The Committee scrutinised the following Cabinet Board item:
Swansea Bay City Deal
The Chief Executive gave an overview of the circulated report in relation to the Swansea Bay City Deal. The report sought Cabinet approval for the revised/remodelled City Deal Full Business Case.
The Chief Executive explained that good progress was being made to implement the recommendations of the reviews of the City Deal published in March 2019. A new Joint Working Agreement (JWA) was signed off by the Joint Committee held on 30 July, 2019. It was noted that there had been delays in the approval of the regional business cases, but officers reassured Members that offers in principle had been received.
It was explained that if agreed by Cabinet, the Business Case would be presented to the City Deal Economic Strategy Board and Joint Committee along with Welsh and UK Governments for endorsement. It was hoped a response would be received before Christmas. Officers explained that there would be liaison with various partners including Swansea University.
Members expressed concern in relation to the Valleys, and officers explained that the City Deal programme would benefit all parts of the region including the Valleys.
Officers explained that the project would have to comply with procurement rules for the procurement of goods, services and works, while ensuring value for money. The Authority had a good track record with the local supply chain, and there would be different procurement arrangements for different projects.
A discussion took place around the Regional Project, Homes as Power Stations, it was noted that the Welsh Government had been contacted on 3 May requesting further feedback. A further meeting took place on 25 July and the Authority was awaiting a substantive response. It was noted that the programme needed to progress in order to draw down the monies and deliver projects.
Members questioned whether the market was ready for Homes as Power Stations type of development in Neath Port Talbot? Officers explained that the evidence was already there. A detailed Business Case was put together last August, and the Authority are leading across the region. A further meeting will be arranged in September to put through the system.
In relation to decarbonisation it was highlighted that Neath Port Talbot was the local authority area with the highest renewable energy capacity. It was explained that the business case came as a package and there would be discussions on individual elements. Officers explained that there was the demand however, this could not yet be met. Meetings with investors had been held and the Authority was confident we can deliver the outcomes.
It was highlighted that air quality readings are now more accurate as technology has advanced, new technology could produce “real time and real community time” data. It was important to source air quality with accurate evidence not assumptions, initially the Authority would work in an air quality area, then roll out when the opportunity was there.
In relation to employment it was highlighted that there was a need to engage and identify skills as business in different areas, needed different skills. It was important that the framework was right, therefore different areas would be looked at. It was noted that 30% of jobs would be created, this was an estimate on previous figures.
A discussion took place around rental of Grade A accommodation. It was highlighted that there was only one Grade A accommodation Wales, this is located in Cardiff. There was limited demand for this type of accommodation in Neath Port Talbot.
It was highlighted that given the position on Brexit there was a renewed urgency to progress.
Members thanked the Leader, Cabinet, Chief Executive, and all officers involved in the City Deal Programme.
Following the above scrutiny the Committee supported recommendation Number 1 in the circulated report, but requested the Cabinet consider the following amendments to recommendation Number 2
“That the Minutes of today’s Joint Regeneration and Sustainable Development and Cabinet Scrutiny Committee be presented to Council and an update be given by the Leader on the progress of the submission of the business case.
That the Regeneration and Sustainable Development Scrutiny Committee continue to scrutinise the progress of the City Deal”.