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 Holliday, Parsons and Willingham.

2.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

Councillor Savage declared an interest in Motion A as a direct employee of Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Trust. He would withdraw from the Chamber for this item.

3.

Minutes of the last meeting pdf icon PDF 183 KB

Minutes of the meeting held on 24 July 2017

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 24 July 2017 were approved and signed as a correct record.

4.

Communications by the Mayor

Minutes:

 

The Mayor informed Members of her engagements since the last Council meeting in July and highlighted the following :

  • All Members had now received a copy of a new map of Cheltenham with details of events, festivals and attractions which had been produced in partnership with CBC, the BID and the racecourse;
  • The Battle of Britain service held on 17th September had been poorly attended by Councillors and she requested more Councillors to attend next year. She also asked that prompt replies were given to attendance at civic events.
  • The Cheltenham  Festival of Cycling and OVO Tour of Britain stage finish on Sept 9th had been an excellent event and she congratulated the team of organisers.
  • She thanked Councillor Jon Walklett for organising Mayor Fest at the Frog and Fiddle and thanked Cllrs Babbage and Savage for running the Cheltenham half marathon on behalf of her charities.
  • She advised that the Mayor’s Christmas Carol Concert would take place this year at Cheltenham College on 9th December

 

5.

Communications by the Leader of the Council

Minutes:

The Leader welcomed the publication of the new map of Cheltenham and informed Members that the Racecourse had distributed approximately 100 000 of these which was a good advertisement for the town.

 

The Leader informed Members that the publication of the Joint Core Strategy was expected on 1 November and therefore it was likely to be on target for debate and adoption at the Council meeting scheduled for 11 December.

 

The Leader reported that the new recycling system had been launched that day and he wished to put on record his thanks to those who had been involved in designing it, the crews involved, members of the public and the Cabinet Member Clean and Green Environment.

6.

To receive petitions

Minutes:

There were none.

7.

Public Questions

These must be received no later than 12 noon on Tuesday 10 October 2017.

Minutes:

There were none.

8.

Member Questions pdf icon PDF 147 KB

These must be received no later than 12 noon on Tuesday 10 October 2017.

Minutes:

1.

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

 

A recent survey for 'Guide dogs for the blind' found that 42% of assistance dog owners were refused by a taxi or PHV driver over a one year period, despite this being a criminal offence under the Equality act 2010.

 

Will the Cabinet Member ensure that all taxi and PHV drivers are aware of the law, and can the council look to introduce a provision for all drivers to undertake disability and equality training when obtaining or renewing their licence?

 

Can these measures be taken as feedback in the current taxi licensing consultation?

 

Response from Cabinet Member

 

  • The proposed “three strikes” policy will introduce additional sanctions for CBC licensed drivers who refuse to carry guide dogs and/or make additional charge for it.
  • The policy consultation is also proposing the introduction of a driver training procedure that will include, among other things, equality training and a follow up assessment. 
  • The consultation includes proposals to make this training mandatory for all new applicants but also for all current drivers of disabled access licensed vehicles.
  • The consultation does not however propose the imposition of mandatory disability awareness training all licensed drivers – only those where such training in relevant.
  • The current mandatory knowledge test that has been taken by all current licensed drivers includes awareness on equality duties relevant to taxi & private hire drivers.
  • This is supplemented by awareness of equality duties relevant to taxi & private hire drivers through the council’s trade newsletter.
  • The council is also consulting on making changes to the grandfather rights that may see the implementation of a 100% Equalities Act compliant fleet of public hire vehicles.

 

In a supplementary question Councillor Wilkinson requested that the consultation should seek views on whether there should be mandatory disability awareness training for all licensed drivers.

 

The Cabinet Member agreed that this could be included. He added that it was certainly important that the public had their say and help to bring forward taxi services into the 21st century. He encouraged the public to give their views as part of the consultation which would end on 23 December 2017.

 

 

2.

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

 

The recent introduction by Gloucestershire County Council of new parking restrictions around Cheltenham Spa station and Lansdown has predictably caused issues with increased commuter parking in nearby areas, including Park ward. Residents report dangerous parking close to corners and on pavements, as well as difficulty finding space for their vehicles and obstructions to buses in an area stretching from Hatherley Court Road to Gratton Road. What representations will this council make to ensure residents in Park ward are consulted by Gloucestershire County Council on future parking arrangements, including the option of a consultation in the affected areas?

 

Response from Cabinet Member

 

The changes to on-street parking restrictions in the vicinity of Cheltenham Spa station and within Lansdown have now been implemented by GCC following  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Petition to retain the flower displays in Imperial Gardens and the Promenade Long Gardens pdf icon PDF 106 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member Clean and Green Environment

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Fiona Wild, petitioner, was invited to address Council. She highlighted that Cheltenham was renowned for its colourful town centre which was a major asset attracting visitors and their friends and family to return thereby boosting the local economy.

