Agenda and minutes

Venue: Council Chamber - Municipal Offices. View directions

Contact: Bev Thomas, Democratic Services Team Leader 


No. Item




Apologies were received from Cllrs. Boyes, Collins, Harvey, Hegenbarth, Jeffries and Stafford.

In the absence of the Mayor, the Deputy Mayor chaired the meeting.


Declarations of interest


There were none.


Minutes of the last meeting pdf icon PDF 721 KB

Minutes of the meeting held on 21 February 2022.


One Member noted that in the third supplementary question in item 8, they had referred to the international situation rather than the financial situation, and asked that this be amended.

With that change in mind, the minutes of the meeting held on 21st February were approved and signed as a correct record.


Communications by the Mayor


The Leader said that everyone is shocked and appalled by Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, and that the courage shown by Ukrainian people in face of the devastation this has caused is nothing short of remarkable.  She said that, at the time she wrote her speech, over 3 million Ukrainians had already fled their country since 24th February, and this figure is probably a lot higher now.  Cheltenham is home to 120 residents of Ukrainian heritage, and stands in solidarity with them, recognising the role the council will play in coordinating initiatives to provide safe refuge for Ukrainian refugees in the UK.  The incredible support from Cheltenham residents offering homes, goods and money to traumatised families is heartening but also sad, because of the necessity.  




Communications by the Leader of the Council


The Leader began by wishing the wife and baby of the Chief Executive a speedy recovery from Covid.


She said Cheltenham had seen a record number of visitors at the previous week’s race festival, providing a vital boost to the town’s economy.  She thanked officers for helping to keep residents and visitors safe, the council’s partners – Ubico, the police, transport providers, and the Jockey Club – for their invaluable contribution, and officers from South Gloucestershire, Avon and Somerset Police, and the City of Wolverhampton for assistance with taxi and private hire checks on Thursday. 


With local elections just around the corner, she took the opportunity to wish luck on any Members who were standing for re-election, and to thank those who have decided not to seek re-election for all their time given to democracy in representing their communities.  In particular she thanked Councillor McKinlay, who would be standing down after 31 years of public service, saying she would particularly miss his historical knowledge of past council decisions.


She advised that receipt of a 750-signature petition at the March Council meeting, concerning women’s safety and lighting of Sandford Park and other public areas, together with other active petitions raising similar concerns, would trigger a council debate.  Although the council doesn’t have direct control over the wider issues of safety, she confirmed that it should have an active role and that, in order to ensure a meaningful debate, she had arranged a meeting with the PCC, Cheltenham’s MP, and GCC and CBC cabinet members for safety.  The first available meeting for the Council debate is June; she reassured Members that the issue of safety is extremely important and not taken lightly, but could not be achieved by CBC alone – it needed government intervention and work with partners.


Returning to events in Ukraine, the Leader reaffirmed that Cheltenham and the council stood in solidarity with the town’s Ukrainian community, and welcomed the recently-launched Homes for Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme, under which Ukrainians who are awarded visas can live and work in the UK for up to three years, with access to public services, on the understanding that the Sponsor is able to provide accommodation for a minimum of six months.  Phase One will link UK sponsors with named contacts from Ukraine, and the visa application process opened on 18th March.  To help them settle into their new homes and local communities, GARAS (Gloucestershire Action for Refugees and Asylum Seekers) will work with a range of agencies to inform and raise awareness, as well as providing ongoing support and advice to refugees and asylum seekers in Cheltenham and across the county.  She welcomed this important work and thanked GARAS for their assistance.


She said the government has advised that £10,500 will be provided to local authorities for each person arriving in the UK under this scheme, with additional funding for child education, to support families and help them to integrate.  Further details will follow from government, and expressions of interest from UK  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


To receive petitions


One Member submitted two petitions on behalf of the Friends of Sandford Park group. The first related to additional lighting, as addressed by the Leader in her briefing, while the second related to an unoccupied building which they hoped would become a focal point for the community rather than be disposed of.


Public Questions

These must be received no later than 12 noon on Monday 14 March 2022.


There were no public questions.


Member Questions pdf icon PDF 159 KB

These must be received no later than 12 noon on Monday 14 March 2022.



