Cheltenham Borough Council
Cheltenham Borough Council

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Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Council Chamber - Municipal Offices. View directions

Contact: Rosalind Reeves, Democratic Services Manager 

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies

Minutes:

Councillor Williams had given her apologies.

 

Councillors Helena McCloskey and Paul McCloskey had advised that they would not arrive until after 4pm and subsequently arrived at 17:15pm.  

 

 

2.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

Councillor Harman declared an interest in Agenda Items 9 and 10 as a County Councillor.  Although he had previously received dispensation from the Standards Committee to speak and vote on the item, since the granting of that dispensation, he had been appointed as a Cabinet Member and therefore had both individual and collective responsibility for decision making consequent upon that Cabinet role.  He had not sought further dispensation, but had decided, as was the position with a previous CBC / GCC Cabinet member, that he would not participate in the debate or decision and would leave the Chamber for that item.

 

Councillor Ryder declared a possible pecuniary interest in Agenda Items 9 and 10 (Gloucester, Cheltenham and Tewkesbury Joint Core Strategy – adoption report and The pre-submission Cheltenham Plan 2011-2031) in terms of a small pocket of white land in Leckhampton and announced her intention to leave the chamber for these items.  She also declared a non-pecuniary interest in Agenda Item 15 (Community Governance Review).

 

The Head of Law, confirmed that the dispensations given by the Standards Committee to County Councillors in respect of the JCS item remained in place.  He explained that in terms of Agenda Item 10 (The pre-submission Cheltenham Plan 2011-2031), County Councillors should consider declaring an interest because of the County Council’s school proposal and the relationship between that and the Local Plan, but that the Monitoring Officer had advised that those members should still be able to fully participate in the debate and subsequent vote, though this would be for each individual member to decide.  Councillor Harman’s position differed given his role as a Cabinet Member.

 

Councillors Babbage, Coleman, Fisher, Colin Hay, Payne, Sudbury and Wheeler, as County Councillors, had received dispensation from the Standards Committee to speak and vote on Agenda Item 9 (Gloucester, Cheltenham and Tewkesbury Joint Core Strategy) and declared a non-prejudical interest in Agenda item 10  (The pre-submission Cheltenham Plan 2011-2031).

 

Councillor Bickerton declared a personal interest in Agenda Item 15 (Community Governance Review) as a Parish Councillor for Leckhampton with Warden Hill.

 

Councillors Payne and Stennett declared a personal interest in Agenda Item 15 (Community Governance Review) as Parish Councillors for Prestbury.

 

Councillor Nelson declared a personal interest in Agenda Item 15 (Community Governance Review) as a Parish Councillor for Leckhampton with Warden Hill.

 

Councillors Mason and Whyborn declared a personal interest in Agenda Item 15 (Community Governance Review) as Parish Councillors for Up Hatherley. 


Councillor H McCloskey declared a personal interest in Agenda Item 15 (Community Governance Review) as a Parish Councillor for Charlton Kings.

 

Councillor C Hay and Councillor Hobley advised of a personal interest in Agenda Item 16 (Revised financing arrangements for improvements to Leisure-at-Cheltenham), as Trustees of the Cheltenham Trust.

 

3.

Minutes of the last meeting pdf icon PDF 599 KB

Minutes of the meeting held on 16 October 2017

Minutes:

Councillor R Hay raised a point of clarification on page 24.  As Mark Sheldon had already communicated with Councillor Ryder, the figure that had been quoted by Councillor R Hay should have been £1.25 M and not £2M. This investment was required over a 20 year period and averaged at £62,500 per annum, hence the £625k in the business case for the nursery which modelled financial projections over a 10 year period. However, a further maintenance survey had been commissioned in order to support any future decisions in respect of the nursery.  Democratic Services had advised that this could be added as a foot note to the minutes with Council’s agreement.

 

Upon a vote it was unanimously

 

RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on the 16 October 2017, as amended, be agreed and signed as an accurate record.

 

 

4.

Communications by the Mayor

Minutes:

The Mayor informed members of her engagements since the last meeting, and highlights included:

 

·         Attendance at Anti-Trafficking/Modern Day Slavery event organised by Churches Together to raise awareness of this issue.  Also Cheltenham Soroptimist’s organised an event to coincide with the international campaign to end violence against women and girls 16 Days of Activism. 

·         In October, she had launched the Wenceslas Heating Scheme, on behalf of The Lions Club of Cheltenham.  She reminded anyone who felt that they could manage without their Winter Fuel Allowance, that Cheltenham Lions provided a direct bridge to those in Cheltenham with insufficient money to pay their fuel bills.

