To note any apologies.
No apologies were received for this meeting.
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 the minutes of the following meetings:
· 30 October 2019
· 20 November 2019
· 26 February 2020
The minutes of the meetings held on 30 October 2019, 20 November 2019 and 26 February 2020 were approved.
GLOUCESTERSHIRE ECONOMIC GROWTH JOINT COMMITTEE UPDATE
To receive a verbal update on the GEGJC meeting held on 3 June 2020
from the Chair, Cllr Patrick Molyneux.
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, Chair of the Gloucestershire Economic Growth Joint Committee (GEGJC), to present this item and Members noted the following points:
· Under the current governance arrangements, the GEGJC 6 year term was due to end in September 2020. The Committee agreed to extend this for a further 18 months.
· The two SEDF funding requests for the Central Gloucestershire City Region Board and Multi-Modal Transport Brief were approved, as was the proposal for the continuation of the Gloucestershire Strategic Planning Coordination Project.
· There was a discussion at the meeting about how the Scrutiny Committee could be involved with the Covid-19 Economic Recovery planning for Gloucestershire.
· It was acknowledge that we are still in uncertain times and economic recovery was a very fluid issue which GEGJC would continue to monitor.
· It was agreed that GEGJC would take a co-ordination role on the economic recovery response to ensure that all partners were working together, not replicating work but also not missing any gaps.
· It was agreed that GEGJC would meet for a second time at the end of July for a one item agenda on recovery planning.
4.2 It was questioned what role the Central Gloucestershire City Region Board would play in the economic recovery of the county and whether it had been impacted by the pandemic. It was advised that the Board would still be a key component for Gloucestershire’s Vision 2050 project but as with everything else, it would need to be revisited in light of the Covid-19 impact. How the county moved forward to 2050 would now need to include lessons learnt from the pandemic. It was requested that the Committee be kept up to date on any changes/activities of the Board.
4.3 A discussion followed about the Committee’s role in scrutinising the work of the GEGJC and GFirst LEP in relation to the economic recovery planning. Cllr Cromwell as Chair of the Scrutiny Committee had attended the GEGJC meeting on 2 July 2020 and requested an answer to the following questions: How are you going to involve the scrutiny committee in the economic recovery process?; How will the scrutiny committee be kept informed of the work being undertaken by the Joint Committee/GFirst?; and What contribution can the scrutiny committee make to the recovery process?. It was advised that these questions would form part of the discussions at the next GEGJC meeting at the end of July 2020.
4.4 It was stressed by the Committee the importance of receiving up to date and timely information on the recovery planning and decisions taken, be this by the Joint Committee or the GFirst LEP. It would be impossible for scrutiny to fulfil its function if this information was not being shared effectively. It was appreciated that some of this information would be sensitive and could not be shared wider or discussed in a public forum, but that should not mean scrutiny members were unable to access it.
4.5 A member recognised that money would need to ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
GFirst LEP update
To receive a verbal update on the activities of the GFirst LEP.
5.1 The Chair invited Dev Chakraborty, Deputy Chief Executive of the GFirst LEP, to give a verbal update to the Committee.
5.2 It was advised that the LEP had worked hard throughout the pandemic to ensure key projects for the county remained in progress, but highlighted this had been challenging behind the scenes. Although some time had inevitably been lost, key projects such as the Railway Station, West Cheltenham Transport Scheme etc. had not suffered the full lockdown impact.
Inward Investment Project
5.3 Members noted this was a project aimed at trying to attract foreign owned business into the county, and considering the impact of Covid-19 on the world’s economy, it had come to quite a halt for the time being. Unfortunately all major national and international trade events from March onwards had been cancelled and clearly no business was looking to relocate anywhere at the moment.
5.4 The team had been redeployed to help with the LEP’s Covid-19 response and recovery planning, which had included making outbound calls to companies throughout the county to understand the effects of the pandemic and what issues they needed help with. This information was then being fed into the LEP’s own recovery planning and daily calls with Government.
5.5 It was advised that the LEP always tried to have a live pipeline of infrastructure projects ready for any potential government funding. A new funding pot was announced by central Government, called the ‘Getting Building Fund’, but the turnaround time for submitting projects was incredibly tight, just 6 working days form the fund announcement to projects being submitted.
5.6 The criteria to apply for this funding was quite specific for example, the projects had to be ‘shovel ready’, be completed by December 2021 with a key focus on recovery, job creation and green credentials.
5.7 After working hard with all local authority partners, education and the private sector, Gloucestershire submitted 15 projects totalling £52 million worth of work. A subsequent announcement advised that LEPs in England would share a pot of £900 million and broadly speaking as Gloucestershire represented about 1% of economic output for England, the LEP anticipated they would be allocated about £9 million.
5.8 The submission included familiar projects for the County such as the Kings Square Development, Tewkesbury Garden Town, and Cheltenham to Gloucester cycleway etc. Members noted the LEP would know more in the coming few weeks about which projects had been accepted but they were now currently working with partners to complete their full business case ready for submission by July 2020.
5.9 A member sought clarity on the need for projects to be ‘shovel ready’, it was their understanding that in order to be at this stage, these project ideas must have been conceived before the pandemic and were therefore not actually being responsive to recovery. It was advised that as previously stated, some of the projects that had been submitted were already working away in the background, but these projects still ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
COVID-19 RESPONSE - PLANNING FOR GLOUCESTERSHIRE'S ECONOMIC RECOVERY
The Committee to consider the role of scrutiny in the Gloucestershire response and approach to recovery from the Covid-19 Pandemic.
