Cheltenham Borough Council
Cheltenham Borough Council

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Agenda and minutes

Venue: Council Chamber - Municipal Offices. View directions

Contact: Bev Thomas, Democratic Services Team Leader 

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Cllrs. Barnes, Holliday, Horwood, Mason and Stafford.

2.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

Cllr. Jordan declared an interest in agenda item 11 as a member of the Business Improvement District board, Cllr. Sudbury declared a personal but non-prejudicial interest in the budgetary items as a county councillor, and Cllr. Williams declared an interest in the same items as a Board Member of Cheltenham Borough Homes (CBH).

3.

Minutes of the last meeting pdf icon PDF 461 KB

Minutes of the meeting held on 16 December 2019

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting on 16th December 2019 were approved and signed as a correct record.

4.

Communications by the Mayor

Minutes:

The Mayor spoke about a number of recent events, including Holocaust Memorial Day and the No Child Left Behind awards, praising those involved.

5.

Communications by the Leader of the Council

Minutes:

The Leader of the Council expressed his sympathy to Cllr. Stafford, who recently suffered a personal bereavement and is expected to take a break for several months as a result.

He concurred with the Mayor’s praise of the No Child Left Behind awards, and noted that he was pleased to see the return of Light Up Cheltenham, which is likely to be very popular during the half-term week.

6.

To receive petitions

Minutes:

There were none.

7.

Public Questions

Minutes:

1.

Question from Amber Astron Christo to Cabinet Member Clean and Green Environment, Councillor Chris Coleman

 

Why does the Council continue to fail to sweep up the leaves in the roads throughout Cheltenham?

If you do not sweep up the leaves, they are rapidly reduced to silt in wet weather, which sits as deep mud on the roadsides/pavements and then gets washed into the drains, causing flooding in the roads and further afield as the silt moves into the Chelt and the river system; then, in dry weather, the micro-particles become airborne and create breathing problems when inhaled.

Why bother with slogans like ‘Clean & Green’ while you are failing the people of Cheltenham at the most basic level?

 

Response from Cabinet Member

 

I do not share your view that the Council is failing the people of Cheltenham.  Cheltenham is proud of the amount of trees it has in the town and we are actively encouraging the planting of more trees as part of a response to the climate emergency.  The many trees we have in the town in streets, parks and open spaces do however mean that a lot of leaves fall on the ground, not just during the Autumn period.

Ubico, on behalf of the Council, undertakes road sweeping operations using two 15T mechanical road sweepers throughout the borough all year round, irrespective of the leaf fall period.  In addition to the mechanical road sweeping, teams of operatives manually clear leaves from pavements, grass verges, open spaces and roads.  A planned maintenance programme, including deep cleans, takes place each year which includes leaf clearance and digging out detritus from gullies.  For information, the December 2019 deep clean programme covered the following roads:

9 Dec: Edward St, Brandon Place, Tryers Road, Suffolk St

10 Dec: Painswick Road (Suffolk Road - Grafton Road)

11 Dec: Painswick Road (Grafton Road - Shurdington Road)

12 Dec: Grafton Road

13 Dec: St Philips Street, Norwood Road, Shurdington Rd (Bath Rd –Moorend Pk Rd)

16 Dec: Park Place

17 Dec: Gratton Road

18 Dec: Ashford Road

19 Dec: Andover Road & Andover Street

24 Dec: Princes St & Sydenham Road North

To further improve the quality of street cleansing the Council, working in partnership with Ubico, is actively seeking better joined up working arrangements with Gloucestershire County Council Highways. 

 

Supplementary Question

 

The questioner did not take the response as read.

 

Response from Cabinet Member

 

I do not accept the premise of the question. There is a continuous process of cleaning up leaves, as outlined in the original answer.

2.

Question from  Amber Astron Christo to Cabinet Member Development and Safety, Councillor Andrew McKinlay

 

a) Do you wish to install Uber in Cheltenham, seeing as it was recently exposed in London as failing to do security checks on all their drivers, while destroying the livelihoods of local cabbies?

b) By insisting on larger wheelchair access vehicles only, why are you are prioritising access to a minority of wheelchair-using passengers over the majority, who either have no wish to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Member Questions pdf icon PDF 298 KB

These must be received no later than 12 noon on Tuesday 11 February 2020.

Minutes:

1.