·         The previous week she had welcomed to the Municipal Offices, Jim Nyamu, a Kenyan Biologist known as ‘The Elephant Man’.  He and his team were doing ‘The Great Elephant Walk UK 2017.’ from London to Bristol in order to raise the profile of elephant’s killed by poaching and to fundraise towards a campaign to end the ivory trade

Remembrance had been a very busy time for the Mayor, having attended very many events including:

 

·         The launch of the Poppy appeal at the Regent Arcade

·         The field of remembrance service

·         The ceremony held at the remembrance beds in Imperial Gardens, which she had addressed.

·         She had undertaken part of the heart to heart remembrance walk, from the war memorial in Cheltenham to Gloucester Cathedral.

·         The Kings School service of remembrance at Gloucester Cathedral

·         The Cheltenham town centre Remembrance Sunday service and later that day she had spoken at the Festival of Remembrance at the town hall.

·         She had welcomed pupils from Dunalley School to answer their questions and visit the war memorial.

·         On the 29th November, a service was held at the war memorial in Cheltenham to mark the 50th anniversary of the withdrawal of British armed forces from Aden.

Two very successful fundraising events had been held for the Mayor’s Charity Appeal; a meal at the Mayflower and a carol concert at Cheltenham college chapel.  The Mayor expressed her thanks to Chun and the team at the Mayflower who provided excellent food and service, to Cheltenham College for allowing the use of their magnificent chapel and to John Rawson and Jennie Ingram for organising it. This was well supported by the local community and thanks were given to sponsors, Hinton Capital Investment Ltd along with Officeworx who provided all of the advertising material.

 

Finally, she took the opportunity to thank Councillor Garth Barnes for his dedication to twinning over the past 40 years. He had served on twinning since 1976 and had been chair on a number of occasions and continuously for the past 15 years, as well as being honoured with the Göttingen Medal of Honour in 2011 during a Big Party visit to Göttingen. At the Annual General Meeting of the Cheltenham Twinning Association in November, he had stood down as chairman of twinning.  The Mayor gave her congratulations to Councillor Seacome, who had taken over chairmanship of the association.   

 

5.

Communications by the Leader of the Council

Minutes:

The Leader reiterated congratulations to Councillor Barnes for his contribution to the Twinning Association over the years.

 

 

6.

To receive petitions

Minutes:

No petitions were received.

 

 

7.

Public Questions pdf icon PDF 88 KB

These must be received no later than 12 noon on Tuesday 5 December 2017.

Minutes:

1.

Question from Jonny Brownsteen to the Cabinet Member Housing, Councillor Peter Jeffries

 

Does the council agree that it should install contactless donation points around the town centre, which enable residents to donate money to charities and services that support homeless people in Cheltenham?

 

Response from Cabinet Member

 

The amount of empathy, kindness and generosity which the residents of Cheltenham show in supporting the charities & voluntary sector, as well as directly for those who are existing on the streets of our town never fails to amaze me. The general advice about giving money to those on our streets is that it should be discouraged, personally I would not wish to dissuade anybody from giving.

 

Enabling financial donations through contactless points could be extremely beneficial and I believe this should be supported. Having had an initial conversation with representatives from the business improvement district (BID) who are interested in the concept I will be making arrangements to progress this further.

 

There was no supplementary question.

2.

Question from Jonny Brownsteen to the Cabinet Member Development and Safety, Councillor Andrew McKinlay

 

One of the attractions which brings people to Cheltenham from around the region is the high standard of the shops here. We have a vacancy factor at the Brewery Quarter, yet are losing Whole Foods from the Gallagher Retail Park. What efforts have the council made to encourage Whole Foods to relocate to this prime site in the town centre? This would bring further business into the town centre, while saving the jobs of the staff at the current store who are now facing unemployment.

 

Response from Cabinet Member

 

CBC has been in touch with Wholefoods concerning the store closure, albeit from the perspective of implications for existing staff.

The information provided to us is that both stores outside London (Cheltenham and Glasgow) were being closed for economic reasons and the decision is in no way related to the Amazon acquisition. We understand that all Wholefoods staff have been offered the opportunity to apply for open positions within the Wholefoods business; however, this would require relocation, so consequently, many are exploring alternative employment opportunities locally with support from the job centre.

CBC has also arranged to meet with representatives from the Gallagher retail park in early December (although from recollection this particular unit is in alternative ownership).

The idea of relocating to the Brewery is interesting, but does not appear to fit with Wholefoods commercial strategy.