Question from Councillor Angie Boyes to the Leader, Councillor Rowena Hay


In Cheltenham we recognise and respect the diversity in both sexual orientation and gender identity within our town. CBC is a proud member of the LGBT+ partnership. However, the UK was named as a country of concern in a recent Congress of Council of Europe Report. The role of addressing this at local level is crucial, where the effects of hate speech is most visible. In the word of Harald Bergmann, spokesperson on Human Rights to the Council of Europe “Local Authorities are the first line of defence of human rights but also the launching pad for their application”. In light of the rise of hate speech and hate crimes across Europe and the recent, horrifying suspected homophobic attack in our town, and in line with our values, will the Leader of the Council outline what we can do, as a Council, at a local level to prevent this sort of hate crime in Cheltenham?



Response from the Leader


Thank you for your question. This is a really important issue and I want to use your question as an opportunity to reassert this council’s commitment to tackling hate crime in all its guises.


We first adopted a corporate approach to hate crime in 2010, and I am pleased that we have continued to support collective efforts particularly through the Gloucestershire county hate crime strategy



But as your question reminds us, we must never be complacent about an issue like hate crime that can cause so much devastation for its victims.


I would like to set out some areas where I think we can all do more as a collective body of elected representatives:

  • We can be more informed on types of hate crime and the impact on victims and the wider community
  • We can be clearer in our roles as community leaders and have more confidence to challenge and be able to call out hate crime through all our work.


One suggestion I would like to propose is to hold a member seminar about hate crime, after the elections, that will involve the police hate crime leads and the county hate crime coordinator.



Question from Councillor Angie Boyes to Cabinet Member Customer and Regulatory Services, Councillor Martin Horwood


An important part of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.


Capital, Investment, Treasury Management Strategies 2022/23 pdf icon PDF 246 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member Finance


(appendices to follow)

Additional documents:


In the absence of Cabinet Member Finance and Assets, the Leader introduced the item, reading from his prepared statement. Members approved the 2022/23 HRA and General Fund budget at the March meeting, and the Prudential Code, which acts as a professional code of practice to ensure capital gains are affordable, now required the Council to approve a capital strategy on an annual basis ahead of the forthcoming financial year. In addition, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities introduced new treasury management reporting guidance and the requirement to produce a separate Investment Strategy.

For 2021/22 a revised and updated set of strategic documents was approved by Council - the  Capital Strategy, Investment Strategy, and Treasury Management Strategy – and council-wide consultation took place to reflect our collective vision for the use of assets and resources to drive the town’s post-pandemic economic recovery. These have been reviewed again in light of 2022/23 budget changes and the recently revised Asset Management Strategy approved by Council in February, including a commitment to review and divest from the 4% of our £7m pooled funds exposed to oil and gas to align with our climate priorities.

She also presented for approval the council’s Minimum Revenue Provision statement, setting out how repayments of our borrowings would be calculated, and the amount of voluntary overpayment the council continued to make.

CBC made a formal response and attended a roundtable event relating to the recent government consultation on changes to the capital framework relating to Minimum Revenue Provision, including the use of capital receipts to repay debt. The consultation has not published its conclusions but no changes would be introduced before 1 April 2023 and these would not be applied retrospectively.

She told Members that there has been no structural changes to these documents, but they had been updated to reflect the budget.

The Cabinet Member Climate Emergency noted that the strategy refers to the council’s ‘long-term’ commitment to divesting from oil and gas, whereas the climate action plan wording refers to this being ‘at the soonest possible moment’, or words to that effect.  He suggested that this should be reflected in the discussion and any documents in future.

One Member congratulated everyone involved in the document – the subjects are not easy but the document is clear, succinct, readable with good photography.  He felt this complemented the exciting and ambitious content of the capital programme – affordable housing, investment in infrastructure, the Minster, the cyber park.  He said the council should be very proud.

There was no debate, so the Leader summed up, agreeing with the Member’s comments, and putting on record the thanks of the Cabinet Member Finance and Assets to Gemma Bell, the new Deputy S151 officer who has taken the documents and made a difference to the direction of travel.

She hoped that Members would approve the recommendations.

RESOLVED (unanimously) THAT the following recommendations be approved: 

·         The Capital Strategy 2022/23 at Appendix 2;

·         The Investment Strategy 2022/23 at Appendix 3;

·         The Treasury Management  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.


Council Size Submission pdf icon PDF 215 KB

Report of the Leader

Additional documents:


The Leader introduced the item, telling Members that the Electoral Commission had identified CBC as requiring an electoral review as there had been none since 2000/01 and there were some distinct variations in its wards. The initial stage of an electoral review was to determine the number of Councillors required to deliver effective and convenient local government.