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

 

Members will doubtless welcome the shrinking of the town’s air quality management area - this is a notable success in improving the air quality experienced by local residents. However, the legislation governing AQMAs is useful but blunt. It does not take into account spikes in pollution at certain times of day - for example school pickup and drop-off, when the lungs of vulnerable children are subjected to harmful vehicle pollution at the school gate. In answer to a previous question at council, the cabinet member suggested he was open to discussions on using council equipment to monitor air quality outside schools. This possibility was again acknowledged by Gareth Jones, Senior Environmental Health Officer, at January’s O&S meeting. Now we have spare monitoring equipment due to the redrawing of the AQMA, will the redeployment of monitoring equipment outside schools be part of our future activities?

 

Response from Cabinet Member

 

The Air Quality legislation does include short-term exposure limits for some pollutants.  Of note, is the short-term limit for NO2, which is set at 200ug/m3 and can be exceeded up to 18 times per year.  This limit is not exceeded at any measurement location in Cheltenham and research has shown that such levels would coincide with an annual mean level in excess of 60ug/m3, which is also not breached in any part of the town.  Further details are contained in the annual reports submitted to DEFRA, which are available on our website.

We don’t have ‘spare’ monitoring equipment as a result of the changes to the Air Quality Management Area (AQMA).  All existing equipment will be re-deployed as necessary to monitor sites in and around the new AQMA, or at other areas of concern.  One of these sites is immediately outside a primary school. 

The Environmental Protection team is in the early stages of working with Gloucestershire County Council to develop a project to work more closely with local schools on local air quality. This will also support the request from CBC Overview and Scrutiny Committee to work with schools to improve air quality.  There are likely to be significant costs associated with the proposed project, particularly if further monitoring equipment is required, along with staff resources to help deliver successful outcomes; this will therefore require a project proposal and business case being produced for CBC’s approval and funding consideration.

 

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

 

Thank you for clarifying that although the Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) is shrinking, air quality monitoring is not stopping in that part of town. On the question of schools, it is important to be able to make the case for intervention against wasteful journeys, which are bad for the environment and public health. Will the council work with schools and pressure the county council to do more about this?

 

Response from Cabinet Member

 

Yes, we will do so,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Update to the Constitution pdf icon PDF 355 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member Corporate Services

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member Corporate Services reported that the Constitution Working Group had met on the 27th January to discuss proposals for constitutional amendments. He suggested that since the proposed amendments cover a wide variety of issues, they should be approached one by one.

 

a) A change to Article 7, paragraph 7.2 of the Constitution to read “The Cabinet shall consist of the Leader of the Council together with at least two, but not more than nine Councillors”, allowing the introduction of two new portfolios for the climate emergency and the economic development in West Cheltenham.

 

The Conservative group leader added that the opposition agreed with this recommendation. The Leader of the Council explained that although the Cabinet role is assumed at two days a week, it is unfair to assume that this is automatically what is available. He added that GCC has increased its Cabinet size in the last few years, and this change brings CBC into line with similar councils and accounts for the Cabinet’s increased workload.

 

VOTE:

 

FOR: 29

 

AGAINST: 6

 

ABSTENTIONS: 0

 

b) A reduction in the size of Planning Committee from 15 members to 11.

This would require Council approval at Annual and Selection Council on 18 May 2020 and, once approved, would have immediate effect.

 

The Cabinet Member Corporate Services suggested that this reduction would also bring CBC into line with other councils around the country. The Chair of the Licensing Committee added that Licensing has 10 members and meets 4 times a year, while there are 5 members on the sub-committee which meets 8 times a year, and 3 on the alcohol sub-committee. He suggested that reducing Planning to 11 therefore seems sensible. He also noted that the Chair’s casting vote is no less important as it is still an odd number, and planning applications can still be appealed to the Planning Inspectorate. One member suggested that if Planning is too big, this might mean that the council itself is too big too.

 

VOTE:

 

FOR: 31

 

AGAINST: 2

 

ABSTENTIONS: 2

 

c) The introduction of the electronic voting system as an alternative to the show of hands currently required

 

One Member asked whether every vote could be a recorded vote. The Cabinet Member Corporate Services responded that the names of all councillors will appear on the main screen with their choice next to them. One member asked whether votes would be definitely recorded accurately, considering the possibility of user error. The Cabinet Member Corporate Services responded that members would likely know when they had pressed the wrong button and would be able to raise a point of order to have that noted. Members stressed that confidence in the system was key.

