Agenda and minutes
Employment, Business and Investment Scrutiny Committee
Wednesday, 5th September, 2018 4.00 pm
Venue: Meeting Room 1, Guildhall
Contact: Tracy Davies Scrutiny Facilitator
Report published: 2 Gorffennaf 2018
Apologies for Absence:
Presented By: Report published: 2 Gorffennaf 2018
There were no apologies for absence.
Actions: Report published: 2 Gorffennaf 2018
To sign as a correct record the Minutes of the Meeting held on 4 July 2018.
AGREED – That the Minutes of the Meeting held on 4 July 2018 be signed as a correct record.
To consider the report of the Head of Finance
The Head of Finance submitted a report (HF/88/18s) 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:
· ‘North Wales Growth Bid Projects - the Scrutiny Facilitator liaise with the Head of Housing and Economy to consider possible scrutiny of projects under the headings ‘Smart North Wales and Resilient North Wales’ that will affect Wrexham.
· ‘Proposed Budget Savings 2019/20 and 2020/21’ - scrutiny of proposed cuts that would fall under the purview of the Committee be considered at the meeting on 3 October 2018, if the relevant information regarding the local government settlement was available.
· ‘Helping New Businesses and Community Enterprises in Wrexham’ – to be deferred from 3 October 2018 to the meeting to be held on 6 February 2019.
AGREED: That the Work Programme, attached at Appendix 2 to report HF/88/18s, be agreed, subject to the aforementioned changes.
To consider the report of the Lead Member for People - Education
The Lead Member for People – Education submitted a report (HEd/20/18)
presenting the reasons for closure of the Sprouts childcare nursery which was established as part of the VVP Programme and to document lessons learned in this process.
The Lead Member presented his report and responded to Members questions
accordingly thereafter. During the ensuing debate, the following points were
noted in particular:
· A number of Members stressed their dissatisfaction that there had not been scrutiny of their early concerns around this project as originally sought.
· Further concern from Members around the lack of an appropriate project management process which had contributed to the documented failings.
· Acknowledgement that whilst a number of departments were working in partnership during the developmental stages of the project, a different management structure should have been in place for the day to day running of the nursery.
· The project was managed within Lifelong Learning Department and may have benefitted from closer working or partnership arrangements with colleagues more directly linked to the provision of childcare.
· Officers stressed that WCBC’s project management process had since been revised to include a step-by-step handbook for all projects, with quarterly monitoring by Senior Management Team.
· In response to a Member concern, Officers confirmed that state aid criteria had been adhered to.
· WCBC were maintaining regular dialogue with Welsh Government officials regarding the VVP programme and Officers were not aware of any plans for WG to claw back any of the grant for this Project as it had delivered an outcome expected for the principles of this funding. It was stressed that all existing projects were still compliant with VVP project principles.
· Officers advised that the Sprouts project had been based on the child care efficiency assessment. It was recognised that a greater level of consultation with a wider group of consultees should have taken place and would have provided a better indication of the demand for this facility.
· Acknowledgement that the timescales for VVP funding had meant that there had been limited time to put together a sound business case.
· Suggestion that to pursue grant funding was counter productive if income revenue could not be generated.
· Acknowledgment that WCBC had a reputation for being highly successful in securing grant funding and delivering successful projects.
(i) The Committee noted that the overall VVP programme had been successful and had delivered the outcomes required.
(ii) The committee supported the changes that had been made to the project management process and asked that they be provided with a copy of the revised project management handbook.
(iii) That any issues of concern arising from consideration of the revised project management handbook be addressed via submission of topic request forms.
(iv) That it be ensured that all future projects are required to carry out required levels of consultation with stakeholders, before they are undertaken.
(v) That future committee work programmes include details of the project management highlight report which is currently shared with the Chair and Vice-Chair of the committee.
Exclusion of Press and Public
In considering whether to exclude the press and public from the next part of the meeting Members are asked to consider the following factors when determining the public interest test.
Agenda Item 8 – Not for publication by virtue of Paragraph 14 of Part 4 of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended). The Proper Officer has determined in considering this report that paragraph 14 should apply. Her view on the public interest test was that while she was mindful of the need to ensure the transparency and accountability of public authorities for decisions taken by them in relation to the spending of public money, the right of a third party to the privacy of their financial/business affairs outweighed the need for that information to be made public/. This information is not affected by any other statutory provision which requires the information to be publicly registered. On that basis she felt that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.
It is, therefore, recommended that the press and public be excluded from the Meeting during consideration of the following item as it is likely that, if they were present, there would be disclosure to them of exempt information as defined in Paragraphs 14 of Part 4 of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended).
AGREED - That the press and public be excluded from the Meeting during consideration of the following item as it is likely that, if they were present, there would be disclosure to them of exempt information as defined in Paragraphs 14 of Part 4 of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended).
Update on the Economic Estate Strategic Asset Management Plan (SAMP)
To consider the report of the Lead Member for Economy – Economic Development and Regeneration
The Lead Member for Economy – Economic Development and Regeneration submitted a report (HHE/37/18s) allowing Members to consider the progress in implementing the actions identified in the Economic Development
Estate Strategic Asset Management Plan (SAMP) 2014 -2019.
The Lead Member introduced the report and responded to Member
questions accordingly thereafter.
i) The Committee note the progress made against the Economic Development Estate Strategic Asset Management Plan to date and thank the Lead Member and Officers for their work in this area.
ii) The Committee receive a further report on the development of the SAMP at the April 2019 meeting.
iii) The Committee request the Head of Finance to re-consider the income targets set for the economic estate in the 2019/20 budget, so as to reduce their impact on the available budget for repair and maintenance, which had previously been used to offset this figure.
iv) The Committee support additional investment in the provision of small industrial units for the economic development estate and receive a report on this issue at a future meeting.