Agenda item

Gloucestershire Covid-19 Economic Recovery Planning

To receive an update on activities and proposals relating to the Gloucestershire economic recovery collaboration process, including updates on:

 

·         Gloucestershire County Council (GCC)’s Covid-19 Economic Dashboard;

·         the Community Renewal Fund bid; and

·         District councils to provide brief verbal updates at the meeting on their recovery plans, and on the outcome of Levelling Up bids.

 

Dashboard and information slides to follow.

Minutes:

Colin Chick, Executive Director for Economy, Environment and Infrastructure, GCC, provided the Committee with an update on GCC’s Covid-19 Economic Recovery Plan.

 

Members were informed that the recovery plan mirrored the Council’s ambition for Gloucestershire as set out in its Looking to the Future strategy, to make Gloucestershire a place where people want to visit and live, to improve the quality of life for residents, and to provide opportunities for businesses to be successful. Numerous infrastructure and connectivity schemes were being pursued by the Council as part of this, including the M5 J9 improvement scheme, and a network of cycle routes between Gloucester and Cheltenham.

 

Members were reminded of the three priority areas for recovery: people, place and connectivity; employment and skills; and infrastructure, economy and growth.

 

The Committee was informed that work was underway to develop an Employment and Skills Hub as part of the employment and skills priority of the recovery plan. Members were provided with an overview of the factors contributing to the need for the Hub, and the benefits of introducing it. The Hub would provide a “single front door” offer, whereby key partners, such as the GFirst LEP, schools, colleges, universities, independent training providers, and the DWP/Jobcentre Plus would work alongside each other to help get people into employment and education. The Hub would also enable gaps in adult education to be identified and courses to bridge these gaps could then be developed.

 

The Committee was informed that a response from the Government regarding the Community Renewal Fund bid had not yet been received, nor had there been an update on Levelling Up bids.

 

One member asked whether help could be received from the County Council to improve rail connectivity in the Forest of Dean and Cotswold districts. Colin Chick advised that the focus was on increasing rail services on the M5 corridor between Bristol and Birmingham to help alleviate overcrowding on the motorway. Currently only 1 percent of travellers chose to travel by rail instead of using the M5. However, lobbying had taken place to secure a number of additional rail services, particularly those which would benefit the south Cotswolds, in addition to the introduction of a new demand responsive bus service in the Cotswolds.

 

One member asked a question as to how the skills hub would relate to increasing opportunities for local employment, particularly within the development of major local projects. In response it was explained that GCC procurement staff had received training on building social value into contracts. An update on the upskilling and employment of local people would also be provided at the next Committee meeting.

 

There was a further question relating to the cost of public transport, which was too expensive for some young people. In response it was noted that this was an issue that was being looked at. In terms of access to the Employment and Skills Hub, members were informed that the aim was to work outreach within libraries in rural areas and towns to build those connections with people who may find it difficult to travel.

 

Lisa McCance, Director at Shared Intelligence, provided the Committee with an update on the Economic Recovery Dashboard. The Economic Recovery Dashboard was attached as a supplement to the agenda papers for this meeting.

 

District council representatives were invited to provide the Committee with an update on the work being carried out in their areas to promote and support economic recovery.

 

Cotswold District Council

-       Progress was being made on the development of the Gloucestershire Applied Digital Skills Centre at Cirencester College.

-       There had been an increase in the demand for warehouse space in the district, and the sale of the Mitsubishi site was to be completed by the end of this month and would be retained as a site for employment.

-       A number of projects funded through the Welcome Back fund were progressing.

-       A number of larger events in the district, such as motoring shows, were bringing people back to town centres.

-       A number of local businesses had expressed their ambitions to implement green measures.

 

Forest of Dean District Council

-       The Forest Recovery Action Group continued to meet on a monthly basis.

-       Focus was on developing tourism within the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley.

-       Local towns had been encouraged to submit bids for funding through the Welcome Back fund.

-       A new Growth Hub in Mitcheldean had opened in August to support local businesses.

-       Local businesses could sign up to receive a regular ‘Business Matters’ email.

 

Stroud District Council

-       The Council was working with local market towns on the allocation of Welcome Back funding.

-       The Brimscombe Port project was moving on to its next stage to find a development partner.

-       Permission to begin the canals project had been secured.

-       A district-wide economic development strategy would be considered by the Council this autumn/winter.

 

Tewkesbury Borough Council

-       The Council was looking to relaunch the business support grant scheme in the autumn.

-       The Growth Hub in the district had reopened to provide face-to-face support to local businesses.

-       An event was taking place today where local businesses could exhibit their carbon neutral activities.

-       An economic development tourism strategy had been developed for launch in 2022.

-       A bid for a youth enterprise hub had been submitted.

 

Gloucester City Council

-       Work to pursue funding, support local events and progress regeneration projects was continuing.

 

Cheltenham Borough Council

-       There had been lots of interest in the Golden Valley development scheme following its launch.

-       Funding had been set aside to drive footfall on the high street, such as for an ice rink.

 

There was a discussion as to the shortages of HGV and delivery drivers and the impact it could have on supply chains. An analysis of this issue and its impact in Gloucestershire would be presented at the next Committee meeting.

 

 

Supporting documents: