Agenda for Smethwick Partnership Board on Tuesday, 7th May, 2024, 9.00 am

Agenda and minutes

Smethwick Partnership Board - Tuesday, 7th May, 2024 9.00 am

Venue: This meeting will be held online.

No. Item


Welcome and Apologies

The Chair will welcome attendees to the meeting and make opening remarks.


The Chair welcomed attendees to the meeting and briefly outlined the actions taken to date to refresh the Smethwick Town Deal Board that has become the Smethwick Partnership Board that will oversee both the Towns Fund and Long Term Plan programmes.


The Chair briefly summarised the Long Term Plan objectives and commented how this is very encouraging for Smethwick and projects that form part of the Long Term Plan should complement the existing projects underway in the town, that will benefit Smethwick communities.


The chair provided an overview of the format of meetings which included: -


·       Board members are encouraged to attend future meetings in-person.

·       If comments/ queries occur following the meeting, board members are encouraged to email the Chair and the Programme Management Office at any time.

·       If the meeting has moved to the next agenda item and board members wish to comment on the previous agenda item, Board members are encouraged to raise their hand and make comment. When meeting virtually, the MS Chat function is available to use.

·       When meeting virtually, Board Members should use the 'Raise Hand' function to input into discussions. The Chair will invite board members to take part in discussion in the order that appears on the screen.


A comment was raised by MP John Spellar that despite in person meetings being preferable, diary commitments may make this difficult. In addition, Mr Spellar may need to send a representative, Vic Silvester, to future meetings. This was noted by the Chair and the Programme Management Office.




To receive any apologies for absence.


Apologies were received by the following board members: -


·       Councillor F Shaeen 

·       A Fuller

·       J Haydon

·       M Sibi

·       S Shingadia

·       Z Hussain




Board members will introduce themselves to the board.


As this meeting was the first meeting following the refresh of the Smethwick Town Deal Board, the Chair invited all Board Members in attendance to introduce themselves. Details of the organisations board members represent can be found here.




Minutes and Action Log pdf icon PDF 369 KB

To agree the minutes of the last meeting and review open actions.


All open actions on the Action Log were agreed to be closed. No changes were requested to be made on previous meeting notes.



Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest from members relating to any item on the agenda.


The Chair asked board members to raise any declarations of interests. None were forthcoming. The chair asked board members to raise any declarations during discussions should they need to and following the meeting to the Programme Management Office, if necessary.




Governance Arrangements pdf icon PDF 134 KB

To receive and agree the draft Terms of Reference.

Additional documents:


The Programme Management Office reviewed the Towns Fund Terms of Reference and adapted this to include the DLUHC guidance and requirements for the Long Term Plan. The draft Terms of Reference was included in the agenda pack to Board Members, which include the roles and responsibility of Board Members for both the Towns Fund programme and Long Term Plan programme and the roles and responsibilities for future subgroup members.


All board members will support both programmes, monitor the delivery of the Towns Fund projects underway, support the development of the Long Term Plan and support community engagement.


The option of having three subgroups has been included (one for each theme set out in the Long Term Plan) Subgroups will ensure engagement with wider communities, residents and become a forum where project ideas/ proposals are put forward, worked on and explored further once agreed by the Smethwick Partnership Board.


In addition, the former Smethwick Town Deal Board included a number of elected members, however following the guidance issued by DLUHC the number of elected members that sit on the Town Board should reduce. It was agreed at the Smethwick Town Deal Board held in February 2024 that elected member engagement is key. The subgroups will allow elected member engagement. In addition, the Programme Management Office will attend Ward Member meetings.


A governance diagram was shared on screen. This provided guidance on the relationships between the Smethwick Partnership Board, subgroups, other key stakeholders and Sandwell Council as the accountable body, who will have overall scrutiny/ audit overview to ensure the programme and funding is managed and delivered in accordance to DLUHC guidance and any Heads of Terms (HoT).


In regard to the process of project payments, the Programme Management Office are exploring the approach to use existing services established within the council, for example the Voluntary Sector Support Team who administer community grants to Sandwell community groups. However, further discussions are required to establish the process for both smaller grants and larger capital grants.


Board members were informed of key highlights relating the Terms of Reference, which included: -


·       Changes can be made to the Terms of Reference in consultation with the council's Monitoring Officer.

·       Membership of the board will be reviewed annually, and Cabinet will receive updates on membership.

·       All members should attend a minimum of 50% of meetings, unless there are exceptional circumstances agreed with the Chair.

·       Advisors will attend the board as and when required, e.g., Heritage Officer, Transportation Officer

·       There will be a S151 Officer representative.



