Agenda and minutes

Venue: Council Chamber - Municipal Offices. View directions

Contact: Bev Thomas, Democratic Services Team Leader 


No. Item




Apologies were received from Councillors Bassett-Smith, Fifield, Harvey and Savage.


Declarations of interest


There were no declarations of interest.  


Minutes of the last meeting pdf icon PDF 1 MB

Minutes of the meeting held on 18 July 2022


The minutes of the meeting held on 18 July were approved unanimously and signed as a true record.


Communications by the Mayor


The Mayor gave her personal thanks to officers of CBC and Ubico who had worked so hard following the death of Her Majesty The Queen, to ensure that all protocol was adhered to during the period of mourning, and events were handled sensitively.  She also thanked members of the public and councillors who had laid flowers, signed the book of condolence, and shown support for events at the Municipal Offices. 


She also reported that, since the last meeting, she had:

-       attended a moving ceremony and laid sunflowers to mark Ukrainian Independence Day on 24 August, together with the Leader, Councillor Hay, and Alex Chalk, MP;

-       joined the 20-year anniversary celebration of the Butterfly Garden at Dundry Nurseries.  She said this scheme allows students to take part in many activities, including gardening, cookery and woodwork, and their achievements are always valued and celebrated.  She encouraged Members to visit, either as a group or individually.  Anyone interested in a group visit should email Jennie Ingram;

-       attended a fundraising reception at the Holst Victorian House, where trustees hope to raise £30k for further improvements.  She encouraged Members to look at their website to see what is planned;

-       invited Cheltenham Bowling Club National Top Club champions to the parlour to celebrate their success at winning the award out of 634 teams.


Communications by the Leader of the Council


The Leader started by thanking Howard Norris for acting as interim Monitoring Officer for the past year, before reporting on the following:

-       CBC won a Federation of Small Business Local Authority Award for Best Covid-19 Support and Recovery for the south-west region, in recognition of the variety of innovative methods used to help businesses during the pandemic.  This included road-widening schemes, relaxed planning requirements for temporary structures, business grants for struggling businesses, and adoption of an in-depth recovery strategy in May 2020.  She congratulated all involved;

-       at the Gloucestershire Business Awards last week, Ubico was a well-deserved finalist in the Local Business Heroes category, for keeping its services going throughout the pandemic;

-       in late September, Radio Gloucestershire’s Make A Difference awards recognised the many individuals and organisations which give up their time to make a significant difference to their local communities.  Sarah Avery was one of the many deserving winners;

-       CBC is providing vital support to the most vulnerable during the energy crisis, having already allocated over £70k, with a further £92k due to be paid out by the end of November.  Payments of £150 will go to families in receipt of council tax support or housing benefit, there will be extra support for anyone hosting a Ukrainian family, and any remaining funding will be distributed to over 700 pensioners aged over 80 who receive council tax support or housing benefit – they will each receive £100;

-       last week, the Golden Valley Development won the Property Deal of the Year award at the Inside Property Awards, recognition of and testament to the fantastic team working on this unique and exciting project, which is putting Cheltenham at the front and centre of the national and international stage.


She finished by explaining the reason and rationale for Cheltenham not giving support to Gloucestershire County Council’s expression of interest in becoming an investment zone, as required in the guidance.  The government announcement gave a very short timeline and insufficient guidance, with the lack of detail potentially giving rise to insurmountable unknown risks.   She has asked Democratic Services to share the letter she sent to GCC with Members, and also the four different government departments involved in the investment zones.




To receive petitions


The Mayor confirmed that no petitions had been received.


Public Questions pdf icon PDF 195 KB

These must be received no later than 12 noon on Monday 10 October 2022.



Question from Caroline Sherwood to the Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Culture, Tourism and Wellbeing, Councillor Max Wilkinson



You may be aware of a lengthy discussion on Next Door community noticeboard regarding the dismay of many members of the community about the loss of our Tourist Information Centre. We have observed the limited space for displaying leaflets in the new 'hub' on the High Street and the fact that the site is very often unattended (it has always been closed when I have walked past). Many people do not use the internet. Tourists in town have been discovered expressing confusion at the lack of a proper TIC, and have even been directed to local facilities and points of interest by members of the public! Many diverse events take place in our rich and varied town which do not get posted to the internet and are advertised by poster or flyer. An allied concern is the inaccessibility for many of the new box office for the Town Hall at Leisure at Cheltenham, Tommy Taylors Lane. Would the Council consider reinstating a staffed centrally located TIC which carries information about all events taking place in town (including the Festivals and those at the Town Hall) with a noticeboard where local groups can post flyers about changing and lively range of events available?


