Agenda and minutes

Venue: Warspite Room, Council House

Contact: Hannah Whiting  Email:

No. Item


Declarations of Interest

Councillors will be asked to make any declarations of interest in respect of items on the agenda.


No declarations of interest were made.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 103 KB

To confirm the minutes of the previous meeting held on 12 July 2023.


The minutes of the meeting held on 12 July 2023 were agreed as a correct record.


Chair's Urgent Business

To receive reports on business which in the opinion of the Chair, should be brought forward for urgent consideration.


There were no items of Chair’s urgent business.


BSIP (Bus Service Improvement Plan) 2023 pdf icon PDF 194 KB

Additional documents:


Councillor Mark Coker (Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning and Infrastructure) introduced the Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) 2023 and highlighted the following points:


a)    If Plymouth was to reach its climate emergency ambitions, the bus would need to not only be a tool of inclusion, but the transport choice moving forward;

b)    A BSIP was a requirement following the 2021 National Bus Strategy;

c)    The BSIP set out what was required to make buses easier cheaper and better and more convenient;

d)    It was submitted in September 2021, but failed to attract funding along with 61% of other authorities, however, it remained the bidding document for this and future rounds of funding, so needed to be refreshed;

e)    Constructive feedback was provided by the Department for Transport and the team had used this to develop and refresh the BSIP;

f)     He had welcomed representatives from the Department for Transport in Summer 2023, and they had been impressed with many aspects of public transport in the city;

g)    The visit had been a reminder that Plymouth was well-placed to ‘deliver bus back better’, the aim of the 2023 BSIP;

h)    Improvements needed to be made in what remained highly challenging financial circumstances, and passengers and the bus industry were working with Plymouth City Council to identify improvements;

i)     The vision was to create a thriving bus network to connect people to important places with services that were frequent, reliable, fast, affordable, safe and clean;

j)     The vision was underpinned by nine passenger priorities focused on frequency, reliability, journey speed, affordability, safety, cleanliness, making buses simple, better connected, accessible and modern;

k)    The team were engaging with bus users on ranking these priorities to ensure the plan reflected the needs of current and potential users;

l)     The BSIP was a clear, evidence-based rationale for improvement of Plymouth’s bus services, that made the city well-placed to receive future rounds of government funding.


Supported by Rosemary Starr (Sustainable Transport Manager) added:


m)  A statutory partnership had been established and had come into effect on 1 April 2023, which would be the instrument for the delivery of the BSIP, should funding be secured, as required by the National Bus Strategy of 2021;

n)    The 2021 National Bus Strategy had been the first of its kind and aimed to restore public transport, increase use and it also included 12 themes which the BSIP responded to;

o)    The BSIP had also been designed to deliver against two strategic priorities within the Plymouth Plan: To deliver a safe and accessible and health-enabling transport system, and using transport to grow the economy;

p)    The BSIP had 3 strategic outcomes:

                      i.        Supporting the local economy and facilitating economic development;

                     ii.        Delivering wider social and health benefits;

                    iii.        Enabling reduction of carbon emissions and improving air quality;

q)    The vision of the BSIP was “to create a thriving bus network where everyone can be connected to important people and places, by services that were frequent, reliable, fast, affordable, safe and clean,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 14.


Plymouth Culture Plan Annual Update pdf icon PDF 2 MB


Councillor Jemima Laing (Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Children’s Social Care, Culture, Events and Communications) introduced the item and highlighted:


a)    The range of benefits a thriving cultural sector to provide to a city and that Plymouth was ambitious and wanted a thriving cultural sector;

b)    The Culture Plan worked towards a number of outcomes including increasing and diversifying of spaces where culture can be seen, increasing creative industry jobs, diversifying and increasing audiences, reducing the environmental impact of the cultural sector and increasing and diversifying funding for arts;

c)    Plymouth Culture was key in working towards these goals, funding by Arts Council England and a small grant from Plymouth City Council, driving forward the strategic activity needed to grow the sector;

d)    Given the ongoing challenges facing the sector, work had been very successful with a number of exciting opportunities for venues, organisations, audiences and those working in the sector;

e)    The economic data showed signs of growth since the pandemic, with signs of ‘bounce back’ from 2022 and there was an estimated 3350 people employed in the sector, an increase of 9.8% since 2019;

f)     Despite funding cuts, Plymouth had continued to attract investment in the sector and found success in applying for grants;

g)    The cost of living crisis meant there was a risk of a widening inequality gap in cultural participation and it was a priority for Councillor Laing that there were increased opportunities for everyone in Plymouth to participate in cultural activities;

h)    The priority programmes of work included an investment strategy, data collection and analysis, and alignment and integration, which were essential in addressing the cost of living crisis;

i)     The social value to the city was also important as it was essential to support community cohesion, positive well-being outcomes, improved educational attainment, civic pride and a cultural identity for Plymouth.

