Agenda and minutes

Venue: Committee Room 3 - Civic Centre

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

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies

[To receive any apologies for absence]. 

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Cllr Craig Collingswood and Cllr Ian Angus. 

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 82 KB

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

Minutes:

The minutes of the Stronger City Economy Scrutiny Panel meeting held on 17 April 2018 were approved as a correct record. 

4.

Matters arising

[To consider any matters arising from the minutes]. 

Minutes:

There were no matters arising. 

5.

Work Plan pdf icon PDF 129 KB

[To discuss the Scrutiny Work Programme].   

Minutes:

The Chair referred to the Annual Scrutiny Work Programme Event scheduled for Thursday, 28 June 2018 where the work programme would be discussed at length and was a further opportunity to suggest items for the programme. 

 

The WMCA Scrutiny Committee - Mayor’s Policy Question Time event would be hosted by the City of Wolverhampton Council on Friday, 28 September 2018 in the Council Chamber at the Civic Centre.  The session would commence at 9am and she encouraged all Members of the Stronger City Economy Scrutiny Panel to attend.  Ideas for questions could be submitted to Cllr Simkins the Council’s representative on the Committee or herself as his nominated substitute. 

 

Members suggested the impact of Brexit and footfall as items for the work programme.  The Scrutiny Officer stated that the Black Country LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership) had setup a Brexit Group which was working with businesses on the potential impact of Brexit.  It was suggested that the Chair of this group could be invited to a future meeting of the Panel. 

 

A Member suggested the action plans which arose out of the meetings where, the local economy of Bilston, Wednesfield and Tettenhall were discussed, should be monitored by the Panel. 

6.

Enabling a vibrant city centre pdf icon PDF 1 MB

[To consider a report on enabling a vibrant city centre]. 

Minutes:

The Head of Local Economy presented a report on enabling a vibrant City Centre.  The report was particularly pertinent due to the recent announcement about the closure of Beatties House of Fraser and Poundworld.  The paper set out the national restructuring of the retail sector and the impact on cities and town centres as a consequence.  The report outlined the Council’s proactive strategy to respond to the changes and to repurpose the City Centre.  These included increasing the amount of city living, the increase of office space and an enhancement of the leisure offer.  A task force / action group approach was proposed in the report.

 

A Member stated he was pleased the Panel had received the report on enabling a vibrant City Centre, which was a most important item for the Panel to be considering.  He was saddened that House of Fraser had announced they were closing the Beatties store in the City Centre, which he saw as a dire blow to the retail sector in the City.  He was also concerned about the future of the Debenhams store.  He stated that the Council needed to do more to promote the City Centre and its overall importance to the Wolverhampton area.    

 

A Member stated that Wolverhampton City Centre had a huge amount to offer.  They were interested to hear more about how the City was marketed and the discussions which were taking place with partners for the marketing to be more effective.  The Head of Enterprise in response said marketing was very important and the Council needed to effectively convey the opportunities available in the City Centre.  Strengthening communications was key, as was forming a strong identity for the City of Wolverhampton. 

 

A Member stated Wolverhampton City Centre faced significant competition, as referred to in the report, which included Southwater in Telford.  The Southwater development had new squares, a hotel, a cinema and a number of popular restaurants.  The development could be reached within 15-20 minutes for people living on the westside of Wolverhampton and the car parking was free of charge.  He felt the Council were gambling too much on the Westside development.  He asked when the development would commence.  In response, the Head of City Development stated the project would commence when the developer could align all the necessary key parts to enable the scheme to make a profitable return.  The Council met regularly with the developer and they had made significant progress in their communications with the market.  The timing of when the scheme would commence was dependant on the formal signing of leases by key anchor tenants on the scheme.  He thought the overall health of the scheme was quite good, particularly as within the overall general investment market there was currently a cautious attitude.  His discussions with the company which ran the Mander Centre often centred on customers expecting an overall experience and not the availability of consumer goods to purchase. 

 

The Head of City Development stated Wolverhampton had a large amount of space  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.