Cheltenham Borough Council
Cheltenham Borough Council

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Agenda and minutes

Venue: Council Chamber, Municipal Offices

Contact: Rosalind Reeves, Democratic Services Manager 

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies

Councillor Willingham

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Councillor Flynn, Harman, Holliday, Willingham and Hobley.

2.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

Councillor Williams and Councillor Mason declared they were board Members for Cheltenham Borough Homes.

3.

Minutes of the last meeting pdf icon PDF 187 KB

Minutes of the meeting held on 23 July 2018 and the extraordinary meeting held on 11 September 2018.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The minutes of the last meeting had been circulated with the agenda.

 

Upon a vote it was unanimously

 

RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on the 11 September 2018 be agreed and signed as a correct record.

 

4.

Communications by the Mayor

Minutes:

The Mayor wished to remind Councillors and members of the public that a memorial march was taking place on the 10th November to commemorate 100 years since the end of World War 1. They were hoping to get over 1400 to represent those servicemen and servicewomen from Cheltenham who had lost their life during the War and as such he encouraged all to attend.

 

The Mayor also wished to pass on his condolences to Councillor Flynn who’s mother had recently passed.

5.

Communications by the Leader of the Council

Minutes:

The Leader, Councillor Jordan reported that following the commencement of the consultation period, a full report on the exercise plus the next steps in the creation of a vision for Gloucestershire in 2050 was to be expected next week. He advised that the next steps were for Cheltenham Borough Council to discuss how to take it forward.  

 

He acknowledged that is was an exciting week for Cheltenham as the new John Lewis and the revamped Next store were due to open. He explained that the paving outside John Lewis was nearly complete and the temporary tarmac would be replaced by a more permanent solution, he noted that considerable investment had been put in by Gloucestershire County Council and Cheltenham Borough Council to improve the High Street.

 

He explained that following a recent private meeting, the Council had decided to purchase Ellenborough House. This was extremely positive for Cheltenham as the Council were investing in property in the Town and paving the way for a sustainable future. He wished to thank all colleagues for supporting the purchase.

6.

To receive petitions

Minutes:

A petition was presented by Councillor Sudbury which called for a policy forbidding the sale of real fur on any markets licenced by the Council. The petition had received over 1000’s signatures and was supported by the Respect for Animals charity.

 

Councillor Baker presented a petition on behalf of residents requesting that the proposals to change the current form of council tax support be rejected.

 

The Mayor received both petitions on behalf of the Council and would forward them to the relevant Cabinet Member.

 

 

 

 

7.

Public Questions pdf icon PDF 141 KB

These must be received no later than 12 noon on Tuesday 9 October 2018.

Minutes:

1.

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

 

Why have you felt it necessary to go on public media, and indicate to the public, that you are not bothered about taxi drivers losing their livelihoods? By saying it’s their choice to buy a £30,000 Wheelchair vehicle or get out of the trade?

 

 

Response from Cabinet Member

 

The Council’s Taxi and Private Hire Car policy was adopted in March 2018 by Cabinet and supported later in the same month by the Council’s Overview and Scrutiny committee.

 

For clarity the policy in relation wheelchair accessible vehicles is as follows:-

 

By 2021 all Taxis will be required to be Wheelchair accessible and only wheelchair accessible vehicles will be licenced as Taxis by Cheltenham Borough Council from that date.

 

Taxi Drivers have been given three years to adjust to the change to help minimise the potential impact on their businesses.

 

There are two basic options available to a current Taxi driver.

1)    Change their existing saloon vehicles for a Wheel chair accessible vehicle (which cost from £10,000 upwards)

2)    Retain their existing car and operate under a Private Hire Car licence, until such time as they wish to replace it

 

As you can see the new policy neither forces Taxi Drivers to pay £30,000 for a new car, nor threatens their livelihoods.

 

In a supplementary question Mr Rogers explained that he had purchased a Hackney Carriage taxi plate from an existing licence owner and had considered this his pension fund. However, following the introduction of the new policy the sale value had dropped from £20,000 to £0. Alongside the policy to comply with the wheelchair accessible vehicle policy he queried whether this was fair on taxi drivers or any small business?

 

The Cabinet Member explained that encouraging wheelchair accessible vehicles had been in place since 1988. The sale of taxi plates was a grey area which had never been condoned by the council and the purchase of one had been done at the drivers own risk. 

