b) Bordesley Green;
d) Walsall; and
e) West Bromwich.
Pat Willoughby presented a report which advised on the work undertaken by the WMCA in collaboration with its local authority and business partners in relation to town centre regeneration and revitalisation. For an identified set of pilot town centres (Wave 1), this Board was managing a programme of preparing Delivery and Investment Plans. It was anticipated that each Plan would be finalised during Quarter 1 of 2020. The report explained the background to and progress on the preparation of the Delivery and Investment Plans. The Board received a PowerPoint presentation which provided additional information.
Councillor Joanne Hadley reminded the Board that H M Government had identified West Bromwich High Street for attention and questioned whether the work proposed would link to these initiatives. Pat Willoughby reminded the Board that the WMCA Town Centre Programme had commenced in October 2019 with H M Government’s Task Force starting subsequently. The latter was focussed on the theory behind the difficulties experienced but the former was concentrating upon delivery. She confirmed that the work of the Government Task Force would be aligned with work of the West Midlands Regional Town Centres Task Force. Councillor Joanne Hadley commented that whilst all town centres had experienced similar and different problems a common concern related to public safety. Pat Willoughby advised that the West Midlands Police was an active Member of the Regional Task Force.
Councillor Peter Bilson commented that the fear f crime was often greater than actual crime. He asked whether local businesses were involved with the Task Forces and suggested that Community Groups could be established to consider issues of community safety. He opined that improved street lighting and public transport would also assist in addressing a number of concerns. Furthermore, the impact of media reporting of incidents, however isolated, could not be ignored.
Gareth Bradford reported that the Officers had been asked by the Regional Town Centres Task Force to prepare a formal briefing paper on all offers of support and funding opportunities. Once the Delivery and Investment Plans were approved a strong communications campaign would commence. He gave an example of an intervention in Bull Street, West Bromwich as an indication of the work supported by the Task Force. He also assured the Board that Wave 2 of the Town Centres Programme would be led by ‘Lessons Learnt’ from Phase 1.
Councillor Daren Pemberton commended the work undertaken to date but suggested that each town centre required a ‘Unique Selling Point’. Councillor Ian Courts queried what interventions were possible and advised that he would be unable to support any initiatives to support failing businesses. He supported the suggestion that Wave 2 schemes would benefit from identifying which interventions had been successful in Wave 1 of the programme. He supported the suggestion of ‘Unique Selling Points’ but was of the view that it was unlikely that the respective town centres actually competed against one another.
Councillor David Wright asked as to information mapping as he understood that Government funding was available for such an exercise. He suggested that the Board should concentrate on the main transport corridors in selecting the town centres for Phase 2 of the programme. He requested additional information on the type of interventions made to date and any others which were available. Gareth Bradford advised that a corridor mapping exercise was underway as part of the programme. The wider benefits of investment needed to be considered including measures relating to community safety. He explained that some interventions would need to be above market value and stressed the need to deliver on the agreed proposals.
1. That the current progress on the emerging Delivery and Investment Plans which were being prepared for the ‘Wave 1’ town centres be noted;
2. That the programme for Delivery and Investment Plans in 2020 – namely the key milestones and timescales to ensure that the plans were approved in final form before the end of Quarter 1 of 2020 be noted;
3. That the final iterations of the Delivery and Investment Plans be submitted to the next meeting for consideration and approval.