The Chair invited Board Members to raise comments/ queries. The discussion included: -


The Chair commented on the broad representation the board now has following the governance review/ EOI process and that it seems to be a good balance, however things do change therefore that is why membership is reviewed annually. The Chair also advised when setting up the initial Smethwick Town Deal Board, there were a number of board members that had project ideas and attended meetings to present their projects  ...  view the full minutes text for item 26.


Introduction to Long Term Plan pdf icon PDF 1 MB

To receive an introduction to the Long Term Plan Programme.


Board Members received Item 7 - Introduction to Long Term Plan Presentation Slides in the agenda pack. The Chair invited Jenna Langford to present this item.


Board members were informed the council received high level guidance from DLUHC in October 2023 for the Long Term Plan. The council held an initial workshop with council officers to look at this in more detail. In December 2023, further guidance was issued and on 23 February 2024, a meeting took place with DLUHC, Elected Members and internal colleagues.


The guidance from DLUHC referred to key milestones and deadlines for establishing the Board and submitting the Investment Plan. The council went through a procurement process to recruit specialists to support the Board develop the investment plan, facilitate and lead on engagement activities that would be required, to ensure the plan is community led. Consultants were appointed in March 2024.


Jenna presented the slides shared in the agenda pack. Key information not included in the slides included: -


·       Unlike previous funding programmes, there is flexibility with the 3-year investment plan. A decision can be made to utilise year one to conduct further engagement, develop projects further with spend forecasted for years 2 and 3, or to use all 3 years to develop projects further if projects require a full business case (off-menu).

·       Significant work has been undertaken in the background to achieve the deadline of 1 April to confirm governance arrangements. As a result of meeting this deadline, capacity funding for year 1 will be released to the council as the Accountable Body (£50k). A further £200k revenue will follow to support the establishment of the 10-year vision and 3-year investment plan.

·       The role of council officers is to ensure the Board have got the governance structure in place, the council as the Accountable Body has arrangements in place. There will be a number of council officers in attendance of engagement workshops, however they will be attending to input with community groups/ residents rather than facilitating. They will work alongside with communities to understand their needs and priorities and provide complimentary view.

·       Council officers attended a Black Country Long Term Plan meeting on 30 April to discuss the programme, opportunities, and challenges. Board members were informed Sandwell is in a very good position compared to other Local Authorities.


The Chair invited Board Members to raise comments/ questions. The discussion included: -


A query was raised regarding the costs associated to appointing consultants to support the programme and several board members shared their concerns around the use of consultants, whether this is efficient use of funds when there is expertise and skills of council officers, partners and agencies that could work together to deliver this.


Board members were informed a key factor for this decision was due to timescales set by Government and resources required to meet the set deadlines. Board members were informed the council does not have the resource or capacity in-house to support the board, support communities, engagement activities, support communities to establish  ...  view the full minutes text for item 27.


Long Term Plan Programme Management Plan

To receive the programme plan for the Long Term Plan programme.


The Chair invited Bart and Stephen, both from Lambert Smith Hampton to present this item. Board members received an overview of their roles and responsibilities before they presented baseline data/ analysis. The presentation to Board Members included baseline data around the three investment themes.


A comment was made regarding the Crime Data shared on screen and that data held locally by specialist officers within WM Police and Community Safety Teams reflects the issues in Smethwick. Support is also available to assist with data analysis and put forward interventions via WM Police. Board Members also highlighted the need to work closely with Community Safety Team and other key stakeholders from both public and private sectors.


A question was asked in relation to the 3-year investment plan and if this should be a 'set plan' at the point of submission. Board members were advised there is flexibility with this. The first three years can be used solely to continue engagement and develop projects, or a mix of both this activity and project delivery.


A comment was raised regarding the evidence based data that was presented to the Board was not recent data, specifically relating to UK Police reports. WM Police Board Members agreed to share data to support the Long Term Plan.



Long Term Plan Engagement Strategy

To receive and input into the proposed engagement strategy.


The Chair invited Kevin and Tristian from Cavendish to present this item. Board members received an overview of their roles and responsibilities before they presented the engagement approach for the programme. This included: -


·       Proposed 6-week period for engagement to gain knowledge to support the content in the Long Term Plan

·       Audiences will include Board Members, Councillors, Local MP, 84 identified groups in Smethwick, residents and businesses.

·       Hybrid engagement approach to include three workshops based on each investment theme and an online survey that will be linked via council's website, Regenerating Sandwell website, social media and on META. Board members were encouraged to share information with their organisations, networks and community group users. Paper copies of the survey would be available at Smethwick Library.

