Agenda and minutes

Venue: Virtual WEBEX video conference via the Council’s YouTube Channel: www.youtube.com/user/cheltenhamborough. View directions

Contact: Bev Thomas, Democratic Services Team Leader 

Media

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Cllr. Hegenbarth.

2.

Declarations of interest

Minutes:

Cllr. Whyborn declared an interest in agenda item 15 and intended to leave the meeting at that point.

3.

Minutes of the last meeting pdf icon PDF 578 KB

Minutes of the meeting held on 22 February 2021.

Minutes:

One Member suggested amending the last bullet point of the debate on the amendment in item 10 to read ‘other Conservative-run authorities with elections by halves and thirds’.

The minutes of the 22nd February meeting (as amended) were approved and signed as a correct record.

4.

Communications by the Mayor

Minutes:

The Mayor acknowledged that it had been a difficult year, but was pleased to report that over £19k had been raised through the food bank fund. He noted that the meeting was taking place the day before the anniversary of the first national lockdown, and led Members in a minute’s silence to remember those who had lost their lives to Covid-19.

He added that in June 2020, Council had passed a motion to take steps to thank individuals, groups, bodies and businesses who had gone above and beyond during the pandemic. To that end, several awards had been set up for exceptional service, with nominations open until the 12th April.

He noted that it was close to the end of his term as Mayor, and that he would also be leaving the borough council in May. He thanked all the other Members who were stepping down in May for their service.

5.

Communications by the Leader of the Council

Minutes:

The Leader of the Council acknowledged that her briefing would be a sombre one due to the latest act of violence committed against women by men in the UK, and sent her thoughts to the family of Sarah Everard. 118 women were killed by men in the UK in the last year, while 1.6m suffered domestic abuse. This was a sobering reality to reflect upon, and it was important to consider what practical measures the council could take to protect women.

She had written to the Police & Crime Commissioner raising a number of issues including the possibility of treating misogyny as a hate crime, which the PCC was open to. Some positive steps had been identified, such as increased lighting and CCTV, but these alone would not solve the problem. Women should be able to walk freely without fear, and systematic action was needed at the national level to drive out inequality. The criminal justice system also needed to be reformed to support victims in coming forward. Fundamental investment in education that embedded the right cultural values in schools and in society was needed in order to eradicate predatory behaviour and violence towards women.

She was pleased to confirm that the third round of additional restrictions grant funding was now available. This was aimed at businesses in specific need of support, and was especially timely after race week behind closed doors had offered a poignant reminder of what had been lost for businesses. These payments would each total £5,000, alongside grants of £1,000 to taxi drivers licensed in the borough. She reported that the total distributed by the council since the beginning of the crisis was now up to £37.5m from 8.400 grants, and thanked the Revenues & Benefits team for administering this.

She reported that the Minster Innovation Exchange land swap had taken place, forming an important part of the council’s road to economic recovery and place making. She also added that Gloucester City Council would be joining the Ubico family next year.

Due to Cheltenham’s strong historical links with its Polish community, the Polish flag would be flown from the Municipal Offices on its Heritage Day (2nd May). The flag would also be added to the list of those which are flown every year. Additionally, the Municipal Offices flag would be lowered to half mast on March 23rd to mark the first anniversary of lockdown, to acknowledge those who had suffered and served their communities.

She placed on record her thanks to the Members stepping down in May, and wished the best of luck to those seeking re-election. She particularly thanked the Mayor for serving his role for longer than expected due to Covid, and thanked Cllr. Jordan for 12 years of service as Leader and 30 years of service to his ward members and the town as a whole.

She rejected rumours that Pittville Pump Rooms would be turned into offices, stressing that the Pump Rooms were an important heritage and cultural asset. Finally, she noted  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

To receive petitions

Minutes:

Emma Nelson presented her petition, which had already received 199 physical and 613 online signatures. The petition asked for a holistic approach to be taken to flood protection, requiring a comprehensive flood risk assessment before further development sites could be allocated.

The Mayor thanked Mrs Nelson for her submission and confirmed that as it had received more than 750 signatures, it would be discussed at the next ordinary Council meeting after the May elections.

7.

Public Questions pdf icon PDF 153 KB

These must be received no later than 12 noon on Tuesday 16 March 2021.

