Cheltenham Borough Council
Cheltenham Borough Council

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Agenda and minutes

Venue: Virtual WEBEX video conference via YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/user/cheltenhamborough. View directions

Contact: Bev Thomas, Democratic Services Team Leader 

Media

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies

Minutes:

Councillors Baker, Barnes and Mason.

2.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

None.

3.

Minutes of the last meeting pdf icon PDF 295 KB

Minutes of the meeting held on 23 March 2020.

Minutes:

Councillor Jordan proposed the following amendments to the minutes :

 

  • Page 3 - 3rd para - reference to ‘Local Transport Plan’ should read ‘Local Plan’
  • Page 4 - 2nd para – ‘… Councillors have a responsibility to contact …should read‘… Councillors may be asked to help contact …’

 

RESOLVED THAT

 

The minutes (as amended)  of the meeting held on 23 March 2020 were signed and approved as a correct record.

4.

Communications by the Mayor

Minutes:

The Mayor stated that his role had been very different since lockdown in late March.  There had been very few official engagements and the ones that there have been have had very few people in attendance with social distancing rules being observed.

 

He highlighted that he had been concentrating on the Mayor’s Foodbank Fund.  The fund received 2 very generous donations week commencing 15/6 from both Leckhampton Parish Council and St Gregory’s Church. 

 

He reported that during 2019-20 the Mayor had raised £9,600 for his charities and was very pleased with that amount given that for some weeks of the year we have been in lockdown.

5.

Communications by the Leader of the Council

Minutes:

The Leader started his address by conveying his sympathies to those who have lost loved ones during the current pandemic.

 

He also gave thanks to officers for all their hard work during this time.

 

He highlighted that Cabinet Members would be given the opportunity at this meeting to provide an update on activities under their respective portfolios. He thanked Cabinet Members for their work at this time.

 

The Leader went on to explain that the West Cheltenham Supplementary Planning Document and the Local Plan were due to be considered at this meeting, however due to the current restrictions in place these have been deferred until the July Council meeting.

 

The Leader closed his address by congratulating the Mayor on his extended term of office until May 2021.

 

The Mayor then endorsed comments made by the Leader in thanking officers for going beyond the call of duty during this crisis, by supporting the Help Hub and maintaining the smooth running of the authority.

 

 

 

 

6.

Communications by Members of the Cabinet

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member Healthy Lifestyles reported that she had been working with volunteers and wished to pay tribute to staff at GCHQ who have been instrumental in the analysis of how the community help hub was working. The analysis would support the council continuing to work with partners to develop a way forward.  She also reported that she had been working with cultural partners to develop the cultural strategy. The virtual schools VE event was a great success. She had also attended a number of virtual meetings with European partners regarding sustainable development goals and local finances and the impact of Covid. She also reported that she had attended meetings in relation to Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and how they are going to treat patients, and which patients they will treat, in the future. In this respect, she requested that the Leader write to Gloucestershire Hospitals regarding Covid red and green hospitals.

 

The Cabinet Member Housing updated members on the work of Cheltenham Borough Homes (CBH) to move their business online, which has been challenging. Their priority has been maintaining critical services and supporting tenants. They have been working closely in partnership with both the Cheltenham Trust and Cheltenham Borough Council on its hub operation.  CBH have made calls to their tenants across the board and in some cases have made welfare visits, with the necessary Covid 19 precautions. The pace of change is picking up again as lockdown is lifted and CBH have a ‘better normal’ project in place to manage the transition of all services to new ways of operating.  In closing, the Cabinet Member Housing drew Members’ attention to the work being done in supporting the most vulnerable in our community, the homeless and rough sleepers.  At a time when the crisis was at its height, and the pace of activity was ferocious, the effort from the council, CBH and many charity and community partners has been extraordinary.  He wished to put on record his thanks to all those involved in a huge team effort.  He also thanked the Leader of the council for all his efforts over and above usual business during the pandemic.

 

Starting with waste and recycling services, the Cabinet Member Clean and Green Environment reported that all kerbside collection services have continued throughout the Covid crisis and that subscriptions to the garden waste service have increased.  He wished to record his thanks to all staff who have worked extremely hard and also to residents who have contributed to keeping operational employees safe from the virus by adhering to the guidance. The Cabinet Member updated on the household recycling service, which has successfully reopened and is increasing capacity, and on the bulky waste services which was restarted in early June.  In terms of parks and gardens, a clear decision was taken early that this service would continue, including regular maintenance and keeping public toilets open. The exception to this, in accordance with government guidelines, was the closure of children’s play areas.   The  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

To receive petitions

Minutes:

There were none.

8.

