Venue: Cabinet Suite - Shire Hall, Gloucester. View directions
Contact: Sophie Benfield
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 made.
To confirm and sign the minutes of the meeting held on 4 September 2019 and the Joint Meeting with the Environment Scrutiny Committee on 18 September 2019.
The minutes of the meetings held on both 4 September 2019 and 18 September 2019 were approved and signed by the Chair.
To review the committee work plan and suggest items for consideration at future meetings.
8.1 The Chair requested, inline with the Council’s recent Scrutiny Review, that the work plan item to be considered first going forward.
8.2 Members confirmed the items as previously planned for the first two meetings in 2020.
8.3 On requesting any further items for considered, a member questioned whether there would be a second scrutiny item on the Local Transport Plan post its public consultation. Officers advised they were due to take an update to Cabinet on 20th December which they will share with this Committee. If there are significant questions after this, a further item can be considered.
ACTION: SIMON EXCELL
To receive a presentation from Mobile UK, the trade body for mobile network operators, on the current mobile market and future connectivity plans.
5.1 The Chair requested to take item 5 first and invited Hamish Macleod, Director of Mobile UK, to present this item covering the 5G and 4G programmes and what localities can do to support the mobile network. Mobile UK is the trade association for 4 of the UK’s mobile network operators - EE, O2, Three and Vodafone.
5.2 The Committee heard that there are currently 90 million mobile connections in the UK and following the launch of 4G in 2012, 90% of the traffic on the network was now data as opposed to voice.
5.3 Referencing the topic of health issues relating to 5G, Members were shown a picture of an Electro Magnetic Spectrum which highlighted the difference in frequency of mobile phone signals compared to visible light.
5.4 It was advised that mobile frequencies were governed by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) Guidelines which provided scientific advice and guidance for the design and use of mobile phone masts and Wi-Fi, for example.
5.5 These guidelines were currently going through a refresh process with a new version due in 2020.
5.6 Members were shown a screenshot images from a BBC news channel programme ‘Click’ which looked into the health effects of 5G. Slides 4 and 5 showed two different frequency readings at a 30cm distance to a 3m distance away from the transmitter. The probe showed a significant drop in frequency levels from 551.6% to 6.23% the further away the probe was from the transmitter. A further decrease was shown in slide 6.
5.7 It was informed that the 5G connection had much higher data rates and capacity on the network, which had been struggling since the significant increase in traffic from 2012. It also had Lower Latency (reaction times), which could support specialised and mission critical applications and would have a significant innovative impact.
5.8 Members heard that West Midlands ambulance have already installed 5G in their vehicles allowing doctors to already begin treatment on patients on their way to hospital.
5.9 The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport set up a number of ‘Testbeds’ in 2017 in a range of geographic areas to explore the benefits and challenges of deploying 5G. Linking to Gloucestershire, it was reassured that a number of these ‘Testbeds’ were in rural areas.
5.10 As previously noted, 4G was still being rolled out in some areas. The Committee heard that in October, a joint enterprise was announced with the Government called the Shared Rural Network (SRN). This made £1 billion available to address issues faced in rural areas by poor mobile phone coverage.
5.11 It was expected to bring a significant improvement of 4G access and take coverage of all 4 providers (o2, Three, EE and Vodafone) to 95% by 2025. This would be achieved by opening up and sharing existing masts and infrastructure between the providers.
5.12 It was explained that all parties reacted well to the announcement and it on track to be up and running post ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
GLOUCESTERSHIRE ECONOMIC GROWTH JOINT COMMITTEE (GEGJC) 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:
4.1 The Chair invited Cllr Patrick Molyneux as Chair of the Joint Economic Growth Committee to give members an update on the mornings meeting.
(Papers for the meeting can be viewed at the following link: http://glostext.gloucestershire.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=725&MId=9096&Ver=4)
4.2 For the meetings first section, the Committee heard a summary of four presentations that were received as follows:
Fastershire Broadband Programme
· The Joint Committee had received an update on the programme delivery to date, and were advised that a revision of the current strategy to 2022 would be brought to Cabinet in December for approval. This would include a new stage 5 procurement approach.
· It highlighted the up to date statistics and percentages of coverage from fibre to premise per district area, as well as highlighting those areas that still need to be enabled with faster broadband coverage.
· For the revised 2019-2022 strategy delivery plans, it was advised that it will focus on a more flexible approach of delivering solutions for those properties in rural areas that have no enabled.
Public Health Annual Report
· Linking public health to economic growth and the future of the county.
· Highlighting the ‘health and wealth cycle’; which suggested that being in good employment was good for health and what is good for health, is also good for business.
· Understanding health inequalities in the county and the need to work towards inclusive growth.
Local Nature Partnership Infrastructure Policy Pledge
· The Gloucestershire Local Nature Partnership has already created a Nature Recovery Network map which is a habitat connectivity and biodiversity map
· The next stage would be to add data on ecosystem services and economic data to create a Natural Capital Baseline Map to identify the environmental constraints and opportunities in relation to growth side by side.
· This map would act as a robust, integrated evidence base for planners, enabling better, quicker decision making about proposed developments and strategic allocations.
