Agenda and minutes

Gloucestershire Economic Growth Scrutiny Committee - Wednesday 20 January 2021 1.30 pm

No. Item


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.



No declarations of interest were received.



To confirm the minutes of the last meeting on 18 November 2020.




Members were advised that the minutes had not yet been finalised ready for publication in time for the meeting. These would therefore be considered at the Committee meeting in March.


Work Plan pdf icon PDF 46 KB

To review the committee work plan for March 2020.


4.1       Members noted the scheduled items for the March 2021 meeting and the Chair requested any suggestions for future consideration. It was confirmed that any suggestions now would be added to the future items list for the new Committee, after the May 2021 elections, to consider if they wished.


4.2       It was suggested that the next Committee may wish to look at an item on the Additional Restrictions Grant (discretionary scheme) which formed part of central Government’s Covid response support package for businesses.


District Member Feedback

District representatives on the Committee are encouraged to use this standing item to feedback on key economic growth points/issues/actions from their respective councils.


Members noted that Gloucester City Council were due to consider a constitutional change to outline a formal feedback procedure for membership to outside bodies back to the rest of the City Council members. This would therefore cover district membership to this Committee and improve the communication between GCC scrutiny and district councils.



To receive a verbal update on the GEGJC meeting held earlier the same

day from the Chair, Cllr Patrick Molyneux.


Please refer to the published forward plan of the GEGJC to suggest any

items you may want to consider at a future meeting of the Scrutiny Committee.


Scrutiny members are invited to attend the GEGJC meeting in an observer

capacity. Please refer to the following link to view the agenda and

supporting documents for the GEGJC meeting:



6.1       The Chair invited Cllr Patrick Molyneux, Chair of the Gloucestershire Economic Growth Joint Committee (GEGJC), to present this item and Members noted the following points:


·         GEGJC members had recognised the importance of developing a digital strategy for the County, which was separate to the Cyber Central project but ran alongside it.

·         The overall direction of the draft Statement of Common Ground was agreed and the Committee asked the Senior Officer Group to have a more detailed look at the content. A final version would then be shared back with GEGJC for agreement.

·         The GCC Covid-19 recovery action plan had now been costed and would be considered at Cabinet on 27 January 2021. It included a funding request of £500k per annum to drive the areas identified for action. The situation remained very fluid with many areas remaining in response mode; however the Committee were satisfied with the progress made so far towards recovery.

·         The County’s S151 Officer Group had been considering options for pooling some of the Additional Restrictions Grant (Discretionary scheme), which formed part of central Government’s Covid support package to businesses. The group had since received notification from MHCLT that they could only pull grant applications for one of the proposed ideas (helping SMEs online). The Committee therefore stressed that these discretionary funds needed to be used in the most effective way for the businesses that really needed the support to make it through the pandemic.

·         Members approved two SEDF funding requests; one for the City Region Board and the other for Cyber and Digital Growth in Gloucestershire.

·         On the forward plan, there was a request for an update on the initial impacts of Brexit in the county.

6.2       Due to the very strong interest of GCC, the district councils and this scrutiny committee in digital connectivity, a member queried whether the development of the digital strategy would be a good piece of work for scrutiny to become involved in.


6.3       It was advised that the action taken away from this morning’s meeting was for the Senior Officer Group to do some further work on identifying what this strategy would look like, there was still quite a bit of work to be done first, but this Committee would definitely be involved at some point in that process.


6.4       It was reinforced that this strategy needed to run alongside but separately to the development of Cyber Central as it went a lot wider than just Cyber. The Govt. digital strategy for example, contained 7 different strands, one of which was about cyber security. There were 6 other strands focused on the wider issues of digital.


6.5       Noting members were due to discuss the governance of the GFirst LEP later in this meeting, it was questioned what the governance arrangements and relationship with scrutiny were for the new City Region Board. Members understood that it had now started to play a role in making significant decisions and spending public money and were therefore keen to be very clear  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Social Mobility pdf icon PDF 2 MB

To receive a verbal update on the social mobility group work and a presentation from the Power of 3 initiative.