Public Questions pdf icon PDF 149 KB

These must be received no later than 12 noon on Tuesday 9 June 2020.

Minutes:

 

1.

Question from Brooke Fisherto the Leader, Councillor Steve Jordan

 

After seeing the uncalled for and racist murder of George Floyd, we know that Gloucestershire is aware of what is going on.

What are you doing to protect and show that the black people whom live in Cheltenham and Gloucestershire are safe, loved and equal ?

·         How are you going to make a significant change ?

·         What are you doing to make sure black peoples voices are heard ?

·         How are you going to guarantee that black lives matter?

·         How are you going to make sure black people are safe ?

·         What are you doing to make sure that our police are not racist and biased?

·         What are you doing to make sure that those whom have been stopped, arrested, treated unfairly solely because of the colour of their skin are given justice ?

·         What is your plan of action when it comes to racism towards not only black people but people of colour ?

 

 

Response from the Leader

 

Later on this agenda the Council will be debating the following motion which I support and hope will be agreed as it will help us answer the important questions raised.

 

“Following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and other brutal activity, Cheltenham Borough Council puts on record its support for Black Lives Matter and its total opposition to any kind of racism.

 

Cheltenham Borough Council believes in action, not just fine words. In conjunction with the Police and Crime Commissioner, Cheltenham Borough Homes, Cheltenham Trust, Festivals and other partners, Cabinet is requested to look at holding a conference for Cheltenham’s BAME community organisations, to discuss how we might work closer together to challenge bias, both deliberate and unconscious, and racism in all its forms.

 

To that end, Council also requests that all policies, the organisational structure, appointments process and working environment of the Council be interrogated by Cabinet to ensure they reflect the Council’s stance on these matters.

 

Council would request the Police and Crime Commissioner, Cheltenham Borough Homes, Cheltenham Trust, Festivals and other partners to work together with the Council, to ensure that effective action is taken.

 

In addition, Cabinet is asked to look at how we can support other councils in less diverse areas through the LGA, by means of exchange programmes and secondment schemes and, for members, unconscious bias training,

 

Further, that Cheltenham's national representative on the Council of Europe, is requested to raise these issues at the Council of Europe; and the Cabinet member to raise issues through Council of European Municipalities and Regions in relation to local government and how, together, we can best fight bias, racism and brutality in all its forms and provide a voice to action, so that in deed and word, Black Lives Matter.”

2.

Question from Dr Jermaine M Ravalier to the Leader, Councillor Steve Jordan

 

In the light of the tearing down of the statue of Colston in Bristol, I would like to know whether there are any  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Member Questions pdf icon PDF 222 KB

These must be received no later than 12 noon on Tuesday 9 June 2020.

Minutes:

 

1.

Question from Councillor Tim Harman to Cabinet Member Housing, Councillor Peter Jeffries

 

Since the Coronavirus crisis occurred there has been excellent cross working between Government and Local Authorities on the important issue of finding and both interim and long term housing for Homeless people who have been rough sleeping. Dame Louise Casey is leading the National Effort.

 

Will the Cabinet Member update the Council on his plans to ensure that everything is done to prevent those currently in temporary accommodation from returning to the Streets and Doorways?

 

 

Response from Cabinet Member

 

Cheltenham has a history of strong collaborative working across Gloucestershire to tackle rough sleeping. Collectively, we have been hugely successful in securing funding for this region and our town. In recent years we have secured nearly £1.3m to support the delivery of a Housing First-type model for our most entrenched rough sleepers – providing them with independent accommodation combined with wrap-around support. More recently we have secured nearly £1m to create Somewhere Safe to Stay hubs in Cheltenham and Gloucester, again coupled with provision of specialist support for those with complex needs. In addition we continue to jointly commission our county-wide Assertive Outreach service that seeks to identify rough sleepers and then work with them so that they can access appropriate accommodation and support-based services.

 

Since the pandemic, extensive work has been carried out to ensure that accommodation has been offered to everyone who is homeless and who has been rough sleeping, this has been a concentrated all district county wide effort. Our Housing Options team, managed by Cheltenham Borough Homes, are working with households placed in emergency hotel accommodation to understand their needs, with a view to finding suitable and sustainable accommodation move-on options.

 

At the height of this crisis Cheltenham had approximately 40 households accommodated in hotels. Since then we have been working hard to find move-on solutions, with the result that from the beginning of May, Cheltenham have found homes for 23 rough sleepers (or would be rough sleepers).

 

As of the 8th June Cheltenham has 18 households accommodated in hotels. Most placements are now within the Cheltenham district with only five clients residing in hotel accommodation outside of the borough. (Please do note, however, that these figures present just a snapshot in time, given that there is inevitably an ongoing movement of households both into and out of the hotel provision.)

