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Pwyllgor yr Economi, Seilwaith a Sgiliau

Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee

15/01/2020

Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol

Committee Members in Attendance

Bethan Sayed AM
Hefin David AM
Joyce Watson AM
Mohammad Asghar AM
Russell George AM Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor
Committee Chair
Vikki Howells AM

Y rhai eraill a oedd yn bresennol

Others in Attendance

Alwen Williams Cyfarwyddwr Rhaglen Bwrdd Uchelgais Economaidd Gogledd Cymru
Programme Director for the North Wales Economic Ambition Board
Dyfrig Siencyn Cadeirydd Bwrdd Uchelgais Economaidd Gogledd Cymru
Chair of the North Wales Economic Ambition Board
Eifion Evans Prif Weithredwr Cyngor Sir Ceredigion
Chief Executive of Ceredigion County Council
Nigel Brinn Cyfarwyddwr Corfforaethol: Economi a'r Amgylchedd, Cyngor Sir Powys
Corporate Director: Economy & Environment of Powys County Council
Rhodri Evans Aelod Cabinet dros yr Economi ac Adfywio, Cyngor Sir Ceredigion
Cabinet Member for Economy and Regeneration, Ceredigion County Council
Rosemarie Harris Arweinydd Cyngor Sir Powys
Leader of Powys County Council

Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol

Senedd Officials in Attendance

Ben Stokes Ymchwilydd
Researcher
Lara Date Ail Glerc
Second Clerk
Robert Lloyd-Williams Dirprwy Glerc
Deputy Clerk

Cofnodir y trafodion yn yr iaith y llefarwyd hwy ynddi yn y pwyllgor. Yn ogystal, cynhwysir trawsgrifiad o’r cyfieithu ar y pryd. Lle mae cyfranwyr wedi darparu cywiriadau i’w tystiolaeth, nodir y rheini yn y trawsgrifiad.

The proceedings are reported in the language in which they were spoken in the committee. In addition, a transcription of the simultaneous interpretation is included. Where contributors have supplied corrections to their evidence, these are noted in the transcript.

Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 09:33.

The meeting began at 09:33.

1. Cyflwyniad, ymddiheuriadau, dirprwyon a datgan buddiannau
1. Introductions, apologies, substitutions and declarations of interest

Bore da a chroeso, bawb.

Good morning and welcome, everyone. 

I'd like to welcome Members to committee this morning. I move to item 1. We have no apologies this morning, and if there are any declarations of interest, if Members can say so now.

2. Papurau i'w nodi
2. Papers to note

In that case, I move to item 2. We only have one paper to note this morning, and it's a letter from the Public Accounts Committee regarding the Welsh Government's support for businesses. Are Members happy to note that?

3. Diweddariad ar y Bargeinion Dinesig: Partneriaeth Tyfu Canolbarth
3. City Deals update: Growing Mid Wales Partnership

Then we move to item 3, which is our short piece of work on city deals: an update. Next week, we have other growth deals, south Wales, Cardiff and Swansea deals in, and this week, later this morning, we've got north Wales. And this morning, our first session is an update on the mid Wales growth deal. So, we have members from the Growing Mid Wales partnership in this morning. Perhaps I could ask the leader of Powys and cabinet member from Ceredigion to introduce themselves for the public record first, and then I'll come to officers. 

Thank you, and thank you for inviting us to be here today. I'm county councillor Rosemarie Harris and I'm the leader of Powys County Council. Powys is an enormous county, and I'm from the deep south, in the Brecon Beacons.

I also thank you for the invitation. Firstly, can I apologise on behalf of Ellen ap Gwynn, the leader? She's been poorly for the last two or three days, and I don't think that she'd want to miss a session like this. But I'm her deputy and I'm the cabinet member for economy and regeneration for Ceredigion.

09:35

Eifion Evans. Bore da. Eifion Evans, prif weithredwr Ceredigion.

Eifion Evans. Good morning. Eifion Evans, chief executive, Ceredigion. 

Chief executive from Ceredigion County Council.

Good morning all. I'm Nigel Brinn. I'm the corporate director for the economy and environment at Powys County Council.

Well, thank you for being with us this morning, and please pass the committee's best wishes on to Councillor ap Gwynn. From what I know of Councillor ap Gwynn, I agree with you: she would want to be here, I'm sure, this morning if she could be. 

If I could ask the first question; perhaps I'll ask Councillor Harris. It is 12 months since you were last here with Councillor ap Gwynn. You updated us then on progress that had been made. What progress has been made since you were last with us last January? 

Quite a lot of progress has been made. We've developed the inter-authority agreement, so we have a joint committee set up between the two authorities. We meet in either authority. If we're meeting in Powys, I chair; if we meet in Ceredigion, then the leader of Ceredigion chairs. We've done all the legal work beneath that. We've set up an economic strategy group, and we have appointed a chairman. The chairman is Fiona Stewart, who is the owner and managing director of the Green Man music festival in Crickhowell. Powys has got something like nine members of that group, and Ceredigion has got four or five members.

We have officer groups, as you know. We explained to you when we were last here that AECOM did a report for us. Out of that came six themes. We have officer groups working on those themes and reporting back. We're in the process of working to set up our own regional learning and skills partnership for Ceredigion and Powys, because we recognise that that's one of the major areas that we need to improve on—developing skills. We continue to work with our businesses. We meet them sometimes on a one-to-one basis, but that work continues, so that they are very much in the loop. We've also worked on developing a mid Wales energy strategy. We're also working on developing business sites or acquiring business sites—premises sites—because that's another area that we need to work on.

One of our main challenges, and I'm sure that I don't need to tell you this, Chairman, is infrastructure. So, there's a lot of work that's got to go on there—infrastructure being the grid, the electricity grid; broadband, and the provision in all the rural areas that are not very well served at the moment; the mobile network; roads. There's a lot of work going on. In terms of roads, it probably affects Powys more than it does Ceredigion, and we're working—. We’ve had meetings with the Government in London. We've met with the Minister here, to try and unblock—. We need to open up the whole region and, in other ways, we need to work to the east as well, to the Midlands Engine and, hopefully, to the Northern Powerhouse area. So, there's all of that work, and there are strands of work going on in all of those areas.

Perhaps if I look to Councillor Evans and ask if there's anything that you want to add to that, but, more specifically, are there any areas that have moved perhaps slower than you would have liked to have seen?

I think that, since we signed the inter-authority agreement and all that, we are progressing. We're going at quite a good pace at the moment. We've had a lot of member work groups. We've had a lot of discussions and a lot of close working to make sure that, from what came out from AECOM and all that, we know exactly the themes and where we're going. I think it has been very positive.

I think that one thing that needs some guidance now is that, obviously, we had that announcement from Alun Cairns regarding the £55 million, perhaps that is being set as a down payment. We need to know really where we are. We need to know that. Also, the money, perhaps, the match funding, we are still working on the third principle of commitment here. I'm just thinking that, the way that it's going, perhaps, moving forward, we need to make sure that there's enough money there for extra resources to go forward with the portfolio, as they call it, so having that five-case business plan and making things progress, because, as Growing Mid Wales, we are very eager to move on because we know how important something like this is for our area.

09:40

And just to clarify, the third: third: third principle is third Welsh Government support, third UK Government support, third private sector support, and there's—. What about local authority support? That's in there somewhere as well, isn't it? 

That's in the mix as well. 

I think what's crucial to emphasise here, to support what Councillor Harris and Councillor Evans have said, is that, up to this point, both local authorities have put a significant amount of additional resource and commitment into the efforts to get to where we are today. What we are waiting with bated breath for are some key announcements from Welsh Government now. We've had in-principle commitments from civil servants to say that there will be potentially additional resources made available to us to help us prepare the five-case business models. We need that confirmation of that funding source coming through sooner rather than later. We've had it verbally, nothing in writing. 

Councillor Harris mentioned the regional—

That there will be some revenue—extra revenue support—coming through so that we can create a programme team. At the moment, both economic development teams, in Powys and Ceredgion, are working as a single entity to put all of the documentation together and both authorities have put additional funding to appoint a project manager. In times of austerity, that's a pretty large commitment for both authorities. What we would hope was that there would be a little bit extra to pump prime some of this so that we could create a programme team—a designated regional programme team—that could add pace to the creation of the documentation that's required to illustrate to both Welsh Government and Westminster the extent of the global vision we have for mid Wales. 

If I could add to that, Mr Chairman, I think it also has to be remembered that we, in this growth deal, are only two authorities. So, there are only two authorities that are able to put money into any pot. We've got this bid in, we're waiting to hear. It should make an enormous difference to us but, at the moment, our staff, from both areas, are doing their day jobs and doing the growth deal work at the same time. We've got one dedicated officer, but otherwise—. So, it's quite a lot of pressure on them. 

Thank you, Chair. Yes, I was going to make a very, very similar point. I think, in simple terms—I use the same phrase quite often—we have a programme officer rather than a programme office supported by the teams, as Eifion and Rosemary have just mentioned. I have looked at other deals, in terms of contributions from local authorities, and we're putting at least a similar amount in but, as Eifion has rightly pointed out, there are only two partners. So, clearly, the money doesn't— 

So, what are you asking for? Are you asking for more money because of the need to— 

We're asking for some support from Welsh Government to effectively match what we're putting in so we can expedite the work really and just crack on. We know we're going to require some third party expertise to put a business case together and for this portfolio of interventions we've talked about. Forgive me dropping into some of the growth deal terminology, but that seems to be how we term such things. We're looking at a programme of interventions, which obviously include some physical projects or separate physical projects, all of which are going to require significant assessment in terms of business cases to satisfy Welsh Government finance and, of course, HM Treasury as well.   

Right. There are a lot of questions that have come from what you've said. But, no—. Other Members will have questions, so I won't go into some of what you said at the moment. But just to ask one more point, I know that last time when you were here with us, 12 months ago, you talked about 

'there will be business cases having been prepared for different projects. We'll actually be talking projects by then.'

But I can see from your evidence paper that that's not the case yet. Is that right? Are there projects in the pipeline specifically?

What we've done, just to be absolutely clear, as the work has evolved and as the joint committee's strategic direction that they've given us as officers has been made clear to us, is—. This is a 15-year plan and what we see is we have to have those broad thematic approaches. What will support the foundation economy of mid Wales? What will drive economic growth in mid Wales in the future? Now, over that 15-year period, individual small projects will drop in and out of the vision. Some may be relevant, some may be irrelevant. What we weren't going to do was constrain ourselves to a project, put all our eggs in one basket and say, 'That's the great white hope to save mid Wales is that project', only to find six to nine months down the line that, 'No, that isn't the case.'

So, what we've done is we've taken the principles of the five-case business model, looking broadly at the strategic outline to begin with, boiling it down then through the outline business case stage, so that we have these portfolios of ideas coming together, and at a later date we will be focusing in on full business cases when we see, under those thematic areas, specifically what will actually deliver the outcomes that we desire at this point. 

So, the thought processes that are occurring within the teams in order to give this programme the longevity that it needs—you've got to think in that way. It's got to be a very strategic way of thinking about it. And, as I said, to reiterate, it's not about finding a way to spend £55 million tomorrow in mid Wales. The £55 million as a down payment for future projects is there to inspire us to think over 15 years. 

09:45

Okay. I'll come on to Members who have got a couple of questions. Vikki Howells. 

Thank you, Chair. I'd like to dig down a little into the proposed funding model for the growth deal. Firstly, when Councillor Ellen ap Gwynn was here with us, about a year ago actually, she said that, in terms of the funding: 

'What's been intimated is up to £200 million from London, a similar match from Cardiff',

and then to draw down private funding as well. So, I was just wondering whether that sort of figure still stands or whether anything has changed at all in the past year. 

Myself, I think, and I think we all do, if we had that £200 million, if we had that third, third and third, that would be great. We have, as both councils, been talking to businesses and all that. Obviously, it's commercially sensitive, but there are a lot of businesses. Do you know what? One thing that has come out quite clearly is that inclusive growth and all that, and the way that's providing equality of opportunity and getting people—. We need those people skilled up, getting better quality jobs. And one of the main aims is to increase the gross value added and to get better quality jobs to places like Ceredigion and Powys as a whole, because it's important. But, yes, the ambition is, if there was £200 million coming down from Government, and then the same as match funding and the same from the private sector, that would be ideal, that would be great. 

If I could add to that, Chairman, I think it's quite important that we don't limit our ambition. This is a 15-year programme, and, if you break that amount down, it doesn't come to an awful lot, really, per year. And also, during the course of a 15-year programme, say five or six years in, technology will have improved, there will be new, innovative ideas. We may come up with something that we haven't come up with at the moment, and I would hope that we would have the opportunity still to look at funding for that. So, I think, yes, £200 million—I'm not sure where that actual figure first appeared from. It was something that was plucked out of the air, really. Not by us, it was suggested to us in the very early days. But I think we can aim higher. 

Regarding the figure that the previous Secretary of State described as a down payment for the deal, the £55 million that's already been alluded to, if I can just clarify there, have there been any further discussions regarding that figure?

No. No, Chairman. There haven't been any discussions yet, but there will be. Obviously, there's been the election and there's been quite a lot going on. But we certainly do intend to pursue that, and we hope to hold them to their word that it was a £55 million down payment. And we quote that figure everywhere, all the time—down payment. [Laughter.] 

Thank you, Chair, if I may, in terms of an officer perspective. Obviously, there's liaison with both Governments. In fact, there was a meeting here in Cardiff yesterday with civil servants from Cardiff and from Westminster to move the whole programme of projects of the growth deal forward, which clearly leads very quickly into the numbers and how we can define that and clarify that.

And re-emphasising two points that have been made already, the term 'down payment' has been used, and that's how we see it. It is about not limiting our ambition, which is a phrase that's been used quite a lot, and that is a clear direction, a clear steer we're getting from both sets of civil servants. It's all about the quality of the projects, not some artificial barrier of £x hundred million.

09:50

I just want to explore this promissory note of £55 million, when it was made and what authority was behind it exactly. Because you say you've quoted it everywhere and that's, I'm sure, fine. But what we really need to know is how realistic was that promise.

The promise was made—. Of course, we had a by-election—

—in Powys, as you know, and the promise was made at that time. But it was followed by a visit, and we were all asked to meet with the Secretary of State, and that promise was made again in Powys county hall. So, we have taken it, and there has been correspondence. We have taken it that that is actually a very firm promise and is a down payment.

So, in other words, it seems to me that it was a bribe for the election.   

It was said at the time of the election. 

Thank you. Could you clarify for us the amount of private sector investment that the growth deal will be seeking to lever in as a direct consequence of projects being delivered? 

If I come in there, with the private sector involvement, both Councillor Harris and Councillor Ellen ap Gwynn have invested a huge amount of time and effort meeting with businesses across mid Wales. Firstly, to glean an understanding of what their ambitions are and what their aspirations are as organisations moving forward, but also both councils have met with potential businesses that are currently not based in mid Wales that may want to come and establish their businesses in mid Wales at a future date.

The conversations we've had have been specifically around their scale of commitment. What's important to us is there are some key component parts that we need to address, which have already been mentioned by Councillor Harris. In order to make mid Wales the most attractive place we possibly can for them to come, we need to have a combination of factors in place.