Response from Cabinet Member


I’d like to thank the users of Next Door for raising this issue, because it’s important that local people have an eye on our town’s tourism marketing activities.  I can confirm that we are currently working on plans to reintroduce a seven day a week tourism information offer to the town from Spring 2023, in time for the new tourist season.

Tourism information is currently available from Monday to Friday in the revamped Municipal Offices reception, in a staffed area of the council building, a central part of the town.

Visitors and residents are welcome to visit the reception area at the Municipal Offices between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday, (10am to 5pm Wednesday) where maps and town guides are available. Digital screens share up to date information on what’s on and where to go in Cheltenham, and printed tourist information is available to collect.

The Municipal Offices reception also hosts two telephones alongside two self-service PCs which can be used to find tourist information on the Visit Cheltenham website, or to book tickets for local attractions.


Prior to the pandemic lockdowns, tourist information was housed in The Wilson, but that could not be described as a Tourist Information Centre. As part of the successful redesign of The Wilson and the work to boost the local area after the pandemic lockdowns, the decision was taken to place the Visit Cheltenham pod in the High Street - a more central location, hosting a large town map, what’s on posters, and free town tourist guides. 

The initial trial period of the Cheltenham Pod has been extended, but as part of the extension we are rethinking how  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


Member Questions pdf icon PDF 305 KB

These must be received no later than 12 noon on Monday 10 October 2022.



Question from Cllr Tim Harman to the Cabinet Member Finance, Assets ad Regeneration, Councillor Peter Jeffries


Will the Cabinet Member confirm the cost of the recent refurbishment to the Reception area in the Municipal Offices?


Response from Cabinet Member


The cost of the building works, refurbishment of the new reception and provision of new office space on the ground floor is £121k. This includes all design, build and finish costs for the space which now provides a number of different ways in which customers can access support and advice from the Council. An additional £7k has been spent to furnish the offices, meeting rooms, customer phone terminals and breakout space which can be used by customers and officers.   


Question from Cllr Tim Harman to the Cabinet Member Finance, Assets ad Regeneration, Councillor Peter Jeffries


Will  the cabinet member indicate how many staff normally based at the Municipal Offices work remotely, how many regular attend in person and how often staff working remotely attend the offices?


Response from Cabinet Member


This answer includes only Council employees and not staff working for other organisations who are based at or lease space in the Municipal Office building. 

There are approximately 250 Council officers whose base office is the Municipal Office building. This also includes officers who are customer facing and may undertake most of their work outside of the office. 

The recent changes to the office building, including the re-opening of the Reception to the public and rationalisation of office space and move to agile working arrangements has supported a more hybrid working environment.

Staff are now able to work between the office and home more flexibly and there is more fit for purpose space for staff such as the Neighbourhood team or Parking Enforcement officers to drop into the office between the time they are moving around the town.

The office accommodation project was set up before COVID-19 and occupancy numbers at that stage were around 56% which equates to around 140 staff. The new layouts on the ground and first floor allow for 122 working spaces for Council officers, Publica staff, SWAP and One Legal.

A full survey on occupancy post COVID-19 has not yet been completed but an indicative survey undertaken on four days following the receipt of this question showed an average of 63 Council officers were based in the office for at least some of the day.

The occupancy of the office will continue to be monitored to ensure that the space continues to meet their needs and be fit for purpose for hybrid working.


Supplementary question


I can see that things are still ongoing and people are working hard, but the building does feel empty. Given the energy issues we face at the moment and the cost of running this building, what other steps can we take to increase home working and reduce energy costs?


Response from Cabinet Member


As you rightly say, there is a lot of empty space in this building. There is  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.


Heating and Energy Policy pdf icon PDF 380 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member Climate Emergency

Additional documents:


The Cabinet Member for Climate Emergency introduced the report, saying that everyone was aware of the current cost-of-living crisis and spiralling energy costs, and that as well as making sure residents have access to advice and information, the council must lead by example and take action to lower its own energy bills, while protecting its finances and the planet. Its large portfolio, which includes Trust properties and Cheltenham Borough Homes, results in high energy use, and the report sets out a pathway, starting with benchmarking to understand better our energy use and make sure solutions are equitable, and taking account of changes in the way we operate, such as encouraging on-line meetings where possible, retrofitting older buildings rather than demolishing them, and looking for innovative solutions such as solar power.   She thanked the climate, finance and property teams for their hard work, and asked Members, as civic custodians of the property portfolio, to make sure they lived according to the principles in the document and encouraged partnership organisations to do the same – meeting Net Zero is a team sport, and we must work together to achieve our climate goals.

