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Economic Development Committee

MINUTE of MEETING of the ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE held in the Town and County Hall, Forfar on Thursday 1 March 2001 at 5.00 pm.

Present: Councillors JACK GIBB, JOY MOWATT, IAN ANGUS, BILL CROWE, Provost Mrs FRANCES E DUNCAN OBE, IAN MACKINTOSH, The Hon R J LESLIE MELVILLE, BRIAN MILNE, ROB MURRAY, PETER NIELD and SANDY WEST.

Apologies: Apologies for absence were intimated on behalf of Councillors STEPHEN LESLIE and GEORGE NORRIE MBE.

Councillor GIBB, Convener, in the Chair.

1. MINUTE OF PREVIOUS MEETING

The minute of meeting of this Committee of 18 January 2001 was approved as a correct record and signed by the Convener.

2. ARBROATH AID PACKAGE

With reference to Article 2 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 18 January 2001, there was submitted Report No 266/01 by the Chief Executive, together with the Arbroath Aid Package document referred to, which had now been submitted to Henry McLeish MSP, First Minister.

The Report indicated that the Package called for a Taskforce to oversee the implementation of eighteen specific proposals which were listed in Table 2 of the Report. The Package was comprehensive and, if accepted, would go some way towards redressing the loss of Assisted Area Status in Arbroath and regenerating the economy of the town. It also comprised practical measures aimed at giving opportunities for growth by supporting existing firms, encouraging inward investment, accelerating tourism growth and enabling community access, although it was stressed that the proposals could only be realised with the assistance of the Scottish Executive and in partnership with key agencies such as Scottish Enterprise Tayside.

The Support Package sought from the Scottish Executive directly for Arbroath amounted to £3,762,000 although other bids by Angus College for a new Community Access and Learning Centre and by the Council for improvements to the A92 (Montrose Bridge) increased this to a total of £15,512,000.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to note the proposals contained within the Arbroath Aid Package which had been submitted to the First Minister; and
  2. to await the response from the First Minister in this regard.

3. SCOTTISH EXECUTIVE RELOCATION POLICY

There was submitted Report No 267/01 by the Chief Executive advising the Committee that the Scottish Executive had confirmed its intention to consider relocation of civil service jobs where the opportunity existed and updating members on action being taken with regard to bidding for these jobs to be located in Tayside.

The Report indicated that the location of civil service jobs, in addition to other public sector and call centre jobs, would achieve a number of benefits for Angus by widening the range of employment opportunities and stimulating the local housing market.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to note the action already taken in respect of bidding to attract civil service jobs to Angus;
  2. to authorise the Chief Executive, in consultation with the Convener, to submit specific bids for civil service relocations in response to invitations by the Scottish Executive; and
  3. to homologate the decision of the Convener to authorise a contribution of up to £1,666 from the Economic Development Revenue Budget towards a publicity campaign aimed at lobbying for the attraction of these jobs to Tayside.

4. FORESTRY LIAISON VISIT TO ANGUS GLENS

With reference to Article 8 of the minute of meeting of the Planning and Transport Policy Committee of 27 April 2000, there was submitted Report No 268/01 by the Chief Executive advising the Committee of an invitation from the Forestry Commission for elected members of the Council to view the woodland and forestry sector in Angus and the way it fitted into the rural economy and environment. The visit would also familiarise members with development opportunities in the Angus Glens which would support job creation and sustainability in these areas.

The Committee, for its interest, agreed to accept the invitation by the Forestry Commission for elected members to spend a day looking at the forestry and woodland potential of the Angus Glens on a date to be confirmed.

