Agenda and minutes

Stronger City Economy Scrutiny Panel - Wednesday, 5th February, 2020 6.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 3 - Civic Centre

Contact: Martin Stevens  Email:

No. Item



[To receive any apologies for absence]. 


Apologies for absence were received from Cllr Asha Mattu, Cllr Susan Roberts MBE and Cllr Jacqueline Sweetman. 


Cllr Barbara McGarrity QN and Cllr Craig Collingswood apologised in advance for their intention of leaving the meeting early.


The Portfolio Holder for City Economy apologised in advance as it was his intention to leave the meeting early.  


Declarations of interest


There were no declarations of interest. 


Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 328 KB

[To approve the minutes of the previous meeting]. 


The minutes of the meeting held on 5 February 2020 were agreed as a correct record. 


Cllr Philip Bateman asked for the assumed new housing capacity of Wolverhampton City Centre to be recorded in the minutes. This was provided by the Director of Regeneration as follows: -


4556 homes up to 2038, or 240 homes per year (Urban Capacity Review Update 2019).  This includes a windfall allowance of 550 homes (30 per year) for vacant upper floor conversions - in line with trends in recent years.  In total, 950 new homes were completed in the City Centre during 2006-19, or 73 homes per year on average.



Matters arising

[To consider any matters arising from the minutes].  


There were no matters arising. 


Wolverhampton Digital Infrastructure Strategy pdf icon PDF 304 KB

[To consider the attached report which was received by Cabinet on 22 January 2020 on the Wolverhampton Digital Infrastructure Strategy. The decision by Cabinet was, “that the Wolverhampton Digital Infrastructure Strategy be approved”]. 


[A presentation will also be given]. 

Additional documents:


The Digital Innovation Champion, Councillor Beverley Momenabadi gave a presentation to the Panel on the Wolverhampton Digital Infrastructure Strategy.  She commented that the Council was committed to future proofing the Digital Infrastructure within the City.  One of the ways to do this was through the rollout of full fibre.  She spoke about bringing 5G to the City, which operated at a speed ten times quicker than 4G.  5G had the potential to deliver services more efficiently.  The demand for greater digital connectivity was accelerating.  She cited the example of businesses increasingly using the software package, Microsoft Teams.  This package had the ability to allow you to connect to colleagues in a different way.  It had an instant messaging service and could facilitate conference and video calls, which meant less in person meetings were needed.  5G would allow more mobility for businesses and using a package like Microsoft Teams could transform the way a business worked.


The Digital Innovation Champion stated that a study had been completed by Regeneris in January 2018.  Their study had predicted that over 15 years full fibre would lead to a £27 million direct impact, £64 million business impact and £58 million of benefits to households in Wolverhampton.  The Council were working closely with West Midlands 5G and developing use cases, exploring how 5G could be used to improve service delivery and productivity through test beds.  Local businesses in the City could benefit through involvement in the test beds and the WM5G application accelerator allowing them to explore the opportunities that 5G could provide to their business.  All four mobile phone network operators had announced the roll-out of 5G in Wolverhampton.  Wolverhampton was the first in the nation to have a 20 metre, 5G Mast.  It was hoped that the digital investment would make Wolverhampton more attractive to big companies to establish themselves in the City. 


The Digital Innovation Champion remarked that they wanted Wolverhampton to become a “Smart City.”  Bristol was currently considered the UK’s leading Smart City.  A short video was shown to the Panel about what Bristol were doing and what Wolverhampton could aspire to in the future.


The Digital Innovation Champion commented that full fibre and 5G offered great opportunities with the traffic management system.  There were also great opportunities in the monitoring of air quality, public safety solutions, the control of street lighting, car parking, smart waste collecting and the monitoring of footfall.  The new smart lamp posts would be able to monitor day light to determine when to turn on.   Wolverhampton Homes would be piloting a Smart Device proof of concept in five homes embracing Internet of Things, which included temperature and humidity sensors, Smart boilers, Smoke and CO2 alarm and energy monitoring.  She outlined the timetable over the next few years for Wolverhampton becoming a Smart City. 


