Agenda and minutes

Gloucestershire Economic Growth Scrutiny Committee
Wednesday 20 March 2019 2.00 pm

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

Contact: Jo Moore - 01452 324196 

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies

To note any apologies for absence.

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Cllrs Sajid Patel, Joe Harris, Bruce Hogan and Martin Whiteside.

2.

Declarations of Interest

Members of the committee are invited to declare any pecuniary or personal interests relating to specific matters on the agenda.

 

Please see note (a) at the end of the agenda.

 

Minutes:

No declarations of interest were made.

3.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 118 KB

To confirm and sign the minutes of the meeting held on:

 

a)         5 September 2018

b)         14 February 2019

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The minutes of the meetings held on both 5 September 2018 and 14 February 2019 were approved and signed by the Chair.

6.

Brexit

Members of the Committee to receive a verbal update from the GFirst LEP on local activities relating to Brexit from an economic perspective.

Minutes:

6.1       There was a request from the Chair to change the running order of the agenda, therefore item 6 ‘Brexit’ was taken first.

 

6.2       Over the past year, several members of the Committee have expressed concern over the lack of information available on how the County might be preparing for the impact on the economic climate of Gloucestershire, following the outcome of Brexit.

 

6.3       The Chair opened the item by seeking a view from the Chair of the Economic Growth Joint Committee, Cllr Stowe.

 

6.4       Members were advised that at the moment, the uncertainty surrounding Brexit means they did not have enough information to be able to start preparation works. It was stressed that historically, the right decision had been taken by the Joint Committee to not ‘waste’ public resources on preparing for something that was constantly changing. To date, It remained extremely difficult to know how best to prepare.

 

6.5       The Committee were informed that preparations are being considered by the Gloucestershire Local Resilience Forum through risk discussions.

 

6.6       Cllr Stowe shared his frustrations with the Committee but reiterated that before the Joint Committee could begin any preparation works, they needed to be clear about what they were preparing for.

 

6.7       The Chair next invited Deputy Chief Executive of the GFirst LEP, Dev Chakraborty, to give an update on the LEP’s local activities relating to Brexit.

 

6.8       Members heard there is a general feeling of frustration and unease with local businesses at the moment, again due to the unclear picture and being unable to begin preparations.

 

6.9       A recent report from Deloitte surveyed 110 Chief Financial Officers whose organisations had a combined value of £390 billion. The results showed business confidence at a 10 year low, with 80% saying that the business enviroment would be worse as a result of Brexit. Their current focus was cutting costs, not recruiting and boosting cash flow.

 

6.10    The British Chamber of Commerce have produced a ‘Business Brexit Risk Register’. This reflected a list of concerns from businesses and a RAG rating on each as to whether the current Brexit proposals solved those issues. The Committee heard that the majority of these concerns remained ‘red-rated’.

 

6.11    The LEP have carried out a number of surveys through the Growth Hub which the Committee were informed have reflected some of the following views:

 

How will Brexit impact your business?

·         It already has: increased costs, reduced profits, volatile currency, availability of labour,

·         Increased admin and red tape for EU trading

·         Reduced customer spending

·         Availability of imports

·         No idea

·         Brexit will have less impact than the current uncertainty is having

·         Potential closure of business

 

Are you currently doing anything to prepare?

·         Relocate/reregister in EU

·         Stockpiling

·         Refocus on overseas markets

·         Selling more to UK

·         Nothing

 

Top rated business priorities right now:

·         Cash flow

·         Innovation

·         Risk Management (Currency)

·         Sourcing UK Products

·         Stockpiling

 

6.12    Members were advised that the gov.uk website contains a good amount of information for businesses. The page also has a tool where users can filter their  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

5.

Gloucestershire Economic Growth Joint Committee Update

Members of the Committee are invited to comment on the issues considered at the Gloucestershire Economic Growth Joint Committee meeting held earlier the same day.

 

Scrutiny members are invited to attend this meeting in an observer capacity.

 

Please refer to the following link to view the agenda and supporting documents for the Gloucestershire Economic Growth Joint Committee meeting held on 20th March 2019: http://glostext.gloucestershire.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=725&MId=9093&Ver=4

 

Please refer to the following link for information on the GFirst Local Enterprise Partnership: https://www.gfirstlep.com/

 

Minutes:

5.1       Cllr Stowe, Chair of the Economic Growth Joint Committee gave a brief overview of the morning meeting. Scrutiny Committee members were invited to attend Joint Committee meetings in an observer capacity. Please refer to the link below to view the agenda and supporting documents for the Economic Growth Joint Committee meeting held on the morning of 20 March 2019:

 

http://glostext.gloucestershire.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=725&MId=9093&Ver=4

 

5.2       The Committee received a document from the GFirst LEP: ‘Gloucestershire Sustainable Energy Strategy’. Members were informed that the LEP were seeking feedback on the strategy and that there will be an official launch at Gloucester Growth Hub on May 21st 2019.

