(Strategic Partnerships Specialist) To consider the attached report (AMED-006-2019/20).
The Strategic Partnership Specialist presented an update report to the Cabinet Committee on a number of projects and issues being explored by the Economic Development Team.
The Strategic Partner Specialist informed the Cabinet Committee of the latest developments on the Economic Strategy. The draft Strategy had been a key theme of the Chairman of Council’s annual Business Networking event on 28 November 2019, as well as the Tourism Conference on 5 December 2019; it also had formed an element of the presentation to the Youth Council on 10 December 2019. The consultation period for the Economic Strategy had closed on 16 December 2019, and the responses were being collated for use in shaping the final Strategy, which would be presented to the Cabinet for approval in March 2020. A number of events had also been organised to support the discussion paper ‘Nurturing Growth’, including the Economic Stakeholder Conference on 13 November 2019.
The Strategic Partnership Specialist reported that work was continuing on the Digital Innovation Zone (DIZ) Local Full Fibre Network Project to progress it through the DCMS Assurance process; the project had reached the ‘Ready to Procure’ stage. A presentation had been delivered to the LGA Annual Digital Showcase on 4 November 2019, and further opportunities for the DIZ to work more closely with the Local Government Association and assist other Councils with their own digital innovation had been discussed. The DIZ was involved with the delivery of the ‘Be Part of the Next Generation of Digital Adoption’ conference at the BT Tower on 25 February 2020, which would cover technology, infrastructure, investment and skills. The Council had also had an application to the Digital Declaration Programme approved by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, which had centred on two projects – the DIZ Common Asset Register project and the EFDC Citizens Online project. Finally, the ‘Digital First’ internal working group had been established to promote the use of technology within the Council and maximise the opportunity for shared developments.
The Strategic Partnership Specialist stated that the Annual Tourism Conference on 5 December 2019 had been successful, and a cross border team was being established to prepare a bid for the Government’s new Tourism Zone programme. The ‘Visit Epping Forest’ website continued to develop, and had recorded its busiest autumn day on 5 November 2019 promoting organised fireworks display events across the District.
In respect of the Green Arc initiative, the Cabinet Committee was reminded that Climate Emergency Champions had been appointed by the Council, and discussions with external organisations to resource a major new planting programme had been positive. In addition, a Green Arc stakeholder conference was planned for March 2020, to develop actionable priorities for the initiative in the future.
In response to questions from the Cabinet Committee, the Strategic Partnership Specialist announced that the DIZ Local Full Fibre Network Project, having passed the ‘Ready to Procure’ stage, was now ready to activate the work to physically insert the broadband fibre cables in the ground. In respect of the DIZ Common Asset Register project, the data submission exercise was now complete and the DIZ team was looking to leverage additional resources to progress the project and have something in place by the middle of the summer.
(1) That the progress made by the Economic Development Team with their current initiatives be noted.
Reasons for Decision:
To appraise the Cabinet Committee on the progress made with economic development issues.
Other Options Considered and Rejected:
None, as the report was for information only.