Cheltenham Borough Council
Cheltenham Borough Council

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Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Council Chamber, Municipal Offices

Contact: Rosalind Reeves, Democratic Services Manager 

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Councillor Flynn and Savage.

2.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

3.

Minutes of the last meeting pdf icon PDF 269 KB

Minutes of the meeting held on 15 October 2018.

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 15 October 2018 be agreed and signed as a correct record.

 

4.

Communications by the Mayor

Minutes:

The Mayor confirmed that carol singing would be taking place on Thursday at 5pm in aid of the Mayor’s charity.

5.

Communications by the Leader of the Council

Minutes:

The Leader wished to thank colleagues who had taken part in the photograph outside the Municipal Offices to show support for the local campaign against gender-based violence ‘Glostakeastand

’.

He also wished to pass on his thanks to all those involved in the WW1 remembrance weekend which he felt had done Cheltenham proud. He also passed on his good wishes to Pat Pratley, Chief Executive, who he hoped to see well again n the new year.

6.

To receive petitions

Minutes:

Councillor Harman presented a petition to the Mayor requesting that Boots Corner be re-opened at the earliest opportunity. He advised that it was on behalf of the Conservative group and the wider community and it had received around 5200 signatures.

 

In response to a question, Councillor Harman confirmed that the petition was the same petition that Alex Chalk had emailed about.

7.

Public Questions pdf icon PDF 112 KB

These must be received no later than 12 noon on Tuesday 4 December 2018.

Minutes:

1.

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

 

Comparing like with like, i.e. same days, same times etc., please can you provide details of traffic counts before and after implementation of the Boot's corner closure, for College Road, St. Lukes Road, Ambrose Street, St. Georges Street and Gloucester Road between the Train Station and the Lower High Street?

 

Response from Cabinet Member

 

GCC colleagues have a network of 27 traffic monitoring points which formed the baseline prior to any phases being implemented and is designed to give robust and sufficient data in order to evaluate the trial.  Clearly for consistency sake these monitoring points have remained the same and the data has been evaluated after each phase to identify impact.

 

The full set of monitoring points is listed below.

Monson Ave

Clarence Square

All Saints Road

Fairview Road

Bayshill Road

College Road

St Georges St

High Street

St James Square

Imperial Square Southern Arm

Montpellier Spa Road

Poole Way

St. Johns Ave

High Street

London Road

St. George Road

Imperial Sq Northern Arm

Ambrose St

Rodney Road

Albion Street

Gloucester Pl

Winchcombe St North

North Place

Clarence Street

St. George Pl

Royal Well Road

Winchcombe St South

 

Whilst these may not cover the specific sites desired they collect data on adjoining routes.

 

Data has been collected since 2015 which was used as the baseline, and added to year on year as various phases of the trial have been implemented. Whilst headline analysis has been undertaken where concerns have been raised, GCC colleagues are keen to collect the full 6 month like-for-like data since the phase 4 trial began so that a full picture can be gathered.

 

In a supplementary question, Mr Williams asked when the vehicle movement data would be available in the public domain.

 

The Cabinet Member explained that this was in the hands of the County Council and they had been given no firm date on when this would be received. He advised that Cheltenham Borough Council were also keen to receive this data.

2.

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

 

Assuming that the Council finally accepts that this ill-advised scheme has not worked, would they agree with me that many issues could be resolved, including pedestrian safety, if:

 

a.    There were ‘proper’ traffic lights, as at the top of Montpellier, and not the flashing orange variety and,

b.    that a bus lane remains on the left alongside Superdry etc, enforced by a camera 24 hrs a day.  This would mean a single line of traffic on the right hand side (after removal of the seats and bike racks etc), and combined with better traffic lights, would ensure that pedestrians, businesses, locals and tourists, can get back to some normality in Cheltenham.

 

 

Response from Cabinet Member

 

As this phase of the Cheltenham Transport Plan is a trial, and the full data sets are not yet available it is premature to judge the outcome.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Member Questions pdf icon PDF 106 KB

These must be received no later than 12 noon on Tuesday 4 December 2018.