 

2.

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

 

Have you undertaken a survey, at each rank to see how many wheelchair users are actually using the ranks?  And how many elderly and infirm users cannot safely use these wheelchair cars?

 

 

Response from Cabinet Member

 

No. The policy has been developed in response to national legislation and guidance, plus consultation with disability groups. 

 

The requirement for the council to undertake a substantive unmet demand survey in relation to the policy decision is not strictly necessary.

 

Notwithstanding, Cabinet remains of the view that the council needs to be proactive in improving accessibility standards for the travelling public in Cheltenham.  Grandfather rights have caused a stagnation of growth of accessibility standards.  Cabinet is of the view that Government have been clear that local councils need to be proactive in improving accessibility standards.

 

Through consultation the council have looked at various options giving consideration to the representations made  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Member Questions pdf icon PDF 95 KB

These must be received no later than 12 noon on Tuesday 9 October 2018.

Minutes:

1.

Question from Councillor Louis Savage to the Leader, Councillor Steve Jordan

 

Can he confirm that Cheltenham Borough Council uses the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism?

 

Response from Cabinet Member

 

Cheltenham Borough Council has robust anti-discrimination policies including tackling racism. We work with the Cheltenham Hebrew Congregation and Gloucestershire Liberal Jewish Community to hold an annual act of remembrance on national Holocaust Memorial Day at the Council Offices and provide small grants to support this.  We have good relationships with the community in Cheltenham. CBC is also represented on the county Hate Crime and Incident Strategic Group and recently held staff training on hate crime.  To my knowledge the definition of antisemitism has never been an issue but if it was we would use the definition referred to.   

 

In a supplementary question Councillor Savage queried whether there was any merit in adopting this in to the Council’s policy in order to send out as strong a message as possible to the Jewish community.

 

The Cabinet Member stated that he would be happy to take this away and put all the necessary steps in place.

2.

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

 

Engine-idling is a major contributor to air pollution. Buses, delivery vehicles and private cars can frequently be observed running engines whilst stationary in Cheltenham town centre. 

Can he explain the steps which CBC has taken to address this issue?

What enforcement powers, if any, are available to the council? 

 

 

Response from Cabinet Member

 

Engine idling is a contributor to air pollution.  It is important to recognise the difference between vehicles stopped in traffic and stationary vehicles with the engine running (true “idling”).  Buses from the Stagecoach fleet are fitted with monitoring devices that record fuel consumption, and drivers are encouraged to stop engines when stationary, if they do not, then the engines automatically cut out after a fixed period.  It is also important to note that Stagecoach buses often sound like the engines are running, when actually the noise is from an air conditioning fan.  Other bus companies do not operate such a system, and also operate (generally) older vehicles.  The Public Protection team are currently considering options for further enforcement against idling vehicles as a specific operation or in connection with particular events.

 

Enforcement powers are available in: The Road Traffic (Vehicle Emissions) (Fixed Penalty) (England) Regulations 2002.  Powers are only available on application to Secretary of State and only applicable in an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA).  Currently the whole of Cheltenham is an AQMA, however monitoring of pollution levels over the last few years have indicated that most of the Borough meets legal limits for air pollution and the whole-borough AQMA is inappropriate. The Public Protection team is working towards reducing the AQMA to a much smaller area, to allow us to concentrate efforts on dealing with the most affected area.  The Regulations specify two offences, one is “Stationary idling”, which carries a Fixed  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) Formal Adoption of Charging Schedule and Supporting Policies, Approval of Regulation 123 List for Publication and Setting a Commencement Date for Charging pdf icon PDF 138 KB

Report of the Leader

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Leader introduced the report which sought Council adoption of a Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) Charging Schedule and supporting policies, alongside approval of a list of infrastructure that may be funded from CIL (Regulation 123 list) for publication and to set a commencement date for charging of 1st January 2019. He explained that this had been worked up over a number of years and formal public consultation and a formal examination in public had taken place. Tewkesbury Borough Council were due to consider the report that evening and Gloucester City Council the following week.

He stated that the CIL was a charge levied on new buildings and extensions to buildings according to their floor area. In this way money is raised from development to help pay for strategic and community infrastructure. This could include schools, leisure centres, older peoples care accommodation, roads and other facilities to ensure the demands arising from the JCS are accommodated sustainably.

