- Meeting of Transport, Environment and Communities Select Committee, Tuesday 31st October 2017 10.00 am (Item 7.)
Members will review the National Infrastructure Commission’s Interim Report with a view to understanding what it is and how it might impact on Buckinghamshire and the County Council.
Members will hear how England’s Economic Heartland Strategic Alliance is providing leadership on strategic infrastructure. They will examine how the Council is working with the Alliance to identify issues of strategic importance for the County, drawing on work that the Council has been undertaking to identify the infrastructure requirements arising from the planned growth.
· Bill Chapple, Cabinet Member for Planning and Environment
· Mark Kemp, Director of Growth and Strategy
· Martin Tugwell, Programme Director, Growth and Strategy (England’s Economic Heartland)
· Ian Barham, BTV LEP
The Chairman welcomed the following contributors to the meeting to present the report:
· Mr W Chapple OBE, Cabinet Member for Planning and Environment.
· Mr I Barham, Buckinghamshire Thames Valley Local Enterprise Partnership.
· Mr M Tugwell, Programme Director, Growth and Strategy (England’s Economic Heartland).
· Mr N Gibson, Executive Director Transport, Economy and Environment Business Unit.
The contributors presented an overview of the National Infrastructure Commission’s interim report to the Committee from the perspective of each of their respective organisations.
During the presentation, Members of the Committee asked questions and sought assurance about the following:
· The definition of the corridor in terms of geography, particularly in relation to the North / South perspective.
· Ensuring the County Council engaged with all decision makers in the project to make sure communities within the corridor benefited from the development of infrastructure and housing.
· Governance arrangements given that there were around 35 different bodies involved.
· The benefits and risks to the Council of being the Accountable Body for the England’s Economic Heartland Strategic Alliance (EEHSA) and management of these.
· The role and membership of the EEHSA Core Programme Team.
· Plans for improving connectivity North to South through the County.
· What the many strategic plans for growth and development across the County would mean for local residents in the short to medium term.
· Communication to the public on the impacts of the infrastructure developments.
The following points were made in response to the Committee’s questioning:
· In terms of potential and opportunity for economic growth, the geographical area was not fixed and it was the Local Enterprise Partnership’s (LEP’s) role to ensure all of Buckinghamshire benefitted.
· The Council would work with all necessary partners and neighbouring authorities to realise the infrastructure needed.
· The EEHSA were used to working with a wide range of neighbouring authorities and sub regional bodies to make sure a strategic view was taken and promoted to central government in relation to key infrastructure development needs.
· In developing new sustainable communities, the Council had a responsibility to ensure that development benefitted existing communities too.
· It was important that communities were involved in decisions about infrastructure and development.
· There needed to be collaboration between central government and local councils on where development and growth would happen but the process and timescales for this still needed to be agreed.
· Partners were already working well together as part of the EEHSA and it would be important for all partners to present a single vision and policy framework to central government and funding agencies, for example through a joint position statement.
· North South connectivity across the County would be paramount as growth, particularly in north of county, took place and there were plans to scope some technical work to look at the issue.
· There were only minor financial risks to being the accountable body for the EEHSA which were covered as contingencies in the budget.
· There would be increased funding from central government for local authorities to invest in the major road network from 2020/21.
· Residents would see incremental changes around infrastructure as strategic plans progressed; these would include short and medium term changes in anticipation of longer term plans.
· There was a need to make sure the county retained its skills base and could offer attractive employment opportunities for those leaving university so that skilled people did not move out of the area.
· It was vital for all partners to work together on a strategic approach to long term development in order to be able to secure funding. Funding decisions for 5 or 10 years ahead were being made now.
· There was a need for good communication with communities about intended development. This would focus more on automated and self-serve digital communications in the future complimented by local politicians adding context as needed.