NWDA February board minutes in full

Board minutes for the North West Development Agency are no longer published online as required for a public authority under the Freedom of Information Act but will eventually appear on the National Archives website. Here Place North West publishes the latest available minutes.

Northwest Regional Development Agency February 2012 Board Minutes


  • Robert Hough (Chairman)
  • Peter Hensman (Deputy Chair)
  • Tony McDermott
  • John Stageman OBE
  • Peter Alien
  • Lord Peter Smith
  • Joe Dwek
  • Frank Hont

Also Present

  • Mark Hughes – chief executive
  • Steven Zdolyny (Minutes)


  • Vanda Murray (Deputy Chair)
  • John Merry
  • David Higham, BIS Local


  • Sam Kabiswa, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
  • Alison Webster, (on behalf of BIS)


The Chairman welcomed Alison Webster to her first Board meeting as BIS Senior Relationship Manager.

Apologies were received from Vanda Murray (Deputy Chair), John Merr and David Higham, BIS Local (observer).

A declaration of interest was received from Peter Hensman in respect of Item 5, the Chief Executive's Report, in relation to his directorship of North West Business Link.


The minutes of the meeting of 23 February 2012 were agreed as a true record of the meeting.


The Board reviewed the Matters Arising Schedule and noted that although there was no change, progress was being made.


Robert Hough reported verbally on the following key points:

  • Progress continued to be excellent to achieve an effective and orderly closure.
  • The NWDA was comfortably within its budget and was maintaining good governance.
  • It was encouraging to note that 85% of NWDA staff were achieving their desired outcomes on leaving the NWDA.
  • The RDA Chairs and Audit Committee Chairs had met on the same day, 15 February. The main points arising from the Chairs' meeting were:
  • The position regarding dealing with future Freedom of Information requests post March was unclear at the Chairs meeting (but had since been clarified through a BIS Action Note)
  • The CLOS process was proving more complex but the RDA completed templates had been returned to BIS on time.
  • The transfer of NWDA assets to HCA was commended.
  • There was a significant amount of work still to do across the RDA network in relation to Knowledge Management and March would be a critical month to achieve the bulk of the remaining transfer of records.
  • BIS commended the NWDA in particular on the way it had handled its closure process and the NAO was equally positive. This was a reflection of the hard work and professionalism of NWDA staff.
  • There was to be a further OGC review of the RDA closure process in March, with Paul Callaghan due to give evidence on behalf of the RDA network.
  • It was proposed that all Board members retire on 30 June, unless BIS requirements change.

In response to a request for an update on the re-investment of the VCLF legacy funds, Sam Kabiswa responded that a BIS communication would be issued shortly. It was hoped this would honour the principle of the re-investment of the legacy returns within the region, subject to the resolution of the mechanics and financial treatment.


Mark Hughes introduced his report. Key points discussed included:

  • The NWDA's programme closure was making very good progress. A further 21 projects had closed since the last report, with 19 remaining for NWDA to close and 24 projects to transfer to successor bodies.
  • All outstanding claims had been progressed promptly, with only eight remaining due to final audits being awaited.
  • The transfer of the four land remediation projects to the Land Trust had hit a last minute hurdle but this was being addressed urgently. [Newlands joint initiative with Forestry Commission, Remade programme with Lancashire County Council, Revive with Cheshire councils, Ashton's and Neuman's Flashes in Northwich. Agency committed to fund site remediation and ongoing maintenance. Commuted sum paid to Land Trust to take over]
  • The TACTICS project was still awaiting the EC signature prior to transfer to MMU.
  • The residual Daresbury novations had made good progress, with only two remaining and these were at advanced stages and close to completion.
  • All ERDF issues had been resolved with agreed transfer solutions.
  • Knowledge Management was on track and increased resource had been deployed to deal with the huge volume of work required up to the end of March.
  • Redundancy notices had been issued to wave 3+ staff, with a small change to the staff requirements post March. Only 15% of staff who had left were still looking for work and the vast majority had secured their desired outcomes, which was very positive.
  • The required Knowledge Management work up to the end of March was substantial and so additional resource was being re-deployed to ensure that the excellent work to date could be maintained.
  • The NWDA's remaining operational estate remained at only four properties. The NWDA disposal of surplus ICT equipment and furniture was also continuing as planned.
  • The value transfer of functions was nearly complete, with only two remaining.
  • North West Business Link's records were due to transfer to BIS and CLG and a resolution on the method, timing and legal basis of transfer was close.
  • BIS Action Notes continued to be issued and these had been dealt with as required by NWDA.
  • The NWDA's KPls were on track or completed.
  • The NWDA focus was on contract closure, getting the Second Statutory Transfer right and the completion of the final accounts.
  • The Finance workload was enormous but all work was proceeding to plan.
  • In the final few weeks, it was important for NWDA staff to remain focused on completing business critical work but this was being balanced with staff also being allowed time to look for future roles.
  • The NWDA's Legacy Part 2, was being finalised and would soon be put on the NWDA's website and emailed out to partners.

The Board noted the Chief Executive's report and made the following points:

  • The Board wanted to see a satisfactory solution reached in respect of the four land remediation projects, so that these long term investments could be protected through a transfer to the Land Trust.
  • The Board recognise the substantial volume of Knowledge Management work still to be undertaken and welcomed the reallocation of additional internal resource to complete the necessary work.
  • The progress with the KPls was very impressive and the Board noted the NWDA was progressing on track with its orderly closure.


Duncan Gray presented his report, which focussed on the NWDA's financial performance as at January 2012.

The NWDA was putting together the final pieces of its closure jigsaw. Final budget returns had been made to BIS and the Agency was confident this would be approved at the levels submitted.

Savings made on NWDA's programme budget had been used to fund the redemption of the Maryport Development Company preference shares and allocated for the Land Trust commuted sum.

It had been agreed that the final distribution from the liquidator of North West Business Link would take place to BIS in the next financial year.

The Agency was continuing to actively manage its programme spend within its budget allocation, completing or transferring projects in an orderly fashion and minimising the 'overhang' for BIS.

Work on the final accounts for the year to 31 March 2012, with appropriate disclosures, were on track. The interim nine month accounts to 31 December 2011 were virtually complete and had received positive comments from NAO.

The Second Statutory Transfer Scheme would take away most of the remaining assets and liabilities, with only a small budget remaining for 2012/13.

The Board noted the positive Finance and Resources Report. Robert Hough reported that BIS and NAO had both been very complementary of NWDA's financial closure and had thanked Duncan Gray and his team for the positive progress and their professional work.


Mark Hughes presented this report. The number of risks and their overall severity had reduced. Six more risks had been closed. The Business Coaching for Growth risk had materialised to the extent that one Employment Tribunal claim had been received. [Claim made by former Business Link employee over TUPE dispute. Unresolved]

The Board noted the report.


John Stageman presented the key points recorded in the minutes of the Audit Committee held on 19 January 2012 and praised the excellent work undertaken by the Finance team. [transfers to BIS]

The Board noted the Audit Committee minutes.

Any Other Business

The Board noted this was the last meeting to be attended by Sam Kabiswa, as BIS Relationship Manager. The Chairman thanked Sam for his interest in and commitment to the Agency and the Board wished him every success for the future.


The next meeting would be at 3.00 pm on Thursday 22 March 2012 at Renaissance
House, Warrington.

Meeting Closed at 11.30 am.

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