There was no supplementary question.

3.

Question from Stewart Rood to Cabinet Member Clean and Green Environment, Councillor Chris Coleman

 

Why weren't the residents in Whaddon Drive informed in writing of the new collection dates and why was there conflicting answers given when each resident telephoned separately to enquire what exactly was going on. e.g. I was told that both collection and recycling would take place on alternate Wednesdays and my neighbour informed it would take place on a Wednesday for refuse and recycling on a Friday.
We were both informed that our addresses did  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Member Questions pdf icon PDF 132 KB

These must be received no later than 12 noon on Tuesday 5 December 2017.

Minutes:

1.

Question from Councillor Paul Baker to the Cabinet Member Housing, Councillor Peter Jeffries 

 

The much trumpeted budget claimed it would solve our Housing crisis. Can I ask the Cabinet Member what measures announced in the Budget will assist this Council in building more affordable homes and social housing?

 

Response from Cabinet Member 

 

The Budget confirmed the previously announced additional £2bn of funding for affordable housing, with the government stating that some of this funding will also be allocated to support the delivery of Affordable Rented homes. It is unclear at this stage how much of the £2bn will be put aside for the rented element. At present the emphasis within the programme is for the delivery of shared ownership homes, and we are currently working with the Homes & Communities Agency with a view to potentially securing grant funding to support the delivery of a number of shared ownership dwellings within the council’s development pipeline of new affordable housing. In view of the new announcement, we will also explore the potential for grant funding to support the delivery of Affordable Rented homes within our development pipeline. 

 

In addition, £400m of loan funding will be made available across the country for estate regeneration. Cheltenham Borough Homes has already received grant funding of £350,000 to work with communities and stakeholders with a view to developing future options for West Cheltenham. The additional loan funding could therefore potentially support the implementation of any favoured options once they are developed. We will await further clarity over whether this will be of benefit to the West Cheltenham project.   

 

Prior to the budget it was announced that the government's rent policy would revert back to CPI +1% from 2020. Additional revenue arising from this could therefore support the delivery of more affordable homes. 

 

Finally, there is the potential for councils’ HRA borrowing caps to be lifted in high demand areas, with £1bn available for councils to bid for from April 2019 to March 2021. Further detail on the bidding process and the selection criteria is awaited.

 

All the above will be considered as we develop our New Supply Delivery Strategy with Cheltenham Borough Homes.     

 

In a supplementary question, Councillor Baker asked for confirmation that the council would apply for some of the £2bn and would the Cabinet Member agree that the requirement to use RTB Receipts within 2 years resulted in the best value for money not always being achieved. 

 

The Cabinet Member Housing assured members that Cheltenham would submit a bid if it was possible to meet the criteria and agreed that the Government could do more to make it easier to use RTB receipts to their upmost value. 

2.

Question from Councillor Paul Baker to the Cabinet Member Finance, Councillor Rowena Hay

 

According to The Times, the increase in Council Tax on unoccupied homes announced in the Budget will only affect 1 in 4 unoccupied homes and cost them on average just £84 extra a year.

Is this just a headline grabbing measure or  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Gloucester, Cheltenham and Tewkesbury Joint Core Strategy-Adoption Report pdf icon PDF 114 KB

Report of the Leader

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Having declared an interest earlier in the meeting, Councillor Ryder and Councillor Harman left the meeting for this item and the following agenda item.

 

The Leader introduced the report and explained that the Joint Core Strategy had been prepared jointly over nine years between Gloucester City Council, Cheltenham Borough Council and Tewkesbury Borough Council and provided the vision and planning framework to meet the development needs of the area between 2011 and 2031. He reported that Gloucester City Council and Tewkesbury Borough Council had now adopted the strategy. He added that work would continue as there would immediately be a review as regards housing supply for Gloucester and Tewkesbury and collectively for all three authorities an immediate retail review.

 

The Leader reminded Members that also in progress was the Cheltenham Plan which was now potentially at pre-submission stage and which would be considered by Council that evening. He highlighted the momentum at Government level for the JCS with the Secretary of State rejecting a call in request from the Tewkesbury MP within 48 hours of receiving it.

 

The Leader highlighted the following key points:

 

·         The JCS assessed the general housing need for the area which was essential to provide affordable housing for the future.

·         In respect of the AONB and the green belt he welcomed the proactive involvement of local communities in putting forward green space requests which had now been incorporated into the JCS however he did note that the Inspector had not used the same opportunity to include mention of the West Cheltenham green space which was equally important for that area.

