Cheltenham Borough Council
Cheltenham Borough Council

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Agenda and 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 Mike Collins, Peter Jeffries, Dan Murch and Tony Oliver.

 

2.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

Councillor Ryder declared an interest in agenda item 13 due to a possible pecuniary interest in a small pocket of white land in Leckhampton and announced her intention to leave the meeting at that stage and hand over the chairmanship to the Deputy Mayor.

 

 

3.

Minutes of the last meeting pdf icon PDF 230 KB

Minutes of the meeting held on 12 December 2016

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 12 December were approved as a correct record.

 

4.

Communications by the Mayor

Minutes:

The Mayor updated Council on her recent engagements:

 

·         At the end of 2016, the Mayor attended commemorations in Cheltenham regarding 100 years of The Royal College of Nursing, whose founder member is buried at Bouncers Lane Cemetery. President Cecilia Anim of The RCN laid a wreath at the grave of Dame Sidney Brown. The Mayor thanked officers and Rev Griffiths for the arrangements of the day.

·         The Mayor congratulated Midwinters solicitors, who celebrated their 100th Anniversary at The Wilson, for providing legal services in the town. She also thanked the business for playing an important role in their continued contributions in the life of the community.

·         The Mayor attended celebrations of the 30th Anniversary of HRH The Prince of Wales patronage of Sue Ryder at Leckhampton Court Hospice, with Councillors Mr & Mrs Hay also in attendance.

·         The Mayor and her husband served Christmas lunches at St. Luke’s Hall for Open Door. She thanked all the support received to provide these lunches to those less fortunate than ourselves.

·         She also commended Councillor Jeffries for his efforts in highlighting the plight of many homeless people on our streets and hoped that his efforts will go towards providing a better and helpful solution to this matter

·         A service for Holocaust Memorial Day took place in these chambers and provided an opportunity to learn lessons from The Holocaust, subsequent genocides, and apply them to the present day to create a safer and better future.

·         The Holst Museum held its grand re-opening, as a result of the torrential downpours in the town last June which caused damage to several rooms. The Mayor thanked businesses of Cheltenham and volunteers helped fund and restore the museum.

·         The Mayor and Councillor Wheeler paid their respects at the funeral service of the late Ian Gee, who was known for taking portraits on camera of several formal Mayors through Cheltenham Camera Club.

 

 

5.

Communications by the Leader of the Council

Minutes:

The Leader explained the reasons why the budget debate had been deferred. This was due to the delay in the announcement by Government of the final local government settlement which would now be made on 22 February 2017. The Council meeting to agree the budget proposals would now take place on Friday 24 February at 6 p.m. and will be preceded by a Cabinet at 4 p.m.

 

The Leader was pleased to announce that the council had been successful in its recent reassessment for Investors in People and had retained its award. This was a notable achievement in view of the extent of the changes which had taken place within the council over recent years and he congratulated the Head of Paid Service and all staff.

 

He referred to the government White Paper which had recently been published for consultation. He was pleased that the work on the Joint Core Strategy (JCS) put the council in a good position with regard to the government expectations set out in the paper. He added that rough sleeping was still an issue for Cheltenham and he congratulated Councillor Peter Jeffries for his recent experiences in highlighting the problem.

 

He advised two committee changes for his group - Councillor Parsons would be stepping down from the Audit Committee and would be replaced by Councillor Walklett and Councillor Coleman would become a substitute on the Licensing Committee.

 

Councillor Harman raised a point of order with regard to the timing of the Council meeting on Friday 24 February. Whilst accepting the reasons for the delay there had been some confusion about the timing and he understood the afternoon timing previously communicated had been changed following the Cabinet meeting earlier in the week. He assured members that his group would still be attending but he was concerned about the impact of the timing on officers as Budget Council was not the easiest of meetings and he thought a 2.30 pm start would have shown more consideration. He asked whether all key officers would be able to attend.

 

The Leader advised that the final decision on timing had been made by the Head of Paid Service.

 

The Head of Paid Service advised that her final decision had been made on the basis that a greater number of members could attend an evening meeting. Whilst accepting that it was not ideal circumstances for officers she reassured members that the meeting would be covered by all relevant officers including herself.

 

The Mayor acknowledged that it had not been an easy decision and hoped as many members as possible could attend.

 

 

6.

To receive petitions

Minutes:

There were no petitions.

 

7.

Public Questions pdf icon PDF 74 KB

These must be received no later than 12 noon on Monday 6 February 2017.

Minutes:

1.

Question from Adrian Kingsbury to the Leader, Councillor Steve Jordan (questioner was in attendance

 

 

The agenda identifies the potential loss of the New Homes Bonus as a Key Risk should the JCS not be approved. Can Cheltenham Borough Council confirm whether they are more concerned about the loss of the New Homes Bonus than the destruction of the Greenbelt through inappropriate development?

