Minutes for Local Economy Overview and Scrutiny Committee (Developing a Dynamic Local Economy) meeting, Mar 3 2010, 2.00PM official page
Venue: Committee Room A, County Hall, Wakefield
Contact: Marina OxleyItems No. Item
Acceptance of Apologies for Absence
Apologies received prior to the meeting were accepted on behalf of Councillors Mrs Blezard and Sharp.
Minutes - 27 January 2010 PDF 82 KB
Resolved â€“ That the minutes of the meeting of the Local Economy Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 27 January 2010 be approved as a correct record.
The Chair reminded members that the deadline for applications to serve as Co-opted Members on Wakefield Councilâ€™s Overview and Scrutiny Committees was 19 March 2010. The Chair also reminded members that existing Co-opted Members had to reapply if they wished to serve a further two-year term.
The Chair notified members that there would be a Co-opted Member Thank-you Event on 9 April 2010. Co-opted Members would receive an invitation in due course.
Members' Declarations of Interest
Members are reminded of the requirement to make an appropriate verbal declaration at the meeting on any item(s) on this agenda in which they have an interest.Â Having done so, Members are asked to complete a form detailing the declaration, which will be available from the Committee Services Officer at the meeting.
Declarations of interest were received from the following:
Type of interest
Item 6, Supporting Small Business Development in Wakefield
Vice-Chair Wakefield first
Item 6, Supporting Small Business Development in Wakefield
Chair of Wakefield district branch of the Federation of Small Businesses
Shirin Borratt, Business Link Yorkshire, and Sue Mitchell, Government Office for Yorkshire and Humber, will be in attendance for this item.
- solutions for business, item 62. PDF 3 MB
The Chair welcomed Shirin Borrett, from Business Link Yorkshire, and Sue Mitchell from Government Office Yorkshire and The Humber.
Shirin Borrett presented an introduction to Business Linkâ€™s work to support new and small businesses in Yorkshire.
Business Link Yorkshire was part of the national Business Link network and wa funded by the regional development agency Yorkshire Forward. It was administered under contract by a partnership of two companies, Exemplas Holdings Limited and Reed in Partnership.
Business Link was an information, diagnosis and brokerage service, acting as the first point of contact for people looking for support to set up a new business, or to help their business grow. Rather than actually providing support, Business Link instead acted as a referral service to other services.
Business Link provide this service in a number of ways:
Access: Business Link offered a single point of access for businesses, helping them find the help and support they needed from whatever source.
Information: This ranges from answers to specific questions, to practical guidance on introducing best practice in different areas of their business. Businesses can access the information they want in a variety of ways.
- By contacting a customer service centre, based in Barnsley, by phone, email or fax. Business Link has over 50 trained staff dealing with enquiries.
- By attending an event. Business Link has a programme of events and workshops running across the region. Some of these events were developed to meet local needs, such as those offered in Wakefield Councilâ€™s Cedars Business Centre.
- By visiting Business Linkâ€™s website, which contains information, self help materials and a variety of interactive tools. Business Link Yorkshire has a dedicated site, with specific information pages for Wakefield.
Advice: Adviser teams, based across the region, provide more in-depth support. There were 15 advisers in Wakefield, of which ten worked full-time. Advisers worked with people and businesses to identify issues and agree actions and plans.
Brokerage: Advisers worked to help businesses to identify and access specialist support, based on agreed action plans. Where appropriate, advisers also supported businesses to access funding from a variety of sources to support their development plans.
Programmes for established businesses: These include:
- Financial health checks: These provide additional support for small businesses that were already profitable and employed more than four people.
- Innovation vouchers: These provided Â£3,000 to support businesses with the costs of accessing high-level education and training. Business Link had issued eleven of these vouchers in Wakefield.
- Strategic business reviews: Consultancy support for businesses looking to fundamentally review their operations.
- Train to Gain: Business Link acts as a brokerage service to training providers in Yorkshire and Humber, and could also advise on funding to support training.
Events: Since the beginning of 2009, Business Link Yorkshire had provided the following events in Wakefield:
- 112 workshops, includingÂ 47 workshops for start up businesses, 58 workshops and master classes for established businesses, and seven specialist social enterprise workshops;
- partner events such as:
â€¢ a womenâ€™s event;
â€¢ â€˜Meet the Buyerâ€™ for smaller contracts, with the Federation of Small Businesses;
â€¢ â€˜Meet the Buyerâ€™, with Wakefield Council;
â€¢ Boost 2010;
â€¢ a manufacturing programme of events;
â€¢ an interagency skills event; and
â€¢ a planning enterprise event with Wakefield Council.
