Cheltenham Borough Council
Cheltenham Borough Council

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Agenda and minutes

Venue: Council Chamber, Municipal Offices

Contact: Bev Thomas, Democracy Officer 

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies

Councillors Boyes and Harvey

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Councillor McCloskey, Boyes, Barnes, Coleman, McKinlay, Barrell, Harvey and Holliday.

2.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

Councillor Babbage declared an interest in agenda item 13 as an employee of an energy company.

3.

Minutes of the last meeting pdf icon PDF 328 KB

Minutes of the Extraordinary meeting held on 21 January 2019.

Minutes:

The minutes of the last meeting held on 21st January 2019 were approved and signed as a correct record.

4.

Communications by the Mayor

Minutes:

The Mayor explained that he had made a visit to the new crematorium which was fantastic and a credit to Cheltenham.

5.

Communications by the Leader of the Council

Minutes:

The Leader informed Members that Councillor Rowena Hay would be replacing Councillor Wendy Flynn on Planning Committee. Councillor Flynn would now act as substitute.

6.

To receive petitions

Minutes:

There were none.

7.

Public Questions pdf icon PDF 94 KB

These must be received no later than 12 noon on Tuesday 12 February 2019.

Minutes:

1.

Question from Linda Hope to the Cabinet Member Development and Safety, Councillor Andrew McKinlay

 

Cheltenham has a unique Regency Character that has attracted visitors for decades. Are the council really giving enough consideration to preserving this as the recent developments around Boots Corner are ugly, driving in is impossible and parking non-existent.

 

Response from Cabinet Member

 

One of the tenets of the Cheltenham Transport Plan was to learn from previous mistakes and thus there was a commitment that in delivering any change, there wouldn’t be any significant alterations to roads or demolition of buildings, as occurred with the road widening at St Margaret’s many years ago.

 

The works at Boots’ Corner are only temporary and whilst I agree that ‘astroturf’ may not be to everyone’s taste, the works have demonstrated that by removing through traffic and creating enhanced public space, more people are using that space and staying longer.

 

The recent Business Improvement District survey prior to Christmas, which was  carried out independently by Enventure Research, identified that ‘… Almost nine in ten (88%) respondents said that it was very easy (51%) or quite easy (37%) to travel through or around Cheltenham’ – suggesting the view that driving is impossible is not supported empirically.

 

The Cheltenham Transport Plan has not resulted in the loss of any parking in the town and data suggests that parking patronage remains positive. GCC has also created additional blue badge bays on-street to over-compensate for those spaces removed as part of the trial.

2.

Question from Adam Lillywhite to the Cabinet Member Development and Safety, Councillor Andrew McKinlay

 

Despite repeated and strenuous denials by Cllr McKinley that the reason for keeping Boots Corner closed is not the potential development of the Municipal offices, Q36 of the public question from the public questions of 21/1/2019 clearly identifies the high priority rated 16 and rated red in the Task Force risk register,

 

“If GCC are unable to close Boots Corner (inner Ring Road) to through traffic then it would significantly reduce the development potential of the Municipal Building and Royal Well and may render the development as Marginal, as it would only allow the Municipal Building to be remodelled without the holistic benefit of Royal Well.” (Ref Cheltenham Task Force risk TF. 12)

 

Given the extensive Economic and Environmental case presented to Councillors in the extraordinary meeting on 21st Feb and the officer who wrote the CTP update report being the MD of the task force, will you please outline why this Risk was not presented to the Councillors or included in the risk assessment, Appendix 1 of that meeting.

 

Response from Cabinet Member

 

The development potential for the Municipal Offices includes the opportunity to create some world class public space, but this can only be seriously considered if the town embraces traffic removal as a precursor.

 

We are not yet at that stage, as the Cheltenham Transport Plan has been delivered in a phased manner, so there seems little point in flagging  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Member Questions pdf icon PDF 105 KB

These must be received no later than 12 noon on Tuesday 12 February 2019.

Minutes:

1.

Question from Councillor Chris Mason to the Cabinet Member Corporate Services, Councillor Alex Hegenbarth

 

Please could the Cabinet Member confirm the cost to the new audio system recently installed in the Council Chamber and Pittville Room?

 

Response from Cabinet Member

 

Council agreed a budget of £75,000 for the new audio system recently installed in the Council Chamber and Pittville Room and the spend to date is £66,608.16.

