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:

Apologies were received from Councillors Harman, Nelson, Oliver, Ryder and Savage

2.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

Councillor Barnes declared an interest in agenda item 10 as Chair of the Cheltenham Festival of Performing Arts which was being allocated £20k in the annual budget.

 

Councillor Hobley declared an interest in agenda item 10 as a Council nominated Trustee to the Cheltenham Trust.

 

Councillor Babbage declared an interest in agenda item 10 as he owned a property in the vicinity of the High Street. He would withdraw from the chamber during the debate of an amendment.

3.

Minutes of the last meeting pdf icon PDF 100 KB

Minutes of the meeting held on 23 January 2018

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 23 January 2018 were approved and signed as a correct record.

4.

Communications by the Mayor pdf icon PDF 46 KB

Minutes:

The Mayor updated Council on her recent engagements.

5.

Communications by the Leader of the Council

Minutes:

The Leader wished to pay tribute to Cliff Ride, a former Director of Environment at the council, who recently passed away.

 

The Leader informed Members that Ian Bickerton had resigned as a councillor. He wished to put on record his thanks to his contributions to the Council whilst he was a Member.

 

The Leader reminded Members that Highways England had launched its consultation on the options for the A417 until 29 March. A consultation event was taking place at St Andrews Church on 24 February between 11am and 6pm.

 

The Cabinet Member Clean and Green Environment was then invited to make a statement on the crematorium. He explained that on 9 February a Health and Safety review was undertaken at the crematorium and due to the cremators operating under positive pressure at times and subsequently emitting smoke into the crematory area the decision was taken to stop cremating from Monday 12 February. The welfare of staff was paramount in taking this last resort decision. Emergency meetings would be held with service engineers and inspections done as a matter of urgency to determine the way forward in order to become fully operational as quickly as possible. Until then all future bookings had been cancelled and with the funeral directors help all currently booked cremations would be moved to alternate crematoriums. He was aware the distress this would cause to families involved and stressed that if he had any other option he would be taking it.

 

The Cabinet Member Clean and Green Environment went on to say that the service continuity plan was put into operation straight away and last Tuesday morning, all of the five coffins from Monday’s services were transported to Newport, where they were cremated at Westerleigh’s new crematorium. He wished to reassure everyone that the process would be as dignified as to be expected. The coffin would leave Cheltenham Crematorium via the catafalque, through the chapel, and out of the main doors, where it would be placed into private ambulance ready for transportation. Upon arrival at Newport, the coffins would be carried into the chapel, placed on the catafalque where the curtains would be closed and the coffin taken into the crematory or storage area waiting for cremation. The ashes from the previous day’s cremations would be ready to collect and return to Cheltenham. He advised of a maximum time frame of 72 hours. Cremated remains would be available for collection from Cheltenham Crematorium in the usual manner once ready.

 

Inspection works and repairs had taken place on both cremators and contractors were on site. A part was awaited from abroad so it was likely that the service would be non operational for next week.

 

He wished to put on record his thanks to staff who had taken the decision hard. He was confident however that  it was the right decision. All Members had received updates via press releases at the same time as those affected i.e. members of the public and funeral directors. He confirmed that the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

To receive petitions

Minutes:

None received.

7.

Public Questions pdf icon PDF 107 KB

These must be received no later than 12 noon on Tuesday 13 February 2018

Minutes:

1.

Question from Ben Stone to Cabinet Member Clean and Green Environment, Councillor Chris Coleman

 

Residents in All Saints Villas Road have recently been experiencing problems with the Council’s Garden Waste collection service and have reported a number of missed collections. Residents have been told that this is due to issues with getting the collection vehicle down their narrow street. Given residents have to pay for this scheme, this is clearly very poor service.

How will the Council address the specific problems on All Saints Villas Road  and numerous other town centre streets which are notoriously narrow?

 

Response from Cabinet Member

 

There have always been access issues in All Saints Villas Road due the narrowness of the road and parking on the corners and bend.  A smaller vehicle is now being used to make garden waste collections in this road and other narrow roads in the town.

 

2.

