Agenda and minutes

Economy and Development Select Committee - Tuesday, 7th September, 2021 10.00 am

Venue: County Hall, Usk - Remote Attendance. View directions


No. Item


Declarations of Interest.


Councillor Davies declared a personal interest as a resident of Church Road, Caldicot. Councillor Woodhouse declared a personal interest as a member of an amateur society that hires Borough Theatre.



Public Open Forum.

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Scrutiny of the Borough Theatre Refurbishment Proposal. pdf icon PDF 1 MB


Borough theatre Manager Dave Baxter presented the report and answered the members’ questions with Cath Fallon and Mark Hand.


By how much did the costs go up? Is the hike due to materials?

Some elements were value added i.e. while something needed to be done, we recognised that it would be beneficial to do other things at the same time. A Quantity Surveyor costed everything to where we thought it should be, after which we went out to market for the principal contractor. the contractor selected was the best and lowest bid. So, it was a competitive process, and in line with other projects e.g. an arts centre in West Wales that did a capital project, for which the costs doubled. It should be considered as an investment, because as well as being a resource for the local community, it is a driver for culture and opportunities for education, social cohesion, etc.

Has it been a case of profiteering?

Looking at the wider picture, and from discussions with the external architects, it doesn’t seem to have been. This situation isn’t unusual, and the contractor has agreed to hold the price to September, beyond when they had to.

A substantial financial input is required from the council. Are you confident that this won’t require more and more finance in the coming years?

Yes, we are confident, and see it as a resource for all of Monmouthshire. It’s a case of being careful with cultural resources. Looking at the postcode map of attendance for a recent show held in the castle, the audience had attended from the south of the county to the heads of the valleys. the management and direction of the theatre should be seen as a strategic asset. It’s very important for Abergavenny but it needs to be beneficial for the whole county. There are three elements of a successful arts centre: the facilities themselves (equipment and venue), the staff and their skills development (in the case of Borough, skilled staff and volunteers), and the relationship with the audience and link to the community. It is a challenge and is a question of how we can benefit the whole area: for us, it is a case of having those resources.

It is unfortunate that costs have escalated but it is vitally important that this refurbishment goes ahead. The theatre has been in use for 100 years, and it brings a lot of business into the town.

The important of the theatre to Abergavenny’s identity links to discussions about the placemaking charter – consideration of a town’s unique identity and culture is a key part of that placemaking approach. The matter also links with consideration of the future of our towns and high streets: as the member mentioned, an evening at the theatre with a meal beforehand and/or a drink afterwards could be a significant part of Abergavenny’s economy and cultural appeal.

£279k is yet to be determined. Is the forthcoming meeting with Abergavenny Town Council to discuss that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.


Scrutiny of the proposed Regeneration Projects and Placemaking Grants Submission. pdf icon PDF 915 KB

Additional documents:


Mark Hand presented the report and appendices and answered the members’ questions with Dave Loder.


The bid to Welsh Government for £554k – does it have any say about the indicative submission and the way that it will be allocated?

The funding is secure. It is a 1/10th equal share of the amount that has been allocated to SE Wales Cardiff Capital Region. It is administered by RCT, which is a process we’ve used before. There are a couple of stages: first, we get member approval of what we’re suggesting. There’s also approval by Welsh Government that they’re happy that the projects will deliver on the outcomes required and meet the T&Cs of the grants. Then there’s overview by colleagues on a regional basis – as RCT are administering, they are responsible for the T&Cs. For future funding, Welsh Government will expect it to fit in with wider strategies e.g. another part of the grant funding for which we’ve bid is for money to develop, in partnership with Chepstow Town Council, an overarching strategy for the town, linking in with their Place Plan. We’ve also submitted Monmouth for the same thing in case there is spare money. If the funding exists next year, we will submit a bid for Abergavenny. We already have those overarching strategies in place for Caldicot and Usk. But we do need those documents in place to ensure that the bids are informed in the future and fit in with wider agreed strategies. But, yes, there is a stage gate where Welsh Government checks that the right money is being spent on the right things. We have an ongoing dialogue and positive relationship with the officers concerned.

How will taking £250k of the available funding out for Borough Theatre affect the projects outlined in the indicative proposals?

Borough Theatre is listed in Appendix 2. The suggested £250k allocation is already there. It doesn’t affect any of the other proposals. We suggest that Church Road, Caldicot, goes in the 2022-3 draft submission. We are on the cusp of securing Active Travel funding for that route, which would be this financial year: so we would use the Active Travel funding this financial year, and the MCC match funding that’s required, and the Transforming Towns money for next year, would carry the project forward. In short, both Church Road and Borough Theatre projects could happen, along with the other projects listed in the table.

We have a 10% share of the placemaking grant. Is the £75k bid for Chepstow out of that grant?

No, there are three separate Transforming Towns pots. The first is the placemaking grant (£791k), listed in appendix 2. There’s also a revenue fund, which is where we put the £75k for Chepstow’s overarching strategy. The third pot is the business fund, where we’ve also put some bids. Other items for Chepstow (other than the £75k for the revenue fund) are listed against the placemaking grant and business fund.

What’s been done  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Employment and Skills - To scrutinise progress of the employment, skills and apprenticeship programmes. pdf icon PDF 2 MB


This item has been deferred to a special meeting on 16th September.



Economy and Development Select Committee Forward Work Plan. pdf icon PDF 590 KB


Council and Cabinet Work Planner. pdf icon PDF 371 KB


To confirm the following minutes:


The minutes were confirmed and signed as an accurate record, proposed by Councillor Strong and seconded by Councillor Davies.



Economy and Development Select Committee dated 15th July 2021. pdf icon PDF 699 KB


Special Meeting - Economy and Development Select Committee dated 26th July 2021. pdf icon PDF 313 KB


Next Meeting: Thursday 21st October 2021 at 10.00am.