Agendas, Meetings and Minutes - Agenda and minutes

Agenda and minutes

Venue: County Hall, Worcester

Contact: Emma James/ Jo Weston  Overview and Scrutiny Officers

No. Item


Apologies and Welcome


Apologies had been received from Councillors Brandon Clayton, James O’Donnell and Ceri Stalker, and from the Cabinet Member for Highways, Alan Amos.


Declarations of Interest and of any Party Whip


Public Participation

Members of the public wishing to take part should notify the Head of Legal and Democratic Services in writing or by email indicating the nature and content of their proposed participation no later than 9.00am on the working day before the meeting (in this case 10 September 2019).  Enquiries can be made through the telephone number/email address below.





Confirmation of the Minutes of the previous meeting

Previously circulated.


The Minutes of the meeting on 5 July 2019 were agreed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.


The Chairman referred to the information requested by Panel members during the discussion on traffic calming; this had since been circulated and the Chairman invited any feedback on this be sent to the Scrutiny Officers.


Economic Growth pdf icon PDF 128 KB

Additional documents:


In attendance for this item were:

Worcestershire County Council:

Nigel Hudson, Head of Strategic Infrastructure and Economy

Sue Crow, Economic Growth and Investment Manager

Dr Ken Pollock, Cabinet Member with Responsibility (CMR) for Economy and Infrastructure


Hereford and Worcester Chamber of Commerce Cassie Bray, Director of Business Development


Sue Crow, the Council’s Economic Growth and Investment Manager had prepared a presentation which highlighted the key points from the agenda report.


The presentation included the role of the Growth and Investment Team, Game Changer Sites, how new business was stimulated, support for existing businesses, partnership working and case studies. (The presentation is available on the website: )


Game Changer Sites

The Worcester Six site had attracted a number of investors and was the most successful new employment site in Worcestershire and was seen as one of the most successful nationally. The Game Changer sites tended to attract interest from international companies. So far, the site had generated around 250 jobs – in response to a question about the proportion of these jobs which were new in Worcestershire, this was not yet confirmed.


When asked how long the Worcester Six site had taken from concept to delivery, the officers advised that first conversations had taken place with Worcester Bosch around nine years previously, and consent for the site had been given three years ago, therefore a great deal of progress had been made to complete such a big scheme. For new sites, a timescale of around four years was envisaged.


The Redditch Gateway site was a new development, which aimed to promote and enhance supply chain links and to further develop the skills of the labour market. It confirmed that conversations with companies interested in this site were underway.


Regarding Malvern Hills Science Park (MHSP), the Council had ongoing investment plans for this site with the latest development being funded with Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). There were big visions for the site, and recently the Council, with Malvern Hills District Council, had purchased 4.5 ha of adjacent non-serviced land. It was anticipated that the development would accommodate up to 250,000 sq. ft of commercial floor space.


Support for Businesses


The Panel was shown a diagram which indicated the support available for new businesses at the stages of innovation, start-up, investment and scale-up.


Worcestershire Business Central was a partnership which supported businesses and engagement and was now co-located with Herefordshire and Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce.


A Panel member referred to the extraordinary figures for return on investment from the Business Accelerator Project (page 12 of the agenda) and asked what this project involved and how learning from these business successes could be maximised. The Officers advised that the work focused on a coaching model to identify what areas of expertise a business needed, with opportunities for investment. The Head of Strategic Infrastructure and Economy acknowledged that the Council could do more to highlight this small but very successful area of work.


In response to a Member’s question  ...  view the full minutes text for item 351.


Infrastructure for Growth pdf icon PDF 99 KB

Additional documents:


In attendance for this item were:


Worcestershire County Council:

Nigel Hudson, Head of Strategic Infrastructure and Economy

Emily Barker, Planning Services Manager

Dr Ken Pollock, Cabinet Member with Responsibility (CMR) for Economy and Infrastructure


Hereford and Worcester Chamber of Commerce – Cassie Bray, Director of Business Development


The Panel’s as part of its work programme had requested information about how the Council supported the infrastructure for Worcestershire’s growth and increasing demand for services.


