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 were received.
To confirm the minutes of the last meetings on 18 November 2020 and 20 January 2021.
The minutes of the meetings held 18 November 2020 and 20 January 2021 were approved.
This is the final Committee of this Council term. Members may wish to suggest future items for the next Committee to consider.
No work plan suggestions were made.
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 there were detailed updates on economic recovery from each district representative at this morning’s Gloucestershire Economic Growth Joint Committee (minutes of the meetings can be viewed here).
Cllr Gina Blomefield – Cotswold District Council
The Council were focusing efforts on reopening town centres and supporting the hospitality sector through webinars (which were available to the whole of the county). Further information about the Digital Grant scheme was requested (ACTION).
Cllr Simon Pickering – Stroud District Council
Stroud had received planning approval for the infrastructure at Brimscombe Port, were out for tender for the Canal’s Strategy and were also focusing efforts on regeneration of the town centres/reopening of market towns.
Cllr Paul McCloskey – Cheltenham Borough Council
The member reiterated the sufficient update that was given on Cheltenham’s activity at the morning meeting but highlighted in particular the no child left behind initiative. This programme had been supporting families with laptop devices through the pandemic for example.
Alongside this, there was a cultural programme trying to make sure that the council focused on building back in a more inclusive and diverse way, bringing the town together to make one Cheltenham and not two.
GLOUCESTERSHIRE ECONOMIC GROWTH JOINT COMMITTEE UPDATE
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 give the Committee an update on the morning’s meeting. Members noted the following points:
· The LEP had drafted four documents to help inform and co-ordinate their employment and skills initiatives for the County and take forward the skills priorities already identified in their Local Industrial Strategy.
· An action plan has been developed to support Gloucestershire’s economic recovery, and would be supported by members of the Gloucestershire Skills Advisory Panel, co-ordinated by the LEP and GCC and implemented by partner organisations.
· The Committee endorsed for district economic development/skills leads to feed the skills strategy development and to engage with t their district representative on the Gloucestershire Skills Advisory Panel.
· A presentation was received on the activities and findings of the Growth Hub’s EU Exit outreach project within Gloucestershire. The work of the project included advisors contacting businesses to provide advice and support.
· It was understood that there was currently no funding for this project beyond the end of March 2021, however the phased plans for EU Exit meant that businesses were likely to require ongoing support until at least the end of 2021.
· Work was underway to develop an economic dashboard based on the latest economic data to monitor recovery.
· An update on the fusion project was noted, which, if successful, would be a game changer for the County as it would mean that Gloucestershire would be home to the world’s first fusion reactor.
· The Committee endorsed the Inclusivity Works Campaign and for the provision of a representative from each district to support communication on the work being carried out.
· Each district provided the Committee with an update on the work being carried out in their areas to promote and support economic recovery.
· All districts had committed in principle for the pooling of funds for the discretionary grant scheme.
· The forecast gain for the Business Rates Pool for 2021/22 was £3million, with a £600k gain to the SEDF.
6.2 Concern was raised that businesses were underprepared for Brexit and yet there were no future plans of support after the funding for the engagement project ran out at the end of the month. The member queried why the Joint Committee had not discussed a way forward for this. It was advised that one of the major problems was the lack of technical details from Govt., especially in relation to future trading with the EU. The LEP were actively talking with Govt. about continuing the resource at least until the summer, as many businesses were not ready and there were still new problems emerging.
6.3 A member highlighted concern over the ask to districts on providing resource for the Inclusivity Works. It was felt there was very little detail or briefing attached to this ask and stressed that district councils have very limited resource and It would be useful to have forewarned information on such asks.
6.4 It was explained that GCC had wanted to make ... view the full minutes text for item 6.
To consider the attached presentation and supporting report.
7.1 Pete Carr, Director of Employment and Skills for the GFirst LEP presented this item. Members received a presentation (which formed part of the agenda pack) and noted the following points:
· There was a lot of activity happening in this area, clearly focused on the county’s economic recovery from the pandemic.
· Slide 3 outlined the action plan that pulled together the four main work streams agreed by the Gloucestershire Skills Advisory Panel.
· The first work stream focused on bringing all available information together into one forum to help residents’ signpost their way through. This would include everything from redundancy to end of furlough and needing to move skill sector.
· The second reiterated ongoing work focused at apprenticeships, unemployment and redundancy for post-Covid job recovery.
· The final area of focus was building on the county’s digital and cyber skills, starting at basic level skills of using technology day to day, for example, right through to highly skilled areas such as specialised coding.
· GCC and the LEP were working with a collaboration of different stakeholders to deliver these work streams, and this was working well so far.
· There was also now a sub group of the GCC Recovery Strategy and Action Plan in operation that was focused on employment and skills. GCC had supported this work with an initial £100K and further funding was being discussed with the CCG (slide 4).