 

 

Response from the Leader

 

 

For as long as I have any role in this Council’s decisions on the JCS they will be based on trying to meet the housing need for our town in the most appropriate way and not on implications of the New Homes Bonus. 

 

Through the JCS examination, the Green Belt within Cheltenham and Tewkesbury Borough has been considered and assessed in detail by an independent inspector. The principal of this assessment has been to examine whether, taking into account the need for housing and employment, the respective contributions of different parts of the greenbelt and other factors, there are exceptional circumstances which justify changes to the designation. The JCS examiner, looking at all the facts has concluded that overall, such exceptional circumstances do exist. The government’s suggested reductions in New Homes Bonus for those authorities not progressing in plan making would be a risk for any planning authority, and require that plan making (whatever the outcome) is conducted quickly and efficiently.

 

In a supplementary question, Mr Kingsbury asked whether the council proposed to seek to acquire further NHB as a funding stream?

 

The Leader advised that there was no such dependency and the council would be foolish to assume NHB would be there for ever and so it was appropriate to treat it more as a bonus. He indicated he would be happy to discuss this further with the questioner after the meeting.

 

2.

Question from Adrian Kingsbury to the Leader

 

 

JCS-PMM052 - Can the Council define what is the “very special circumstances test” that will determine whether development outweighs the harm to the Greenbelt by the virtue of the development being inappropriate?

 

Response from the Leader

 

National Planning Policy says that when considering any planning application, local planning authorities should ensure that substantial weight is given to any harm to the Green Belt. ‘Very special circumstances’ will not exist unless the potential harm to the Green Belt by reason of inappropriateness, and any other harm, is clearly outweighed by other considerations. What will amount to very special circumstances depends on the facts of each case. For the test to be met, the harm to the Green Belt would have to be outweighed by major benefits to society, the economy or the environment. Housing need alone will not normally amount to exceptional circumstances. The test has been has been the subject of a number of complex legal judgements.

 

The fundamental principle remains that decisions should be made in accordance with the development plan, (in this case the JCS) which has been through detailed consideration. Therefore using this plan led approach we seek to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Member Questions pdf icon PDF 82 KB

These must be received no later than 12 noon on Monday 6 February 2017.

Minutes:

1.

Question from Councillor Dennis Parsons to Cabinet Member Healthy Lifestyles, Councillor Flo Clucas

 

Will the Cabinet Member arrange to have a permanent memorial placed in a prominent and public location dedicated to Brian Jones, founder of the Rolling Stones, to mark the 75th anniversary of his birth on 28th February this year.

Regards

 

Response from Cabinet Member

 

In thanking Cllr Parsons for his question, I would refer him to the previous response. As he may know, the Council is currently working on a new Public Art strategy, within which it is anticipated that commemorative art will be a feature, both for women and men.

 

In a supplementary question, Councillor Parsons asked whether the Cabinet Member could request that the new Public Art strategy consider prominent memorials for all notable Cheltonians and could members be updated on a regular basis?

 

In response the Cabinet Member advised that she had already requested that the strategy should celebrate the achievements of Cheltonian women and she was happy to pass on Councillor Parsons request for a memorial to Brian Jones and regular updates on the strategy. She added that the Cheltenham Trust would be putting the bust of Brian Jones on display and this would be the subject of a media release.

 

2.

Question from Councillor Tim Harman to Cabinet Member Clean and Green Environment ,  Councillor Chris Coleman

 

During the Christmas and New Year Period a number of "Bring" sites were overflowing with recycled materials and were very unsightly . Will the Cabinet member  examine measures to improve the situation for future public holidays such as the provision of additional skips and or more frequent clearances

 

Response from Cabinet Member

 

Traditionally during the Christmas holidays, the bring site network comes under pressure because of the large increase in users, which means that it’s imperative that all visitors use the containers appropriately.

Having reviewed what happened over Christmas, it is apparent that not all users place their recyclables in the recycling banks and unfortunately just throw them on the floor by the side, which then gives the impression that the bank is full, when in fact there is capacity available. The Council communicated this issue previously and will again as part of the next Christmas waste and recycling promotions.

Ubico’s skip vehicles work longer hours and during weekends over the Christmas holidays. In addition, the cleansing teams monitor the bring bank sites and remove any items which have been placed by the sides of the banks.

 

In a supplementary question, Councillor Harman suggested that the state of the bring sites during the Christmas period had been less than desirable and asked whether the Cabinet Member was certain that nothing more could be done?

