Agenda and draft minutes

Economic and Skills Development Partnership - Tuesday, 7 November 2017 8.30 am

Venue: Maxis I; 43 Western Rd, Bracknell RG12 1RF

Contact: Lizzie Rich  01344 352253

No. Item


Introduction of guest attendees


Ingrid Dunbar, Marketing Manager for Maxis welcomed ESDP members to the venue. Maxis currently consisted of two buildings of let office space, with a total of 398,000 sq ft office space. 95% of the space had been let to companies including  Mitie, Cadence, HiFX, Siren, and Morgan-Lovell, with more offers in discussion.


The ESDP also welcomed James Taylor, Bracknell and Wokingham College, who had taken on the Vice-Chairmanship of the ESDP, also being a valuable member of the Employment and Skills Subgroup.


Introduction of the Mayor of Bracknell Forest Borough Council


The ESDP welcomed The Mayor of the Borough of Bracknell Forest, Councillor Mrs Tina McKenzie-Boyle and her Consort, Bruce McKenzie-Boyle to the meeting.


The Chairman explained the purpose of the Partnership, which had been meeting for about 7 years to improve and address issues for the business community in Bracknell Forest, while adapting to local and national community challenges. The main priority for the Partnership was currently the Business Improvement District for the Southern and Western Industrial areas of Bracknell which would be the first of its kind in the borough.


The Mayor explained that she was currently planning a Business Forum for February 2018 to coincide with National Apprenticeship Week. The Forum would be hosted by Redwood Technologies and sponsored by Waitrose. The MP for Bracknell. Philip Lee, and the Minister of State for Apprenticeships and Skills would be attending alongside the businesses of Bracknell Forest. Invitations were due to be sent out in the coming weeks.


The Mayor also invited ESDP members to her Tapas and Flamenco event at Fuego on 21 November 2017, in aid of her Mayoral Charity The Fire Fighters Charity.


Action Points from Last Meeting pdf icon PDF 258 KB


The minutes of the last meeting held on 5 September 2017 were approved as a correct record.


Arising from the minutes, the following updates were noted:

  • Bob Collis had attended a meeting of the Bracknell Chamber of Commerce Council to explain the role of the ESDP, which Council members had found useful.
  • A date for a meeting between Bob Collis and the CBI was still awaited, however it was recognised that the CBI covered a significant area and had been very busy.
  • The next edition of Bob’s Blog was due to be distributed in November, and the Mayor volunteered to promote this through the Mayoral social media accounts.
  • Nancy Lalor had contacted Paul Thomas of News Quest regarding support of the ESDP photo competition, and would follow this up. (Action: Nancy Lalor)
  • Andrew Hunter advised that the Local Authority’s Local Plan would be open for consultation in January/February 2018, and ESDP members would be invited to input. (Action: Andrew Hunter)
  • The booklet ‘Welcoming Your Business to Bracknell Forest’ had been circulated to the ESDP’s membership. The booklet had been distributed through Facilities Managers and sent to newly registered businesses. Any ESDP member who would like some hard copies of the booklet to distribute was asked to contact Anneken. (Action: All)
  • The careers event and STEM conference run by Learning to Work had both been successful, and had both promoted apprenticeships.
  • The Lexicon was continuing to be a success, with consistently high footfall since the opening. A jobs fair was being held by Learning to Work on the weekend of 10November 2017 in the old Cargo Unit to support recruitment. New units due to open soon included Jack Wills, TGI Fridays and Hotel Chocolat. The surrounding roads and junctions had coped well with the increase in traffic to the town centre. It was noted that there were three further development sites identified within the town centre.


2 year plan update pdf icon PDF 157 KB


Bob Collis updated the Partnership on progress against the 2 Year Action Plan.


