Venue: Committee Room 3 - Civic Centre, St Peter's Square, Wolverhampton WV1 1SH
Contact: Julia Cleary 01902 555046 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Apologies for absence
An apology for absence was received from Cllr Sweetman. Cllr Birch was in attendance as a substitute.
Declarations of interest
There were no declarations of interest.
[To approve the minutes of the previous meeting as a correct record.]
That the minutes of the previous meeting be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair.
The Board drew attention to item seven on page four of the agenda in relation to the Towns Fund. As yet there was no new information about the amount of funding but it was confirmed that the Fund was being managed through the Council and that there was some revenue funding that had been provided.
The Board requested that when guidance regarding the Fund was received that the Council ensure that Wednesfield was represented and requested clarity as to whether this would be the case.
The Director for Regeneration stated that the Towns Fund had a geography that did not match the City boundary and that he didn’t think Wednesfield and Bilston were included but Perton was. The Director confirmed that he would seek clarification on this.
A councillor stated that he had been pressing the Mayor of the West Midlands on the subject of the Towns Fund. Some work had been done, led by the Combined Authority on developing a plan for Bilston, however there had been no response as yet. The Board agreed that some negotiations were required especially regarding the number of derelict buildings and shops in the City centre due to internet shopping.
The Board requested that an update on the Towns Fund be brought to the next meeting of the Board.
Resolved: That an updated be brought to the next meeting in relation to the Towns Fund.
[To receive a presentation from Sarah Middleton, Chief Executive of the Black Country Consortium.]
The Board welcomed the Chief Executive of the Black Country Consortium, Sarah Middleton to the meeting. Ms Middleton gave a presentation on the Black Country LEP. Ms Middleton detailed a slide titled, “Strategy into Delivery – An Evidence Based Approach.” There were a range of indicators that the LEP used to determine the direction of travel. The indicators were intended to show if the LEP was making a difference in the areas they wished to.
The Board noted that one area of concern was that in Wolverhampton, residents’ wages were not increasing at the same rate as the national average. In Wolverhampton the increase stood at 2% compared to a national average of 2.7%. The average wage of residents in Wolverhampton stood at £25,463, which meant a shortfall of £5,198 compared to the national average.
The employment rate was considered to be a key indicator. Overall in the Black Country Economy this indicator was classed as green. In the Wolverhampton economy it was classed as amber. So, whilst the situation was improving in Wolverhampton more needed to be done to match the national picture. In both the Black Country Economy and Wolverhampton Economy the gross value added (GVA) was growing, but not at the rate that they wanted. Overall in the Black Country Economy the rate was 2.5% growth compared to 3.1% growth nationally, whilst the Wolverhampton economy had a growth rate of 1.1%.
Ms Middleton remarked that there had been an overall downward shift in the job market in the Black Country. The situation in Wolverhampton was better with the number of jobs in Wolverhampton increasing by 103,000. This was a 1% increase compared to a national level of 0.6%. It was the quality of jobs in Wolverhampton and the wages which needed more investigation. The level of new enterprises being established had stalled nationally and this was also reflected locally in Wolverhampton. Ms Middleton commented that this was in part due to the role of the banks and them taking a tighter approach.
It was remarked that the LEP worked closely with the WMCA on creating a West Midlands Local Industrial Strategy. They were waiting to hear from Central Government as to how much importance the new Government would place on the strategy. The content would however remain relevant regardless of Central Government’s position. The strategy outlined that the major new market opportunities were the future of mobility, data driven health and life sciences. The principles of implementation were to create a single pipeline of significant, strategic projects and programmes; to be proactive and biased towards action; to be collaborative and complement existing activity; and for projects and programmes to integrate commitment to a balanced and a more inclusive economy, engaging with communities and employees.
The Board noted that there was a Black Country Local Implementation Plan. In Wolverhampton and across the West Midlands one of the unique factors was the excellence in manufacturing and engineering.
Funding to the LEP had been drip fed since 2012, initially there ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
Update from the Member Champion for Climate Change
[To receive an update from Cllr Barbara McGarrity QN, Member Champion for Climate Change.]
The Board welcomed Cllr Barbara McGarrity to the meeting. Cllr McGarrity stated that as soon as she was appointed to the role of Member Champion for Climate Change that the public were already starting to contact her by the end of the day. The public interest highlighted how concerned people and communities were about climate change. Cllr McGarrity stated that young people appeared to be especially concerned as evidenced by demonstrations being held outside of schools.