First and foremost is the appropriate skills of the potential workforce they require. So, not having our own designated regional learning and skills partnership to date is a hamstring to us in mid Wales, because we need to be mapping out career pathways that lead into pathways into employment. These private sector companies are telling us that technology is the future. They're looking for science, technology, engineering and mathematics qualifications, they're looking for high-end, high academic achievement of learners. We've got that—that's one thing that mid Wales has got in abundance—our learning outcomes are pretty impressive and the retention rates going on to study A-levels is impressive.

What happens after that is, because that growth is stifled in mid Wales because of a lack of investment over a period of time, our learners tend to drift out of mid Wales. But what the private sector is telling us is, if we could align the curriculum at school-based age, at further eduction, at higher education levels, specifically training the workforce for the needs that they want, that's a clear indication why they would come and set up here.

The other important component parts then, and what Councillor Harris has referenced, are around the infrastructure of all of this. We need easy access to mid Wales; we need to make sure that connectivity is strong and robust across mid Wales. But those are component parts that would support a growth deal. I wouldn't want you to think that we're suggesting that infrastructure is what we're pushing for in the growth deal. We need that as a subsidiary of the growth deal itself.

So, the private sector have given us quite a clear commitment that there are a number of unique selling points in mid Wales that would attract them there. So, we just need to get those building blocks in place now to make it happen. 

So, would I be correct in taking from that then that what you're looking at is, rather than putting a ballpark figure on the amount of investment, you're looking at the quality of the investment?

And if I can just pick up on one of the points that you raised there as well, where you talked about the discussions with firms from outside the area, that ties in nicely actually to the final question that I wanted to ask, which is the fact that, in 2017, this committee received some evidence that highlighted a concern there was a limited number of companies and high-value-added firms located within the region. So, the work that you're doing, is that specifically reaching out to try and combat that, so that the growth deal can be maximised?

09:55

The strength that we have is in the people who live in mid Wales. As I said, learner outcomes are high in mid Wales, across the mid Wales belt. We do have a wealth of people who could lend themselves to technological research and innovation-type programmes across the whole of the region. We just need to give them the opportunity to get jobs in those parts of the world. So, there are companies now identifying what is unique about mid Wales: clean air, you've got a combination of everything that you need as a test bed to develop and research technologies. So, suddenly, it's becoming—. The more we can raise the profile of mid Wales internationally, and show them what—. I used the phrase in the last meeting that mid Wales, in my opinion, is the 'sleeping giant' of Wales. It's an untouched, untapped part of Wales that can lend itself to economic growth on a scale we haven't even started to imagine yet. 

Thank you, Chair. A couple of very quick points in support of what's been said. Of course, a reciprocal of not perhaps having the anchor companies is that the foundation economy is more important to us in mid Wales. That's something we're keen to promote. So, intervention should actually support all types of business and all sizes. But a very interesting meeting yesterday afternoon with Welsh Government colleagues from economic development. Many businesses are known to us already across the authority, but also their interactions with industry. Lots of very creative, very innovative businesses that are looking to expand struggle to attract staff with the right skills, which has already been touched on by Eifion, but also facilities as well, in terms of premises of suitable sizes, et cetera. We know there is a shortage of suitable premises across mid Wales.

So, there are a number of interventions we're trying. We're not going to plug everything with the growth deal. It's not a panacea, to use an overused phrase. But if we can support existing initiatives—. We've talked about transport, well, there is a national transport finance plan. We're not going to replicate any of that, or indeed enhance it with the growth deal, because the money won't go that far. But we're looking to work alongside other initiatives and make sure we get the most money from our interventions. 

Councillor Harris, when you visited the committee in January 2019, a year ago, you said that the ambition was a 5 per cent uplift in gross value added, and the creation of 4,000 jobs. Is that still a realistic ambition?

Yes. It still has to be our ambition. Can I pick up the point that was made earlier? In terms of investment from the private sector, we are aware of some very exciting projects out there, planned by the private sector, but we're not quite at the stage yet where we can take that sort of thing forward. I'm sorry, I'm trying to tie it to the question that you ask. There is a lot of quite exciting stuff out there, but it's early days yet as far as we're concerned. 

It's a year on from when you last visited the committee, and I'm getting a mixed picture of the progress that's been made in that year. So, I'm testing not necessarily whether it is the ambition, but whether that ambition remains realistic, given some of the external risks and challenges that you're facing at the moment. 

The ambition remains realistic; it has to. We have to raise the bar for our young people within the county, we have to raise skills; and it's possible to do that. We have explained that it has been slow progress; I would agree with that. I can remember, when I was here last time, saying that we would hope that, by this stage, we would be looking at projects. There have been discussions about projects, but they're still in the early days. But I think we've explained that we've had—. It's been difficult to provide enough staff to take everything forward. We've got a bid in for the ESF funding. Hopefully, things will go up a gear from now on. 

Did Rhodri want to come in? I think Rhodri might want to come in. 

That's fine. I'll just say, regarding the inclusive growth, that's one of the Government's economic action plans. Just by having inclusive growth and empowering people and getting that that will cause better jobs, which will, in line, increase the amount they are paid and, in return, the GVA.

It just seems to be relying an awful lot on optimism, and less on tangible steps. 

As Councillor Harris has said previously, there's an awful lot that's going on in the background that is commercially sensitive at the moment and, in a public forum like this, it wouldn't be appropriate for us to divulge too much of that. But, I would want to give you my reassurance that there's an awful lot of stuff going on that is extremely exciting at the moment within the region. 

10:00

Okay, I trust you on that. One of the things I was comparing earlier was my view of the Cardiff capital region situation, which seems to be well resourced in terms of staffing. Is that the biggest risk to the deal—expertise and lack of expertise, or the lack of availability of an amount of expertise? 

I wouldn't say that that's the biggest risk. The biggest risk at the moment is the delay in possibly firm commitments being given, because we're looking for—we're waiting with bated breath for an announcement from the Minister imminently to recognise mid Wales as the fourth economic region of Wales. That, in itself, will lead on to an announcement from civil servants to tell us that we will then be allowed to create our own regional learning and skills partnership, designated for mid Wales. We then would be able to have confirmation of funding coming through to set up a programme board, so there are risks—

The critical mass exists between us, but what we need is that firm commitment now from Welsh Government, from Westminster Government, that you're also serious about this. 

Okay. It was just something that had struck me earlier. Nigel Brinn, I think it was you who said about the fact that you're two local authorities, and compared with Cardiff capital region, it's a different thing, isn't it? 

Yes, very much so. It is a resourcing issue. Clearly, if we're looking to invest hundreds of millions of pounds worth of public funds, you'd expect there to be a significant team of people behind monitoring and controlling and managing that, but that, now, would be the programme office. Certainly, other regions are resourced more than us. It's not necessarily an expertise issue; I think it's just capacity and resource. 

Could I just very, very quickly comment on the project versus programmes issue? We've been directed very, very clearly to focus on the programme portfolio, a series of interventions and not individual projects, and that's exactly what we're doing. So, we'll have this overarching vision, the 'proposition document', as it's called in growth-deal speak, and our projects then will fit in to the overall aspirations within there. So, we've talked about skills quite a bit this morning, but if it's a skills project, it would have to fit in to the overall skills ambition. 

And, finally, very, very quickly, we've talked about metrics, again—forgive the lingo and the terminology—but I think what we're looking at, we're talking about GVA and jobs, but we're also looking at some more specific things for mid Wales, because the sort of metrics you'd expect, perhaps, for the capital city region may not readily apply as well, or transfer as directly to mid Wales. So, things like, if you're looking at skills, then do we improve and increase our educational attainment and retention of pupils within the region? If it's low-carbon, do we look at the metric along the low-carbon side and try and be slightly more creative in terms of our outputs, because, clearly, we'll be measured against any investment eventually against our outputs, that is more specific and more appropriate to the mid Wales region, perhaps, than other regions. 

Okay. And with those, in some ways, intangibles at this point in time, in mind, having been a county councillor and committee member, scrutiny is obviously one of the key roles of members, how is all of this going to be scrutinised by elected members, and how are you going to be pinned to the ambitions that you've set?

Well, I think that scrutiny is a process, and when the ESG is set up, and all that, well, that's another layer that will be scrutinised, which is an important element of the whole growth deal. 

Economic strategy group. 

No. The economic strategy group is made up of private sector business leaders from both areas. 

Okay. So, where does the elected member come into this with regard to scrutiny?

In terms of Powys at the moment, we're setting up a joint scrutiny committee, so there'll be joint scrutiny. But, at the moment, we've been setting up all the structure really, the infrastructure behind it. But I have to say, in Powys, we're doing seminars for the members to brief all the members. Between us, of course, we cover 40 per cent of Wales, so there are a lot of members; there's a lot of information to be shared. But, in terms of other scrutiny, we are keeping in touch with our businesses as well, and I envisage perhaps another round of business breakfasts, that type of thing, which is what we did before. We know more now; we've got more information to share, and we certainly will have more as we go on. 

What I think democratic services are doing now within Ceredigion and Powys is, as the growth deal is evolving, first and foremost, you ask the question about the democratic involvement of both Councillor Harris and Councillor Ellen ap Gwynn, with designated members of both cabinets, who sit on the joint committee and give the strategic direction. Underneath that then—

10:05

For the scrutiny component part of it. In reality, when we have clear commitments, then you would bring a joint scrutiny committee together. But what we do to make sure that there's clarity and parity in the scrutiny processes at the moment is that both democratic services are aligning scrutiny programmes. So, when you look at forward work programmes for scrutiny in Ceredigion, and scrutiny forward work programmes in Powys, the type of local scrutiny that's happening at the moment is running in parallel in relation to the growth deal. But once we have the firm commitments that we've mentioned previously coming together, and this becomes a reality in moving forward, then moving to a joint scrutiny approach is going to be absolutely crucial, so that the joint committee is scrutinised by joint scrutiny as well. 

Yes, the cabinet committee scrutinised by a scrutiny committee. 

We've actually had to learn from other city deal and growth deal areas as well. There have been some mistakes made, and we've watched very carefully. That's one of the benefits of being the last deal, to be honest with you.

But I think one thing that's important is that all members are briefed quite regularly in both authorities to make sure that they're all up to speed on what is happening, and, also, the workshops we've had for members as well, with businesses within the two counties, what we've got already, and what their needs are as well, for them also to develop as larger businesses, and getting that skill set and role in place. 

So, if, Councillor Evans, and Councillor Harris, you were to return to the back benches tomorrow, you would be confident that you would have the power to find out what is happening with the growth deal and scrutinise it appropriately. 

We'd have enough information to be able to ask the questions. [Laughter.]

Just to pick up on the question of scrutiny, because Councillor Harris talked about having business breakfasts. And I'm just conscious that we've already talked about there being a lack of anchor companies in the region. So, we're a small business economy, and it's those small businesses, if they want to scrutinise the deal, how can that take place? I think Councillor Harris talked about business breakfasts, but there'll be many businesses that, perhaps, won't be aware of the business breakfast, or that won't be able to attend because they're perhaps small businesses unable to make those meetings. How can a small business find out and scrutinise? So, there are two things—find out and scrutinise. Is there a website you can go to to find out what's going on?

This would be a specific function of the economic strategy group, because, rather than—. And this is why it needs its own integrity, so that—. They are a private sector; they are successful individuals and companies within the private sector, and when the economic strategy group, when we start putting our proposal documents together, when we start talking about the skills agenda, when we're talking about all sorts of component parts, which has already been referenced, we want the economic strategy group to have an independent scrutiny of our direction of travel.

But what we also want them to do is to be the voice of exactly what you've just referenced there—the smaller companies. So, Fiona Stewart as chair and the other representative members will be the go-to people from the private sector that they can, if they want to get their voice in—. One thing that we haven't mentioned to date, but we began by Councillor Harris referencing the inter-authority agreement, within the inter-authority agreement, the joint committee is the overarching governing board, but the chair of the economic strategy group has a voting seat on the joint committee. So, the private sector—. I think that's a crucial point, because that's giving the private sector a significant voice in this growth deal, and possibly, that's quite unique to all of the growth deal areas. 

Is there a vote? So, that's one vote against how many? Does it have to be a unanimous decision of the board?

Well, at the moment, we're at a point where there isn't anything to vote on; it's just about—. It's a discussion at this point in time, and that will evolve over a period of time. But what we're trying to emphasise is that we are giving the private sector a significant voice here. 

But can the private sector say, 'No, the ESG—'? Can they say no to that or 'You need to do more of this or more of that'?

10:10

That's what the purpose of the ESG will be—to give us that kind of intelligence and opinion. Because one of the things that—

But do you have to listen to that opinion? That's what I was—.

Yes. And I think that one thing that we've done well—and if I may, as an officer, compliment councillors in both authorities—what they've done well over the last 12-month period is engage with the private sector through these breakfast clubs and through presentation events. And the private sector have given their opinions and voices, and those opinions and voices have influenced quite a bit of the thinking that's gone on in preparing the route-map from which we're travelling at the moment. I'll give you an example: one of the things that was a clear message from private sector was, 'Make sure you don't suck up all of the growth deal money solely into infrastructure because if you do that—. Infrastructure must be a by-product of a successful growth deal.' That surprised me because that actually goes against what academics have told us as well. So, what we've done is, we've married the two together. We haven't dismissed it out of hand and said, 'Infrastructure's not important; forget it', but what we've recognised is that they come hand in glove. You need both to get it to succeed, and that was the instruction from the private sector to us.

What I was really asking is that that business group, the ESG group, are there mechanisms in place when there are projects and commitments coming forward where they can say, 'No, I'm sorry, local authorities, sorry, elected members, that's wrong; that's not the view of the business community, and you have to take note of that?' Is there a mechanism to allow this to happen?

Yes, there will be—yes.

We'd be foolish not to take notice of that. I think it's fair to say—. You asked how we connect with the business sector, even the small ones. When we had the business breakfast, we met between 600 and 700 businesses ranging from a one-man band like a graphic artist to an owner of a factory. So, we did connect with quite a lot of people, and we continue to do that. But I see, from the economic strategy group, them also probably forming sub-groups where they would bring in people who have knowledge of certain areas of work.

Sure. And just quickly, we're pressed for time, so just a quick answer, but if a business—it could be a small business—if they want to know where to go to find out what's happening with the mid Wales growth deal, is there one place they can go? Is there a website or information on your website that tells you exactly where you're up to?

If I may, Chair. I think that's where we're headed in terms of—as succinctly as possible—the programme office. But the key thing here is the proposition document—try to demystify some of the civil service, local government-type speak and make it meaningful for local businesses. And that really is a proposition document—that's what we're trying to achieve.

No. We'd refer to both websites.

On the council website, we have got reference to it on both. We've got a single communication strategy, and within a jointly agreed communication strategy, we are utilising our existing websites to signpost people to who they could contact to get more information if they require it.

And the key message here is not to pretend that the growth deal is something it's not, because it's not something for every individual and every small business to think, 'Oh, I can bid in and get a piece of that cake.' The vision and the aspiration has to be far greater than that. And it's not a funding source to support small businesses; there are different funding streams for that purpose.