Question from Tess Beck to Cabinet Member Development and Safety, Councillor Andrew McKinlay (present)

 

Can it be inferred from the decision taken by the Licensing Committee on 2/10/2018 that they agreed with the statement made on behalf of the Two Pigs Management that any unaccompanied women are likely to be prostitutes, and should therefore be refused entry to a pub?

 

Does the council agree with this and if so how is this compatible with the council's public sector equality duty?

 

Response from Cabinet Member

 

The Council recognises that Parliament has made it lawful to operate a sex establishment and that such businesses are a legitimate part of the retail and leisure industries. It is this council’s role as the Licensing Authority to administer the licensing regime in accordance with the law.

 

To this end, the council is under a duty to determine applications for sex establishment licences.  Each application is determined on its individual merits taking into account a wide range of factors such as; its adopted policy, local comments and objections, primary legislation and submissions by the applicant before the relevant Licensing Committee.

 

The Licensing Committee did not concur with the supposition that unaccompanied women were likely to be prostitutes when entering the establishing of Two Pigs.  The Licensing Committee were keen to relay to the representatives of the establishment that an inference should not be drawn by lone women entering the establishment that they were prostitutes.  The Committee reminded the representatives of the Equality Duty and not displaying any discriminatory practices or treatment towards women.

 

The council is fully aware and follows its Public Sector Equality Duty and its obligations under it which is relevant when determining any licensing application.

 

In a supplementary question Tess Beck asked the Cabinet Member whether he agreed with the representative of the Two Pigs management that lap-dancing increases the risk of prostitution on their premises.

 

The Cabinet Member responded that it was entirely up to the Two Pigs management to ensure their premises are licensed in accordance with the regulations and he did not agree with the statement made by the questioner.

 

3.

Question  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Member Questions pdf icon PDF 97 KB

These must be received no later than 12 noon on Tuesday 13 February 2018

Minutes:

1.

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

 

What assessment is being made of the impact on the housing market and on communities due to the increase in Airbnb rentals?

 

Response from Cabinet Member

 

It is unclear at present what impact, if any, Airbnb rentals are having specifically on the local housing market and on our communities.

 

Airbnb is in effect a lodgings agency that specialises in facilitating access to short term B and B accommodation. As such it is likely to have more impact on the Hospitality sector then the Housing sector. As a result the activities of Airbnb fall outside of the Housing Licensing regime.

 

What is clear is that private rents have increased significantly in Cheltenham in recent years, with the result that many low income households are being priced out of the private rented market.

 

The upward pressure on private rents suggests that demand for private rented accommodation is exceeding supply. This is likely to be attributable to a number of factors, such as high house prices, which is resulting in many more households remaining within the private rented sector for longer.

 

The council will be looking to jointly commission with other districts across the county a new Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA), once the government have provided further clarity about the methodology that needs to be followed by local authorities when commissioning this type of work. Included within the SHMA will be an assessment of the need for private rented accommodation.

 

It is envisaged that specific issues and pressure points, such as any potential impact Airbnb rentals are having on the local housing market, could well be identified then.    

 

2.

Question from Councillor Mason to the Cabinet Member Finance, Councillor Rowena Hay

 

When is the Borough Council scheduled to move into Delta House?

 

 

Response from Cabinet Member

 

Work is ongoing to develop the relocation strategy which is responding to a changing landscape.

 

The council is undergoing significant transformation in the way in which staff work and has created agile workspace and promoting flexible working which is reducing the space needs and is informing the strategy for the relocation from the Municipal Offices.

 

The council has been activity working with other public sector agencies on the potential of a public sector hub to serve residents.

 

Options for relocation into alternative accommodation either temporarily or permanently are kept under continuous. As yet, due to the shortage of suitable offices, no viable option has been identified. As such, should this position not change, the council will relocate to Delta Place in 2024.

 

3.

Question from Councillor Harman to the Cabinet Member Housing, Councillor Peter Jeffries

 

Gloucester City Council has recently announced a 35 per cent reduction in the number of rough sleepers. Understanding fully that this is only one part of a complex and very human issue, can the Cabinet Member confirm what progress is being made in Cheltenham on this issue

 

Response from Cabinet Member

 

Nationally rough sleeping has increased  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Executive Board Restructure pdf icon PDF 264 KB

Report of the Chief Executive

Minutes:

The Chief Executive introduced the report and reminded Members that in July 2017 Council had resolved that a phased approach to the review of the authority’s senior leadership team and service managers be undertaken. This report aimed to put in place the key building blocks for an executive board structure with the necessary skills, capacity and capabilities for the future.