·       The agenda for the workshop was presented to the board for comments.

·       The proposed survey questions were presented to the board for comments.

·       Feedback from the online survey will be collected and presented to the board and will form part of the Long Term Plan submission.


It was noted the ranking of interventions questions in the survey did not include all interventions listed in DLUHC guidance documents. Board members were informed the survey would be updated to include all interventions listed.


A comment was raised regarding the importance to highlight key projects/ investment is being delivered or planned for Smethwick so there is no duplication and that projects put forward complement existing interventions.


A number of Board Members noted the proposed workshop dates did not include an evening or weekend session and asked for this to be looked at.


A comment was raised regarding the need to ensure the survey questions are fit for purpose and do not duplicate recent surveys that have been done. Consultants were asked to share survey questions with SMBC Press Office and Community Engagement Officer ahead of finalising.


A comment was put forward relating to the survey and how this should be simple to complete.


A Board Member asked how the workshops were going to be promoted and if there are incentives to encourage attendance e.g., Shopping voucher. The Programme Management Office advised they would need to look at this in more detail and discuss this with DLUHC.


A Board member commented on how they support the hybrid approach for both workshops and online survey, but to also take advantage of existing groups/ sessions that take place rather than relying on residents to come to the workshops. Board members were asked to send details of existing community events/ sessions to the Programme Management Office.


A discussion took place around the need and challenges to involve the hard to reach groups and residents that may have a language barrier, but to work with community leaders to support them. In addition, micro-communities that are not represented, therefore walking around Smethwick and having conversations with people may spark their interest and provide them insight of the support available for them.


An offer was raised for David Gould to facilitate a walk around Smethwick for  ...  view the full minutes text for item 29.


Towns Fund Introduction pdf icon PDF 9 MB

To receive a summary of Towns Fund Projects and their status of delivery.


Board Members received a document in the agenda pack that included detail of Towns Fund Projects that form part of the Smethwick Town Deal. No questions were raised by Board Members.



Towns Fund Project Reporting pdf icon PDF 108 KB

To receive an update on project progress and monitoring information for the period of January to March 2024.

Additional documents:


Board Members received Item 11 - Project Reporting in the private agenda pack. Board members received an update against Town Level Summary including overall drawdown to date, overall spend to date, forecasted spend for the next financial years by quarter and detail of slippage at a Town Level against the last submission to DLUHC.  The claims for financial year ending March 24 have now been finalised and summarised in preparation for the DLUCH return due 28 May.


The overall spend to date is £2.6m, however the next financial year is where the majority of capital spend is with the MMLC being on site. Both the Grove Lane Regeneration project and Rolfe Street Canalside Project has pushed back spend as a result of the challenging activities that are underway.


The overall slippage for Smethwick is 38.94%, however considering the contractually committed spend for Smethwick Connected, this is reduced to 34%. DLUHC and the Programme Management Office meet fortnightly and are aware of the challenges the two projects listed above are facing. 


The Chair asked the Programme Management Team to ask the Midland Met Learning Campus project lead to produce a report outlining the status of learning providers and their arrangements, to be presented at the next Board.


Action: Midland Met Learning Campus to be invited to the next Board to present an update on progress, specifically learning provider arrangements.


The Chair asked the Programme Management Team to seek information from DLUHC on how other Local Authorities/ towns are doing, to compare our position to the national progress.



Grove Lane Regeneration and Rolfe Street Canalside Project Focus Update

To receive an update specifically on Grove Lane and Rolfe Street projects.


Item 12 of the agenda is excluded from the public minutes. This is to avoid the possible disclosure of exempt information under Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act, 1972, as amended by the Local Government (Access to Information) (Variation) Order 2006, relating to the financial or business affairs of any person, including the authority holding that information.


Forward Plans pdf icon PDF 93 KB

To review Forward Plans for meetings, press and media.



The proposal is to hold monthly, in-person meetings in Early June, Early July and Late July to enable Board input into the Long Term Plan Investment Plan submission. A forward plan is being finalised and will be shared with Board Members in due course.  Dates of meetings will be circulated as soon as possible following venue confirmation.



Any Other Business

To receive any other business raised by members for discussion.


Visit to Smethwick

A visit has been planned for the Programme Management Office, Neighbourhood Community Officers and Consultants to visit Smethwick.


Ward Member List of Issues

A list of issues has been collated via Ward Members. This list will be circulated with board papers. Board members were asked to contribute to this list.



Closing Remarks

The Chair will make closing remarks and close the meeting.


The Chair thanked attendees for attending the meeting and for their input.



Action Log - Smethwick Partnership Board pdf icon PDF 120 KB