·         The JCS would ensure that adequate infrastructure would be in place and made reference to the £22m growth deal for the cyberpark which illustrated Government’s enthusiasm for the scheme. He highlighted that all were keen to see improvements at Junction 10 of the M5 before 2031 and Government would be lobbied to ensure central funding was available.

 

In terms of the recommendations he highlighted that the Inspector had examined the proposed plan for its soundness and if the main modifications were not accepted there would be no JCS. He referred to the recommendations relating to the Memorandums of Agreement with Tewkesbury Borough Council regarding the delivery of housing at land at Farm Lane and Uckington.

 

Finally, he gave thanks to all those who had been involved in the long and arduous process in developing the JCS including officers, Members and residents of Cheltenham who had added value in contributing to the process.

 

The following questions were raised and responses given:

 

·         If the JCS was not accepted by Council then developers would in theory have a ‘free for all’ in relation to planning

·         There was a need to demonstrate a 5 year housing supply

·         It had taken some time, along with the whole JCS process, to agree that a Memorandum of Understanding with regard to the houses on Farm Lane would be put in place on adoption of the JCS allocating the 377 houses to Cheltenham’s  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.

10.

The Pre-Submission Cheltenham Plan 2011-2031 pdf icon PDF 127 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member Development and Safety

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor McKinlay introduced the report. He advised that all local authorities were under a statutory obligation to prepare a development plan. The council had chosen to do this through the preparation of two documents the JCS and the Cheltenham Plan which together provided a planning framework for the borough until 2031.

 

The Plan included a number of key proposals. These included provision of 1300 new homes in the borough the allocation of 7 ha of new employment land and 86 Local Green Space designations across the borough.

 

There were two particular issues to mention which would require further work, namely the West of Cheltenham Development and the request from GCC that the plan includes an allocation for a new secondary school on the Leckhampton Fields site earmarked for housing. During the JCS process GCC had insisted that there was no need for a new school and their change of mind was only communicated by a letter on 12 November 2017, hence the proposal had not been included in the JCS process. Although this was unsatisfactory there was little doubt that the new school was needed. The inclusion in the plan meant that the proposal for the school at this site would now be subject to full examination via the pre-submission consultation and the examination in public. The timescales were set out in the report.

 

He highlighted a few of the key changes in the new Cheltenham Plan which were detailed in the report. He concluded that the Cheltenham Plan provided a sound and up-to-date planning framework which would allow the borough to successfully face the challenges of the future.

 

The Cabinet Member gave the following responses to questions assisted by officers in any technical details:

·         Asked why the site at Oakhurst Rise no longer satisfied the criteria for nomination as local green space, the Cabinet Member advised that all sites were judged against a set of criteria.
The officer added that in all assessments there was a balance between development and other needs. Oakhurst Rise was a constrained site and its heritage sensitivity and landscaped sensitivity were recognized and that was why the original plans for 90-100 units had been reduced to 25. The member working group had been consulted on the proposals.

·         The Cabinet Member confirmed that there was an allocation for housing on the Priors Farm playing field.
The officer confirmed that the master plan for this site was currently being produced by developers and any housing would be accommodated in a large area thereby maintaining green space and allowing for flood alleviation work.

·         A Member welcomed the statement in 13.6 but he asked what situation might arise to change this situation and allow building on the green belt.
The Cabinet Member couldn’t say but he could confirm that there was no anticipated demand at this current time and no part of the green belt had been affected by the Local Plan.

·         He confirmed that that there would be a 8 week period of public consultation in  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.

11.

Recommendations of the Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP) regarding Members' Scheme of Allowances pdf icon PDF 95 KB

Report of the Chief Executive

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Democratic Services Manager introduced the report of the panel. She explained that the panel had not carried out a full review this year but had been convened to consider various issues requested by Members and their recommendations were set out in the report.

 

She advised that the figures quoted in the report were based on a 1% increase in all allowances in line with the provision made for the staff settlement. In the previous week it had been announced that the increase for staff is expected to be 2% so assuming this went ahead any increases quoted would effectively be multiplied by a factor of 2 giving a total cost of the recommended increases of £6,600.

 

The Council was required to consider the recommendations and if acceptable to resolve to adopt them. If the Council were to reject the recommendations, the current scheme would remain in place.

 

The Leader thanked the IRP and supporting officer for their report and proposed to accept the recommendations as an increase in line with the staff settlement seemed appropriate.

 

In response to a question, the Democratic Services Manager confirmed that the basic allowance calculation assumed a voluntary contribution and without that the allowance would be in the order of £7,500. 