In a recent Member survey carried out in March 2022 to support the electoral review, 69% of respondents thought that 40 Councillors was an appropriate number for the borough. Elected Members who took part in the working group also requested that two other issues be considered as context for the electoral review:

-       the drive for a more diverse and representative set of councillors – with 92% of councillors already spending over 15 hours a week on council business, and almost a quarter feeling that the time spent on council business was unmanageable, any increase in workloads would deter younger people of working age from becoming councillors;

-       community needs – Members are spending a significant amount of time on community issues, supporting residents facing challenges with fuel, food and transport costs.

There are particular needs and issues in the more deprived wards that require particular attention and time, and in view of the fact that Cheltenham has the county’s greatest extremes between its most and least deprived communities, the Overview and Scrutiny committee has agreed to set up a specific scrutiny task group to review whether CBC’s policies and service delivery are targeted at working with communities to help them address the causal factors of multiple deprivation and working with other stakeholders to ensure that their efforts are similarly targeted.


The recent Member Survey revealed that:

-       92% of respondents spent more than 15 hours a week on council duties;

-       of these, 27% spend 30% or more of their time reading papers in preparation for borough council meetings and 50% on constituency issues;

-       77% of respondents considered the time they spent on council activities was manageable;

-       50% of respondents did not receive a Special Responsibility Allowance (SRA);

-       50% of Members who do receive an SRA spent fewer than five hours and 50% spent more than 15 hours on the additional workload.


Given the Council’s responsibilities, it was considered that a continuation of 40 Councillors will give the Council sufficient capacity to effectively operate its current governance and decision-making arrangements, ensuring proper and timely consideration and making of decisions and sufficient representation on Committees and Sub-Committees. In additional, a council of 40 members ensured sufficient capacity to accommodate absences or unavailability without significant detrimental impact.

In response to a Member’s question, the Leader confirmed thatthe county council was not used as a benchmark in terms of number of residents per councillor, as the county was not being considered as part of this review.

In debate, Members made the following points:

-       the council had an obligation to properly represent residents; it was good to note that CBC’s age  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.


Review of No Child Left Behind and plans for 2022 pdf icon PDF 264 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member Safety and Communities.


The Cabinet Member Safety and Communities thanked colleagues for their support throughout the process, and particularly thanked Richard Gibson, Tracy Brown and Jen Tucker for their hard work. The report sought to illustrate where the project came from and what it had achieved. She highlighted particular problems such as digital poverty, which No Child Left Behind (NCLB) had alleviated by raising £35k to refurbish more than 120 computers for schools across the town. It had also focused on enabling access to play areas and food, and it was important to continue this in years to come. The NCLB awards night had taken place recently, with all nominees chosen by the children involved in the project.

The report asked councillors to support NCLB continuing for another year so that it could keep up its excellent work. The Cabinet Member Safety and Communities added that the Large Enterprise Action Group had been launched, with a number of major international companies involved with this, while the Cheltenham Education Partnership would go directly to young people to find out how they wanted to tackle the issues. She acknowledged the current international situation, and the need to ensure people were not cold over the winter. It was also key to ensure the food network continued to operate and that school uniforms were open to all.

Members welcomed the report and thanked both the Cabinet Member and officers for the work being done.  They made the following points:

-       the project had clearly made a real difference to children’s lives, and could be considered the most important work that the council was doing;

-       it did a good job of highlighting the massive impact of the Covid crisis on children in the town, and if there were any future outbreaks, it was hoped that schools and play areas would not have to close;

-       Members representing relatively deprived wards were especially thankful for the work done by NCLB. In one ward, 30% of children were living below the poverty line, and there was a major cost-of-living crisis in the country which will only get worse.  Poverty had wide-reaching consequences, especially on education and life outcomes, and was not a solely financial matter. The national cuts in youth services had a significant delayed effect;

-       it should be noted that more than 4,000 children in Cheltenham were living in poverty. The council was doing all it could to alleviate the situation, but improvement needed to be nationally led;

-       even in relatively affluent areas of the town, there was poverty;

-       the report was a fantastic example of how the council could deliver more than the sum of its parts by working in partnership with charities and other organisations. There were clear benefits to this approach, and it should be used in more areas.

The Cabinet Member Safety and Communities thanked Members for their comments. She stressed that children were the future, and if they were not supported properly then it would have ramifications throughout their lives.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.


Council Diary pdf icon PDF 74 KB

Report of the Leader

Additional documents:


The Leader introduced the report, saying that the diary followed a similar rationale to that adopted in previous years, as follows:


-       as far as possible meetings of a particular committee were scheduled on the same day of the week;

-       school holidays and Friday evenings were avoided where possible, with the occasional exception of regulatory Planning and Licensing meetings;

-       evening meetings were scheduled to start at 6pm to facilitate Members’ attendance after a working day, but in the event of a large agenda, the timing of some committee meetings (such as Planning and Licensing) would be reviewed on a meeting-by-meeting basis, with any time changes made in consultation with Members and advertised on the CBC website;

-       Planning View has now been reinstated, currently to take place at 11am on the day before the Planning Committee meeting.


