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Chief Executives' Group - North Yorkshire and York - minutes of meeting 17 September 2021

Minutes of a meeting of the group held on 4 June 2021 via Microsoft Teams.

Present  
Richard Flinton North Yorkshire County Council
Jane Colthup Community First Yorkshire
Tony Clark Richmondshire District Council
Paul Shevlin Craven District Council
Mike Greene Scarborough Borough Council
Tom Hind North York Moors National Park Authority
Rachel Joyce Harrogate Borough Council (on behalf of Wallace Sampson)
Lisa Winward North Yorkshire Police
Stacey Burlet Ryedale District Council
Janet Waggott Selby District Council
David Butterworth Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority
Justin Ives Hambleton District Council
Ian Floyd City of York Council
Simon Dennis Office of the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner
   
In attendance  
James Farrar York and North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership
Caroline O'Neill Community First Yorkshire
Pauline Stuchfield City of York Council
Deborah Hugill North Yorkshire County Council (secretariat)
   
Apologies  
Amanda Bloor North Yorkshire CCG
Wallace Sampson Harrogate Borough Council
Jonathan Foster North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service
Neil Irving North Yorkshire County Council
Karl Battersby North Yorkshire County Council

 

1. Minutes of last meeting - 4 June 2021 - and matters arising

The minutes were agreed as a true record.

Matters arising

  • James Farrar was asked to cover housing in the relevant update later on the agenda
  • Prevent – Paul Shevlin gave an update following the item on Contest at the previous meeting. This work is currently in abeyance. Odette Robson attends the Contest Board so links are being made.

 

2. Covid-19 recovery: Communities workstream update

Pauline Stuchfield gave an update on behalf of the Task Subgroup Chairs.

Key work areas have included revised impact assessments to provide an up-to-date picture.

Many partners are still operating in response mode, dealing with families struggling with debt issues, mental health issues and isolation. Food poverty is a focus area about which further work will be undertaken and it will be important to monitor the effect of the upcoming removal of support.

Key groups who are most affected include those with disabilities, refugees, and the self-employed who have had to take on more debt.

Multi-agency partnership working continues to help through best practice sharing and mutual support.

Caroline O’Neill presented some findings from the VCS resilience survey.

The latest survey, carried out in May and June of this year, showed that the sector was more stable and confident than it had been in the previous two surveys. Grant funding has helped.

There have been some closures of organisations, however, and it was emphasised that the earlier problems can be picked up the better the outcome is likely to be. Many organisations are concerned about the outlook for 2022.

There has been a 10-14% decline in volunteer numbers since before the pandemic, though this may reflect what services are currently open. Many organisations have reported considerable churn, meaning that the volunteer cohort has changed. This has put considerable pressure on management teams to ensure training and safe operation.

Other areas of concern were highlighted as follows:

  • wellbeing support for staff
  • digital challenge for service users
  • community buildings - some activities which were core business have not yet returned.
  • often difficult to recruit trustees

A majority of organisations could also see some positives coming out of the pandemic, however, and cited time to reflect and plan and carry out improvements as some of these.

In response to a question, Caroline reported that demand on VCS organisations was reported to have increased by 33%. It was agreed that it was important to understand not just the number of closures of organisations but the strategic role which many of those played.

Stacey Burlet emphasised the need to tackle the inequality issues in relation to recovery and felt that more should be done to focus on those struggling most.

The points made during discussion will be taken back to the task group for consideration.

ACTION: PS/CoN

 

3.  Economy update and plan for growth

James Farrar presented a report providing an update on economic recovery in North Yorkshire and Yok and the local plan for growth which is being developed.

Employment forecasts have been difficult to make and it seems that previous forecasts have been overly pessimistic. However, there are sectoral differences and accommodation and food services and manufacturing are not anticipated to return to pre-Covid levels for some time. In some sectors, including social care, shortages of labour is an issue.

Benefits claimant levels remain high but are now starting to decrease.

Hospitality has been hard hit and business has been limited by reduced capacity even when demand has increased, such as through staycations. Manufacturing has also seen high demand but shortage of workforce and supply chain issues have meant that this demand cannot always be met.

There are concerns around debt levels as loans require repayment and businesses are urged to speak to their bank early before the issue becomes critical.

