Agenda, decisions and minutes

Gloucestershire Economic Growth Joint Committee - Wednesday 3 June 2020 10.00 am

Venue: Cabinet Suite - Shire Hall, Gloucester. View directions

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies

To note any apologies for absence.

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Cllr Joe Harris (Cotswold District Council). Cllr Harris was represented at the meeting by Cllr Tony Dale.

 

Cllr Patrick Molyneux (Chair) welcomed Cllr Richard Cook (Gloucester City Council) and Cllr Richard Leppington (Forest of Dean District Council) to the committee.

2.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 126 KB

To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 4 February 2020 (attached).

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 4 February 2020 were agreed and signed as an accurate record of that meeting.

 

The committee noted a correction to item 6 of the agenda, (GFirst update), and the requirement to remove the word ‘not’ from the following sentence: -

 

A recruitment campaign to find a successor, (for the Chair of the GFirst LEP) was underway, with the deadline for applications confirmed as April 30 2020. Interviews to take place in May 2020. Internal candidates, (current members of the LEP Board), would not be allowed to submit an application.

 

Responding to coronavirus emergency guidelines, the committee meeting on 18 March 2020 was cancelled.

3.

Declarations of Interest

To receive any pecuniary or personal interests by members.

Minutes:

Cllr Steve Jordan (Cheltenham Borough Council) declared a personal interest in item 7 of the agenda (Strategic Planning Funding Proposal) and the committee’s consideration of recommendations for the continuation of the Gloucestershire Strategic Planning Coordination Project.

4.

Scrutiny Committee Questions pdf icon PDF 83 KB

Members of the Gloucestershire Economic Growth Scrutiny Committee are invited to submit questions on matters relating to any item on the agenda for this meeting.

 

Please submit any questions to jo.moore@gloucestershire.gov.uk  by 4pm on Thursday 28 May 2020.

 

Written responses to the questions will be circulated in advance of the meeting. This will allow the members of the Gloucestershire Economic Growth Joint Committee to consider any questions or comments made by the scrutiny committee before making their decisions. A written response to each question will be produced and published on the Gloucestershire County Council website. Where it is not possible to provide a written response before the meeting, the question will be taken away and a written response provided after the meeting.

 

Cllr Kevin Cromwell, as Chairman of the Gloucestershire Economic Growth Scrutiny Committee will be invited to speak at the meeting.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

In response to the coronavirus pandemic and the cancellation of some of the committee meetings at Gloucestershire County Council, members of the Gloucestershire Economic Growth Scrutiny Committee were invited to submit questions on matters relating to items on the agenda for the meeting.

 

Written responses to the questions were circulated in advance of the meeting and are attached for information.

 

Cllr Kevin Cromwell, Chairman of the Gloucestershire Economic Growth Scrutiny Committee, was invited to speak at the meeting. Cllr Cromwell expressed his, (and the scrutiny committee’s concerns), about the role of scrutiny in response to the pandemic emergency and asked how the scrutiny committee might be involved in the planning process for the economy recovery of Gloucestershire. Cllr Cromwell confirmed that a scrutiny committee would be held in July.

 

Cllr Cromwell requested to speak at the end of the meeting when he would have had an opportunity to hear the debate on the other items on the agenda, including the economic recovery item.

5.

Governance Arrangements: Gloucestershire Economic Growth Joint Committee pdf icon PDF 85 KB

a) To receive an update on the governance arrangements for the Gloucestershire Economic Growth Joint Committee;

 

b) To consider proposals relating to the continuation of the Joint Committee post September 2020

 

Decision:

The committee received an update on the Committee’s governance a arrangements and proposals relating to the continuation of the Joint Committee from September 2020 and

 

RESOLVED to: -

 

1)    Note the overall governance arrangements for the Gloucestershire Economic Growth Joint Committee, as set out in the published decision report presented at the meeting;

 

2)    Waive and remove the twelve month notice period set out in the Inter-Authority Agreement dated 4 September 2014, including removal of the need for future notice periods, and agree that the GEGJC continue to operate from September 2020 for a period of eighteen months.

 

Minutes:

Head of Legal Services at Gloucestershire County Council, Gillian Parkinson, gave an update on the committee governance arrangements for the Gloucestershire Economic Growth Joint Committee, (GEGJC), before considering proposals relating to the continuation of the arrangements post September 2020.

