(Report of the Leader of the Council)
The Chair introduced Councillor J Oates, the Leader of the Council, Anna Miller, Assistant Director, Growth & Regeneration and Tom Hobbs, Future High Streets Fund Project Officer to the Committee to provide an update.
It was reported that this was intended to be one of four per year update reports to the Committee, with the next one expected in November 2021.
The key points highlighted were:
1. Procurement where significant steps forward had been made to appoint a Lead Consultant, which would include the provision of services to the project related to architecture, Quantity Surveying and engineering, with the tender process nearly completed following interviews with the shortlisted tenderers in the previous week. A final recommendation had been made to the Programme Board and following completion of the necessary legal arrangements, further details would be provided.
2. Surveys where measured surveys, topographical surveys and utilities mapping of the buildings and areas affected by the Future High Streets Fund had commenced.
3. Projects where an overview of the progress made in the three areas was provided, and in particular, in regard to the College Quarter Project that South Staffordshire College had achieved a first round pass for their funding bid to the Department for Education.
4. Engagement and Communications where a plan regarding engagement and communication had been approved by the Project Board which included targeted engagement events as well as the development of a website to provide more general updates.
The Committee sought clarifications in the following areas:
· Confirmation of the Lead Consultant when the appointment process had been completed and confirmation that there were robust arrangements in place regarding further appointments by the Lead Consultant.
· Clarification over the arrangements for how the Council’s Lead Consultant and any Lead Consultant appointed by the College could work together, where it was confirmed that consideration had been given to facilitate collaborative working. Furthermore, the membership of the Project Board included the Chief Executive of South Staffordshire College and whilst the Council currently did not have representation on the College’s Project Board, this had been raised.
· The Committee noted that the College’s funding bid had gone through to the next stage and sought clarification on whether any sales proceeds of the College’s existing assets would be sufficient for the project to progress if the funding bid were ultimately unsuccessful. The Assistant Director reported that the current project required both the sale proceeds and funding bid to proceed.
· Whether currently the budget remained on target given the further details and progress made, including with third parties and how the Council was achieving and confirming value for money through the project in terms of valuations of third party property. It was confirmed that the project remained on target, however, further detailed costing work would commence once the Lead Consultant was appointed.
· Conservation activity and the importance to work with Historic England and to engage early with them and to seek pragmatic solutions where necessary so that the projects deliver for the residents of Tamworth.
· The potential impact of any building supply issues, in terms of availability and costs, on the project where it was reported that this was an area which would be closely addressed and could require revisions to designs over time.
· The requirement to keep an extremely close eye on the budget for this project and to ensure that public funds were being used appropriately and to ensure that the project managed expectations in terms of delivery.
RESOLVED that the Committee noted the Report.
(Moved by Councillor S Goodall and seconded by Councillor T Clements)
The Chair thanked the Leader of the Council and the Officers in attendance who then left the meeting.