Agenda and minutes
Venue: Meeting Room 1, Guildhall
Contact: Tracy Davies Scrutiny Facilitator
Apologies for Absence
Apologies for absence were submitted on behalf of Councillors Sonia Benbow-Jones, R Alun Jenkins and Marc Jones.
To sign as a correct record the Minutes of the Meeting held on 6 June 2018.
AGREED – That the Minutes of the Meeting held on 6 June 2018 be signed as a correct record.
To consider the report of the Head of Finance
The Head of Finance submitted a report (HF/73/18s) to assist the Committee in considering and agreeing its work programme.
The Scrutiny Officer introduced the report, referring to section 4 in particular, and during discussion the following changes were proposed:
‘Tackling Poverty Strategy’ – to be moved from the October to the November 2018 meeting.
‘Scrutiny of the North Wales Growth Bid’ - to be referred to the Scrutiny Co-ordinating Group for consideration in view of the recent WG funding which had been made available to refresh the Joint Scrutiny Handbook.
AGREED: That the Work Programme, attached at Appendix 1 to report HF/73/18s, be agreed, subject to the aforementioned changes.
To consider the report of the Lead Member for Organisation – Finance, Performance, Health & Safety and Governance
The Lead Member for Organisation – Finance, Performance, Health & Safety and Governance submitted a report (HHE/31/18s) presenting the North Wales Digital Connectivity Strategy which was considered by the Shadow North Wales Growth Board on 16 March 2018. The report also informed Members of the next steps, including work on the detailed action plan and the development of a bid to the UK Government’s Local Full Fibre Network Fund and set out how proposals could benefit Wrexham County Borough.
In introducing his report the Leader Member referred in particular to the aspirations contained in the North Wales Growth Vision and the North Wales Economic Ambition Board rationale for investment.
The Lead Member thanked the Head of Housing and Economy and his officers for the work they had undertaken to date in putting together the relevant business case.
The Head of Housing and Economy gave a presentation which provided more context in terms of how the proposals connected to the Strategy could benefit Wrexham County Borough. The presentation provided further detail under the following headings:
· Digital Priorities
· Current Strengths and Weaknesses
· Digital Connectivity requirements by sector
· Intervention Strategy
· Fixed Broadband Comparison
· Mobile Connectivity Comparison
During discussion, the following points were noted in particular:
· Concern at the current broadband speeds in some areas of Wrexham and the need for improvement, particularly in some rural areas.
· The need to acknowledge the correlation between demand, accessibility and affordability. Raising awareness of the Welsh Government voucher scheme could help stimulate demand.
· Recognition of the recent improvements in terms of broadband availability on the Wrexham Industrial Estate, for businesses and residents.
· Acknowledgment that there would be opportunities for connection to full fibre networks through the Local Full Fibre Network bid.
· Suggestion that opportunities for social housing digital connectivity could be made available as part of the Welsh Housing Quality Standard.
· Suggestion that IT infrastructure could be shared between pubic bodies.
· In response to a Member question the Head of Housing and Economy advised that there were no plans as yet to work alongside North Wales Police on this strategy but that he would discuss this option further with colleagues.
· The need for a greater level of coordination of highway and planning policies across the North Wales region.
· The need for all public buildings to be fibre enabled.
· Recognition that there were community full fibre speed schemes available which could help to fund infrastructure costs for connection to hard to reach groups. The Head of Housing and Economy agreed to investigate further and provide more information to Members around this scheme.
· In response to a Member concern that the aims of the project appeared aspirational, the Lead Member and officers confirmed that they felt that this was a positive position in which to be in.
· The need to mitigate risk against any thing that could impede delivery.
(i) That an All Member Workshop be arranged with GreySky consultants to further develop Members’ understanding of the opportunities arising from the North Wales Digital Connectivity Strategy.