- Ken Skates MS (Chair)
- Lesley Griffiths MS
- Rebecca Evans MS
- Julie Morgan MS
- Julie James MS (until item 2)
- Hannah Blythyn MS
- Dafydd Elis-Thomas MS
Leaders of North Wales Local Authorities – for item 3 on the agenda
- Cllr Mark Pritchard, Wrexham
- Cllr Ian Roberts, Flintshire
- Cllr Sam Rowlands, Conwy
- Cllr Llinos Medi Huws, Anglesey
- Cllr Dyfrig Siencyn, Gwynedd
- Cllr Hugh Evans, Denbighshire
- Shan Morgan, Permanent Secretary
- Andrew Goodall, Chief Executive NHS Wales and DG H&SS
- Carys Evans, Deputy Director, Principal Private Secretary to the First Minister
- Paul Griffiths, Special Adviser
- Andrew Johnson, Special Adviser
- Clare Jenkins, Special Adviser
- Alex Bevan, Special Adviser
- Ian Butler, Special Adviser
- Damian Roche, Cabinet Secretariat (minutes)
- Christopher Morgan, Cabinet Secretariat
- Gwenllian Roberts, Chief Regional Officer, North Wales
- Bryn Richards, Head of Regional Planning, North Wales
- Simon Dean, Deputy Chief Executive, NHS Wales
- Andrew Sallows, Delivery Programme Director, NHS Wales
- Vaughan Gething MS
Item 1: Place Making – Stimulus Package for the North Wales Economy - CAB-NW(20-21)01
- The Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales introduced the paper, which provided an up-date on the latest position on the regional response to the economic impact of COVID-19 and the intention to establish a stimulus package for the North Wales economy.
- The pandemic was having a significant impact across the entire region. Sectors that added a huge amount of value to the North Wales economy, such as tourism and hospitality in the West and high value manufacturing in the East, were fighting to remain viable. The impact had been particularly harsh in the Mersey Dee area of North Wales, with a 30% drop in production at Airbus, with significant redundancies being announced.
- Furthermore, the towns and cities of North Wales were facing a cliff edge in terms of their future viability. The Sub-Committee agreed that no single entity could address the situation in isolation, but an urgent rethink of how the Government could collectively support the region’s people, businesses and communities was needed.
- It was recognised that delivery partners, particularly Local Authorities, through the governance arrangements and relationships established over recent years to support the EAP regionalisation agenda, were doing excellent work by responding to immediate “survival phase” issues facing businesses and communities. Local Authorities were also thinking ahead as to how a well-being based sustainable recovery in North Wales could be delivered across the “stabilisation” and ultimately “growth” phases of recovery.
- It was acknowledged that the scale of the task ahead could not be underestimated. The uncertainties in terms of how the pandemic would develop over the coming months and the already stretched resources of all departments and partners required a new approach, as set out in the paper.
- The region was proposing a pragmatic approach to addressing the short, medium and long term challenges. The Sub-Committee welcomed this approach and encouraged the entire North Wales region to continue working closely with the Government’s Chief Regional Officer and team to prepare a place-based and thematic stimulus prospectus for North Wales.
- To that end, the Sub-Committee agreed to establish a cross-Government Economic Reconstruction Co-ordination Group to oversee and drive a strategic place-based approach to recovery, mirroring robust architecture in the region and supporting future arrangements in relation to strategic programmes and activities set out in the paper.
- The North Wales Economy Recovery Group, which is part of the region’s Covid-19 SCG architecture and is jointly led by the Welsh Government and the Economic Ambition Board had, in co-operation with delivery partners, identified four priority areas, with accompanying tactical groups for action namely: tourism and wider support for businesses; public procurement and social value (via the Regional Procurement Forum), town centre regeneration (via the Regional Regeneration Group); and people & skills (via the Regional Skills Partnership and Regional Employment Response Group).
- It was noted that real opportunities existed for innovation and to accelerate the delivery of the policy agenda across the economic spectrum, not least in terms of community wealth building, supporting the third sector and growing the foundational economy across the region.
- This situation necessitated key decisions and significant changes to the Welsh Government’s approach and work with partners. The Government was asking partners to work differently, so should do likewise, with regionalism and localism at the heart of the policy agenda.
- It was noted that this work was in line with the recommendations from the OECD about regional collaboration and the establishment of Corporate Joint Committee’s should help address the capacity issues experienced by the current governance model.
- It was suggested that Town and Community Councils could play a greater role in delivering locally, where appropriate, and engaging the civic partnership group in North Wales was vital.
- Transport links were discussed and it was recognised that many of the levers to improve connectivity rested with the UK Government, but the North Wales mainline and Wrexham to Liverpool connections could play a key role in improving the economy in the region as part of the stimulus package being developed by the Mersey Dee Alliance.
- Green energy was also a major growth area, along with research and development and making use of existing sites such as AMRC Cymru in Broughton. High value manufacturing, which had been such a mainstay of the region, should also be a focus.
- Tourism, culture and the hospitality industry were discussed and the devastating impacts of COVID-19 were acknowledged. It was suggested that a tourism summit could be held to bring stakeholders together to pool their knowledge and ideas and feed into the wider recovery and regeneration work and that of the North Wales Economic Ambition Board. The outcome of the summit would be fed back to the Cabinet Committee in the New Year.
- The Sub-Committee agreed the paper and noted that an announcement would be made in November, welcoming the approach and outlining the Welsh Government’s stimulus package in the immediate term.
Item 2: Current COVID-19 Situation and outlook in North Wales
- The Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales invited health officials to provide an update on the latest position with COVID-19 in North Wales.
Cabinet Committee reconvened and Local Authority Leaders joined the meeting.
Item 3: Collectively responding to the challenges of COVID-19 – priorities for the next six months - North Wales Local Authority Leaders
- The Minister for Economy and Transport welcomed the local authority Leaders to the meeting and handed over to them to provide updates on issues across their respective areas.
- It was reported that the Economic Ambition Board had reached an important milestone on its Growth Deal proposals, which had been submitted to the Welsh and UK Government’s for consideration prior to its anticipated agreement by year-end. Meeting that timetable would be helpful to ensure the initial draw down of funds was achievable within the current financial year.
- The Sub-Committee commended the partnership model of working between Welsh Government, local authorities and other partner organisations, who were praised for their collaborative approach.
- The considerable size of the industry across North Wales was acknowledged and it was agreed that more work was needed to understand the value and support required to ensure a positive future for the tourism and hospitality sector.
- The natural features of the North Wales landscape, its biodiversity, national parks and other outdoor attractions were all recognised as significant drivers for adventure tourism, along with the businesses and public sector partners behind them. It was the Welsh Government’s ambition to be number one in the UK for adventure tourism and all partners would need to work together to reach that milestone.
- It was suggested that, in responding to COVID-19, there were three main areas of focus in the region.
- Firstly, rising unemployment would need to be addressed.
- Secondly, the process of investment in capital projects should be streamlined.
- Thirdly, European transition and the impact on exports.
- The Sub-Committee also discussed local authority resources.
- The Cabinet Sub-Committee thanked the local authority leaders for their continued support for the north Wales region and thanked them for their engagement and tireless work in the face of such major challenges from both the pandemic and end of European transition.