· The Committee heard this is another example of Gloucestershire being on the forefront of environmental issues.
Cyber Central Update
· This covered aspirations for the site going forward, the project needs to create an evidence of what it will deliver for the county and its economy.
· It is a project that fits well with the aspirations of Gloucestershire as a whole and the Local Industrial Strategy being produced by the GFirst LEP.
4.3 Members were informed that there had been two requests for funding approved from the Business Rates Pool which were; the Rail Investment Strategy and Cyber Central Project. The Joint Committee had agreed to defer the funding decision for both the City Region Board and the Natural Capital Mapping pending further information. An additional meeting would be arranged in January 2020, to consider these requests, as well as to consider agenda item’s 9 and 10 which were deferred due to time constraints.
4.4 Members of the Scrutiny Committee expressed their concern on issues they observed at the Joint Committee meeting that morning. Members highlighted that that there were people leaving the meeting before decisions had been ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
To consider a report on the process for developing an Investment Portfolio.
6.1 The Chair invited Mally Findlater, Programme Manager at the GFirst LEP, to present the report on the Investment Portfolio.
6.2 The report was taken as read and the Committee were informed that it represented an early part of the process in anticipation for further clarity from government on the criteria and funding opportunities. It was a fairly uncertain picture from central government at the moment.
6.3 A member questioned the phrase ‘investment portfolio’ and whether it should be a ‘funding portfolio’ instead. In response it was advised that the LEP would only agree 3rd party funding if the project on offer would have an investment back into the county and therefore they saw ‘investment portfolio’ as better suited.
6.4 There was a discussion on timing for the Scrutiny Committee to be involved in the next funding allocation process. It was reiterated at this time, the picture is unclear, the criteria for projects has not been confirmed from Government and it is not known when this will happen. It was advised that it is not the Committee’s role to take part in the selection of projects but they request an opportunity to scrutinise what projects are eventually selected and the merits of that selection.
6.5 The Chair informed the Committee that following the previous meeting’s action, they are working with the LEP offline to understand how the Committee can improved its scrutiny.
6.6 A member questioned where the funding for the LEP is drawn from within Government. Reiterating that the LEP are still unclear on the criteria for the next funding round, it was advised that it is usually drawn from Capital. It is envisaged that funds may be drawn from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund to replace the EU funding received currently.
6.7 It was noted by a member that a lot of power lies in the first stage of project selection, effectively being the ‘gatekeepers’ of the project pipeline and relies on the discretion of a very small group of people. It was questioned whether this is a satisfactory way to being the selection process.
6.8 It was advised that the main decision made at this stage is removing projects that are not within the LEPs remit. In this circumstance, the LEP will send project proposals to the most appropriate area e.g. local district councils.
6.9 In addition, this is the stage where the LEP may ask advice where there may be a wider strategy that needs looking into instead of them funding one individual project. The example given is if they had five separate cycling scheme projects, it would seek a view from Gloucestershire County Council on its cycling strategy and what would help the most.
To note an update report on Gloucestershire Vision 2050.
7.1 The Chair invited Mike Dawson, Chief Executive of Tewkesbury Borough Council, to present the item on Gloucestershire Vision 2050.
7.2 Members were reminded that they had requested an update in May of this year which is shown at Appendix 1.
7.3 It was advised that Leadership Gloucestershire have approved the Terms of Reference for the three boards established under the concordat (as shown in Appendix 2). Two boards have had their initial meetings but the Rural Ambitions Board is yet to meet.
7.4 The City Region Board submitted a request for funding to the Joint Committee that morning which was deferred pending further information.
7.5 A member questioned Publica’s role in this piece of work. It was advised that as a provider of resources jointly owned by the local authorities, it would be a decision for the individual authorities to decide their membership on the boards.
7.6 There was a question on the financial support for the boards. The Committee heard that the source for supporting the boards is yet to be determined. Given the size and importance of these projects, each will need to be properly supported and not just rely on the existing resource to expand its workload.
7.7 As previously mentioned, one of the boards had submitted a funding request to the Economic Growth Joint Committee which is currently viewed as the most appropriate source at the moment.
7.8 There was a discussion about how the Committee will properly scrutinise the work of the boards, especially in relation to their environmental impacts/policies. It was reiterated that it is still early days for the boards at the moment and the detail is still being developed.
7.9 It was noted that none of the boards are decision making bodies, their visions will steer and drive work within the county but decisions will remain with the appropriate bodies as they currently stand.
7.10 Members were reassured that Economic Growth would be the Committee best placed to scrutinise the vision, work and finances of the boards once they were up and running. Members were especially keen to understand the funding process for work of the boards in advance to allow effective scrutiny. It was stressed that the democratic accountability of Vision 2050 is left behind.
7.11 The Chair requested that going forward, officers keep the Committee up to date with regular briefings on the Vision 2050 work. It was noted that Mike Dawson was only one of the lead officers involved with the boards and going forward, all lead officers should be involved with scrutiny updates.
ACTION: MIKE DAWSON/DEMOCRATIC SERVICES