Agenda item

Approach to Levelling Up


David Ayton-Hill presented the item and noted that this session was to get feedback on the Communities OSC specific areas:  

·      The White Paper (WP) was introduced in February 2022 as part of the Queen’s speech and the first bill soon followed (Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill) 

·      The bill set out a programme of change set around 12 national missions to be achieved by 2030  

·      Devolution would likely be a part of the bill and this could be used to deliver the levelling up agenda  

·      The WP had four key objectives (Boost productivity, pay, jobs, and living standards by growing the private sector, especially in those places where they are lagging; Spread opportunities and improve public services, especially in those places where they are weakest; Restore a sense of community, local pride and belonging, especially in those places where they have been lost; and Empower local leaders and communities) 

·      Work was being done to apply this to Warwickshire and ensure that it complements WCC’s work 

·      WCC plan to be cross organisational by working with partners/stakeholders, local communities, and residents to ensure a clear, focused and joined up approach cross county  

·      Communities needing most help should get it and Warwickshire’s residents should receive all the benefits they can from WCC and central government  

·      Levelling up will take generations to have a long-term impact  

·      The relevant missions in the WP to the committee were: Local Leadership (England as a whole get the chance for a devolution deal with long-term funding and extra powers), Pride in Place (people satisfaction with Warwickshire’s town centres and the engagement with their local areas has risen), Transport Infrastructure (everywhere has improved connectivity and is closer to the standards seen in urban areas), Skills (the number of people who had successfully completed high-quality skills training will increase cross-country), Digital Connectivity (ensuring that people are connected for gigabit capable broadband and more mobile phone coverage), Housing (ensuring more house ownership and the number of non-decent rented homes has fallen by 50%), Crime (ensuring that crime has decreased everywhere but especially in the worst affected neighbourhoods) and Living Standards (employment, pay, and economic productivity) 

·      These approaches need to be linked to existing and emerging strategies e.g. the Local Transport Plan will focus on levelling up around increased connectivity and improve all residents ability to travel actively or via public transport  

·      The updated Economic Growth Strategy and Digital Infrastructure Plan will include the levelling up agenda as well as the existing strategies/plans  

·      Employability and skills are critical to levelling up because household income is a determinant on these outcomes. Therefore, work needed to be done to improve this through levelling up  

·      Feedback received from residents highlighted the importance of town centres in terms of Pride of Place as prosperous town centres made happier residents 

·      Funding streams would be used to invest in town centre businesses when available 

·      All partners were being collaborated with to achieve the levelling up principles and progress was good so far  

·      WCC want to focus on strength-based approaches to improve the lives of Warwickshire’s communities/residents/businesses and data driven approached could be accelerated  

·      The 12 missions will be applied to the Council Plan so increased opportunity and social mobility were important to enhance by reducing disparities across all sectors including education and health  

·      The Community Powered Warwickshire platform and Voice of Warwickshire panel will help engagement with communities on the missions as well as the climate change agenda and adaptation as this is a key part of levelling up  

·      In a survey, residents in Nuneaton and Bedworth had lower levels of pride compared to other areas in Warwickshire,rural residents identified as being from a village whereas urban residents identified being from their area of a townand residents said that parks/open spaces, town centres, local facilities, good schools, easy access to health provisions and safety levels were needed to make an area great to live 

·      Evidence based areas would be targeted first i.e. areas of multiple deprivation (the 10-20% most deprived wards where nearly all the key indicators for levelling up are facing the most challenges)  

·      Types of residents who need extra support with employment will be helped first too e.g. people leaving care, people with special educational needs or disabilities, ex-offenders and older workers  


Sarah Duxbury (Assistant Director – Governance & Policy) added that a councillor in another OSC requested that active sustainable and healthy travel relating to health and wellbeing, also be linked to the levelling up agenda.  


In response to Councillor Jenny Fradgley, David Ayton-Hill stated that the new Local Transport Plan will focus on active and public transport being prioritised over private and they needed to be smarter around things WCC already controlled, better utilise developer contributions and better influence the planning system to try and align it with the transport network. Part of the levelling up journey will link in with the devolution deal from central government. A strong case would focus on funding and powers that would help support the public transport network. The bus service improvement plan would be discussed with central government in devolution discussions so funding for it could be negotiated. 


Councillor Jonathon Chilvers suggested a wording amendment as the report mentioned delivering road priority schemes but a recent meeting, he attended showed that WCC were prioritising non private vehicle schemes instead. 



In response to the Chair, David Ayton-Hill stated that performance measures showing what improvements will be delivered would be developed. Sarah Duxbury also added that the Levelling Up approach document going to July’s Cabinet will contain reference to the development of impact measures for the Levelling Up priorities mentioned. Central government will also have their own performance framework for local authorities to measure successes against. The approach will include the outcome measures.   


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