She thanked democratic services officers for the huge juggling exercise to fit everything in to the Corporate Diary.


There were no Member questions.  In debate, a Member welcomed the return of Planning View but was concerned about the proposed timing, considering the day before the Thursday meeting was too close for it to be genuinely useful and productive.  He suggested it revert to the Tuesday, as previously, or, as suggested by another Member, to the Thursday one week before the meeting for maximum benefit, allowing Members plenty of time to gather their thoughts and ask questions of officers prior to the meeting. 


The Leader confirmed that Members’ concerns have been listened to and the proposed time would be reviewed, following the April meeting.  The Cabinet Member Regulatory Services suggested raising this cross-party concern at the next meeting of the recently-revived Planning Member Liaison Working Group meeting.


RESOLVED (unanimously) THAT


-       the draft Council Diary of meetings for September 2022 – August 2023 be approved.




Notices of Motion pdf icon PDF 130 KB


Motion A

Council calls

-       on Gloucestershire County Council to adopt a proactive - rather than reactive - approach to allocating funding for road crossings. Putting preventing harm from happening in the first place at the heart of funding policy by assessing need based on which roads currently lack accessible safe designated crossing points in addition to the number of collisions and accidents;

-       for the convention of a cross-council meeting between senior highways officers and the relevant cabinet member (Vernon Smith) and Cheltenham Borough and County Councillors in wards with particular road crossing concerns (WARDS) to develop a working plan for delivering the additional road crossings Cheltenham needs by year-end 2024;

-       on Gloucestershire County Council Cabinet Member for Highways (Vernon Smith) to meet with local representatives from communities particularly impacted by missing road crossings in Cheltenham, including the blind and partially sighted, wheelchair and mobility aid users, and parent groups to understand the impact of underfunding this vital community infrastructure.



In proposing the motion, Cllr. Lewis noted that in her time as a councillor she had spoken to lots of families with young children, many of whom had concerns about road safety. Children needed to be able to walk to school safely, and this required designated crossings. The council had to put pressure on GCC to act. Current points-based system does not work, requires areas to have a certain number of accidents before they get the funding they need. Acknowledged funding limitations, but the price of not providing adequate road crossings is far greater. The town should be built around the needs of residents and pedestrians rather than cars. The problem was not one of attitude, but of resource allocation. Saving lives was not a political issue, and she hoped there would be cross-party support for this motion.

In seconding the motion, Cllr. Horwood highlighted the absurdity of the need for multiple accidents in a particular area before funding was allocated towards making it safer. This was closely linked to the planning process, with new developments continually springing up in dangerous areas, and he suggested that the council needed to take a more strategic approach in relation to new developments. He said the motion made a number of clear and reasonable calls to action, adding that the Council must support safe walking and cycling wherever it can, which also supports its climate goals.

In debate, several Members congratulated Cllr Lewis on bringing this major issue and important motion before Council, and said they fully supported it.  They gave examples within their wards of places where safe crossings were badly needed, particularly for elderly residents, schoolchildren, and special needs students, but without accident statistics, there did not appear to be any funding from the County.  They said the present system doesn’t take new developments into account, and residents’ views and experiences should be listened to, including the frequently-reported ‘near misses’ as well as actual accidents.

Members made the following points:

-       as the council tries to encourage cycling and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 13.


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


There were none.


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 paragraphs 1, 2 and 3, Part (1) Schedule (12A) Local Government Act 1972, namely:


Paragraph 1; Information relating to any individual


Paragraph 2; Information which is likely to reveal the identity of an individual


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

person (including the authority holding that information)


Members approved unanimously 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 paragraphs 1, 2 and 3, Part (1) Schedule (12A) Local Government Act 1972, namely:


Paragraph 1: Information relating to any individual


Paragraph 2: Information which is likely to reveal the identity of an individual


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

person (including the authority holding that information)



Organisational Review

Report of the Chief Executive

Additional documents:


In the absence of the Chief Executive, the Interim Monitoring Officer introduced the report, which related to a review of CBC’s organisational structure. The Executive Director Finance and Assets and Executive Director People and Change responded to Member questions.


The Deputy Mayor moved to the vote, where Members approved unanimously the recommendations as set out in the report.