The Chair said the question had been asked by Stuart that officers were not equipped to answer. He moved his motion and called for a councillor to second his motion. Cllr Pat Hackett seconded the motion. Four councillors voted for, four councillors voted against. The Chair had a casting vote, the Chair, Cllr Johnston decided … Continue reading “Economy and Regeneration Overview and Scrutiny Committee 7th November 2011 Part 13 Performance and Financial Review, Business Start program”
The Chair said the question had been asked by Stuart that officers were not equipped to answer. He moved his motion and called for a councillor to second his motion. Cllr Pat Hackett seconded the motion.
Four councillors voted for, four councillors voted against.
The Chair had a casting vote, the Chair, Cllr Johnston decided to keep the extra information there.
David Ball gave an update on future plans for the Business Start Programme. He said that the plan had been to continue until March 2012, however the winding up of the North West Development Agency by the end of December meant that intensive start-up help would end by the 31st December. They had served notice on Enterprise Solutions of this. They would try to develop future options and Kevin would bring a report to a future meeting in the New Year. There would be support under the new Enterprise Allowance, which was a government-funded scheme to support unemployed people funded by the Department of Work and Pensions. He would circulate a briefing note with the technicalities but this program would help certain sections and not be the universal service they had at the present time.
Cllr Wittingham asked if Wirral Biz would be gone? David Ball said that Wirral Biz was the trading name and would go with the demise of the agency.
Cllr Mountney asked when they were instructed to wind up, would they lose money? David Ball said following the move from the North West Development Agency there may be instructions from central government, but they had expected the money till 2012, it was just ending sooner than anticipated. Cllr Wittingham said it was the “government’s fault”.
Cllr Mountney said he welcomed the report and the financial information included. The Chair said he wanted to add something to the work program. Cllr Wittingham referred to 4.4.1, 4.4.4 in reference to a 21% decrease in contracts made. The Chair said he wanted to carry on with the point about why the next two pages had come here. David Ball said the previous performance report format had covered what was relevant to the committee what worked well, performance indicators and actions which gave an opportunity for scrutiny and comment. The second half was lifted from a report of Jim Wilkie to the Cabinet. He thought the corporate information might be of interest, but was not directly relevant to the report. The reports had been merged together. In reference to Cllr Wittingham’s question he would have to go away, ask and circulate an answer to the committee as he didn’t deal with those areas.
The Chair said he would be more comfortable if they only received information relevant to the scrutiny area and were just asked to cover the remit of the committee and not ground other committees cover.
Cllr George Davies said the second part followed on from a two-part report on finance and the economy. He understand that the financial part had been added but he didn’t see the relevance to the Economy and Regeneration Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
The Chair said he would move that in future only performance indicators relevant to the committee would be used. Cllr Ellis said it was helpful background information to see and note.
The officer said that they [Wirral Council] also worked with the Manufacturing Advisory Service on culture and had made eighty-one referrals in the last year. They go in with MAS who had a list of practitioners who helped with office or shop culture and worked to add value to the business, attract industry and keep the manufacturing base. Manufacturing hadn’t gone from Wirral, Teledyne CML and Cammell Lairds were examples of positive news on jobs.
Cllr Simon Mountney commented that it was getting increasingly difficult for businesses.
Paula Basnett said their aim was to increase membership on the business forum. According to their CRM system they had had contact with four thousand businesses over the last decade. Their aim was to have an extra five hundred register each year for the business forum, but it as getting difficult to get new business users.
Cllr Mountney asked if it was a local or national target. She replied it was a local target. Cllr Mountney asked how many hits a month it was getting.
Paula Basnett said it was password protected but they measured how long visitors spent on the site and what areas were of interest to them. Cllr Mountney asked how long on average each visitor stayed for?
The Chair, Cllr Johnston asked for a report on this to a future meeting.
Cllr Simon Mountney said he wanted to put on record the work Cllr Green had done since he took post and give his personal assessment that he had been a good leader who had been outstanding in his efforts regarding the management and staff. He called him exemplary and said the changes were not short of outstanding. He said he had been supported and assisted by the Liberal Democrats. He said it should be continued. He said it was a shame that it would be some time before it got taken back and that serious damage could be done.
Cllr Foulkes said the bar of achievement had been raised and the officers and the public had higher expectations. He felt however that he and his colleagues had been not able to hold the administration to account.
Cllr Elderton dwelt on the positive benefits. He said it was clear that the 2010/2011 coalition administration had had major significant successes compared to when Labour had held the portfolio. The constructive and positive way it had been done had given opportunities to people that they had only previously had in their dreams. Libraries had had £1 million of investment and there had been no closures. Services had been enhanced, Wirral Council had found out what people wanted and changed it. The PACSPE call-in and discussions had motivated pragmatism. However it had concluded and finished what Labour had started which would lead to benefits for the Council Taxpayer. The existing contractor would redeploy the staff under the TUPE regulations. There had also been improvements to Wallasey Town Hall and the Williamson Art Gallery, as well as Landican Cemetery. Tourism was fantastic with a breadth and diversity. Vast enhancements had been made over the last twelve months. There was an opportunity for increased investment. Cllr Elderton said he would’ve liked it to continue.