Agenda and draft minutes

Select Committee - Kent's European Relations - Wednesday, 8th January, 2014 9.00 am

Venue: Darent Room, Sessions House, County Hall, Maidstone. View directions

Contact: Denise Fitch  01622 694269

No. Item


9.00am - Carolyn McKenzie - Sustainability and Climate Change Manager (KCC) pdf icon PDF 17 KB


(1)       The Chairman welcomed Carolyn McKenzie to the meeting and invited her to briefly explain her role and answer questions from Members.


(2)       Carolyn explained her role as Sustainability and Climate change manager at KCC and her role in developing European projects since 1998.  She gave an overview of the role under the headings of:;- Whistle stop tour: SWOT Recommendations: and pragmatism, learnt from experience.


(3)       In summary she stated that there were 7 live EU projects worth over £2.3m+ cash, three with a focus on business, three with a focus on resource and one with a focus on commercial resilience and severe weather events, Carolyn stated that she was the lead on 3 or 4 and partners on others, She emphasised that it was important to choose projects carefully.


(4)       Carolyn stated that projects must hit core priorities, as money was needed in order to deliver the County Council’s priorities.  Approx. 60% of her budget in 2013 was European funding-2013 (including energy management) this was approx. £1.2m.  She confirmed that all projects directly delivered to the priorities in Bold Steps and Kent Environment Strategy.  European Funding provided support to Districts where there is no resource at all.


(5)       Carolyn explained the allocation/split of funding and with regard to energy efficiency the need to support District colleagues. She had no involvement with any natural environment projects, but assisted with information if requested.  Funding going forward was much stronger than it had ever been, all work would not be possible without European funding.


(6)       In the previous 3 years 1000+ businesses had been assisted, KCC had worked intensively with 500+ identifying some £4m potential savings in those businesses.


(7)       Carolyn stated that the key driver was the significant amounts of money v no money. Core priorities were similar to Bold Steps. With European funding you needed to be ”in it to win it”.


(8)       Carolyn explained that funding was flexible, could be used to assist areas of market failure and move on, or test and trial approach. Access to best practice was key- partnership working in UK and Europe, joint collaboration and problem solving in order to obtain a certain level of consistency.  She stated that 3-7 years funding coming on stream.


(9)       Carolyn identified the following challenges in attracting funding:


(i)         The challenge was in securing all/any types of funding i.e. Government or European. Bids were very competitive, and subject to strict rules and regulations. Bids needed to be slick.  There was no funding for development time and the majority of programmes made no provision for overheads. Finance/admin/audit were usually included and the majority covered the real costs except for overheads. E.g. International Energy Europe allows 60% staff time i.e. £100 staff time=£60 claim.


(ii)        Carolyn explained that there could be an issue with small partnerships irregular payments, but this was not applicable to KCC. Funds could only be attracted with proven cross border working and wider partnership benefits.


(10)     In relationship to the funding opportunities  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.


10.00am - Huw Jarvis, Kent Downs and Marshes Leader Programme Manager and Keith Harrison, Chief Executive, ACRK pdf icon PDF 28 KB

Additional documents:


Huw Jarvis


(1)       The Chairman welcomed Huw Jarvis and Nick Harrison to the meeting and invited them to give their presentations and answer questions from Member.


(NB Please to be read in conjunction with the presentation slides)


(2)       Huw gave a brief overview of the Leader approach delivered under the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE). The original 2007-2014 set up had been extended to 2020 and work commenced on a new 7 year programme. It was not known how much new money was available. The Local Action Groups (LAG’s) vetted interested bodies, and matched them to particular themes of the LAG’s development priorities. The KD&M LAG was made up of representatives from across the KD&M Leader area and final decisions were made by the LAG Executive (4 public sector and 5 private sector organisations representing the interests of the whole rural community) followed by Defra approval (formally SEEDA). KCC was the Accountable Body.


(3)       Huw showed a map giving details of the Leader areas in England, the North having a higher concentration, with devolved power to Scotland and the Welsh Assembly. There were some gaps, but Leaders are Rural grants, not Urban. East Kent had had an unsuccessful bid in 2007 and there was therefore no Leader activity in the area. 


(4)       Huw explained that there were three LAG Objectives;-


            a)Rural Economy-develop a pioneering and sustainable rural economy

            b)Rural Communities-foster vibrant rural communities

            c)Rural Environment-value


£1.8m total spend on projects had been reduced to £1.3m and the 6 Kent wide partners in West Kent had used its allocation on 54 projects.


(5)       Huw advised that there was a £50k limit, but an average spend was £24k per allocation. There was freedom for exceptional projects to expand. Match funding of between 40 -100% would be considered. 100% being very rare.  The Vision was to help secure a sustainable future for the rural communities and businesses of KD&M area by promoting entrepreneurialism and diversification.


(6)       Huw explained that each Leader funded application needed to fit into the priority areas adding value to local products; fostering sustainable rural tourism and assist rural communities and business manage change.  If the proposal meet the ingredients for a good Leader project it is fitted into one of the measures determining a particular theme covering the LAG’s priorities by applying the test :-is it innovative? value for money? sustainable when fund finished? All key to success.



(7)       Huw explained that Leader worked hand in glove to provide advice and steer through the heavy bureaucracy involved in projects. It created intelligence networks and signposted towards other sources of funding.