 

The Cabinet Member advised that only one bring site had been brought to his attention and he had later checked that all the issues had been rectified. One of the problems was that commercial waste was being dumped at the sites illegally and he would like to see more done  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Final General Fund Revenue and Capital budget proposals 2017/18 (including Section 25)

Report of the Cabinet Member Finance-ITEM DEFERRED

Minutes:

This item had been deferred to Council on 24 February 2017.

10.

Final Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Budget proposals 2017/18

Report of the Cabinet Member Finance-ITEM DEFERRED

Minutes:

This item had been deferred to Council on 24 February 2017.

11.

Treasury Management Strategy Statement and Annual Investment Strategy 2017/18 pdf icon PDF 92 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member Finance

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member Finance, Councillor Rowena Hay, introduced the report which had been circulated with the agenda. She explained that the council under the CIPFA code must report annually on its treasury management strategy statement and its prudential indicators and the report incorporated the annual investment strategy which is also a requirement.

 

The Treasury Management Panel (TMP) and Cabinet had recommended that Council approve this report.

 

The treasury strategy statement was clearly set out in Appendix 2. The council was required to operate a balanced budget, one of the main functions of the treasury operations is to ensure that cash flow is properly planned so that cash is available when needed. Surplus money is invested in low risk counterparties in line with the authority’s low risk appetite making sure that liquidity is adequate before any investment return is considered. Another main function of this service is funding the capital plans, broadly this is managing the longer term cash flow to ensure that capital spending obligations can be met.

The annual investment strategy was set out in Appendix 2. Its aim is to generate a list of highly creditworthy counterparties whilst allowing for diversification but avoiding any single concentration of risk therefore providing secure investment and minimising risk.  

 

She explained that the Minimum Revenue Provision must follow statutory guidance issued by the department of communities & local government which sets out what constitutes prudent provision, it is proposed that for the years 16/17 & 17/18  to apply option 1 in relation to supported capital expenditure and option 3 in respect of  unsupported capital expenditure. These will be adjusted for 17/18 by using capital receipts to repay debt linked to capital loans as set out in paragraph 24 in Appendix 4.

 

She gave thanks to council officers and advisors for their achievements. Since the budget monitoring report in September the investment income had improved for 16/17 and was currently showing as a £12,800 surplus above the budget.

 

In response to a questions from a member  the Cabinet Member explained that Repo was the name for a method of borrowing by taking a different form of collateral using a third party.

 

She referred a question to the Finance Officer and he confirmed that the investments referred to in the UK, Ireland and Luxembourg were sterling only investments. Historically these companies had been based in these countries for a long time and they were not based there for tax avoidance purposes.

 

A member questioned the appropriateness of the equity investment for an app which was referred to in the report. The Cabinet Member advised that the council had decided to invest in the pilot scheme which if successful could benefit Cheltenham. The Leader added that Gloucestershire was a retail pathfinder and was attracting government support for this venture. It was not a huge investment but the company concerned had asked the council for some money and therefore it had been sensible for the council to request some equity stake in return so  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.

12.

Future Provision of External Audit pdf icon PDF 78 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member Corporate Services

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member Corporate Services introduced the report and explained that following the demise of the Audit Commission new arrangements were needed for the appointment of external auditors. The Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014 required authorities to either opt in to the appointing person regime or to establish an auditor panel and conduct their own procurement exercise.

The following points were raised and responses given :

 

·         When asked to what extent CBC’s external auditors gained income other than from audit work the Deputy 151 Officer explained that Grant Thornton were requested to do ad-hoc pieces of work on occasion, in addition to their annual audit work, e.g. specialist VAT advice, investment reviews, etc.  However this was not a regular occurrence and the associated cost for any such professional advice was not material, in comparison to the annual audit costs.

·         It was noted that other local authorities in Gloucestershire used Grant Thornton, and GT were the auditors for the County Council Pension Fund. The council would therefore be able to benefit from GT’s experiences across several councils.

·         Using the Public Sector Audit Appointments was a more cost effective option.

 

RESOLVED (unanimously) THAT

 

this Council opts in to the appointing person arrangements made by Public Sector Audit Appointments (PSAA) for the appointment of external auditors.

13.

Gloucester, Cheltenham and Tewkesbury Joint Core Strategy-Main Modifications report pdf icon PDF 136 KB

Report of the Leader

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Leader of the Council introduced the report and explained that the proposed main modifications to the JCS formulated following the July 2016 hearings were agreed at the October 2016 Council meetings by Gloucester City and Cheltenham Borough Councils. However the proposed main modifications were not agreed by Tewkesbury Borough Council (TBC) and officers there had been requested by Members to bring back to their Council a proposal which did not include Twigworth as part of the Innsworth/Twigworth strategic allocation. He reminded Members that the Planning Inspector’s stated position was that not including Twigworth may give rise to soundness issues.

