Venue: Cabinet Suite - Shire Hall, Gloucester. View directions
To note any apologies for absence.
Apologies were received from Cllr Tim Gwilliam.
Cllr Roger James substituted at the meeting for Cllr Gwilliam.
To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 6 September 2017.
The minutes of the meeting held on 6 September 2017 were approved by the Committee and signed by the Chairman.
Declarations of Interest
To receive any pecuniary or personal interests by members.
Cllr Steve Jordan declared a personal interest, as a GFirst LEP Director representing Leadership Gloucestershire on the GFirst LEP Board, in relation to item 9, Business Rate Pool.
To consider a verbal update on the activities of the Gloucestershire Economic Growth Scrutiny Committee (GEGSC).
The minutes from the GEGSC meeting held on 19 October 2017 are attached for information.
Cllr David Norman MBE, Chairman of the Gloucestershire Economic Growth Scrutiny Committee (GEGSC), provided an update on GEGSC activities.
Cllr Norman informed the Committee that on 19 October 2017, a GEGSC meeting was held at Tewkesbury Borough Council, and thanked Cllr Robert Bird, Deputy Leader of the Council and Lead Member for Economic Development/ Promotion at Tewkesbury Borough Council, and Mike Dawson, Chief Executive, Tewkesbury Borough Council, for the detailed and informative presentations they gave at the meeting. Members were also informed that the meeting was positive, and that Tewkesbury Borough Council members fully engaged in the discussion and question and answer session.
Cllr Norman highlighted an absence of officers in attendance at the meeting, and encouraged more officers to attend the meeting which would be held at Cotswold District Council on 22 February 2018.
There was a discussion around the benefits of holding GEGSC meetings at the district councils, particularly in terms of identifying barriers to development. The importance of attendance by officers from the county and district councils, as well as from the GFirst LEP, at the ‘stand alone’ GEGSC meetings was also recognised.
Gloucestershire Connections Study
To receive a presentation on the GCC commissioned study looking at the future role for road and rail in support of improved strategic connectivity in Gloucestershire by 2050, and to provide members with the opportunity to discuss the initial themes and challenges emerging from the first phase of this work.
Members received a presentation from Martin Revill, Project Director, SYSTRA, on the Gloucestershire County Council commissioned study looking at the future role for road and rail in support of improved strategic connectivity in Gloucestershire by 2050.
It was explained that the study was focussed on external connectivity, and considered a number of important corridors to and from Gloucestershire. The work consisted of a narrative based on the views of stakeholders, policy and literature review, and analytical work to identify the GDP uplift of improving connectivity to and from Gloucestershire within the six identified corridors.
Members noted that, as part of the work, stakeholders were asked to consider three fundamental questions, in particular, relating to current problems with connectivity, and the priorities for investment to improve connectivity.
Members were presented with illustrations of existing connectivity, based on the 2011 census data. It was highlighted that this data only provided information on travel to and from places of work, and not business to business travel. Members were also presented with illustrations of future growth plans and future connectivity.
The Committee noted a number of key questions to be considered regarding Gloucestershire's connectivity for the future, and questions that could be considered beyond this study.
It was clarified, in response to a query, that the study was focussed on connectivity rather than deeper economic issues. There was also a query as to whether internal connectivity would be considered as part of the study. The Committee was advised that internal connectivity was being addressed as part of Vision 2050.
There was a query as to whether the data used for the study was too limited. It was explained that discussions with stakeholders would provide a narrative in addition to the data, and that this study may pose further questions that could need considering moving forward. It was clarified that there would be further opportunities for stakeholders to contribute to the study at a later stage.
The significant level of growth within the County, and the importance of Gloucestershire as a growth area was highlighted to the Committee.
The Committee noted that the final report would be finalised in the New Year.
To receive a report on the delivery of the Growth Programme in the County, including an update on ESIF and the Growth Deal Fund reallocation process.
Dev Chakraborty, Deputy Chief Executive, GFirst LEP, provided the Committee with an update on the delivery of the Growth Programme in the County, including an update on ESIF and the Growth Deal Fund reallocation process.