· Slide 5 summarised the work streams that were focused on young people’s development.
· The Careers Hub had now been launched which was being managed by the LEP and a group of enterprise advisers who were working directly with young people to help them make connections with local employers. Covid had had a big impact on this work stream unfortunately due to restrictions and school priorities.
· The Hub was working across all alternative provision settings, as well as mainstream schools – highlighting the need for it to be inclusive.
· Within all work streams one of the fundamental needs was to have good, up to date labour market information. Careers Coach Gloucestershire pulled together all careers information and live job vacancies into one website so users were able to understand potential job/career paths, where it could take them and then link directly to available vacancies in that area.
· Slide 6 summarised the various work streams focused at the over 50 age group.
· The skills portal was now fully operational, which brought together all local and national support available and was kept regularly updated.
· Members were encouraged to contact the team if there were any particular local initiatives that could be promoted on the site. Again this resource had been funded by GCC and being managed by the LEP.
· The redundancy taskforce were aware of a number of businesses consulting or making redundancies at the moment. With the furlough scheme being extended, it was unlikely that there would be a significant increase in redundancy numbers until the scheme ended its support.
· The task group were therefore actively working to identify those at risk ... view the full minutes text for item 7.
8.1 The Chair welcomed Sarah Danson, Director of Strategic Growth (GFirst LEP), Sam Hoad, Growth Hub Development Manager (GFirst LEP) and Katie Power, Growth and Enterprise Manager (Tewkesbury Borough Council) to present this item.
8.2 Members received a PowerPoint presentation as part of their agenda pack in advance, they noted the following points from the slides:
· The Growth Hub project was now well known and embedded within Gloucestershire since its launched in 2014. What officers hoped to show today was how the service had not just stood still since its initial launch.
· The LEP team had continued to respond to the economic surroundings and adapt the offer to businesses.
· There were now 38 Growth Hub networks across England, Gloucestershire remained a very unique offer with its 3 tier structure, offering a product that was extremely agile.
· Due to being recognised as an exemplar, the Government asked Gloucestershire teams to join a cluster of 10 leads to engage and discuss at national level. Officers were really enjoying this involvement and found it very beneficial to share good practice.
· Aside from the initial start up funding, the project was funded by the ERDF 6 year programme, which was then matched by the LEP and network partners in terms of resourcing.
· The provision in Gloucestershire had been built around a geographic network, ensuring a physical presence across the county.
· It was compromised of 3 tiers of support. Tier 1 provided specialised support via the Growth Hubs situated with the University of Gloucestershire and Royal Agriculture College. Tier 2 included the units based in Tewkesbury, the Forest of Dean, Cheltenham and Stroud. Tier 3 could be accessed through all 31 of GCC’s library sites, some of which now also included innovation lab provisions within (Slide 3).
· In addition, part of the investment went towards digital infrastructure e.g. creating a centralised website that all business navigators had access to so advice and reporting of activity was consistent across the county (Slide 4).
· The Network offered a scaled support service – everything from support with an online solution or accessing a meeting room, up to a 2 day business consultation programme (Slide 5).
· The offer from all Hubs adapted during the pandemic with many online events and support being offered virtually.
· At the beginning of the pandemic, there was very little detail to share with businesses but the team were there to listen and support where possible. There had been twice the amount of interaction than before Covid due to the number of businesses needing help during this time.
· The services had continued to move businesses towards growth and future planning support, but there were still a number of businesses struggling to get back to that stage.
· The team had also worked very closely with local authority colleagues on their Covid response to share data and information, and to make sure services were tailored as much as possible to the need.
· In line with the LEP’s Local Industrial Strategy, three new Specialised Guides had been ... view the full minutes text for item 8.
To note an update report from Colin Chick, Executive Director of Economy, Environment & Infrastructure on Economic Growth issues in the County.
9.1 Although this report was for noting, a member requested an update on the Cheltenham to Gloucester cycle route.
9.2 In Summer 2020, the London Road to Escourt road roundabout (Gloucester) section of the scheme was installed. The team were currently consulting on the section between Elmbridge and Arle Court Roundabouts.
9.3 Alongside this was the Arle Court to West Cheltenham scheme which had currently reached phases 2 and 4 onsite. This would extend the cycle route from Arle Court along the A40 into Cheltenham and then link back to the train station.
9.4 In terms of funding for the B4603 scheme, it was currently about £2m short due to new standards for cycle provision being implemented. There was also a minor issue on the section between Great Western Road and the centre of Gloucester as it needed to avoid using the underpass by the train station.
9.5 The team aimed to have the majority of the scheme finished by this time next year and it would enable residents to cycle from Gloucester hospital all the way to Cheltenham city centre on dedicated cycle route.
9 June 2021
15 September 2021
20 October 2021
17 November 2021
The Chair took this opportunity to thank members and officers for their support and input to the last 4 years of scrutiny meetings.