 

In a supplementary question, Councillor Mason questioned whether the Cabinet Member thought this was money well spent given the number of problems that had been experienced with the new system.

 

The Cabinet Member advised that with any new system a number of teething problems could be expected, however, a meeting had been set with VP Bastion (the supplier of the system) and a number of Council officers to try and resolve the issues experienced.  

2.

Question from Councillor Chris Mason to the Cabinet Member Development and Safety, Councillor Andrew McKinlay

 

Income from the Council’s off-street car parks is an important revenue stream, which may be affected by a reduction in cars entering the town.  Could the Cabinet Member please update the Council on the results of any modelling that has been conducted to assess the impact resulting from a reduction in the number of people using the car parks?

 

Response from Cabinet Member

 

I would willingly consider any evidence in support of Cllr Mason’s view that there has been a reduction in the number of people using CBC car parks, but this has not been provided.

 

I can also confirm that there has been no reduction in income from the Council’s off-street car parks, indeed, quite the reverse (see table below). This suggests that visitor numbers to the town have increased, in addition to which Stagecoach has recently advised that Cheltenham bus journeys have increased by 4%, compared to a national decline of 2%.

 

Year

Gross Off-Street Parking Income

2017

£3,798,072

2018

£4,224,852

Increase

£426,780

%Variance

+11.24%

 

For context, it is worth noting that the Council’s strategic approach to car parking provision, adopted in 2017 with support from a cross-party working group, does not seek to prioritise car parking income generation, or access to the town by car over other more sustainable transport modes. The approved objectives of our Car Parking and Access strategy are as follows:-

 

·         To ensure the provision of adequate parking up to 2031, that is delivered effectively, logically and at a competitive cost;

·         To encourage access by more sustainable transport alternatives, including walking, cycling and public transport;

 

·         To assist traffic management, minimising congestion and its associated environmental impacts;

·         To enhance the visitor experience and thereby help to optimise the economic growth of the town.

·         To maintain, or increase current parking revenue, to help fund other environmental services which benefit the well-being of Cheltenham and its economy.

In a supplementary question, Councillor Mason noted that one of CBC’s objectives is to  reduce the number of vehicles coming into the town centre which would, in turn, mean less revenue for  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Adoption of Gambling Act Policy Statement pdf icon PDF 77 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member Development and Safety

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Leader, introduced the report, he advised that the authority were required to produce the policy statement every 3 years and that the responses to the recent consultations had been taken into consideration. He confirmed that the policy statement had already been agreed by Cabinet.

 

He reported that a section on ‘Local Area Profiles’ had been added and they were committed  to engaging with the County Council’s Public Health Team to develop local area profiles for Cheltenham. He further explained that ‘Local Risk Assessments’ had been added, he confirmed that this set a requirement for all gambling operators to undertake local risk assessments for their licensed premises.  He further advised that the section on exchange of information had been updated to reflect the recent changes to data protection and privacy laws. He acknowledged the recent changes in national legislation with regards to fixed odds betting terminals and confirmed that during routine inspections they would ensure this was being adhered to.

Members wished to thank officers for their hard work in producing the policy statement. They agreed that whilst gambling was important to Cheltenham’s economy it was essential that it was regulated and the necessary support networks put in place. It was noted that the Local Government Association had recently published a paper titled ‘tackling gambling related harm’ and agreed CBC should follow best practice guidance.

 

Members welcomed engagement with the County Council’s Public Health Team and the government’s decision to reduce the maximum limit on fixed odds betting terminals given the seriousness of gambling addiction. 

 

RESOLVED (with one abstention) THAT

 

1.    The proposed changes to the Statement of Principles and associated consultation responses be noted; and

 

2.    The Gambling Act Policy Statement be approved.

 

10.

Final Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Budget Proposals 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 118 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member Finance

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member Finance introduced the report. She advised that there had been significant changes in the Government Housing Policy during the year, most notably the abolition of the HRA debt cap. She explained that this coupled with the certainty on rent policy until 2025, would have a positive impact on HRA resources, enabling the Council to increase investment in new build and stock improvements. The Cabinet Member finance also made the following comments:

 

·           Rents would again be reduced by 1% and the Government had confirmed that rent policy would then revert back to the previous guidelines of allowing annual increases of up to CPI + 1% per annum for the following 5 years before a further review.

