Venue: PLEASE NOTE that any member of the press and public may view the proceedings at this virtual meeting via this weblink https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7DDSVoAIgTnwgp0Ku8iFLQ
Contact: Paul Rogers
1. Apologies for absence
No apologies for absence were received.
Declarations of Pecuniary or Conflicts of Interest
No declarations of interest were received.
Questions and Deputations
No questions or deputations were received.
To consider for approval the draft Minutes arising from the Economic Development and Managed Growth Scrutiny Board meeting held on 18th January 2021.
The Economic Development and Managed Growth Scrutiny Board:
To agree the Economic Development and Managed Growth Scrutiny Board Minutes dated 18th January 2021 as a true record.
To consider the progress made towards the commercialisation of the Solihull Town Centre Low Carbon Energy Network.
The report was presented by the Project Manager (Growth and Development).
Members were informed that funding applications submitted to the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and Heat Networks Investment Project (HNIP) had been successful in securing funding to support the commercialisation of the Energy Network. WMCA awarded £1.76M commercialisation funding and HNIP a total of £6,591,000M, of which £631,000 was commercialisation funding and £5,960,000M for project construction. The key commercialisation activities were noted to be:
· Procurement of a Design, Build, Operation and Maintenance contractor to deliver phase 1 of the Energy Network.
· Submission of a full Planning Application.
· Secure agreements with customers for heat and power supply and building connection to the Network.
· Initiate engagement activities with key stakeholders.
In March 2021, the Maintenance and Design Contract was released, receiving five submissions to date. The Energy Network Centre planning application was also submitted during March 2021, which entailed an eight week process.
Members were advised that the Council ESCo (Energy Service Company) would hold the Energy Network assets, enter into contracts for delivery and customer heat and power supply and manage/operate contracts on behalf of the Council as the sole Shareholder.
Councillor Mackiewicz (Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Climate Change, Planning and Housing) noted the Council had drawn upon a Grant Thornton report reviewing lessons learned from the operating experiences of ESCo’s located elsewhere in the country, particularly in relation to operating and governance arrangements, and that this learning had consequently been embedded in the Solihull ESCo arrangements. On-going scrutiny and oversight of the ESCo operations would be undertaken by the Councils Audit Committee
Officers drew the Scrutiny Board’s attention to the recommendations detailed within the report and invited Members comment and questions.
Councillor Qais noted the key milestone dates for the project running from February 2021 to December 2021 and queried whether they would be delivered to schedule. Members were advised that an ambitious timescale was in place with the necessary project funding secured, which supported momentum for project delivery. It would only be at the point of having the preferred contractor in place that timeframes could be definitively fixed, but considerable due diligence had been undertaken to thus far.
The Scrutiny Board sought clarification as to whether there had been any instances in U.K. case law pertaining to the use of ESCo legal and governance structures. Members were advised that the actual form of contract was bespoke and specific to the Energy Network project, although templates had been sourced from the central Government Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and therefore the contract arrangements did draw on recognised industry wide Best Practice.
In respect of Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s), Councillor Howell referenced within the report ‘Failure to meet the target CO2 KPI may result in points and payments being levied against the DBOM Contractor’, noting that this target was a key part for delivering the Net Zero Strategy and therefore advocated further strengthening of any such penalties to be applied. With regard to ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
To consider the draft Solihull Community Housing Delivery Plan 2021/22 and to make any recommendations for consideration by the Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Health.
The Head of Stronger Communities (Housing and Communities) informed Members that the SCH draft Delivery Plan 2020/21 detailed organisational priorities and strategic direction for the year ahead and was subject to review and approval at the Cabinet Portfolio Holder (Adult Social Care and Health) Decision Session scheduled for 30th March 2021.
The Chief Executive (SCH) clarified that establishing the SCH Delivery Plan was an annual process, which detailed organisational commitments and KPI’s for 2021/22. The SCH Delivery Plan detailed five strategic aims and organisational key values and provided the framework by which they would be delivered. The five Strategic Aims were given as:
· Creating Homes.
· More than Bricks and Mortar.
· Strengthening Communities.
· Excellent Customer Service.
· Passion in People.
Looking forward to deliverables in 2021, the Scrutiny Board was informed that some key areas included:
Monitoring the implementation of the SCH Delivery Plan 2021/22 and wider performance involved a quarterly Monitoring Board meeting Chaired by the Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Adult Social Care and Health, with the SCH Board also keen to ensure the Delivery Plan was reviewed on a quarterly basis at SCH Board meetings. Milestones and Delivery Plan KPI’s were also considered at the Housing Operations Committee.