Do you want to come in or are you just—? Okay. Bethan Sayed. Sorry, did you want to come in, Joyce? Sorry. Yes.

Well, I wanted to, because you used the word 'vision'. I couldn't agree more that there is an awful lot of innovation, opportunity and untapped resource in Mid and West Wales. I know how large it is—I cover it. But there is also a lot of existing innovation there, Machynlleth being probably a case in point with—[Inaudible.]—the Centre for Alternative Technology and the Eco partnerships. But there's also the Aberystwyth University Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences and others. So, you're fairly well placed in terms of innovation, new innovation, cutting-edge innovation. So, my question would be what conversations you're having with those, because they are all about direction of travel and trying to stay ahead of the game. And there's one area that I'm particularly keen to know about, and that is the landholdings that you will both have, I'm assuming, particularly farmland, and whether you have any policy in your landholdings, and when we talk about innovation, to meet innovation according to the climate change that you've declared and the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015? Because it can't be everybody else. You have significant landholdings; you have significant farm holdings; and you could be doing an awful lot of encouraging an awful lot to be done, taking that future forward. So, I just want to know whether you've got that as part of your thinking going forward. 

10:15

Can I just ask if you can be brief? We're short of time. We've got a lot to get through yet. So, just be brief, if you can.

I can assure you that that's being looked at and what we feel as well is it's something that we think is—. As you say, we've got holdings, and it's going to play a vital part in any future growth deal.

Yes. We talk about that frequently. Between us, we've got significant landholdings. We're talking about renewable energy, all sorts of alternative forms of energy. 

Just to give you a flavour, our involvement with Aberystwyth University and with the Centre for Alternative Technology is pretty entrenched in a lot of our thinking for the future and a lot of the innovation that we're talking about is linked through food and agriculture—it's our foundational economy. If we don't promote it, who else is going to? So, it's a key component part for us, and it's embedded in all of our conversations. But the universities and CAT are playing a big role in contributing to those conversations as well—and IBERS.

Helo. Dŷch chi'n awgrymu'n gryf bod e ddim yn broblem o ran y diffyg arbenigedd yn eich ardaloedd chi o ran creu unrhyw fath o strategaeth, ond, yn sicr, pan ddaethoch chi mewn y tro diwethaf, gwnes i godi cwestiynau am y ffaith bod AECOM wedi dod yn gwmni o'r tu allan i Gymru, a gwnes i ddarllen y ddogfen ac roedd e'n weddol amlwg i fi y pethau roedden nhw'n dweud bod angen i chi wneud. Yn sicr, mae lot o bobl yn ei wneud e: cael arbenigwyr mewn a dweud beth sydd yn amlwg er mwyn i chi allu gweithredu mewn ffordd haws a chael buy-in ar gyfer yr hyn sydd yn digwydd. Dwi'n cydnabod hynny. Ond o weithredu'r hyn maen nhw wedi'i argymell, mae'r Cynghorydd Rosemarie Harris wedi dweud bod yna ffrydiau gwaith yn digwydd. Allwch chi esbonio beth sydd yn digwydd nawr gyda'r ffrydiau hynny nad oedd yn digwydd cyn hynny o ran unrhyw fath o strategaeth economaidd, ac a yw'n gweithio gan nad oes projectau, fel dŷch chi'n disgrifio, ar y gweill ar hyn o bryd?

Hello. You suggest strongly that there's no problem in terms of lack of expertise in your areas as to creating any kind of strategy, but, certainly, when you came here the last time, I raised questions about the fact that AECOM had come in as a company from outside of Wales, and I read the document, and it was quite clear to me the things that they were saying that you need to do. Certainly, a lot of people are doing this: getting experts in and saying these obvious things so that you can implement them in an easier way and get buy-in for what's happening. I do acknowledge that. But having implemented what they have recommended, Councillor Rosemarie Harris has said that there are work streams going on. Could you explain what's happening now with those work streams that wasn't happening previously as to any kind of economic strategy, and is this working, as there are no projects, as you've described, ongoing?

Rŷn ni wedi sefydlu partneriaeth rhwng y timoedd economaidd yng Ngheredigion a Phowys. Maen nhw'n gweithio fel un endid nawr. Ac o fewn y chwe thema ŷn ni wedi'u creu sydd wedi deillio allan o'r adroddiad cychwynnol yna gydag AECOM, rŷn ni'n paratoi dogfennau unigol nawr o fewn y chwe thema. Mae tri yn gorwedd gyda staff Powys yn arwain arnynt; mae tri yn gorwedd yng Ngheredigion.

Mae creu'r trosolwg strategol yna—a dyna ble ŷn ni arni, a gobeithio erbyn dechrau mis Mawrth byddwn ni'n cyhoeddi'r ddogfen gychwynnol i ddangos i chi'n union beth yw glo mân y meddylfryd strategol sydd gyda ni. Ond, wrth gwrs, gydag unrhyw gynlluniau mwy manwl bydd eu heisiau maes o law, ble byddwn ni yn berwi fe lawr i'r lefel projectau ac yn y blaen, capasiti yw'r issue, a dyna'r neges rŷn ni jest yn dweud yw, 'Rŷn ni'n gallu gwneud hyn a hyn o amser', os ydyn ni moyn y cyflymder yn y broses ŷn ni'n dymuno, ŷch chi'n dymuno ac ŷn ni'n dymuno, mae angen ychydig mwy o gapasiti arnom ni i fedru ysgrifennu'r ddogfennaeth yma fydd yn ddigon grymus yn ei chynnwys hi fel eich bod chi'n gallu craffu arni hi'n fanwl a'n bod ni'n eich darbwyllo chi i ddweud, 'Mae hwn wir werth buddsoddi arian cyhoeddus ynddo fe.' Felly, mae'r gwaith sydd yn mynd rhagddo ar y foment, byddwch chi'n gweld ffrwyth y gwaith yna erbyn diwedd mis Mawrth. Bydd y rheini'n ddogfennau cyhoeddus i chi gael gweld. 

We've established a partnership between the economic teams in both local authorities and they're working as one entity now. In terms of the six themes that we've identified from that initial report from AECOM, we are now preparing documents on those six themes. Three sit with the staff in Powys, where they lead, and three in Ceredigion.

Creating that strategic overview—and that's where we are at present, and, hopefully, by the beginning of March we will publish that initial document to show you exactly what the minutiae are and what our strategic thinking is. But, of course, with any more detailed plans that will be required in due time, where we will refine it to the project level, and we will do that, of course, but capacity is the issue, and that's our message. We're just saying, 'We can do so much', but if we want pace, the pace that we want to see and you want to see in the process, then we do need a little more capacity in order to draw up this documentation, which will be robust enough in terms of content so that you can scrutinise it in detail and that we can convince you and say, 'Well, this truly is worth investing public funds in.' So, the work ongoing at the moment, you will see the outcomes of that work by the end of March. Those will be public documents that you can read.

Fi'n credu beth rwy'n stryglo gyda yw'r ffaith bod chi'n dweud—. Er enghraifft, gallech chi ddod â thema gerbron ym mis Mawrth, ond os nad ydych chi wedi pennu'r projectau gwahanol, mae'n anodd cydsynio'r strategaeth gyda'r fath o fusnes byddai'n rhaid i chi geisio ennyn i ddod i'r ardal, neu fusnes o'r ardal i wneud y gwaith hwnnw. Felly, dyna le dwi'n ffeindio sgrwtini yn anodd ar hyn o bryd.

I think what I struggle with is the fact that you say—. For example, you could bring a theme forward for March, but you haven't set out the specific projects, then it's difficult to consent to that strategy without the kind of business that you would have to try to draw into the area or businesses to do that kind of work in the area. So, that's where I find scrutiny difficult currently.

Os rhoddaf i flas yn gyflym iawn, iawn, iawn, achos rŷn ni'n brin o amser, ond os cymerwn ni amaeth a bwyd, er enghraifft, mae hwnna'n allweddol bwysig i ni yng nghanolbarth Cymru. Rŷn ni'n tynnu'r arloesedd mewn i'r holl drafodaeth yma. Rŷn ni’n moyn gwneud yn siŵr bod y cynlluniau sydd gyda ni i symud i’r dyfodol yn caniatáu busnesau presennol i fwydo mewn i'r system, ond hefyd bod yna gyfleoedd i fusnesau creadigol o’r newydd i greu cynnyrch newydd ac i ddarparu bwydydd gwahanol newydd, bod hwnnw wedyn yn effeithio ar y diwydiant amaeth yn y ffordd rŷn ni’n cynhyrchu bwydydd yn y lle cyntaf, y ffordd rŷn ni’n ei farchnata fe neu yn ei werthu fe. Mae’r holl thema yna yn cyplysu popeth sydd wedi cael ei drafod yn barod mewn un pecyn cyflawn.

Pan ŷch chi’n siarad, wedyn, amboutu prosiectau, mae’r prosiectau’n mynd i ddibynnu, wedyn, ar ba gwmnïoedd preifat sydd yn gallu ein darbwyllo ni. Ond mae hwnna’n mynd i ddod, fel y dywedodd Cynghorydd Harries, mae hwnna’n mynd i gymryd—. Mae eisiau inni gadw’r drws yna’n agored fel bod busnesau mewn pum mlynedd, mewn 10 mlynedd, mewn 15 mlynedd, yn medru clymu mewn i’r weledigaeth sydd gyda ni am y 15 mlynedd nesaf.

If I could give you a quick flavour, because I am aware of time, but if we take food and agriculture, that is crucially important to us in mid Wales. We are drawing innovation into this whole discussion. We do want to ensure that the plans we have, moving to the future, do allow existing businesses to feed into the system, yes, but also that there are opportunities for new, creative businesses to make new produce and to provide new foods and so on, and then that will impact on the agricultural industry in the way that we produce food in the first place, the way we market it, the way we sell it. So, that whole theme brings together everything that's already been discussed this morning in one full package.

When you're then talking about projects, well, the projects will rely on which private companies can convince us to invest. But, as Councillor Harris said, that is going to take time. We need to keep the door open so that businesses in five years, 10 years, 15 years, can buy into the vision that we have for the next 15 years.

10:20

A jest cwestiwn olaf gen i. Dŷn ni’n ymwybodol bod Llywodraeth Cymru am roi mwy o emphasis ar strategaethau economaidd rhanbarthol. Gwnaethom ni gael y Gweinidog mewn yma ar gyfer sgrwtini’r gyllideb yr wythnos ddiwethaf, a doedd e ddim wedi pennu cyllideb ar gyfer y strwythur economaidd rhanbarthol. Ydych chi’n poeni am hyn? Ydych chi wedi gofyn am arian? Ydych chi wedi gofyn am fuddsoddiad? Achos dydy e ddim yn edrych fel ei fod yn flaenoriaeth i fi os nad yw’r arian yn dilyn.

The last question from me. We do know that Welsh Government is going to put more emphasis on regional economic strategies, and we had the Minister in here for budget scrutiny last week, and he hadn't set out a budget for a regional economic structure. Are you concerned about that? Have you asked for funding? Have you asked for investment? Because it doesn't seem to be a priority to me if the money doesn't follow.

Wel, dwi’n credu, fel y dywedais i’n gynharach, amboutu’r principle o’r traean, traean a thraean. Mae’n bwysig ein bod ni’n cael cadarnhad gennych chi fel Cynulliad Cymru, a hefyd ein bod ni’n gallu cael yr arian yna yn ei le yn barod. A byddai’n dda i gael rhyw fath o arwydd eich bod chi’n mynd i roi’r arian yna yn barod oherwydd dyna’r unig ffordd rŷn ni’n mynd i allu bwrw ymlaen. Achos, fel cafodd ei ddweud, mae’r proposition, mae’r ddogfen yna erbyn mis Mawrth 2020 ac erbyn—wel, pryd mae fe? Hydref 2020 bydd yr high-level business case plan. Felly, mae gyda ni ryw fath o timescale ynglŷn â phryd mae pethau’n digwydd, ond cael y cadarnhad yna o’r arian a hefyd help i ni gyda’r capasiti i fwrw hwn ymlaen. Felly, mae e i gyd yn dod ynghlwm â’i gilydd, ond mae’n bwynt da beth rydych chi yn ei ofyn.

Well, as I said earlier about the three-thirds principle, I think it is important that we get confirmation from you as a National Assembly that that funding will be in place, and it would be good to have some sort of signal that that funding is going to be made available because that's the only way that we're going to be able to make progress. Because, as has already been said, that proposition, that document will be there by March 2020 and by—when is it? By October 2020 we'll have a high-level business plan too. So, we do have a timescale as to when things are happening, but it's that confirmation of the funding, and also assistance with capacity in driving this forward. So, it's all interrelated, but it's a good point that you make.

Thank you very much, Chair. I'm very interested. I'm glad to see this development, anyway, but I think 15 years is too long. But the fact is, going through it, I think you own virtually, to develop, more than 50 per cent of the land of all Wales, and a couple of universities, six local authorities, and a couple of colleges.

My question to you is about the skills sector. There is a certain area that can be developed very strongly, like farming, agriculture, and rural, and all those different areas, but we cannot disturb our beautiful environment there. But that is the area. Tourism hasn't even been mentioned. So, the skills sector, how can you create quality jobs for the local area to cater for Wales?

The skills agenda is critical. So, that's why I've emphasised the importance of having the regional learning and skills partnership and the right to create that, because we do need to map out for our learners the opportunities of combining skill sets in a certain way. So, we refine the curriculum, that they can gain these kinds of qualifications, but it must lead to employment at the end of it. Now, the employment, tourism is one of the main themes that we've got. What we're trying to give you a flavour of is that we've got a number of different themes and a number of different areas, but the unique selling points that we pride ourselves on is the fact that mid Wales is an area of outstanding beauty; is the fact that mid Wales is the heartland of generating the agricultural industry of Wales. We've got those in abundance.

What we need to look for in the future are the additionalities as well as. So, the foundational economy that Nigel referenced, we have to make sure that that's at the heart of all of this. But also, we have to be equally as aspirational in relation to what new, creative, innovative new industries can be developed within our area as well.

Such as, if I give you an example. You could go into research and development in spectral technology, as an example. The only place in Europe, to be honest, that you can trace radio waves in clean air is in mid Wales. You can't do it anywhere else in Europe; you can do it in other parts of the world. But what you have is, within the mid Wales region, you have, then, the combination of coastlines, of valleys, of undulating land, of hills, so that when you want to test innovative developments in this way, then it lends itself to that purpose. Now, the spin-off is that organisations and businesses that would be interested in developing and establishing businesses to generate new technologies for that purpose could set up anywhere in mid Wales, then, because they would have the research side of it supporting their new technologies. Now, that doesn't damage the environment in any way, shape or form; it just takes advantage of such a wonderful unique selling point. Across the whole of mid Wales, that's one thing that we can celebrate, in one respect, is that it is, and that's where the unique selling point is critical in making sure that we're aware of it. So, we have to protect as well as develop.

10:25

I think you mentioned tourism, Chairman. There are lots of things we can do with tourism—obviously it's very, very important to both our areas. We have some major events in the area, probably more international events like the Royal Welsh Show, the Green Man music festival, the Hay Festival: we can develop on that. But behind that, we would have to improve our accommodation, probably increase our accommodation, and the road network, of course, would come into that. Infrastructure comes in to everything.

