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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 27/03/2007
Economic and Community Development Strategy: Moving Forward



APPENDIX M
WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL

EXECUTIVE - 27TH MARCH 2007

Title:
ECONOMIC AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY:
MOVING FORWARD
[Wards Affected: All]

Summary and Purpose

Following the Council’s endorsement of the framework for the Economic and Community Development Strategy on 20th February 2007, this report sets out some of the key areas of activity for taking the strategy forward.

Environmental implications:

There are no specific environmental implications arising from this report although the work arising from the economic and community development strategy priorities should balance economic, social and environmental issues. Some activities will support businesses and avoid potential adverse impacts on the environment.

Social / community implications:

The Local Government White Paper and the Local Government and Community Involvement in Health Bill underlines the key challenge for councils in improving the economic vibrancy of an area. Supporting community development and prosperity is at the heart of the place shaping agenda – building prosperous and cohesive communities where people want to live and work and where businesses want to invest. This report should help make a positive contribution in this area.

E-Government implications:

There are no direct e-government implications as a result of this report but it includes actions to ensure that the right infrastructure is in place to enable businesses to be competitive and to be able to access information and services on-line.

Resource and legal implications:

This report does not include any specific resource implications but proposes bringing a further report to the Executive at the start of the new Council year profiling how resources should be allocated to meet the agreed programme of activity. At that time some consideration of the Local Authority Business Growth Incentive (LABGI) funding will be appropriate. LABGI has been awarded to Waverley in each of the last two years and a further tranche may be available in the Summer, with a final round next February.

Introduction

1. At its meeting on 20th February 2007, the Council agreed the strategic framework, themes and objectives for the economic and community development strategy for the next five years. The report to the Council noted the reduction in resources to economic activities over recent years and the loss of support from Surrey County Council following its Business Development Review in 2006. The report also set out the views of partner organisations and stakeholders, confirming that the themes the previous strategy were still relevant.

2. Now that the Council has confirmed the range of activity it wishes to take forward, this report sets out more detail on the actions already being undertaken and those anticipated in support of the agreed themes. These actions support priorities and service objectives across the Council, including the review of the Community Strategy.

Initial actions proposed to take forward the Economic and Community Development Strategy

3. Waverley has a number of continuing activities in support of the local economy and the economic, environmental and social well-being of the area. Some of the actions are set out below under the five headings agreed by the Council along with the agreed aims:

a. Strategic
Actions proposed:

Support on research elements of the Local Development Framework including Employment Land, town centre and retail sector studies; needs of people working from home; and live-work opportunities in the Borough;
Support the implementation of the Business Support Simplification Programme in the South East;
Review of the Market Towns Healthchecks and Action Plans in Haslemere and Cranleigh to influence the Community Strategy and future economic and community development priorities;
Influencing the new Surrey Local Agreement and the shape of the new Surrey Rural Forum to ensure that the needs of Waverley’ s communities are met;
Reviewing the Council’s policies of procurement to support local businesses where possible;
Planning for the potential benefits from the Hindhead Tunnel and the Olympics in 2012.

b. Project development
Aim: To develop projects which respond to identified needs.
Supporting the emerging Market Town Healthcheck and Action Plan in Godalming and any actions arising from reviews of the Farnham Healthcheck and Action Plan;
Delivering the subsequent action plans in partnership with the town initiatives and other partners;
Supporting activities that will help businesses respond to Climate Change;
Helping advise businesses on the Introduction of ‘Smoke Free’ legislation and the new on-street parking regulations;
Supporting the Connected Surrey project; including developing the pilot ‘wireless Godalming’ project to see if the benefits can be shared across Waverley’s communities;
Supporting the promotion of good practice in business continuity for Waverley businesses
Working with developers in balancing the needs and opportunities for affordable housing.

c. Partnership with business
Support the Waverley Business Forum in refocusing its activities so that it can be an effective voice for business in the Borough, and support the development of the economic priorities in the Local Strategic Partnership and Local Area Agreements;
Update the online business directory to ensure that it can be more effective as a business to business tool and a signpost for the community
Work with the Chambers of Trade and Commerce and the Town Initiatives in implementing projects that will sustain the local economy;
Work with the Farmers’ Market Producer Committee and the Farm and Retail Markets Association in developing a formal co-operative or company to manage the Waverley-run Farmers’ markets;
Support the second Food Festival in the Borough

d. Business support and aftercare
Aim: To ensure that business in the Borough can continue to prosper and that existing businesses and employment opportunities can be sustained.

