Challenge 1: Surrey

On a misty February morning, ten local government officers gathered in Kingston for the first LG Challenge of 2020 at Surrey County Council.

Location – Surrey County Council

Dates – 5 & 6 February 2020

Challenge question

How can the county council help to mitigate the effects of climate change linked to land use (Team Resilience) and consumer habits (Team Trailblazers) as part of its work to ensure Surrey is carbon neutral by 2050?

Team captains - Team Resilience captained by Zoe Galvin (Project Officer, Kent CC) & Team Trailblazers captained by Joe Kinsella (Transformation Officer, Calderdale DC)

Context and challenges of brief

Surrey is home to 1.2 million people, it is the twelfth most populous county in England, with 74 per cent of land covered by national and international designations such as Green Belt and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and ancient woodland. It is the most wooded county in England with approximately 24 per cent of the county covered in woodland compared to the national coverage of around 8 per cent.

Surrey CC aims to be a place that capitalises on its location and natural assets, where communities feel supported and people are able to support each other. The county council has recognised the concerns that residents have about the environment and has included in its strategic vision a clear ambition that ‘Residents live in clean, safe and green communities, where people and organisations embrace their environmental responsibilities’. Tackling climate change is a key part of this ambition.

Surrey County council declared a climate emergency in July 2019 and have committed Surrey will be zero carbon by 2050.

Contestants’ learning and development on this challenge

  • Getting to grips with the task and working well with people you have not met before is always the first learning point on this unique leadership programme.
  • The theme of climate change allowed the teams to grapple with a complex subject by interviewing council officers and councillors and chairing a roundtable discussion with experts.
  • Time is always at a premium on these intense, fast-paced challenges and contestants learnt that prioritisation and time management is essential in order to submit a good business plan and prepare to back this up in the presentation and Q&A.
  • Presentations were delivered to a judging panel of senior officers and councillors from Surrey CC, and the LGA’s head judge which presents a learning opportunity on how best to pitch to and communicate with a senior audience.

Outputs and presentations

Written summary – no more than four sides of A4 to include a shortlist of ‘interventions’ and a 12 month plan to deliver or enable those interventions. Plus a 10 min presentation of the proposals with 10 min Q&A from the judges.

Judges and decision and reasoning

  • Claire Holloway - Head of Corporate Services (LGA Head Judge)
  • Joanna Killian - Chief Executive
  • Cllr Colin Kemp - Deputy Leader
  • Katie Sargent - Group Manager of Environment Commissioning
  • Michael Coughlin - Executive Director of Transformation, Partnerships & Prosperity

The judges agreed Trailblazers as the winners of the first challenge, due to their ideas, well-written report and cohesiveness between the report and the presentation. However, contestants from both challenges received personal commendations from the judges for their strong performances.