That's right. You mention infrastructure, that's what my other question is about. The only link, at the moment, is mainly road, and if there is more traffic and more everything, there is more pollution, but that is for another time, that question. My final—

Just a quick point in terms of innovation—and it would be wrong to divulge some of the information that was shared with me yesterday—but there are some really incredible industries in mid Wales looking to expand, looking to develop high-end technology, well-paid posts, including the sort of things we'd look to encourage and put on the skills agenda. We need to make sure that the output from FE colleges works. I was talking about STEM subjects, et cetera, and the feedback we're getting from businesses is they are finding it difficult to recruit people. But there's some really, really interesting stuff in terms of some quite creative technology areas. So, it's just working—. It is there, quite a few small businesses, and I'm always surprised at what we do have on our patch when you get to meet some of our local industries.

Thank you very much. And finally, to what extent will the growth deal seek to achieve inclusive growth in line with the Welsh Government's economic action plan?

If I may start. They're both going to be aligned, and it'll almost be an identical document. The working relationship we have with Rhodri Griffiths and Ann Watkin is excellent. Those who know me, you know I wouldn't say that if it wasn't true. In fairness to those two civil servants, they're working extremely closely with us in mid Wales, and the dialogue that we're having with them is making sure that we're not planning for the sake of planning; we're planning for the sake of delivering something tangible that is in partnership with Welsh Government. And the fact that we're aligning the two documents, that they'll be more or less one and the same, with the same shared vision, it'll almost be a co-constructed vision between civil servants in Welsh Government and ourselves in mid Wales. And therefore, processes like this one, when those documents are ready to be scrutinised, it is really important that we have the opportunities to bring them and for you to see the direction in which we're going.

And also, the foundational economy is a large part of the mid Wales economy, so it's important that they're inclusive. As I said earlier, with the skills and all that, it's all a part of that plan. So, we're working side by side in that respect.

Just a very, very quick response in terms of where we are with Welsh Government. The regional economic framework is really important for us going forward. It's going to be a new document. It's a slightly bewildering world, the world of economic development, but tying the whole thing together, not trying to replicate too many strategies, too many documents, but having one document that covers the lot of which a key component part of it is the growth deal. It's all got to be, basically, the complementarity amongst the team's interventions and programmes that we have. So, hopefully, we'll have a document that'll wrap up the desire of Welsh Government, that wraps up all these various initiatives and interventions.

And finally from me: nobody has mentioned Brexit, so I will. You have said that you have large landholdings, large farm holdings, that if we fall off a cliff at the end of next year, to say the least, that will destabilise your economy, unless things are in place, like we've been promised, to actually secure what you've got, never mind moving forward. So, have you built that into your proposals? Because there has to be a risk analysis in all of this, and the biggest risk is the elephant in the room that hasn't been mentioned until now.

10:30

I think it's fair to say that both authorities have done a considerable amount of work on Brexit. I can only speak for Powys here, sorry, but we've got a multi-agency working group, there are officer groups, the local resource forum. There's all sorts of work going on in terms of Brexit, and the risks are being recognised. It's been difficult to know what and how much to prepare for, but there's a lot of work going on.

And that's true of Ceredigion as well.

We did an analysis, a desktop analysis, of the impact of losing common agricultural policy funding, as an example, across mid Wales. So, if you're doing individual respective authorities, it would be the equivalent of losing £88 million out of Powys, and it would be the equivalent of losing £55 million just through losing CAP funding alone.

Yes, and £55 million for Ceredigion.

So, we've been working in the background, identifying the scale of risk for many, many years. That information has been at our fingertips for the last two and a half years, and we've had conversations with the farmers' unions. We've made sure that contingency plans are in place because that is a major, major factor that we have to take into consideration. The problem is, who knows what's going to happen with it?

Well, I think we've got a very good idea now what's going to happen. But anyway, I had to ask that question because all the other questions that were on this paper have been answered, and that wasn't on there. And we can't pretend for a minute that you're trying to drive an economic vision forward, which I commend you both for coming together to do that, and fully support it, without realising that in your area, more than any other area in Wales, that is your biggest potential threat if it's not delivered. So, £140 million between them both. Thank you.

Can I just ask a couple of questions? We're short for time, though, so they'll have to be brief answers. My very last question will be—I'll just give you a warning—what is it that you want the UK and the Welsh Government to do to release your ambitions? What are your key asks of them? But before I ask that question, I'm nearly certain that you'll go on to say 'confirmation of funding'. But if we had the Minister here, or we could ask the UK Government Minister whether they can provide more funding, they would say, 'Well, we're waiting to have more information from you.' And you've referred to the proposition document by March 2020. Have I got this right, is it a chicken-and-egg situation? And I look at Eifion, who mentioned earlier that you wanted funding from Welsh Government for a programme team. Do you think that that funding could come before your proposition document is established?

So, that answers that question. So, before I asked my final question, if you're going to say funding from either Government, am I right with this chicken-and-egg situation? Because we're going to ask those Governments, and they're going to say, 'We haven't had the information yet, but you're asking for funding.' Am I right in that or—?

I think the first thing is that we have confirmation of that fourth region. I think that's important we're getting that fourth region funding and making mid Wales as that fourth region. I think that's essential as a starting point from Welsh Government, from the Minister himself.

That would be my—.

Okay. So, if I come to my last question: what is it that you would want from the Welsh or UK Government to release your ambitions? Succinctly, in bullet-point form, so we're clear as a committee when you've gone that this is what you need to release the ambitions that you've talked about today.

Immediately, we would like to know that we'd got enough money to fund our programme office. We would like to know that we have confirmation that we can form our regional learning and skills partnership. And we would like to know from both Governments that the money will be there to support our plans going forward, the significant amount of money.

Okay. But on the last point, they will say that they haven't yet had your proposition document, so they can't confirm that. That's what they would say. So, how would you respond to that?

Well, yes, it is chicken and egg, but, hopefully, the two can go forward together. We're nearly at March anyway. 

10:35

I can assure you the proposition document's going to be an exciting one, and it's something that you should look forward to, because as members, looking at it from a member's point of view as well, from what we've been talking about and the workshops that we've had here, they're all very excited, because we need something—we need something in mid Wales here to make sure that we prosper in the future.

The absolutely critical point is we've been eagerly anticipating an announcement by the Minister that mid Wales is formally recognised as the fourth economic region of Wales, and that that then is reflected in the new—there will need to be a revision of national policy to reflect that. Because if those national policies are aligned with a recognition of a mid Wales fourth region, then the other elements around funding will flow from it. It's not having that firm commitment to say, 'Yes, you are a designated economic region in Wales.' Westminster seems to acknowledge it, but we haven't had that commitment yet from Welsh Government.

[Inaudible.]—resources to set up a programme office that's commensurate with the programme of interventions. We're talking about significant sums of public funds. I touched on this earlier: you'd expect us to have a robust and appropriate team behind that, and that's key. That's absolutely critical. I take the chicken-and-egg issue, but it's really important now that we get the ability to invest and develop the business cases.

Go on, then—a final, final question from Joyce Watson.

I have to ask a final question of Eifion. You said that Westminster acknowledges that you're an economic area, and that the Assembly doesn't. I'd like you to clarify how you think that Westminster have identified you as an economic area.

Okay. A Treasury announcement in 2017—reference was made in the budget-setting process then that moneys would be flowing through Westminster to support a mid Wales growth deal in principle. So, that announcement happened then. And then, prior to the last election, we had a commitment from—

As a down payment—

—of that. So, having those two commitments and those publicly announced commitments—

We haven't seen any money, but what I am looking for is formal recognition that mid Wales, in Welsh Government eyes, is a designated fourth region.

Okay. Thank you for your time this morning, and please also pass our best wishes on to Councillor ap Gwynn. But thank you for being here today. We really appreciate your time and the evidence paper in advance of the session as well. So, diolch yn fawr. Thank you very much.

We'll take a short break—back in 10 minutes.

Gohiriwyd y cyfarfod rhwng 10:37 a 10:50.

The meeting adjourned between 10:37 and 10:50.

10:50
4. Diweddariad ar y Bargeinion Dinesig: Fargen Twf Gogledd Cymru
4. City Deals update: North Wales Growth Deal

Welcome back to the committee. I move to item 4 with regard to our update on city deals. Before us this morning, we've got two witnesses with regard to the north Wales growth deal. So, perhaps I could ask you to introduce yourselves for the public record. 

Bore da i chi gyd. Dyfrig Siencyn ydw i, arweinydd Cyngor Gwynedd a hefyd cadeirydd Bwrdd Uchelgais Economaidd Gogledd Cymru. 

Good morning to you all. My name's Dyfrig Siencyn, leader of Gwynedd Council and also chair of the North Wales Economic Ambition Board.

Alwen Williams ydw i. Prynhawn da. Cyfarwyddwr rhaglen Bwrdd Uchelgais Economaidd Gogledd Cymru—yn eithaf newydd i mewn i'r swydd yn yr wythnos diwethaf.

My name is Alwen Williams. Good morning. I am programme director for the North Wales Economic Ambition Board. I'm quite new to the post—just in the past week, in fact.

That's it. That's fine. My first question was, 'Since you were last in committee—', but it wouldn't have been—. If you were in any committee in the past, it wouldn't have been for this issue.

No, it would have been—

You were in committee in the past, but it would have been on a different matter. 

Yes, it would have been.

That's fine. Can I ask first of all what progress has been made over the last 12 months? Because either yourselves or colleagues were here 12 months ago. So, what progress has been made since your colleagues or yourselves were in committee 12 months ago?

Iawn. Mae yna gynnydd sylweddol, wrth gwrs. Yn y man cyntaf, mae'n debyg mai'r cam pwysicaf un oedd—wel, heblaw am benodi Alwen yn rheolwr y rhaglen arnon ni, a oedd yn gam pwysig iawn, os caf i ddweud, felly, ac yn arwydd bod pethau'n symud yn eu blaen—y cam arall, wrth gwrs, ydy ein bod ni wedi llwyddo i gael arwyddo penawdau telerau wedi hirymaros. Mi oedden ni'n eithaf pryderus bod yr etholiad yn mynd i dorri ar ein traws ni ac roedd yna ansicrwydd, wrth gwrs, beth fyddai'n digwydd ar ôl yr etholiad ac yn y blaen, ond fe lwyddwyd, diolch i'r drefn, i gael arwyddo'r penawdau telerau o fewn ychydig ddyddiau cyn yr etholiad. Ac mae hwnnw'n gam sylweddol ymlaen, felly.

Mae yna lawer iawn o waith wedi digwydd, wrth gwrs, dros y flwyddyn ddiwethaf, ac fel gwleidydd, rwyf yn teimlo fel hwyaden sydd yn nofio'n dawel ar wyneb y dŵr, a'r swyddogion yn brysur iawn o dan yr wyneb, felly. Mae yna waith sylweddol wedi digwydd yn ystod y flwyddyn, ac felly buaswn i'n dweud, rydyn ni'n hynod o falch ein bod ni wedi cyrraedd y pwynt yma o gael arwyddo'r penawdau telerau, sydd yn ein galluogi ni, wrth gwrs, i wneud y gwaith sylweddol eto sydd o'n blaenau ni i baratoi'r achosion—y five-case business plans yma rydyn ni'n eu gwneud. A hefyd, wrth gwrs, rydyn ni'n adeiladu'r tîm. Hwyrach caiff Alwen gyfrannu trwy ddweud pwy sydd yn y tîm ar hyn o bryd. Mae'r tîm yna wedi'i leoli mewn swyddfa gennym ni yng Nghyffordd Llandudno.

Felly, mae yna gamau i'w gweld yn digwydd rŵan, felly dyna ddiwedd ar y cyfnod siarad rownd y bwrdd, a'r siarad, wrth gwrs, gyda'r ddwy Lywodraeth, ac rydyn ni rŵan yn awyddus i fwrw ymlaen â'r gwaith go iawn, felly. Dydw i ddim yn gwybod a fuasai Alwen yn leicio jest ehangu ar le y mae hi, er mai dim ond wythnos mai hi wedi bod yn ei gwaith, cofiwch. 

Okay. There has been significant progress, of course. In the first instance, the most important step was—well, apart from appointing Alwen as programme manager, which was a very important step, I must say, and was a sign that things were moving forward—another step was that we have managed to sign the heads of terms after a long time waiting. We were worried that the election would interfere with that and there was uncertainty, of course, as to what would happen after the election, but, luckily, we managed to sign those heads of terms before the election. And that is a significant step forward.

There's a lot of work that's happened over the past year. As a politician, I feel like a duck: everything's calm on the surface and the officials are working hard under the surface. A lot has happened over the past year, and so I would say that we are very pleased that we've reached this point of signing the head of terms, which does allow us to do the significant work that's still in front of us to prepare the five-case business plans that we are doing. And also, of course, we're building the team. Alwen may be able to contribute by saying who's currently part of the team. That team is placed in an office in Llandudno Junction.

So, there are steps to be seen happening now, and so that's the end of the round-table discussion, and talking to both Governments, and we are now keen to move on with the real work, as it were. I don't know whether Alwen would like to add a little bit more as to where she is, even though she's only been in the job for a week.

No, that's fine, and just briefly, because we'll go into some more detailed questions later on. Alwen.

The programme office was established a week ago in Llandudno Junction in the Conwy Business Centre. Four key appointments, plus myself, into the programme office at the moment: a programme manager for digital; a programme manager for land and property; a programme manager for energy; and also a deputy director and operational manager for the programme office.

10:55

So, the programme office has only just been established. 

I'm just trying to understand in my own mind, would that not have been—. You've just agreed on signing the heads of terms. Would that have not been—could it have been earlier? I'm not saying one's right or wrong; I'm just trying to understand how the office works. I ask the question because the mid Wales growth deal, who were just in, were talking about doing the very same. They want to do that now, but they're much further behind than you are. 

The recruitment process took place, I would say—or started, certainly—in summer, but the process of actually recruiting and giving notice and starting has taken three to four months. 

Dwi ddim yn meddwl bod yna oedi wedi bod yn y broses o benodi swyddogion i'r swyddfa rhaglen o gwbl, a dweud y gwir. Mi oedd hwnnw wedi'i raglennu gennym ni ar y daith. Mae'n debyg ei fod o'n gwestiwn fydd gennych chi beth bynnag: dwi'n meddwl roeddem ni'n disgwyl y byddem ni wedi arwyddo'r penawdau telerau ym mis Mai, a dweud y gwir, ond fe gymerodd hi tan fis Tachwedd. Ond yn y cyfamser, mi oeddem ni'n bwrw ymlaen gyda'r broses recriwtio.  

I don't think that there's been delay in the appointment process for the programme office at all. That had been programmed by us as part of our journey. I suppose it's a question that you will pose later in any case: I think we did expect to have signed the heads of terms in May, if truth be told, but it did take until November. But in the meantime, we did proceed with that recruitment process. 

It wasn't a criticism, I was just trying to understand, because our last witnesses had talked about doing what you're doing at a much earlier stage in the process. But while we talk about that heads of terms being signed off—and you were pleased that that was signed off before the election, which was helpful to avoid further delay—it still could have been signed earlier. What could have been done to avoid that delay in getting that heads of terms signed off? 

