Agenda and minutes

Stronger City Economy Scrutiny Panel - Thursday, 10th September, 2020 6.00 pm

Venue: Via Microsoft Teams (Virtual Meeting)

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

Note: Unfortunately due to technical issues there is no sound available for the first 10 minutes of the recording. Apologies for any inconvenience that this may cause. 

Media

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies

[To receive any apologies for absence]. 

Minutes:

An apology for absence was received from Councillor Jonathan Yardley. 

 

An apology for absence was received from the Portfolio Holder for Education and Skills, Councillor Dr Michael Hardacre. 

2.

Declarations of interest

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest. 

3.

Minutes of previous meeting pdf icon PDF 350 KB

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

Minutes:

The minutes of the previous meeting held on 5 February 2020 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 of the previous meeting. 

5.

Project Relight pdf icon PDF 1 MB

[To receive a presentation from the Director of Regeneration on the areas that fall within the remit of the Panel relating to Project Relight]. 

Minutes:

The Director of Regeneration gave a presentation on the Directorate’s response to Covid-19 and the plans for “Relighting our City.” With respect to the Directorate’s response to Covid-19 the update focused on Planning, Enterprise and Skills, Adult Education and City Development.  On the “Relighting Our City” aspect the focus was on Connected City and other activities undertaken during the pandemic.

 

The Director of Regeneration stated that during the course of the pandemic to date there had been an overall rise in planning applications, the Council’s Planning Service performance had been unaffected by Covid-19.  The comparable figures compared to previous years were as follows: -

 

Applications received July – August

 

2018 – 269

2019 – 274

2020 – 287

 

The increasing number of planning applications was positive as it was an indicator of future jobs, homes and investment.  They were processing the applications effectively working from home and had received many compliments.  Planning Committees were taking place virtually online.

 

The Director of Regeneration presented a slide on Business and Employment.  All engagement and delivery had been moved online.  The authority had successfully paid out £44.9 million of grants to a collective total of 4,247 businesses.  They had launched an online portal called ‘Wolves in Business’ which could direct businesses, in any sector, to the correct level of support.  In August alone, the Business Support helpline had received 7,120 calls.  Ten grants had been awarded for Aim for Gold – ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) SME (Small and Medium Sized Enterprises) Support Package, to businesses who had adapted to access new markets as result of Covid-19.  Since lockdown had commenced in March, the Council had supported in the creation of 800 new jobs.  84 residents had been supported into employment since March using the Wolves at Work Programme.  The Twitter feed for Wolves at Work had seen on average 8,000 views per week. 

 

The Director of Regeneration stated that Culture and Libraries fell within his area of responsibility.  The library function had seen a vast rise in E-books / audio available (13,888) and also 3,934 downloads.  Online reading and story sessions had been delivered.  They had also reintroduced the home delivery service through the Citizens Advice Bureau in August.  They were currently reviewing the reopening of the library service in line with Covid-19 safety measures.  Any reopening would be phased.  The Art Gallery had created considerable online content and downloadable family packs for school holidays.  The Art Gallery, Bantock and the Archive had re-opened in July with Covid-19 safety measures in place.  The Art Gallery improvement project had however been paused due to Covid-19. 

 

The Director of Regeneration presented a slide on adult education.  They had been able to enrol students remotely and there had been an increase in content available.  An online course offer had been developed.  Nine new courses were available to support residents with mental health, employment and study skills development.  They were hoping to introduce face to face learning in September in line with the Department for Education  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Future Work Programme pdf icon PDF 397 KB

[For Scrutiny Panel Members to discuss a future Work Programme for the Panel]. 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Scrutiny and Systems Manager gave a short presentation on the future Work Programme for the Scrutiny Panel.  She listed some questions, included in the presentations slides, which were good to consider when considering items for the Work Programme.   She detailed the remit of the Panel which included: -

 

·       Enterprise and Skills

·       City Development

·       Visitor Economy

·       Adult and Cultural Learning

·       Economic Inclusion

·       Service Development

 

The Scrutiny and Systems Manager detailed the new approach to Scrutiny which included a Connected City theme for the remainder of the municipal year.  She then went through the Work Programme items for the remainder of the year. 

 

The Scrutiny Officer stated that the Work Programme was very much a live document and Members could contact either the Chair or himself throughout the year to suggest items for the Panel to consider. 

 

The Director for Regeneration commented that he was happy to bring regular updates on the general activity of the Directorate to the Scrutiny Panel. 

 

A Member of the Panel stressed the vital nature of the remit of the Panel including the visitor economy, which was so important to the City.  He hoped that the Scrutiny Panel could focus some of its time on this area in the future. 

 

Members of the Panel praised the work of Officers during the Covid-19 crisis. 

7.

Future Meeting Dates

The future meeting dates of the Stronger City Economy Scrutiny Panel are as follows: -

 

12 November 2020 at 6pm

 

21 January 2021 at 6pm

 

18 March 2021 at 6pm

Minutes:

The Chair confirmed the future meeting dates of the Stronger City Economy Scrutiny Panel as follows:-

 

12 November 2020 at 6pm

21 January 2021 at 6pm

18 March 2021 at 6pm

 

 

The meeting ended at 7:06pm.