Minutes:

1.

Question from Councillor Paul Baker to Cabinet Member Clean and Green Environment, Councillor Chris Coleman

 

Single use plastic is a significant issue for our town, for our world. As well as recycling as much as we can we must also reduce the amount of it being produced and sold in our town. I note a number of street traders in the town selling cheap single use plastic balloons and novelties, particularly at this time of year, but other times too. I would like to propose our licensing policy be changed to prohibit licences for such products in the future.

 

 

Response from Cabinet Member

 

The street trading policy is currently being reviewed and the use of single-use plastics will be addressed through this mechanism.

 

For the avoidance of doubt however, many of the mobile traders referred to in the questions to Council are street pedlars, who are not licensed by the authority and do not therefore fall within its jurisdiction. Pedlars are licensed by police forces and to this extent the Council cannot impose any specific restrictions on them.

 

Where a pedlar is operating otherwise than in accordance with the rules (e.g. they cannot be static for extended periods of time and must move from town to town etc.) the Council can act, as this may be considered to fall within the remit of street trading, which is the Council’s responsibility.

2.

Question from Councillor Paul Baker to Cabinet Member Clean and Green Environment, Councillor Chris Coleman

 

At the last Council meeting I asked the Cabinet member about the use of single use plastics both by the Borough and our partner organisations. I still await a response from those partner organisations.

 

 

Response from Cabinet Member

 

The Council and its partner organisations are working to reduce the use of single-use plastics. 

 

Ubico has confirmed that it, like the Council, is reducing the use of single-use plastics, including cups, cutlery, site notices etc. and is also considering action in relation to single-use plastics used as part of the service e.g. black plastic bags etc.  Alternative options will be reviewed as soon as possible.

 

Other partner organisations have been asked to report back to Members in the New Year on actions planned for 2019/20.

 

In a supplementary question, Councillor Baker explained that he was happy with the progress made thus far on the plastic free Cheltenham initiative; he was, however, disappointed to see that plastic stirrers were still being used in the Members room and queried when this would be changed.

 

The Cabinet member thanked Councillor Baker for his work and interest in the topic, he advised that they were currently using up existing stock and once this had been used they would be reviewing future purchases to find something that was more in line with the Council’s aspirations.

 

He explained that conversations had been had with Cheltenham Borough Homes who were also committed to reducing the use of single use plastics. 

 

3.

Question from Councillor Paul Baker to Cabinet Member Development and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Council Tax Premium on Empty Properties pdf icon PDF 81 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member Finance

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member Finance reminded Members that councils had discretionary powers to set the level of council tax discount on empty properties and CBC had already used its discretionary powers in respect of empty properties and second homes as detailed in appendix 2.  She explained that in December 2017 the Council agreed to charge the 50% empty homes premium in respect of properties which had been empty and unfurnished for more than 2 years from April 2018. She reported that new legislation had now come in to force extending discretionary powers to increase the level of premium from April 2019. The rating allowed the following :

 

·         From 1st April 2019 - 100% premium, 200% council tax liability, for properties which have been empty for 2 years or more

·         From 1 April 2020 - 200% premium, 300% council tax liability, for those properties which have been empty for 5 years or more

·         From 1 April 2021 300% premium, 400% council tax liability, for those properties which have been empty for 10 or more

The Cabinet Member informed that in October 2018, 119 properties in Cheltenham had been empty for more than 2 years and were subject to the premium. In October 2017 the number of properties which had been empty for more than 2 years was 80. She explained that based on the 119 properties and the council tax level for 2018/19, increasing the premium to 100% in 2019/20 would increase council tax income by approximately £12,000 for this Council. The Government had reported that nationally, where councils had been charging the premium consistently year on year, there had been a significant reduction in the number of homes being charged the premium.  Whilst Cheltenham’s scheme had been running for just nine months she informed Members that since April 2018 25 properties that were charged the premium had become occupied.