 

The Head of Legal Services clarified that, under the current governance arrangements, (set out in an Inter Authority Agreement agreed by the County Council and the 6 district councils in 2014), it had been agreed that the arrangements would run for a 6 year term, ending in September 2020, with the County Council acting as the administrative authority. A Senior Officer Group, set up to support the committee, played an intrinsic role in underpinning the work of the committee.

 

The committee supported the proposal to waiver and remove the twelve month notice period agreed by the committee in 2014, including removal of the need for future notice periods, and continue for a period of eighteen months from September 2020 until March 2022. During this time, it was felt the committee would have a better understanding of the role and function of the newly configured Gloucester City Region Board.

 

A member suggested that the committee monitor and review the role of the committee throughout the period of extension and this was agreed. Chair of the Senior Officer Group, Mike Dawson, reassured members that the Senior Officer Group would be reviewing government guidelines on partnership arrangements over the next few months and that these would be reflected in line with the proposals agreed at this meeting.

 

Another member suggested that consideration be given to ‘economic wellbeing’ when considering the economic growth of the county and requested that this form part of the committee role and incorporated into the committees’ terms of reference. Responding to the suggestion, the Head of Legal Services clarified that references to economic wellbeing were already included in the Inter Authority Agreement. The committee recognised that the scope to consider economic wellbeing already existed.

 

Members noted the update and agreed to report back to the respective district councils the decision to waiver and remove the twelve month notice period set out in the Inter-Authority Agreement dated 4 September 2014, including removal of the need for future notice periods. It was agreed the Joint Committee would continue in it’s current form for a period of eighteen months from September 2020, and that the role of the committee would be subject to review during this period.

 

RESOLVED to: -

 

1)    Note the overall governance arrangements for the Gloucestershire Economic Growth Joint Committee, as set out in the published decision report presented at the meeting;

 

2)    Waiver and remove the twelve month notice period set out in the Inter-Authority Agreement dated 4 September 2014, including removal of the need for future notice periods, and agree that the GEGJC continue to operate from September 2020 for a period of eighteen months, pending review of the role of the committee during this period.

6.

Business Rate Pool Funding Update and SEDF Funding Proposals pdf icon PDF 128 KB

To receive an update on the Business Rate Pool, (report attached), prior to considering the following funding proposals for the allocation of funding from the Strategic Economic Development Fund, (SEDF).

 

a)    SEDF Funding Proposal: Central Gloucestershire City Region Board

 

To consider a recommendation from the GEGJC Senior Officer Group to allocate £2 million, (to be set aside within the SEDF), to support the work of the proposed Gloucestershire City Region Board, as requested by Leadership Gloucestershire.

 

b)    SEDF Funding Proposal: Multi-Modal Transport Brief

 

Pending the outcome of the decision at 6 a), (above), to consider a recommendation from the GEGJC Senior Officer Group to allocate £410,000, (from the approved SEDF ring-fenced funding allocation allocated to the Central Gloucestershire City Regional Board), to support the commissioning of a Multi-Modal Transport Brief.

 

Additional documents:

Decision:

The committee: -  

 

1)    Received an update on the forecast outturn of the 2019/20 Business Rates Pool and the estimated balance of the SEDF.

 

2)    Considered funding proposals from the GEGJC Officer Group for the allocation of funding from the Strategic Economic Development Fund, (SEDF) and

 

RESOLVED to: -

 

a)    SEDF Funding Proposal: Central Gloucestershire City Region Board

 

Allocated £2 million, (to be set aside within the SEDF), to support the work of the proposed Gloucestershire City Region Board, as requested by Leadership Gloucestershire.

 

b)    SEDF Funding Proposal: Multi-Modal Transport Brief

 

Allocated £410,000, (from the approved SEDF ring-fenced allocation allocated to the Central Gloucestershire City Regional Board at 6 a above), to support the commissioning of a Multi-Modal Transport Brief.

Minutes:

Andrew Cummings, (Strategic Director of Resources at Stroud District Council), gave an update on the forecast outturn of the 2019/20 Business Rates Pool and the estimated balance of the Strategic Economic Development Fund (SEDF) for Gloucestershire.

