April 20, 2021

Greater Cambridge Shared Planning Service senior leader appointed to Institute of Economic Development board

The Institute of Economic Development (IED) is delighted to confirm the appointment of Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Assistant Director for Strategy and Economy to its board of directors.

Paul Frainer has held his current role as part of the Greater Cambridge Shared Planning Service since March 2018, having previously worked as Head of Partnerships and Development and Acting Joint Head of Place Services at Essex County Council, and formerly for Barnet Council. He also sits on the Economic Recovery Sub-Group for Cambridge and Peterborough as well as the Smart Cambridgeshire and Connecting Cambridgeshire boards, where he has frontline experience of data-led economic development in response to Covid-19 and the acceleration of the digital economy.

An IED member, and also non-executive director of Solace (the leading UK members’ network for local government and public sector professionals), Paul brings extensive cross-sector experience to the Institute executive. “I am a systems practitioner and have a passion for addressing economic challenges and opportunities in an inclusive and holistic way, to improve positive outcomes against the complex environmental and social challenges we face,” he said. “Working within local government, and in the time we are in now, economic development is one of the most critical parts of my role and touches almost every element of the work we do. This gives me a unique insight into the challenges and opportunities and ensures an understanding of how a combination of ‘top down’ and ‘bottom up’ approaches, working across a broad range of strategic partnerships at a regional and national level, can be the most effective way of delivering inclusive economic development. I am thrilled to join the IED board.”

Paul explained there been a shift in mindset around partnership working in recent years and that “the challenges we face around Covid and the wider landscape mean there is an opportunity to accelerate this further.” He added: “I see the IED as a catalyst for economic development, joining up the dots in terms of ideas, initiatives and innovation in what has traditionally been quite a disparate sector. Whilst economic development is the vision, it is the impact on people, places and the future of any area that is most important. The support and visibility the IED gives to different areas of activity is key and it is the connectivity of this activity, the emphasis on collaboration, and the resulting footprint that I value. IED membership is really beneficial, not least in the times we live and work.”

In his role in Greater Cambridge, Paul is deeply involved in what he describes as “local government sitting at the frontline of current social, economic and environmental challenges we are part of in 2020 Britain”. He said: “I am at the forefront of challenging economic pressures in an area that is widely seen as being a hugely vibrant economy. However, we also need to acknowledge that Cambridge has a number of the most deprived wards in the country so have to look at understanding this and work harder to ensure that we reduce this disparity. Change is needed to ensure a much more sustainable and inclusive approach is taken to economic development, and there are real opportunities to contribute to this progress.”

Reflecting on those “opportunities”, Paul went on to say: “The pandemic has accelerated certain trends that were happening anyway, for example remote working and behaviours in movement and travel patterns. In Cambridge, a significant percentage of the workforce are still not travelling into the city which is a massive paradigm shift. We do not know the full effects of this, and whether or not it will be short or long-term, but if people are not going into Cambridge and they are working from towns, villages and beyond, what does that mean? Is there an opportunity to be agile and make sure those economies and supply chains are better supported to serve people who are working from home? We must ensure we are data-led in decision making and move quickly to upskill and cross-skill to support emerging demand.”

As a director of the IED, Paul has outlined a vision for “improvement and progress”. He added: “I love to work really closely with all my teams, and ensure they are involved in everything I am doing. It is so important to draw on the expertise of your teams as they have a huge depth and breadth of experience, and collective intelligence on working through complex issues is so critical to bringing innovative solutions. This can embed collaborative approaches between local government and businesses to the IED, and vice-versa, facilitating that collaboration.”