Work with a range of partners including Enterprise First, Surrey Economic Partnership, Business Link, Federation of Small Businesses, SEEDA, Tourism South East, Surrey Community Action and the Learning and Skills Council to ensure activities are targeted and relevant
Support for rural communities in retaining village shops and facilities, particularly in the light of the Government’s proposals for the closure of post offices
Work with the LSC, Godalming College and other partners in ensuring that the changing skill development needs of the businesses in the borough can be met. Specific areas for investigation include the needs of sectors employing migrant workers (e.g. care, construction and agriculture sectors)
Ensuring that business has an effective first point of contact with the council, and that information for businesses can be accessed easily on-line.

e. Sector support
Aim: To prioritise specific sectors which play an important part in the local economy or are facing particular problems.
the creative sector (a quarter of the Borough’s businesses are in this sector including a cluster based at the Farnham Maltings; and Farnham is home to one of the leading creative universities in the UK); Actions include an assessment of the needs of this sector with other partners in order to plan future activities.
the Visitor/Tourism sector (over 2,600 jobs are employed in this sector in Waverley and it is one of the fastest growing sectors in the UK. Visitors help sustain rural and cultural facilities in the Borough, support the retail and pub/restaurant sectors and contribute significantly to the income of the council in terms of car parking). Actions in the coming year include supporting the use of the business/conference market and facilities available for local businesses, and supporting the use of available facilities at quieter times; supporting sustainable tourism activities which minimise the impact on the environment; helping address the shortage of B&B accommodation and raising the quality of what is offered;
Rural and Agriculture sectors (85% of the land use in the Borough is used for agriculture of woodland). Actions include continuing to take forward activities that will support the objective of a profitable agriculture sector and attractive landscape in the Borough. Actions that will help retain and sustain facilities in the Borough’s rural areas to ensure that there is equality of access particularly for those who are older or less mobile. Specific work will be undertaken with Surrey Community Action to support rural shops and Parish Plans.

Resourcing the Strategy 4. The budget for 2007/08 includes 13,500 for economic, tourism and community development activities. In terms of staffing, there is a part-time administrator post (20 hours) and time allocations of a number of staff totalling less than one fulltime equivalent post. Two part time co-ordinators are employed for the Town Initiatives in Cranleigh and Haslemere (18 hours a week) funded partly from the Partnership Funding Scheme (7,500 per post) with the remaining costs supported by Cranleigh Parish Council, Haslemere Town Council, the business community and funding from projects.

5. As some of the existing staff resource has now been reassigned to other corporate activities, it is proposed that a further report is submitted to the Executive at the beginning of the Council year to set out how resources can be re-profiled to move the agreed priorities forward.

6. This will include consideration of the Local Authority Business Growth Incentive (LABGI) funding. LABGI has been awarded to Waverley in each of the last two years and a further tranche may be available in the Summer, with a final round expected next February.

Conclusion 7. The actions set out in the report will help take forward the agreed objectives for the economic and community development strategy and help promote greater economic and community well-being. There is an enormous amount of work to be done in delivering the actions and a further report at the beginning of the new Council year should identify how they will be taken forward.

Recommendation

It is recommended that:

1. the Executive considers the proposed actions to implement the economic and community development strategy; and

2. the agreed actions form the basis of establishing the resources needed to implement the strategy and officers prepare a further report at the beginning of the next council year on this basis.

Background Papers (MD)

There are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to this report.


CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: Iain Lynch Telephone: 01483 523203
E-mail: ilynch@waverley.gov.uk

Comms/exec/2006-07/340