 

We are continuing to explore move-on options. Those with very complex needs, where accommodation options are more limited, are referred into a multi-agency ‘Complex Cases partnership meeting’ where an outcome based, partnership approach is being taken to develop bespoke solutions to meet the individuals’ needs and support them to access and maintain accommodation. In addition, we are exploring new housing supply options via our county-wide ‘new supply partnership’. Alongside this, we are currently working with colleagues across the county to realign current funding streams from MHCLG (referred to above) to better fit pathways in view of the current pandemic.

 

At this present time,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.

10.

Notices of Motion pdf icon PDF 131 KB

10a

Motion A

Minutes:

Councillor Clucas proposed the motion, noting that she expected that everyone present had been appalled by the events in Minneapolis in the last few weeks. She stressed that the death of George Floyd clearly showed that action cannot be left just to the USA.

She emphasised that racism occurred everywhere: in housing, employment, education, law, governance and representation, although it often went unnoticed. She added that actions spoke louder than words, and explained that the motion sought to build on the positive momentum of the recent Pittville Park protest. She was proud of Cheltenham residents for making their voices heard, and thanked officers and the police for their help in keeping people safe and the protest peaceful. The council must work together with partners to make a difference and ensure its processes and policies are free of racial bias. The motion asked the council to look at a range of areas, including holding a conference in conjunction with black and minority ethnic partners to review its decision making protocols.

Councillor Willingham seconded the motion, emphasising that if the council failed to act and get its own house in order, it would be complicit. This could only be done through dialogue with communities and proper training for members and officers, and services must be delivered in a just and equitable way. He acknowledged the disproportionate effect of the Covid-19 crisis on black and minority ethnic communities, and warned that difficult economic conditions could be exploited by extremists to stoke fear and prejudice. He asked members to support the motion, describing it as a positive step on a long road.

One member added that she was disappointed that the phrase ‘black lives matter’ still needed to be said in the 21st century, and emphasised the importance of questioning our own assumptions. The journey to a fair and equal society would not be easy, but everyone could contribute towards it.

One member added that as local councillors, they were responsible for everyone in their wards regardless of skin colour. He cited peaceful protest as a hallmark of the democratic process, and praised the recent gathering in Pittville Park as a good example of this. He stressed that peaceful movements should not be hijacked by those who wished to be violent. He acknowledged that it was difficult to identify and combat unconscious prejudice, citing a study which found that a white candidate for a job was three times more likely to be appointed than a black candidate with the same qualifications. Prejudice could not be legislated against, but assumptions could be challenged, and a more equal society built. Another Member thanked Councillors Clucas and Willingham for bringing the motion before the council, and condemned violence at protests as counterproductive.

Several Members emphasised that while it was essential to eliminate conscious discrimination from its procedures, unconscious discrimination was just as important. One Member added that other systemic issues like economic exploitation were part of the problem too, and warned against judging the past by  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10a

10b

Motion B

Minutes:

In proposing the motion the Leader praised, in particular staff in the health and social care sector, the community support network, and council staff for maintaining services in challenging circumstances. He recognised the huge effort locally in administering business grants and national support for those on the shielding list. The Cheltenham Community Help Hub was working with its partners the Cheltenham Trust (in providing food parcels) and Cheltenham Borough Homes (in collecting prescriptions).  He thanked all those involved and also to the Executive Leadership Team for their leadership.  96% of council staff were now home working with thanks to Publica ICT.  Those members of staff who had been redeployed to other jobs had done so seamlessly.

 

In looking to the future the Leader highlighted the need to try and avoid a 2nd wave and highlighted the importance of test and trace.  As lockdown eased a local plan would be required in accordance with national guidance.  Everyone had a role to play and the draft recovery strategy would be discussed at Cabinet.  Key to the recovery was the continuation of key projects such as investment in affordable housing and development at West Cheltenham. 

 

The Deputy Leader seconded the motion and stated that the pandemic had touched all of our lives. The loss of life had been devastating and he offered his thoughts to all who have suffered.  He noted that the economy of the town was on pause with consequences for all businesses and highlighted that the council was not immune from the financial impact.  He welcomed the support to the most vulnerable in the town.  There was going to be a new normal and emphasised the need for the town to work collectively to recover.

 

 

Members expressed their sympathy with those who had lost loved ones during this crisis and to people who have had the disease.

 

The significant work undertaken over recent weeks within communities was recognised and the role some Councillors had played in visiting people that the Help Hub couldn’t reach and also in identifying businesses which may not have been contacted regarding any available assistance. 

