Members received a presentation by the Economic Development Manager of the City Deal Programme Office, on the mechanism for approval of the full business cases, as contained in the circulated report.
It was noted that the 11 agreed projects were at different stages, with three projects having gone through the process and were awaiting United Kingdom and Welsh Governments’ (UK/WG) approval. The criteria for approval was in line with the green book of H.M.Treasury and Members were advised that experts within each government assessed each project. Members felt that the process for approval was cumbersome as both the Lead Member and Lead Officer had already presented the projects in 2017. Members were advised that the Programme was based on a Five Case Business Model.
Members asked for details around the Yr Egin project as this had been completed without UK/WG’s approval and were advised that the programme lead ie Trinity Saint David’s University, had taken on the financial risk should the project not be approved.
Members expressed concern that, after a long process the Joint Agreement was signed, the 11 projects agreed in principle (with flexibility if required) and that both the UK and WG now had unprecedented input in approving the projects. It had been two years since the Joint Agreement had been signed and not a lot had happened since. It was a 15 year programme and Members questioned whether the approval process was too complicated and as such holding up the Programme as a whole? Did the Joint Agreement need reviewing? This may possibly be addressed via one of the reviews being carried out.
In response the Economic Development Manager advised that the informal process, where the projects were considered by both governments prior to consideration by the Programme Board, etc., was resulting in numerous comments and versions of the 3three business cases submitted. Members expressed concern that this was holding back progress in delivering the Programme overall.
It was noted that some of the projects could be delivered without City Deal monies – and Members asked whether the current projects could be changed. It was noted that projects could be changed however it was not possible to add any schemes at this stage as there was no additional funding available. The Manager advised that there was a ‘flow chart’ for this and offered to attend a future meeting to explain the process. Members noted that City Deal Funding was a catalyst for attracting private funding.
At the end of the informal process between the governments and the Regional Office, it was noted that the Regional Office would determine when the process was complete and the project would then be forwarded to the Programme Board. It was noted that there were regular meeting between both governments and the Regional Office, every three to four weeks.
The three projects currently with the UK/WG governments for approval had been with them since the start of December 2018.
Members asked when the Programme Office anticipated the final projects would be approved and whether the five year deadline agreed by the Joint Committee for completion of all projects could be met and if not could there be an extension?
The Joint Scrutiny Committee was advised that the five year deadline had been agreed in order to allow enough time for the outputs of the projects to be realised and measured. It was confirmed that the 11 projects leads had confirmed that the five year deadline could be met.
The second tranche, which consisted of four projects was well developed and would hopefully be submitted soon.
In relation to the various reviews being undertaken, Members asked when these would be reported to the Joint Committee and were advised that this would be at the meeting to be held on the 28 March, 2019.
It was agreed that the concerns of both the Joint Scrutiny Committee and Officers in relation to the time taken to give approval to projects be conveyed to the Joint Committee together with the UK and Welsh Governments as it was felt that it was proving a risk to the delivery of the Programme within the timescales. In addition Member asked that the Joint Scrutiny Committee’s views be taken into consideration at the same time the reviews were being considered.