 

She also confirmed that the SRA for the Planning Committee Chair was calculated using the formula and then split between the Chair and Vice-Chair on a 2/3:1/3 basis. This was in line with the 60/40 split being recommended for Licensing Committee.  

 

A Member reminded Council of the Give as you Earn facility whereby any Member could make a regular donation to the Mayor’s Charity or any charity of their choice by completing a payroll deduction form available from Democratic Services. Members could also elect not to receive any particular increase.

 

Upon a vote the recommendations were CARRIED

Voting: For:30 with 3 abstentions

 

RESOLVED (unanimously) THAT

1.    The recommendations set out in the attached IRP report be adopted and

ii)    That the Basic Allowance payable to all Councillors be increased from April 2018 by a % equal to the proposed increase to staff relating to 2018/19.

iii)   That the level of all SRAs be increased by the same %.

iv)   That the allowances for Mayor and Deputy Mayor are increased by the same %

v)    That the SRA for the Licensing Committee Chair be split between the Chair and Vice-Chair on a 60/40 basis until a full evidence based review can be carried out as part of the next full review in September 2018.

vi)   That when travelling to approved duties outside of the borough using public transport all travel costs incurred within the borough can be included subject to the requirement to use the most cost effective form of travel for all journeys.

2.    It be noted that the next full review required by legislation will start in September 2018 reporting to Council in December 2018.

3.    The Democratic Services Manager be authorised to implement any necessary changes to the scheme of allowances  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.

12.

Treasury Mid-Term Report pdf icon PDF 122 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member Finance

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member Finance introduced the report and reminded Members that the council operated a balanced budget. The treasury management operation ensured that cash flow was adequately planned with surplus monies invested in low risk counterparties. Another important function was the funding of the capital plans assessing and ensuring that the borrowing needs could be met in order to fund the capital programme.

She reported that In 2017 the economy had slowed down compared with 2016 with growth being particularly weak through the period this report covered. Interest rates have remained very low and were to remain low for the foreseeable future. She reported that investment returns achieved to date of 0.60% was still a good return when compared with the benchmark 3 month London interbank bid rate, for the first six months this was averaging 0.18%, however with inflation running at 3% the council was facing increases in the costs of services but with lower investment rates. She then highlighted that this year an additional £22k had been added for investment interest to the 17/18 budget against what was reported in the last budget monitoring report.

 

The Cabinet Member informed Members that with returns being so much lower than inflation in August this year £1 million was invested in the CCLA property fund, which in its first quarter gave a return of 4.6%, with future returns likely to be of a similar order. She reported that a further £ 2 million was invested into this pooled fund at the end of November.

.

The Cabinet Member Finance then informed that following a joint procurement with the County Council, South Gloucestershire and the Forest of Dean, a contract was awarded to Arlingclose Limited to provide treasury advice to the council for a five year period with a small saving in fees. She wished to put on record her thanks to Capita for their advice and guidance over the last five years. She reported that Arlingclose had a lot of experience in advising local authorities with pooled funds which could be very relevant to the council moving forward with security, liquidity and returns. She said that treasury had been changing immensely over the last few years with movement away from holding deposits in high street banks and diversifying its treasury management into new areas. She looked forward to reporting back higher returns in the future.

 

1.1         Finally, the Cabinet Member wished to put on record her thanks to officers and advisors and informed that the outturn position for 2017/18 was anticipated to be above the budget, at £45,500.

In response to a question as to whether the funds domiciled in Luxembourg were not invested there for tax reasons but for returns the Cabinet Member Finance reassured the Member that this was the case.

 

RESOLVED (unanimously)

 

That the contents of the summary report of the treasury management activity during the first six months of 2017/18 be noted.

 

 

13.

Local council tax support Scheme for 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 114 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member Finance

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member Finance introduced the report and explained that up to April 2013 council tax benefit was fully funded by government. In April that year Government provided the council with 90% but this council maintained the full 100% funding with the 10% shortfall funded by reducing council tax benefits on empty properties.

 

In 2014/15 the Government stopped separately identifying their contribution and this council continued to support those residents that were on low working incomes or retired on low pensions.

 

The Cabinet Member Finance explained that the wider introduction of universal credit would impact on how council tax support could be sustained and it maybe necessary to consider an alternative scheme for future years. She reported that during 18/19 some modelling work would be done and consultation undertaken to inform any changes that may be proposed to change the scheme and in any case from 2019/20 the council would no longer receive its revenue support grant from central government, but woudl be reliant upon council tax and business rates revenue. 