 

Members wished to put on record their thanks to council officers, many of whom had been redeployed to other duties. There was particular recognition of the outstanding work undertaken in assisting local businesses and the work undertaken by the community help hub. Members also thanked partner organisations, such as Ubico,CBH and the Cheltenham Trust.

 

It was acknowledged that risks associated with a return to the normal night time economy could be mitigated via Purple Flag work to ensure those employed in that sector were kept safe. It was recognised that more than ever the hospitality sector needed our support.

 

It was recognised that Cheltenham has the people, skills, willingness and strong sustainable communities to recover and Cheltenham Borough Council needs to play a part in a collective response. There would need to be a council wide review of expenditure and some hard choices would have to be made.

 

Thanks were  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10b

10c

Motion C

Minutes:

Councillor Atherstone proposed the motion as she had been contacted by a local resident and business owner about a new initiative called ‘Circle of Kindness’ which has proven successful in many towns across the UK and is an excellent example of a locally driven project of benefit to local people.  Councillor Atherstone is proposing that as part of Cheltenham’s  recovery programme can Cheltenham Borough Council facilitate a Circle of Kindness which will benefit both local community organisations and small local business. The scheme will provide an official platform to appeal to local independent donors to bulk puchase goods and services by spending with local businesses impacted by Covid 19.   Community support groups have responded so quickly during this crisis to support local residents and thanks go to The Big Local, Springbank Community Food Bank and Cheltenham Food Bank for the incredible work over the past few months.   Councillor Atherstone asked Cabinet Members to include developing a Circle of Kindness as part of the recovery strategy for Cheltenham which will significantly benefit many within our local communities.

 

Councillor Clucas seconded the motion.

 

RESOLVED (unanimously) THAT

 

As part of Cheltenham’s Recovery Programme, Cheltenham Borough Council facilitate a Circle of Kindness which will benefit both local community organisations and small local businesses. The scheme will provide an official platform to appeal to local independent donors to bulk purchase goods and services to support local organisations by spending with local businesses impacted by COVID-19.

 

Our local high street and independent businesses across Cheltenham are suffering the crippling impacts of COVID-19. The lockdown restrictions have resulted in loss of jobs or reduced income for workers and threatened livelihoods for small business owners.

 

The Circle of Kindness was launched in Banbury by the Visit Banbury CIC initiative. Like Banbury we could use an established online platform ShopAppy to connect local community donation receivers with small business sellers – donations from local

residents can be made in sums of £5 - £10 – 20 - £50 - £100 - £150 -

£200 - £300 - £500 etc

 

To be led by Cheltenham Borough Council in collaboration with:

 

Visit Cheltenham

Cheltenham BID

Cheltenham Chamber of Commerce

Cheltenham Borough Homes

And other business groups, stretching across all significant retail streets in Cheltenham Town Centre e.g:

 

Bath Road

Winchcombe Street

Cheltenham Westend Partnership

St Pauls Residents Association

Other retail and residents’ groups

11.

Urgent Non-Executive Decisions taken during the Covid-19 Emergency pdf icon PDF 216 KB

Report of the Chief Executive

Minutes:

The Chief Executive introduced the report and thanked councillors for their kind comments during Motion B and wished to put on record his personal thanks to all colleagues, partner organisations and volunteers for their work in these extremely challenging times. 

 

At the previous Council meeting held on 23 March 2020, changes to the constitution were made to allow the executive to take urgent decisions in response to Covid 19.  The report captures decisions that were taken whilst formal meetings were unable to be held. These were primarily to respond to updated government guidance and regulation surrounding businesses and health protection as well as amendments to hardship funds. Temporary arrangements were also made in respect of taxi licensing.  

 

He recognised that colleagues in democratic services have worked hard to adapt to government regulations to ensure that virtual meetings can be held and therefore democratic decision making has returned and working well in a virtual setting.  

 

RESOLVED (unanimously) THAT

 

The urgent decisions taken by the Chief Executive and Executive Directors on non-executive functions in the period 23 March-15 June 2020 be noted.

12.

Council Diary 2020-2021 pdf icon PDF 329 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member Corporate Services

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member Corporate Services explained that the council diary had been amended to reflect the rescheduling of the borough elections to May 2021, as a result of the Covid-19 crisis. He clarified that as before, all public meetings would be advertised well in advance, and any changes would happen in consultation with the relevant members and officers.

One Member asked whether the word ‘full’ could be added after each meeting of the full Licensing Committee in the diary, in order to distinguish it from its sub-committees. This was accepted by the Cabinet Member Corporate Services.

RESOLVED THAT

 The draft Council Diary of meetings for September 2020 – August 2021 be approved.

 

13.

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

Minutes:

None.