Having received the presentation, Members of the Scrutiny Board were invited to raise questions in relation to the detail provided in the report.
In regard to the priority of creating and building new homes in the Borough, Councillor McLoughlin questioned how many were planned for in 2022 against those housing units expected to be lost through ‘Right to Buy’ and where did the Council expect to be in terms of housing stock depletion from 2020 through to 2022. The Chief Executive (SCH) advised the Scrutiny Board that fewer housing units had been lost in 2020 due to Right to Buy than compared to previous years, with 140 new build properties planned for, but not guaranteed for delivery in 2021. Provision of supported accommodation units dedicated to young people was expected to provide a further 20 to 30 dwellings in total, which would be new Council housing.
Councillor Hodgson queried:
· Regarding the net gain / loss in relation to the number of social housing units within the borough, whether the Council was in a net loss position with the ‘Right to Buy’ scheme versus provision of new housing units;
· Did SCH plan to deliver 100 social housing units and if so by what timescale;
· Requested further detail pertaining to the 22 shared ownership properties referenced within the presentation to the Scrutiny Board;
· Were the 23 Net Zero homes planned across 4 sites intended for social renting;
· How many properties were scheduled for retro-fitting to improve their thermal efficiency in 2021;
· Was SCH / Council continuing to install gas boilers in its properties;
· With regard to homelessness, ... view the full minutes text for item 6.
To outline the Council’s definition of inclusive growth and measurement parameters.
The Head of Inclusive Growth advised Members that the report detailed the Draft Inclusive Growth Outcomes Framework with proposals to measure impact and outcomes. It was recognised the Council could not deliver Inclusive Growth in isolation and that involvement in delivering Inclusive Growth was required from Council partners, the business and community sectors and residents in order to be successful.
Mr Mike Hawking (Joseph Rowntree Foundation) introduced himself and explained that the organisational focus of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation was to address and alleviate poverty in the United Kingdom. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation had been addressing Inclusive Growth for a number of years, generally at a local authority level throughout the U.K.
Mr Harding observed that the concepts of Inclusive Growth as detailed within the report to the Scrutiny Board were sound in understanding Inclusive Growth. The challenge before the Council was turning the Inclusive Growth Strategy into delivering tangible outcomes in communities within the borough.
In respect of the metrics detailed in the report, Mr Hawking noted that they were broadly addressing the right areas for attention, but that there may be too many metrics included. There was a slight concern as to how outcomes and data arising relating to specific households and communities would be fully captured and further actioned. Members were further advised that some measures would be impacted by external factors for which the Council had no control over, with the example given of the relationship between child poverty and Universal Credit arrangements.
Mr Hawking further noted that the Council’s Procurement Strategy demonstrated good ambition in establishing the significance of delivering Social Value, but that the future challenge lay with how Procurement and Commissioning Managers would deliver the Social Value framework to effect real change in the borough.
Having received the presentations, Members of the Scrutiny Board raised a number of related question, which in summary included the following matters:
Councillor Williams noted that with regard to the definition of Inclusive Growth, it sounded very much ‘business as usual’ in that Inclusive Growth was viewed as providing an equal opportunity to benefit from economic growth, which had broadly been the definition used over many years and could be open to misinterpretation. Councillor Williams noted that the WMCA spoke of establishing new models of economic growth in the West Midlands region and of ‘levelling up’ and therefore queried whether the correct definition for Inclusive Growth was in fact being applied. Clarity of objectives and deliverables through the Inclusive Growth Strategy was also raised as significant by Councillor Williams.
Councillor McLoughlin referenced the definition of Inclusive Growth provided in paragraph 6.7.1 in the report (Statutory Equality Duty) and stated that greater clarity was required as to what was indeed meant by Inclusive Growth. Councillor Williams proposed that greater emphasis be placed on ‘Equal Opportunities’ and referenced that other definitions given for Inclusive Growth made reference to ‘Equal Sharing’.
Councillor McLoughlin commented that it was also vital to receive external input into the Inclusive Growth Strategy, with emphasis also ... view the full minutes text for item 7.
The purpose of the report is to provide Members of the Economic Development and Managed Growth Scrutiny Board with reference to the status of the Scrutiny Board’s Work Programme for the 2020/2021 municipal year.
Having considered the report, the Economic Development and Managed Growth Scrutiny Board:
i. To note the status of the Economic Development and Managed Growth
Scrutiny Board Work Programme at the end of the 2020/21 Municipal
ii. To agree the agenda for the Economic Development and Managed Growth Scrutiny Board meeting scheduled for 7th June 2021, as detailed in the report.
The Economic Development and Managed Growth Scrutiny Board
meeting closed at 9:00 p.m.