 

One Member asked about secret votes, while another asked how members can be sure that their vote had been recorded correctly. The Head of Law clarified these questions. A test vote and a secret vote were demonstrated for the benefit of members. One member noted that he could not remember the last example of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.

10.

Housing Revenue Account - Revised Forecast 2019/20 and Budget Proposals 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 267 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member Finance TO FOLLOW

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member Finance presented the report and delivered a speech, which is attached to these minutes as an appendix.

 

The Conservative group leader responded that the opposition supported many things in the report, but queried whether point 3.1, which speaks in terms of moving towards a carbon-neutral housing portfolio, had a specific target in mind. The Cabinet Member Finance responded that CBH were allocating £50k in order to look at what they can and can’t do in relation to existing stock. She was unable to be specific at this point, but CBC’s stated aim is 2030. The Cabinet Member Housing added that, with both a housing crisis and a climate crisis, priorities invariably need to be balanced, but he reassured Members that Cheltenham Borough Homes’ aims were aligned with those of the council. He stressed that the council needs more support from national government, both in terms of funding and in terms of information about the planned direction of travel of housing policy.

 

The People Against Bureaucracy group leader thanked the Cabinet Member and officers for putting together a sound report with both social and business issues at the forefront. He asked about the 500 homes of mixed tenure which are currently planned, and stressed his support for making the new homes carbon-neutral. However, he asked whether the Cabinet Member Finance believed that the building of these houses to be carbon-neutral will impact on the number of houses delivered. The Cabinet Member Finance responded that the relevant officers will be able to respond in more detail.

 

One Member congratulated officers on a number of good initiatives, but queried the £900k of funding allocated to heating. He asked whether the intention was to put heat pumps in instead of boilers, citing environmental concerns and the phasing out of gas boilers. The Cabinet Member Housing clarified that there was no provider at the moment who can provide what the council needs at the desired scale, so the replacement program is currently reliant on older technology.

 

One Member placed on record his thanks to CBH for its socially compassionate policy approach, citing the section on non-traditional stocks, which were very relevant to his ward.

 

One Member added his thanks, particularly to the Head of Community Services and the Estates team for their work on the subject, especially regarding a number of difficult issues. CBH has moved efficiently and proactively to help those who are most in need. One Member echoed this praise and added that she had worked closely with CBH over the last few years, and had been impressed by how it leveraged local support and built up communities.

 

One Member echoed the praise for CBH and sought to place it in a different context, suggesting that CBH is the council’s partner both in name and in need. The key with the new houses is that they are affordable, something which Cheltenham currently lacks. She mentioned the Thrive program as a particular example of a successful and positive scheme.

 

One Member  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.

11.

General Fund Revenue and Capital – Revised Budget 2019/20 and Final Budget Proposals 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 120 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member Finance TO FOLLOW

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member Finance presented the report and delivered a speech, which is attached to these minutes as an appendix. The Leader of the Council seconded the report.

 

One Member asked a technical question about accreditation statuses. FC responded that these make it possible for the authority to retain their portfolio status. Accreditation experts look at everything owned by the council, comprising some 250,000 different objects. One Member asked whether the use of the term ‘pump-priming’ in the report means that removing money from the Town Hall improvement is imminent. The Cabinet Member Finance responded that the money is allocated to the Trust, on condition of a full business case. One Member outlined the situation at the Trust, reassuring members that it does not need rescuing, based on figures seen in the last couple of months. She praised the new Chief Executive of the Trust for turning around its financial situation. The council is working with the Trust to help it become more commercially focused. The new Chief Executive has overseen positive changes in other areas of the Trust, e.g. more bookings across the board, and she was satisfied that the £1m allocated to the Trust will make a significant difference.

 

One Member suggested an amendment to paragraph 6.13, adding in reference to the Chancellor and the specific Secretary of State for Export. He suggested that this change would be a simple addition with a significant effect, and urged its adoption. The Cabinet Member Finance agreed that this would not change any of the costs of the budget besides two extra stamps, and accepted the incorporation of the amendment.

 

One Member asked about the toilet allocation in Sandford Park. She has recently been in contact with the Friends of Sandford Park group, who wanted to know when this would be received. The Cabinet Member Finance responded that she did not know at that moment, but would let her know when she had the relevant information.

