The Chief Executive presented a report which sought to:
The Chief Executive provided background stating that the Local Government and Elections (Wales) Act 2021 included provisions to create Corporate Joint Committees (CJC) as a vehicle for consistent regional collaboration between principal councils. The aim was to ensure there were consistent, resilient and accountable regional arrangements for the delivery of three important functions (i) strategic land use planning (ii) strategic transport planning and (iii) economic development.
The Chief Executive explained that since its inception in 2016, the Cardiff Capital Region City Deal (CCRCD) had delivered a range of high value programmes and initiatives across the region, totalling some £198M of investments. The investment strategy has been predicated on meeting local basic needs – provision of sustainable transport schemes, roll-out of ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEV) infrastructure, closing viability gaps on industrial sites for housing, support for skills and strategic development sites – alongside a range of more targeted market driven investments around the innovation economy and growing vital research and development intensity.
He added that key principles had been developed to leverage investment made, through an investment framework that had prioritised private sector leverage and the high-skill nature of jobs created. To date, projected leverage was in the region of £2.5BN with a target of 6,900 jobs. Outwardly, competitiveness has grown with two Strength in Places awards made within a two year period from UK Research and Innovation spanning the Compound Semiconductor and Creative Industries priority sectors and nearly £100M of new direct investment.
The Chief Executive outlined the details on the transfer of the Functions of the Cardiff Capital Region to the South East Wales Cardiff Capital Region – Governance and Delivery. He explained that the Establishment Regulations provide the functions of the Corporate Joint Committee (CJC) that comes into force on 28th February 2022. This effectively meant that the Cardiff Capital Region Joint Committee must be ready to “go live” and operate via the CJC body by 1st March 2022. At the Cardiff Capital Region Cabinet (“the Regional Cabinet”) meeting on 20th September 2021, the CCR Cabinet considered the four options listed at 4.2 of the report.
He added that following an options appraisal, it was determined that Option 3 was the preferred model for the reasons listed at 4.3 of the report. Further information on this was at section 4 of the report.
The Chief Executive highlighted the next steps in this process. The proposed “bare minimum” approach provides a pragmatic way of enabling the CCR and the ten Constituent Councils to start implementing the CJC requirements and adopting the statutory duties whilst at the same time supporting Welsh Government to resolve the issues which are preventing transition to the “Lift and Shift” model. Consequently, a series of steps are required to be put in place between now and 31st January 2022 (being the date by which the CJC must approve its budget) in order to ensure compliance with legislation but which protects the short and long term position of the ten Constituent Councils and, wherever possible, safeguards against any detriment. On the basis of external advice and technical support, the proposed “bare minimum” approach will enable the CCR to demonstrate that it has commenced transition and ensures compliance with the legislation. It will essentially create an outline of the CJC as an absolute statutory minimum and an interim holding position only. It will operate on the expectation that only the absolute minimum of operational activity required will be undertaken. Any extraneous activity (such as production of a business plan, meetings of the CJC beyond initial budget setting/establishment meetings, meetings of the Audit and Governance Committee, staffing arrangements beyond those linked to the aforementioned) will be unlikely to take place. Details on what is included was at 4.14 of the report with further details at 4.15 onward.
The Cabinet Member Education and Regeneration believed these to be administrative and technical measures that enabled a very important regional strategic initiative into fruition. The Deputy Leader supported this and the report until further clarity was provided on the areas mentioned.
The Leader added that this had been subject to extensive discussion by the 10 Local Authorities at regional Cabinet level as well as engagement with Welsh Government as it was driven by new legislation.
RESOLVED: That Cabinet:
· approved the re-direction and re-purposing of the principles contained in the report of 20 September 2021 and agreed the implementation of the “bare minimum” and “twin track” approaches set out in the report, allowing the CCR to be compliant with the Establishment Regulations, until such time transition via the “lift and shift” model can be resurrected and in tandem with outstanding issues being resolved;
· approved the reset of the critical path in relation to the tasks and activities which need to be undertaken prior to the setting of the budget by 31st January 2022 and resolving to stand down the Transition Board in this period;
· agreed to ask Welsh Government to amend the Establishment Regulations to change the date of commencement of the exercise of its functions in relation to the Regional Transport Plan, Strategic Development Plan and economic wellbeing power from 28th February 2022 to 30th June 2022;