 

She highlighted that going forward it was important for Members to have confidence that the council’s finances continued to be managed well and that officers safely navigated through issues such as business rate retention and the fair funding regime. It was also important that the necessary skills were in place to strike a balance between taking more commercial opportunities whilst maintaining our reputation of strong financial stewardship. The first key building block therefore related to financial sustainability and was reflected in the post of Executive Director-Finance and Assets.

 

The Chief Executive went on to say that the proposed executive board structure reflected the broader approach to place shaping in its widest sense which was not simply limited to economic growth and developing the physical place in a way that was sustainable but also reflected an ambition for inclusive growth as well as contributing to the sense of place and how Cheltenham felt as a place. This was reflected in the second key building block in the post of Managing Director Place and Growth.

 

She then highlighted that gaps had been identified in the current executive board team principally in relation to capacity coupled with experience and capabilities in authority-wide service modernisation and organisational change. Work was currently underway to consider what the future service management organisational model could look like  and that a very high level initial business case was being developed. She highlighted that the potential level of change should not be underestimated and therefore the third key building block was reflected in the new post of Executive Director People and Change.

 

The final issue which arose from her assessment was that of capacity at executive director level to both manage and deliver key corporate projects whilst also delivering authority wide modernisation. The need to address both these issues had therefore informed the proposal to create the new Executive Director post. This would result in the Director of Resources and Corporate Projects post being deleted, and with his agreement, the current post-holder flexibly retiring and his appointment to a new transitional, part-time role of Director-Corporate Projects.

 

The Chief Executive reported that formal consultation had taken place with those directly affected and this was reported to the Appointments and Remuneration Committee in January. The financial implications of this phase 1 review were outlined in the report with the flexible retirement approach being of less cost to the authority than compulsory redundancy as well as retaining for a period of time a very experienced director. In addition, she explained that the budgetary cost of recruitment to the new Executive Director post would also need Council approval.

Finally she stressed how vital  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.

10.

Final General Fund Revenue and Capital budget proposals 2018/19 (including Section 25) pdf icon PDF 188 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member Finance

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member Finance introduced the report which summarized the revised budget for 2017/18 and the Cabinet’s final budget proposals and pay policy statement for 2018/19.  Her introduction is attached in full to these minutes.

 

The budget was seconded by Councillor Jordan.

 

A question was raised by a Member as to how the budget was prepared in chaotic circumstances owing to the wrong figures being published by the Valuation Office Agency. In response the Cabinet Member Finance said that apparently the Minister was aware the figures were incorrect before he published and as the consultation period had closed there was no opportunity for local authorities to comment on the fact that this authority had received momentarily an increased tariff of £454k from the proposed provisional settlement as detailed in section 5 of the Section 151 Officers report.

 

Group Leaders were invited to address Council.

 

In the absence of Councillor Harman, Conservative group leader, Councillor Babbage spoke on behalf of the Conservative group. He paid tribute and thanks to those who had been involved in producing this draft budget . He also thanked officers for their support to the budget scrutiny working group. He informed Members that two amendments to the budget would be put forward by his group.

 

On behalf of the People Against Bureaucracy group Councillor Stennett recognised the professionalism of the finance team particularly in this new changing environment of reducing government support.

 

Councillor Babbage proposed the following amendment :

Amendment 1 (Revenue)

 

Reduce number of councillors by 10: £54k pa saving

Move to four-yearly election cycle: £30k pa saving

Consolidate Revenue, Benefits & Customer Services within Publica: £79k pa saving

Additional emptying of Recycling Banks at peak periods to avoid littering: £10k pa cost

Reverse proposed car parking charge increase: £150k pa cost

 

The amendment was seconded by Councillor Mason

 

The following questions and comments were raised on the amendment and responses given :

 

·         It was questioned as to how soon a reduction in the number of councillors and the move to 4 yearly elections could be implemented bearing in mind this would involve changes to electoral arrangements to be agreed with the Electoral Commission. The potential savings from the amendment were proposed to be spent in 2018/19 and would this be possible without a further increase in council tax ?