5. OVERSEAS TRADE PROMOTION SCHEDULE FOR 2001/2002

With reference to Article 13 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 18 November 1999, there was submitted Report No 269/01 by the Chief Executive seeking approval for the Overseas Trade Promotion Schedule for 2001/2002 which it was hoped would continue to contribute significantly to the realisation of the Council's Economic Development Strategy, in terms of assisting firms and promoting inward investment. The submission of the proposed Schedule was a legal requirement and, while it would be possible to amend it at a later date, it had to be submitted now for approval by Scottish Trade International otherwise the Council would be unable to participate in any overseas activities during 2001/2002.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to authorise the implementation of the Overseas Trade Promotion Schedule for 2001/2002 as outlined in the Report, subject to the costs being met from the Economic Development Revenue Budget; and
  2. to authorise the Chief Executive to approve attendance of appropriate staff at the trade promotion events detailed in the Schedule.

6. ANGUS PROMOTIONAL DISKS

There was submitted Report No 270/01 by the Chief Executive seeking authority to purchase a further 3,000 CD-Rom Angus promotional disks at a total cost of £4,200 which would assist the Council and the Angus Ahead Campaign to promote Angus more vigorously during 2001.

The Report indicated that since these promotional disks were first created in June 1999, they had proved to be successful and their main advantage was that they carried a large volume of information in a small, easy to use package.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to note the success of the CD-Rom Angus promotional disk in promoting Angus;
  2. to authorise the purchase of a further 3,000 disks at a total cost of £4,200; and
  3. to highlight the Council's policy of free car parking available throughout Angus.

7. ANGUS TASTE TRAIL

There was submitted Report No 271/01 by the Chief Executive detailing a request from Angus College for support towards the cost of the Angus Taste Trail and Dinner, which was an initiative to generate awareness of Angus as a tourist and food destination, and recommending that the Council provide a one-off grant of up to £2,000.

The Report indicated that the College, in conjunction with the Angus and Dundee Tourist Board, had devised this initiative which would utilise the marketing and culinary expertise of the College and the contacts and local knowledge of the Tourist Board. While the programme had yet to be finalised, it was planned to take a party of approximately fifteen travel and food writers on a day-long tour of Angus, demonstrating some of the high quality food products produced and visiting various tourist attractions, followed by a gourmet dinner prepared by catering staff and students from Angus College.

The Committee agreed to authorise a one-off grant of £2,000 to Angus College towards the cost of organising the Angus Taste Trail and Dinner, with the cost being met from the Economic Development and Angus Ahead Revenue Budget for 2001/2002.

8. ADVERTISING SCHEDULE 2001/2002

With reference to Article 13 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 2 March 2000, there was submitted Report No 272/01 by the Chief Executive outlining the 2001/2002 industrial promotion advertising schedule.

The Report indicated that the programme, as appended to the Report, was intended to stimulate industrial development prosperity in Angus by raising the profile of Angus locally, nationally and internationally and advertising the Council's industrial properties and sites to potential tenants and developers. The proposed programme would cost approximately £15,000 which could be met from the Economic Development Revenue Budget 2001/2002.

The Committee agreed to authorise the Chief Executive to proceed with the advertising schedule, as appended to the Report.

9. ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT UNIT ­ KEY HIGHLIGHTS AND ACHIEVEMENTS

With reference to Article 7 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 18 January 2001, there was submitted and noted Report No 273/01 by the Chief Executive identifying key highlights and achievements in the work of the Economic Development Unit for the period 18 January to 1 March 2001.

10. UNEMPLOYMENT STATISTICS

With reference to Article 8 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 18 January 2001, there was submitted and noted Report No 274/01 by the Director of Planning and Transport providing various statistics, graphs and charts showing unemployment rates by travel to work areas, numbers and ages of unemployment, duration of unemployment and the number of vacancies in Angus and neighbouring authorities for the month of January 2001.

11. EXCLUSION OF PUBLIC AND PRESS

The Committee resolved, in terms of Standing Order 27(2), that the public and press be excluded during consideration of items 12-16 below so as to avoid the disclosure of information which was exempt in terms of Part I of Schedule 7A to the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973, paragraphs 4, 6, 8 and 9.

