Issue - meetings
Communities for Work
That the Committee supports the progress made in delivering the employment programmes.
The Chief Officer (Planning, Environment and Economy) introduced a report to provide information on the Enterprise and Regeneration service and to update Members on the delivery of the Welsh Government (WG) employability programmes in Flintshire.
In response to a previous request, the Service Manager - Enterprise and Regeneration circulated a briefing note and gave an overview of the roles and current activities within each service area following a recent restructure. A diagram of the new structure indicated that the majority of teams were externally funded. A number of positive outcomes were reported such as support given by the Social Enterprise team to a social business recognised at the recent Flintshire Business Awards along with the Regional Economy team’s success in securing £9m of funding for digital connectivity. A report on work by the Programme Development function on an approach to delivering social value through procurement activity would be scheduled for the Committee’s meeting in March.
In welcoming the information, Councillor Dolphin raised concerns about the length of time taken to fill the vacant post to support town centre regeneration. The Service Manager explained that resources had decreased over time along with external funding support. The needs of town centres were changing in response to economic challenges nationwide, and officers would need to consider a new strategic approach to target resources effectively. A full report on town centres would be received in March/April.
These concerns were shared by Councillor Hutchinson who said that the impact was evident across all town centres, where smaller shops were at most risk.
Whilst giving assurance that the Council’s limited resources would be used in the most effective way, the Chief Officer (Planning, Environment and Economy) said that the main challenge to high streets was the significant shift in the retail market across the UK over which the Local Authority had little influence.
This view was shared by Councillor Butler who pointed out that the offer in each town centre was different. He said that everyone had a duty to support their local shops and that the Council was doing everything in its power to increase footfall such as encouraging landlords to make available empty accommodation above shops.
Councillor Palmer said that before appointing a Town Centre Manager/ Regeneration Officer, the right terms of reference should be agreed to ensure that they were not vilified for not doing the job within the current climate.
Councillor Shotton referred to the impact of internet shopping and asked about WG business rate relief. The Service Manager explained that this funding was automatically given to eligible businesses. On tourism, he said that a programme of work was underway to improve visitor infrastructure in coastal areas.
Other Members acknowledged town centre regeneration as a widespread issue which also presented problems for Town Centre Managers.
Sharon Jones, the Delivery Manager of Communities for Work and Communities for Work Plus, was in attendance to give a presentation on the employability programmes in Flintshire to support participants into employment and self-employment. The Committee was ... view the full minutes text for item 44