Minutes:

1.

Question from Mr Bailey to Cabinet Member Economy and Development, Councillor Victoria Atherstone

 

Where has Cheltenham Borough Council safeguarded any land along any main rivers in the Borough to reduce the effects of Global Warming? The National Planning Policy Framework requires that land be safeguarded to reduce the effects of global warming. Leckhampton land seems to be the last option to safeguard land on the River Hatherley Brook, as such the risk needs addressing now. Failure to plan as required by NPPF 150 could present a life-threatening risk in future years.

 

Response from Cabinet Member

 

The current Cheltenham Plan was prepared and adopted in 2020 in accordance with the 2012 National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). This had a paragraph 100 which is very similar to the 157 in the 2019 NPPF to which Mr Bailey I believe is referring.  The preparatory work on the Plan including undertaking Strategic Flood Risk Assessments which are available on the Council’s website.  There were extensive discussions on flooding issues with our Drainage Engineer, the Local Lead Flood Authority (LLFA), local flood groups and the Environment Agency.

We did not safeguard any specific land for flood management in the future although that may take place within allocated sites as detailed planning proceeds. No such safeguarding was suggested through the plan preparation process. However, an exception to the above could be said to exist for allocated sites MD3 (Royal Well) and E4 (Chelt Walk) which have some specific policy requirements related to flood risk.

For Chelt Walk:

  • Provide at minimum an 8 metre buffer from the top of bank of the River Chelt;
  • Provide river corridor enhancements that help to protect and enhance the biodiversity and river setting at this location;
  • Not result in a net loss in flood plain storage or adversely impact out-of-bank flows, with opportunities explored to provide flood risk betterment;
  • Provide financial contributions to the flood warning service, maintenance and future improvements of the adjacent River Chelt flood alleviation scheme; and
  • All finished floor levels should be set 600mm above the 1 in 100 year level, including an appropriate allowance for climate change.

 

For Royal Well:

  • Development should not locate any new development within 8 metres of the culverted River Chelt;
  • Development should not result in a net loss in flood plain storage or adversely impact out of bank flows, with opportunities explored to provide flood risk betterment;
  • Development should provide financial contributions to the flood warning service, maintenance and future improvements of the adjacent River Chelt flood alleviation scheme;
  • Development should ensure new finished floor levels be set 600mm above the 1 in 100 year level, including an appropriate allowance for climate change; and
  • Development should not allow self-contained basement dwellings.

 

It may be helpful for Mr Bailey to be aware that in the review of the Joint Core Strategy, Level 1 and Level 2 Strategic Flood Risk Assessments will be undertaken in consultation with the Environment Agency, LLFA, Severn Trent Water and other interested stakeholders, to assist in determining  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Member Questions pdf icon PDF 207 KB

These must be received no later than 12 noon on Tuesday 16 March 2021.

Minutes:

1.

Question from Councillor David Willingham to Cabinet Member Housing, Councillor Peter Jeffries

 

Where water from the roof of a domestic dwelling drains into the public sewer system, residents end up paying a surface water charge to the water company.  My understanding is that if all surface water is diverted into local soak-aways, then this charge is not payable.  Given that this may help reduce tenants' bills, could the Cabinet Member for Housing discuss this with CBH, both in terms considering this for new builds and also investigating whether it is possible to retrofit this to larger blocks of flats?

 

Response from Cabinet Member

 

Where water from the roof of a domestic dwelling drains into the public sewer system, residents pay a surface water charge to the water company.  If all surface water is diverted into a local soak-away, then this charge is not payable, however, if the property has a driveway/hard surface that sheds water onto a highway/into public drains then the drainage charge still stands.  With regard to existing blocks of flats, then this would be looked at alongside neighbourhood improvement schemes, subject to budget priorities. We would liaise with Severn Trent when looking at such schemes to ensure that if improvement works are undertaken that the charges will be removed.

With regard to new build sites, sustainable drainage systems are part of the design considerations in urban areas and are led by the engineering detail.  We as a matter of course already install sustainable driveways and attenuation tanks and take advantage of sustainable systems where we can.

2.

