Agenda and minutes

Stronger City Economy Scrutiny Panel
Tuesday, 20th September, 2016 6.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 3 - 3rd Floor - Civic Centre. View directions

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

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Cllr Sweetman.

2.

Declarations of interest

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

3.

Minutes of previous meeting pdf icon PDF 90 KB

[To consider the minutes of the previous meeting]

Minutes:

An amendment was moved in relation to page 6 of the minutes where it was stated that Wolverhampton currently had the top ten places for music venues offer. This should read that Wolverhampton had one of the top ten places.

 

Resolved:                                     That with the inclusion of the amendment on page 6, the minutes be agreed as a correct record of the meeting.

4.

Matters arising

Minutes:

In relation to the update on Brexit referred to on page 5 of the minutes it was confirmed that the DCLG was currently committed to funding any projects agreed before the Autumn Statement and emails were being exchanged regarding projects that could be coming after the Statement.

 

Wolverhampton currently had three projects that were agreed (the Black Country Gold Grant Fund, European Social Fund Impact Project and a European Development Fund Project) but others including the Bilston Urban Village Environmental Project and some possible low carbon projects could be affected.

 

Members considered page 6 of the minutes in relation to footfall in the City. Officers confirmed that these were only preliminary results and that a full breakdown could be provided to members in the coming weeks.

 

Members queried whether it would be possible to have an update on the potential shopping outlet that was coming to the area, Officers confirmed that the outlet would be in Cannock and that the project was currently seeking planning permission; an update would be provided to Members.

 

 

Resolved:      (1) That a full breakdown of footfall in the City be provided to members as soon as practicable;

(2)       That an update be provided to Members regarding the planning shopping outlet in Cannock.

 

5.

Visitor Economy Update pdf icon PDF 139 KB

[To note progress in developing Wolverhampton’s Visitor Economy.]

Minutes:

A report was submitted requesting the Panel to note the information regarding Wolverhampton’s Visitor Economy and the City of Wolverhampton Council’s work to support its growth and development.

 

The Panel had received a report on 6 October 2015 providing an overview of activity to support the development of the visitor economy, this report provided an update on progress over the last year.

 

Officers highlighted the importance for the Council in considering working in different ways in order to continue to deliver a high quality and diverse visitor economy when savings in the region of £2.6 million had to be made.

 

Members considered the report and noted the improvement in visitor numbers to the Art Gallery and other major venues from 500,000 in 2003/2004 to 1 million now. Members did however express concern regarding the detail in the information that they were receiving and Officers confirmed that in the past a designated Officer had collated this information but that Officer Post no longer existed. Concerns were also raised as to the lack of information regarding what the private sector was doing and that without this information it was impossible to formulate a coherent visitor strategy. Officers stated that information such as how many hotels were in Wolverhampton was available and that this would be provided to Members after the meeting. Officers stated that the first focus had been to get a good figurative base and that now the job of drilling down into the figures could commence with help from a newly appointed Marketing and Tourism Officer. Officers confirmed that this information would be available for the next meeting of the Panel.

 

The Panel also considered the fact that Wolverhampton did not appear to have a unique selling point on a level with the Bull Ring in Birmingham or Camden Market or Cheshire Oaks. Officers stated that the City had the largest pop art collection in the country and that the Wolverhampton Wanderers Football team was very well known along with Marstons Brewery. Members considered whether marketing in these areas could be looked at in the future especially given the fact that Wolverhampton was much easier to reach than other nearby Cities and that it was crucial that visitors were encouraged to stay in the City rather than go off to other neighbouring attractions. Officers stated that work was being done in the City to make it more attractive including the Westside Development and the development of the Mander Centre and the refurbishment of the Civic Halls and the Grand Theatre.

 

The suggestion was made by Members that the Council should also consider areas such as the National Trust and the Canal and River Trust or working with other partner authorities such as Dudley with the Black County Museum.

 

Officers stated that a website was currently being developed that would, for the first time have all of the attractions the City had to offer in one place, the site would be dedicated to visitors and would be City wide rather than  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Scrutiny Skills and Employment Update pdf icon PDF 302 KB

[To update the Panel on skills and employment activities within Wolverhampton.]

Minutes:

The Panel received a briefing note updating it on skills and employment activities within Wolverhampton. The briefing note had previously been requested by Members and it was noted that even though there was still a high proportion of job seekers, that this number appeared to be reducing.

 

It was confirmed that key workers were now in place to help tackle the youth unemployment which attracted a significant fund of £5.7 million. Updates would be provided to the Panel as this work progressed.

 

The Panel considered Universal Credit and the fact that this was currently only available to single non householders in the area. A specific piece of work was being carried out regarding these claimants including information on the website in order to avoid any adverse impact for the City in relation to this area.

 

It was noted that there was still a high level of residents without qualifications but that this was improving and that the higher level qualifications were increasing but that there was still some distance to go to bring Wolverhampton in line with the rest of the West Midlands and Country.

 

Members expressed concern regarding the youth unemployment and officers confirmed that a specific piece of work was being carried out regarding this including a recent visit to Telford to see their ‘Job Box’. It was thought that early intervention and guidance was crucial to help younger people onto the right path and Wolverhampton was developing a similar tool to the ‘job box; that would help to achieve this. Members noted the added importance of following up on any younger people placed in employment especially as to whether they stayed after an initial 12 to 18 weeks, Officers confirmed that there were follow ups at 6 months but that statistics but that statistics showed that only 50% moved into permanent employment.

 

Resolved:      That the information be noted and received.