Mi oedd gennym ni amserlen—mae'n debyg, rydym ni'n sôn am y flwyddyn cyn diwethaf—lle roeddem ni wedi cytuno, dwi'n credu, gyda'r ddwy Lywodraeth beth fyddai'r camau yn y broses. Ac mi roedd o'n berffaith glir ein bod ni yn anelu i gael y penawdau telerau yn eu lle ac wedi'u harwyddo erbyn dechrau Mai, fel ein bod ni'n gallu rhoi'r swyddfa raglen yn ei lle, ac yn y blaen.

Fe gawsom ni—. Mi fu oedi sylweddol, a dweud y gwir, o du pa Lywodraeth bynnag—y ddwy Lywodraeth, am wn i—wrth baratoi'r penawdau telerau. Fel dyn sy'n licio siarad yn blaen, dwi ddim yn meddwl bod nhw'n bethau anodd i'w paratoi. Dydy hi ddim yn ddogfen ddyrys iawn, iawn, a byddai rhywun yn teimlo eu bod nhw eisoes yn gwybod pa fath o benawdau fyddai'n mynd i mewn iddi hi.

Ond, yn wir, mi gawsom ni ddrafft—. Dwi'n trio edrych ar fy nodiadau fan hyn rŵan. Mi gawsom ni ddrafft penawdau telerau—. Ar bryd, dywedwch? Ar 25 Gorffennaf, ac mi roedd gennym ni gyfarfod o'r bwrdd y diwrnod canlynol, ar 26 Gorffennaf. Felly, doedd yna ddim cyfle i ni yn y cyfarfod bwrdd hwnnw i fabwysiadu ac i gytuno i'r penawdau hynny, i'r ddogfen honno; ac mi oedd gennym ni awgrymiadau am newidiadau ac addasiadau iddi hi, ac fe wnaed hynny. Mi gymerodd hi wedyn, mae'n debyg, tan fis Tachwedd cyn i ni ddod i gytundeb ar beth oedd y manylion.  

We did have a timetable—I suppose, we're looking back now to the year before last—where I think we had agreed with both Governments what the steps in the process would be. And it was entirely clear that we were aiming to have those heads of terms in place and signed by the beginning of May, so that we could put the programme office in place, and so on and so forth.

There was significant delay, if truth be told. There would have been delays in terms of both Governments in preparing those heads of terms. As one who likes to speak openly about these issues, I don't think they are particularly difficult things to draw up. It isn't a particularly complex document, and one would have felt that they already knew what kind of terms would be included. 

But we did receive a draft—. I'm looking at my notes here. We received the draft heads of terms—. When was it? On 25 July, and we had a board meeting the following day, on 26 July. So, there was no opportunity for us at that board meeting to adopt and to agree to those terms and to that document; and we did have certain suggestions for amendments and adaptations to it, and we did that. Then, it took until November until we reached agreement on the detail.  

So, you've made it clear that both the Welsh and UK Governments perhaps weren't as quick at signing off those heads of terms before—. It could have been much quicker. Do you have any analysis of why it did take that long, for both those Governments, not from your perspective, to sign off? 

A dweud y gwir, na. Fel dwi wedi dweud, dydy'r penawdau telerau ddim yn ddogfen gymhleth iawn. Bron, fuaswn i'n dweud, y gallech chi ei thynnu hi oddi ar silff, gydag addasiadau. Felly, dydw i ddim yn deall pam yr oedi. Dwi ddim wedi gofyn am eglurhad, a dwi ddim wedi cael eglurhad. 

No, really. As I've said, the heads of terms isn't a very complex document. I would almost say that you could take it off the shelf, with a few adaptations. So, I haven't asked for an explanation as to why there has been this delay, and I haven't had one. 

That's fine. We might be able to ask that. That's why we ask the question. Can you tell us any areas over the last 12 months that have been perhaps slower than you would have liked to have seen? Taking out the heads of terms being signed off, of course. Are there any other areas in your work that haven't been progressed as much as you would have liked?

11:00

Dwi ddim yn credu bod yna unrhyw faes penodol lle buaswn i'n dweud fy mod i'n adnabod oedi. Mae'r broses o drafodaethau a oedd yn digwydd rhwng swyddogion y ddwy Lywodraeth, fel dwi'n dweud, yn mynd yn ei blaen. Mae'n bosib y gallech chi ddweud, hwyrach, fod y broses honno—fel sydd yn digwydd, mae'n debyg bod tuedd i oedi ddigwydd, a bod un Llywodraeth un cam ar y blaen i'r llall, a bod gwaith aros i ddal i fyny. Dwi ddim yn mynd i daflu bai at ba un oedd waethaf. Ond dwi ddim yn credu bod yna unrhyw beth arall a oedd yn peri inni oedi, heblaw'r penawdau telerau.

I don't think there's any specific area where I would identify that there has been a great delay. The discussion process between officials of both Governments, as I said, has been ongoing. You could say, perhaps, that that process—as happens, there is a tendency for delay, and one Government is one step ahead of another, and there's a bit of a lag. I'm not going to put blame on who was worse than the other. But I wouldn't say that there was anything else that was a cause for delay, apart from the heads of terms.

That's fine. Perhaps you could just tell us briefly about your latest discussions with both Governments. 

Wel, yn wleidyddol, prin iawn ydy'r drafodaeth wedi bod, oherwydd bod yr etholiad wedi mynd ar ein traws ni, a dweud y gwir. Rydym ni wedi cael cyfarfod gyda Ken Skates. A dweud y gwir, rydym ni'n cael cyfarfodydd fel arweinwyr y gogledd yn weddol gyson gyda'r Gweinidog, ac mae yna ddeialog dda yn digwydd rhyngom ni ag o.

Well, politically, there hasn't been much discussion, because the election has taken place and that's interfered with everything. We have had a meeting with Ken Skates. In fact, we have meetings as north Wales leaders on a fairly regular basis with the Minister, and there is a good dialogue that's ongoing between us and him.

Buaswn i'n dweud mis yn ôl.

I would say about a month ago.

Okay, and what was the outcome or the gist of that meeting?

Mi oedd o'n drafodaeth eang ar wahanol faterion, nid yn benodol ar faterion y bwrdd. A dweud y gwir, dwi ddim yn siŵr beth sydd yna i'w drafod ar hyn o bryd ynglŷn â materion y cais twf. Mae yna fwy o drafodaeth go iawn yn digwydd ar lefel swyddogion rŵan, a hwyrach y gall Alwen egluro'r hyn y mae hi wedi'i weld yn ystod ei chyfnod byr, a'r hyn y mae hi'n ei weld fydd yn digwydd o hyn ymlaen.

It was a wide-ranging discussion on various issues, not specifically on board issues. I'm not sure what there is to discuss currently regarding the growth deal issues. There's more discussion ongoing, really, at official level, and perhaps Alwen could explain what she has seen during her short time, and what she sees will happen from now on.

Yes, some of the discussions I've had in the last week have included a good conversation with Gwenllian and some of Gwenllian's team as a region for north Wales on the approach that we'll take to joint working in the way we deliver the ambition board's outcomes, and I think a constructive conversation with Welsh Government in terms of that framework agreement for working together. From my perspective, discussion hasn't started with UK Government yet, but it's certainly something that I'm looking forward to moving on to over the next few weeks, to get the same sort of co-working agreement in place.

Jest i ychwanegu, mae Alwen yn fy atgoffa i fod Gwenllian wedi bod yn rhan o'r trafodaethau rydym ni fel gwleidyddion wedi'u cael hefyd. Dwi'n meddwl bod yna gynnydd wedi bod yn y cydweithio sydd rhyngom ni yn y gogledd, boed o ar lefel wleidyddol neu ar lefel swyddogion—rhyngom ni a swyddogion Llywodraeth Cymru. Dwi'n meddwl bod yna gam eithaf sylweddol wedi digwydd. Mae yna benodiadau ychwanegol wedi digwydd i swyddogion adran yr economi yn y gogledd, a dwi'n meddwl bod hynny hefyd yn arwydd bod yna awydd i gydweithio gyda'n swyddogion ni yn y swyddfa rhaglen.

Just to add, Alwen has reminded me that Gwenllian has been part of the discussions that we've had as politicians. I think that there has been an increase in the co-operation between us in north Wales, whether at political level or official level—between us and Welsh Government officials. I think there has been quite a significant step forward. Additional appointments have been made in the economy department in north Wales, and I think that that is a sign that there's a real desire to work with our officials in the programme office.

Thank you, Chair. I just want to dig down a little into the proposed funding model for the growth deal. First of all, could you clarify for us the level of funding that you are seeking to secure from both the UK and Welsh Governments, and whether that has changed at all in the past year?  

Iawn. Yn ein cais, mi oeddem ni'n gofyn am £170 miliwn gan y ddwy Lywodraeth. Yn y trafodaethau gwleidyddol yr oeddem ni'n eu cael, mi oedd hi'n ymddangos bod y cais hwnnw am £170 miliwn yn un rhesymol. Hynny ydy, cawsom ni ddim arwydd nad oedd o'n rhesymol. Ond mae'n debyg ein bod ni'n ymwybodol ei fod o'n uchelgeisiol, a hwyrach y byddem ni'n cael cynnig llai. Mae'n rhaid i fi ddweud, doedden ni ddim yn disgwyl cyn lleied. Hynny ydy, £120 miliwn cawsom ni gan Lywodraeth Westminster a £120 miliwn arall gan, wrth gwrs, Lywodraeth Cymru. Hynny ydy, mae rhywun yn croesawu'r cyfraniadau hynny, ond mi oedd o'n siom ar y pryd, nad oedd o'n nes at yr hyn roeddem ni wedi bod gofyn amdano fo. 

Okay. In our bid, we requested £170 million from both Governments. In the political negotiations that we had, it did appear that that bid for £170 million was reasonable. That is to say, we were given no signal that it was unreasonable. But I suppose we were aware that it was ambitious, and that perhaps we would be offered less. Now, I have to say that we hadn't expected as little. We received £120 million from the Westminster Government and another £120 million from the Welsh Government. Of course, one welcomes those contributions, but it was a disappointment at the time that the figure wasn't closer to our original bid. 

11:05

Thank you. Building on that, the draft implementation plan makes the case for an additional sum of £20 million from each Government to support the funding of packages to address the challenges faced by the region, particularly as a result of the proposed £20 billion Wylfa Newydd station being suspended indefinitely. What's the latest position in relation to that additional funding request?

Mi gafwyd sawl cyfarfod yn dilyn y cyhoeddiad ar Wylfa Newydd, ac fe wnaed cais am £20 miliwn yn ychwanegol. Does dim ymateb wedi bod; mor syml â hynny.   

There were a number of meetings held following the announcement on Wylfa Newydd and an application was made for an additional £20 million. We've received no response; it's as simple as that. 

When were those requests sent? When were those requests for the additional funding sent? 

Rydych chi'n mynd yn ôl i ddechrau'r flwyddyn ddiwethaf, i ddechrau 2019 rhywbryd, pan oedd y cyhoeddiad am ohirio Wylfa Newydd. Felly, mi gafwyd nifer o gyfarfodydd brys ar ôl hynny. Wrth gwrs, doedd y cyhoeddiad am Wylfa Newydd—. Doedd Wylfa Newydd ddim yn rhan o'n cais twf ni. Ond, wrth gwrs, mae o'n cael effaith sylweddol ar yr economi yn y gogledd, a dyna pam roedd yna achos yn cael ei wneud, 'Wel, fe ddylem ni gael mwy, felly.' Dydyn ni ddim wedi cael ymateb i'r cais hwnnw. 

You're going back to the beginning of last year, the beginning of 2019, when the suspension of Wylfa Newydd was announced. There were a number of urgent meetings held after that. But, of course, the Wylfa Newydd announcement—. Wylfa Newydd wasn't part of our growth deal bid. But it does have a significant impact on the north Wales economy, and that's why a case was made that, 'Yes, we should receive more.' But we haven't received a response to that request. 

Okay, thank you. The draft implementation plan also states that the skills and employment programme is subject to the agreement of a side deal with the Welsh Government. What is the latest position in relation to that? And what exactly does it involve? 

Mae hwnna yn un o'r cwestiynau anodd i ni ei gyfarch. Mae o'n gofyn, wrth gwrs, mae'n debyg, yn fy marn gyntaf, am arian refeniw, nad sydd yn rhan o gais twf. Arian cyfalaf ydy arian y cais twf i gyd. Rydyn ni yn cydweithio—. Wel, roeddwn i yng nghyfarfod diwethaf partneriaeth sgiliau gogledd Cymru, yn lansio eu cynllun tair blynedd newydd, ac roeddwn i'n rhan o'r lansiad hwnnw, ac mae'n debyg mai'r drafodaeth sydd i ddod ydy sut ydyn ni yn clymu ein cynlluniau ni i mewn i waith y bartneriaeth sgiliau sydd yn bodoli. Mae'n ddyddiau eithaf cynnar ar y mater yna, dwi'n credu, ond yn fater y byddwn ni yn ei gyfarch cyn bo hir, felly. Dwi ddim yn gwybod, oes yna ryw—?

That is one of the difficult questions for us to address. In the first instance, it requires revenue funding, which isn't part of the growth deal bid. The growth deal funding is all capital. I attended a recent meeting of the north Wales skills partnership, launching their new three-year plan, and I was involved with that launch, and the discussion that we need to have in future is how do we tie our proposals in with the work of the existing skills partnership. It's relatively early days in terms of that particular issue, I think, but it is an issue that we will need to address in due time. I don't know, is there any—?

Rydyn ni wedi cael trafodaethau agoriadol ynglŷn â'r bartneriaeth a sut mae hynny'n gweithio'n ymarferol efo'r swyddfa raglen o hyn ymlaen. Ond, wrth gwrs, mae'r swyddfa raglen yn eithaf newydd ac mae yna ddarn o waith i'w wneud i ymchwilio i mewn i sut mae'r agenda sgiliau yn mynd i gydweithio yn hytrach na gweithio ar draws ei gilydd. 

We have had opening negotiations regarding the partnership and how that works at a practical level with the programme office from now on. But, of course, the programme office is quite new and there's a piece of work to be done to explore how the skills agenda will co-operate rather than work across one another. 

Okay, thank you. Could you clarify for us the amount of private sector investment that the growth deal will be seeking to lever in as a direct consequence of the projects being delivered? 

Os gwnaf i edrych ar fy nodiadau—dwi'n meddwl ei fod o'n £500 miliwn o gyfraniad gan y sector breifat. Mae hwnnw yn cynnwys cyfran fawr o un prosiect arbennig, sef porthladd Caergybi a chyfraniad o'r sector breifat at hwnnw, ac mae'r gweddill, dwi'n credu, heb fynd i fanylion o'm blaen i felly, yn dod o'r colegau, sydd yn cael eu hystyried fel rhan o'r sector breifat.  

If I could look at my notes—I think it's £500 million in terms of the private sector contribution. That includes a large percentage of one particular project, which is the port of Holyhead project and the private sector contribution to that, and the rest, without looking into the detail in front of me, comes from the colleges, which are considered as part of the private sector. 

