Agenda and minutes

Gloucestershire Economic Growth Joint Committee
Wednesday 15 March 2017 10.00 am

Venue: Cabinet Suite - Shire Hall, Gloucester. View directions

Items
No. Item

69.

Apologies

To note any apologies for absence.

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Cllr Steve Lydon.

 

There were no substitutions at this meeting.

 

70.

Declarations of Interest

To receive any pecuniary or personal interests by members.

Minutes:

No declarations of interest were made.

 

71.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 136 KB

To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 30 November 2016.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 30 November 2016 were approved by the Committee and signed by the Chairman, subject to an amendment to page 3, item 65, paragraph 4, where it should read ‘it was explained that modifications to the JCS would be brought back to Gloucester City, Tewkesbury Borough and Cheltenham Borough Councils in the new year, with the aim for consultation to begin by the end of March 2017.’

 

72.

GFirst LEP Update pdf icon PDF 57 KB

To receive a report on the delivery of the Growth Programme in the County, including Growth Deal 3.

Minutes:

Mally Findlater, Programme Manager, GFirst LEP, provided the Committee with an update on the delivery of the Growth Programme, including Growth Deal 3.

 

Members were provided with an overview of the status of projects that were going through the approval and funding process. The Committee noted that the majority of projects had been received by the LEP Board for approval for funding agreement and had gone through for delivery.

 

The Committee noted that the out turn from the current Growth Deal programme to date was £19.01m, and that the total leverage declared by projects was £64m. The wider job impacts were to be assessed periodically. It was also noted that the local assurance framework and appendices had been updated and were available on the GFirst LEP website.

 

The Committee was informed that the LEP Annual Conversation with BEIS in December 2016 had been successful, and that BEIS representatives were complimentary about the programme management of Growth Deal funding. It was acknowledged that whilst there had been an underspend in 2016/17, this was not the subject of undue concern, and it was expected that the cumulative underspend would recover considerably in 2017/18.

 

It was explained that the Government had allocated £29.13m to GFirst LEP in the latest round of Growth Deal funding, which was higher than expected. In particular, funding was provided for the Cyber Park project, and it was noted that meetings had already commenced regarding the delivery of the project.

 

In response to a query, it was explained that there had been no indication from the Government as to whether there would be further Growth Deal rounds in the future. It was recommended that the Committee continue to use the Gloucestershire Infrastructure Investment Pipeline to develop the infrastructure priorities for funding opportunities. It was noted that the Committee would need to consider the Government strategy on infrastructure funding, should it change in the future.

 

The Committee noted the report.

 

73.

Employment and Skills pdf icon PDF 87 KB

To receive a progress report on work towards the formation of an Employment and Skills Board.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Pete Carr, Lead Commissioner: Employment and Skills, Gloucestershire County Council, provided members with an update on progress towards the formation of an Employment and Skills Board (ESB).

 

The Committee noted that Pete Carr had been seconded from GFirst LEP to Gloucestershire County Council for four days a week as Lead Commissioner: Employment and Skills, to take forward the establishment and operation of the ESB. It was also noted that the Strategic Alliance had agreed to allow Kathryn Wagstaff, who was employed by the University of Gloucestershire on behalf of the Strategic Alliance, to continue working with the ESB.

 

It was explained that a diagram had been developed to give structure to the Board and the reporting process, and that work was being undertaken to build up an evidence base for the ESB, which included updating the LEP Skills Statement. It was noted that the Skills Statement would be refreshed annually.

 

Additionally, members were informed that a Gloucestershire business survey was being developed, which would provide local detail on employment and skills, and that the draft terms of reference for the Board had been prepared and shared with the Committee, education providers, and other organisations for feedback.

 

 

Members were informed that Gloucestershire County Council was investing over £100k over two years into the ESB through officer support, research and analysis, however there was no separate budget for the ESB. Resources would be sought from several sources, including the GFirst LEP and Strategic Alliance.

 

The Committee discussed the remit and focus of the ESB. In response to a question, it was explained that topics discussed by the ESB would be available openly, and that the Board would report to this Committee and the GFirst LEP Board.

 

In particular, the Committee discussed the importance of focussing on skills relevant to the development of the Cyber Park. It was noted that the Cyber Park had not been highlighted within the Skills Statement as it had been updated based on historical data, however the ESB could focus on the Cyber Park as a priority. Other areas for focus considered by the Committee included green and new technologies, and social care.

 

The importance of developing skills in children at an early stage was also recognised by the Committee, in addition to developing infrastructure to encourage the retention of skills.

 

There was some discussion about the recent information on Institutes of Technology.

 

Pete Carr welcomed further conversations with District Councils to establish any specific employment and skills needs they would like taken into account by the ESB, and to establish who best to liaise with over District employment and skills matters.