·           The 30 year HRA Business Plan has been updated to reflect:

o  The anticipated revenue outturn for 2018/19;

o  The current development programme for the period from April 2019 to March 2022;

o  Contingency budgets for market acquisitions and the purchase of new affordable units on sites where Section 106 planning agreements are in place; and

o  A refreshed assessment of the 30 year “need to spend” on existing stock for both capital and revenue expenditure.

·           CBH had taken a balanced approached in order to maintain existing service levels, retain the decent homes standard, continue delivery of the major windows and doors replacement, complete the new build programme, and deliver the new showers programme.

·           With regards to UC, she advised that CBH were conducting a proactive campaign to provide support and information to all tenants affected by these changes.

·           Significant variations within the 2018/19 revised forecast greater than £30,000 have been identified in budget monitoring reports and were summarised at 5.1 of the report.

·           She explained that a new agreement for the HRA grounds maintenance work undertaken by Ubico would commence in April 2019 and that those facing an increase in charges would be protected by transitional arrangements with increases being phased in over three years.

·           She reported that garage rents would be increased by 3% from April 2019 in line with the Retail Price Index.

·           Significant changes to the HRA greater than £30,000 in 2019/20 as compared to the revised forecast for 2018/19 were itemised in the table at 6.5.

·           Revenue contributions totalling £8,436,600 would be required to fund capital expenditure in the year, reducing revenue reserves to £1,568,100 at 31st March 2020.    

·           CBH had made substantial progress to modernise and transform the housing management and maintenance services delivered to tenants.

·           The capital programme would require CBH to carry out procurement on behalf of the council.

·           The proposed funding of the capital programme, together with a statement of balances on the major repairs reserve, was shown at Appendix 3. She advised that the main sources of funding remained the major repairs reserve and contributions from the revenue account. The Government’s policy to stimulate Right to Buy had also increased the availability of capital receipts and that a proportion of those receipts were only retained by the Council if they were used  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.

11.

Final General Fund Revenue and Capital Budget Proposals 2019/20 (Including Section 25) pdf icon PDF 175 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member Finance

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member Finance introduced the report which summarized the revised budget for 2018/19 and the Cabinet’s final budget proposals and pay policy statement for 2019/20. Her budget statement is attached in full to these minutes.

The budget was seconded by Councillor Jordan.

The following questions were then raised by Members and responses given:

·         Cheltenham Community Lottery-the Cabinet Member Healthy Lifestyles explained that the council had been receiving advice on this from Aylesbury council and there were now 60 councils nationwide operating a lottery. A technical report on this would be submitted to Cabinet on 5 March setting out how this would operate. The estimate was that it could raise between £90- £100k a year and this would be used for strictly local charitable purposes. The proposal for next year would be for any money raised to be allocated to No Child Left Behind.

·         Budget support reserve-confirmation was received from the Cabinet Member Finance that the total use of this reserve in the proposed budget amounted to £256k. In terms of plans to build the reserve back up again she confirmed that the strategy was to put all windfall into this reserve and this practice would continue until the government had announced its decision on business rates retention.

·         Planned maintenance budget –the Cabinet Member confirmed that this was a rolling programme with works allocated in terms of priority.

 

Group Leaders were invited to address Council.

 

Councillor Harman, Conservative group leader thanked the Cabinet Member Finance and all officers for their significant contributions in preparing the budget proposals. He also thanked Paul Jones in his role as S151 Officer for his assistance in working through the conservative group amendments.

 

He wished to table the following two amendments as laid out below.

 

 

Amendment  1

CAPITAL & ONE-OFF

  • Reallocate Boots Corner reserve.  Save £1.8m.  
  • Invest in repaving the High St.  Cost £1.5m contribution.
  • Invest in anti-Loan Sharking campaign with Gloucestershire Credit Union.  Cost £10k.
  • Balance to capital reserve

REVENUE

  • Move to 4-yearly elections.  Save £35k pa.
  • Reduce number of Cllrs to 30.  Save £55k pa.
  • Additional recycle bring site collections at peak times of year.  Cost £10k pa.
  • Balance and any temporary timing differences to budget reserve shortfall, with intention of using contribution toward part funding future weekly recycling service.  £80k pa.

Amendment 2

  • Town Centre Bus/Coach Station
  • Cycling hub
  • Additional blue badge disabled parking
  • Fully pedestrianise High St.  
  • Initial project investigation & planning work.  Funded by £250k from Boots Corner reserve.