Okay, thank you. And one final question from me, in your written evidence, you state there's a 'cash flow issue to be managed' in funding the growth deal projects, and local authorities may need to manage that through borrowing. Could you just expand on that for us?

11:10

Mae taliadau'r cynllun twf yn dod yn gyfartal dros 15 mlynedd. Felly, mi fydd o'n—dwi ddim yn cofio. Dwi'n gwneud y sym yn sydyn rŵan, felly—mi fydd o, ddywedwn ni, yn £20 miliwn y flwyddyn dros y 15 mlynedd. Dydy'r sym yna ddim yn dda iawn. Ond, yn naturiol, mi fydd y gwariant, dŷn ni'n gobeithio, yn sylweddol—yn sicr yn y pum mlynedd cyntaf—sy'n golygu bod yna fwlch rhwng yr incwm dŷn ni'n ei gael a'r hyn dŷn ni'n gorfod ei wario. Rŵan, mae hynny yn achosi problem sylweddol iawn, iawn i'r chwe chyngor a'n gallu ni i gyfarch y bwlch yna.

Mae pob un cyngor o dan bwysau ariannol ac mae yna bryder sylweddol ynglŷn â beth fyddai cost y math yna o fenthyg. Rhan o'r ateb, wrth gwrs, ydy un ai ein bod ni'n derbyn yr arian mewn ffordd wahanol sy'n cyfateb â'r proffil gwario, neu wrth gwrs, fel arall, bydd yn rhaid inni ymestyn cyfnod cwblhau'r prosiectau fel bod y gwario yn matsio'r incwm, felly. Mae hynny yn gwestiwn eithaf sylweddol i ni ar hyn o bryd, ac mae'n debyg y byddwn ni, wrth inni ddatblygu ein cynlluniau busnes manwl rŵan—mae o'n fater y bydd yn rhaid inni edrych arno fo'n ofalus iawn, iawn.

The payments from the growth deal equalise over 15 years. So, it will be—I don't remember. I'm doing the sum quite quickly now—let's say it will be £20 million per annum over the 15 years. My maths isn't particularly strong. But, naturally, the expenditure, we hope, will be significant—certainly in the first five years—which will mean that there will be a gap between the income that we receive and what we have to spend. Now, that causes a significant problem to the six councils in terms of our ability to address that gap and to fill that gap.

Every council is under financial pressures and there is significant concern about the cost of that kind of borrowing. Part of the solution, of course, is either that we receive the funds in a different way that corresponds to the expenditure profile, or otherwise we will have to extend the project completion period so that the expenditure matches the income. That is quite a significant question that we're facing at the moment, and I'm sure that as we do develop our business plans now, it's an issue that we will have to look at very carefully indeed.

Thank you very much, and good morning to you both. My question is: can you clarify the current aims of the north Wales growth deal and set out how these have changed over the past year?

Buaswn i'n dweud dydy ein huchelgais ni ddim wedi newid, a dwi'n credu bod gennym ni, fel bwrdd uchelgais economaidd y gogledd—a'i roi o ar wahân i'r cais twf—uchelgais sylweddol iawn ar gyfer y gogledd. Dŷn ni'n datgan yn gyson, felly, nad cais twf yn unig sydd o bwys i ni—mae yna ffynonellau eraill o arian y byddem ni â diddordeb mewn ymgeisio amdanyn nhw, ac mae'r cais twf yn rhan o'r weledigaeth yna, felly. Felly, does yna ddim newid wedi bod yn ein gweledigaeth ni yn ystod y flwyddyn ddiweddaf o gwbl, dwi ddim yn credu.

I would say that our ambition is unchanged, and I think that we, as the North Wales Economic Ambition Board—and to set it aside from the growth deal—have a big ambition for north Wales. We do repeatedly state that this isn't just about growth—there are other sources of funding that we would have an interest in applying for, and the growth bid is part of that vision, therefore. So, there's no change as to our vision over the past year at all, I would say.

One of the things I think we recognise with the implementation of the programme office and the executive working group is that we probably need to revalidate and refresh the vision for the North Wales Economic Ambition Board, taking into account that the vision was originally created probably four years ago now. So, there's a process of revalidation and refresh that will happen to ensure that we are challenging ourselves to being ambitious enough and not just 'business as usual'. I think one of the things we all agree is that it needs to be truly transformational for north Wales.

Thank you very much. I just heard from Dyfrig regarding this investment in Holyhead—the biggest chunk you're spending of money is there. So, basically, what my point is, which is just asking you beyond the question: your investment must be getting some return—it's not that the money is spent and gone—so what are the prospects of earning money from your investment and re-pooling back into your project? Is there any project you're doing like this?

Mae hynny'n mynd yn ôl, hwyrach, i'r cwestiwn diweddaraf gawsom ni ynglŷn â'r llif arian. Rydyn ni'n awyddus i edrych ar ffynonellau incwm yn deillio o'r prosiectau. Mae'n debyg mai'r un sy'n dod i'r meddwl yn gyntaf ydy'n prosiectau digidol ni lle dŷn ni'n mynd i fod yn berchen ar—beth alwn ni nhw—y sianeli sydd yn cario'r gwifrau ffeibr. Dŷn ni'n credu bod yna botensial masnachol yn fanna i gael incwm i osod y safleoedd—y trunking yna, os liciwch chi—i'r byd yna, felly, i gwmnïau preifat, felly.

Felly, dŷn ni'n trio edrych ar bob cyfle sydd yna i greu incwm. Dŷn ni hefyd wedi cyfeirio at y ffaith ein bod ni wedi gwneud cais i Lywodraeth Cymru, neu mae yna drafodaeth wedi bod, ynglŷn â chael cyfran o'r NDR, o unrhyw gynnydd yn y dreth annomestig—byddem ni'n cael cyfran o hwnnw fel cyfraniad yn ôl gan Lywodraeth Cymru. Enghraifft glasurol o hynny fyddai os ydym ni'n datblygu'r safleoedd busnes a diwydiannol, yna mae yna, yn sicr, gynnydd yn y gwerth trethiannol, os liciwch chi, ac mi fyddwn ni'n gofyn am gyfran o hwnnw'n ôl, felly.

Well, that takes us back to the previous question we had about the cash flow. We're eager to look at income sources arising from the projects. One thing that comes to mind is the digital projects we have where we will be taking ownership of the channels carrying fibre broadband. We think that there is potential there to have income for that trunking in that area, for private companies.

So, we are trying to look at all opportunities available to create income. We have also referred to the fact that we have made a bid to Welsh Government, or there has been negotiation, regarding having a proportion of NDR, of any uplift in non-domestic rates—that we would have a proportion of that as a rebate from Welsh Government. A classic example of that would be if we were to develop industrial and business sites, then there would be an uplift in the tax value, and we would ask for a proportion of that back.

11:15

Okay, thank you. Are you confident that the north Wales growth deal will achieve its aim, and what are the greatest external risks and challenges to the successful delivery of the growth deal?

Ydyn, dŷn ni'n hyderus. Dŷn ni'n—beth ydy'r gair, dywedwch? Dŷn ni’n bartneriaeth optimistig iawn, dwi'n credu, felly, yn y gogledd; mae yna bartneriaeth dda yn wleidyddol rhwng y chwe chyngor. Ond buaswn i'n dweud bod yna bartneriaeth arbennig iawn rhyngom ni a'r sector breifat, a gallaf i ddweud wrthych chi fod brwdfrydedd y sector breifat yn heintus iawn weithiau. Mae o'n bleser i gael bod mewn cyfarfod weithiau gyda phobl sydd mor frwdfrydig am y cynllun, felly. Maen nhw'n gweld cyfleoedd yna, wrth gwrs.

Mae yna risgiau sylweddol allanol. Mae Brexit yn un ohonyn nhw. Dŷn ni ddim yn siŵr beth fydd canlyniad hynny. Mae buddsoddiad y sector breifat yn risg, ac mi fuaswn i'n dweud bod unrhyw oedi mewn gweithredu prosiectau yn cynyddu'r risg na fydd y sector breifat yn gallu cyfrannu fel roedden ni'n ei feddwl, neu allu buddsoddi, neu y byddan nhw'n newid cyfeiriad a buddsoddi mewn llefydd eraill.

Mae'n debyg bod yna risg, onid oes, o'r bartneriaeth ei hun? Mae cynnal partneriaeth rhwng chwe chyngor o wahanol gefndir gwleidyddol yn dipyn o gamp. Mae cynnal partneriaeth ychwanegol, wedyn, gyda Llywodraeth Westminster a Llywodraeth Cymru—eto, o ddau liw gwahanol—yn risg hefyd, felly. Felly, mae cynnal y bartneriaeth yna yn risg.

Un o'r risgiau diddorol, mae'n debyg, ydy ein bod ni angen gweld newid mewn diwylliant. Dwi wedi cyfeirio at hyn o'r blaen, felly—newid mewn diwylliant o gydweithio, felly—a dwi'n credu'n gryf bod unrhyw bartneriaeth gadarn yn dibynnu llawer iawn ar yr elfen hynny o ymddiried yn eich gilydd. Dŷn ni wedi bod trwy'r broses yna fel arweinwyr y cynghorau. Dwi'n meddwl ein bod ni'n datblygu'r broses yna gyda'r ddwy Lywodraeth. Wrth gwrs, mae gennym ni Lywodraeth newydd yn Westminster rŵan, a bydd rhaid ailsefydlu'r berthynas yna, bron yn bersonol, sydd yn bwysig iawn, iawn i gael partneriaeth gadarn. Ond dŷn ni'n eithaf hyderus ac yn optimistig yn y ffordd rydyn ni'n gweithio, dwi'n credu, felly, ac yn awyddus i weld llwyddiant.

Yes, we are confident. We are—what's the word? We are a very optimistic partnership, I think, in north Wales, and there's a good political partnership between the six councils. But I would say that there's a very good partnership between us and the private sector, and I can tell you that the enthusiasm of the private sector is infectious sometimes. It's a pleasure to be in a meeting with such enthusiastic people about these opportunities. They see opportunities, of course.

There are significant risks externally, and Brexit is one of those risks. We are not sure what the outcome of that will be. Private sector investment is a risk, and I would say that any delay in implementing projects would increase the risk that the private sector won't be able to contribute as we thought, or won't be able to invest, or that there will be a change of direction and there'll be investment in other areas.

There appears to be a risk in terms of the partnership itself. Maintaining a partnership between six councils of different political backgrounds is quite a challenge, and having that partnership with the Westminster Government and the Welsh Government of different colours is a risk in itself. So, maintaining that partnership is a risk.

It's likely that one of the most interesting risks is that we need to see a change in culture. I've referred to this previously—a change in that culture of co-operation—and I strongly believe that any robust partnership is very reliant on that kind of trust in each other. We've been through that process as council leaders. I think that we are developing that process with both Governments. We have a new Government in Westminster now, and we have to re-establish that relationship, almost at a personal level, which is very important in having that robust relationship. But we are optimistic and confident in the way that we work, and we are very keen to see success.

And can I just ask: have you, or have you not had to realign your aims of what you want to achieve as a result of having been allocated less funding than you wanted from the Welsh and UK Governments?

Do. Yn syml iawn, beth dŷn ni wedi gorfod ei wneud ydy tynnu nôl, lleihau'r prosiectau. Dŷn ni ddim yn gallu cyflawni'r cwbl ohonyn nhw, felly mae o'n fater eithaf syml, a dweud y gwir. Os nad oes gennych chi £100 yn eich llaw, wel, mae'n rhaid ichi gyflawni beth gallwch chi efo'r hyn sydd gennych chi. Ond dwi'n pwysleisio, yn y cyfamser, rydyn ni'n gyson yn chwilio am ffynonellau eraill o arian. Dŷn ni wedi bod yn llwyddiannus â chais—a wnei di fy atgoffa?

Yes. Very simply, what we've had to do is reduce the number of projects. We can't achieve everything, so it's a fairly simple matter, to tell the truth. If you don't have £100 in your hand, well, you have to achieve what you can with what you do have. But in the meantime, I do emphasise that we are always looking for other sources of funding. We have been successful with a bid—would you remind me?

11:20

LFFN.

LFFN.

LFFN—dŷn ni wedi bod yn llwyddiannus â'r cais hwnnw. Dwi ddim yn cofio faint oedd y swm hwnnw, ond roedd yn eithaf sylweddol, a dŷn ni'n gwneud cais am arian o'r gronfa ESF i helpu â gwaith gweinyddol. Ac mi fyddwn ni'n edrych, wrth gwrs, i unrhyw ffynonellau ariannol sydd yn deillio o un ai'r shared prosperity fund neu ffynonellau eraill hefyd.

LFFN—we have been successful with that bid. I don't remember how much it was, but it was quite significant, and we are making a bid for funding from the ESF to help with administrative work. And we will be looking to any funding streams, either from the shared prosperity fund or other sources too.

I was just trying to be clear, because in response to Oscar Asghar's first question on whether you've had to change your aims, or whether your aims have changed in the last 12 months, you said 'no', but then you said there is a change as a result of having a lesser allocation from both Governments. But it sounds like what you're saying, though, is that perhaps your aims can remain the same because you can lever in some funding from elsewhere. Have I got that right?

Yes, there's an element of prioritisation involved now, because as we know the things we can support with the funding we have, we can prioritise the key elements that sit well across the whole region and push those programmes forward.

So, some of your projects have had to drop off because of—no, that isn't the case.

They haven't dropped off. They will remain in the plan, but with less of a priority to deliver.

In the written evidence, there was a comment about the lack of alignment between Westminster and Welsh Government, but in the evidence you've given you've talked about the problems with the delayed development of the heads of terms, but there doesn't seem to be much more you've said about that problem between the relationships between the two Governments. So, I was wondering if you could elaborate on some of those issues.

O'r hyn dwi wedi'i weld, mae'r berthynas wleidyddol rhwng y ddwy Lywodraeth yn eithaf da, hyd y gwelaf i. Ond wrth gwrs, mae gennym ni ddwy Lywodraeth â rhaglenni gwahanol, gydag agenda gwahanol, onid oes? Weithiau, mae yna dyndra yn fanna, yn naturiol; buasech chi'n disgwyl hynny. Weithiau, dŷn ni'n cael ein tynnu un ffordd gan Lywodraeth Westminster, ac weithiau dŷn ni'n cael ein tynnu yn y ffordd arall. Does gen i ddim enghreifftiau penodol. Wel, yn achos Westminster, roedd yna gryn—

From what I have seen, the political relationship between the two Governments is relatively good, as far as I can see. But of course, we have two Governments with different programmes and different agendas. On occasion, there is some tension there, quite naturally; you would expect that. On occasion, we are pulled one way by the Westminster Government, and we might be pulled another way by the Welsh Government. I don't have any specific examples, but in the case of Westminster—

What about the Welsh Government's economic action plan and the ambitions within that, and how they might correspond with the UK Government's city deal/regional growth approach? They're quite different in what they're trying to achieve, aren't they? Different in their philosophical underpinnings, at least.

