Agenda and minutes
- Attendance details
- Agenda frontsheet PDF 34 KB
- Agenda reports pack
- Stronger Towns Projects Full Business Case Submission PDF 9 MB
- Levelling Up Fund Bid Submission to Government PDF 706 KB
- Public and councillor questions and responses PDF 297 KB
- Revision to the Resource Section of the Levelling Up Fund Bid Submission to Government PDF 385 KB
- Printed minutes PDF 139 KB
Venue: The Conference Room, Herefordshire Council Offices, Plough Lane, Hereford, HR4 0LE
Contact: Sarah Buffrey
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
To receive any apologies for absence.
Apologies were received from Cllr Crockett, CllrFagan, Cllr Hey, Cllr James, Cllr Jinman and Cllr Tyler.
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
To receive declarations of interests in respect of Schedule 1, Schedule 2 or Other Interests from members of the committee in respect of items on the agenda.
To approve and sign the minutes of the meeting held on 26 May 2022.
A correction to the minutes of the previous meeting was noted, to reflect that the meeting had been Chaired remotely by the Deputy Leader (as a non-voting member).
Resolved: That the minutes of the meeting held on 26 May 2022, as amended, be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairperson.
To receive questions from members of the public.
Questions received and responses given are attached as appendix 1 to the minutes.
To receive questions from councillors.
There were no questions from councillors.
To approve submission to government of three bids to the Levelling Up Fund by the deadline of the 6th July 2022.
Cabinet Members gave consideration to the report as set out in the agenda supplement pack, which asked for approval to submit to government three bids to the Levelling Up Fund by the deadline of the 6th July 2022.
The Cabinet Members for Environment & Economy and Infrastructure & Transport provided a summary of the report and highlighted that:
· The limited window for submission of funding bids had meant that there had only been approximately 10 weeks to develop full business cases, and consequently this had placed constraints around which type of projects could be bid for. There were numerous other longer term strategic projects which funding is required for, but these were not eligible for inclusion in this round of bidding;
· A wide range of consultees had been provided with the opportunity to engage with development of the bids, including the two Herefordshire MP’s, Herefordshire Economic Big Plan Stakeholder Group and Council Members. Significant partnership work has also been ongoing between the Council and the various Town Councils across Herefordshire, feeding into the production of the Market Town Investment Plans. All stakeholders were thanked for their collaboration and contributions.
· The deadline for submission of applications is 6 July, and it was expected that the outcome of the bidding process will be announced in the autumn. A condition of the grant is that projects will have to commence and have some element of spend in financial year 2022/23, with completion by end of March 2025. The included projects had been assessed against their ability to deliver to this timeframe.
Cabinet Members discussed the report and placed on record their appreciation to all Officers involved with development of the bids in such a tight timeframe. Frustration was expressed regarding the inflexibility of the government imposed timetable, which failed to take account of the extensive planning and preparation involved in ensuring that bids achieve best value for money and can draw down the maximum amount of available funding.
Group leaders and representatives presented comments and queries from their respective groups, which highlighted enthusiastic support for the bid submissions. The following observations were noted:
· Whilst the eligibility criteria for bids in this funding round were understood and appreciated, it was disappointing that this by definition excluded other strategically important projects, and it was hoped that these can be moved forward subsequently;
· The availability of evidence to demonstrate the effectiveness of 20mph zones was raised. Cabinet Members stated in response that reports can be provided which support this initiative, and Hereford Civic Society are hosting a presentation on 21 July 2022 in relation to the ‘20’s Plenty for Us’ campaign;
· Inflation is currently increasing and concern was expressed regarding whether the project costings were likely to remain within estimates. It was confirmed that sign-off by the S151 Officer demonstrates assurance that the costings are robust, and will nonetheless continue to be carefully monitored.
It was unanimously resolved that:
a) The submission of bids to the government Levelling Up Fund by 6 July 2022 be approved for:
To seek cabinet agreement to sign off and submit the Stronger Towns Fund Full Business Cases for the Hereford Museum and Art Gallery Redevelopment Project and Maylord Orchard Library and Learning Resource Centre Project; and to recommend to Council adjustments to the capital programme allocations for these projects.
Cabinet Members gave consideration to the report as set out in the agenda supplement pack, which asked for agreement to sign off and submit the Stronger Towns Fund Full Business Cases for the Hereford Museum and Art Gallery Redevelopment Project and Maylord Orchard Library and Learning Resource Centre Project; and to recommend to Council adjustments to the capital programme allocations for these projects.
The Cabinet Member for Commissioning, Procurement and Assets introduced the report and placed on record Cabinet’s appreciation to the officers involved in delivering the submissions. It was noted that:
· Cultural development is considered a crucial post-Covid building block to promote economic growth and support physical and social recovery;
· Herefordshire has traditionally underperformed in relation to its tourist potential and the Hereford Town Improvement Plan had identified in particular that the museum and art gallery were in urgent need of contemporary refreshment and upgrading;
· The proposals for Maylord Orchards Library and Learning Resource Centre will create an ‘attractor’ to bring people into the city centre and improve the opportunities and wellbeing outcomes of the population through enhanced cultural facilities. These offerings carry ever-increasing importance in view of the decline in retail as the primary reason for people to visit city centres.
Cabinet Members discussed the report and sought reassurance that the existing museum and art gallery frontage would be preserved. It was confirmed that the front of the building is listed and therefore cannot be altered without specific approval. It was also queried why the existing museum viewing space is currently limited to just 10 people, which was explained to be as a result of fire regulation restrictions. It was noted that those with limited mobility cannot currently access exhibition viewing space at all, so the plans would reduce inequalities in this regard.
Group leaders and representatives presented comments and queries from their respective groups. There was general support for the submissions and it was noted that:
· Recognising and monitoring the revenue implications of the projects would be critical in order to achieve the projected economic benefits and ensure that the necessary staffing capacity is in place to deliver the intended service model;
· Expenditure will be carefully tracked and escalation procedures are in place to control overspends, which will be especially important at a time of rising inflation;
· Accessibility for all visitors is a crucial consideration. Surveys have shown that the library escalator has reached the end of its intended useful life, and equality groups have reported that it can cause problems for those with disabilities. It is therefore intended that this will be replaced with a fully accessible lift, along with a possible option for a downstairs disabled access toilet facility.
It was resolved that:
a) The Full Business Case application for submission seeking Stronger Towns grant funding of £5m for Hereford Museum and Art Gallery project and £3m for Maylord Orchards Library and Learning Resource Centre project be approved;
b) An adjustment to the capital programme to fund the project from the capital receipts reserve ... view the full minutes text for item 129.