Venue: Committee Room - Shire Hall, Gloucester. View directions
Contact: Laura Powick
To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 9th February 2023
2.1 The minutes of the meeting held on the 9th February 2023 were signed by the chair.
Declarations of Interest
To receive any pecuniary or personal interests by members.
3.1 Cllr Richard Cook declared an interest as he sat on the board of the Gfirst LEP. He agreed to leave the room for item 5, the SEDF LEP bid and abstain from voting.
Aligning Gloucestershire's Food and Farming Policies
To approve the recommendation to allocate £20,000 of Strategic Economic Development Fund funding to the Countryside and Community Research Institute to research and map farming and food-related policies in the County.
4.1 Paul James explained that following a meeting of the Senior Officer Group, the Farming bid had been deferred to a future GEGJC meeting.
To approve the second tranche of SEDF core matched funding for GFirst LEP for 2023/24
5.1 Dev Chakraborty, GFirst LEP, presented this bid. He explained that the first tranche of funding had been approved by this Committee for £125,000 in November and that this second tranche had been held back until it was clear what the Government’s core funding was going to be and until it was clear that the Business Rates Pool would have sufficient funds.
5.2 A member asked whether the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) would be with the County Council and whether this Committee would see the objectives set out by the MOU. It was explained that it would be with the County Council and that it could be shared with the committee once it was signed.
5.3 It was noted that Stroud’s representative had been omitted from the membership in the published template of the bid and that the template referred to the Capital Investment Pipeline which no longer existed.
ACTION – Officers to correct both errors.
The item was voted for in favour unanimously.
To receive a report on National Grid’s Visual Impact Provision project in the Cotswolds National Landscape
6.1 Robbie Griggs, Mohammed Farooq and Stuart Fox, National Grid, gave a presentation on the National Grid Visual Impact Provision project. They outlined that the Cotswolds area of Natural Beauty had significant lengths of National Grid overhead lines and a 7km route comprising of 20 pylons had been identified for replacement with underground cables. The project was in its early stages. Engineers were looking at front-end designs and construction access points, while stakeholder meetings and community engagement events were being held. Construction was planned to start from 2025/26. The topography, potential for archaeological findings and the need to avoid disruption in the local area, in particular for walkers, represented key challenges. It was explained that as part of the project, a Community Grant Programme would provide grants of up to £20,000 for projects that would provide a community benefit. It was also explained that local suppliers and expertise would be used where possible.
6.2 In response to a question about the depth and signage for the underground cabling, it was explained that the cables would be about 1.5 metres underground, potentially in a ducted system which had several layers of protection from the cables to the surface. There would also be warning tape underground and small markers on boundaries and crossings to indicate that there was underground cabling. Landowners would also be made fully aware of the location of the cables.
6.3 A member asked for more detail about the reinstatement of the land after construction. It was explained that it would be done in conjunction with the landowner’s wishes. In previous projects, crops have been growing on the land within a year and they aimed for a minimum of 10% biodiversity net gain at the end of the project. In a previous project in the Peak District, they had achieved an 18% biodiversity net gain.
6.4 There was concern raised by members and officers over the extent of the construction and its impact on the environment. It was explained that the temporary haul road put in place would use techniques that reduced the amount of stone used. The road was there to avoid construction vehicles putting strain on public roads as large volumes of material would need to be transported as part of the project.
6.5 It was noted that the County Council and District Councils were on the stakeholder reference group, but officers were not able to give full details of who represented them at meetings with the National Grid team.
ACTION – Stuart Fox and Simon Excell to discuss District and County Council co-ordination with the National Grid project team.
6.6 A member asked about the cost of the project and about where the funding came from. It was explained that a detailed costing had not yet been completed but there had been a project in Dorset on a slightly longer line of cable that had cost around £116 million. The officers explained that there was £465 million set aside by Ofgem for these types of project ... view the full minutes text for item 6.
To receive a report on the Cirencester-Kemble Transport Study.
7.1 Hannah Fountain, Sustainable Transport Officer, gave this presentation. £65,000 of SEDF funding had been provided to explore transport links primarily from Cirencester to Kemble as well as exploring wider transport links for Cirencester. Roughly 2/3 of the funding had been spent so far across three study areas:
Two locations for the transport hub had been identified and a 9am-7pm scheduled hourly bus service that aligned with rail services had emerged as the recommendation for the Cirencester-Kemble public transport provision.
7.2 Two further studies are expected to be completed by late summer:
1. Study of Education transport in Cirencester
2. Access and Movement study for Cirencester
7.3 It was asked whether they considered including Wiltshire in the study. The officer explained that they did evaluate including Malmesbury and the recommended option 7 did have flexibility in the timetable to extend the service.
7.4 A member also expressed a wish that this kind of study would be run in the Forest of Dean to link up towns with the hospital that had recently moved.
7.5 In response to a question about a bus service between Tetbury and Cirencester it was explained that there was a bus service, but it was infrequent, was not aligned with the rail service and did not operate long enough through the day. There was some uncertainty over the exact operation of the current bus provision.
ACTION – DSU to share information regarding the current Tetbury-Cirencester bus connections when the minutes are published.
7.6 There was considerable discussion whether this study was necessary, whether the money that had gone into the study had been appropriately spent and whether it had been conceived to support a pre-determined preference for a Very Light Rail (VLR) service. It was explained that the Department for Transport had accepted the strategic outline business case for the VLR and had provided funding for further business case assessment. This study was authorised to evaluate alternatives to the VLR proposal and it was important to make an objective measure of the available options. The money for the study had gone into projects beyond just the Cirencester-Kemble transport link so was delivering on planning for several projects and the study proposal had been supported by the County Council.
7.7 The Cabinet member for Education, Skills and Bus Transport explained that a two-bus operation like the one recommended in the report would likely cost £700,000 and that would not feasibly sit within the bus subsidy budget. It was suggested that a single bus provision might fit within the current bus operating budget.
7.8 A member noted that the National Model for funding bus services was not working sufficiently, particularly for rural areas, and asked whether extending the evidence-based approach from this study had been explored for other areas. It was explained that bus operators had been engaged as part of the study and the study did involve developing a ... view the full minutes text for item 7.
To receive an update on the work of the GFirst LEP.
8.1 Dev Chakraborty gave an update on LEP funded projects.
To note the updates to the GCC Economic Dashboard.
This report is to be taken as read.
9.1 Katherine Martin, Data and Analysis Manager, highlighted some of the key points from this report. It was noted that the number of people applying for benefits had increased to 5.3% and this was looking like a trend rather than an anomaly. This had also been observed on a national level. It was also noted that job postings were at a record high and were driven predominantly by jobs that required middling experience.
9.2 There was some discussion around whether the number of benefits claimants and economically inactive people would fill the available job postings. It was explained that whilst the gap could be filled in theory, not all those of the economically inactive cohort were looking for work.
9.3 It was also explained that it was difficult to make a distinction by industry as, for many job postings, it was unclear what industry the job belonged to. It was also explained that on the 28th March 2023 a break-down of the economically inactive cohort would be given and with that GCC would have a better idea of where the problems were and how to approach them.
9.4 There was interest around the skill level of the job postings mostly requiring just a small amount of work experience. It was questioned whether it was worth re-engaging with schemes like the Government’s Kick-Start Programme to make job seekers in the County sufficiently desirable to most employers.
10.1 The forward work plan was noted
To note the dates of future meetings in 2023;
30th May 2023
7th September 2023
11.1 The dates of future meetings were noted