Mae yna wahaniaeth sylweddol, dwi'n cytuno. Dwi'n meddwl bod yna wahaniaeth mewn egwyddor, bron, onid oes? Mae yna wahaniaeth—. Mae yna bwysau o du Llywodraeth Westminster—bron y buasech chi'n dweud eu bod nhw'n awyddus iawn i'r sector breifat arwain ar y materion yma. Byddwn i ddim yn cytuno â hynny. Mae'n bosib y byddem ni'n fwy cytunedig ag agwedd Llywodraeth Cymru nag agwedd Westminster. Ond er hynny, dwi'n credu mai dyna ydy natur unrhyw fath ar drafodaeth rhwng tri pharti, os liciwch chi. Mae yna wahaniaethau yn mynd i fod. Mi ydyn ni yn y gogledd, gyda llaw, yn gofyn am faterion dŷn ni'n awyddus iawn i'w datganoli i'r gogledd—nifer o faterion—hwyrach nad ydy Llywodraeth Cymru yn awyddus i'w wneud. Felly, mae'r drafodaeth yna yn parhau, onid ydy? Dwi ddim yn credu y byddwn ni byth yn cytuno ar un cynllun.

There is a substantial difference, I would agree. I do think that there is an almost in-principle difference. There is pressure from the Westminster Government—almost, you would say, that they are eager for the private sector to lead on these issues. Now, I wouldn't agree with that approach. It's possible that we would be more inclined towards the attitude of the Welsh Government rather than the Westminster Government on that issue, but despite that, I think that that is the nature of any kind of discussion between three parties, if you like. There will be differences, and we in north Wales, by the way, are asking for a number of issues to be devolved to north Wales that the Welsh Government isn't eager to devolve to us. So, that discussion is ongoing, and I don't think that we will ever be entirely agreed on one single plan.

I take your point, but one of the things that has come through from the mid Wales discussion we had as well is the heavy reliance on private sector funding that seems, to an extent, to be taking the place, and being almost optimistically hopeful that that will fulfil the place, of public sector funding, which is less forthcoming. It's easy for any Government then to say, 'Well, private sector funding is going to solve the problem.'

11:25

Mae yna nifer o'n prosiectau ni, er enghraifft y prosiect tir ac adeiladau, lle mae hi'n angenrheidiol cael y buddsoddiad cyhoeddus er mwyn rhyddhau'r buddsoddiad preifat. Hynny yw, a dweud y gwir, mae gennym ni bum safle ar draws y gogledd sy'n cael eu tanddefnyddio oherwydd nad yw'r sector breifat yn gallu, neu'n gallu fforddio, neu'n dymuno, eu datblygu nhw. Mae ein buddsoddiad ni yn mynd i alluogi iddyn nhw wneud hynny, ac mae hwnnw'n rhan, wrth gwrs—. A dwi'n cytuno: dwi'n credu bod angen buddsoddiad cyhoeddus yna i danio'r sector breifat. Dyna ydy ein gweledigaeth ni, dwi'n credu: gadewch inni wneud y darnau anodd yma, os liciwch chi, ac fe ddaw'r sector breifat i wneud eu gwaith nhw.

There are a number of our projects, for example the land and property project, where it is necessary to have that public investment in order to release private investment. We have five sites across north Wales that are underused because the private sector is unable, or is unable to afford, or doesn't wish to develop those sites. Now, our investment will enable them to do that. And I agree: I do think that we do need that public investment in order to drive the private sector. That's our vision, I think: let us do these difficult pieces of work, and the private sector will come on board to cover their part.   

So, let's move on from that a bit and look at the Welsh Government's regional strategies, and the three regional frameworks that the Welsh Government are developing. Do you think that that is actually—? Does that bump up against the growth deals, or do you think that it complements them?

Ydych chi eisiau i mi—?

Do you want me to—?

Os wyt ti eisiau dweud rhywbeth, Alwen.

If you'd like to say a few words, Alwen.

The way that I think that we've started the discussion, certainly regionally in north Wales with Gwenllian and her team on this, is that we have a responsibility collectively and collaboratively to north Wales to create a framework that doesn't work against each other. I think that is the piece of work that I'm moving forward with now to create what are almost like the guiding principles of how we work together to ensure that we don't create something that does clash. And I think that the basic guiding principles of how we work together to ensure the best outcomes for the citizens of north Wales, which is what we're trying to achieve here, is achieved in a way that is seen as highly collaborative and highly complementary, rather than—

Is it your body that is making it collaborate and making it work, but it's not the Governments that are necessarily supporting that?

Wel, jest cam yn ôl, felly, fe sefydlwyd bwrdd uchelgais economaidd y gogledd yn tua 2011, ac fe sefydlwyd y bartneriaeth yma rhwng y cynghorau a'r sector addysg a'r sector breifat bryd hynny. Felly, mae'r gwaith yna o weithredu yn rhanbarthol yn gydweithredol eisoes wedi'i sefydlu yn y gogledd, cyn i'r Gweinidog—

If we just take a step back, the North Wales Economic Ambition Board was established in around 2011, and this partnership between the councils and the education and private sectors was established at that point. So, that work of working regionally and working collaboratively at a regional level was already established in north Wales— 

Ydy. Mae o ar yr un—. Mae'n digwydd bod yn union yr un rhanbarth ag y mae'r Gweinidog wedi'i benderfynu arno hefyd, felly. Mae'n dda gen i ddweud, felly, fod y Gweinidog yn cytuno efo beth rydym ni'n ei wneud o safbwynt yr economi yn y gogledd, felly.

Yes. It is, as it happens, exactly the same region as the region that the Minister has designated too. So, I'm pleased to say that the Minister agrees with what we're doing in terms of the economy in north Wales.

Okay. The last question, then, is: how do you think that you are going to be improving skills and the quality of jobs for those in greatest need through your activities?

Mae hwnnw'n gwestiwn creiddiol i ni. Mae dau beth y buaswn i'n licio cyfeirio atyn nhw, felly. Yn y trafodaethau dechreuol roeddem ni'n eu cael fel arweinwyr y gogledd, felly, mi oedd yna densiwn rhwng bwrlwm economaidd yn y dwyrain a'r diffyg bwrlwm economaidd yn y gorllewin—neu fath o economi gwahanol iawn iawn, yn seiliedig ar fusnesau bach iawn iawn. Ond, wrth gwrs, yn y dwyrain, er gwaethaf y bwrlwm economaidd yna, mae yna bocedi o ddifreintedd sylweddol, onid oes, ac rydym ni'n ymwybodol o hynny, felly. Mae'n hamcanion ni, mae'n debyg drwy wella cyfleon—. Mae'r elfen bartneriaeth sgiliau yn bwysig iawn iawn yn fan hyn, wrth gwrs, sef ein bod ni'n datblygu sgiliau ein gweithlu i lenwi'r swyddi fydd yn deillio o'r cynllun yma.

Rhan arall ohono fo, yn ddiddorol iawn—yn sicr i mi—oedd clywed bod trafnidiaeth yn bwysig iawn yn y dwyrain i alluogi'r bobl yna sydd yn byw yn yr ardaloedd difreintiedig yna i allu cyrraedd y mannau gwaith, a doeddwn i ddim yn sylweddoli ar y pryd bod honno'n broblem yna. Mae'n broblem inni yng nghefn gwlad, wrth gwrs; mae trafnidiaeth yn allweddol i ni. Mae'n wahanol fath o broblem, felly. Mae'n cynllun trafnidiaeth ni felly yn helpu hygyrchedd y safleoedd gwaith.  

That is a centrally important question for us. There are two things that I would like to refer to. In the initial negotiations that we had as leaders in north Wales, there was a tension between the economic activity in the east and the lack or comparative lack of activity in the west. So, it was a very different kind of economy, based on very small companies. But, in the east, of course, despite all of that economic activity, there are pockets of deprivation, and we are very aware of that. So, our objectives, through improving opportunities—. The skills partnership element is hugely important here—that we do develop the skills of our workforce to fill the posts that will emerge from this project.

Another aspect of this, quite interestingly—certainly for me—was to hear that transport was important in the east in order to enable those people living in those deprived areas to access places of work, and I didn't realise at that time that that was a problem. It's a problem for us in rural areas, of course; transport is crucially important, but it's a different kind of problem there. Our transport plan does help in terms of the accessibility of workplaces. 

11:30

Jest cwpwl o gwestiynau gen i ynglŷn ag edrych ar, pan ydych chi wedi sefydlu'r prosiectau yma, sut ydych chi'n siarad efo Llywodraeth Cymru a Llywodraeth San Steffan ynglŷn â gwerthuso yr hyn sydd yn digwydd, a'r hyn dŷch chi'n penderfynu arno o ran monitro. Sut ydych chi wedyn yn gallu sicrhau bod pobl sydd yn cael eu hethol yn y gogledd yn gallu eich dwyn chi i gyfrif am yr hyn sydd yn digwydd fel rhan o hynny? 

Just a few questions from me about looking at, when you have established these projects, how you're talking with Welsh Government and Westminster Government about evaluating what's happening, and what you're deciding in terms of monitoring. How do you then ensure that people who are elected in north Wales can hold you to account about what's happening as part of that?   

Mae yna ddau gwestiwn yn fanna, dwi'n meddwl. Mae dal i gyfrif yn bwysig inni. Fel arweinwyr, gallaf eich sicrhau chi ei bod hi'n drafodaeth eithaf cyson. Rydym ni'n ymwybodol iawn o orfod rhannu gwybodaeth a chael cefnogaeth i'n aelodau cyffredin yn ein siroedd ni. Dwi'n gwybod bod pob un sir yn adrodd nôl nid yn unig i'w pwyllgorau craffu nhw, ond maen nhw yn adrodd yn ôl i'r aelodaeth gyfan hefyd, felly. Mae honno yn elfen bwysig, a dwi'n meddwl bod honno yn elfen bwysig ym mhob maes; mae angen sicrhau yr atebolrwydd yna i'r etholwyr. Wrth gwrs, dyna yw un o risgiau, os liciwch chi, rhanbartholi, wrth gwrs, onid yw, sef eich bod chi yn pellhau oddi wrth eich etholwyr ac yn colli cysylltiad, mewn difrif. Dwi'n meddwl bod hwnnw'n berygl go iawn a dwi'n meddwl, fel gwleidyddion yn y gogledd, rydym ni'n ymwybodol iawn, iawn o hynny, felly.  

Mae'r cwestiwn arall dipyn bach yn fwy technegol ei natur. Dydyn ni ddim wedi cyrraedd y pwynt yna eto, a hwyrach gwnaf i ofyn i Alwen jest i egluro beth ydy ei syniadau hi ynglŷn â sut ydym ni yn mesur llwyddiant y prosiectau, a dweud y gwir, ac mae honno'n elfen ofnadwy o bwysig, wrth gwrs. 

There are two questions there, I think. The accountability issue is important to us. As leaders, I can assure you that this is an ongoing discussion. We are highly aware of the need to share information and to garner the support of our members in our own counties. I know that every council reports back not just to their scrutiny committees, but they also report back to the membership in general. That's an important element, and I think that's important in all areas; we do need to ensure that level of accountability to constituents. Of course, that is one of the risks of regionalisation, namely that you are distanced from your constituents and that you lose touch. I think that is a very real risk and I think, as politicians in north Wales, we are highly aware of it.

The other question is slightly more technical in nature. We haven't reached that point as of yet, and perhaps I'll ask Alwen just to explain her ideas on how we measure the success of projects, and that's a hugely important element.   

Ie, dwi'n meddwl bod yna ddarn o waith rŵan i mi ei wneud efo'r tîm rhaglen i greu rhyw fath o strwythur sy'n ein galluogi ni i ddeall beth ydy'r baseline, beth ydy'r data sydd gennym ni ar hyn o bryd am ogledd Cymru sy'n ein galluogi ni i bwyso a mesur mewn maes enfawr beth ydy'r mesurau, dros y blynyddoedd nesaf, sy'n mynd i'n galluogi ni i ddweud, 'Buasai hyn wedi digwydd beth bynnag', neu'r gwahaniaeth mae'r cynllun twf a'r bwrdd uchelgais wedi ei wneud i ehangu ar y twf economaidd. Dwi'n meddwl hefyd fod yna bwyso a mesur a gwerthuso gwaith y tîm oddi tano fi—y tîm project—a sut rydym ni yn atebol ac yn bwydo nôl drwodd i'r arweinwyr ar y gwaith rydym ni'n ei arwain, a pha wahaniaeth mae hwnnw yn ei wneud o ran dealltwriaeth o le mae'r arian cyhoeddus yn mynd i ogledd Cymru, a pha werth mae o'n ddod â fo i bobl gogledd Cymru. Felly, mae yna ran o'r cynllun gwaith fydd yn edrych ar y gwerthuso yna. 

Yes, I think there's a piece of work now for me to do with the programme team to create some kind of structure that will enable us to understand what is the baseline, what is the data that we currently have about north Wales that will enable us to evaluate in a huge area what are the measures that, over the next few years, will allow us to say, 'This would have happened anyway', or the difference that the growth deal and the ambition board has made in terms of expanding or increasing economic growth. I think also that there is evaluation in terms of evaluating the work of the team under me, the project team, and how we are accountable and how we feed back to the leaders on the work that we're leading on, and what difference does that make in terms of understanding where public funding is going in north Wales, and what value does it bring about for the people of north Wales. So, there's part of the work programme that will look at that evaluation.   

Pa mor hawdd fydd hynny i'w wneud o feddwl bod yna, yn sicr, yn mynd i fod—dwi ddim yn gwybod beth yw'r gair yn y Gymraeg—cydweithredu neu weithio gyda Llywodraeth Cymru ar rai o'u rhaglenni economaidd nhw? Er enghraifft, dŷn ni'n cael gwleidyddion i mewn drwy'r amser gyda'r gyllideb, ac maen nhw yn dweud, 'Dwi'n atebol am hwn ond dŷn ni wedi prif-ffrydio'r gweddill, felly fedraf i ddim dweud wrthoch chi faint o effaith mae hynny wedi'i gael ar y pwnc hwnnw yn benodol.' Felly, ydych chi wedi meistroli rhyw fath o fecanwaith lle byddech chi'n gallu dweud, 'Wel, ni sydd yn berchen ar y llwyddiant hwn, nid Llywodraeth Cymru, ac ni sydd wedyn yn gallu gwthio'r uchelgais honno yn fwyfwy'? 

How easy will that be to do, given that—I don't know what the Welsh word is—there is going to be collaboration with the Welsh Government on some of their economic programmes? For example, we have politicians coming in talking about the budget, and they say, 'I'm accountable for this but we've mainstreamed the rest, so I can't tell you what impact that has had on that particular area.' So, have you come up with some sort of mechanism where you could say, 'Well, we are taking ownership of this success, not the Welsh Government, and we can then push that ambition forward'?