She referred to the growth in the Festivals and the compromise reached 6 years ago allowing them the use of Imperial Gardens while the floral planting, which this organisation wanted removed entirely, was retained, but in a slightly different position.

In terms of the buzzword “sustainable” she said this meant herbaceous planting would be out of season for at least 8 months of the year. The public were seduced by colour but with wild planting, there was often an even shorter flowering season and which would then turned into a brown, withered mess.

Mrs Wild highlighted that last month, Imperial Gardens won the Parks and Open Spaces Gold Award for horticulture, environmental responsibility & community participation. Lying in a formal setting, Imperial and the Long Gardens were best suited to formal planting. Whilst bedding plants required replacing twice a year, they provided  colour for most of that time.

Mrs Wild said that Cheltenham needed to vie with comparable towns, for instance, Bath, Stratford and Tewkesbury, and not destroy one of its main attractions for short-term economic gain. Whilst bedding plants did not necessarily encourage wildlife, if all the other parks in Cheltenham were given over to wild and sustainable planting there would be plenty of places for birds, bees and other wildlife to thrive.

Mrs Wild felt that if the council’s nursery was sold, several of the devoted parks & gardens staff would lose their jobs and she questioned whether that was a satisfactory way to thank them for their painstaking work over the years. The hanging baskets would be filled with plants bought from elsewhere, still at considerable cost. Whilst some gardeners may be retrained in a different style of gardening, a consultant would apparently need to be hired to advise on what to plant instead and also to redesign the gardens which would incur more expense. She felt that bedding plants for these central areas may as well be bought with that money.

The council was already spending a considerable sum on replacing the admittedly below-par Christmas lights. These may encourage visitors over the Christmas period but colourful flowers encouraged them to come throughout the year.

Finally, she once again urged the Council to maintain the formal floral planting in Imperial Gardens and the Long Gardens.

The Cabinet Member Clean and Green Environment thanked the organiser of the petition for her commitment and for taking the time to attend the debate today. He highlighted that he always acted in the best interests of the town and wished to assure the public that no decision had been made in relation to the issue. However, it was important that the council considered all its assets across the town longer term . He highlighted that this was not about cuts to services or saving money  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.

10.

Overview and Scrutiny Annual Report pdf icon PDF 69 KB

Report of the Chair of Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Councillor Tim Harman

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Harman introduced the annual report as the chair of the Overview and Scrutiny committee. He thanked the Vice Chair Councillor Walklett and Councillor Payne who worked with him as a strong team coordinating the committee’s work. O&S had received presentations from the Cheltenham Trust, the BID, the Festivals and Stagecoach and noted that one of their most successful visits was to hold their meeting at the St Georges and St Vincent’s Centre and the committee had been important in terms of the Changing Places facilities supported by the Cabinet Member. He finished by encouraging all members to raise any matters with the scrutiny committee.

 

Although he had no criticism of the work of tO&S, a member did wish to raise a concern about the change of position of the current chair of O&S who since he had been appointed at Council, had taken a position as Cabinet Member at the county council. Scrutiny had since looked at a number of issues which involved the county council and he suggested that the chair should have withdrawn from any discussions. He gave Stagecoach, devolution and broadband as examples where the county council would have been directly involved in decisions on these issues.  Ubico was another area that had been scrutinised where the county council would be making a decision on what happens to waste and Councillor Harman was now the Executive member of the Health and Well Being Board.  He commended the fact that the Council had in its Constitution that the O&S committee is chaired by an opposition member but he encouraged the opposition to consider who is most suitable for that position and he suggested that it was inappropriate for Councillor Harman whilst he was a Cabinet Member at GCC. However well he carried out his role he had a clear pecuniary declarable interest in some of the items detailed in the annual report.

 

The vice chair of O&S, Councillor Walklett, took on board the comments raised but he had not experienced any difficulties due to Councillor Harman’s role on the county council. If anything did come up in the future he would bear in mind the comments made. Generally he felt the committee was performing a pretty strong scrutiny role.

 

In response Councillor Harman agreed to look into it but emphasised that he had been chosen by the opposition group to carry out the role for this municipal year and unless it was a serious issue he wish to carry on until then. He was not aware of any conflict but if he felt there was at any time he would take advice from officers.

 

Another member felt the challenge was reasonable but close working between this council and GCC was necessary and he suggested that the advantage of the chair of O&S being in a position of influence on the GCC Cabinet shouldn't be dismissed.

 

 

One member commented about the readability of the annual scrutiny report and suggested that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.

11.

Notices of Motion pdf icon PDF 49 KB

Motion A

Proposed by: Councillor Clucas

Seconded by: Councillor Harvey

That this Council, mindful of the distress, concern and inconvenience to Cheltenham residents, that would ensue should Cheltenham A&E close, reiterates its opposition to any proposed closure or downgrading of A&E facilities at our local hospital. Council recognises the high esteem in which residents hold the Accident and Emergency Department and the staff who work there.