KS also queried some ambiguous wording in paragraph 6.5, and asked whether the wording could be changed to ‘originally allocated to the restoration of the unsafe bridge in Pilley Nature Reserve which has led to the closure of the public footpath behind old pats’.

 

One Member asked about the £200,000 investment in in-cab system, comparing it to Smart Meters and asking how the council can be sure that the projected savings will actually happen. The Cabinet Member Clean and Green Environment explained how the technology improves the system for customers by reducing errors, while helping the council achieve its climate change goals by making journeys shorter and more efficient.

 

One Member queried a figure on page 64, which refers to a figure of £458,000 earmarked for Budget Strategy Support Reserves. Later on, a figure of approximately £250,000 is cited – is this discrepancy because it is additional funding or a small part of the reserve? The Executive Director Finance and Assets referred to figures in Appendix 2 and Appendix 6 and also cited the overall  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.

12.

Council Tax Resolution 2020 pdf icon PDF 213 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member Finance TO FOLLOW

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member Finance introduced the report  and explained that now that the Council had agreed the budget and level of Council Tax for 2020/21 it was now required to formally approve the total Council Tax for the residents of Cheltenham, including the Council Tax requirements of the precepting organisations,

 

The total Council Tax to be paid by residents of Cheltenham in 2020/21 by council tax band, including the precepting authorities, was contained in Appendix 2.

 

She explained that by way of an explanation of how the precept was divided on a band D property the total council tax would be £1816.65 of which CBC received  £214.08,   GCC £1345.32, the Police £257.25. In percentage terms this equated to the County getting 74%, Police 14% and the Borough 12%

 

She then expressed caution that Parliament had yet to debate the final settlement albeit there were no changes expected.

 

 

The Mayor moved to a recorded vote.

 

RESOLVED (unanimously) THAT

 

the formal Council Tax resolution be approved

 

For: Atherstone, Babbage, Baker, Barrell, Britter,Brownsteen, Clucas, Coleman, Collins, Cooke, Dobie, Fisher, Harman, Harvey, Hay, Hegenbarth, Jeffries, Jordan, McCloskey, McKinlay, Oliver, Parsons, Payne, Savage, Seacome, Stennett, Sudbury, Wheeler, Whyborn, Wilkinson, Williams, Willingham

13.

Nominations for Mayor Elect and Deputy Mayor Elect 2020-21 pdf icon PDF 219 KB

Report of the Leader of the Council

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chief Executive presented the report and explained that Councillor Sandra Holliday had served as Deputy Mayor since last year’s Annual Council Meeting and Members would be asked to elect her as Mayor at this year’s Annual Meeting.

He reported that the Members shown towards the head of the Order of Precedence in Appendix 2 had been approached to ascertain if they were willing and able to have their name put forward for appointment as Deputy Mayor for 2020-21. Councillor Chris Coleman indicated a willingness to put his name forward as Deputy Mayor subject to no other eligible councillor wishing to do so and pending the outcome of the May 2020 elections.

 

RESOLVED (unanimously) THAT

 

1.    the Order of Precedence in Appendix 2 be noted.

2.    Councillor Sandra Holliday be put to the Annual Council Meeting for election as Mayor for the Municipal year 2020 – 2021.

3.    Councillor Chris Coleman be put to the Annual Council Meeting for election as Deputy Mayor for the Municipal year 2020-2021, subject to his re-election.

 

14.

Recommendation to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism pdf icon PDF 493 KB

Report of the Leader

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Leader of the Council presented the report, explaining that the Council has received a formal request to adopt the working definition of anti-Semitism provided by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).

 

One member noted that he had submitted a similar request in October 2019, and was pleased to see it progress to this stage. Another member added that he was very happy to support the definition, and praised recent commemorative events.

 

 

RESOLVED (unanimously) THAT

 

the IHRA Working Definition on antisemitism be adopted for use across the Council ensuring that this is reflected in its Equality and Diversity Scheme and other relevant policies.

15.

Notices of Motion

These must be received no later than 12 noon on Monday 10 February 2020.

Minutes:

There were none.

16.

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

Minutes:

None.

17.

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)

18.

Exempt Minutes

To approve the exempt minutes of the meeting held on 22 July 2019

Minutes:

RESOLVED THAT

 

The minutes of the meeting held on 22 July 2019 be approved and signed as a correct record.