Agenda item


Report from Councillor Charlotte Morris, Cabinet Member for Culture and Economy attached.


Councillor Morris, Cabinet Member for Culture and Economy provided an overview of Bury Council’s Culture Strategy and Bury’s time as Greater Manchester Town of Culture.


In December 2019 Bury was named the inaugural Greater Manchester Town of Culture, an initiative to promote the 'distinctive culture' of towns across the region. As an outcome of the Town of Culture celebrations and recognised potential economic opportunity, a Culture Strategy was commissioned from a partner called Curated Place. This work was also tasked with exploring the opportunity to put cultural investment centre stage of the delivery of “Levelling Up” schemes in Bury and Radcliffe.


Councillor Morris then opened to questions from the Committee.


Councillor Birchmore asked the following questions; If you were writing this as a business plan what aims, and objectives would you have listed for this project? What outcomes do you think you have achieved? What do you think the legacy of this project will be for Bury and the other towns which make up Bury MBC? 


In response Councillor Morris advised the proposed aim of the strategy is to be the best borough to be an independent creative in Greater Manchester. The objectives are to contribute to economic growth; to harness and celebrate community pride and identity and to enable delivery of the Levelling Up ambitions through a high-quality events programme in the new Radcliffe and Bury events spaces specifically. The intention is to establish the Borough as a cultural destination to increase visitor footfall and spend and to attract and retain new businesses to the borough, from the creative sector. The outcomes will be financial resilience through self-sufficiency of creative industries; increased business rates from the hospitality industry and the vibrancy of our town centres which will benefit from increased footfall and visitor numbers.  Detailed evaluation measures will be determined when the strategy is finalised but are likely to include hotel stays; visitor numbers at principal attractions including Radcliffe hub and Bury Flexi Hall; numbers of resident artists and creative-based industries and increased regional and national media coverage. 


In response to a question from Councillor Bernstein about Gigg Lane Councillor Morris advised that as per the report to Cabinet last week there is now a clear opportunity to bring professional football back to the town at Gigg Lane whilst maximising a key community asset, which would see the council provide £450k to release further funding from the Community Ownership Fund.  Throughout our time as Town of Culture and when considering a future Cultural Strategy, we have always intentionally applied the broadest definition of culture, which includes sporting activity, hence for instance the Radcliffe People and Communities Plan having a joint theme on Culture and Sport. The proposals provide the opportunity to bring a range of benefits to the communities surrounding Gigg Lane, providing spaces for creative (priority 3 in the Curate Place proposal) and in particular celebrate the mutually beneficial relationship between creativity and wellbeing, both in the creation and consumption of cultural activity. 


During discussion of this item Councillor Peel referenced the Culture Strategy should focus on how to balance the day and night-time economy so that we do not have lots of bars and good nightlife and nothing to visit in the day.


Councillor Walsh sought clarification on assets and historic buildings within the Borough including Radcliffe Manor. In response Councillor Morris advised the military history was a large part of the culture and heritage of Bury. Councillor Morris asked for an invite to see Radcliffe Manor and hear about the history.


Councillor Vernon sought assurances of the details of the?Purple Flag Accreditation. In response Councillor Morris advised the accreditation follows a two-year renewal process with a full renewal every two-years and an interim renewal in-between.The submission date for the full renewal is the 7th October 2022 and the work for this is led and co-ordinated by the Economic Development and Projects service within Business Growth and Infrastructure Department. Licensing Officers within the Public Protection Service have limited involvement but do supply information to support the renewal application relating to the night-time economy in Bury. Information would include current schemes including Best Bar Non scheme (GMP Led), PubWatch, Bury Driver Safety Initiative, Licensed Premises Women’s Safety Charter, Taxi/Private Hire Trade Liaison Meetings and Compliance visits to Licensed Premises which are undertaken in collaboration with GMP.


In response to concerns about areas who are not as touched by the Culture/ major regeneration projects Councillor Morris advised that it is about connecting people to place and communities more than physical buildings.


During discussions of this item Councillor Bernstein sought assurances on how Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) will support the cultural economy in Bury. In response Councillor Morris advised the Council is in constant dialogue with colleagues across TfGM. We benefit from good transport links notably the Metrolink, where of course at the interchange have public art through a text-based neon. In addition, we ensure linkages with our Live Well service to maximise the opportunities for active travel options.


Councillor Vernon sought clarification on the Business Improvement District (BIDs), the appointment of a consultant and retail business owners. In response Councillor Morris advised the procured consultant is The Mosaic Partnership who have a wealth of experience in setting up BIDs. There is currently a Board made up of a number of Bury businesses who meet monthly to progress the work plan and next steps. The board will manage the process until the BID Director/Manager is appointed.


In response to a question from Councillor Jones regarding the cultural skills development programme Councillor Morris advised; this would be resourced from within a reconfigured team. Pending the establishment of additional specialist resources the council will also work with other cultural partners to harness their expertise, by repurposing the board that was established to lead Town of Culture delivery into a wider cross-borough culture board. 


Questions regarding the indicative Annual events budget were asked. Councillor Morris clarified that any budget for events is part of the wider consideration of the Curated Place proposal in the context of resource constraints. There is not currently an existing core budget within the Council for delivering events, though many are supported through the Event Safety Advisory Group.


It was moved by Councillor Vernon and seconded by Councillor Jones, and it was agreed unanimously:


That the Overview and Scrutiny Committee voice their support for the Cultural Strategy and requests Cabinet to carry out further work on funding streams to support it. The Committee requested that Councillor Morris report back to it within the Municipal year.


It was agreed that:


1.    Councillor Morris be thanked for her update and attendance at the Committee.

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