Agenda and minutes

Stronger City Economy Scrutiny Panel
Tuesday, 16th July, 2019 6.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 3 - Civic Centre

Contact: Martin Stevens  Email: martin.stevens@wolverhampton.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies

[To receive any apologies for absence]. 

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from the following members of the Stronger City Economy Panel: -

 

Councillor Payal Bedi-Chadha and Councillor Jonathan Yardley.

 

Apologies for absence were received from the following members of the Vibrant and Sustainable City Scrutiny Panel for the item on the Public Realm, Transport and Linking the City: -

 

Councillor Paul Birch, Councillor Keith Inston, Councillor Beverley Momenabadi and Councillor Mak Singh.

 

Councillor Lynne Moran sent her apologies as she had been invited by the Chair because of a specific interest in relation to the item on the Public Realm, Transport and Linking the City. 

 

Apologies were also received from Mr Pete Bond – Director of Integrated Network Services, Transport for West Midlands.

 

 

2.

Declarations of interest

[To receive any declarations of interest]. 

Minutes:

Cllr Philip Bateman declared a non-pecuniary interest on item 5 – Public Realm, Transport and Linking the City as a Board Member of the Canal and River Trust – West Midlands Partnership.

 

3.

Minutes of previous meeting pdf icon PDF 306 KB

[To approve the minutes of the previous meeting as a correct record]. 

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 2 April 2019 were approved as a correct record. 

4.

Matters arising

[To consider any matters arising from the minutes]. 

Minutes:

There were no matters arising from the minutes.

5.

Public Realm, Transport and Linking the City

[Vibrant and Sustainable City Scrutiny Panel Members have been invited to participate in this item.  A presentation from Transport for West Midlands will be given on the evening and there will be a presentation from Officers of the Council]. 

 

[For background reading on part of what the item will cover - the West Side Link and Public Realm, Members may wish to read the report that was received by Cabinet on 11 April 2019, titled “West Side Link Public Realm Proposals – Outcome of Consultation for Phases 1 and 2 and Potential Delivery Programme for Phase 1.” The minutes from the meeting are also available for perusal].

Minutes:

The Chair welcomed the members of the Vibrant and Sustainable City Scrutiny Panel present who had been invited to participate in the item. 

 

There were three presentations given.  The first presentation was from the Council’s, Head of City Transport and the Council’s – Service Lead for City Transport.  The Head of City Transport gave some headline transport statistics about the City. The City had an approximate population of 260,000 residents.  There were 40,000 daily vehicle trips on the ring road. 28% of all AM trips into the City Centre were by public transport.  Across the City there were 480 traffic signals.  The Council were optimising the use of traffic signals to improve the flow of traffic and the air quality of the City.  Air quality exceedances had improved but were still challenging.  DEFRA had identified the air quality in the area around the ring road needed to be addressed.  The majority of funding available to the Council’s transport department was ringfenced for very specific interventions and often heavily restricted. 

 

The Head of City Transport in the City remarked that there were 3,800 short stay parking spaces and 2,500 long stay parking spaces.  The Council operated 42 car parks, which was approximately a quarter of the total car parks within the City.  There was an overall vision for City Transport in the City.  He summarised this as follows: -

 

·       Providing a reliable, efficient and accessible public transport system that provides connectivity to and from the right locations.

 

·       Providing a safe and green environment for all modes of transport, particularly promoting active travel options.

 

·       Reliable journey times for businesses, residents and visitors using all modes across the network.

 

·       Safe and secure spaces.

 

·       Support the wider priorities and ambitions of the City – Regeneration, Healthy Living, Investment, Prosperity.

 

 

The Service Lead for City Transport commented that the Council had to work within the statutory guidance framework on a national, sub regional, regional and local level.  On a national policy level, they had to work with the DfT (Department for Transport), DEFRA (Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs) and the DHCLG (Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government).  The Future of Mobility Urban Strategy (March 2019) was of particular importance.  Regionally there was the Midlands Connect and the Midlands Engine – HS2, Major Road Network and Rail Investment, West Midlands Combined Authority, Transport for West Midlands (Movement for Growth), West Midlands Rail, Black Country Core Strategy – Black Country Plan, Strategic Economic Plan and LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership) priorities.  Locally they had to work within the Council Plan, Local Plan (AAP’s), Neighborhood Plans and Network Development Plans.