·         Some Members felt that this proposal should have been raised prior to this meeting as the implications of the changes could have been worked through. Changes to revenue amounted to £300k and it was difficult to see how this could be done without putting at risk some services which were important to the town, e.g. Leisure @

·         Some Members felt that with regard to car parking charges it would be sensible if the Cabinet Member of the County Council and the CBC Cabinet Member could discuss an integrated parking solution for Cheltenham rather than a piecemeal approach.

·         The Cabinet Member Development and Safety referred to the support given to the Arup report on car parking. Money  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.

11.

Housing Revenue Account - Revised Forecast 2017/18 and Budget Proposals 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 121 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member Finance

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member Finance introduced the report which summarised the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) revised forecast for 2017/18 and the Cabinet’s budget proposals for 2018/19.

 

She referred to the Government’s rent reduction policy of reducing rents by 1% per annum which had meant that CBH had to make provision to mitigate the loss of £6.7 million in rental income up to 2020. Beyond that Government had now confirmed that the rent policy will revert back to annual increases of up to CPI plus 1% per annum for the following five years until the next review.

 

She believed that the approach CBH had taken was a balanced one, making management and maintenance savings of £1,421 million, realigning the capital programme and the use of revenue reserves together with some smaller cost savings. By this approach CBH were able to maintain existing service levels, retain the decent homes standard, continue delivery of the major windows and doors replacement and complete the new build programme.

 

She highlighted the impact of the introduction of Universal Credit which was set out in the report and the steps CBH were taking to provide support and information to all tenants affected by these changes.

 

She highlighted the difficult of finalising a 30 year business plan when in reality there was so much change happening at short notice but the projections had been updated to reflect the current situation as set out in the report.

 

She highlighted some of the achievements on CBH and CBC. These included over three and a half million of spending on repairs and maintenance, and  nearly eight million on property improvements and major works, one and a half million on new build and acquisitions, and the continuing spending on benefits advice, employment initiatives and services for older and disabled people.

 

She concluded by thanking all of CBH’s team for ensuring that the challenges they face will still include some new builds, deliver the same level of service to tenants, in particular the valuable work in terms of tenant wellbeing around debt and money advice, community support & activity events, and to see that supporting the council’s older tenants living in supported accommodation despite the last few years in decreased funding will all continue. She acknowledged the thought and hard work that had gone into preparing the revised budget.

 

In response to a question from a Member regarding her confidence that the Government would keep to its policy that rent increases would be restricted to 1%, the Cabinet Member advised that there were no guarantees in life but the council and CBH would continue to react swiftly to any changes announced by Government.

 

A Member commented that they looked forward to the day when CBH could include a building company which would be in a position to build new homes and would provide valuable opportunities for taking on and training apprentices. The Cabinet Member Housing advised that he had regular conversations with CBH on this suggestion and would keep Members informed of any changes. He  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.

12.

Treasury Management Strategy Statement and Annual Investment Strategy 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 92 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member Finance

Additional documents:

Minutes:

 

The Cabinet Member Finance introduced the report and explained that under the CIPFA code the council must report annually on its treasury management strategy statement which incorporated the investment strategy and its prudential indicators .

She reported that CIPFA had published new editions of Treasury Management in the Public Services: Code of Practice and Cross-sectoral Guidance Notes and the Prudential Code for Capital Finance in Local Authorities in December  2017. In response to these changes, Council should consider the Treasury Management Strategy for 2018/19 based upon the requirements of the 2011 Code and in line with current governance practices. The changes to the Prudential Code had introduced a requirement for the Council to approve a Capital Strategy with effect from 2018/19.

Since this report had been considered by the Treasury Management Panel and Cabinet, expectations had been raised that further interest rate rises were likely to happen sooner and to a higher level than previously anticipated by markets.

The treasury strategy statement and annual investment strategy formed part of appendix 2 and she drew members’ attention to the revisions made to the lending and parameter list on page 86 table 2.