 

The Cabinet Member reported that two letters of representation had been received from investors at Honeybourne Gate and one from the managing agent requesting that in their particular circumstances consideration be given to exempting them from the scheme. She explained that whilst appreciating the particular investment difficulties these investors found themselves in, the potential reward needed to be considered against any risks and when considering these letters Cabinet believed it would be difficult to make an exception in this case. All Members of Council had received a copy of these letters and she requested that they should also give consideration to the requests.

 

The Cabinet Member noted that a certain level of empty homes was inevitable and was a feature of a healthy housing market, however properties which had been empty and unfurnished for 2 years or more were often subject to deterioration that could affect the fabric of the property and could cause damage to neighbouring homes. With increased pressure to find housing for people in need homeowners should be encouraged to bring long term empty homes into use to the benefit of all residents. Increasing the empty homes premium to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.

10.

Local Council Tax Support Scheme for 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 129 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member Finance

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member Finance introduced the report and explained that in April 2013 the council introduced its local council tax support scheme. She explained that council tax support for pensioners was not localised and continued to be provided for by a national scheme and in Cheltenham there were approximately 2,400 of pension age.

 

She explained that council tax support was given to around 6,000 households in Cheltenham at an annual cost of just under £6m. This included working and pension age claimants. Approximately 60% (3600) of those households were of working age. The cost of the council tax support scheme was met by this council and the precepting authorities.

 

The Cabinet Member reported that based on 2017/18 data, CBC was one of 37 councils out of 326 whose local council tax support scheme had not been amended to date to reflect reduced government funding.

 

The Cabinet Member then went on to explain that Cheltenham became a full Universal Credit area in January 2018. As the number receiving Universal Credit increased, the administration of calculating local council tax support entitlement became greater. This was because Universal Credit was reassessed on a monthly basis and any changes in income would mean that a different level of income needed to be taken into account for assessing council tax support. A change in the level of council tax support, however small, meant that a revised council tax bill needed to be issued. Issuing revised bills on a monthly basis was not sustainable for this authority or for those in receipt in managing their budgets.

 

The Cabinet Member informed Members that a consultation exercise on proposals for a revised council tax support scheme for 2019/20 was undertaken from 25 July until 9 September 2018 and was widely promoted. 130 people responded to the consultation which was considered a good response when compared to some other councils. Consultation was also undertaken with Gloucestershire County Council, Gloucestershire Police and the parish councils. The responses to the consultation had been analysed as outlined in appendix 3. Together with the income and household composition of the current council tax support caseload, these responses had been used to design the proposed scheme which was summarised in appendix 2.

 

The Cabinet Member explained that the income bands set the percentage discount to be awarded based on the level of household income. The overriding aim of the scheme was to:

Protect the most vulnerable individuals and families by continuing to provide 100% support to those on the lowest income

Provide some financial support to low income individuals and families, based on their level of income

Minimise the number of changes to the amount of support awarded and therefore the amount of council tax payable due to monthly Universal Credit reassessments

Reduce the overall cost of the scheme to the taxpayer

 

The scheme would be based on 5 income bands with the highest band providing support at 100% of the council tax liability, then reducing to 80%,60%,40% and 20% as household income increased.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.

11.

Treasury Mid-Term Report 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 241 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member Finance

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member Finance introduced the report and explained that treasury had changed immensely over the last few years with movement away from deposits in high street banks and diversifying treasury management into new areas.

 

The Council’s treasury management strategy for 2018/19 was approved in February this year. Key to the strategy was the successful identification, monitoring and control of risk. She reported that CIPFA published new versions of the Prudential Code for Capital Finance in Local Authorities and the Treasury Management Code of Practice but had yet to publish the local authority specific Guidance Notes to the latter. The Ministry for Housing Communities and Local Government published its revised Investment Guidance which came into effect from April 2018.

 

The Cabinet Member explained that the updated Prudential Code included a new requirement for local authorities to provide a Capital Strategy, which was to be a summary document to be approved by full council covering capital expenditure and financing, treasury management and non-treasury investments. This capital strategy would be submitted to council for approval in February 2019.