The following updates were particularly highlighted:

  • All workstreams were broadly on target.
  • Bob Collis had agreed to contact Wellington College to ask for a representative for the partnership.
  • Harry Pickering from Schroders had agreed to join the ESDP, and would be attending the next meeting.
  • The BID Steering Group would be approached to seek a representative for the ESDP.
  • The engagement with other groups and organisations was improving.
  • The proposed Christmas event for ESDP members had been cancelled, as there had not been enough confirmed attendees to make this viable.
  • In place of the Christmas event, a follow up to the ESDP summit was proposed for March 2018 to assess progress. (Action: Bob Collis/Anneken Priesack)


The Infrastructure subgroup had proposed holding an ESDP photography competition to gather a stock of images for businesses and the Local Authority to use to promote Bracknell Forest. It was reiterated that it was important not to clash with the Local Authority’s Parks and Countryside photo competition. The ESDP agreed that the subthemes of the competition should be Work, Live and Learn, with age categories of under 10, under 16 and over 16. Publicity, prizes and timescales were yet to be agreed.


With respect to the photo competition, the following points were noted:

  • Schools and colleges should be involved, and it was suggested that winning photos could be displayed at South Hill Park or in the Lexicon.
  • Bracknell Forest Council would be the custodians of the collection, and the terms and conditions for use were to be developed.
  • Sponsorship and prizes should be modest, but the Partnership agreed to approach businesses in Bracknell for support.
  • It was suggested that a link into the local Facebook groups such as We Love Bracknell may encourage entrants.
  • ‘Bracknell Reborn’ was suggested as an overall title.


Sub-group updates pdf icon PDF 327 KB

Additional documents:


Infrastructure Sub-group

Key highlights made from the workstream update included:

  • The photo competition had been proposed and a discussion note on its possible format produced.
  • The sub-group had explored Full Fibre broadband, and what the implications could be for Bracknell Forest.
  • Affordable housing and housing suitable for graduates was discussed; the business demand and supply of such housing for ‘affordable housing’ was proving to be difficult to understand, especially with differing definitions of affordable housing in planning terms.
  • An application by Bracknell Forest Council to the National Productivity and Investment Fund for partial funding improvements to the A322 Downshire Way had been the only successful bid in Berkshire. The application had received a written endorsement from the ESDP. £3.1m in funding has been provided.


Employment and Skills Sub-group

Nancy Lalor advised that the group had discussed support for entry level apprenticeships, apprenticeships available for young people with SEND and management training for smaller businesses.


The majority of apprenticeships were advertised on the government website, although this was not yet a formal requirement.


The subgroup had agreed to reconvene with findings about apprenticeship needs in the borough, before approaching FSB, the Chamber of Commerce and Bracknell and Wokingham College to discuss next steps.


It was discussed whether levy paying organisations would be able to dedicate 10% of their levy funding to support the SMEs in their supply chain, although the government had not yet agreed this. The ESDP noted that if all levy paying organisations used their full levy, there would be no funding available for apprenticeships at SMEs.


BID update


Bob Collis gave an update on the Business Improvement District (BID).


The BID steering group had been established for 9 months, and included members such as Caterpillar, Fujitsu, 3M, Waitrose, Maxis, McKay Securities and Page Hardy Harris. Fujitsu had been hosting and chairing the meetings. All businesses in the Southern and Western Industrial Areas would be given a vote in the ballot, and if successful, all businesses in the BID would be required to contribute to BID  area improvement schemes through a levy collected on behalf of the BID company by the Council.


Bob commented that the process had been delayed as James Sackley, who had been integral in establishing the BID, had left the Council. It had been proposed that an external company could be commissioned to take over the management of the BID.


Arising from discussion, the following points were noted:

  • Andrew Hunter and Anneken Priesack had met with Vodafone and would establish a contact for the BID going forward. (Action: Anneken/Andrew)
  • The ballot required a 51% agreement rate for the BID to proceed, however the Council had the right to veto the vote if it was not felt to have sufficient representation.
  • Funding would be collected through the Council’s business rates and attributed to the BID company.
  • There was significant work to be done to promote the benefits of the BID to businesses.


LEP update


The LEP update was deferred to the next meeting.


Any Other Business


Councillor Mrs McKenzie-Boyle requested to be invited to the January meeting of the ESDP.


The Chair thanked the Mayor and her Consort for her attendance and support.


Dates of Future Meetings


16 January 2018, 8:30am, venue TBC