Hannah Harris (CEO of Plymouth Culture) added:


j)     Plymouth Culture aimed to support, enable and facilitate culture, rather than directly delivering cultural activity and acted as a connector and broker to leverage additional support and investment for Plymouth;

k)    The organisation had been working on plans around development of Plymouth city centre and how they could support vacant spaces to be better used. It had made funding available as grants; was working on an anti-racism program; had been instrumental in bringing the immersive futures event forward and had developed an action plan to develop music culturally within the city.


James Mackenzie-Blackman (CEO and Executive Producer, Theatre Royal) added:


l)     Plymouth had a very connected and collaborative cultural sector, facilitated by Plymouth Culture and the Economic Development team at Plymouth City Council;

m)  Culture meant different things to different people, and that was shown in the diverse range of cultural events in Plymouth;

n)    Theatre Royal Plymouth was the largest and best attended regional theatre in the UK, operated as a charity with a turnover of £15-16 million annually and employed around 300 members of staff;

o)    With increasing costs it was  ...  view the full minutes text for item 15.


Update: The Box and its performance pdf icon PDF 8 MB

Additional documents:


Councillor Jemima Laing (Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Children’s Social Care, Culture, Events and Communications) introduced the report on The Box and highlighted:


a)    The Box had been a hugely ambitious capital project and opened in September 2020 in the midst of the global COVID19 pandemic to critical acclaim and had gone from strength to strength;

b)    The Box had more than 600,000 visits in total with 245,987 of those in the last financial year and was on target to do just as well in 2023/24;

c)    More than 10,000 people had taken part in The Box’s family programme and had generated £429,830 in the previous financial year and was building its fundraising capabilities in a competitive environment;

d)    There had been an ambitious summer programme at The Box, and it had had 52,000 visitors over the 6 weeks of the school holidays, and the team were preparing for the Autumn programme;

e)    Solomon Hart’s work ‘The execution of Lady Jane Grey’ would be on display from 27 September 2023;

f)     The Box was diversifying and growing the ways it used it spaces, one example was a monthly bazaar that occurred outside the entrance on the last Saturday of each month with local diversity business incubators, food stalls and music and entertainment;

g)    The innovative work of The Box was being noticed locally, regionally, nationally and internationally;

h)    Visitors to Plymouth from the LGA had been very impressed with The Box and what Plymouth had to offer;

i)     The Box continued to raise the profile of Plymouth whilst contributing positively to the health and wellbeing of the city, being a fantastic learning resource, and supporting creativity, especially for children and young people;

j)     The press and media coverage for The Box had an advertising value of £5 million with a global reach of 187 million people.

Victoria Pomery (CEO of The Box) added:


k)    Visitor numbers had peaked at different points each year that The Box had been open which had been due to the summer holidays falling slightly differently, as well as the weather as it was often busier on wetter days;

l)     The team worked hard to ensure that the offer was strong and the venue was accessible and welcoming;

m)  Victoria was excited about the future of culture in Plymouth and the positive impact it could have on the city as a whole.


In response to questions raised it was further explained, with Kate Farmery (Head of Business, The Box) and David Draffan (Service Director for Economic Development) that:


n)    It was challenging for schools to get older students to visit venues like The Box as part of the curriculum;

o)    The Arts Council funded The Box as a visual arts organisation, rather than as a museum or archive and although some exhibitions might not be populist to some, they did make the most of The Box’s collection;

p)    Data on visitors had been collected and analysed but more would be done with a planned increase  ...  view the full minutes text for item 16.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 128 KB


The Committee agreed to note the work programme document.


Tracking Decisions pdf icon PDF 116 KB


The Committee agreed to note the tracking decisions document.