- Wakefield-specific guides to starting businesses;
- Local delivery plan â€“ a flexible plan that allows Business Link and Wakefield Council to determine additional support activity that was specific and relevant to Wakefield.
The committee asked Shirin Borrett the following questions, and received the following answers:
- What background do business advisers have?
Â Â Â Â Â Advisers come from a variety of backgrounds, but all have business Â Â experience.
- Who develops Business Linkâ€™s local delivery plan?
Â Â Â Â Â Business Link and Wakefield Council.
- What does Business Link do well, and what could it do better? Business Link works very well with council partners such as the Cedars Business Centre. It has made efforts to double the number of advisers in the District, recruiting three new advisers recently. It was acknowledged that events could be publicised better. The Council was well-placed to help with that task.
- What evidence was there of the impact of financial health checks? Business Link was carrying out an evaluation of the scheme. It believed that businesses using the scheme had found accessing funding easier. However Business Link has no ability to influence bank decisions.
- What particular support do you offer for the very smallest businesses?
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Business Link kept a database of small businesses, which it used to Â decide how to target the assistance they may require.
Sue Mitchell then gave a brief overview of how Business Link and Wakefield Council could work together to deliver more effective support to new and small businesses.
Wakefield performed poorly in generating new business registrations, compared to both the regional and national average. This was a persistent issue and one that did not appear to be improving. Wakefield had particular issues that hindered business development, but these issues were not unique to Wakefield.
Business Link had a central role to play in supporting new and small businesses in Wakefield, and scrutiny should look at the resources that Business Link devoted to the District. However, it was not responsible for increasing the number of new and small businesses in the District. Wakefield had identified National Indicator 171 (new business registration rate) as a priority in its local area agreement, and should ask itself how partners worked together to deliver the target against that priority. Sue Mitchell gave the following examples of areas for further investigation:
- What business centres are there in the district? How were they supported and what opportunities were there to develop their work?
- What support was there for local businesses to tender for public work? What encouragement was there for providers to use local businesses?
- How was Business Link supported by council publicity? Does the council feature Business Link on its website? Is Business Link material available in libraries and colleges?
- How do local colleges support business development, both in terms of skills training and linking to business support agencies?
- What links were there with Jobcentre Plus?
- Who had a strategic oversight of the partnershipâ€™s work in supporting businesses? Does Wakefield have a strategy? Was it backed by a co-ordinated action plan?
- How could Wakefield capitalise on the work of its Economic Task Force, particularly in the area of intensive business support and mentoring?
The Chair thanked Shirin Borrett and Sue Mitchell for their attendance at the meeting.
Resolved â€“ (1) That the Federation of Small Businesses present a summary of their recent survey of its membersâ€™ experiences of using Business Link.
(2) That Business Linkâ€™s local development plan was presented to a future Local Economy Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
Forward Plan of Key Decisions PDF 372 KB
The committee considered a report of the Overview and Scrutiny Officer, which outlined key decisions identified as relevant to the Local Economy Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
It was reported that there were 14 items identified in the Forward Plan dated 1 March 2010 to 30 June 2010:
Â· Adoption of Local Development Framework Document: Developer Contributions Supplementary Planning Document
Â· Rural Strategy report: To be developed as part of the Economic Regeneration Strategy 2007 â€“ 2015
Â· Rishworth Street multi-storey car park
Â· Updated Corporate Asset Management Plan â€“ adoption
Â· North Wakefield Gateway Transportation Scheme
Â· Modernising market provision
Â· Highways design guide
Â· Major Regeneration Proposals â€“ Pontefract
Â· Pontefract Regeneration â€“ Improvement of Colonelâ€™s Walk underpass, Tanshelf, Pontefract
Â· Options for the re-opening of the Wakefield Market Food Hall
Â· Wakefield East Land Option
Â· Planned disposal of assets for 2010/2011
Â· Outstanding section 278 debt â€“ Wakefield Waterside Ltd
Â· Ackton Pastures
Resolved â€“ That the report be noted.
Date and Time of Next Meeting
The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 31 March 2010 at 10.00 am in the Old Restaurant, Town Hall, Wakefield.
Resolved â€“ That the next meeting of the Local Economy Overview and Scrutiny Committee be held at 10.00 am on Wednesday 31 March 2010 in Old Restaurant, Town Hall, Wakefield.