A York and North Yorkshire Plan for Growth is being developed based on three strategic objectives – Greener (Net Zero), Fairer (Levelling up) and Stronger (Global Britain). Priorities are being identified through discussion with stakeholders and investment plans will be produced which look at what investment is needed in terms of infrastructure, innovation and skills.

A round of ‘think tank’ discussions will be held in October with wider engagement through October and November.  A further consultation and engagement process with partners will be held in the New Year to seek endorsement of the plan.

Further updates will be provided to the Chief Executives’ Group at future meetings.

Points made during discussion of the report included:

  • the need to further emphasise the positives and available opportunities
  • the need to ensure that structural issues are not exacerbated or inadvertently built into the system
  • the role of the arts, culture and heritage in growth. It was suggested that the Arts Council be invited to a future meeting. While parts of the area are working very well with the Arts Council it would be useful to engage on a regional basis to link to economic strategy.
  • cyber-security should be a development area linked to manufacturing
  • shortage of planning officers is having a big impact on growth ambitions. This should form part of the work of the LGR workstream focussing on planning.
  • more creative uses of empty properties in market towns are needed
  • the need to attract and retain young people in North Yorkshire and York. This has also been highlighted by Rural Commission and there are links to the point about culture and the arts.

 

4. Devolution asks review

Richard Flinton gave a short update on the current push to arrange a meeting with civil servants to begin negotiations.

James Farrar presented a report giving an update on progress reviewing the devolution asks in advance of government negotiations and an overview of the required timeline to achieve a Mayor in May 2023.

He ran through key proposed changes to the asks and the structure of the document. An executive summary will be added.

There was a discussion about the possibility of removing those asks which were least likely to succeed. This will be further discussed at the October meeting of LGNYY. Informal discussions with civil servants would help with making these decisions.

It was agreed that the timetable was challenging and an alternative version, with the Mayoral election moved back, will be produced.

ACTION: JF

The restructuring of the document will help to bring out the rural elements of the asks as these need more emphasis.

Any changes to the asks need to be carefully considered as they have been agreed by councils.

Richard Flinton, Ian Floyd, Mike Greene and James Farrar will meet to move this forward.

ACTION: RF

 

5. Moving unitary transition forward

Richard Flinton provided an update for those partners not directly involved in the unitary transition process.

A strong, positive and pragmatic approach is being taken and everyone is focussed on the task in hand. Governance arrangements and resources are being pulled together and workstreams are being set up. Workshops will be held in the next few weeks.

The senior Members’ board has met for the first time, chaired by Carl Les, and had a positive meeting.

Partners will be involved in workstreams where relevant and engagement with key stakeholders will be vital to ensure that the new council works for the whole of North Yorkshire.

 

6. Report of the York, North Yorkshire, East Riding and Hull (YNYERH) Directors of Development Group

James Farrar presented a report updating chief executives on the work of the Directors of Development Group (DoDs).

The announcement of successful bids to the Community Renewal Fund and the Levelling up Fund has been delayed and it is hoped that the deadlines for delivery will be extended.

DoDs have received reports and presentation from a number of organisations on a wide range of subjects. Items related to climate change and natural capital were drawn out, including:

  • sustainable procurement toolkit has been published
  • Yorkshire Wolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) proposal
  • White Rose Forest

Housing affordability and possible solutions were discussed. New build targets are being met overall but affordable housing is still challenging particularly in rural areas. Scarborough’s Better Homes Programme was mentioned as an example of work being carried out in this area.

Points made during the discussion will be taken back to the DoDs group for consideration.

ACTION: JF

 

7. LGNYY meeting 15 October 2021

The meeting of Local Government North Yorkshire and York will be focussed on devolution. Chief Executives were asked to let Richard or Deborah know if there were any additional suggestions for items.

ACTION: All

 

8. Any other business

  • Janet Waggott asked whether the intention was to meet virtually in future. The November meeting will be carried out virtually but it would be useful if members of the group could let Richard or Deborah know their preferences for meetings next year. A mix of face-to-face and virtual meetings could be the way forward.

    ACTION: All
  • Richard Flinton gave an update on the current Covid situation.

 

Date and time of next meeting

Friday 4 November 2021 9.30am – 11.30am.