 

Key points highlighted by the report included:

 

1.    The final financial gain to the SEDF from the 2018/19 100% Business Rates Pilot was £3.438 million.

 

2.    The impact of the coronavirus pandemic was expected to have a fundamental impact on the economy of the county, including the level of business rates collected.  Noting that the government restrictions had only come into place at the end of March 2020, it was anticipated that there would probably be minimal impact on the actual business rates collection for the 2019/20 year. 

 

3.    There had been a significant positive change in relation to the business rates position at Tewkesbury Borough Council during the last quarter for 2019/20.  This has seen the authority being able to release provisions previously set aside to cover appeal losses.  The release of these provisions had seen a significant boost to the position of both Tewkesbury and the pool.  This major boost was a one off event.

 

4.    Based upon the new positions, an estimated pool gain of £4.5 million was anticipated, of which £900k would be passed to the SEDF. The committee was advised to view this estimation with some caution, pending potential changes to the year end final position. As a result of the pandemic, the deadlines for producing year end figures had changed and local authorities would now have until the end of November 2020 to publish their final accounts

 

5.    The long term impact of the pandemic was not yet known.  An anticipated 20% reduction on the previously estimated figure was included in the report. This would, however, be subject to significant fluctuation.

 

6.    It was confirmed that the Business Rates Pool would continue into 2020/21, (under current arrangements), with Stroud DC acting as the lead body. It was hoped this arrangement would generate a further year of gain for the SEDF in 2020/21, currently estimated at £578k.  The uncertainty surrounding this figure would mean caution would need to be exercised if using this balance as part of any funding allocations.

 

7.    Members recalled previous updates regarding the risks to the pool from a legal case by the NHS foundation Trusts. In December 2019, the High Court had ruled that NHS Trusts and Foundation Trusts would not be eligible for business rates relief, which was considered to have eliminated the risk. Pending a possible appeal by the NHS Trust, it was agreed further updates would be required at future meetings. The issue of the NHS Trusts requesting charitable status remained the most significant financial risk to the pool.

 

a)    SEDF Funding Proposal: Gloucestershire City Region Board

 

  1. In October 2018, Leadership Gloucestershire had established 3 Boards to help deliver the eight ambitions of the Gloucestershire Vision 2050.

 

The three boards included:-

 

7.

Strategic Planning Funding Proposal pdf icon PDF 66 KB

To consider recommendations for the continuation of the Gloucestershire Strategic Planning Coordination Project.

Decision:

The committee considered proposals for the continuation of the Gloucestershire Strategic Planning Coordination Project and:

 

RESOLVED to: -

 

1)    Note the current position of the strategic spatial planning coordination project;

 

2)    Approve the proposals set out in section 3 of the decision report to:

 

a)    Agree that the project lead provided by the Cheltenham BC Strategic Planning Manager continue until the end of the project. (Under this arrangement, from 1 June 2020 Cheltenham BC to be reimbursed with the salary costs for the officer time committed to the project in order that the Cheltenham Strategic Planning Manager post be backfilled as required).

 

b)    Agree that the costs reimbursed to Cheltenham BC be shared using the same arrangements agreed by the committee on 29 November 2017 and as set out in the decision report for this item. The cost will be less than the arrangement with Point Consultancy Ltd and anticipated not to exceed £15,000.

Minutes:

Mike Dawson, Chair of the Senior Officer Group, gave an update on the arrangements for the strategic planning coordination for the county. 

 

The committee considered proposals for the continuation of the Gloucestershire Strategic Planning Coordination Project and:

 

RESOLVED to: -

 

1)    Note the current position of the strategic spatial planning coordination project;

 

2)    Approve the proposals set out in section 3 of the decision report to:

 

a)    Agree that the project lead provided by the Cheltenham BC Strategic Planning Manager continue until the end of the project. (Under this arrangement, from 1 June 2020 Cheltenham BC to be reimbursed with the salary costs for the officer time committed to the project in order that the Cheltenham Strategic Planning Manager post be backfilled as required).

 

b)    Agree that the costs reimbursed to Cheltenham BC be shared using the same arrangements agreed by the committee on 29 November 2017 and as set out in the decision report for this item. The cost will be less than the arrangement with Point Consultancy Ltd and anticipated not to exceed £15,000.