Members to review the recovery proposals presented at the Gloucestershire Economic Growth Joint Committee meeting on 3 June 2020 and the Gloucestershire Cabinet meeting on 17 June 2020 (links below), in preparation for submitting a report for consideration at the Gloucestershire Economic Growth Joint Committee Covid-19 Recovery meeting at the end of July (date to be confirmed).
3 June 2020 Gloucestershire Economic Growth Joint Committee meeting (item 9): https://glostext.gloucestershire.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=725&MId=9533&Ver=4
17 June 2020 Cabinet meeting (item 5): https://glostext.gloucestershire.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=117&MId=9396&Ver=4
Members are also encouraged to view the GFirst LEP Covid-19 Business Support Updates on the GFirst Local Enterprise Partnership Covid 19 webpage at https://www.gfirstlep.com/news/coronavirus-updates/ and the GFirst business recovery proposals at https://www.gfirstlep.com/news/covid19-response-planning-for-gloucestershires-business-recovery/
6.1 The Chair acknowledged that this item had already been covered in some depth during the previous items. Cllr Molyneux confirmed they had nothing further to add, the Chair therefore invited Dev Chakraborty and Colin Chick to comment.
6.2 Members noted that all local authorities in the county (7) were producing their own recovery plans, plus the LEP who were producing an economic sector based recovery plan.
6.3 As mentioned previously, one of the LEP’s key roles during the pandemic was sharing business intelligence for the county via Leadership Gloucestershire. This had included a sector analysis report and economic modelling broken down by district.
6.4 The Committee heard that officers saw the role of GCC as one of leadership, coordination and analysis, and then using that analysis and evidence to check and make sure recovery was moving in the right direction, highlight any issues and fill gaps where necessary.
6.5 It would be vital that major schemes remained on track to strengthen the economy for the future, for example Junction 9 and 10 and the Cyber Park. In addition, localised work would need to be considered such as a bigger emphasis on skills training (especially reskilling into different sectors).
6.6 It was noted that research had shown the hardest hit age group economically would be 17-24 year olds who might still be in education and have little to no work experience. The job market was therefore likely to be significantly harder for this age group, regardless if they had a certain level of qualification or not.
6.7 It was stressed however that recovery needed to be a slow burn fuse, we did not know the size of the problem at the moment, and a lot of the potential economic issues were still being ‘covered’ by the government financial schemes.
6.8 The Committee noted that it would be best to go for a sector based approach to recovery, by raising the platform to a high enough level for all businesses in that sector to ‘springboard’ off across the county, rather than picking and supporting individual companies.
6.9 The Chair also invited Simon Excell, Lead Commissioner for Strategic Infrastructure, to add any comments. The Committee were reminded that in early March, the Government gave the go ahead for three major schemes (A417, Junction 10 and Junction 9), and then two weeks later the pandemic hit which obviously brought huge complications and delays.
6.10 It was advised however, that schemes GCC had control and funding for, the Council were doing everything they could, with the resource and capacity available, to ensure these schemes progressed.
6.11 A member requested that the reports mentioned by the LEP were shared with the Committee.
ACTION: DEV CHAKRABORTY
To review the committee work plan and suggest items for consideration at future meetings.
The Committee discussed the following points in relation to its ongoing work plan:
· The Local Transport Plan scrutiny meeting has been rescheduled as an additional meeting date for Economic Growth members on 23 September 2020;
· For 16 September 2020 meeting, members requested an update on: Broadband/Mobile Connectivity and the Business Rates Pool;
· As Chair of the Taxi Licensing Task Group, Cllr Haigh confirmed that the group potentially had one meeting left before a final report would be ready to submit to the Committee. It was agreed this report would either be brought to the September Committee date, or discussed via email by members, with a summary of views being recorded by DSU.
· Members noted there was a suggested item on reviewing the changes to the Joint Core Strategy for housing. Whilst acknowledging that GCC was not responsible for housing (this was a district responsibility), it was stressed that this was a Joint scrutiny Committee and had district member representation from around the county, which made it a suitable place to discuss a joint approach to housing, which was sustainable and met the needs of the county’s residents. Members agreed to keep an item on the future list to look at housing availability, incorporating any appropriate discussion on the Joint Core Strategy.
· In relation to housing, it was also noted that there was an increasing interest in modular development and with the current Government strategy of trying to build the country out of economic crisis; this would be a really important area to look at. It was suggested the Committee could do an ‘enquiry-like’ meeting on this topic and speak to national experts to scrutinise the information available on modular builds. It was agreed this item would remain on the future list and the Chair would look into how to take it forward. Members were reminded to email DSU if they had any suggestions.
· A member acknowledged that the pandemic’s impact on business and employment in the county would only become clear once the furloughing schemes had come to an end. It was request for this to be added to the future work plan.
· It was agreed that the LEP would update the Committee on their Industrial Strategy when it was timely to do so.
· The two future items relating to transport were removed as it was agreed this would be adequately covered during the Committee’s ongoing involvement in the review of the Council’s Local Transport Plan.
· It was highlighted that as research showed young people were likely to be the most effected economically post-Covid, the Committee requested a future item on skills and work force development post-Covid (with a particular focus on young people).
· A future item was added to review the strategy for the future of the high street across the County.
· It was agreed that DSU would have an offline discussion with the LEP to check whether the performance report deadlines had been affected by the pandemic and understand what would be timely to schedule for their September ... view the full minutes text for item 7.