The Digital Innovation Champion described a future opportunity known as 3D Mapping.  This allowed realistic modelling of Wolverhampton allowing a better visualisation of the current environment.   An area where 3D modelling  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Scrutiny Review of Apprenticeships pdf icon PDF 703 KB

[To consider a report on Apprenticeships].




The Portfolio Holder for Education and Skills introduced a report on apprenticeships.  He stated that in Germany you would not find a major manufacturing industry that didn’t have someone with an Engineering degree on the Board of Directors.  The education system in the UK had been for a long time dominated with a view of the importance of a classical education, rather than a practical focus.  The pressure to achieve a target of 50% of all young people attending University had negatively affected apprenticeships.  The Government had started to listen about the importance of practical learning.  Through the work of the Scrutiny review and the ongoing work subsequently, the Local Authority and the City of Wolverhampton as a whole had benefited.


The Portfolio Holder for Education and Skills commented that the Local Authority now spent all of its apprenticeship levy.  The authority was increasing its apprenticeships and were working with organisations within Wolverhampton to try and ensure people had the opportunity to learn on the job and be certificated.  Apprenticeship co-ordinators had been allocated to all the Local Authority schools in Wolverhampton.  A City Apprenticeship Group had been established.  They were also supporting Managers with the Council to look at whether a suitable apprenticeship was the best way to fill a vacancy.  He believed this was the right approach in conjunction with a more supportive recruitment process.              


The Head of Organisational Development and Apprenticeships gave a presentation to the Scrutiny Panel.  A copy of the slides are attached to the signed minutes.  Some of the main points were as follows: -


·       Across the City there were 104 different apprenticeship standards being used with businesses.


·       The Council had increased its 2016/17 offer of level 4 sector apprenticeship standards to a current offer of 27 from level 2 -6.


·       The level of qualifications to undertake apprenticeships had been revised.


·       The age ranges for people undertaking apprenticeships at the Council was monitored compared to the rest of the City. 


·       The Council had setup the tools to become an exemplar employer.  The pay scale had been improved, information for managers and the recruitment process had been improved.


·       The Council was utilising apprenticeship standards to upskill current employees.


·       Apprenticeship standards were made up of two parts, Learning and Knowledge training and End Point Assessment.


·       Level 2 and Level 3 apprenticeship standards could be started without a formal English and Maths qualification.


·       With any apprenticeship standard the apprentice had to achieve the level 2, English and Maths qualification prior to the End Point Assessment.


·       If a person had recorded a special educational need they would be able to undertake a level 2 or level 3 apprenticeship and achieve entry level English and Maths at the End Point Assessment. 


·       For people undertaking a level 4 and 5 apprenticeship there would be an expectation that they hold a level 2 in English and Maths when recruited onto the programme.  


·       There had been an increase in the apprenticeship levy spend, which had increased to £614,398 compared to £105,752 in  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Marketing pdf icon PDF 1017 KB

[To receive a briefing note on Marketing]. 


[Report is marked: To Follow].


The Director of Communications and External Relations introduced a briefing note on Marketing.  The briefing note had been specifically requested by the Chair of the Panel, Cllr Jacqueline Sweetman, following the presentation on the City Brand at the previous Panel meeting.  She had asked how the work on branding had fitted into the wider plan of marketing activity and where were the areas of competitive advantage and USPs (Unique Selling Points) that the City wished to promote.  The note highlighted the fact that the work by the Council on marketing the City was a work in progress.  There were many elements to the plan and it was very much a partnership arena.  They were working closely with the West Midlands Growth Company on their regional work. 


The Director of Communications and External Relations commented that it was a key time for the City.  There was the ongoing regeneration of the City Centre and other areas.  Regional interest was developing in the area due to the Commonwealth Games in 2022.  The success of the Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club was bringing national and international profile to the City.  There was also a developing cultural offer around the British Arts Show coming to the City next year, which he felt would be a very significant event.  It was key to pull together a framework along with associated propositions.  The draft framework outlined in the briefing note was audience focused. They were looking to build some performance measures. 


