector, and she has worked for the Centre for Mental Health, Shelter and World Jewish Relief. Kaya sits on the Executive of London Council’s Grants Committee and the National Living Wage Friendly Funders Steering Group. Kaya is also a member of the Archway Town Centre Business group and is the Thrive LDN co-lead.

Asad Rehman is the Executive Director of the radical anti-poverty and social justice organisation War on Want. Asad is a leading climate justice activist whose work over the last 20 years has helped to reframe the climate crisis as a crisis of neoliberal capitalism, inequality and racism. Asad helps to co-ordinate the Global Green New Deal Project and was one of the founders of the COP26 Coalition. Over the last 35 years, he has worked with many social movements both globally and nationally including the anti-racist movement, the alter-globalisation movement and the anti-war movement.

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