The report of the Chief Executive is attached.
The Leader and Portfolio Holder for Strategic and Borough Wide Leadership, Councillor Robinson presented the report of the Chief Executive providing an update on the current position with regard to the East Midlands Development Corporation.
Councillor Robinson referred to the Midlands Engine Development Corporation, which had been allocated funding in 2018 of £2m. Over the past two years, supported by the Chief Executive, he had sat on the Oversight Board. This related to the Government bringing decision-making and resources to the East Midlands, with three key geographical areas involved, including the Ratcliffe on Soar power station in Rushcliffe. It was therefore vital that the Council participated in this development and played a key role. The majority of members had attended briefings from the Chief Executive of Nottinghamshire County Council and were aware of the direction being taken. A Business Case setting out preferred options would be submitted to Government in March 2020, if accepted legislation was anticipated by 2022. The report recognised the Development Corporation and its importance for Rushcliffe, with £100K allocated in the Reserve Fund in case of any required expenditure. It was proposed to establish a Member Working Group to be regularly advised on the progress of the Development Corporation over the next two years, during the interim delivery period.
The report was moved by Councillor Robinson.
In seconding the recommendation, Councillor Butler stated that it was an exciting proposal, and it was important to encourage employment opportunities. It was essential that the Council was part of the Development Corporation and embrace future development and change.
Councillor Gray stated that the Labour Group supported the recommendation and looked forward to future investment and job opportunities.
Councillor Jones stated that the Liberal Democrat Group supported the recommendation and hoped that when the power station site was decommissioned it would be used to develop alternative energy supplies.
Councillor Richard Mallender stated that the Green Group would be supporting the recommendation and hoped that in future the power station could be used to produce renewable energy. Provision of employment and housing was pleasing, as was the proposal for the provision of a ‘Green Highway’ between the three sites and he looked forward with interest to seeing those plans. In respect of the airport, it would be necessary to reduce the amount of freight transported by air and seek alternative ways to move it by developing the railway infrastructure.
Councillor Thomas stated that the main concern of the Independent Group was that the Development Corporation would be subject to delay and the Council was urged to continue to work closely with Uniper regarding the future development of the power station site.
Councillor Rex Walker referred to the lack of investment in the East Midlands compared to other regions, which had historically resulted in the region being unable to attract the investment required for long lasting economic development. Such current opportunities were rare, action had to be taken, and the proposals were welcomed. If the proposals went ahead, there would be a loss in local accountability and the Council should seek to ensure that immediate neighbouring communities retained genuine input into the development plans.
Councillor Simms referred to the importance of strategy and the geographical location of the East Midlands in the centre of the country, which should make it the ‘hub’ of the country and create wealth and prosperity in the area.
Councillor Gowland referred to this exciting opportunity, which Rushcliffe should embrace. In respect of HS2, it was encouraging to hear that future plans could include modifications to integrate and upgrade existing train lines and it was hoped that would occur.
Councillor Edyvean confirmed that he had attended a meeting of the Oversight Board on behalf of Councillor Robinson, and the Chair of the Midlands Engine, Sir John Peace referred to HS2 and the importance of integrating the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine rail links into HS2. Part of the proposal would be to ensure that those links occur. It was hoped that the proposal would also increase social mobility, to provide opportunities for everyone.
Councillor Robinson referred to HS2 and agreed that it was likely that future plans could change the direction of the project, with many preferring links across the country. Everyone recognised the importance of the proposals and the strategic nature of the power station and the local presence. However, to gain any investment, this approved body was required by the Government and to ensure that the Development Corporation must be in place. He confirmed that an application for a Free Port for this area had been received and publicised. It is one of 10 being promoted to the Government, and it was hoped that a Free Port would come to this area.
It was RESOLVED that:
a) the statement of intent be endorsed;
b) the Council’s involvement in the establishment of the Development Corporation and the required interim arrangements be supported;
c) the potential budget impact of the interim arrangements be noted; and
d) a Member Working Group to be regularly consulted on the progress of the development corporation work over the next two years, during the period of the interim delivery vehicle be set up.