"Army must change to survive"

At an event in The Abbey House Hotel, Barrow-on-Furness last Friday (4 December 2009) John Hutton, Ex Minister of Defence, was the keynote speaker. 

As a local retiring MP he had gone along to support Furness Enterprise at their annual conference.  Furness Enterprise Chief Executive Harry Knowles had opened the meeting with a reprise of predictions made many years ago on where the area could be.  In fact, due to the actions of Furness Enterprise and others the area has weathered the economic storms fairly well and is showing positive signs of continuing improvements.

John Hutton MP made a heartfelt plea that the armed forces continue to be supported.  He gave examples of how the services could be made more efficient in the future by suggesting more outsourcing to the private sector.  He called on more public private partnerships and more leasing of ships and equipment from the private sector.  He said that significant cost and time overruns related to defence contracts were no longer justifiable or possible.

Asymmetric warfare he feared is the future with the strong likelihood that there would be future terrorist attacks.  He said that we have strong values as a nation that he felt had to be protected but that we have to defend our values in depth, not on the goal line but by attacking the enemy where they are. Therefore while he said that we need aircraft carriers and warships, as well as nuclear submarine as a deterrent, we also need weapons that are fit for the new kind of warfare that we are fighting now.  There is no longer time to plan and specify orders over many years but production of weaponry had to be quick and efficient.  John Hutton paid tribute to the armed forces personnel fighting overseas.  He ended by wishing Furness Enterprise well in their continuing drive to win more jobs and build growth across the area.

The meeting closed with a round of questions and answers.  It was generally recognised that a skills and employment strategy for the area would help skills and training organisations equip workless people and others for the kinds of jobs that exist or will be developed in the job market.  Hall Aitken are able to support this kind of strategy planning work and we have delivered similar work to areas such as Dumfries and Galloway .  With a previous partnership strategy outdated and new challenges on the horizon, key public, private and third sector partners in Dumfries and Galloway wanted a new approach to strategy making.  The closure of Chapelcross, recovery from foot and mouth, and changes in the makeup of the workforce all provided key challenges.

Our work resulted in a widely agreed new strategy and action plan. It was written and presented to be easily understandable by a wider range of stakeholders. It Identified targets and provided a measurement framework to enable robust monitoring and evaluation. Most importantly it identified an approach that will focus efforts on a few key priority actions to achieve the greatest impact. Partners launched the strategy publicly in Nov 2008 and agreed a detailed action plan in May 2009 to deliver the main things the strategy put forward. Following the strategy they are focusing on five priorities: three large regeneration projects, sectoral initiatives, and renewables.  "It's Great, it's excellent, it worked extremely well, Hall Aitken brought a new approach, a fresh approach", Tony Fitzpatrick, Head of Economic Development, Dumfries and Galloway Council.

For information on Hall Aitken's strategy work or other services please contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it