Os oes gennych syniadau am fecanwaith o'r fath, mi fyddem ni yn falch iawn o'u cael. [Chwerthin.] Rydych chi'n berffaith iawn, wrth gwrs: mae hwn yn fater eithaf dyrys, felly. Mae'n rhaid inni adnabod lle rydym ni. Mae'n rhaid inni fesur hwnnw o ran lle rydym ni wedi ei gyrraedd ymhen pum mlynedd, dywedwn ni, ac wedyn adnabod oddi fewn i hynny beth sydd yn gyfrifol am y newid yna. Mae honno'n dasg byddwn ni'n gofyn i Alwen i fynd i ymroi—. Ond mae hynny'n bwysig, wrth gwrs, ac mi fydd—nôl at y cwestiwn atebolrwydd—ein hetholwyr ni yn gofyn am dystiolaeth o lwyddiant y cynllun yma, felly, ac, wrth gwrs, mae o'n bwysig. Mae hi'n ffordd newydd iawn, iawn o fuddsoddi mewn datblygiad economaidd ac mae'n debyg bod yna le i ofyn y cwestiwn, onid oes? Mae o eto i brofi ei lwyddiant, felly. Ond rydym ni, fel dwi'n ddweud—. Dwi'n credu rhan o'n hoptimistiaeth ni yn y gogledd ydy ein bod ni yn deall yr hyn sydd angen ei newid yn lleol, felly yn deall ac yn gallu deall yr atebion dŷn ni'n eu cynnig a dyna sydd wedi—. Mae'r holl gynlluniau yma sydd wedi cael eu datblygu—y prosiectau yma—wedi datblygu law yn llaw gyda'r sector breifat, law yn llaw gyda'r sector addysg, sydd, fel y gwelwch chi o'r prosiectau, yn rhan fawr o hwn. Felly, dŷn ni'n credu, os ydyn ni yn gallu llunio'r atebion yn lleol, mae yna well cyfle i gael llwyddiant nac ateb o rywle pell arall.   

If you do have ideas about such a mechanism, then we would be very interested in having that. [Laughter.] You're perfectly correct: this is quite a complex issue. We do need to identify where we are. We need to measure that as to where we will have arrived in five years, say, and then identify within that what's responsible for that change. That's a task we'll ask Alwen to undertake. But it's an important one, of course, and—to come back to the issue of accountability—our constituents will ask for evidence of the success of this scheme and, of course, it is important. It's a very, very new way of investing in economic development and we probably need to ask that question, don't we? It has yet to prove its success. But we, as I say—. I think part of our optimism in north Wales is that we understand what needs to change locally, and understand and can understand those solutions that we are offering and that's what—. All of these plans that have been developed—these projects—have developed hand in hand with the private sector and with the education sector, which, as you'll see from the projects, is a very important part of this. So, we believe that, if we can create these solutions locally, then there is a better chance of success than having a solution from somewhere else. 

11:35

Joyce Watson. 

And, finally from me, what can we expect to see from you in the next 12 months, in terms of your achievements, but also what you would consider significant milestones that you intend to meet in the short term—that's six to 12 months—so that you can get this final growth deal? 

Alwen i ddechrau. 

Alwen to start. 

Yes. So, I think the first challenge is around creating the five-case business models for the projects that we've got entering. So, we need to move into a position where we have a really clear and consistent approach outlining in our five-case business models what our projects are. And also I think there's something around moving from a project-based approach into a programmatic approach, because we exist as a programme office.

Certainly, one of my milestones in the next 12 months is to become, with the programme team, the centre of excellence for the economic ambition for north Wales, working closely and collaboratively with the partners within the public sector, but also with the private sector, and that we create the culture within the programme team that allows that to happen. It starts from even some of the very basic communication tools that we need to develop to tell the narrative for north Wales and how we share that. So, the creation of a really good holistic website, for example, which is informative, easy to use and gives the citizens of north Wales the information they need to form their judgment, their questions and, hopefully, their support for the growth deal and the broader economic ambitions for north Wales and what that means for them. 

Also, I think to focus on not being a function for transmitting and to focus on being a function or a team that allows two-way dialogue with the people that (a) want to invest in the region, and the people that work and live in the region. 

So, when do you think you're going to be in a position—? All that's very good, but when are you going to be in a position to reach the final agreement with the UK and the Welsh Government?  

Rydym ni yn anelu at arwyddo'r cytundeb terfynol cyn diwedd y flwyddyn hon. Felly, mi fydd y cynlluniau pum achos yma yn mynd i mewn gynted ag y medrwn ni rŵan, felly, fel ein bod ni'n cyrraedd pwynt lle rydym ni'n gallu arwyddo'r cytundeb terfynol erbyn diwedd y flwyddyn, fel ein bod ni'n gallu dechrau gwario arian ar bethau go iawn yn gynnar yn y flwyddyn ganlynol, felly 2021. Jest i ddweud felly, mae'n debyg o safbwynt gwleidyddol, hwyrach, y camau rydym ni yn gobeithio eu gweld, un cam dydyn ni ddim wedi cyfeirio ato fo, wrth gwrs—dydyn ni ddim wedi cyfeirio llawer at y bwrdd cyflawni busnes sydd gennym ni, sef y gynrychiolaeth yma o'r sector breifat sydd wedi'i sefydlu i'n herio ni ac i'n cefnogi ni ac i gynnig syniadau. A gallaf i eich sicrhau chi, fel cyfeiriais i ato gynnau—mae yna frwdfrydedd rownd y bwrdd yna, ac maen nhw'n rhan allweddol o'n gwaith ni. Rydym ni yn hysbysebu rŵan am gadeirydd i'r bwrdd hwnnw, ac mi fydd penodiad y cadeirydd hwnnw yn benodiad pwysig. Mi fydd o'n bencampwr i'n gwaith ni yn y gogledd, a dwi'n credu y bydd o'n rhyw fath o figurehead ar ein cyfer ni yn y gogledd.

Rydym ni, wrth gwrs, wedi bod yn canolbwyntio ein hymdrechion, fel bwrdd uchelgais, yn llwyr bron ar y cais twf yma dros y ddwy flynedd ddiwethaf, os nad y tair blynedd ddiwethaf a dweud y gwir, a dwi'n credu ein bod ni'n awyddus bellach i edrych y tu allan i'r cais twf ar gyfleon eraill. Felly, bydd hwnnw'n un peth fydd yn symud ymlaen.

A'r darn pwysig arall, wrth gwrs, un o'r camau mawr—dwi'n gobeithio y byddwn ni'n gweld yr integreiddio llwyddiannus yma rhwng ein tîm rhaglen ni yn y gogledd a thîm swyddogion Llywodraeth Cymru. Mae hynny'n rhywbeth eithaf cyffrous, yn tydi, i gael tîm o ddau gyfeiriad, os liciwch chi, yn cydweithio gyda'i gilydd yn yr un swyddfa gyda'r un dyheadau, a dwi'n meddwl bod hynny yn un o'r pethau mawr rydym ni'n gobeithio y byddwn ni wedi'i gyflawni cyn diwedd y flwyddyn nesaf. Y flwyddyn hon, sori.

We are aiming to sign the final agreement before the end of this year. So, the five-case studies will be submitted as soon as possible now so that we reach a point where we can sign that final agreement by the end of the year, so that we can start to spend money on tangible things early in the following year. That'll be 2021. Now, just from a political perspective in terms of the steps that we hope to see taken, one thing that we haven't referred to, of course—we haven't referred much to the business delivery board that we have, which is the representation of the private sector, which is established to challenge us and to support us and to propose ideas. And I can assure you, as I mentioned earlier, that there is great enthusiasm around that table, and they're a crucial part of our work. We are advertising now for a chair for that board, and the appointment of that chair will be an important one. It'll be a champion for our work in north Wales, and will be a figurehead for us in north Wales too.

We have been focusing our efforts, as an ambition board, almost entirely on this growth deal bid over the past two if not three years, and I think we are eager now to look outwith that growth deal bid at other opportunities. So that will be something that we will look at as we move forward.

Another important step that I hope we will see is that successful integration between our programme team in north Wales and the team of Welsh Government officials. And that's quite an exciting development, to have a team working together from two directions in the same office with the same aspirations, and I think that that is one of the major things that we will have delivered before the end of this year.

11:40

Can I just ask—as we come to conclude today's meeting—what are your asks of the Welsh and UK Governments in terms of realising your ambitions? You laugh, so I'm looking for a good answer here.

Simply, cash would be fine.

Mae Llywodraeth Cymru wedi rhoi addewid ar y bwrdd: os yw Llywodraeth Westminster yn cynyddu eu cyfraniad nhw, yna bydd Llywodraeth Cymru yn cyfateb â'r cyfraniad hwnnw.

Yn wleidyddol, ac fel rhywun sy'n weddol newydd yn y berthynas gyda gwleidyddion o'r ddwy Lywodraeth, mae wedi bod yn brofiad diddorol. Yr hyn y buaswn i'n gofyn amdano fo ydy: yn y trafodaethau rydym ni'n eu cael, allwn ni sefydlu rhyw fath o drefn i'r trafodaethau hynny? Mae o wedi bod yn—beth ydy'r gair? Wel, a defnyddio gair sy'n cael ei ddefnyddio'n gyffredin—mae wedi bod braidd yn random. Rydym ni'n cael trafodaethau gydag un Gweinidog, does yna ddim agenda a does yna ddim adroddiad ar gynnydd. Mi wnes i ofyn am hynny, a dweud y gwir, wrth un o'r Gweinidogion yn Westminster. Wrth gwrs, dydy o ddim wedi bod yn help ein bod ni wedi cael pum Gweinidog i ddelio efo nhw o Westminster. Wel, dyna fo—dyna oedd y sefyllfa yr oedd yn rhaid i ni weithio hefo fo. Ond doedd o ddim yn help. Roedd yna ambell un yn haws i ddelio efo fo na'r lleill, ac roedd rhywun yn teimlo weithiau ein bod ni wedi cyrraedd rhyw bwynt o lwyddiant, ac wedyn yn gorfod camu'n ôl a bod yna rhyw rwystr arall yn cael ei roi o'n blaenau ni. Buaswn i jest yn gofyn am berthynas drefnus, broffesiynol, os liciwch chi, rhwng y tair haen yma. Doeddwn i ddim yn gweld hynny yn y cyfnod a fu. Hwyrach y cawn ni well trefn yn y dyfodol.

The Welsh Government has put a pledge on the table that if the Westminster Government increases their contribution, then the Welsh Government will match that.

Politically, and as someone one who is quite new to the relationship with politicians of both Governments, it has been an interesting experience. What I would ask for is that: in the discussions that we have, can we establish some sort of system or arrangements for those discussions? It has been—what's the word? I'll use a commonly used word—it's been quite random. We have discussions with one Minister, there's no agenda and there's no report on progress. I did ask for that from one of the Ministers in Westminster. Of course, it hasn't been of great assistance that we've had five Ministers to deal with from Westminster. But there we go—that was the situation that we had to work with. But it wasn't ideal. Some were easier to deal with than others, and one occasionally felt that we had reached some particular marker of success and that we had to step back and another barrier was placed before us. I would just ask for a well-managed relationship and a professional relationship, if you like, between the three players involved. I didn't see that in the past. Perhaps, there will be better arrangements in place for the future.

Okay. That's helpful to know. I did say last question, but the very last question—it will have to be very quick and succinct—Oscar Asghar.

Thank you very much. Thank you, Chair. Thank you very much for giving those answers. Have you got any system in place for checks and balances? Because there are six local authorities involved in north Wales, say if a private investor comes in and wants to get a better deal in one authority, and another authority is offering another thing. So, is there a system where you can see the best possible deal for the best person? Is the openness, transparency and accountability there?

11:45

Dwi wedi cyfeirio at yr atebolrwwydd. Dwi'n credu bod atebolrwydd yn bwysig i ni. Dwi'n credu bod atebolrwydd yn egwyddor sylfaenol o'r drefn ddemocrataidd, a lle mae atebolrwydd yn wan, yna mae pethau'n mynd o'i le. Dwi ddim yn siŵr os ydych chi'n gofyn a ydym ni'n mynd i fesur llwyddiant ein prosiectau ni yn y gwahanol awdurdodau. Un o'n hamcanion ni, wrth gwrs, ydy i rannu twf economaidd ar draws y gogledd. Mae'n hawdd iawn cael twf—. Fe allwn ni gael twf lle mae yna fwrlwm economaidd; mae'n anoddach cael yr un un twf mewn lle lle nad oes y bwrlwm economaidd yna. Felly, mae yna fwy o waith i'w wneud i greu'r twf yna. 

Rydym ni wedi llwyddo yn rhyfeddol i greu prosiectau sydd yn cyffwrdd â phob un awdurdod ar draws y gogledd, o Fôn a Gwynedd i Wrecsam a Fflint, heb anghofio Conwy a Dinbych yn y canol. Rydym ni wedi osgoi bod yn blwyfol. Yn hollol fwriadol, rydym ni'n edrych ar y rhanbarth cyfan fel bwrdd, a dwi'n gobeithio y gwnawn ni beidio â mynd i fod yn edrych yn rhy galed ar lwyddiant un prosiect fan hyn neu fan draw. Mae o'n rhywbeth i'w ystyried ac, yn sicr, mi fydd fy etholwyr i yn Nolgellau yn gofyn 'Pa effaith ydy'r holl waith rydych chi wedi'i wneud ar y cynllun yma sydd i ranbarth y gogledd yn cael arna i?'

Jest i roi rhyw bwynt bach ychwanegol ar hynny, os caf i fod mor hyf, dwi yn credu y dylai ein bod ni'n cael croesi ffiniau a, beth bynnag sy'n digwydd yn y canolbarth—mae yna ran o Wynedd sydd yn rhan o'r canolbarth hefyd—y dylem ni fod yn edrych ar hynny. Ond mae'r pwynt rydych chi'n ei wneud yn un iawn, ac mae'n rhan, hwyrach, o'r gwaith y dylem ni ei wneud i fesur perfformiad a mesur effaith. 

I have referred to accountability. I think accountability is important to us. I think that accountability is a fundamental principle of a democratic system, and where accountability is weak then things start going wrong. I'm not sure if you're asking whether we are going to measure the success of our projects in the different authorities. One of our objectives, of course, is to share economic growth across north Wales. It's very easy to have—. We can have growth where there's already economic activity; it's more difficult to have that same kind of growth where economic activity doesn't exist. So, there's more work to be done to create that growth.

We have succeeded remarkably in creating projects that touch upon all the authorities in north Wales, from Anglesey and Gwynedd to Wrexham and Flint, and Conwy and Denbighshire, of course, in the middle. We have avoided being parochial and very intentionally so, we are looking at the whole region as a board, and I hope that we won't be looking too hard at the success of one project or another project. It is something to consider and, certainly, my constituents in Dolgellau will ask 'What impact has all of the work that you've done on this scheme for the north Wales region on me?'

To give an extra point on that, if I may, I think that we should be working across boundaries, and whatever happens in mid Wales—part of Gwynedd is part of mid Wales, of course—we should be looking at that. And the point that you make is correct, and it is part of the work that we do in terms of measuring performance and measuring impact. 

Okay. Thank you for the last question. And can I thank both of you for your time and your written paper in advance? Diolch yn fawr. Thank you very much. We will send you a copy of the transcript of the proceedings today, and if you think of anything else you think we should be aware of or you want to correct any information in your evidence, then please also let us know. But thank you for your time with committee today. Diolch yn fawr. 

Diolch yn fawr i chi i gyd am eich gwrandawiad. 

Thank you all very much. 

And that brings our public part of the meeting to an end today. 

Daeth y cyfarfod i ben am 11:48.

The meeting ended at 11:48.

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