Members thanked the Cabinet Member for Climate Emergency for her comprehensive and diligent report.  In response to Members’ questions, she said:

-       she was conscious that the Municipal Offices are old and large, with a heating system that doesn’t work as well as we would like.  She confirmed that its future was under constant review, and where possible, officers were encouraged to work from home;

-       she had no reports of staff currently working from home deciding to work in the office to save on heating bills, so could give no opinion on the potential implications of this - she will make some enquiries;

-       regarding the council’s carbon footprint, consideration of this tended to focus on its properties rather than any increase incurred by encouraging staff to work at the office rather than at home, resulting in additional vehicle use, single-use plastic and so on.  The council is always looking for alternative solutions, encouraging staff to understand the impact of what they do, and looking at ways to be more sustainable – it was all about finding the best ways to do business with the lowest possible climate impact;

-       regarding Scope 3 emissions, which seem to be quite low in the report,  those of the council are different from those of an average business, and she hopes to present meaningful and accurate statistics, looking at work the council and its partners do.  It is an ongoing project;

-       she confirmed that Cheltenham Trust is a key priority in the report, particularly as it includes many beautiful heritage buildings which the council wants to preserve for future generations while reducing operation costs;

-       she shared a Member’s concern that energy, gas and water usage would no longer be included in tenants’ service agreements, leaving them responsible for managing their own consumption.  She did not want to leave tenants at  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.


Annual Report on Overview and Scrutiny pdf icon PDF 328 KB

Report of the Chair of Overview and Scrutiny

Additional documents:


Councillor Payne said that he was pleased to present the report, but made it clear that it was mostly the work of the former Chair, Chris Mason, who changed the face of Overview and Scrutiny, in particular in how reports were presented, limiting reports to one page and  presentations to 10 minutes to allow Members more time to discuss and challenge.  The list of areas under scrutiny is wide-ranging, and the vast majority of those invited to the meetings are pleased to share what they are doing, with one or two exceptions in the past – in particular the NHS and former Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC).  He was happy to report that the new PCC attended a recent meeting, spoke openly and at length, and was happy to answer all Members’ questions.  He had no hesitation in recommending the report to Members, and continued use of Overview and Scrutiny to challenge elements that need to be challenged.  Members can be confident that the committee can continue to do this, working in a constructive and supportive way for all people. 

A Member thanked Councillor Payne and his predecessor for their excellent work, but asked whether the committee could take another look at healthcare provision, in view of the recent CQC report.  She realised this should be a matter for the county Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC), but felt that if CBC’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee were able to look at the report in relation to what is happening in Cheltenham, it could be useful and potentially match or supersede the HOSC report.

A Member said that he would be attending a joint meeting of the county HOSC and Adult Social Care Committee the following day, which would be considering the CQC report.  He added that representatives of the NHS Trust had attended Overview and Scrutiny in the past, which had been very constructive. 

Councillor Payne agreed that the CQC report made very poor reading; Cheltenham should not accept the appallingly poor healthcare provision and lack of access to services  – this was highlighted on the Overview and Scrutiny Task Group on deprivation.  He said he would be happy to invite local or Gloucestershire NHS managers to Overview and Scrutiny to justify what they are doing.

The Leader thanked Councillor Payne for the report and for the excellent work of Overview and Scrutiny, and also for chairing the committee.  A Member who is currently chairing one of the task groups also wanted to add thanks to the unnamed officers for all their input, and Democratic Services for making the meetings run.

Councillor Payne thanked Members for their comments, and agreed that the level of support for committees provided by officers and Democratic Services was outstanding – he offered sincere thanks to them, and to current and previous Members of Overview and Scrutiny for all the work they do.

The Mayor moved to the vote, where Members voted unanimously in support of the recommendation:

1.    that the Annual Report of Overview  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.


Notices of Motion (A) pdf icon PDF 129 KB


Motion A:  Supporting Proportional Representation for UK General Elections

Proposed by Councillor Baker, seconded by Councillor Wilkinson


This Council notes that:


The First Past The Post (FPTP) electoral system originated when land-owning aristocrats dominated parliament and voting was restricted to property-owning men.


In Europe, only the UK and authoritarian Belarus still use the archaic, singe-round FPTP system for general elections while Proportional Representation (PR) is used to elect parliaments in more than 80 countries. Those countries tend to be more equal, freer and greener.


PR ensures that all votes count, have equal value, and that seats won match the votes cast. Under PR, MPs and Parliaments better reflect the age, gender and protected characteristics of local communities and the nation.


MPs better reflecting their communities leads to improved decision-making, wider participation, and increasing levels of ownership of decisions taken.


PR would also end minority rule. In 2019 43.6% of the vote provided one party with 56.2% of the seats and 100% of the power. PR also prevents ‘wrong winner’ elections such as occurred in 1951 and February 1974.