 

5.3       Members questioned the remit and engagement of the Gloucestershire Nature Partnership. There was concern this was not made clear in the morning’s presentation and members requested a brief to explain the statutory position of the Partnership.

 

ACTION: MIKE DAWSON

 

5.4       There was a discussion about how the ‘Green Infrastructure Pledge’ sits with the ‘Barriers to Development Action Plan’. Officers advised that these two documents related to separate actions. The Barriers to Development plan was very much looking at the process of making planning applications, and trying to make this more simple and consistent for developers.

 

5.5       A member suggested that it would still be worth considering the impact of the Pledge as it may be that one of the issues with the process is applications being received, that do not match up to the Pledge and thus being unsuitable for development.

4.

Future working of the Committee

The statutory scrutiny officer to provide a verbal update on the draft scrutiny review report, which will be presented to the Overview Scrutiny Management Committee on 22nd March 2019.

Minutes:

4.1       Simon Harper, Statutory Scrutiny Officer, introduced the scrutiny review that has been taking place in recent months.

 

4.2       Members noted that a Peer Challenge in June 2018 identified the need to ensure effective and transparent challenge by reviewing the structure, and impact, of the Council’s scrutiny arrangements.

 

4.3       Following consideration on 28 September 2018 at the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee, members were invited to attend and participate in three workshops led by Ann Reeder from the Centre for Public Scrutiny.

 

4.3       The Committee heard that a number of key principles had been identified during the workshops, including:

 

·         The need for ‘parity of esteem’ between executive and scrutiny members. The executive should be open to scrutiny, recognising that this relies on effective working relationships and trust on both sides.

·         Scrutiny committees should be non-political and constructively challenge the ‘issues’ and outcomes, rather than act as a mechanism for scoring political points.

·         Effective scrutiny does not act as a rubber stamp but rather needs to set its own agenda. This means that scrutiny should not be directed by the Cabinet or full Council.

 

4.4       A new draft scrutiny structure was outlined to the Committee. Members heard the current suggestion was to merge this Committee with the Environment aspect of the Environment and Communities Committee, with a new Communities Committee being established.

 

4.5       It had been the view of members that infrastructure and environment issues sat neatly together; it was seen to be rare when members could discuss one, without mentioning the other. This suggestion was also seen as a positive for this Committee as it would widen its remit and strengthen its standing.

 

4.6       Some members expressed concern that when joining two Committees with large agendas, there was always a risk that one would begin to take precedent over the other. In response, members were advised this risk had been recognised but ultimately it would come back to effective work planning by the Committee to make sure this didn’t happen.

 

4.7       There were also views expressed in support of the potential new arrangement. Some members had always felt this Committee struggled to extend its remit within narrow terms of reference.

 

4.8       The Committee had a lengthy discussion regarding the role of co-opted district members if this suggestion was implemented, as well as any potential impact on the Intra-Authority Agreement signed between GCC and the district councils on the creation of this joint committee.

 

4.9       Members were advised that this suggested structure was still in draft form and it is due to be debated at full Council on 27th March 2019. Once the County Council had agreed a way forward, there would be further consultation with the district leaders to ascertain a procedure going forward, if required.

 

7.

Work Plan

To note the committee work plan and suggest items for consideration at future meetings.

Minutes:

7.1       Members first discussed further scrutiny of Vision 2050, specifically in relation to the Cotswold Water Park. It was advised that at the moment, the district councils and GCC are facilitating further discussions on the ‘big six ideas’. As these discussions are still live, it was suggested Vision 2050 would not be a timely agenda item for the next Committee meeting. It was therefore agreed a short update report would be circulated to members in the meantime.

 

ACTION: MIKE DAWSON

 

7.2       The Committee requested an agenda item on ‘Future of the High Street’ in light of the Government funding applications which were due in from each district by 22nd March 2019. Members agreed that each district can feedback to the Committee on their bids at the next Committee meeting in June 2019.

 

7.3       It was advised that the Local Industrial Strategy is due to be published by March 2020, and therefore it would be useful for the Committee to look at this at their meeting in September 2019.

 

7.4       The Chair suggested it may be useful for the Committee to have a refresher on the role of the GFirst LEP, as well as an updated list from the LEP and GCC officers on potential areas that the Committee may wish to consider in the coming year. Members agreed if they had a list of topics with crucial timings on decisions etc. this would be very helpful to have alongside future work planning.

 

ACTION: MIKE DAWSON/GFIRST LEP

 

7.5       It was also recognised by the Committee that once the Council is clear on the recommendations for the scrutiny review, it would be useful to have a separate work planning meeting with officers, under any new arrangements which may arise out of the review.