Agenda and minutes

Prosperous Staffordshire Select Committee
Friday, 1st March, 2019 10.00 am

Venue: Oak Room, County Buildings, Stafford

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

Items
No. Item

42.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

Keith Flunder declared an interest in minute number 45, in his capacity as Chairman of meetings in relation to the Checkley Neighbourhood Plan, and Ian Parry declared a non-pecuniary interest in minute number 45 as ENGIE was a client of the organisation he worked for.

43.

Minutes of the Prosperous Staffordshire Select Committee held on 18 January 2019 pdf icon PDF 235 KB

Minutes:

RESOLVED – That the minutes of the Prosperous Staffordshire Select Committee held on 18 January 2019 be confirmed and signed by the Chairman.

44.

Minutes of the Joint Meeting of Prosperous Staffordshire and Safe and Strong Communities Select Committees held on 18 December 2018 pdf icon PDF 136 KB

Minutes:

RESOLVED – That the minutes of the joint meeting of Prosperous Staffordshire and Safe and Strong Communities Select Committees held on 18 December 2018 be confirmed and signed by the Chairman.

45.

Delivering Housing in Staffordshire pdf icon PDF 300 KB

Report of Cabinet Member for Commercial and Cabinet Member for Economic Growth

Additional documents:

Minutes:

To assist the Committee in their consideration of the report, Dan Gray, the Executive Director of Property at Aspire Housing had been invited to attend the meeting.  The Chairman asked Mr. Gray to give an outline of his organisation, what it did and how he viewed the current housing landscape, to aid the Committee’s understanding.  Mr. Gray informed members that his organisation had been having useful and productive early discussion with the County Council around the potential for increased housing development in Staffordshire.  He believed that there was potential for significant collaboration in the future between the County, District and Borough Councils and Housing Association providers.  Housing Associations shared the same values and objectives as the County Council around sustainable communities and increased prosperity for residents.  Housing Associations were charitable organisations typically, supported by public funding and were asset holding and the social housing which they held were assets against which they lever private sector funding.  They invested for long-term returns, over thirty plus years, and would develop against the housing market cycle.  There were around a dozen Housing Associations in Staffordshire, half of which were firmly rooted in the County.  Aspire had formed in 2000 from the transfer of stock from Newcastle Borough Council.  They currently spent around £25m per year on housing development and this year expected to have delivered 225 new affordable homes across shared ownership and rent.

 

There were three main ways in which Housing Associations engaged in the housing market.  Firstly through the acquisition of land or the use of their own land and accessing Homes England public subsidy grant to build on those sites.  Their challenge was that they were competing in a land market with private sector developers and there was also a limit to their individual capacity to the size of sites they were able to buy.  Secondly through Section 106 planning obligations, although there were difficulties in this model.  Private sector developers take up the large sites, who have a vested interest in minimising the amount of planning gain that local authorities took out of these sites as this impacted on their profit, so they would typically try to reduce the amount of affordable housing.  There was a disconnect between private sector developers leading the process of determining the right mix and type of housing on the sites and the needs of local authorities and housing associations, and often the wider community benefit was not considered.  The third model was setting up market sale companies and entering into development partnerships with private sector developers.  This was in its early stages in Staffordshire.

 

Members were informed that there was a housing crisis, and that there was a need to provide around 300,000 homes per year, every year, in order to meet housing need across the country.  Last year there were 220,000 and in previous years significantly less than that.  Of that, 23% was affordable housing nationally but evidence said that this figure should be 40%.  In order to fill the gap Mr.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 45.

46.

Economic Growth Programme pdf icon PDF 235 KB

Report of Cabinet Member for Economic Growth

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members were informed that Staffordshire’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.  The key priority for the future would be to encourage further growth in high 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 details of the support provided in respect of start-up survival by the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Growth Hub, together with details of the County Council’s Skills Programme.  The Cabinet Member for Economic Growth informed members that there was a ripple effect from the interventions by the Growth Hub.   With the LEP’s support the County Council were investing a further £4.8 million in equipment to increase STEM skills, and projects with partners would create another 1,700 apprenticeships and further education learners.

 

A member queried what were the ideal conditions for economic growth.  The Cabinet Member responded that these would be a diverse economy, which included automotive, digital and ceramic industries and good connectivity and tourism.  It was acknowledged that Staffordshire had a diverse economy which was strong and resilient, providing attractive conditions for investment.  Housing costs were also relatively affordable, and there was a good mix of skills and labour.  A member commented that it was important to maintain these conditions and replicate them throughout the County. 

 

Members considered a table of selected key projects which they welcomed, in particular to help being given to town centres.  In the next update to the Select Committee the Cabinet Member undertook to provide a more local view and was requested to provide more detail on the general growth of SMEs.  A member questioned whether enough was being done to support high streets and smaller businesses in order to see high streets thrive.  They also queried how many jobs were guaranteed at the end of apprenticeships.  The Cabinet Member responded that many employers were expressing the view that they needed more skilled people who were work ready.  Work was being undertaken with the LEP, universities and other partners to address this concern.  Under the £58m ESF programme a range of learning, employability and business support was being delivered, which offered tailored programmes for local residents and businesses. This included the LEP’s £13.2m, six-site Advanced Manufacturing Hub, using state of the art facilities and equipment, giving people the skills they needed to work in the County’s key industry sectors.

 

A member commented that the creation of significant numbers of jobs in an area could lead  ...  view the full minutes text for item 46.

47.

Petitions - School Crossing Patrols pdf icon PDF 251 KB

Report of the Scrutiny and Support Manager

Minutes:

Members were informed that the County Council’s Petitions Scheme stated that petitions with at least 2,500 signatures, but less than 5,000 signatures, may require a senior officer to give evidence at a public meeting of the relevant overview and scrutiny committee.  Petition organisers are invited to give evidence to the committee.  As the committee with responsibility for the scrutiny of matters relating to highways and transport Prosperous Staffordshire Select Committee was the relevant committee for school crossing patrols. 

 

Three petitions had been received and following due process letters had been sent to the organisers acknowledging their receipt and inviting them to attend the meeting to give evidence.  No further communication from the petitioners had been received.  However, on 22 January 2019 the County Council had announced that they would not be withdrawing school crossing patrols and consequently the Select Committee agreed that they need take no further action.

 

RESOLVED – That the receipt of three petitions regarding school crossing patrols be noted, with no further action to be taken.      

48.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 302 KB

49.

Exclusion of the Public

The Chairman to move:-

 

“That the public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business which involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in the paragraphs of Schedule 12A (as amended) of the Local Government Act 1972 indicated below”.

 

 

Part Two

(All reports in this section are exempt)

 

 

 

Minutes:

RESOLVED – That the public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business which involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in the paragraphs of Schedule 12A (as amended) of the Local Government Act 1972 indicated below.

50.

Exempt Minutes of the Prosperous Staffordshire Select Committee held on 18 January 2019

Minutes:

(Exemption paragraph 5)

 

RESOLVED – That the exempt minutes of the Prosperous Staffordshire Select Committee held on 18 January 2019 be confirmed and signed by the Chairman.