PR is already used to elect the parliaments and assemblies of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and should be extended to elections to the Westminster Parliament.


Council therefore resolves to request that the Chief Executive writes to the relevant minister in the Cabinet Office urging the bringing forward of legislation to enable Proportional Representation to be used for general elections.


Councillor Baker was delighted to propose the motion, which proposed rejection of the archaic and unrepresentative first-past-the-post system, and adoption of proportional representation instead.  This is a longstanding aim of the Liberal Democrats and Green Party, supported at the recent Labour Party Conference, and also with a small number of advocates in the Conservative party.  He said that the UK is almost alone in Europe in continuing with this system – the others being Belarus and France – and it leads to millions of wasted votes, with some parties completely under-represented and others grossly over-represented.


He told Members that in the 2019 general election, the Conservatives received 43.6% of the votes yet were rewarded with 56% of MPs, forming a majority government despite having failed to persuade 50.1% of the electorate to vote for them.  Labour won 32% of the votes and 31% of MPs, Liberal Democrats 11.5% of the votes and 1.7% of MPs, the Green Party 2.7% of the vote and 0.7% (1) MP, and Brexit 2% of the vote and no MPs.  The FPTP system doesn’t deliver representative government; it is not fair or representative or democratic.  There are several types of PR system, but whichever one is used, he said it would result in a government that reflects the wishes of the majority, and doesn’t waste millions of vote for UKIP, Brexit, the Green Party, the Liberal Democrats, Labour voters in the south and Conservative voters in the north.  In 2019 it took 38k votes to elect a Tory, 50k to elect a Labour candidate, 334k to elect  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.


Notices of Motion (B)


Motion B

Proposed by Councillor Joy; seconded by Councillor Flynn

Council notes that:

  • Severn Wye Energy Agency estimates around 14,000 Cheltenham households could experience fuel poverty this year.
  • Cold homes and fuel poverty contribute to the phenomenon of excess winter deaths. England saw an estimated 63,000 excess winter deaths in 2020-21, 10% of which have been directly attributed to fuel poverty. (Institute of Health Equity).
  • CBC is working with organisations including Vision 21, Severn Wye Energy Agency, Planet Cheltenham and Cheltenham Zero to alleviate fuel poverty, but acknowledges that the work currently planned will not be enough to prevent serious hardship and exacerbate health inequalities, especially in the immediate future.
  • According to FOtE, 57% of homes in Cheltenham are rated EPC D to G, and as such are not sufficiently energy-efficient. Around 9,300 homes across Cheltenham would benefit significantly from free loft insulation, and around 9,800 would benefit from free cavity wall insulation. The government recommends that all homes be EPC C or above by 2035. To achieve that target, at least 3,621 homes need to be insulated per year to avoid unnecessary cold and financial hardship.
  • A great deal of housing stock is heritage and privately-rented, with property managers failing to upgrade them to prevent damp, mould, heat loss and electrical faults.
  • This Council declared a ‘Cost of Living Emergency’ in July 2022, and following from the declaration of a ‘Climate Emergency’ in 2019, must aim to end fuel poverty in the area by 2030, in a way that also reduces domestic energy use and helps meet climate commitments.


This Council resolves to:

  1. Enforce existing regulations on energy efficiency and property standards, particularly in the private rented sector.
  2. Aim to maximise the incomes of low-income households through the efficient delivery of Council-administered benefits, a sensitive approach to debt recovery and the provision of accessible advice and support through a wide range of channels.
  3. Create support systems for private renters to ensure their housing rights are being fulfilled.
  4. Publish a statement of intent and set locally appropriate eligibility criteria to access Energy Company Obligation funding via the Local Authority Flexibility arrangements.
  5. Take immediate-impact measures to assess and improve the energy efficiency of Cheltenham Borough Homes housing stock.


Further, Council requests that officers:

  • Report on progress made on ending fuel poverty to the Overview and Scrutiny committee every six months.
  • Sign Cheltenham Borough Council up to the End Fuel Poverty Coalition.


Council also requests that the Leader of the Council writes to the HM Treasury asking for funding to upgrade homes.


In proposing the motion, Cllr. Joy suggested that it could tie in with the Heating and Energy Policy agreed earlier in the meeting. She was conscious that Council would not meet again until December, and felt obligated to ensure that this important topic was brought to Members’ attention. They had a real opportunity to investigate fuel poverty and make a difference for the many households across Cheltenham suffering from it.

She highlighted a number of key issues that contributed  ...  view the full minutes text for item 12.


Any other item the Mayor determines as urgent and which requires a decision


There was none.