Additional documents:


7.1       This item included two separate reports; the Chair first introduced Jon McGinty, Managing Director of Gloucester City Council, to give an update on the social mobility group work. Members viewed a presentation (copy attached) and noted the following points:


·         There was no universally accepted definition of what we mean by social mobility. In overall terms, we would describe it as making sure everyone had an opportunity to build a good life for themselves regardless of their background or every individual having a fair chance of reaching their potential.

·         Whilst it was generally accepted that some level of social mobility had a positive impact on society, there was also no universally accepted benchmark to measure against in terms of how much was good or bad.

·         It was widely acknowledged by society that unfortunately where you start in life still had a big impact on where you ended up e.g. in terms of your income, class or geography.

·         The Social Mobility Commission was a non-departmental public agency of Govt. which had been created under the Life Chances Act 2010.

·         In 2017, the Commission produced a report, Social Mobility in Great Britain which, for the first time, defined a list of 16 indicators to measure social mobility which they used to rank every local authority area in the UK.

·         The report showed that only one area in Gloucestershire (Stroud) ranked within the top 20% of authorities for having good social mobility. Three areas in the county ranked in the bottom 20%.

·         Following a meeting of Leadership Gloucestershire in 2018, it was agreed that a task group would be set up to look into these findings. A group was formed which included representatives from across the county’s authorities and organisations.

·         The first slide showed a brief timeline of the work that was undertook. It was noted however that the progress was slow as all participants were doing so in addition to their normal job.

·         Between 2019-2020 the group carried out various pieces of analysis and research, including visiting other areas of the country that had some success in tackling aspects of social mobility.

·         Towards the end of 2019, the group were able to secure some resource in the form of a researcher from GCC to start an initial review of all the indicators, with a view of then narrowing in on a smaller set of indicators where the group would carry out a deep dive and produce some recommendations.

·         In early 2020, following this initial review, the group agreed to focus on the following three areas:

o   Early years interventions and activities;

o   Key Stage 3 issues in educational terms; and

o   Youth, and progress to higher educational phases.

·         Unfortunately, the group met on 11 March 2020 which was when Covid hit and the work had not progressed since then. The researcher from GCC was a public health officer so that support was also lost.

·         In September 2020, the Commission produced a new report (The Long Shadow of Deprivation) which looked  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


Local housing pdf icon PDF 106 KB

To note an update report on the strategic and local plans in the County. The same report has been presented to the Gloucestershire Economic Growth Joint Committee at its last meeting.


8.1       Mike Dawson, Chair of the GEGJC Senior Officer Group, advised members that the attached report was an annual update which drew together states of play across all districts in terms of strategic plan positions and future developments, covering a wide range of issues from housing to transport. It was the same report that the GEGJC considered at their last meeting so members were mindful some of the information may be out of date.


8.2       The Committee noted the report, but it was highlighted that the table under 7.1 of the report was now incorrect due to the newly issued housing numbers from Government.


Taxi Licensing Task Group report pdf icon PDF 203 KB

To receive a verbal update on the work of the Taxi Licensing task group. A copy of the group’s final report is attached for the Committees consideration.


9.1       Cllr Kate Haigh, as Chair of the Taxi Licensing Task Group, introduced the report and members noted the following points:


·         The task group was set up by this Committee and the report had been considered at the GEGJC meeting this morning. As scrutiny would normally consider task group reports first, members of the GEGJC were aware that if there were any comments or amendments coming out of this meeting, it would be fed back to them before any recommendations were acted on.

·         As taxi and vehicle licensing in the county was a responsibility of the district council, the GEGJC seemed the most appropriate platform for the recommendations to be presented, as all the leaders of the districts were members of the GEGJC and could therefore take the recommendations back to their respective council. There were some recommendations that came within GCC’s responsibility so this report would also be presented to Cabinet the following week.

·         The task group had some very wide ranging discussions as taxi and vehicle licensing affected a number of areas, not just the licensing aspects and these were always considered in a Gloucestershire-wide context.

·         The ambition of the task group arose from the economic contribution of in the taxi and licensing trade and the potential major impacts of changes coming through the system on how that trade worked in the future, for example, app based private hire.

·         District councils were within their right to have different approaches to how they manage this process but there was experience around the country of some authorities who suffered from neighbouring authorities having different standards for example, allowing licenses where they had been revoke under another local authority, but drivers returning to operate in the town/city where they had been disqualified.

