Agenda and minutes

Stronger City Economy Scrutiny Panel - Tuesday, 12th February, 2019 6.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 3 - Civic Centre

Contact: Martin Stevens  Email:

No. Item




Cabinet Member, Cllr John Reynolds sent his apologies, not as a Member of the Panel, but as the relevant Portfolio Holder. 


Declarations of interest


There were no declarations of interest. 


Minutes of previous meeting pdf icon PDF 463 KB

[The minutes of the previous meeting are attached]. 


The minutes of the meeting held on 20 November 2018 were approved as a correct record.


Matters arising


The Chair asked when the report on the budget consultation would be received by the Panel.  The Scrutiny Officer responded that it would be received in the new municipal year. 


Innovation pdf icon PDF 483 KB

[To consider a report on Innovation]. 


The Head of Enterprise introduced a report on Innovation.  The report built on the information which had been provided in a report to the Scrutiny Panel in April 2018.  Since that meeting a paper titled “Business Enterprise Research and Development” had been released in November 2018, which presented the current impact of research and development on the UKs business sectors.  Expenditure on research and development was continuing to grow and was predicated to continue on an upward trend.  The medical sector made the highest contribution to research and development, followed by automotive, computer gaming and aerospace, technical testing and software development.


The Head of Enterprise stated that Officers in the Council’s Enterprise department were engaging with businesses in the City.  The intelligence obtained from engagement was helping to shape and influence the activities the Council undertook.  It was also identifying areas which the Council could support businesses and highlighting the overall benefits that the businesses were bringing to the City.  The work undertaken had been captured in the Council’s, Strategic Economic Plan (SEP).  The SEP outlined how innovation was supporting broader wider economic growth in the City.


The Head of Enterprise commented that there had been some very successful work completed by the Business Engagement Team. In addition to the Council’s work with Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) they also had a targeted approach with the strategic companies in the City.  There had been a particular focus on innovation with the aerospace companies in the City.  Technological innovation and research and development were key to the strategic companies.  Steering those companies was Industry 4.0, an accreditation which captured automation, manufacturing technologies, cloud technologies, the internet of things which led to the creation of ‘smart factories’.


The Head of Enterprise highlighted that the Business Engagement Team was largely funded by European funding.  The funding they had secured ended at the end of 2019.  They had submitted a bid to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) for further funding until 2021 and were awaiting to hear if they had been successful.  The MHCLG had already secured the European funding regardless of Brexit.   


The Chair invited, Mr Steve Wright (Plastic Bottles Supplies Ltd) to present to the Panel.  He stated that he had setup the company over twenty years ago.  Its first year’s turnover had been £12,000.  He was now manufacturing 6 to 6.8 million bottles per month.  The company turned over in excess of £15 million last year and was employing 105 people. 


Mr Wright commented that if the Government introduced a rule that migrant workers had to be earning £30,000 or more to be permitted to work in the country, he would struggle to find the staff to work in his company.  Approximately 50% of his workforce were non-UK Nationality.  The Head of Enterprise commented that the Wolves at Work Initiative could help prepare people for work at Mr Wright’s company.  The initiative could also help find suitable staff. 


Mr Wright remarked that the ever-increasing energy costs were also  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Strategic Economic Plan pdf icon PDF 292 KB

[To consider the draft, Wolverhampton Strategic Economic Plan]. 

Additional documents:


The Manager for Strategic Project Funding introduced a report on the Council’s Strategic Economic Plan.  The plan was now out for consultation, which would close on the 22 February 2019. 


City Commission pdf icon PDF 427 KB

[To receive a briefing note on the City Commission]. 


The Director of Regeneration introduced a briefing note on the City Centre Commission.  Last summer, Members had announced their intention to setup a City Centre Commission.  There had been subsequently two meetings with Mr Bill Grimsey, who was the author of two influential reports on the state of the High Street.  These reports had subsequently interlinked with the Government commissioned report on the High Street written by Sir John Timpson, commonly referred to as the “Timpson Report”.  A workshop had been held with the help of the West Midlands Growth Company.  A number of options had been put forward in what was a challenging agenda. The Government had recently announced the Future High Street Fund and were expecting expressions of interest towards the end of March 2019.  It was intended to submit an expression of interest for the City of Wolverhampton.  The preparation work for the expression of interest was taking up significant resources and time.  When it had been completed they would be able to focus more on the progression of the City Centre Commission. 


The Chair recommended that the Chair of the City Centre Commission should be someone from the organisations that the Council approaches.  Strategic purpose was most important when working collaboratively across organisations.  She wanted to see how the City Centre Commission fitted in with all the other forums and strategies the Council had for selling Wolverhampton as a City.  She did not want the City Centre Commission to act in silo. 


Resolved: That the briefing note on the City Centre Commission be agreed. 


Work Plan pdf icon PDF 443 KB

[To receive the Scrutiny Work Programme]. 


Resolved: That the Scrutiny Work Programme be agreed. 


Future Meeting Dates

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


2 April 2019 at 6pm

13 June 2019 at 6pm

19 September 2019 at 6pm

14 November 2019 at 6pm

23 January 2020 at 6pm

12 March 2020 at 6pm


The future meeting dates of the Stronger City Economy Scrutiny Panel were detailed.


The meeting closed at 7:35pm.