Agenda and minutes
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To approve the Minutes of the Meeting held on 4 March 2020 (Minute Nos. 606 - 613) as a correct record.
The Minutes of the Meeting held on 9 September 2020 (Minute Nos. 606 – 613) were taken as read, approved and signed by the Chairman as a correct record.
Declarations of Interest
Councillors should not act or take decisions in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves or their spouse, civil partner or person with whom they are living with as a spouse or civil partner. They must declare and resolve any interests and relationships.
The Chairman will ask Members if they have any interests to declare in respect of items on this agenda, under the following headings:
(a) Disclosable Pecuniary Interests (DPI) under the Localism Act 2011. The nature as well as the existence of any such interest must be declared. After declaring a DPI, the Member must leave the meeting and not take part in the discussion or vote. This applies even if there is provision for public speaking.
(b) Disclosable Non Pecuniary (DNPI) under the Code of Conduct adopted by the Council in May 2012. The nature as well as the existence of any such interest must be declared. After declaring a DNPI interest, the Member may stay, speak and vote on the matter.
(c) Where it is possible that a fair-minded and informed observer, having considered the facts would conclude that there was a real possibility that the Member might be predetermined or biased the Member should declare their predetermination or bias and then leave the room while that item is considered.
Advice to Members: If any Councillor has any doubt about the existence or nature of any DPI or DNPI which he/she may have in any item on this agenda, he/she should seek advice from the Monitoring Officer, the Head of Legal or from other Solicitors in Legal Services as early as possible, and in advance of the Meeting.
No interests were declared.
The Committee is asked to consider the draft Economic Improvement Plan.
The Cabinet Member for Economy and Property and the Community Services Manager have been invited to attend for this item.
The Chairman welcomed the Cabinet Member for Economy and Property and the Economy and Community Services Manager to the meeting.
The Cabinet Member for Economy and Property introduced the draft Economic Improvement Plan 2020-2023 which set-out the priorities for the Council and the actions it intended to take in respect of the future development of the local economy. The Cabinet Member explained that work on the document had commenced prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. She stated that the pandemic and subsequent lockdown had had a “catastrophic” impact on local businesses. The document was currently out for consultation.
The Economy and Community Services Manager explained that they were consulting the public, local businesses and several key agencies and reminders for comments were being sent. He reported that of the responses received so far, comments had been made about: the lack of local skills which was having a major burden on the local economy; and that local infrastructure needed to be in place before areas were developed.
The Chairman invited Members to ask questions as the Committee went through the document page-by-page:
Introduction – page 10
In response to questions from a Member, the Cabinet Member for Economy and Property stated that the Council would pursue economic growth, but not if there were too many negatives. The environmental challenges referred to in the document were about the environmental standards that were deliverable. She stated that both the Council’s Environmental Improvement Plan and Economic Improvement Plan were documents that should go “hand-in-hand”.
Key Local Issues – pages 10 to 11
· Needed to review current planning policy constraints and explore how they could be updated to allow and support business growth;
· should explore the use of residential space and how that could be used for small business uses;
· local secondary schools were well resourced and unused for several weeks during the year, the Council could explore how they could be utilised for adult education and similar uses;
· improved networking on local business suppliers should be included;
· engagement through business networks to support businesses with environmental improvements should be included; and
· stressed the importance of ensuring that sites that were supported for employment in the Local Plan were also supported by the planning process when applications came forward.
In response to the comments, the Cabinet Member for Economy and Property explained that it was part of the role of the Council’s Economic Development Unit to support businesses through the planning process, and whilst she understood that there were some constraints within the process there were also opportunities. She considered that the planning system was currently very narrow in its thinking about what land should be used for business development and it needed to be more flexible, particularly since the Covid-19 pandemic. The Economy and Community Services Manager explained that historically the planning system had focused on B Class uses, but employment was broader than that.
Our Priorities – Page 12
· Needed to expand and specify the type of support available for businesses;
· should add local ... view the full minutes text for item 105.
The Committee is asked to consider and agree the draft annual report for 2019/20 to Council.
The Policy and Performance Officer introduced the report which provided a summary of the Committee’s work for the 2019/20 Municipal Year.
A Member congratulated the Chairman and the Policy and Performance Officer for their work and stressed the importance of the Committee being able to ask “difficult questions” when considering policies, strategies and plans of the Council.
Resolved: That the draft 2019/20 Annual Report be submitted to Full Council.