8.

GFirst LEP Update pdf icon PDF 88 KB

To receive an update from the GFirst LEP on the status of Growth Deal Projects for Gloucestershire and the EU Inward Investment Programme.

Additional documents:

Decision:

The committee noted an update from the GFirst LEP on the status of Growth Deal Projects for Gloucestershire and the EU Inward Investment Programme.

Minutes:

The committee received an update from the GFirst LEP on the status of Growth Deal Projects for Gloucestershire and the EU Inward Investment Programme.

 

The information report published with the agenda was noted.

9.

Covid-19 Response - Planning for Gloucestershire’s Economic Recovery pdf icon PDF 162 KB

In response to the Covid-19 Emergency, the committee: - 

 

a)    To receive information on the proposed development and implementation of an Economic Recovery Strategy for Gloucestershire.

 

b)    To receive a verbal update from GFirst LEP on current and future activities in response to the Covid-19 Emergency.

Additional documents:

Decision:

The committee noted information on the proposed development of an Economic Recovery Strategy for Gloucestershire, including a verbal update from the GFirst LEP on current (and future) activities in response to the Covid-19 Emergency.

Minutes:

The committee received information on the activities being undertaken by the County, District, Borough and City Councils of Gloucestershire in response to the Covid-19 Pandemic. The committee to note the proposed governance arrangements for the economic recovery planning process, including development of an Economic Recovery Strategy, for Gloucestershire.

 

The committee received a verbal update from GFirst LEP on current, (and future), activities in partnership response to the Covid-19 Emergency. Please refer to the attached power point presentation for the update provided by GFirst LEP.

 

In terms of leading the economic recovery of the County, it was proposed that the current governance model for economic growth should be used to manage the recovery process. It was suggested this should involve the GEGJC overseeing the strategy development and delivery of the process, with the Senior Officer Group, (group of senior officers set up to support the work of the GEGJC), managing the operational strategy.

 

It was also proposed that a Gloucestershire County Transition Group be established to support the Senior Officer Group, to include District, Borough and City representatives, as well as representatives from GFirst LEP.

 

The committee considered the suggestion that Gloucestershire County Council lead the co-ordination and strategic input for the recovery process, with the understanding that any overlap with structures emerging through GFirst would need to be considered in order to reduce duplication and improve the co-ordination of activity.

 

Speaking on behalf of GEGSC members, the Chair of the Scrutiny Committee, Cllr Kevin Cromwell, questioned the role of the scrutiny committee in the economic recovery planning process. Clarification was also sought on the roles of the Joint Committee; the Senior Officer Group and GFirst LEP. Cllr Cromwell emphasised the key role the scrutiny committee should play in planning for the economic recovery of the county going forward.

 

Emphasis was placed on the need to work in partnership, and for care to be taken to avoid potential overlaps and duplication in any work being undertaken by the District Authorities.

 

In responding to the information report, questions were raised on the priority areas suggested for consideration and in response to the findings of Business Sector Sectoral Intelligence in relation to the proposed anticipated areas of recovery.

 

Careful monitoring of future unemployment data was identified as a key area of focus for the planning process. It was generally agreed that geographical issues, (national versus local/rural versus urban) would also need to be considered in the approach to economic recovery.

 

Having sought clarification on what was being asked of the committee, it was suggested that, as an ‘in principle’ decision, the Joint Committee should undertake responsibility as the administering body for the recovery process. Adopting a collaborative approach, it was suggested that the County Council, (supported by the District Councils), should take a strategic role in responding and communicating with Government guidelines. Recovery activities to be considered in the immediate/interim and long term stages of the process.

 

Following an in-depth discussion on the stages of recovery, it was agreed  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.

10.

Future Meetings

a)    To note the dates GEGJC meetings in 2020

 

16 September 2020

18 November 2020

 

b)    To note the committee work plan and agree items for consideration at future meetings.

Minutes:

The dates of future meetings for 2020 were noted: -

 

16 September 2020

18 November 2020

 

An additional single item ‘economic recovery’ item meeting would be held on 28 July 2020. (The meeting would be a virtual meeting).