Subject to approval by Cabinet on 24 June 2020 of the establishment of a Joint Committee with Barrow Borough and Lancaster City Councils covering all respective administrative areas to promote the economic, social and environmental wellbeing of the areas, to consider amendments to the Council’s Constitution and an update to the Council’s Scheme of Delegation in Part 3 of the Constitution.
The Leader and Promoting South Lakeland Portfolio Holder, Councillor Giles Archibald, presented the report which referred to the fact that, in 2017, Barrow Borough Council, Lancaster City Council and South Lakeland District Council had approved a joint statement of intent to work collaboratively to drive forward agreed approaches to economic development across the Lancaster and South Cumbria Economic Region. This statement had been rooted in the findings of 2016 economic study work which had confirmed the region as a functioning economic area with a combined Gross Value Added comparable to other major North West economic centres. Strengths had been identified in the sectors of marine engineering, energy generation, nuclear skills, advanced manufacturing and higher education. The conclusion had been that development opportunities could be better identified and realised working strategically across administrative boundaries.
In June 2019, the three authorities had produced and launched a prospectus ‘Driving Growth Together’ at an event at Lancaster University, attended by a wide range of businesses, agencies, authorities and media from across the region. The prospectus and approach to collaborative working had been well received. The authorities had subsequently produced an outline proposal for a growth deal, and had presented it to the Minister for the Northern Powerhouse ahead of the Convention of the North, held in September 2019. This collaborative approach had successfully raised the profile of the region amongst the Northern Powerhouse, Ministers and local MPs and had outlined potential investments in infrastructure, the business environment and place.
Work was currently taking place to refine and focus proposals for a growth deal type programme to attract significant public investment to transformational growth projects and importantly drive Covid-19 resilience to the region’s economy. This required a strong case, backed by demonstrable collaborative action, supported by visible commitment and accountability. As such, it was considered beneficial to establish a formal arrangement between the three councils to drive this, reinforcing the sense of developing a functional economic area. The proposal was to establish the Lancaster and South Cumbria Economic Prosperity Board. This would be established as a Joint Committee, using powers under the Local Government Acts 1972 and 2000 and under the Local Authorities (Arrangement for the Discharge of Functions) (England) Regulations 2012. The proposed Joint Committee’s Procedure Rules were presented in Appendix 1 to the report. The Joint Committee’s remit would be to provide political and democratic accountability. Membership would comprise two members from each constituent authority. The Joint Committee would be able to co-opt members or non-authority members up to a maximum of three. If a member was co-opted ,this would need to be a Cabinet member under the 2012 Regulations. Each of the constituent authorities would rotate the hosting of the joint committee. Initially, Lancaster City Council would host the Joint Committee. Meetings would be no less than quarterly in frequency. The Joint Committee would not hold funds or monies on behalf of the constituent authorities.
The approach utilised existing powers available to the constituent authorities and was considered to be an optimal means of achieving greater focus and political and democratic accountability to the joint endeavours of the councils to promote development and strengthened resilience of the region’s economy, social and environmental wellbeing.
It was proposed that the Terms of Reference would be reviewed at the first meeting of the Joint Committee with any changes brought back to a future meeting.
Cabinet had given consideration to the report at its meeting on 24 June 2020 and had agreed to the establishment of a Joint Committee, in line with the report. Members were now being requested to approve the necessary amendments to the Council’s Constitution.
Councillor Archibald having moved the recommendations contained within the report was seconded by Councillor Robin Ashcroft, Economy, Culture and Leisure Portfolio Holder.
Members expressed strong support for the Joint Committee which, in response to a query, Councillor Archibald explained would be made of the Leaders of each of the three authorities and a portfolio holder from each, South Lakeland’s being Councillor Ashcroft. There was also the potential for co-option of additional Members. Councillor Ashcroft pointed out that this was a functioning economic area and that this was a significant step forward leading to the potential for inward investment.
Note – It was raised at this point that Councillor Tom Harvey was currently disconnected from the meeting. Councillor Ben Berry confirmed, however, that Councillor Harvey had indicated support for the item and that he would be content for the vote to proceed in his absence.
The Chairman read out the proposal and asked the meeting if the motion was agreed. There being no dissent, it was
RESOLVED – That Council the Council’s Monitoring Officer be authorised to make all necessary constitutional amendments to the Council’s Constitution and to update the Council’s Scheme of Delegation in Part 3 of the Constitution.