Emily Barker, the Council’s Planning Services Manager had prepared a presentation which included how the Council delivered infrastructure, strategic and planning documents, development across Worcestershire, mitigating development impact, transport, education, waste, broadband, funding, influencing wider infrastructure (water), Worcestershire assessment of infrastructure and areas of opportunity. (The presentation is available on the website: )


Cllr Rebecca Vale advised that should the discussion refer to development around the A456, she would need to declare a pecuniary interest, and would leave the room, since she owned a farm on land in that area.  The Officers had prepared a presentation and confirmed that this would not refer to land around the A456.


The delivery of infrastructure was essential for housing and economic growth and also placemaking (the multi-faceted approach to the planning, design and management of public spaces). Broadly, the Council’s infrastructure delivery took a proactive approach and aimed to help with traffic congestion and react to Local Plans. The largest current example of a project was the new train station, Worcestershire Parkway. The Council acted as a statutory provider for example in the provision of schools, highways and mitigating flooding.


The Panel was shown key strategic and planning documents and it was stressed that much of the work involved partnership working.


A map was displayed, which set out development across Worcestershire such as existing housing and employment allocations. Wyre Forest was at the most advanced point of planning.


The Officers were asked about the scale of housing development planned, and were advised that looking to 2040, around 60,000 houses were planned and 500,000 Ha of employment land.


When mitigating the impact of development, Officers looked at what needed to be delivered both at a strategic level (for example a link road), to smaller level (such as a small roundabout). There were infrastructure delivery plans for all the district areas.


Examples of transport infrastructure for growth included the Hoobrook Link Road, the walking/cycling bridge across the Southern Link Road, and the Worcestershire Parkway train station.


Regarding education, the Council carried out annual forecasts of need for places from current housing and local Plans. For developments of a large enough size, a further school would be requested. All new primary schools also included nursery provision and other examples of changes to meet demand included a school moving from a two-form entry to a three-form entry or expanding because of growth in the area.


The Chairman pointed out that the majority of Worcestershire schools were now academies and asked how this affected planning. It was explained that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 352.


Performance and Q1 2019/20 Budget Monitoring pdf icon PDF 84 KB

Additional documents:


In attendance for this item were:


John Hobbs, Director of Economy and Infrastructure (E&I)

Steph Simcox, Head of Finance

Dave Corbett, Management Information Analyst


Q1 2019/20 Budget Monitoring


The Head of Finance advised that in relation to Q1 2019/20, there were no material variances, apart from a few very minor ones, totalling £5k, which were set out in the key headlines of the Agenda.


The variances related to the positive impact of an increase in income from the archaeology service, pressure due to inflation on energy costs related to lighting, and the waste contract.


Regarding street lighting, a member suggested that the price paid by the Council per KWh for its energy was very high. The E&I Director and Head of Finance advised that energy was purchased through West Mercia Energy and that pressure from increased energy costs was being looked at corporately.


After discussion, the Panel agreed to suggest the corporate contract for energy supply be considered by the Corporate and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Panel (of which one of the Panel members present was the Chairman). The Director agreed that it would be helpful to have some analysis of how tariffs were set.


It was expected that the remaining savings relating to waste management would be funded from an additional contribution from the waste reserve. Dialogue with the waste contract provider was continuing and the detail of this could therefore not be disclosed at this stage.


In response to a question about whether Power BI was being used to drill down and analyse budget information, the Head of Finance agreed it was a powerful tool, although developing its use would take time, and the resources involved were being looked at.


It was confirmed that the variance of £124,000 for Operations, Highways and PROW was related to a staffing underspend.


Performance Information


A Panel member asked what three areas were going well and what three needed improvement and in response the Director said that areas to improve included the condition of highways, which had recently slipped slightly as shown by the graphs. The same applied to improving the rate of highways inspections, since it was important the Council was able to demonstrate inspection rates. He would also like to encourage people to reduce their waste.


Areas going well included the rate of repair of road defects and the way in which public enquiries were tracked. In general,l the Director believed the Directorate had good processes in place.


Members agreed that the Directorate had effective processes, but suggested that it was at times let down by its engagement with members, which in turn affected the public interface. Members gave the example of struggling to keep track of their enquiries on the current system, and were advised that as part of its review of systems, the Directorate aspired towards a shared CRM system and the Director agreed this work should be brought forward.


When asked about the rationale of temporary fixes to potholes, which did not last, the Director  ...  view the full minutes text for item 353.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 81 KB

Additional documents:


The Panel suggested there was a need for a customer relationship management (CRM) system, to manage councillor queries, and this would be referred to the work programme of the Corporate and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Panel.