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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting: 16 December, 2013

 

Report of the Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Innovation, Planning and Transportation

 

Assisted Areas Consultation

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To apprise Cabinet of the ongoing review of the Assisted Areas Map for 2014-2020 and seek endorsement for the Council's response to date in respect of the first stage consultation by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Recommendations

1.         That the responses to the Stage 1 consultation, as set out in the report, are endorsed.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.         In order to inform the next stage of consultation.

 

Background

2.         The U.K. Government is reviewing the Assisted Areas Order that came into force in 2007.  This is in response to the 2014 -2020 Regional Aid Guidelines (R.A.G.) issued on 20th June 2013 by the European Commission (E.C.).  The R.A.G. sets out the rules for how, why, where and to whom regional aid can be granted.  Essentially this is the framework allowing member states to provide aid to businesses and some other organisations in order to promote economic development.  The guidelines provide for regional aid to be given in selected economically disadvantaged regions, whilst providing restrictions to avoid unnecessary intervention in competitive markets and excessive distorting of competition.  Regions which are permitted to benefit from State Aid are known as Assisted Areas (A.A.).

3.         Member States have some flexibility in identifying A.A.s, so long as criteria comply with the guidelines.  The U.K. Government is working with the Welsh Government on the process.  There are two stages to the consultation.  At stage 1, the U.K. Government is leading on an 'open' consultation, and observations/suggestions were sought by 30th September 2013.  At stage 2 a draft A.A. map is expected to be produced for further more specific consultation.

4.         Convergence (formerly Objective 1) areas automatically qualify as an A.A.  Currently no part of the Vale of Glamorgan is designated as an A.A., and indeed there is relatively little coverage in South East Wales, with the bulk of population coverage in non convergence areas being in North East Wales.  In drawing up the A.A. map, a maximum population threshold will apply.

5.         In order to sustain a case for any area, the relevant part of the guidance is clear in that it seeks primarily larger contiguous areas (at least 100,000 population) or smaller areas which are directly adjacent to Convergence Areas.  The consultation document specifically sought evidence of how a proposed area will assist in supporting economic convergence between wealthier and poorer areas of the U.K.

 

Relevant Issues and Options

6.         Officers have submitted two responses to the Stage 1 Consultation.  Whilst the Vale currently has no coverage, and this does mean that presenting a case is difficult, there have been significant changes since 2007.  Firstly, the designation of the St Athan/Cardiff Airport Enterprise Zone has identified and created an opportunity for regional, rather than just local, substantial economic growth.  Secondly, the public ownership of much of both St Athan and the Airport (including the Council's ownership of the largely yet to be developed Airport Business Park) provides opportunities for Innovative approaches to facilitating investment.  State Aid, in the Context of E.C. regulation, includes, for instance, favourable land deals and guarantees as well as direct financial assistance.

7.         Response 1 can be found at Appendix 1 and at Appendix 2.  (Please note all Appendices can only be viewed on line).  Castleland, Buttrills, Sully, Rhoose, St Athan, Llantwit Major, Llandow/Ewenny and Peterston Super Ely.  The submission is based on the economic opportunities in these Wards, and their potential to stimulate regional growth.  Peterston Super Ely for instance, includes the Deposit Draft Local Development Plan Employment Site at Junction 34 of the M4 motorway, and its inclusion also provides a physical link to, and employment opportunities for, the current Convergence Area, to the north of the M4 motorway at this location.

8.         Response 2 can be found at Appendix 3, Appendix 4 and Appendix 5 .  It differs from Response 1 in that it is a collaborative response.  The consultation documents encouraged collaboration in this way, and working with neighbouring non Convergence Areas allowed a case to be made around the emerging City Region approach, again in the Vale's area focussing on the Enterprise Zone and potential for Cardiff Airport to drive regional growth.  This response includes parts of Newport, East, South and Central Cardiff, and similar wards in the Vale to Response 1.  A notable exception is Peterston Super Ely as in this collaborative case, the total population numbers posed a restriction, and the link to the Convergence Area via Llandow/Ewenny deemed a more suitable approach.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

9.         Assisted Area Status would facilitate investment and job creation in the Vale.  The report has no direct financial costs or employment implications for the Council, but Assisted Area status for parts of the Vale could indirectly allow the Council to secure additional grant under future European Grant regimes if such funds were to be used to provide aid to businesses.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

10.      The report reflects an attempt to create an environment which facilitates local employment opportunities, reducing the need for travel in some cases.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

11.      There are none as a direct result of this report.

Crime and Disorder Implications

12.      There are none as a direct result of this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

13.      There are none as a direct result of this report.

Corporate/Service Objectives

14.      To promote economic wellbeing by supporting businesses to create local employment opportunities.

Policy Framework and Budget

15.      This is a matter for Executive decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

16.      As the report deals with significant areas of the Vale of Glamorgan, Ward Member consultation has not been undertaken.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

17.      Economy and Environment.

Background Papers

2014-2020 Assisted Areas Map: Consultation Stage 1, Common Principles and Local Intelligence.

 

Contact Officer

Bob Guy, Operational Manager Countryside and Economic Development - Tel. 01446 704623

 

Officers Consulted

Committee Reports, Legal

Principal Accountant

Business Manager, Corporate and Customer Services

Principal Officer (Business and Employment)

 

Responsible Officer:

Rob Thomas - Director of Development Services

 

 

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