Venue: Cabinet Suite - Shire Hall, Gloucester. View directions
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.
Cllr Matt Babbage declared, in relation to item 5, that they worked for an energy company.
To confirm the minutes of the last meeting on 17 November 2021 and 19 January 2022.
The minutes of the meetings held on 17 November 2021 and 19 January 2022 were approved.
GLOUCESTERSHIRE ECONOMIC GROWTH JOINT COMMITTEE UPDATE
To receive a verbal update on the GEGJC meeting held earlier this month from the Chair, Cllr Tony Dale.
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:
4.1 The Chair invited Cllr Tony Dale, Chair of the Gloucestershire Economic Growth Joint Committee (GEGJC), to update the Committee on the previous GEGJC meeting. Members noted the following points:
· There was an update report on the progress of the Fastershire Strategy in Gloucestershire. It was recognised that since the pandemic, demand for high quality digital infrastructure had grown, and the Government had since raised its aspirations to deliver improved infrastructure networks capable of supporting far greater digital download speeds.
· 96.49% of homes in the county now had access to superfast broadband connectivity, however the remaining houses were the most challenging to connect.
· The Cyber Project in Cheltenham had now appointed a developer, and it was hoped the innovation centre would be ready on site in 2025.Cheltenham had been mentioned in the National Cyber Strategy 2022 from Government, and there would be an opportunity to pitch the project to the Prime Minister at a meeting in May.
· Work on the Statement of Common Ground had not progressed due to capacity issues.
· The LEP update advised that they were still waiting to hear from Government as to their function and form moving forward. The recently published Levelling Up white paper provided the first details of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund which replace the European funds previously used by the LEP for projects in Gloucestershire.
· The expected Business Rate Pool gain for 2021/22 was £4.17million, which would lead to an allocation of £833k to the SEDF. The final settlement for local government for 2022/23 had confirmed that pooling would continue, and business rates growth would not currently be reset.
· The Committee considered two requests for funding from the SEDF:
- £150,000 to launch the ‘Made in Gloucestershire’ Initiative (approved).
- £850,000 for development funding for the Central Gloucestershire Mass Transit Scheme (refused).
· Whilst the Committee was supportive of the Mass Transit System in principle, concerns were raised about the amount of funding being requested, whether this funding should come from the SEDF or elsewhere, and whether the focus should be on other projects that would have a more immediate impact for Gloucestershire.
· The next GEGJC meeting will take place on 19 May 2022 at 10am and will include items on the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, including opportunities for Gloucestershire, and a sector profile on agritech and farming in the county.
4.2 On the Broadband rollout, it was highlighted that there still remained significant pockets of connectivity issues within the towns, it was not just in remote areas. It was advised that there had been delays recently due to an ongoing dispute with Building Digital UK but now that had been resolved, issues in accessible areas should be addressed quickly. GEGJC were much more concerned about the remote, harder to reach areas.
To consider the attached background report as an introduction to this item, followed by a presentation.
5.1 Lisa McCance (Director at Shared Intelligence) introduced the item, followed by a presentation from Rachel Brain (2030 Strategy Manager at Stroud District Council), Julian Atkins (Interim Countywide Climate Change Coordinator) and Simon Pickering (Co-Chair LEP Energy Sector Group). Members noted the following points:
· The item today was in two parts, the written report reflected a summary of work that was being done across the county on a broader climate change agenda and the data which had been remodelled to give an indication of green job growth as defined by the Low Carbon Renewable Energy Economy (LCREE). Recent establishment of Climate Leadership Gloucestershire (CLG) had enabled the county to agree four key objectives, as listed in the report. Below this, there were 10 core themes, one of which was for the economy.
· The data presented in the report had followed a methodology created by the Local Government Association’s work on LCREE to understand where the green job demand was coming from by sector.
· Gloucestershire had a higher baseline for these jobs than its neighbours (shown in Fig4) but its growth in percentage terms was not anticipated to be as high.
· In absolute growth terms, this growth was expected to come from low-carbon electricity, and in percentage terms, from low-carbon services, infrastructure, and low-emission sectors. This clearly showed potential sectors that it could be worth Gloucestershire engaging more or investing more in to make the most of that growth (Fig2).
· At a district level, Gloucester was expected to have the highest proportionate of jobs, which equated to some 9,000 job opportunities, and Tewkesbury the highest proportion of growth (Fig3).
5.2 Presentation – What does ‘Green’ mean?
· There were numerous national and international groupings of businesses with a target of becoming carbon neutral by a particular date. One of the largest being ‘Race to Zero’ who collectively now cover nearly 25% global CO2 emissions and over 50% GDP. Slide 6 outlined what a business committed to when declaring a Climate Emergency, with reconfiguration being one of the most important things they can change.