 

Finally, the Cabinet Member stated that a number of welfare reforms targeted at working age people had happened since 2013 and with universal credit now being rolled out in Cheltenham, keeping this level of council tax support would ensure those residents that needed it were not impacted further and she requested that this council continued to support the scheme at 100% for 2018/19.

 

RESOLVED (unanimously) THAT

 

the council tax support scheme for working age customers for 2018/19, other than any annual uprating of premiums, allowances and non-dependant deductions be approved.

 

14.

Council Tax Premium on Empty Properties pdf icon PDF 77 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member Finance

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member Finance introduced the report and reminded Members that councils had discretionary powers to set the level of council tax discount on empty properties. This council had already used its discretionary powers to set discount levels in respect of empty properties and second homes which were detailed in appendix 2.

 

She also informed Members that councils also had powers to charge an additional 50% council tax in respect of class C properties which had been empty and unfurnished for more than 2 years. In the Autumn Statement the Chancellor announced that the Government were proposing to increase the amount from 50% to 100% which this council may like to consider when further details are published.

 

The Cabinet Member Finance reported that as of October 2017 80 properties had been empty for more than 2 years and the additional council tax income for CBC would amount to £7,300.

Charging the premium acted as a penalty and was one of a number of powers the council had to tackle empty properties. The council wanted to encourage owners to bring empty homes back into use and charging the premium would send a clear message to owners that it was not acceptable to keep properties empty.  Increasing the premium to 100% would further incentivize owners to bring empty properties back in to use.

 

The Cabinet Member Finance recognised that there were are a wide range of reasons for properties being unoccupied. She reported that the number of homes in Cheltenham vacant for longer than 6 months stood at 395 in October 2016 which is 0.7% of the stock), or around 1 in 143 dwellings. The proportion of Cheltenham empty homes that were long term vacant was 23.6% of the total number of empty homes. This was the lowest long term vacant homes rate of the six local authorities in Gloucestershire. The comparable figure for Gloucester was 30.8% and 44.5% in the Forest of Dean.

 

The Council monitored vacant homes in the private sector and took action where they were being kept empty without good reason for longer than 6 months. In 2016-17, the authority intervened successfully in 130 cases and had done so with another 39 cases so far this year.

 

Information published by DCLG in October 2016 showed that 287 out of 326 council’s were charging this premium, in Gloucestershire currently Stroud and Cotswold both do.

 

She therefore sought Council’s support in implementing the empty homes premium of 50% with effect from 1st April 2018.

 

RESOLVED (unanimously) THAT

 

It be determined that the Council Tax Empty Homes Premium of 50% is implemented from 1st April 2018 in respect of properties which have been unoccupied and unfurnished for more than 2 years.

 

15.

Community Governance Review pdf icon PDF 152 KB

Report of the Leader

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Leader introduced the report and reminded Members that the council had received a petition from Pittville Parish Council Campaign Group for the creation of a new parish council. This had prompted a community governance review which also considered alterations to boundaries of three parish councils: Charlton Kings, Leckhampton with Warden Hill and Up Hatherley, plus consultation on the anomaly areas in Merestones Drive and St Nicholas Drive. The council had received a large response to the consultation.

 

The Leader outlined the results of the consultation as follows :

 

·         60 % of respondents voted against the proposed parish council.

·         Respondents in each of the four areas of Charlton Kings voted in favour of their area being parished.

·         There was overall support that the boundary of Leckhampton with Warden Hill Parish Council be altered to include the additional area. The complication with this was that there were 4 different areas advertised and 1 one had voted narrowly against joining but this would leave it isolated so the proposal was to include it. After the review had finished a request came forward to include an extra field and a consultation process would be held on that area with a review on 23 January.

·         The removal of 2 properties on Merestones Drive would not be supported.

·         For Up Hatherley Parish Council one area voted clearly in favour while the other was against. The first area included part of the current Park Ward and the working group had proposed not to include this small area in the parish as it would complicate the election process and would need a separate parish councillor. Subsequent analysis has shown that 78% of those who voted in this area were favour of changing the boundary which also had the support of the Parish Council. The Leader was expecting an amendment to now include the area which he was happy to support.

The Leader went on to say that a reorganisation order would be required if Council was minded to agree the recommendations of the CGR working group to alter the boundaries of the parish councils. This was a legal document that would set out the electoral arrangements, the precept, the transition arrangements and the transfer of any assets, liabilities and services. As this would consider changes to the council tax base a special Council meeting had been scheduled for 23 January and this would also represent the final opportunity to consider further feedback.