She reported that during the 2017/18 financial year the council decided to look into alternative investments outside the traditional bank deposits. It currently had £3m invested in the CCLA Property Fund which was generating returns of 4.5%. This had brought an additional £35k over and above the revised 2017/18 investment income budget, and with new investments in other Pooled Funds had seen the expected gross income surplus of £307k for 2018/19.

The Cabinet Member Finance concluded by putting on record her thanks to the Treasury Management team.

The following questions and comments were raised :

·         Following changes to UK legislation to better protect customers and the day-to-day banking services they relied on where did the council’s investments sit  ? The Chief Finance Officer explained that the council’s current accounts were held with Lloyds bank plc and this was therefore considered “retail”.  He undertook to provide a written response to Members with regard to the council’s treasury deposits.

·         A Member commended the quality of the recent presentation by the council’s new treasury advisors Arlingclose at Treasury Management Panel.

·         Members recognised the importance of moving deposits away from the High Street banks as this was not keeping up with inflation. It was acknowledged that changing from a risk averse approach to a more pragmatic approach was necessary to aid the Medium Term Financial Strategy.

·         A question was raised in terms of the item in the treasury report last year with regard to the council’s £30k investment in a local shopping app designed by a seed company. The Leader informed that the council had shared its investment with the BID on a 50:50 basis but having reviewed the success of the app it had decided not to progress the investment further. The Chief Finance Officer undertook to provide a full update to Members on this.

 

RESOLVED (unanimously) THAT

The attached Treasury Management  ...  view the full minutes text for item 12.

13.

Council Tax Resolution pdf icon PDF 73 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member Finance

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member Finance introduced the report and said that having agreed its budget and level of council tax for 2018/19, Council was required to formally approve the total Council Tax for residents of Cheltenham, including the Council Tax requirements of the precepting organisations, Gloucestershire County Council and Gloucestershire Police.

 

It was important to note that the relevant basic amount of council tax for the financial year 2018/19, which reflected a 2.99% and £5.89 increase, was not excessive in accordance with the principles approved by the Secretary of State under Section 52ZB of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 as amended and the Referendums Relating to Council Tax Increases (Principles) (England) Report 2018/19 and, therefore, the requirement to hold a referendum was not engaged.

 

Upon a recorded vote the recommendations were CARRIED unanimously

 

RESOLVED THAT

 

The formal Council Tax resolution at Appendix 2 be approved and that the commentary in respect of the increase in Council Tax at Paragraph 6 of Appendix 2 be noted.

 

 

Voting:

For 29: Councillors Babbage, Barnes, Baker, Britter, Clucas, Coleman, Fisher, C Hay, R Hay, Hegenbarth, Hobley, Holliday, Jeffries, Jordan, Lillywhite, Mason,  McKinlay, Parsons, Payne, Seacome, Stennett, Sudbury, Thornton, Walklett, Wheeler, Whyborn, Wilkinson, Williams and Willingham

 

 

14.

Appointment of Mayor Elect and Deputy Mayor Elect pdf icon PDF 76 KB

Report of the Chief Executive

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chief Executive introduced the report and reminded Members that Councillor Bernard Fisher had served as Deputy Mayor since last year’s Council meeting and that Members would be asked to elect him as Mayor at this year’s Annual meeting.

 

With regard to the appointment of Deputy Mayor for 2018-19, she explained that the Members listed at Appendix 2 to the report had been approached, in order of precedence, to ascertain if they would be willing and able to have their name put forward for that appointment. In so doing, some Members had highlighted that their decision on whether to put themselves forward for the role may depend on the results of the borough elections this May. Therefore, having consulted informally the Group Leaders in January, it was now proposed that no nomination for Deputy Mayor elect was put forward at this stage and that the nomination for Deputy Mayor be put to Annual council in May following the borough elections.

 

RESOLVED THAT

 

i)             The Order of Precedence in Appendix 2 be noted.

ii)            That Councillor Bernard Fisher be put to the Annual Council Meeting for election as Mayor for the Municipal year 2018 - 2019.

iii)           That the nomination for Deputy Mayor for the Municipal year 2018 – 2019 be put to the Annual Council Meeting.

15.

Notices of Motion

There were no Motions.

Minutes:

None received.