The Corporate Director Communities reported on an update on work to develop a new Economic Strategy and sought approval of the Economic Strategy. She also sought approval of the terms of reference for the new Bridgend County Economic Partnership Board and for the proposed use of the Economic Futures Fund.
The Corporate Director Communities reported that Cabinet at its meeting in June 2020 approved the creation of an Economic Taskforce, chaired by the Leader and is in response to economic uncertainties and challenges arising from the coronavirus pandemic. Officers were mandated by the Taskforce in partnership with key stakeholders, to develop an economic plan for the future of the County Borough to include action to help businesses adapt to the changing economic landscape and improve resilience, as well as support for residents to develop new skills, training, and employment opportunities.
The Corporate Director Communities reported that the proposed Economic Strategy which had been developed following in-depth data review and engagement with stakeholders, would be the basis or dialogue on prioritised actions with Welsh and UK Governments, the Cardiff Capital Region, a range of funding sources, investors, and developers. It would support the Council’s ongoing ambitions to play a full and active role supporting the local economy.
The Corporate Director Communities informed Cabinet that the Economic Strategy Data Report includes a comprehensive review of existing research, evidence, and published datasets as a core part of the basis on which the Economic Strategy is based and is aligned with the replacement Local Development Plan. She stated that it was proposed to develop a new governance model to support the delivery of the Economic Strategy, including the development of a Bridgend County Economic Partnership Board as an evolution from the current Economic Task Force.
The Corporate Director Communities reported that the proposed Economic Strategy set out a long-term strategic vision that clearly articulated Bridgend’s growth ambitions for the economy of the County Borough. It also set out a clear plan of action, strengthening linkages into all sectors of the economy and will all relevant stakeholders within the short, medium, and long term.
The Corporate Director Communities informed Cabinet that it was proposed that she in consultation with the Corporate Director – Education and Family Support, Chief Officer – Legal and Regulatory Services, HR and Corporate Policy and Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change submit proposals to secure resources for programmes, projects and activities from funders at the UK, Welsh and regional level, such as, but not exclusively to the Levelling Up Fund (LUF) and the forthcoming United Kingdom Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) and if successful, would support delivery of actions contained within the Economic Strategy. The Corporate Director Communities also informed Cabinet that subject to approval of the Economic Strategy, a sum of £1.197m (inclusive of the current allocation of £200k) would be allocated towards the delivery of an enhanced Innovation Fund via the internal panel mechanism previously agreed by Cabinet. Spend from the capital programme will be subject to approval by Council and monitored through the capital programme.
The Cabinet Member Communities commented on the importance of having in place high-level strategy and thanked the Corporate Director Communities and Team for drafting the Strategy. The Leader added his support to the Strategy which had been developed with partners and businesses and with a focus on small and medium businesses. He was particularly pleased that £2m had been identified to invest in micro and small businesses.
RESOLVED: That Cabinet:
Approved the proposed use of the Economic Futures Fund, as set out in section 8.5 of the report.