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Agenda item

City Leap


The Director for Property, Assets and Infrastructure delivered a presentation on City Leap, available in the papers. Key points included:

·       A background and context to the City Leap Energy Partnership

·       An outline of the Client Function process, roles and governance

·       An outline of the Project Acceptance Process

·       An overview of current projects

·       A planned timeline demonstrated the expectation of finalising the Business Plan in December 23 – January 24 followed by a Scrutiny Briefing in 2024 and business plan approval by the council in accordance with the Concession Agreement by mid-February 2024.

The Cabinet Member for Housing Services and Energy also commented that he was pleased with progress made while noting some issues encountered with grant funding.


The distinction between public and private investment in projects was discussed. It was noted that the Heat network was a private investment. Multiple Members expressed an interest in seeing the breakdown of types of investment in various projects. A Member suggested that an interactive map of City Leap projects across the city to clearly show how these had been delivered would be useful. This was noted.


A Member enquired about the return on investment for Ameresco. This will vary, project by project.  Each project will be reviewed and tested through the Project Acceptance Criteria.  Bristol City Council would benefit from social value achieved per project as well as the resultant decarbonisation.


A Member recommended that where interventions and programme delivered were public that they be branded as City Leap.


The governance around the Joint Venture company and Non-Executive Directors was clarified. The Client team had been put in place alongside the Non-Executive Director to deliver any support necessary. A Member queried how interaction between Members and the Non-Executive Director was expected to take place, and how views from Members could be taken on board as part of the governance structure.


This was noted to be discussed with the Chief Executive and Monitoring Officer as part of the planned transition to the Committee Model system.


Further detail was requested over the skills needed and achieving a skilled workforce for the delivery of projects, particularly whether this would include construction employment. Part of the Social Value commitment of Bristol City Leap is a commitment to create 1000 jobs, 410 of which would be in Bristol.  It was confirmed this would include construction. It was recognised that ensuring a consistent labour and supply chain would be a challenge and it had been agreed that part of the Joint Venture’s role was to develop this. A relationship with the City of Bristol College had been fostered as part of this.


The arrangements around the scrutiny of the Business Plan were discussed. It was confirmed that the City Leap Business Plan was expected at an OSMB meeting in February 2024 for public Scrutiny. The implications around this were discussed; it was raised that a Business Plan of this significance could be considered a ‘Key Decision’. It was agreed that further detail around the progress and consideration of the Business Plan would be provided.


There was a discussion regarding the Project Acceptance Process. As with Key Decisions any project over £500k required Cabinet approval. A Member raised concern over this and felt greater oversight was required. It was noted that the decarbonisation fund was in the Capital Programme. It was agreed that that further discussions on this point could be held outside of OSMB.


A Member queried that as residents would effectively be ‘locked in’ to purchasing through the Heat Network, what guarantees around charges would be put in place to ensure fair pricing. The Cabinet Member confirmed that a Heat Trust Standard on transparent pricing had been agreed and signed, essentially allowing Bristol City Council to act as the local regulator.


A Member queried what timescale was expected to see an improvement in some of the poorer quality council owned housing stock with low EPC ratings. There was a commitment to improve EPC ratings by 2030, and a social housing decarbonisation paper was expected to be presented to Cabinet in February 2024 which would outline some key projects and investments in this area.


RESOLVED; That 1) The Executive Director for Growth and Regeneration would raise how Members could interact with City Leap governance with the Chief Executive and Monitoring Officer; and that 2) further detail around the progress and consideration of the Business Plan would be provided to Members; and that 3) the report be noted.


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