The RSA uses cookies on this website. By using this website you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more read our cookie policy and privacy policy. More Info

Six towns and a vale in search of a future


Because I have a job to do and a life to live, and because I try to avoid anything which looks like I am speaking on behalf of the Labour Party, I find myself turning down many media invitations to comment on the unfolding election campaign. This is particularly true of this evening - but for a more specific reason. I will not be watching the leaders’ debate. Instead, I will be chairing an RSA supported event in mid-Wiltshire.

The event is titled ‘six towns and a vale in search of an economic future’ and has been organised by the Mid Wiltshire Economic Partnership. All of these towns, although very pleasant places in their own way, suffer from limited economic dynamism and social and cultural opportunities. The question is whether they can build their capacity through innovative forms of co-operation.

I have been reading about similar kinds of initiatives in other parts of the world. There is for example the North Carolina Small Towns Initiative to develop economic and leadership skills, or the Kansas Take Charge Challenge in which six towns compete to win prizes for the best efforts to save energy. There are also various sporting collaborations such as Waverley’s inter town sports competition. 

But although worthy, some of these initiatives strike me as being slightly one dimensional.  I am excited by the idea of designing a collaboration which covers multiple objectives:

• Building new capacity and markets for small and social enterprises

• Improving public service access and collaboration

• Developing cultural and sporting activities

• Fostering and strengthening social networks

• Developing a shared brand and marketing strategy for the promotion of the mid Wiltshire area    

The key ingredients to success will be collaboration, competition, innovation and engagement. There are two other discussion meetings after tonight’s, and then the plan is for a public engagement exercise focussed on designing new ways of working together across the towns.

I am really keen for the RSA to be a partner in the process, engaging local Fellows and drawing on the expertise and insight available in the broader Fellowship. If we could design and implement something powerful in mid Wiltshire it could be adapted and replicated in other areas.

Be the first to write a comment


Please login to post a comment or reply

Don't have an account? Click here to register.

Related articles

  • Reclaiming the future

    Philipa Duthie

    Climate change has highlighted the duty of current generations to those who come after us. Philipa Duthie explores some of the lessons we can learn from indigenous cultures and new moves to deliver intergenerational justice.

  • The underachieving normal

    Matthew Taylor

    Public services, commercial corporations and spontaneous social movements: what's the power they all lack? How might public service reform not flounder through shoehorning dynamism into a universalist and planned approach? How might businesses become genuinely socially responsible rather than merely intoning fine sounding rhetoric?

  • Boosting community enterprise

    Ian Burbidge

    Building strong foundations for the future requires collective effort, with the public and private sectors both playing a part.