· Numerous of like businesses looking to go carbon zero were coming together and working out the actions they can take collectively such as, Net-Zero Insurance Alliance, for example which would then have a larger impact on other sectors and society.
· Slide 10 showed which organisation from within CLG was leading on which core theme.
· Slides 11 showed the regional context for Gloucestershire, its strengths, and challenges in respect of climate change. LEP research in terms of the strengths, weaknesses, challenges, and opportunities for decarbonising Gloucestershire’s economy was shown on slides 12-13.
· The move towards a greener county had brought some ‘big ticket’ projects to date such as Eco Park, the Energy Park and the proposed STEP Fusion reactor. The Western Gateway has also signalled its intention to review tidal energy production in the Severn. However the county needs to consider how best to support the many small-medium businesses that exist in making the transition to net zero as well. ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
To receive a joint presentation from the GFirst LEP and GCC on this issue.
6.1 Pete Carr (Director of Employment and Skills GFirst LEP), Sarah Poultney (Head of Transformation, GCC) and Vikki Walters (Strategic Lead for Inclusive Employment, GCC) shared the following presentation and noted the following key points:
· Slide 3 highlighted key figures and trends within youth unemployment data.
· Slide 4-10 illustrated graphs that supported the figures and trends in slide 3.
· Slide 11 highlighted the main challenges for young people who were unemployed, which included anxiety, lack of confidence, social isolation, wider mental health impacts and financial pressures.
· Slide 12 included a spoken account from a young person’s experience of unemployment who was working at GCC through the Kickstart scheme.
· Slide 13-15 highlighted various support and programmes available to young people.
· Slide 16 explained further developments that GCC were working on which would require member support. The officer explained that funding had been secured for some of the work streams, but other projects were on a temporarily funded basis. Therefore, they would need to prioritise projects due to funding gaps, unless more funding was secured.
· Slide 17 highlighted that they would be taking discussions forward with the Child Friendly Gloucestershire Coalition and encouraged members to let them know if there were any areas they would like a ‘deep dive’ into in future Scrutiny meetings.
Action Pete Carr to share video with members of young people explaining their experience of unemployment
6.2 A member asked that when looking at NEET (young people Not in Education, Employment, or Training) data, whether it was analysed through protected characteristics and were there any initiatives that focused on supporting those with protected characteristics.
6.3 The officer explained that the data was not specifically broken-down in this way, however within some current projects there was data that did enable some analysis of protected characteristics. However, it was more targeted at whether a young person was at risk of becoming NEET.
6.4 It was further questioned how GCC was encouraging and supporting employers to not put unnecessary barriers in the way of NEET and whether there was good engagement with employers across the different sectors.
6.5 The question was welcomed, and the officer agreed this type of engagement was fundamental. There were several businesses they were already working with as part of the employment charter, but there needed to be many more. The engagement would cover matching work experience, practice interviews, career events etc. between schools and local employers. It also tied in with the inclusive employment agenda, which included an ‘inclusive employer award’ specific to Gloucestershire, which involved employers making a commitment to improve and open up recruitment practices to becoming fully inclusive to encourage people from all protected characteristics. It was added that this would be taken forward by the Employment and Skills Hubs and employers would be audited annually to ensure compliance.
6.6 A member raised that the statistics for employee groups other than NEETS, such as the 25-34 and 35-44, were actually experiencing the slowest return to pre-pandemic levels and potentially needed focused intervention ... view the full minutes text for item 6.
To review the committee work plan and suggest items for consideration at future meetings.
7.1 A member suggested an item on transport decarbonisation and the Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP). The cabinet member advised that timescales for the BSIP had been tight, had changed multiple times and therefore it was tricky to accommodate discussions at scrutiny within the current timescales. The cabinet member suggested that instead, there would be value in a discussion at a later stage. The partnership agreement and plan were reviewed annually and therefore it would be best to see what emerges in line with annual reviews.
7.2 In terms of the transport decarbonisation issue, it was advised that this Committee had been invited to join the Environment Committee on 24 May 2022 to consider this as a joint item.
7.3 There was a discussion about the Scrutiny Committees link with the Gloucestershire Economic Growth Joint Committee. It was advised that Scrutiny members were encouraged to review papers and attend/view the Joint Committee meetings. There would always be an overview update from the Chair to Scrutiny on the previous meetings discussions and outcomes. During work planning, members can suggest items linked to the Joint Committee for Scrutiny to look into in more detail.
7.4 It was agreed that Democratic Services would explore ways to make this clearer on the agenda for Scrutiny, and also look at the possibility of including a work plan for the Joint Committee meetings.