Question from Councillor David Willingham to Cabinet Member Economy and Development, Councillor Victoria Atherstone

 

Planning application 17/01707/FUL at 453 High Street, required the construction of steps leading up from the High Street to the Honeybourne Line.  While the planning conditions for this application required the installation and approval of lighting, it did not require these lights to be illuminated at night.  The lack of illumination is a significant safety concern for some of my constituents.  Could the Cabinet Member please confirm that these steps are privately maintained, and that if due to the lack of lighting, anyone were to injure themselves while using them at night, the liability would not rest with CBC, but with the freeholder who has actively decided not to light them?

 

Response from Cabinet Member

 

The applicant has discharged the planning conditions satisfactorily. The steps were improved and lights were provided by the developer for the benefit of the wider community. The lights were not a statutory requirement and were not required to make the development acceptable. CBC are currently in the process of agreeing to make a contribution to the costs of the electricity for the lighting which is expected to be very minimal. This agreement will need to be approved by Finance, and with the new occupier of the property.

 

Supplementary question

 

Can the Cabinet Member work with officers in the planning team to ensure that when developments come forward, planning conditions are  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Capital, Non Treasury Investment, Treasury Management and MRP Strategies and Statements 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 243 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member Finance

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member Finance and Assets presented the report, noting that budget agreed in February outlined the planned Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS), and this report sought to agree some of its key documents in accordance with best practice. He thanked Gemma Bell, Head of Finance, and the previous Cabinet Member Finance and Assets (Cllr. Hay) for their hard work on this.

He clarified that the capital strategy outlined the council’s vision of what it wished to achieve and how it intended to go about it. Key points included the need to maximise assets and firm up the capital programme, with key developments including the Golden Valley project and the upgrading of Cambray Place, while maintaining a significant investment portfolio.

He highlighted the Arlingclose economic forecast attached as an appendix to the Treasury Management Strategy report, and clarified some of the context around the strategy. He noted that CBC traditionally borrowed through Public Works Loan Board, but that central government had temporarily increased interest rates on this and prohibited investment for yield in order to slow down loans. CBC was not affected by the latter as it did not invest for yield, but would benefit when interest rates go back down again. He added that the November recovery budget had restructured some of the capital reserves to reduce future requirements on revenue to service debts, and this had been extended to 2021/22.

One Member asked for clarification on the £173m external borrowing figure mentioned in the Treasury Management Strategy (Appendix 4). Was that the council’s total borrowing, and if so how did it compare to the total budget and that of other councils? The Cabinet Member responded that the council’s asset portfolio was so large as to make the debt to asset ratio a better indicator than the debt to budget ratio. Paul Jones (Executive Director Finance and Assets) echoed this, noting that while CBC was an outlier, it was for the right reasons. Many authorities were in negative equity due to pension obligations, but CBC could afford to be more flexible thanks to its asset portfolio.

One Member asked about the council’s strategy for future upcoming liabilities, such as the Town Hall. The Executive Director Finance and Assets responded that the Property team reviewed assets on a proactive basis, with a budget for reactive maintenance too. Any significant liabilities would be outlined in the Asset Management Plan due to come to Cabinet and Council in June.

One Member asked whether CBH could explore the possibility of redeveloping brownfield sites for council housing. The Cabinet Member responded that this would be reasonable as long as it was financially viable, and each project would have its own cost-benefit analysis. The Cabinet Member Housing added that this was already something that had taken place, and would continue in the future.

One Member asked for reassurance that the council was not wasteful, following the printing of election leaflets implying as such. The Cabinet Member stressed that fiscal responsibility was at the heart of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.

10.

Update to the Constitution pdf icon PDF 415 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member Corporate Services

Minutes:

The Leader of the Council presented the report in the absence of the Cabinet Member Corporate Services, noting that the Constitution Working Group had met on 4th March to review possible changes, supported by One Legal and Democratic Services. She stressed the importance of keeping the constitution up to date and fit for purpose, and noted that the proposed changes were not particularly major, including amendments to the Council motions procedure and changes to the Licensing Committee to bring it into line with statutory obligations. The Chair of Licensing added greater context regarding the changes to Licensing Committee subcommittee hearings where a deferral of a decision would provide Members with an opportunity to have legal advice to record the decision notice with sufficient information and clarity.