 

The Leader reported that TBC had received specialist flooding advice which had shown there were no planning reasons to support the exclusion of the Twigworth Strategic Allocation from the Main Modifications. At their meeting on 31 January Tewkesbury Borough Council endorsed the proposed main modifications with some changes, including the reduction of the allocation at Twigworth to 995 and the inclusion of a revised flooding policy which all councils could benefit from. He also highlighted the fact that as the MOD would not be releasing their site at Ashchurch for at least 10 years the recommendation was to entirely remove Ashchurch from the proposals. Tewkesbury would now have a housing allocation shortfall and as a result there would be a review of other alternatives. The JCS was however now back on track and there would be a full 6 week public consultation followed by an examination in public with hearings expected late spring/early summer following which the final report would be submitted to the three Councils for formal endorsement and implementation.

 

Finally, the Leader emphasised the importance of keeping the JCS on track in terms of providing a plan for Cheltenham in the future. He highlighted the fact that West Cheltenham would have the opportunity to input into the process during the public consultation and the examination in public. It was important to have the JCS in place before planning applications were submitted.

 

The Development Manager-Strategy was invited to address Council. He informed Members that two of the PMM’s (the list of proposed main modifications to the plan) would need minor changes as follows :

  • PMM0134 and PPM0135 refer to appendices 2A (maps) and Appendix 3 (superseded policies) respectively. The correct references for this meeting should be: Appendix 1A (maps) and Appendix 2 (superseded policies) respectively.
  • PMM084 to paragraph 5.3.2 (in the Background to Policy INF3) is changed at the start to read “The Environment Agency is working with Gloucester City Council, the Lower Severn Internal Drainage Board …”

 

The following questions were raised and responses given :

 

  • Swindon Village Local Green Space - a Member sought assurance from officers that when considering planning applications in this area they would take account of what the Inspector had said regarding green space. In response the Development Manager-Strategy said that the Local Green Space in Swindon village had been included in the proposed main modifications and would constitute part of the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 13.

14.

Notices of Motion pdf icon PDF 45 KB

Minutes:

 

Motion A: proposed by Councillor Flo Clucas and seconded by: Councillor Andrew McKinlay.

 

“This Council, mindful of the Referendum vote in Cheltenham and the wishes of many Cheltonians and other UK citizens to continue as far as possible to enjoy the benefits of EU Citizenship, supports the proposal by the Lead Negotiator for the European Parliament that, following Brexit, Associate Citizenship be made available to UK citizens who wish to have it.

Further, that the Leader be requested to ensure that such support be communicated to local MEPs, MP and to Mr Guy Verhofstadt, Lead Negotiator.”

 

In proposing the motion, Councillor Clucas said that Cheltenham was an international town part of the international family. The town’s Arts and Culture,  Sport, International businesses, Twinning history, University; Colleges and GCHQ all had an international profile and worked with similar organisations and companies from across EU.

 

In the referendum on 23 June 2016, thousands of Cheltonians had voted by a significant majority to remain in the EU family and many millions across the UK likewise. There were 1.2m citizens from the UK living, working or studying in EU - some from Cheltenham. An MEP had come up with the idea for Individual Associate Citizenship and many thousands had contacted him about it and there was support from MEPs of all EU nations and parties. The idea had now been taken up by Brexit Chief Negotiator for EP, Guy Verhofstadt.

 

The beneficiaries of such an arrangement would be students, young people, workers and companies who could to continue freely to be part of EU family, even if not members. It would give children, young people, students, those looking for work, for new jobs, to live near family, the opportunity to do so. There would a right for them to study, work, partake in Erasmus and for local companies to send workers to Europe to work. There would be no visa requirements, European Health Insurance Cards could still be available and there would be continued research opportunities for our universities and colleges. In short, Cheltenham would benefit enormously from the potential it offered.

 

She concluded that it was important that local MEPs, Cheltenham’s MP and the Chief Negotiator should understand how the Council as a representative of the people in the town, felt that this will be beneficial to all and therefore wish to see it adopted. She urged members to support the motion.

 

Councillor Harman proposed the following amendment which was seconded by Councillor Savage:

 

Add the additional wording to the motion:

 

''This Council recognises the invaluable contribution made by EU nationals living here in Cheltenham and welcomes the Government's constructive efforts to reach a multilateral agreement with the other 27 EU states at the earliest possible date, to secure the reciprocal rights of both EU nationals in the UK and UK citizens living in the EU.''

 

Before proposing the amendment, Councillor Harman first wished to raise a technical query relating to the main motion put forward on whether it was appropriate  ...  view the full minutes text for item 14.

15.

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

Minutes:

There was no urgent business.