Agenda item

North Wales Economic Ambition Board Annual Report and Quarter 4 Growth Deal Report

To submit a report by the North Wales Economic Ambition Board Portfolio Director in relation to the above.


Submitted – a report by the North Wales Economic Ambition Board Portfolio Director in relation to the above. 


The Portfolio Holder for Major Projects and Economic Development said that the North Wales Economic Ambition Board is an opportunity to regenerate the economy of North Wales after the pandemic and Brexit.


The Leader of the Council said that she wishes to see the Growth Bid for North Wales being successful and that the projects are delivered to take advantage of the funding available. She expressed that the Island has innovative projects as part of the North Wales Economic Ambition Board growth bids. 


The North Wales Economic Ambition Board Portfolio Director gave a brief slide presentation to the Committee as follows:-


The Growth Bid Portfolio


·           Spending Objectives over the next 15 years - to create between 3,400 and 4,200 net new jobs in North Wales.

·           GVA – to support a net additional GVA uplift of between £2 billion and £2.4 billion for the North Wales economy through the Growth Bid Deal by 2036.

·           Investment – to deliver a total investment of up to £1.1 billion in the North Wales Economy through the Growth Bid Deal by 2036.


The intention of the Growth Bid is to build a thriving and sustainable economy in North Wales with the main aim of having an inclusive sustainable growth which is part of the Future Generations Act.


The Programmes


·           Digital Programme – deliver a step change in digital connectivity needed to ensure North Wales is able to satisfy user demand, maintain pace with the rest of the UK, unlock the growth potential of priority sectors and site and underpins the flourishing innovation ecosystems.  Create up to 380 jobs by 2036.                                              Total investment £41.7m


·           Land and Property Programme – to address the shortage of suitable land and properties for business growth and to bring forward sites for housing development.  To deliver improvement that stimulate investment in sites and premises in the Port of Holyhead and the wider region.  Create 2,280 jobs by 2036.                             Total investment £355.4m



·      Low Carbon Energy Programme – to unlock the economic benefits of transformational low carbon energy projects and position North Wales as a leading UK location for low carbon energy generation, innovation and supply chain investment.  Create 980 jobs by 2036. 

                                                                 Total investment £668.5m



·           Innovation in High Value Manufacturing Programme – to consolidate North Wales position as a powerful and innovative high value manufacturing cluster, building on existing specialism and leading expertise to create a higher value, more diverse economic base that supports the transition to a low carbon energy.   Creates 180 jobs by 2036

                                                                 Total investment £39.5m


·           Agrifood and Tourism Programme – the aim is to build a more sustainable, vibrant and resilient foundation economy within the region, optimising opportunities for employment and prosperity through our environment and landscape.    Creates 380 jobs by 2036.

                                                                        Total investment £41.3m


Mr Hedd Williams gave a report on the Quarter 4 Performance Report to the Committee.  He noted that the focus this quarter has been moving to the delivery phase with work started in January 2021 with a baseline review of all projects to re-confirm timetables for business case development and delivery.  During Quarter 4, a significant number of workshops have taken place, in line with the Better Business Case guidance, to support the development of the project business cases.  First two projects completed the Gateway Reviews and are now working to address the recommendations made before submitting revised business cases for consideration. The two projects are Morlais project, led by Menter Môn and Enterprise Engineering and Optics Centre project, led by Wrexham Glyndwr University.  He noted that two projects currently reporting as ‘Red’ are the Strategic Bodelwyddan Site due to outline planning permission expiring and Holyhead Gateway due to escalating costs and a need to review the scope of the project.  A number of projects are reporting as ‘Amber’ due to business development, assurance and approval process taking longer than anticipated.  Having signed the Grant Award Letter and submitted the required documentation the first instalment of £16 million has been received from Governments in March, 2021.  This funding will enable project delivery to commence during the next financial year, when it is expected to consider and make a decision on the first tranche of project business cases. 


Mr Williams gave an overview of the Annual Report to the Committee.  The Annual Report was attached to the report.


The Committee considered the report and raised the main points:-


·           Questions were raised as to whether there are risk to major projects not materialising within the Economic Ambition Board due to the tensions reported recently between both UK and Welsh Governments on decisions made in respect of many issues. Reference was made to Holyhead as the UK Government having specific ideas of ‘free port’ whilst Welsh Government disagrees.  The Portfolio Director responded that as with any programme it is important to manage any risk that arises as part of the programme management structure.  She noted that she works closely with Officers of both UK and Welsh Governments and as a partnership it will enable prosperity of the North Wales economy.  Regular meetings are undertaken and costs of resources, construction costs has been raised as regards to the projects put forward to take advantage of the Growth Bid.  She emphasised that both Governments wants to see the projects succeeding within the Growth Bid.

·           Reference was made to the arguments as regards to trade deals in respect of agriculture with Australia recently and the effect it could have on agriculture in North Wales.  Questions were raised as to whether the Economic Ambition Board has considered this matter.  The Portfolio Director responded that the Board is looking at innovation within agriculture in terms of decarbonisation and the Boards decisions has not shifted due to Brexit.  The Board continues to consider that there is a need to support green businesses;

·           Questions were raised whether the Trade Unions have been consulted as regards to creating 3,400 to 4,000 new jobs within the projects developments attached to the Growth Bid.  The Portfolio Director responded that she was unaware that there had been meetings or engagement with the Trade Unions but she would need to discuss the matter further within the Ambition Board. 

·           Questions were raised as regards to the details of the Holyhead Gateway projects. The Portfolio Director responded that the project has a range of scheme i.e Holyhead Breakwater (a joint investment with Stena for necessary improvement the Breakwater); investment in the Port of Holyhead with regard to land and property that has potential for development and the ability to create employment to support the economy of North Wales.  Further questions were raised as to the ownership of the Holyhead Breakwater.  The Deputy Chief Executive responded that it is understood that Stena is responsible for the Holyhead Breakwater but both UK and Welsh Government identified the importance of the Breakwater to the Port of Holyhead for the prosperity for the Town of Holyhead. 

·           Questions were raised as to how private funding is to be secure within the Growth Deal.  The Portfolio Director responded there is an ability to attract private investment within the project but they would need security that the project are viable for them to invest within these projects.  She noted that further engagement is required with the private sector to understand as to the opportunities they are looking into to invest such as growth sectors, higher level manufacturing sectors and low carbon energy sectors.

·           Questions were raised as to the challenges or additional opportunities are anticipated in trying to deliver the projects as a result of the pandemic, and how does the Board intend to address these.  The Portfolio Director responded that it is evident that the economy has been greatly affected by the pandemic.  She noted that the Ambition Board has considered whether the investment within the Growth Bid is still appropriate for the North Wales economy and the pandemic has shown the need for digital connectivity.  The Portfolio Director further said that revenue funding is required for employability skills and to create awareness of employment opportunities and to lead young people within schools and colleges towards these projects.


It was RESOLVED to approve the North Wales Economic Ambition Boards Annual Report for 2020/21 and the Quarter 4 Performance Report and to note the progress made.


ACTION : As noted above.



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