Agenda and draft minutes

Prosperous Staffordshire Select Committee
Thursday, 3rd October, 2019 2.00 pm

Venue: Oak Room, County Buildings, Stafford. View directions

Contact: Julie Roberts  Email: julie.roberts@staffordshire.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

67.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

There were none at this meeting.

68.

Minutes of the Prosperous Staffordshire Select Committee held on 26 July 2019 pdf icon PDF 223 KB

Minutes:

RESOLVED – That the minutes of the meeting of the Prosperous Staffordshire Select Committee held on 26 July be confirmed and signed by the Chairman.

69.

Draft Strategic Infrastructure Plan pdf icon PDF 133 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member for Economic Growth

Minutes:

The Chairman welcomed Professor Martin Jones, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Staffordshire University and Matthew Lowe, Policy Manager at Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce, who had been invited to attend the meeting to assist members in their consideration of this item.

 

The Select Committee were offered the opportunity to shape the work around the draft Strategic Infrastructure Plan (SIP) as an important component in developing a clearly defined strategy for Staffordshire County Council engagement in housing policy and strategy delivery to support the implementation of housing schemes, both directly and indirectly.  The Committee would also be able to select any specific infrastructure themes for consideration and comment in more detail at future meetings.  It was also an opportunity to shape and influence the extent to which the SIP would form part of the Housing Strategy that would be brought to the Committee in late winter 2019/20.  A copy of the SIP had been circulated to members in advance of the meeting in order to give sufficient time for it to be read in detail.

 

The Cabinet Member for Economic Growth informed members that this was an important document for Staffordshire and its private and public partners. It was noted that it was a living document and would sit with a suite of other strategies.  It provided an indication of infrastructure needs going forward and would be useful in evidencing a funding gap.  He informed the Committee that he was proud of the work which had been done on the document by officers and partners.  Members were informed that it was essentially an assessment of the infrastructure requirements, looking at the cumulative need across the County and around its edges and was an inward and outward looking document and was primarily intended as a lobbying piece.  The Chairman questioned whether there was an opportunity to use this as an asset to encourage investment into the County.  The Cabinet Member responded that this was definitely the case, and District and Borough Councils would be asked to look at the SIP when putting together their local plans and consider how these interact, together with other partners.

 

It was queried what the life expectancy was of the document.  The Cabinet Member responded that although it stated 2038 he would expect it to be refreshed on a regular basis.  Although the stated intention was to review it every four years, dependant on the traction which the document gained this period would be reduced.

 

Professor Jones asked for clarification of the legal basis of the document, in terms of planning legislation this was not a structure plan, was this a way of combining all the local plans to have that single conversational device with government over growth and other deals and also to highlight the funding gap.  It was not a legal document but rather a way of having a consolidated conversation.  Professor Jones was aware of five other instances of such plans and said that the County Council should be congratulated as this was an enormous piece of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 69.

70.

Economic Growth Programme Update pdf icon PDF 150 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member for Economic Growth

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members were informed that Staffordshire County Council’s ambitious Economic Growth Programme was continuing to play a crucial role in Staffordshire’s ongoing economic improvement.  Claimant unemployment rates continued to be persistently below the averages for the West Midlands and Great Britain.  This success story was likely to continue as the County Council worked in partnership to deliver priority projects with the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership and other key local stakeholders.  Work was being done to identify further opportunities to increase the growth of housing and prosperity in Staffordshire and discussions were progressing well with Homes England to identify potential areas of mutually beneficial working.  The Committee were informed that a key priority for the future would be to encourage further growth in higher value-added sectors, meeting the County Council’s ambitions for creating “better jobs” while ensuring that there was a mixed and balanced economy in Staffordshire.  All of this needed to be combined with a competitive and broad skills profile among local communities, able to support this growth, giving everyone the best opportunities to fulfil their economic potential.

 

The Committee considered a summary of the live and completed projects.  The current total financial value of the Economic Growth Programme was £477.6m, of which £81.9m related to direct capital investment by the County Council.  Members were provided with a brief update on the progress which was being made with a number of priority sites.  A member queried what was happening at the Rugeley Power Station site.  The Cabinet Member responded that several discussions had taken place with ENGIE, who were working closely with the County Council and Cannock Chase District Council on developing their part of the site.  In response to a question on timescales officers confirmed that the developers were hoping to have the first houses completed in 2021 and that a planning application had been submitted.  A member sought assurances around European Funding and was informed that the government had confirmed that the funding programmes would continue for the full term, up to and including December 2023. 

 

A member commented that the report contained a lot of positive details around investment in Staffordshire, companies expanding and the County Council investing in schemes which were making a real difference.  He questioned what the County Council was doing to promote more inclusive growth and address the issue of inequality and increasing living standards across the board, as there were pockets of poverty, and asked if there was evidence of lifestyles and life chances improving.  He also commented that it was important to ensure that employment land was not swallowed up for the sake of residential development.  Officers responded that the work around the European Social Fund programme which was designed to help people back into the labour market.  Through the programme over 18,200 residents had improved their skills and job prospects.  Over 7,770 beneficiaries had either progressed into work, education, training, apprenticeships, or been upskilled to improve skill levels and productivity. Whilst a lot of the focus of the report  ...  view the full minutes text for item 70.

71.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 262 KB

Minutes:

In considering their Work Programme members were informed that it had been agreed to hold an Inquiry Day in March next year around Community Transport.  Whilst it was acknowledged that running buses was not a County Council function it was recognised that transport issues can cause social isolation, and even marginal improvements would be worthwhile.  Key contributors would be invited to participate and the Committee would act as facilitators.   

 

The Chairman commented that it had been very useful to have the invited speakers at the meeting as it had stimulated debate and suggested that it would be helpful to repeat this in future when the Committee is considering items on the economy.

 

RESOLVED – that:

a)    Plans to hold an Inquiry Day on Public Transport be agreed; and

b)    The Work Programme be noted.