* 12. BUSINESS SHOP ANGUS ­ SMALL BUSINESS GATEWAY ­ PROPOSAL BY SCOTTISH ENTERPRISE TAYSIDE

With reference to Article 6 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 18 January 2001, there was submitted Report No 275/01 by the Chief Executive providing an update on the position with regard to the implementation of the Small Business Gateway in Tayside and seeking a response to a proposal by Scottish Enterprise Tayside to dismantle the existing provision of the three Business Shops and create a single Tayside company.

The Report indicated that the Chief Executive and the Chairman of the Business Shop, Angus had addressed the SET Board Meeting on 31 January 2001 when they had outlined the Council's position and urged that if the alternative model put forward was unacceptable, then more time should be allowed to reach a model to which all parties could subscribe. In this connection, they had suggested that a new six month contract be given to the existing Business Shops to deliver the Small Business Gateway. Subsequently, the SET Board had agreed that the one company option be adopted, although it had also agreed that every effort should be made to retain Angus Council as a partner.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to note the contents of the Report;
  2. to accept SET's proposal (option 4) to establish a single company, subject to the officers reaching agreement on the six points detailed in paragraph 4.1(2) of the Report; and
  3. to recommend that the Council appoint the Convener and the Economic Development Manager to represent Angus on the Board of the Company.

13. ACQUISITION OF LAND FOR EMPLOYMENT AT BARRY, CARNOUSTIE

There was submitted Report No 276/01 by the Chief Executive seeking authority to proceed with the acquisition of approximately 4.2 hectares of land at Barry, Carnoustie which was allocated within the approved Local Plan, by using compulsory purchase powers.

The Report indicated that it was considered appropriate to proceed with compulsory purchase in the light of the importance of this site for future employment opportunities and the lack of objections to the Local Plan allocations.

The Committee agreed that the area of land referred to in the Report near Barry be acquired by Compulsory Purchase Order.

Councillors Gibb and Mowatt declared an interest in the following item and took no part in the consideration thereof.

14. ANGUS DIGITAL MEDIA CENTRE: PROJECT MANAGEMENT

With reference to Article 19 of the minute of meeting of the Policy and Resources Committee of 8 February 2001, there was submitted Report No 277/01 by the Chief Executive identifying the need for specialist advisory support in respect of the Angus Digital Media Centre Project for the period from March 2001 to operational launch, and recommending that an appropriate consultancy arrangement be put in place.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to note the requirement for continuing specialist support from March 2001, for the implementation phase of this project; and
  2. to approve the appointment of Mr Paul Harris as specialist adviser to the project for the period from March 2001, to project completion.

15. REQUEST FOR FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE

There was submitted Report No 278/01 by the Chief Executive outlining a request for financial assistance made on behalf of a local manufacturing company to enable them to extend their existing factory premises and recommending that loan finance of £45,000 be made available.

The Report indicated that new developments threatened the traditional processing work at the factory and in order to retain traditional skills and safeguard jobs, it was considered that the extension was essential.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to note the contents of the Report;
  2. to authorise appropriate officials to conclude a loan finance agreement with the company concerned in respect of a sum of £45,000, the terms of which to be agreed to the satisfaction of the Chief Executive and the Director of Finance, in consultation with the Conveners of the Economic Development and Finance Committees; and
  3. to make the loan agreement subject to the whole finance package being put in place in accordance with the information contained in the Report and subject to a further Report on the outcome of this matter being submitted for information, in due course.

Councillors Gibb and Mowatt declared an interest in the following item and took no part in the consideration thereof.

16. FIT-OUT OF BUSINESS UNIT AT BRECHIN BUSINESS PARK TO CREATE THE ANGUS DIGITAL MEDIA CENTRE ­ LIST OF CONTRACTORS

There was submitted Report No 279/01 by the Director of Property Services proposing a list of contractors to be invited to tender for the formation of a new internal layout, complete with suspended ceiling and fit-out of services at Brechin Business Park to create the Angus Digital Media Centre.

The Committee agreed to authorise the invitation of tenders from the five contractors detailed in the Report, subject to satisfactory financial assessments being carried out by the Director of Finance.

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