Contact Officer: Daniel Garnier
To receive the report and to provide views:-
· on the overall approach to economic growth outlined in the draft economic growth strategy; and
· on the priorities and areas of focus described in the draft economic growth strategy.
The Economic Growth Strategy was introduced by the Leader of the Council. It was noted that the report outlined a strategic approach to support the economic development of the borough, whilst aiming to respond to the aspirations and ambitions for the borough as set out by Horizon 2050.
It was clarified that the document was solely a BDBC report.
The committee commended the report and made a range of observations.
An observation was voiced that economic poverty within the borough should be dealt with more robustly in the strategy.
In response to a query the Economy and Culture Manager suggested that the document identified three areas of specific importance, notably:
· Enabling the right environment for start-ups, in relation to low rent accommodation and networking support;
· Supporting the existing workforce with opportunities to upskill; and
· Ensuring that there is no shortage of commercial stock in the future.
It was clarified that Basingstoke start-up performance compared well with other boroughs and that survival rates after 5 years were amongst the highest.
It was queried whether conversations had been held with Urban&Civic in relation to skills training. This had not taken place to date but was a subject that would be addressed.
It was envisioned that the council would be a facilitator and enabler to upskilling and further education, rather than direct provider. Discussions had already been held with four existing universities within the area with a view to future collaboration.
It was suggested that in relation to a further education culture there should be a change in focus from employer to student perspective.
Priority 1: Growing talent
It was acknowledged that as a borough council with no direct responsibility for education, the role was not to try and replicate university towns but to facilitate and promote educational opportunities within the locality.
Priority 2: Supporting entrepreneurs
It was confirmed that the borough offered a fertile and thriving environment both for start-up and ongoing growth, with competitive rates and good transport links.
Core Pillars 1 & 2
It was queried whether there was the potential to become a centre for agricultural excellence. It was commented that given there was one of the best agricultural colleges in the country less than 15 minutes travel away, there would be little point in trying to compete.
Core Pillar 3
It was queried why Basingstoke was losing jobs to Reading, given that Reading was a more deprived area. It was explained that there was no direct correlation between the two and that the statistics may have been distorted as Reading was a small borough to which a number of other borough residents commuted.
It was also explained that AWE, situated just inside the border of West Berkshire, employs approximately 3,500 residents of Basingstoke which impacts the percentage number commuting out of the borough.
It was queried whether there was any follow up with business’ that had chosen to leave the borough. It was confirmed that discussions did take place and generally decisions to move were not linked with Basingstoke, but were based on corporate and commercial considerations.
Core Pillar 4
Comment was made on the importance of preserving and regenerating the Top of Town.
Resolved: The Committee
· Note the Draft Economic Growth Strategy;
· Request that the above comments and suggested amendments be considered by the Leader.