CIL replaces only the parts of Section 106 agreements which have previously been used for this purpose. Section 106 should continue to be used for affordable housing and would be used for site specific infrastructure needed to make a specific development site acceptable in planning terms.

The Leader explained that it had been a complicated process and if issues arose then there would be an opportunity for review. The Inspector fully supported it. He reported that there was one change, which did not apply to Cheltenham and which had been circulated that morning in the form of published amendments to Members. One supporting policy included making instalments more flexible in how they were received and the timescale in which they were received.

He informed that implementation of CIL was scheduled for 1 January 2019. It was vital that CIL was implemented since the JCS was in place but it could be reviewed at the discretion of the council.

Members made the following comments to which the Leader/Director Planning responded:

  • Recognised it was a far reaching and technical proposal and had been a lengthy process involving experts, surveyors and consultants
  • Reference was made to the fact that many other authorities had come to different conclusions about CIL and some had not set it at all in urban areas. Flexibility was key to see how it would suit the town. Concern was expressed about the impact on affordable housing as the levy would make developments less viable. It was felt that this should be monitored very carefully. In response the Leader agreed that affordable housing was indeed essential and the main thrust of policy was to get affordable housing as well as CIL. He said that time would tell if this was justified or not.
  • The point was made that there were no allowances to take into account sites which had been empty for three years. Such sites should be encouraged to be developed.
  • The impact of CIL on house prices was also of significant concern as the cost to the developer would be passed on  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.

10.

Joint Core Strategy Review Issues & Options Consultation approval pdf icon PDF 100 KB

Report of the Leader

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Leader introduced the report and explained that the JCS was adopted in December 2017 with a commitment to undertake an immediate review on the issues of housing supply for Gloucester and Tewkesbury and the retail policies for the whole area. This was recommended by the government appointed Inspector who examined the plan and concluded that this immediate review was necessary in order to find the plan to be ‘sound’.

The Leader added that while the immediate review was to be focused on these particular issues the new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) had subsequently been published which put new requirements on local plans. This meant that the scope of the review would need to be expanded to be in conformity with national policy.

He explained that fundamentally the JCS review would again look at the growth needs over a 15 to 20 year timescale, what the best strategy was for delivering that growth, and the allocation of strategic sites to help meet these needs. However, it was also an opportunity to review all of the policies contained with the current adopted plan to see if they continued to be effective and consistent with the NPPF.

The Leader then highlighted that the Issues and Options stage of plan making sought to review and generate feedback on the key issues that were affecting the area and set out some of the options that were available to address them. It therefore did not propose a strategy, new sites or policies; this would be for the next stages of the plan.

The Leader informed that an 8 week consultation would commence in November and conclude in January 2019. The aim would be to complete the review by the end of 2022. He suggested that a full review should take place to add value to the JCS and include new ideas such as those emanating from the Gloucestershire 2050 debate. The aim of the questionnaire in the consultation was to encapsulate such issues.

 

Members made the following comments and responses were given:

 

  • A Member felt that a full review should extend to 2041 as he believed there was a major temptation to ‘tweak’ the current JCS rather than looking at things more fundamentally.
  • Some Members questioned the assumption that development should be achieved via the urban extensions by using green field land or by releasing Green Belt land. The nature of both employment and transport was changing and it was felt that urban extensions had now been taken over by events. One Member gave the example of the environmental impact of travel with the shift towards electric and low emission vehicles. There therefore needed to be a fundamental reassessment.
  • A Member made reference to a more sustainable development model in terms of developing new small villages on a satellite basis and building more human scale communities in rural areas, i.e. a far more dispersed approach.
  • A Member questioned if the 5 year land supply issue could not be solved in in the wider  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.

11.

Housing Investment Plan pdf icon PDF 188 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member Housing

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member Housing introduced the report which set out what the Council planned to do in order to bring about the required step change in the delivery of housing. He stated that if approved, these proposals would provide a range of benefits to Cheltenham, not least an increase in the provision of affordable homes and the delivery of private rented homes to be let on a long-term basis, thereby providing more households with greater security of tenure.

This was against the background of a national housing crisis. Social housing delivery was low, and affordable homes had become more unaffordable as house price values continued to rise. Ultimately this had led to a phenomenal growth in the private rental sector but this had still failed to deliver enough homes.. The Cabinet Member stated that since the self-financing changes in 2012 relating to the housing revenue account the council and Cheltenham Borough Homes had endeavoured to provide more homes in the town, albeit few in number. Demand for homes therefore remained high.