Members noted the status of projects that were progressing through the approval and funding process, in particular, that funding agreements for the Digital Retail Innovation Centre and A419 Corridor Improvements were approved by the GFirst LEP Board. Additionally, Cheltenham Spa Station Improvements were recommended for approval to the LEP Board by the LEP Investment Panel at its meeting on 28 November 2017.
Members noted that discussions were being held with the University of Gloucestershire regarding a gap in ESIF funding, that the Gloucester South West By-pass approval date had been moved to February 2018, and that the Lydney Transport Strategy had suffered delays.
The Committee was informed that 12 revised or new bids were received against the Growth Deal re-allocation funds available, with a total value of £25.4m against an available fund of £5.043m.
Nigel Riglar and David Hagg were thanked for their involvement in the GFirst LEP Board member interview process, through which Deborah Potts and Jenny Raymond were appointed as new Board members.
The Committee also noted that the ‘Annual Conversation’ between GFirst LEP, the Accountable Body and the Government had been positive, and that the Government had provided encouraging feedback on the work that was being carried out by GFirst LEP.
To receive a brief update on progress with the employment and skills agenda.
The Committee noted the update report on the Employment and Skills agenda.
Clarification was sought on the balance between providers and employers on the Gloucestershire Employment and Skills Board (GESB), and whether the GESB was aligned with the Industrial Strategy.
It was noted that the Chair of the GESB would be confirmed in due course.
Economic Intelligence - INFORM Gloucestershire
To receive a presentation on the range and value of economic intelligence and data available on INFORM, as a precursor to the proposed improvement project.
The Committee received a presentation from Katherine Martin, Data and Analysis Manager (Place), Gloucestershire County Council, on the range and value of economic intelligence and data available on INFORM.
Members were provided with a demonstration of the INFORM website (https://inform.gloucestershire.gov.uk/MainMenu.aspx?cookieCheck=true&JScript=1), which was focussed particularly on the economy section of the website. It was noted that the information on the website was publically available and thematically structured.
In response to a query, it was explained that the MAIDeN neighbourhood profiles were available to district members on request. Members were also advised to contact the INFORM team at Gloucestershire County Council should they have any queries or feedback.
There was a discussion around wider measures of wellbeing, and it was noted that a report on productivity within Gloucestershire would be brought to a future meeting.
To receive an update report on the Business Rate Pool and expenditure proposals for the Strategic Economic Development Fund.
David Stanley, Accountancy Manager, Stroud District Council, provided the Committee with an update on the Business Rate Pool.
Members were informed that the mid-year forecast for the Pool 2017/18, based on an estimated outturn position undertaken by Pool members in September 2017, showed a slightly reduced forecast of £3.821m. It was also explained that there would likely be significant appeals against the new valuations, and that the impact of these on the level of retained business rates income would need to be monitored.
The Committee was informed that in September 2017, the Government published a 100% business rates retention pilot prospectus for 2018/19. The Gloucestershire CFOs, with support from Pixel Financial Management, undertook extensive financial modelling to assess the risk and reward of a potential bid to be a pilot for 2018/19. Following endorsement by Leadership Gloucestershire at its meeting on 26 October 2017, a bid was submitted to CLG on 27 October. CLG was set to announce the successful pilot areas in the Local Government Finance Settlement in December 2017.
There was a discussion around the potential impact on the pool should NHS Trusts be classified as charitable bodies and therefore qualify for mandatory charitable business rates relief of 80% of their business rates.
The Committee considered and discussed the report recommendations regarding the Strategic Economic Development Fund, including whether there were alternative projects to fund.
Following a discussion, it was suggested that the ‘memorandum of understanding’, which would be entered into by the seven Councils and the GFirst LEP for 2018-20, be circulated with Committee members and agreed via email.
The Committee agreed the report recommendations.
1. To note the forecast position with the Pool for 2017/18 and the Pilot submission;
2. That £250k of reserves currently held in the Strategic Economic Fund are used for the purposes of match funding the Government’s core funding to GFirst LEP in 2018/19
3. That the first £250k of SEDF revenues arising during 2017/18 are used to match fund the Government’s core funding in 2019/20;
4. That the 7 Councils enter into a simple ‘memorandum of understanding’ with GFirst LEP for the period 2018-2020;
5. That a review of the on-going need for Core Funding match and the correct mechanism for achieving this is completed by December 2019; and
6. That £75k of reserves held in the Strategic Economic Fund is used for the purposes of match funding the Inward Investment Service proposed by GFirst LEP.