The Director of Communications and External Relations remarked that they had been working with the Economic Growth Board for a number of years on developing a strong City brand that all partners used.  It was a key element of place shaping to use a standard brand.  They were trying to roll out the brand across the whole of the City.  Working with the Growth Company they were looking to invest in trying to understand perceptions around the City.  The Growth Company had undertaken some research in the last twelve months on how different areas of the country understood Wolverhampton.  It was clear there was some more work to do on improving perception levels. 


The Director of Communications and External Relations commented that the power of sport was important.  There were increasing opportunities at Aldersley Stadium and the Leisure Village, which was hosting national events such as Judo, Martial Arts and Table Tennis.  There was potential to host other sporting events such as Badminton.  Wolverhampton was fortunate to have a pedigree of former Olympic athletes who called the City their home. 


The Director of Communications and External Relations stated that they could build City Pride into some of the elements of the wider plan and at a more local level linking with some of the place-based work in Public Health.  A five years events strategy was in development.  This was a significant opportunity to develop a more vibrant and ambitious City events strategy aimed at increasing footfall across the City and economic benefit and well-being.  In the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


Approach to Inward Investment pdf icon PDF 170 KB

[To consider a report on the approach to inward investment]. 

Additional documents:


The City Investment Manager introduced a report on Inward Investment.  They were currently working with West Midlands Growth Company on a research piece.  This was in relation to some of the negative perception of Wolverhampton or a lack of understanding of what the City offered.  Appendix 1 to the report outlined the current approach to attracting investment.  Some of the intermediaries they worked with included the Department for International Trade, West Midlands Growth Company and Multipliers (organisations such as legal firms and architects).  They received various enquiries from a number of fields and also direct leads.  They carried out proactive work such as trade show and lead generation campaigns.  When an enquiry was received they then worked with that lead to illustrate how Wolverhampton was suitable to their business need.  This then led on to developing the prospect into a project and maturing the project leads.  There was a robust account management process in place for when contracts had been secured.  This was to try and ensure that businesses received a good service when in the City. 


The City Investment Manager detailed some of the successes in recent times.  These included, Swedish owned Atlas Copco’s 46,000 sq. ft industrial facility at i54 creating 80 jobs; German owned DB Cargo’s £6 million freight hub expansion and American owned Charter Court’s expansion at Wolverhampton Homes business park creating 250 new jobs.  In January 2020 Metro Bank opened a new store on Dudley Street in the City Centre, which created 25 new jobs.  The intended outcome of the International trade and Investment Strategy was to create new jobs in the City and help existing companies to expand so they could create new jobs.  He was currently supporting an Indian owned company to set up operations at the Science Park in the Health care space. 


The City Investment Manager stated that the current number of inward investment Projects ongoing stood at around 60.  At this number the current pipeline of job creation figures stood at around 4,000.  Some of these jobs would come to fruition in 2021 / 2022.  The rationale for the strategy was to provide the service with a three-year strategy to attract international trade and investment, which would create new jobs and GVA (Gross Value Added) growth.  A strategy was also needed to respond to the national and international situation such as Brexit.  They had seen a number of enquiries that had been lost due to Brexit and some that had ceased until the situation was more clear.  A strategy was required to allow the City to realise its full potential and achieve penetration within key markets around the world.  Advanced engineering was a major key sector within the City and so they would continue this theme into the future with overseas markets.


The City Investment Manager described what he hoped the strategy would help them achieve.  He believed it would help Wolverhampton focus on specific sector strengths and niches.  It would help to identify key sectors that they wished to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.


Work Plan pdf icon PDF 275 KB

[To approve the Work Programme for the Stronger City Economy Scrutiny Panel]. 


Resolved: That the Scrutiny Work Programme be agreed. 


The meeting closed at 8:30pm.