To submit a report by the Head of Regulation and Economic Development.
The report of the Head of Service (Regulation and Economic Development) which sought the Executive’s approval to join the Arfor 2 Programme was presented for consideration.
Councillor Carwyn Jones, Portfolio Member for Economic Development, Leisure and Tourism in presenting the report provided a synopsis of the Arfor 1 Programme which ran from 2019 to 2020 and was a £2m scheme funded by Welsh Government to pilot different approaches and projects which promote entrepreneurship, business growth and community resilience and the Welsh language in the four Arfor region counties of Gwynedd, Anglesey, Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire. The report details the outputs of the programme for Anglesey where 75 grants were awarded to support existing and new businesses, jobs, products and services and refers to the programme evaluation which confirmed that despite the modest budget and the programme being disrupted by the pandemic, it had made a difference and had established useful collaboration between the four counties.
Welsh Government has now announced a further £11m to deliver a second phase of the Arfor Programme until March, 2025 to strengthen the economic resilience and prosperity of those communities in the four Arfor counties that are Welsh speaking heartlands thereby increasing opportunities to see and use the Welsh Language on a daily basis.
The Economic Development Regeneration Manager reported that the level of funding for Arfor 2 is higher than for phase 1 of the programme with Anglesey expected to receive £1.125m. He referred to the proposed Arfor 2 components as set out in section 4 of the report and confirmed that with regard to managing the programme, it was the wish of Anglesey, Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire that Gwynedd Council continue to co-ordinate and lead the programme on behalf of the four counties. The Arfor Board comprising of the Leaders of the four counties has submitted an Outline Proposal for the second phase of the programme to Welsh Government and this is shown in Appendix 1 to the report. A promotion document for Arfor 2 will highlight the successes of the first phase of the programme.
Councillor Dylan Rees, Chair of the Partnership and Regeneration Scrutiny Committee confirmed that the Committee at its 18 October, 202 meeting was supportive of the programme and appreciated the Portfolio Member’s input in explaining how local businesses had benefited from phase one. The Committee thought it would be helpful to monitor the second phase to see what difference it makes particularly as regards creating opportunities for young people to stay within or return to their communities on the Island.
The Executive welcomed Welsh Government’s investment in the second phase of the Arfor scheme and agreed that it would be a worthwhile endeavour to monitor how the scheme through the Llwyddo’n Lleol 2050 project enables young people to remain within their communities on Anglesey. There should also be a focus on publicity to maximise the accessibility and reach of the programme to as many businesses as possible.
It was resolved -
· To agree that Anglesey County Council will act in conjunction with other county authorities as a partner in the ARFOR 2 Programme.
· To authorise the Head of Service – Regulation and Economic Development to do the following with the agreement of the Director of Function (Resources)/Section 151 Officer in respect of Financial decisions and the Legal Services Manager in respect of legal agreements:
· Accept the terms of regional agreement(s) relating to the ARFOR 2 Programme
· Receive ARFOR 2 funding and manage this in accordance with the grant conditions
· Administer ARFOR 2 grants and projects which are the Council’s responsibility
· Represent the Council in ARFOR 2 regional activities, including agreement of details of the programme relevant to Anglesey.