Agenda and minutes

Stronger City Economy Scrutiny Panel
Tuesday, 17th April, 2018 6.00 pm

Venue: Training Room - Civic Centre. View directions

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

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies

[To receive apologies for absence].

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Cllr Payal Bedi-Chadha, Cllr Welcome Koussoukama, Cllr Martin Waite and Cllr Udey Singh. 

2.

Declarations of interest

[Members are reminded that they must not participate in the discussion or voting on any matter in which they have a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest and should leave the room prior to the commencement of the debate]. 

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest. 

3.

Minutes of previous meeting pdf icon PDF 134 KB

[The minutes of the previous meeting are attached for confirmation]. 

Minutes:

The minutes of the previous meeting held on 13 February 2018 were confirmed as a correct record.

4.

Matters arising

[To consider any matters arising from the minutes of the previous meeting]. 

Minutes:

A Member of the Panel asked how the action plans were developing for Wednesfield and Tettenhall.  In response, the Head of Local Economy stated work was continuing on the action plans.  Although the work on the action plans was still ongoing this did not mean that action was not taking place on the information obtained from the recent Scrutiny meetings. 

5.

Work Plan pdf icon PDF 101 KB

[To consider items for the work plan for the forthcoming Council year]. 

Minutes:

The Chair stated the Annual Work Programme Event was scheduled to take place on 28 June 2018. 

 

Resolved: That the work programme for the Stronger City Economy Scrutiny Panel be agreed.  

6.

Innovation pdf icon PDF 102 KB

[To consider a report on innovation].

Minutes:

The Service Director for City Economy introduced a report on innovation.  She stated that the report was about innovation in relation to economic development.  It was not just about research and development but also contained information about bringing products, services or systems to market and addressing how that worked for the business community, in terms of the benefits which innovation could bring.  Innovation was important for places and for the Council because a business base which was innovative would create jobs, a key priority for the City.  Innovation also improved the tax base which the Council was increasingly reliant upon.  SME’s (Small Medium Enterprises) innovating at a local level were really important and could bring additional benefits to the local area.  SME’s could bring a distinctiveness to an area making it more attractive to live.  They were also more likely to become engaged in the local economy and employ local people.

 

The Service Director for City Economy referred to a document titled “Driving Innovation in Cities” created by NESTA (Innovation Foundation).  A review of the approach taken in Greater Manchester to drive innovation in the City had identified three key lessons.  The first key area was about having access to real-time key information and data, which was essential for innovation and growth.  It was important there was the correct infrastructure in the City to access data, such as Broadband.  The City had recently received the positive news that £5 million had been secured for a full fibre network within the City Centre.  Money had also been secured, in partnership with the University of Wolverhampton, for an initiative called Digital Passport which aimed to support businesses to become more digitalised.  Crowd Fund Wolves was also having some great success in funding prospective local projects. 

 

The Service Director for City Economy remarked it was important for partnership working in the City.  People looked to the Council to coordinate and provide a lead.  Partnership working was a real strength for the City for creating an environment in which innovation could happen.   The Crowd funding initiative was particularly exciting for the City.  The third area the NESTA study had identified as being important to innovation was regarding networks and collaboration.  At the Black Country level there was significant work being completed in the manufacturing industry.  The Black Country Growth Hub offered business support and referrals to specialist support, including innovation support and was based at Wolverhampton Science Park.  The Hub was particularly valuable to smaller businesses who were offered a single account manager on initial contact. 

 

The Chair introduced Professor Andrew Pollard (Industrial Professor – Faculty of Science and Engineering at University of Wolverhampton).  Professor Pollard stated he had worked at the University for nearly fifteen years, before that time most of his career had been at GKN Technology and BAE Systems.  He was responsible for a team called the SciTech innovation Hub based at The Science Park at Wolverhampton University.  He led a number of projects and was responsible for developing new innovation  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Draft Strategic Economic Plan pdf icon PDF 98 KB

[To consider a briefing note on the draft Strategic Economic Plan]. 

Minutes:

The Head of Local Economy gave a presentation on the draft Strategic Economic Plan.  A copy of the presentation slides are attached to the signed minutes. 

 

The Head of Local Economy stated the Strategic Economic Plan (SEP) was essentially a refresh of the City Strategy which had been set out in 2011, with three priorities.  These were encouraging enterprise, empowering people and reinvigorating the City.  The strategy also set out four key performance areas.  The main purpose for refreshing the SEP was to capture the progression since 2011. Since this time there had been different shifts in sub-regional, regional and national economic policy.  There had also been a great deal of work in improving the City economy since 2011.

 

The Head of Local Economy stated there had been a slight upward trend in recent figures of the number of jobs per head of population.  The figures did not however reflect jobs outside of the Council’s geographical boundary.  The figures did therefore not include the jobs created as part of the i54 site, which were a key part of the local economy.  The second performance indicator was regarding employment rate, which showed an ongoing upward trend.  The third indicator related to health and well-being, with particular emphasis on life expectancy.  There had been a downward projection in female life expectancy, but females were outliving males within the City.  There were significant differences in Ward level data.  The Cabinet Member stated the life expectancy figures were reflective of the nationwide figures.  The Head of Local Economy referred to the fourth and final performance indicator of child poverty.  The target was very low.  Whilst it had reduced since 2011 there had been a slight upward trend.  This was thought to be largely down to the national policy changes such as in benefits.

 

The Head of Local Economy said the Council were developing an open data platform called WV Insight.  WV Insight would be a platform for hosting key data for the City.  It was proposed to include the SEP evidence base as a key part of the platform.  It was intended to be launched in the Summer.  The platform would include data from key partners such as the University and local businesses.  Some aspects of WV Insight would be open to the public and others restricted.

 

The Service Director for City Economy praised the work that had been completed on Workbox, Crowd Fund Wolves and on the Smart City Agenda.  There had been a surge in new companies since 2016.  Business survival rate had also improved, with one statistic showing Wolverhampton as the fourth best place to start a business.  There was an increase and improvement in skill levels within the City.   Superfast Broadband was continuing to be developed with the City.  Developers were being invited into the City to create places which people wanted to live. 

 

The Head of Local Economy stated they were now at the stage of consulting with key partners of the SEP to help build the content of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.