 

Finally the Leader confirmed that all households affected by the changes would be written to.

 

When asked whether residents had been made aware that polling stations would change as a result the Leader confirmed that they had been notified about the process and the likely Council Tax but information about polling stations had only been available subsequently.

 

Councillor Whyborn proposed the following amendment:

 

Recommendation

2          That the alteration of parish council boundaries be supported as follows:

b    That the boundary of Up Hatherley Parish Council be altered to include an additional area as  ...  view the full minutes text for item 15.

16.

Revised financing arrangements for improvements to Leisure-at-Cheltenham pdf icon PDF 156 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member Healthy Lifestyles

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member Healthy Lifestyles introduced the report which sought Council approval of providing cost certainty on the main project to deliver the revised programme of improvements to Leisure-at-Cheltenham.

 

She explained that further to Council’s decision in March 2017 to agree the proposed works and financing arrangements, the Cheltenham Trust had worked with its development partner Alliance Leisure Services to advance the scheme within the agreed financial framework. After work to further define the project it was clear that project costs would be higher but that these would be mitigated by a greater impact for customers and increases in income against a revised business plan. The original model presented to Council was based on the Trust delivering the project through a loan from the council. This method of project delivery would have incurred VAT which meant fewer improvements would have been delivered. A preferred method was now proposed whereby the council contracted Alliance Leisure Services. In doing so the VAT would be recoverable and the project would deliver greater public benefit for the cost incurred. The revised report thus provided cost certainty on the main project ad the benefits were laid out in paragraph 2.7 of the report. This would provide not only a good facility but also addressed the council’s concerns on financing and the future of Leisure-at-Cheltenham as a growing concern.

 

When asked whether some cost increases related to existing work where costs had changed the Cabinet Member Healthy Lifestyles explained that the new work related to entrance at Leisure@ whereby customers would use the gym for an hour with the use of other facilities for free.

 

In response to a question as to whether the council required a surveyor on site for every day at a cost of £30k the Cabinet Member Healthy Lifestyles felt that this was necessary as no decisions should be taken without the council being made fully aware of them. It would provide the council with an assurance that there would be a person there to report back to the joint commissioning group in the best interest of the Trust, the council and users over time.

 

Concern was expressed that there were a significant number of risks and wished to ensure that the Overview and Scrutiny committee undertook to scrutinise the project as outlined in paragraph 6.3 of the report. In response the Chair of Overview and Scrutiny undertook to raise this with the lead Members of O&S which were due to meet the following day. The Cabinet Member Healthy Lifestyles added that Members should understand the cost certainty and how risk was regarded at all levels.

 

RESOLVED (unanimously) THAT

 

1.    Subject to the conditions in section 7 being met, the Section 151 Officer be authorised, in consultation with the Cabinet Member Finance, to seek prudential borrowing of up to £2.236m at an interest rate of 2% per annum to fund the improvements to Leisure-at-Cheltenham as detailed in Section 3 of this report;

 

2.    The Section 151 Officer be authorised, in consultation  ...  view the full minutes text for item 16.

17.

Notices of Motion pdf icon PDF 171 KB

Minutes:

Motion A

Proposed by: Councillor Clucas and seconded by: Councillor Fisher

 

In view of the concerns expressed by residents who live in the  area, where the significant traffic flow makes crossing the road at the junction, entering or egressing Windyridge Road by pedestrians or vehicles, hazardous, GCC Highways is requested to look into providing a roundabout or traffic lights at the Windyridge Road/Swindon Road junction. It is further requested that a response is made to Cheltenham Borough Council in relation to timeline and processes to consult residents.

 

In proposing the motion, Councillor Clucas informed members that residents had been trying to get answers to their questions to GCC since 2016.

 

Councillor Fisher seconded the motion.

 

Upon a vote the motion was CARRIED with one abstention.

 

Motion B

Proposed by: Councillor Jeffries and seconded by: Councillor Bickerton

The West Cheltenham strategic allocation in the Joint Core Strategy has been found sound in the inspector’s report.

 

In the very short period that this site has been progressed residents of Springbank have had little opportunity to react given what has been a very fluid situation, getting involved, informed and organised has been very limiting due to the condensed timescales.

 

Views ranging from no development at all to we need homes and jobs are widespread, indeed an entire range of opinions between these two points can be heard.

 

This has been reflected in only one sentence in the inspector’s report at para 192.

 

There is a feeling amongst residents that having worked extremely hard to have their voices heard they have been ignored.