 

The Head of City Transport commented that £33 million had been spent over the last three years as part of the Transport Capital Programme.  In 2019 /2020 there would be a total investment of £14 million, plus opportunity funding.  Additionally, £3 million would be spent on maintenance.  If all the roads within Wolverhampton were to be brought up to a reasonable standard it was estimated the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Digital Infrastructure Strategy pdf icon PDF 486 KB

[The briefing note presents the draft Digital Infrastructure Strategy for pre-decision Scrutiny]. 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of Strategy introduced a report on the draft Digital Infrastructure Strategy, which was before the Panel as a pre-decision item.  The report was scheduled to be received by the Cabinet on 11 September 2019.  The reason why the Council was developing a Digital Infrastructure Strategy was due to its importance to local businesses and the wider economy; to be able to connect local residents to new opportunities and also the potential for the public sector to redesign and deliver services in new and innovative ways.  There were three main pillars to the strategy.  The first one was full fibre.  Fibre was critical to enabling the system of 5G to work correctly.  One of the initiatives the Council was undertaking was the local full fibre network scheme.  They had secured nearly £5 million funding from Government to provide full fibre to 196 public sector sites across the City and to Social Housing Sites.  The Council were promoting gigabit vouchers, which enabled local businesses to enable full fibre to the premises.  A business was able to obtain up to £2,500 from the Government to upgrade their fibre broadband connections.

 

The Head of Strategy stated that the second pillar to the strategy was regarding wireless connectivity.  Wolverhampton was part of the West Midlands Combined Authority Urban Connected Communities 5G Programme.  Wolverhampton was to host the Black Country’s first 5G testbed focusing initially around construction and potential to develop into public service delivery use cases.  She commented that infrastructure was key to the strategy.  The Council had secured European funding to upgrade the streetlights in the City.  These lights would have a smart network attached to them allowing wireless networks, Wi-Fi meshes, 5G and the ability to plug-in sensors such as air quality and footfall. 

 

The Head of Strategy stated that the cross-cutting pillar of the strategy was acknowledging that rolling out infrastructure could be difficult, such as having to dig up roads and put up masts.  They needed to work with the mobile network operators and the public to roll out the infrastructure appropriately and ensure that the general public made best use of it when it had been installed. 

 

The Portfolio Holder for City Economy spoke in support of the draft Digital Infrastructure Strategy.  He saw endless opportunities in the potential for 5G connectivity to transform the City.  He commended the Officers for their work. 

 

A Member of the Panel praised the exciting developments outlined in the Council’s draft Digital Infrastructure Strategy.  They believed the new developments arising from the strategy would allow businesses to work smarter and would give more people the opportunity of being able to work at home.  They believed a successful implementation of the strategy would bring significant change in the City.  They wanted to ensure that the messages of the strategy were communicated effectively.  They did not believe that the good work being done in the City with eBay had been promoted as well as it could have been.  Communications needed to be stronger and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Presentation on items on the Council's Forward Plan in the Remit of the Panel

[The Director of Regeneration will give a presentation on items currently on the Council’s Forward Plan which fall within the remit of the Stronger City Economy Scrutiny Panel]. 

Minutes:

The Chair commented that she had specifically asked for an item on the Council’s forward plan so the Panel could consider items which fell within the remit of the Panel. 

 

The Director for Regeneration stated that the City Learning Quarter and the Grand Theatre expansion plans would be considered by Cabinet on the 31 July 2019.  The Civic Halls future operating model whilst currently scheduled to be received by the Council’s Cabinet on 31 July 2019, would probably slip to the Cabinet meeting scheduled for September.  Other items on the forward plan which fell within the remit of the Panel included, the former Sainsbury’s St. George’s site, Wolverhampton External Funding Strategy, i54 Western Extension Phase 2 Budget Approval, Southside Regeneration Strategy Update and the Black Country Plan (Draft for Consultation). 

8.

Stronger City Economy Scrutiny Review of the Year 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 323 KB

[To consider a briefing note looking back at the Panel’s work over the Council year 2018/19]. 

Minutes:

The Briefing Note on the Stronger City Economy Scrutiny Panel review of the year 2018 /2019 was agreed. 

9.

Scrutiny Work Plan pdf icon PDF 281 KB

[To consider the Scrutiny Work Plan for the Stronger City Economy Scrutiny Panel]. 

Minutes:

The Stronger City Economy Scrutiny Panel Work Plan was agreed. 

 

The meeting closed at 8:47pm.