Cllr McGarrity stated that she had been invited to speak at the South West Labour Group where questions had been very varied. An event had also been held at St Peter’s Church which had been an excellent experience. Cllr McGarrity had given a talk which had been very well attended and informative questions had been asked such as what food we should eat and whether solar panels were a good option. Other events were in the pipeline.
Cllr McGarrity explained that she also had a seat on the West Midlands Consortium Board on Climate Change and that the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) were going to get involved in this. Cllr McGarrity noted that Scotland appeared to be leading on climate change at the moment.
One area that was of particular interest to Cllr McGarrity was the issue of recycling centres and whether these could be brought inhouse. This might be a future piece of work for scrutiny as it would be useful to see what other areas were doing. Everyone had a part to play in managing climate change.
The Director for City Environment informed the Board that the Council had made a climate change pledge which was now on the website and had been initially presented by the Youth Council at Full Council. The Director stated that it was vital to ensure that young people were fully engaged in what they were doing and gave an example of the webpage which also enabled people to work out their carbon footprint. The Pledge was all about the small things and contained an action plan and a number of indicators for each directorate. Consultation was still ongoing, and the Leader and Council had adopted a citizens assembly approach to bring in a small group of people with a vested interest in climate change.
The Board thanked Cllr McGarrity and noted that the brief associated with climate change was huge and complex.
Cllr McGarrity agreed and stated that she had originally tried to set objectives, but everything had just come at once and there were so many things that it was impossible to embrace all of it but that it was vital to try to address as many areas as possible. Cllr McGarrity stated that she was the Council’s Tree Champion which in itself was a huge responsibility but that she was working with other parts of the Council on this and hoped that with further discussions there would be more clarity as to the way forward. The Director stated that the Council had ... view the full minutes text for item 6.
Updates from the chairs of the scrutiny panels
[To receive updates from the chairs of the scrutiny panels:
Adults and Safer City Scrutiny Panel
Cllr Val Evans stated that the Panel had received a talk around dementia and had been presented with evidence and information from social workers and commissioning officers. Cllr Evans stated that the report would be sent out to members of Scrutiny Board for information.
The Panel had also considered the Adult Social Care Annual Report: The Local Account 2018-2019. The Panel welcomed the report and agreed to receive a final version of the report when available.
The Panel had invited the relevant portfolio holders for Public Health and Wellbeing and Adults to attend the next meeting when the draft Community Safety and Harm Reduction Strategy would also be considered.
Children, Young People and Families Scrutiny Panel
Cllr Potter stated that the Panel had met on 27 November when the portfolio holder for Education and Skills had provided a briefing on current priorities. This was the first time the Panel had received a presentation from the portfolio holder and Cllr Potter looked forward to repeating this in the future as it enabled the Panel to provide effective challenge. The meeting had been very helpful, and it had been agreed to carry out a piece of pre-decision scrutiny on the All Age Travel Assistance Policy.
The Panel had also considered the Budget and comments had been submitted as part of consultation. The Head of Safeguarding had also provided a presentation of upcoming safeguarding changes which were supported by the Panel and progress of these changes would be reviewed at a later date.
An additional meeting of the Panel had been scheduled to consider the proposals for the Towers Outdoor Education Centre.
The next meeting of the Panel would be considering school exclusions and work to support children to remain in mainstream education where possible and to explore alternative options. The Youth Council would also be in attendance to update the Panel on the Take Over Day in March.
Health Scrutiny Panel
The Scrutiny Officer provided an update on behalf of Cllr Page.
Areas covered at last meeting had included the Draft Budget and Medium-Term Financial Plan and the Public Health Annual Report.
In relation to the Wolverhampton CCG Annual Report, the Panel sent a considerable amount of advanced questions to which the CCG then provided written responses. This was a good example of forensic detailed scrutiny and all the responses and discussions were available in the minutes.
The Panel had considered the Healthwatch Annual Report and suggested that Healthwatch had a drop-in session at the Civic Centre on the ground floor. They had been in touch and were going to have a stand on the 6 February 2020.
The Panel also received an update on the development of the medical examiner role and on-site registrar and the improvements that had resulted as a consequence.
Upcoming reports includedAccident and Emergency at New Cross Hospital (The Hospital had been having some Level 4’s recently – the highest level that can be declared) and the Sustainability and Transformation ... view the full minutes text for item 7.
[To consider the Board’s work programme for future meetings.]
A request was made for an update on the possibility of a scrutiny review into neighbourhood policing.
Clarification was also sought as to who represented the Council on the Police and Crime Panel.
Resolved: That the Work programme be agreed.
[To consider any items on the Forward Plan for pre decision scrutiny.]
Resolved: That the Forward Plan be noted.