Agenda and minutes

Stronger City Economy Scrutiny Panel - Monday, 2nd September, 2019 6.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 3 - Civic Centre

Contact: Martin Stevens  Email:

No. Item




Apologies for absence were received from, Cllr Barbara McGarrity QN, Cllr Asha Mattu, Cllr Udey Singh and Cllr Val Evans. 


Declarations of interest


There were no declarations of interest. 


Minutes of previous meeting pdf icon PDF 369 KB

To approve the minutes of the previous meeting of the Stronger City Economy Scrutiny Panel. 


Resolved: That the minutes of the Stronger City Economy Scrutiny Panel held on 16 July 2019 be approved as a correct record.  


Matters arising

To consider any matters arising from the minutes from the previous meeting of the Stronger City Economy Scrutiny Panel.


Cllr Birch asked about keeping the bus fleet clean both in terms of cleanliness and in terms of emissions. He felt there was a disparity that the fares for buses were consistent regardless of the condition of the bus.  The Head of Transport offered to provide a written response to the question raised from Cllr Birch. 



Westside Link / Public Realm

Officers will give a presentation on some of the questions raised at the last meeting of the Panel on the Westside Link / Public Realm proposals. 


The responses will be specifically on the questions which fall within the remit of the Panel.  Further answers will be given at a future meeting of the Vibrant and Sustainable City Scrutiny Panel, on some of the questions raised on transport issues. 


The Director for Regeneration introduced the item on the Westside Link / Public Realm.  He explained the reasons why it was necessary for the Council to take action.  The City was in a state of flux.  Footfall was down by approximately 2% and vacancy rates were at 14%.  They needed to do something, doing nothing was not an option. 


The Director for Regeneration remarked that the authority had made bold steps as to how to re-imagine the City Centre and make it a more vibrant place.  Repurposing the City Centre, by bringing in useable space where people could play and socialise, hold more events and provide more residential opportunities, was key to making the City Centre more vibrant and in encouraging growth and investment into the City.  This would have a knock-on effect for leisure and destination opportunities within the City Centre.  A number of key regeneration projects had been identified, with one of the largest being the West Side scheme.  The scheme aimed to provide a new leisure destination for the City Centre which included a new cinema, food and beverage offers, leisure opportunities and new car parking.  Key to the delivery of the West Side scheme was how it was positioned within the City Centre.  The West Side Link was integral to the West Side scheme going forward. 


The Head of Enterprise remarked that the City Centre was seeing a reduction in footfall.  The Council needed to be clear as to the form the City Offer would take.  They had been working with a range of stakeholders including Wolves Football Club, the City Centre BID and a range of businesses across the sector to help overcome the challenges faced by the City.  How the City Centre connected was important and West Side Link would form an important part of enhancing City connectivity through a quality public realm.  


The Head of City Development stated that they had asked CBRE (a commercial real estate services and investment firm) in 2017 to assist them in reviewing the City Centre and the range of projects the Council were looking to deliver.  The work CBRE had completed had culminated in the investment prospectus.  The prospectus effectively set out a number of distinct change zones in the City Centre, led and spearheaded by the Council’s key regeneration projects.  One of the areas CBRE had cautioned about was the quality of linkages between the regeneration zones needing to be significantly enhanced.  The concept of the West Side Link scheme had effectively rose from the work completed by CBRE. 


The Head of City Development remarked that there was potential for Wolverhampton City Centre to accommodate significantly more residential accommodation.  It was not currently well populated in terms of residential development.  They were working on a number of major schemes to increase the residential population in the City Centre.  Enabling a quality public space and attracting businesses would increase the likelihood of people choosing to live in the City Centre.  Urban & Civic had been at the heart  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


City Identity and Marketing for the City of Wolverhampton pdf icon PDF 385 KB

To consider a briefing note on the City Identity and Marketing for the City of Wolverhampton. 


The Head of Enterprise introduced a briefing note on City Identity and Marketing for the City of Wolverhampton.  She gave a PowerPoint presentation on the subject, the slides of which are attached to the signed minutes.  


A Member of the Panel commented that during the Wolves in Wolves Project, many people had wanted to buy a souvenir with a city theme but had been unable to do so.  She asked if the Council intended to do some merchandising, citing examples such as fridge magnets and mugs.  She felt the shop in the Art Gallery had a poor offering of goods with a City link.  She also felt the City did not celebrate its history enough including its sculptures, blue plaques and buildings of architectural significance.  She would also be pleased to see more local businesses taking part in the food festival.  An area which she thought the City could improve was in the offering of informative walks and talks.  It was important to celebrate the positives of Wolverhampton. 


The Head of Enterprise remarked that she took on board the comments made by the Member.  There was an offer for local independent traders to be part of the Food Festival as part of the arrangement with the promoter.  The Offer had been made on each occasion in the last three years. 25,000 people had visited the Food Festival in 2019 over the two days, which had been a ticketed event for the first time.  The key point was to ensure people visited Wolverhampton again.  Some pin badges with a Wolverhampton theme had been created. 


A Panel Member asked if there was a mechanism city wide to capture footfall.  The Head of Enterprise responded that the City centre BID (Business Improvement District) had two static counters.  There were new technologies coming into place which would help monitor football in the future.  An in-depth piece of work with investment would be required to assess how to best utilise the new technology available to capture footfall data.  She had been in discussions with the Director for Communications about using new technologies to capture footfall data. 


A Member stated that next year was the 25th anniversary of Fair Trade and hoped the Council would make best use of the anniversary at some of its events. 


The Head of Enterprise remarked that the Director of Communications was working with the Head of Business Services on a five-year strategy plan to look at the various food and drink events to be held in the City Centre.  It was important to note that the City was hoping to attract people through the Commonwealth games being held in the West Midlands and Coventry having UK City of Culture status in 2021. 


A Member of the Panel asked if the Council had benefited from the Mipim (Real estate market event) held in Cannes, France. The Director for Regeneration responded that the Brewers Yard Development (Approximately -1300 new homes development) came about following a conversation at Mipim.  The ongoing  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Scrutiny Work Programme pdf icon PDF 615 KB

To consider the Scrutiny Work Programme. 


A Member of the Panel asked about the Council’s plans for Brexit.  He was concerned about the effect of food prices increasing, on the poorest people in the city. 


The Scrutiny Officer commented that Scrutiny Board were reviewing the Brexit planning of the Council and it was on the agenda for their next meeting.  The Director for Regeneration remarked that an Executive Team meeting would be taking place on the 9 September 2019, where the Strategic Executive Board and Cabinet Members would be looking at Brexit, its potential impact on the local economy and what the authority could do to help support local businesses. 


Resolved: That the Scrutiny Work Programme be agreed.