 

This is especially evident given the creation of a Springbank neighbourhood forum and their formulation of a green space application to Cheltenham Borough council.

 

The green space was carefully crafted and developed taking in a wide range of views, wrapping around four specific walking routes which are subject to a rights of way application which has been submitted to Gloucestershire County Council.

 

Residents across several decades have utilised these walks and the green space has been designed from that starting point, to benefit the existing and proposed new communities both residential and commercial.

 

The Springbank neighbourhood forum green space application has not been given any consideration by the JCS inspector in her report, this is fundamentally unfair and inconsistent given her inclusion & reference to other green space applications, such as those proposed in the north west and south Cheltenham areas / sites.

 

Given the statement in the JCS final report (para 196) which states that each strategic allocation should have its own directions for developers, on infrastructure and transport etc, Council should agree that a requirement within such direction is also a requirement for green infrastructure.

 Therefore, Council resolves to: -

 

Use the example of the Swindon Village and Leckhampton green space applications and acknowledge the Springbank Neighbourhood Forum's NPPF Local Green Space (LGS) application as the residents preferred green space in the west Cheltenham strategic site.

 

Recognise the importance of the Springbank Neighbourhood Forum NPPF LGS applications indicative layout  ...  view the full minutes text for item 17.

18.

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

19.

Local Government Act 1972 - Exempt Information

Council is recommended to approve the following resolution:-

 

“That in accordance with Section 100A(4) Local Government Act 1972 the public be excluded from the meeting for the remaining agenda items as it is likely that, in view of the nature of the business to be transacted or the nature of the proceedings, if members of the public are present there will be disclosed to them exempt information as defined in paragraph 3, Part (1) Schedule (12A) Local Government Act 1972, namely:

 

Paragraph 3; Information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular

person (including the authority holding that information)

 

 

 

 

Minutes:

RESOLVED THAT

 

That in accordance with Section 100A(4) Local Government Act 1972 the public be excluded from the meeting for the remaining agenda items as it is likely that, in view of the nature of the business to be transacted or the nature of the proceedings, if members of the public are present there will be disclosed to them exempt information as defined in paragraph 3, Part (1) Schedule (12A) Local Government Act 1972, namely:

 

Paragraph 3; Information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular

person (including the authority holding that information)

 

 

20.

A property acquisition

Report of the Cabinet Member Finance

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member Finance introduced the exempt report regarding an opportunity which had arisen for a potential commercial property acquisition. Following a briefing to Cabinet and its approval to officers to investigate further, she was now seeking Council’s approval to make the necessary budget allocation based on the business case and supporting information.

 

She explained that many authorities were facing a tough and complex set of pressures – funding cuts, rising demand for services with increased costs associated with its provision and economic growth challenges. Further spending cuts were inevitable and likely to be in the next two months with the Local Government settlement and the decision on new homes bonus.

 

Demographic and economic pressures on authorities and their services were increasing so the question was how could local authorities transform themselves to respond to the pressures they faced. The current thinking of Government was to make councils become less reliant on Revenue Support Grant and other centrally controlled grant funding.  It was therefore this Cabinet’s aspiration to become financially sustainable by 2021-2022. This was one of the reasons why she had requested the Chief Finance Officer to write a commercial strategy that would be submitted to Cabinet the following day for approval.

                                                                                

Many councils were facing an increasing need for reinvestment in resources and services, ranging from community cohesion, health and social care to education and infrastructure. The status quo would only lead to service reduction. Councils would need to have a relentless focus on generating additional sources of revenue income as government grant continued to fall and interest rates remained low. The Cabinet Member believed that the focus, where market conditions allowed, should be on areas such as investments in the commercial property portfolio and regeneration through both direct and indirect investment to boost local economic activity.

 

She provided Members with more details of the property under discussion. With any property investment the need to assess the options and criteria was paramount and the financial objectives and revenue delivery of this potential acquisition had been assessed and that the prescribed target yield met expectations. She went on to address the issue of risks and explained how the risks associated with this proposed acquisition had been identified and scored appropriately. She concluded that commercialisation was the route to maintain and enhance service delivery.

 

Members then raised questions on the report and responses were given.

 

In the debate that followed Members made a number of points. The Chief Finance Officer and Cabinet Member spoke in response to the points made.

 

The Cabinet Member Finance concluded that she had confidence in the officers assessment of risk and believed that the council should embrace this opportunity which would reflect the future direction of travel of this authority.

 

Upon a vote the recommendations were CARRIED and the budget allocation was agreed by Council.