 

The Committee noted the report.

 

Resolved

 

1.         To note the update on the establishment of the Gloucestershire Employment and Skills Board; and, as part of the next steps

 

2.         To meet with District Councils to establish any specific employment and skills needs they would like taken into account by the Employment and Skills Board.

 

74.

Government Industrial Strategy pdf icon PDF 63 KB

To update members on the relevance of the strategy for Gloucestershire, to review the Joint Committee’s draft strategy consultation response (REPORT TO FOLLOW), and to note for information the planned ‘Business’ response from the LEP (attached).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Claire Edwards, Outcome Manager, Gloucestershire County Council, presented the Committee with the Government Industrial Strategy draft response for consideration.

 

It was explained that the development of the Government’s Industrial Strategy coincided with several factors, including the anticipated formal triggering of the Brexit process, the creation of a Productivity Plan, and a ‘re-set’ of the Government’s approach to devolution. The Industrial Strategy, which was published on 23rd January 2017, set out a 10-point plan, called ‘the ten pillars’, to act as a focus for driving the strategy.

 

Members were informed that the Green Paper was intended to act as consultation route, and that there were 38 consultation questions. The deadline for responses was 17th April 2017.

 

The Committee noted that the LEP was submitting its own response on behalf of business. It was agreed that the Committee’s response and the LEP’s response should highlight common ground and be complementary.

 

The Committee discussed the ten pillars and the key elements to be addressed in Gloucestershire’s response. 

 

Members were asked to feedback on the content of the draft response to the consultation on the Government Industrial Strategy Green Paper by 30th March 2017. The final draft response would then be circulated with Committee members by email for sign-off by 3rd April 2017.

 

Resolved

 

1.         To agree the proposed draft;

 

2.         To contribute further comments to the next stage of drafting;

 

3.         To agree a sign-off mechanism; and

 

4.         To note the ‘business’ response being prepared by the LEP.

 

75.

National Infrastructure Assessment Consultation Response pdf icon PDF 125 KB

To note the consultation response submitted by Gloucestershire County Council.

Minutes:

Nigel Riglar, Commissioning Director: Communities and Infrastructure, Gloucestershire County Council, presented the National Infrastructure Assessment consultation response submitted by Gloucestershire County Council to the Committee.

 

It was noted that the consultation response was compiled by the Senior Officer Group due to the short timescale given for responses, however the response reflected previous Committee discussions on infrastructure.

 

Several members highlighted issues which they felt could have been referenced in greater detail in the consultation response, including the long-term infrastructure ambitions for the County. There was some discussion regarding the need to finalise the Vision 2050 work being undertaken to prioritise these long-term ambitions.

 

The Committee noted the consultation response.

 

76.

Business Rate Pool pdf icon PDF 109 KB

To receive an update report on the Business Rate Pool and potential expenditure options for the Strategic Economic Development Fund.

Minutes:

David Stanley, Accountancy Manager, Stroud District Council, provided the Committee with an update on the Business Rate Pool.

 

The Committee was informed that the 2016/17 forecast for the Business Rates Pool had been revised down to £2.382m, representing a slight increase over the September position of £1.983m, and, based on current governance arrangements, the Strategic Economic Development Fund would receive around £280k.

 

Members noted that the initial forecast for 2017/18 estimated that an additional £4.023m would be retained in Gloucestershire due to changes in pool levy rate. However, the estimate needed to be considered in light of several risks, which would include the new rateable values and the potential for significant appeals. The Committee considered whether forecast estimates could be more accurately projected and the margin of error reduced. 

 

It was understood that the Government’s aim was to introduce the new 100% Business Rates Retention system for the 2019/20 financial year. The Government had also indicated that they would welcome applications from councils to participate in further business rates pilots in 2018/19 in areas without a devolution deal, including two-tier council areas. Members considered the opportunities and potential risks of 100% business rates retention and discussed the opportunity for Gloucestershire to take part in the pilot. It was suggested that conversations could be held with other local authorities already taking part in the pilot for the new system, in order to aid learning on how to be successful in any bid.

 

Nigel Riglar explained to the Committee the potential expenditure options for the Strategic Economic Development Fund. The proposals would be developed further for formal consideration by the Committee at a future meeting.

 

Resolved

 

1.         To note the forecast position for 2016/17 and 2017/18; and

 

2.         To note the emerging propositions for the potential utilisation of the Strategic Economic Development Fund.

 

77.

Future Meeting Dates

To note that the Committee is due to meet on the following dates in 2017:

 

Wednesday 21 June 2017

Wednesday 6 September 2017

Wednesday 29 November 2017

 

All meetings to start at 10am (this allows meetings of the Gloucestershire Economic Growth Scrutiny Committee to take place on the same day).

Minutes:

The Committee noted the meeting dates for the remainder of 2017.