Stephen Baker reflects on his work with Local Resilience Forums
Suffolk Resilience Forum’s departing chair recently spoke to the Local Government Chronicle magazine about how he has spent his 40 years in Local Government helping communities to cope with adversity.
Stephen Baker is due to step down from his role in December 2022 when he will also retire from being Chief Executive of East Suffolk Council.
In addition to chairing the Suffolk Resilience Forum, Stephen has held national resilience roles through the Local Government Association, the National Preparedness Council, and the National Emergencies Trust during his impressive career.
He describes this year as being the “best moment” in his time with Local Government because of the “terrific attitude” of his team and “the way they got through Covid”.
The pandemic cemented the importance of Local Resilience Forums (LRFs), with Stephen highlighting that since Covid the Government has provided extra funding after realising that LRFs were “a good vehicle for pulling everyone together.” Although public spending cuts are expected, he wants to see “more done about helping communities to become more resilient.”
Stephen also reflected on what he perceives to be one of the biggest emerging threats faced by councils; climate change, which he compared to “boiled frog syndrome” when a frog in slowly boiling water does not realise it is at risk until it is too late to escape.
His biggest climate change concern locally is how as sea temperatures rise, the risk from surges that hit the coast in the winter increases too, leading Stephen to fear that there may be “more frequent localised inland flooding.”
He was also keen to “challenge the definition of resilience”, urging people to think more about the “underlying resilience” of communities “beyond the response to an emergency”.