 

The Cabinet Member then summarized the economic update for the first six months provided by the council’s treasury advisors and which was outlined in the report.

 

The following other points were highlighted :

·         The treasury management summary position from April to September showed that the council had net borrowings of £53.569  arising from its revenue and capital income and expenditure.

·         The councils strategy to fund a number of capital asset purchases had been the use of temporary borrowing and then take long term borrowing from the Public Works Loan Board. At the back end of September the Council took out 38 Maturity loans with the PWLB for £43.083m to fund the purchase of several commercial properties within the Borough. The loans were taken out over 3yrs to 40yrs with the average rate of 2.57%. This had saved £940k in interest over the life of the borrowing when compared to the original business cases.

·         During the six month period the council’s investment balance ranged between £16.625m and £65.234m due to timing differences between income and expenditure.

·         In February this year the Investment income for 2018/19 was budgeted to be £328,200. The average cash balances representing the council’s reserves and working balances, was £25.154m during the period this report covers. It anticipated an investment outturn of £477,700 at a rate of return of 2.03% for this financial year. Estimated surplus for investment income was £149.5k for the financial year.

·         Net loans and investments were estimated to be £593,500 over the original budget but after aligning budgets with the business cases for the commercial properties purchased the estimated year end will come in on budget.

 

Finally, the Cabinet Member wished to thank all officers who worked tirelessly to ensure that the council achieved the best possible from its investments and borrowings.

 

Members also wished to congratulate the Cabinet member and officers for proactively managing the balanced treasury portfolio. CBC set an example to other authorities by investing  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.

12.

Notices of Motion pdf icon PDF 59 KB

Minutes:

Motion A

Proposed by: Councillor Clucas, seconded by: Councillor Barrell

 

That this Council being mindful of the findings presented in the 2018 children’s needs assessment report, resolves to support a year of action, called No Child Left Behind that will:

 

·           Highlight the issue of children growing up in poverty in Cheltenham and the inequality between them and their more affluent peers,

·           Start to address the inequality gap beginning with 12 month programme of events and activities

·           Be a call to action for all sectors to work together to make transformational change over the longer-term to fight child poverty and create new mechanisms for ensuring that every Cheltenham child thrives.

·           Set up a CWG to examine the potential for change and to invite Children’s Champions to be members’

 

That councillors consider nominating themselves to be Children’s Champions to support the council in the delivery of the No Child Left Behind programme.

 

The council invite other organisations to formally commit to supporting the No Child Left Behind programme”

 

As proposer of the motion, Councillor Clucas gave a brief overview of the issue. She advised that, as colleagues were aware from the recent Members seminar an assessment focussing on the needs of children in Cheltenham had been conducted. This had identified a number of serious concerns for children living in Cheltenham and so Cheltenham Borough Council and its partners had committed to a year of action, called No Child Left Behind. The initiative aimed to highlight the issue of children growing up in poverty in Cheltenham and the inequality between them and their more affluent peers, start to address the inequality gap and be a call to action for all sectors to work together to make a transformational change over the longer-term. The results of the assessment had identified a number of children who lacked access to adequate food, issues of safety and the inability to afford period products. She explained that they would be working with partner organisations including Gloucestershire County Council, public health and local schools to make a real difference to local children. She felt that all Councillors had a responsibility to residents in their wards and invited them to be part of the initiative. She also encouraged all Members to put themselves forward for the Cabinet Member Working Group which they hoped to be cross party.

 

Councillor Barrel seconding the motion explained that their aspirations were for every child in Cheltenham to thrive as the needs assessment had identified considerable areas of concern. She advised that it would be a 12 month programme of events and activities aimed at making a real difference to local children. She acknowledged that poverty was wider than just money and they needed to look at other factors such as stress as a result of exam pressures and the prevalence of social media, which could act as a platform for bullying and abuse. She cited issues of crime, drugs and self harming, noting that in a recent study 22% of girls and 9% boys  ...  view the full minutes text for item 12.

13.

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

Minutes:

There were none.