To address some of the issues, working within the system the council was now proposing to invest £100 million to enable a significant step change in the delivery of homes.

The proposal for delivery was outlined in the report.  Entering into the private sector of the rental market represented a new step, but one which was significant and needed. He made reference to a motion brought to Council by Cllr Wilkinson highlighting the plight of the under 35’s. With this broad approach and larger investment, it would provide the council with more flexibility in delivering larger viable schemes, which in turn would present more opportunities for sustainable communities through a blended and balanced tenure mix where possible. In his view this was ultimately not only investing in bricks and mortar but also  in shaping communities.

In terms of financing, the Cabinet Member referred to section 5 of the report containing details of a  loan facility and grant from this council to Cheltenham Borough Homes.

The £300k grant from unapplied capital receipts  would be used to fund additional CBH officer support and external professional fees.  It was envisaged that the loan funding would be used wholly or in conjunction with existing housing capital receipts, commuted sums as well as any available grant funding depending on the nature of the individual proposals.

Governance proposals were set out in section 6 of the report and he outlined as follows :

·    Cabinet Member Working Group, which would provide oversight and challenge and focus on priorities and outcomes

·    Strategic Housing Development Group (SHDG)  comprising senior directors from CBC and CBH to develop business cases for review by the Working Group on an individual basis.

·    CBC-CBH Housing Supply Review Group (operational) comprising officers to consider all potential supply opportunities, details and evidence.

He emphasised that final approval would be required from the CBH Board, CBC S151 Officer, the Managing Director Place and Growth, Cabinet Housing and the Cabinet Member Finance.

He believed that  through this  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.

12.

Overview and Scrutiny Annual Report pdf icon PDF 71 KB

Report of the Chair of Overview and Scrutiny

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair of Overview and Scrutiny, Councillor Chris Mason, introduced the item and firstly wished to put on record his thanks to Councillor Tim Harman who had chaired Overview and Scrutiny over the period of the annual report. He also wished to thank democratic services for their support and all officers who had contributed to the work of the committee.

 

He wished to see more scrutiny and wished to invite councillors to raise issues. Scrutiny should not be afraid to ask challenging questions of officers and Cabinet as this provided them with the opportunity to think carefully about the process and what they aimed to achieved. He made reference to the two call-ins and welcomed the fact that the meetings were devoid of party politics.

 

The acting Conservative Group Leader duly noted the report and explained how he had chaired a scrutiny task group where the process had worked well dealing with complex issues through a thoughtful and measured way. He welcomed the holistic cross party approach and wished to put on record to the former and current chairs of the committee.

 

The Leader also wished to endorse the thanks expressed and welcomed the contribution of scrutiny albeit operating with limited resources to hold the executive to account.

 

The Chair of the current Scrutiny Task Group on Urban Gulls updated Members on its work which included holding a drop in session, undertaking a survey, meeting the MP and the BID as well as Cabinet Members to discuss the issues. The group was considering whether the action currently taken within the budget could be done in a better way with the aim of making the budget process more transparent.

                                

A Member made a suggestion that a report back to Overview and Scrutiny on Cheltenham Railway Station should be requested as this is what was agreed within the scrutiny task group and was particularly necessary given that progress was not as what was expected. He highlighted the role of “overview” in the process.

 

RESOLVED (unanimously) THAT

 

The Annual Report of Overview and Scrutiny 2017-18 be approved.

13.

Notices of Motion

Minutes:

No motions were received.

14.

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

Minutes:

None.

15.

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

 

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)

 

16.

Exempt Minutes

Exempt minutes of the meeting held on 23 July and 11 September 2018.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Parsons requested that given the purchase of Ellenborough House was public knowledge both the exempt minutes and the agenda documentation be put in the public domain as soon as practicable, particularly given the transparency agenda. He recognised that this would involve some redaction due to some commercially sensitive information.

 

In response the Cabinet Member Finance highlighted that given the need for some redaction due to information about rental values of occupiers of the property this would be done within 2 weeks.

 

She added that there was a general point regarding “pink” papers and their disclosure but inevitably they would require some redaction and then be disclosed as soon as practicable.

 

 

RESOLVED THAT

 

The exempt minutes of the meetings held on 23 July and 11 September 2018 be approved.