How Leader works.


(8)       Huw stated that Leader funded grants of up to maximum of £50k. All require a degree of match funding. The Leader programme could only refund expenditure. A claim could be reimbursed in one month or less, but it was essential to have Planning permission in place (LAG had a Planning expert on their staff) and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.


11.00am - Paul Wookey – Locate in Kent pdf icon PDF 18 KB


(1)       The Chairman welcomed Mr Wookey to the meeting and invited him to outline the role of Locate in Kent (LiK) and to answer questions from Members.


(2)       LiK had existed since 1996 to attract investment from overseas into Kent. Kent is promoted on the basis of its proximity to both London and the continent, and its cost effectiveness. There are major brands in the County and a diverse sector base. LiK was currently involved in the 2 Seas Trade programme which was an EU funded project which aimed to help business trade in a nearby European region.  There were major advantages to Kent from overseas companies and major brands investing in Kent were then useful for attracting other companies in.  Kent County was in a good position with good language skills. 


(3)       LiK focussed on the global market place, not only Europe, and currently had agents, funded by KCC’s regeneration fund, in France, Germany and the US. 


(4)       E–alerts were frequently sent out to UKTI offices containing any news relevant to Kent, managing relationships with overseas companies was a vitally important factor.  Companies from overseas make higher levels of capital investment, and higher employers.  They also tend to re-invest on a regular basis, creating good high value jobs.


(5)       The main investment drivers for business locating in Kent were access to clients and access to markets; cost was not such a significant factor. 


(6)       Influence and culture were important factors; the high speed rail gave Kent leverage when London was generally attractive to overseas companies.


(7)       Between 1997 and 2004 an Interreg programme ran with Northern France attracting £250,000, however the Japanese economy suffered a downturn at around that time which caused difficulties with the programme.  Kent was often competing with Northern France. 


(8)       LiK had just been part of a collaborative piece of work with Holland and Belgium where willingness was shown to access European markets; this was a joint venture with cross benefits.


(9)       For LiK to work without the support of KCC would be extremely difficult. 


(10)     Mr Wookey confirmed that inward investment into Kent has the benefit of  being linked with the European market.  The prospect of a referendum was an issue for overseas investors. English was an international language which gave Kent an advantage and there was a feeling of trust and loyalty in the UK as a trade location.  The costs of locating in Northern Europe were higher.  The UK had reduced Corporation Tax, made Tax Credits available and the UK was attractive to invest in. This position was unlikely to change whether the UK was in the European Union or not.  Assuming access to European funding continued that should be used to build on prospects.  European funding was not a driver for companies to come to Kent. 


(11)     It was considered that access and culture were intangible elements which were unrelated to funding. 


(12)     One Member asked what would attract companies, such as manufacturing, into Kent rather  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.


12.00 noon - Rob Lewtas - UK Trade and Investments (UKTI) pdf icon PDF 44 KB

Additional documents:





(1)       The Chairman welcomed Rob Lewtas to the meeting and invited him to give a presentation and answer questions from Members of the Committee.


(2)       Rob gave a PowerPoint presentation which gave data on exports from Kent and explained the role and work of UKTI in supporting businesses. He explained that companies which UKTI worked with generally improved their production by a third in the first year alone.  Companies that export were 11% more likely to stay in business than those that did not, and companies that exported showed an average £100k increase in income in the first 18 months. 


(3)       Rob explained that the two key roles of UKTI were investment and providing impartial advice and support.   In relation to investment UKTI had 2,500 staff, most of which were located overseas in embassy and consulates.  In the UK they had 400 advisors; UKTI advisors were located in Rye and Tunbridge Wells.  Regarding impartial advice and strategic support, UKTI looked to identify and support business opportunities, it was a pick and mix option.  UKTI worked with a network of partners including LEP (Local Enterprise Partnerships) and Chambers of Commerce. 


(4)       Rob stated that the export figures for Kent covered a whole range of companies, currently 8% of Kent Companies exported compared to the national average of 10%.  If the 2% gap was closed, he estimated that this would involve 1,000 companies and would generate £114m to the Kent economy, which was a considerable contribution to the GDP of Kent. 


(5)       Rob pointed out that in relation to trading partners, Kent’s trade with France, the Netherlands and Luxemburg was larger that its exports to the USA.  European expert markets were showing a decline and emphasis was being placed on emerging markets to pick up the deficit.


(6)       In relation to UKTI’s work in Kent now and in the past, Rob explained that three or four years ago there was a perception that UKTIs main area of work was in the west Thames Valley and in the M3 corridor where the demand for services came from.   In the last two and a half years the demand had swung further east. Rob referred to two events that they held over the past 18 months in Thanet and Tunbridge Wells.  In November 2013 they had held a large event in Maidstone.  UKTI had deployed more personnel in Kent to service the growing demand. 


(7)       Rob referred to the close working relationship between UKTI and the County Council international affairs team particularly in three key areas, 1) market building, 2) incubation and 3) growth. 


(8)       Rob explained that the end of January was key to the LEP as they would need to submit their detailed proposals to the Government.  The channel for the funding was yet to be determined but the funding envelope could be £200k a year.   In relation to the role of the LEP’s, the southeast LEP was looking to devolve a lot of activity.  The LEP was in good hands in Kent  ...  view the full minutes text for item 12.