To receive an update on proposals including governance and the Strategic Planning Commissioner role.
Mike Dawson, Chief Executive, Tewkesbury Borough Council, updated the Committee on proposals for the recruitment of a Strategic Planning Coordinator for Gloucestershire.
The Committee was informed that the proposed terms of employment and recruitment arrangements for the role, as outlined in the report, had been agreed by senior officers from partner councils and GFirst LEP.
It was clarified, in response to a suggestion that the post be recruited through Publica, that the Inter-Authority Agreement for GEGJC included provisions for the appointment of a senior manager and for the recruitment of the post to be determined by the GEGJC. The agreement made no provision for the appointment of a separate company to undertake the role and it would not, therefore, be appropriate for this to be provided through Publica.
It was agreed that the appointment panel for the position would consist of the Chairman of GEGJC, Cllr Steve Lydon and Cllr Steve Jordan.
The Committee agreed the report recommendations.
That the post will be hosted and supported by Tewkesbury Borough Council in accordance with that Council’s terms and conditions of employment.
1. The appointment will be established in accordance with the job description and person specification attached at appendix 1, for an initial fixed period of 3 years with a review by the GEGJC after 2 years;
2. All cost implications of the post will be financed as follows:
- 50% Gloucestershire County Council and
- Remainder shared equally between the district councils and the GFirst LEP;
3. For day to day supervision and guidance the post will report to the Chair of the GEGJC Senior Officer Group;
4. The post will be located at the GFirst LEP offices;
5. The Joint Committee is asked to make nominations to the Appointments Panel as referred to in paragraph 3.2 of the report; and
6. Authority is delegated to the Chief Executive of Tewkesbury Borough Council to appoint the post having considered the recommendations of the Appointments Panel.
Government/ HCA Housing Infrastructure Fund
District and County Councils to provide a verbal update on their bids.
It was agreed that an update on district council bids to the Government/HCA Housing Infrastructure Fund would be circulated to Committee members via email. The date by which the Government was expected to respond to bids would also be confirmed with members.
It was explained, following a query, that smart motorways would be discussed at the meeting due to be held with Highways England. It was also recognised that a conversation needed to be held with the Government regarding the timescales for funding rounds.
Fastershire Broadband Project
To receive a verbal update on progress with the project.
Claire Edwards, Outcome Manager, Gloucestershire County Council, provided the Committee with an update on progress with the Fastershire Broadband Project.
It was noted that Phase 1 of the project had been completed, which had enabled just less than 75,000 premises in Gloucestershire to access a broadband connection greater than 30Mbps. Work was currently progressing on Phase 2 of the project, which would have enabled 97% of Gloucestershire properties on completion. The indicative build timescales for communities in the Phase 2 rollout areas were available on the Fastershire website (www.fastershire.com).
It was also noted that Fastershire had bid to secure more funding from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development to extend superfast broadband further.
There was a discussion regarding broadband infrastructure in new estates. Members were advised that the responsibility for developers to put the infrastructure in new estates would be included in local plans.
It was agreed that a written update on progress with the Fastershire Broadband Project would be circulated to GEGJC and GEGSC members.
To consider proposed areas of focus and discussion topics for future meetings of the Committee.
The Committee considered the proposed areas of focus and discussion topics for future meetings of the Committee.
It was noted that a report on M5 Junction 9 and 10 would be brought to a future Committee meeting, and it was agreed that a briefing on the potential for national park status for Cotswold AONB would be presented at the next meeting.
The Committee noted the Forward Plan.
Future Meeting Dates
To note that the Committee is due to meet on the following dates in 2018:
Wednesday 14 March 2018
Wednesday 20 June 2018
Wednesday 5 September 2018
Wednesday 21 November 2018
All meetings to start at 10am (this allows meetings of the Gloucestershire Economic Growth Scrutiny Committee to take place on the same day).
The Committee noted the meeting dates for 2018.