 

It further calls on the Chair of the Trust to confirm that any proposals in relation to the future of Cheltenham's A&E will be discussed with the Council and shared with the people of Cheltenham to ensure that their voice is heard.

 

In addition, Council thanks the Accountable Officer at the CCG for her prompt response in ensuring that questions raised by councillors in relation to recent reports, were answered.

 

It further calls on the Member of Parliament to support the retention of a full range of A&E services at Cheltenham Hospital.

 

Motion B

Proposed by: Councillor Savage

Seconded by: Councillor Harman

This Council notes with concern the widely reported harassment, abuse and intimidation during the recent General Election campaign, including incidents of vandalism and arson here in Cheltenham.

 

It condemns all and any harassment, abuse or intimidation of election candidates, volunteers and those involved in the democratic process.

 

This council will work proactively to ensure that members of the public who wish to stand for public office are given the full support of this council and its partner organisations in exercising this fundamental right.

 

This council will ensure that all duly nominated electoral candidates are made aware of appropriate channels to ensure that any future incidents of harassment, abuse and intimidation can be reported and investigated.

 

Motion C

Proposed by: Councillor Wilkinson

Seconded by: Councillor Hobley

This Council notes that:

 

Delivering the right mix of housing is a key part of Cheltenham's economic prosperity;

 

Ensuring young people are able to live and work in the town is vital for the future prosperity of the town, in line with the aspirations of the council's place strategy;

 

House prices to buy and to rent in Cheltenham are unaffordable for many younger people;

 

Short term tenancy agreements, at a standard of one year, reduce stability for the majority of young people who our town must retain for its future prosperity;

 

This discourages many younger people from moving here and remaining here in the longer term;

 

This promotes inbound commuting, leading to congestion and other associated problems such as poor air quality and economic inefficiency;

 

This is making it more difficult for businesses to recruit the right employees; and

 

The issue is identified by key stakeholders, including those at the recent Civic Society conference, as a key factor for the future prosperity of the town.

 

Council resolves to:

 

Explore all possible methods for delivering more affordable housing for younger people to buy, including influencing house sizes and types in new developments;

 

Take opportunities to work with developers to deliver shared ownership schemes;

 

Take  ...  view the full agenda text for item 11.

Minutes:

Motion A

 

Councillor Savage left the room for this item.

 

The following motion was proposed by Councillor Clucas and seconded by Councillor Harvey:

 

That this Council, mindful of the distress, concern and inconvenience to Cheltenham residents, that would ensue should Cheltenham A&E close, reiterates its opposition to any proposed closure or downgrading of A&E facilities at our local hospital. Council recognises the high esteem in which residents hold the Accident and Emergency Department and the staff who work there.

 

It further calls on the Chair of the Trust to confirm that any proposals in relation to the future of Cheltenham's A&E will be discussed with the Council and shared with the people of Cheltenham to ensure that their voice is heard.

 

In addition, Council thanks the Accountable Officer at the CCG for her prompt response in ensuring that questions raised by councillors in relation to recent reports, were answered.

 

It further calls on the Member of Parliament to support the retention of a full range of A&E services at Cheltenham Hospital.”

 

In proposing the motion Councillor Clucas advised that from 19 October acute orthopaedic cases requiring surgery would be referred to Gloucester hospital.  This was a further example of the ongoing loss of specialism from Cheltenham which made it difficult to attract medical staff to work in Cheltenham where there would be limited opportunities to develop their specialist skills. She provided some statistics from A&E which illustrated that both hospitals were struggling to provide the necessary facilities during the day and after 8 p.m. each evening when Cheltenham patients had to be diverted to Gloucester until 8 a.m. in the morning. Currently any gaps in the service were being filled by agency staff. These problems would only increase as Cheltenham had an older population than the average in England and countrywide there was an increasing demand for A&E services as pressure on GP services increased. She did not consider the urgent care centre staffed by nurses and GPs was an adequate substitute. She urged the people of Cheltenham and Gloucestershire to understand what was going on and to make their voice heard to the CCG. A recent report from the Care Quality Commission had highlighted concerns about patient safety, bottlenecks in A&E, shortage of staff and medical care at night. She concluded that Cheltenham had a strong medical team and the people of Cheltenham needed to have access to those services in Cheltenham 24 hours a day. She urged members to support the motion.

 

Councillor Harman indicated that his group would support the motion but he would abstain as a Cabinet Member at the county council.

 

Councillor Nelson proposed an amendment that the two words “continue to” be added to the fourth paragraph before the word “support”.

This was accepted by the proposer and therefore this became the substantive motion.

 

In the debate that followed all members supported the motion and made the following points:

 

-       this was a countywide issue  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.

12.

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

Minutes:

None.