Winning bids made easier through the EELGA Talent Bank

Winning competitive bids has become even more challenging, as local authorities try to access shrinking funding pots to deliver their ambitions and services to the public. Which means, of course, that bids need to be stronger than ever. 

Technical bids are always impressively detailed – but have you considered the supporting narrative, which must display an understanding of the invitation to bid as well as the people who wrote it? What are the funders’ motivations, and what will press their buttons? And how do you demonstrate that your authority is full-square behind your funding proposals, and that it has the capacity to deliver them? 

We spoke to Chartered Town Planner and EELGA Talent Bank Associate, Richard Lewis, about his experience in successful bids. 

In 2013, Richard transformed what he described as an “excellent and detailed technical” bid written by a major consultant, into an appealing document which showed enthusiasm, ambition, determination, and strong governance to deliver a proposed ‘mini-Holland’ programme for the Royal Borough of Kingston. As a result, the council won £30m to deliver the programme.  

It was later revealed the funder, the London Mayor’s cycling commissioner Andrew Gilligan, had funded Richard. He knew he was passionate about active travel and understood him and shared his interest in geography and design detail. Mr Gilligan also appreciated the Director of Place’s initiative of forming a SLT delivery board, a robust approach to risk management and the necessary political governance to guarantee, as far as possible, the implementation of schemes presented in the bid.  

In 2017 Richard’s strong narrative, sketch designs and work from colleagues helped The Highland Council to win £6.5m to deliver a Dutch-style cycleway, three ‘cycle streets’, and other active travel measures in the city of Inverness. The council had previously bid without success, and much of this was down to a lack of knowledge about active travel among their engineers. Sustrans Scotland, a charity which aims to help walking and cycling easier through funding, acted as the funding body for Transport Scotland. They wanted to see a lot of attention given to design awareness and stakeholder engagement. Two design training workshops (and later follow-ups), a stakeholder event, agreement from Full Council and a challenging interview demonstrated the Council’s commitment and led to the funding award. 

Richard is available to support your council through the EELGA Talent Bank. You can express an interest in his services on his profile.