Agenda and minutes

Stronger City Economy Scrutiny Panel
Tuesday, 26th September, 2017 6.00 pm

Venue: Bilston Library and Gallery, Mount Pleasant, Bilston WV14 7LU

Contact: Julia Cleary  01902 555046 Email: julia.cleary@wolverhampton.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Paula Brookfield, Udey Singh, Sweetman, Waite and Warren.

2.

Declarations of interest

Minutes:

Councillor Banger declared an interest in item 5, Bilston – Local Economic Development and Growth as a trader in the town centre.

3.

Minutes of previous meeting pdf icon PDF 73 KB

Minutes:

That the minutes of the meeting held on 20 June 2017 be confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Vice-chair, subject to the addition of a recommendation to minute 5, to refer to the need to encourage media and cultural students to remain in the city after graduating.

4.

Matters arising

Minutes:

Councillor Phil Bateman referred to the suggestion made by Phil Birch, Chief Executive of Revolver Records, regarding the possibility of converting the Magistrates Court building into a five-star hotel and asked if the idea would be pursued.  He stated that it would be a significant step for the City; however, all the financial implications would have to be considered.

 

The Vice-chair reiterated the comments made by Phil Birch that the conversion would help invigorate the city centre and it should be pursued.

5.

Bilston - Local Economic Development and Growth pdf icon PDF 108 KB

Within the context set out in the report, to consider:

·                    How can the Council help to support the development and strengthening of the local economy in Bilston?

·                    What else should be done?

·                    Who are the key partners, what is their role and how can they contribute?

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Vice-chair welcomed Councillors Gibson, Leach, Leach, Simkins and Russell, representatives from local business, community and resident groups and invited them to sit at the table and take part in the discussion.

 

Charlotte Johns, Head of Strategic Programmes introduced the report and stated that the Group was being asked to consider how the Council could help to support the development and strengthening of the local economy in Bilston.

 

Ian Edwards, Samantha Butler and Carl Butler from the Remember Gods Acre group referred to the fund raising undertaken to provide additional Christmas lights and a tree, to improve the festive atmosphere and bring the community together in Bilston.  They had raised £3,600 in six months; however, they were concerned that the estimated costs were extremely high.

 

Ann Ramsbottom from the Community Action Partnership referred to the significant problems faced in the town centre.  Both the market and centre required extensive regeneration to make the centre vibrant again and it was a concern that if action was not taken soon, it would be too late.  There was also uncertainty regarding the future of several key old buildings, including the Town Hall, the old Art College[HT1] , Bilston Library and Pipe Hall. 

 

Councillor Russell advised that she was the Chair of the newly formed Action for Bilston group which had already raised £4000 and was looking to raise more through grants.  It was hoped that the group could integrate with other groups and work in all areas of Bilston.

 

Councillor Simkins referred to the ongoing problems with the market.  The market was in decline, with empty stalls and lost revenue, there were no incentives to keep current traders or to encourage new traders to the town.  Rather than giving discounts for traders to stand on a casual basis, there should be an incentive to sign a long-term lease and that would help to bring stability.  Bilston needed to be promoted as a market town and hold activities and events to encourage people to visit, such as speciality markets.  The centre was full of charity shops and needed to attract new businesses.  Parking problems were exacerbating the current situation and the introduction of car parking charges would make it worse.  Bilston also had good transport links which usually encouraged growth and development; however, in Bilston the tram line was surrounded by derelict buildings which increased the poor perception of the area.  The tram line had also been out of action for many months which was adding to the problems.  There were strategies and action plans in place; however, there was a lack of coordination and leadership from the BID.  There was significant investment coming into the area, with new houses and a school and that was welcomed; however, the infrastructure of the town required improvement, to allow new residents to integrate with local residents.

 

The lack of a regular Police presence was also a severe concern as residents did not feel safe going out in the evening, with no one to enforce the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.