·         There were increasing examples in other parts of the country where drivers were working in larger cities that were sometimes thousands of miles away from where they had been awarded their license.

·         The group tried to adopt a medium pressure approach across the areas considered, in order to not disadvantage the more rural areas who suffered different impacts compared to the urban towns.

·         An example was given here of the inevitable move to electric vehicles within the trade that may have a bigger impact in our rural communities who already suffered from a lack of availability.

·         The recommendation for all authorities to sign up to the NR3 offered a really good tool for licensing officers to see if there were any red flags when considering new drivers for licenses.

·         The group hoped these recommendations were a good step to having a joined up approach across the county that would benefit our economy and residents.

9.2       Another member of the task group informed the Committee that the work undertaken really highlighted to the differing challenges across our urban and rural areas, and also the need to take some of the existing initiatives even further, such as disability access and electric vehicle take up. It was also appreciated that all of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.


Governance of the LEP pdf icon PDF 46 KB


10.1    David Owen, Chief Executive of the GFirst LEP, took the report as read and added that the LEP had enjoyed a really excellent relationship with GCC as the Accountable Body for a number of years now. It effectively ensures the money of the LEP Board was being spent in the right way, and the Section 151 officer now attended the LEP Board meeting which was a positive step.


10.2    It was relatively unusual for LEP’s to have the level of engagement we have in Gloucestershire through different bodies such as the Health and Wellbeing Board, the City Region Board and Leadership Gloucestershire. This had a really positive impact on cross working throughout the county and allowed the LEP to have early understanding and engagement on economic growth issues.


10.3    A member raised concern regarding a project that had been awarded EU funding facilitated by the LEP that had not delivered what it had set out to. It was reassured that the LEP held all of its projects to account monthly, quarterly and annually in great detail, right from the beginning. The member was asked to contact the officer offline to look further into the specific project they were concerned about. The programme management group also met very regularly and a lot of its work focused on holding projects to account and dealing with any arising issues.


ACTION:       Mally Findlater


Post meeting note: Following the meeting the member emailed the LEP with the details of the project she was asking about. It was confirmed that this was one funded under the EAFRD strand of ESIF funding. In this strand, the LEP has a very limited role in commenting on the strategic fit and value for money of projects that come forward for consideration. They do not select, fund or monitor any projects thereafter. This is done by MHCLG. Contact details were provided.


10.4    LEP officers asked for the Committee to provide a direction on what they would like to look into on this topic as there was a plethora of information that could be shared. The Chair confirmed that an executive summary would be useful on how the LEP performed over the last financial year with its allocated funding.


10.5    A member advised that a growing concern among many was the concept of ethical investing (which manifested itself in a philosophy called Economic Social Governance) i.e. people did not want their money being investment in fossil fuels for example. It was questioned whether this issue was on the LEP’s radar in terms of their partnership in projects and also encouraging other businesses in Gloucestershire to do the same.


10.6    In response, members noted that the LEP did not hold any money or directly invest any itself. The funding from Govt. for projects was held by the Accountable Body. The Board was however actively looking into how its decision making, and its ability to influence other businesses making their decisions, could be improved by further knowledge and understanding of the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.


Executive Director's Report pdf icon PDF 110 KB

To note an update report from Colin Chick, Executive Director of  Economy, Environment & Infrastructure on Economic Growth issues in the County.


11.1    The Committee noted that given the magnitude of the recent flood events in the county (over the 2020 festive period), the flood team at GCC responded incredibly well and were then non-stop right through January as well, due to the increased need for gritting afterwards. 


11.2    The flooding experienced was of a very different nature to what Gloucestershire normally had as it resulted from surface water run off, not fluvial flooding from overflowing rivers. Four weeks worth of rain for that time of year fell in 24 hours, on top of some of the wettest months beforehand, meaning the ground was just too saturated to absorb anymore rainfall. The team were currently building up a database of where the flooding happened, to look at how and where they could carry out improvements for the future. This would not however provide an easy or predictable solution for the future due to the ‘perfect storm’ circumstances that were at play and the fact the flooding was largely due to surface water run-off which with the right conditions can occur almost anywhere.