Agenda and minutes
Venue: This meeting will be held in a virtual format in accordance with The Local Authorities and Police and Crime Panels (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority and Police and Crime Panels Meetings)
Contact: Stephen Chard / Jessica Bailiss/ James Townsend
Declarations of Interest
To remind Members of the need to record the existence and nature of any personal, disclosable pecuniary or other registrable interests in items on the agenda, in accordance with the Members’ Code of Conduct.
There were no declarations of interest received.
To introduce the final Economic Development Strategy (EDS) and Economic Development Delivery Plan (EDSDP).
Gabrielle Mancini provided introduced a report that provided an outline of West Berkshire Council’s Economic Development Strategy and Delivery Plan. She noted that the strategy would be refreshed and a supplement report including the response to Covid-19 would also be produced. She clarified that the strategy was written before prior to Covid-19. She further noted that West Berkshire’s economy was performing well before Covid-19. She highlighted how there were a number of positives in the district’s economy, such as having a strong technology presence, a very mixed economy and its proximity to Heathrow. However, she also noted that there were a number of persistent negatives. She highlighted persistent inequalities, such as life expectancy with a 10 year age gap between the most and least deprived and housing inequality. She further noted that the strategy was centred on ‘green and inclusive growth’. She stated that the key themes of the strategy were people, places, infrastructure and business environment, which were taken from the Berkshire Local Industrial Strategy. This strategy considered not just town centres but also rural communities. Infrastructure, both physical and digital. She stated that the business and environment theme reflected on what the Council and partners can do to make sure the ‘open for business’ message is backed up by sound policy making and a ‘soft landing package’ for those who choose to operate here. In order to deliver this strategy, £80,000 had been allocated to recruitment of an economic development officer and to provide a working budget. An additional £40,000 had been secured from Newbury West Berkshire Economic Development Company.
Councillor Tony Vickers asked why the strategy did not mention Covid-19. He stated that he understood that it was written before the pandemic, however he stated that this could not be discussed in depth with no mention of Covid-19.
Councillor Alan Law stated that recovery plans would be looked at in detail when they were ready. He noted that the Economic Development strategy was taking a long-term viewpoint. He further noted that there would be amendments made because of Covid-19.
Councillor Ross Mackinnon stated that the Council did not know how long Covid-19 would last and that the core principles of the strategy were solid.
Councillor Vickers stated that he thought the report would make some reference to Covid-19 and the changes that the council is considering.
Councillor Law noted that in 12 months’ time there would be a review of how the strategy was performing. He further stated that it was not the role of scrutiny to get into the detail of how the recovery from Covid-19 would be done. He stated that officers were developing a plan for the recovery, which Nick Carter would outline later in the meeting
Councillor Adrian Abbs raised concern over the use of the word ‘hope’ in the strategy. He stated that this raised concerns over how solid the strategy was. He also expressed concern over a lack of key performance indicators (KPIs) and measurements of its success.
Councillor Steve Masters ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
To receive new items and agree and prioritise the work programme of the Commission for the remainder of 2020/2021.
The Commission considered its work programme for 2020/21.
Councillor Alan Law stated that the Recovery Plan would be reviewed in July 2021. He also noted it may be wise to have a review of how the Council dealt with Covid-19. He further stated that the next OSMC meeting would be on 28 July to discuss the London Road Industrial Estate review.
Resolved that the work programme be noted.