Speaking to amendment one Cllr Harman highlighted the plight of those vulnerable to loan sharks and believed the £10k one-off funding proposed would, together with the monies allocated by the County Council, assist the Credit Union in providing financial advice to those in difficulties. He then referred to the council’s bring sites being overwhelmed particularly over holiday periods which could be addressed via additional collections at a proposed £10k. He felt that by reducing the cost of democracy i.e reducing the number of Councillors and having four yearly elections would drive efficiencies and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.

12.

Council Tax Resolution pdf icon PDF 74 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member Finance

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member Finance introduced the report and explained that the Council was required to formally approve the total Council Tax for residents of Cheltenham, including the Council Tax requirements of the precepting organisations Gloucestershire County Council (GCC) and Gloucestershire Police.

 

RESOLVED (unanimously) THAT

 

the formal Council Tax resolution at Appendix 2 be approved and the commentary in respect of the increase in Council Tax at Paragraph 6 of Appendix 2 be noted.

 

For (28) Councillors Atherstone, Babbage, Baker, Britter, Brownsteen, Clucas, Cooke, Dobie, Fisher, Flynn, Harman, Hay, Hegenbarth, Jeffries, Jordan, Mason, Oliver, Parsons, Payne, Seacome, Stafford, Stennett, Sudbury, Wheeler, Whyborn, Wilkinson, Williams, Willingham

13.

Notices of Motion pdf icon PDF 61 KB

Minutes:

Proposed by Councillor Wilkinson

Seconded by Councillor Atherstone

 

Motion to declare a Climate Emergency 

 

Humans have already caused irreversible climate change, the impacts of which are being felt around the world. Global temperatures have already increased by 1 degree Celsius from pre-industrial levels. Atmospheric CO2 levels are above 400 parts per million (ppm). This far exceeds the 350 ppm deemed to be a safe level for humanity;

 

In order to reduce the chance of runaway Global Warming and limit the effects of Climate Breakdown, it is imperative that we as a species reduce our CO2eq (carbon equivalent) emissions from their current 6.5 tonnes per person per year to less than 2 tonnes as soon as possible;

 

Individuals cannot be expected to make this reduction on their own. Society needs to change its laws, taxation, infrastructure, etc., to make low carbon living easier and the new norm;

 

Carbon emissions result from both production and consumption;

 

Cheltenham Borough Council has already shown foresight and leadership when it comes to addressing the issue of Climate Breakdown, having led on recycling issues, delivered a local plan with strong environmental policies and through promoting sustainable transport options.

 

Unfortunately, while current plans and actions locally are making a difference, they are not enough. The world is on track to overshoot the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C limit before 2050;

 

The IPCC’s Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C, published last month, describes the enormous harm that a 2°C rise is likely to cause compared to a 1.5°C rise, and told us that limiting Global Warming to 1.5°C may still be possible with ambitious action from national and sub-national authorities, civil society, the private sector, indigenous peoples and local communities;

 

Councils around the world are responding by declaring a ‘Climate Emergency’ and committing resources to address this emergency.

 

Full Council believes that:

 

All governments (national, regional and local) have a duty to limit the negative impacts of Climate Breakdown, and local governments that recognise this should not wait for their national governments to change their policies. It is important for the residents of Cheltenham and the UK that all settlements commit to carbon neutrality as quickly as possible;

 

Urban areas like Cheltenham are uniquely placed to lead in reducing carbon emissions, as they are in many ways easier to decarbonise than rural areas – for example because of their capacity for heat networks and mass transit;

 

The consequences of global temperature rising above 1.5°C are so severe that preventing this from happening must be humanity’s number one priority; and,

 

Bold climate action can deliver economic benefits in terms of new jobs, economic savings and market opportunities (as well as improved well-being for people worldwide).

 

Full Council calls on the Cabinet to:

 

Declare a ‘Climate Emergency’;

 

Pledge to make Cheltenham carbon neutral by 2030, taking into account both production and consumption emissions;

 

Call on Westminster to provide the powers and resources to make the 2030 target possible;

 

Work with other governments (both within the UK and internationally) to determine and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 13.

14.

Any other item the Mayor determines as urgent and which requires a decision pdf icon PDF 67 KB

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

 

“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.

A Property Matter

Report of the Cabinet Member Development and Safety

Minutes:

The Leader introduced the report on the property matter in the absence of the Cabinet Member Development and Safety.

 

Members asked questions which were answered by the Leader and the Managing Director Place and Growth and then debated the report in full.

 

RESOLVED (unanimously)

 

To adopt the recommendations.