The Mayor moved to a vote, where it was:

RESOLVED THAT:

1.    An amendment to the licensing sub-committee procedure to provide for the deferral of a decision where members of the licensing sub-committee determine a deferral is required, as outlined in Section 2 of the report, be approved;

2.    The proposed changes to the contract rules, as outlined in Section 3 of the report, be approved;

3.    The minor changes outlined in Section 4 of the report with regard to miscellaneous changes be approved;

4.    Authority be delegated to the Borough Solicitor to make any textual or other amendments which are necessary to ensure accuracy, consistency and legality of the Constitution when incorporating the revisions authorised by Council.

11.

Council Diary 2021-22 pdf icon PDF 327 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member Corporate Services

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Leader of the Council presented the report in the absence of the Cabinet Member Corporate Services, noting that the proposed diary followed the usual rationale.

One Member suggested that the council diary should be agreed after the annual meeting in May, since several of the Members voting on it would no longer be members by the time it came into effect. Another Member agreed that it would make sense to allow new members to at least review the dates. Several Members advised taking county council and parish council dates into account too. The Leader agreed to liaise with the Cabinet Member and Democratic Services to consider this.

The Mayor moved to a vote, where it was:

RESOLVED THAT:

1.    The draft Council Diary of meetings for September 2021 – August 2022 be approved.

 

12.

Notices of Motion pdf icon PDF 266 KB

Minutes:

Motion A: Motion to support the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill

 

Council notes that:

 

This council declared a climate emergency in February 2019, drawing attention to atmospheric CO2 levels which have already risen above 400 parts per million (ppm) and continue to rise; and that without more significant and sustained action, the world is set to exceed the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C limit between 2030 and 2040; and that the current UK target of net zero by 2050 is therefore too little too late.

 

This council has already taken a lead on climate change and ecological issues adopting a recycling issues, delivered a local plan with strong environmental policies, promotes sustainable transport options and is now taking fresh initiatives like the Cheltenham Zero Partnership; and that other councils including Cheltenham Parish Councils are also taking pro-active action on climate change.

 

There is a Bill before Parliament — the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill (published as the “Climate and Ecology Bill”) —according to which the Government must develop an emergency strategy that:

 

1.    requires that the UK plays its fair and proper role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions consistent with limiting global temperature increase  to 1.5°C above pre-industrial temperatures;

2.    ensures that all the UK’s consumption emissions are accounted for; 

3.    includes emissions from aviation and shipping;

4.    protects and restores biodiverse habitats along overseas supply chains;

5.    restores and regenerates the UK’s depleted soils, wildlife habitats and species populations to healthy and robust states, maximising their capacity to absorb CO2 and their resistance to climate heating;

6.    sets up an independent Citizens’ Assembly, representative of the UK’s population, to engage with Parliament and Government and help develop the emergency strategy.

 

Council therefore resolves to:

 

·         Support the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill

·         Inform the local media of this decision;

·         Request the cabinet lead for climate change to write to our MPs, asking them to support or thanking them for supporting the Bill;  and

·         Write to the CEE Bill Alliance, the organisers of the campaign for the Bill, expressing its support (campaign@ceebill.uk).

 

Debate

Motion A was proposed by Cllr. Horwood and seconded by Cllr. Boyes. In proposing the motion, Cllr. Horwood cited the drastic biodiversity loss in the UK that had led to 15% of species in the UK facing extinction due to factors like urbanisation, overdevelopment and climate change. He added that over the last few years, the UK had missed all its key national biodiversity targets.

In seconding the motion, Cllr. Boyes stressed the importance of placing ecological renewal at the heart of the post-Covid recovery. She noted that both local and national commitments would be required to meet the targets from the 2015 Paris Agreement.

One Member added that it was important to tackle pollution, and that the authority could itself encourage habits to change. It was especially important to protect areas of outstanding national beauty and sites of special scientific interest, and they hoped that the Climate and Ecology Bill currently before Parliament would become law.

One  ...  view the full minutes text for item 12.

13.

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

Minutes:

There were none.

14.

Local Government Act 1972 -Exempt Information

The committee 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)

 

15.

EXEMPT MINUTES

Exempt Minutes of the meeting held on 7 December 2020

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The minutes of the exempt item from the 7th December 2020 meeting were approved and signed as a correct record.