Cabinet Member – Councillor Gareth Thomas
To consider a report on the above.
To accept the report, noting the observations made during the meeting, with a request to see the action plans later in the year.
The Cabinet Member and officers from the Economy and Community Department were welcomed to the meeting.
Submitted - the report of the Cabinet Member for Economy and Community inviting the committee to scrutinise the direction of the proposed Framework, and the steps taken thus far during Phase 1 (Setting the Foundations). An on-screen presentation was also shared outlining the main aspects of the report.
Members were given an opportunity to ask questions and offer observations.
Individual members made the following observations:-
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>The Service was thanked for all of its work, and it was noted that there had been a positive and heartening start to the process.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>The direction of the work was supported and it was noted that the Service had identified that not all areas were the same and that different schemes were needed tailored to the different needs of those areas and that they also viewed the Council as a partner with local communities.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>The fact that the Service viewed the process as continuous rather than a one-off event was welcomed.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>It was noted that the area statements were clear, concise and educational and although the validity of some figures was doubted, they were a starting point for further dialogue.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>That a regular and effective dialogue between the Council and communities and collaborative enterprises had to be secured with an aim of regenerating areas.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>There was some concern that this again was one of those reports that was on the cards for a while and which then ended up gathering dust.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>It was welcomed that there were 48 stakeholders in Llŷn, but it was suggested that the RNLI should also be included, as it was very active there and had a contribution to make and a voice in relation to area regeneration.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>There was no reference in the report to primary / secondary schools and listening to the voice of the young.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>There was no reference to major employers in the Porthmadog / Penrhyndeudraeth area, such as Portmeirion and Ffestiniog Railway neither was there reference to the Welsh Slate World Heritage Site, which would also be working to regenerate our areas.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>That the town and community councils were key to the discussion and the Council needed to collaborate with them and not consider itself above doing this, and they should also be able to raise money to spend within their own communities.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>Using the RACI matrix was to be welcomed as it was a means of facilitating a consultation where there were many stakeholders, by identifying the key stakeholders for every aspect.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>That one of the advantages of the Framework was that it was possible for the communities to refer to the evidence to assist them in attracting funding and grants.
In response to the observations and questions from members, it was noted:-
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>As part of the arrangements for the engagement work, that paper versions of all material would be available in different offices. The service was also eager to see links with libraries in terms of provision and support if members of the public wanted to contribute to the work, but were uncertain of the arrangements on the digital platform. There would be a need to gather data also in terms of the details of individuals and groups that submitted observations to carry out an equality impact assessment on the work.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>It was agreed that the quite challenging timetable that had originally been set for the work had slipped somewhat due to the pandemic. It was intended to carry out the engagement work between now and March, with a break during the pre-election period, before recommencing the engagement from May till June. The work would not be stalled over the pre-election period, and there was some information already available, as a means to begin shaping the action plan. The aim was to complete the draft action plans for the 13 areas before the end of the summer.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>That projects often reflected the requirements of regeneration programme guidelines, but unlike these, there was an effort here to ask what the local needs and priorities were, and to use that to target grants. There were a number of grant sources available, and if it could be proved that there was need locally, and support locally to develop the plans, this would set the foundation for such schemes. It was likely that some of the priorities would be relevant to Council departments also.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>It was fully agreed that there was no wish to see the work gather dust over the years, and that is why there was a need for this to be a continuous process of collaboration with the organisations and the people in the areas to jointly-produce solutions, rather than it being a one-off event, with a report at the end.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>That not all of the town and community councils had responded to the questionnaire, and more work was to be done again about that, recognising that the response period had been short.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>That sessions had been arranged through the Youth Service and the schools to ask for the pupils' opinion e.g. through the school councils, and it was hoped that they could build on this during Phase 2.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>In light of launching the digital platform and the paper packs, it was intended to contact local organisations to highlight the work and to invite comments and discussion on the local priorities. Phase 2 would follow a relatively similar pattern to Phase 1, by concentrating on 3-4 questions on what was good about the area, what was not as good and what the priority areas were. They would seek to contact all the organisations identified in the hope that the programme between now and May/June would give everyone an opportunity to feed their comments into the work.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>In terms of balancing local priorities with the need for fairness across the whole of Gwynedd, it was anticipated there would be two parts to the Framework, namely the county-wide aspect and the series of action plans/area plans. In the past, they would have developed a document for the county and then try to convert it to local plans, but there was an attempt here to do things slightly differently so that the local needs fed into the county-wide picture also. In terms of the balance, it was believed that some aspects would remain local, but a county-wide slant would be needed for other aspects, such as Transport, as the transport framework was likely to connect more than one area. It was very difficult to know how to achieve the balance, and we would have to wait to see the outcome of the work in terms of what should be specific and local to a specific area and could possibly be of a more county-wide nature. It was not anticipated that resources would be allocated, but we would have to wait to see what would come back.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>In terms of the responses, it was anticipated that forming local priorities would be a process that would require consensus. Obviously, statutory organisations, such as town and community councils, had an important role to play, and we would need to consider the attitudes and opinion of the main organisations alongside this. It was difficult to plan for situations where small vocal groups could seek to overinfluence feedback, but there was a need to also consider the evidence in this context. Although not perfect, the data could also assist at times to see if an issue was one that was defined in that area. Consequently, it was likely to be a mixture of things, rather than one answer.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>That scrutiny had a very important role to play in the development of the Regeneration Framework as it would be a continuous process in future.
RESOLVED to accept the report, noting the observations submitted during the meeting, with a request to see the action plans later in the year.