Agenda and draft minutes
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Contact: Bev Thomas, Democratic Services Team Leader
Apologies were received from Councillors Clucas, Fisher, Pineger and Sankey and Savage.
Declarations of interest
Councillor Harvey, Tailford and Tooke declared a personal interest in Agenda item 12- Motion B
Councillor Horwood declared a personal interest in Agenda item 10 as a member of Leckhampton Parish Council and Chair of its neighbourhood panel.
Councillor Joy declared a personal interest in Agenda item 11.
Minutes of the meeting and the Extraordinary meeting held on 16 May 2022
The minutes of the meetings held on 16 May 2022 be approved and signed as a correct record.
Communications by the Mayor
The Mayor informed Members of her recent engagements including commemorating Stampersgat, D-Day and the end of the Falklands War.
Communications by the Leader of the Council
The Leader began by paying tribute to Mark Sheldon, Corporate Director Resources and former Section 151 Officer who would be retiring shortly. Members gave a round of applause in recognition of his significant contribution to the work of the Council.
She expressed her sadness that she had lost a long-serving member of the Liberal Democrats to the Green Party.
The Leader informed that later this week CBC would be represented at the LGA conference presenting its Golden Valley Development at the Innovation Centre.
She paid tribute to the successful installation of the pocket park at Clarence Fountain
The Leader informed Council that, whilst they were not obliged to, the Lib Dem group had offered places on committees to the newly formed Green group, as was custom and practice with the PAB group. Cllr Joy had accepted a place on Overview and Scrutiny, Budget Scrutiny and Audit, Compliance and Governance Committee and Councillor Flynn had accepted a seat on the Public Art Panel and Appointments and Remuneration Committee. A place on Planning Committee had been declined.
As a result of this, she informed Members of the following committee changes:
- Councillor Clark would now take a seat on Licensing
- Councillor McCloskey would now take a seat on Planning Committee
- Councillor Holliday would now be a substitute on Overview and Scrutiny Committee
- Councillor Flo Clucas would now act as substitute on Audit, Compliance and Governance
- Councillor Steve Harvey would now be a substitute on Budget Scrutiny working Group
- Councillor Clark would step down from the Public Art Panel.
The Leader reminded Members that they had unanimously agreed the Climate Emergency Action Plan in February this year. To that end, carbon literacy training was being rolled out to all Members via APSE. CBC’s aim is for consideration of climate change impacts to become business-as-usual within the culture of the organisation and this essential training will enable Councillors to talk to residents about climate change in a way that’s relevant to their lives.
To receive petitions
There were none.
These must be received no later than 12 noon on Monday 13 June 2022.
There were none.
These must be received no later than 12 noon on Monday 13 June 2022
Report of the Leader
Richard Newman, petition organiser, was invited to address Council. He informed the meeting that he had submitted his petition requesting all pathways be lit in Sandford Park to Council in February this year. As it comprised 825 signatures it triggered this debate today.
Mr Newman highlighted that the people of Cheltenham are extremely keen for this petition to succeed, and he had been gathering further signatures resulting in 1.3 % of the population of Cheltenham or 1540 people having signed it in total. He emphasised to Members that there was an overwhelming desire for Sandford Park users to feel safer at night.
Sandford Park, as outlined in the council report, was the second most crime ridden in Cheltenham with a spike in criminal activity between 8 and 9 pm. If fewer crimes were reported later at night he believed this was due to the crime assessment statistics as being skewed.
He explained that users were afraid to use their own park after dark not just for fear of attack, but also due to other hazards. Lighting pathways was key to address these types of accidents. In terms of funding this, he questioned the use of public money at Boots Corner, citing the £85k used for improvements at Clarence fountain, rather than public safety in a town centre park. Finally, he invited all Councillors to come and see the hazards and dangers for themselves by meeting at 10 pm outside Wetherspoon’s for a walk through the park.
The Leader highlighted that crime prevention and community safety is a whole town issue and not limited to parks and gardens She referred back to her statement at March Council where she stated that whilst the council does not have control over the wider issues of safety, she confirmed that it should have an active role and that, in order to ensure a meaningful debate, she had arranged a meeting with the PCC, Cheltenham’s MP and GCC and CBC Cabinet Members for Safety. She had reassured Members that the issue of safety was extremely important but could not be achieved by CBC alone- it needed government intervention and work with partners.
The Leader then informed that at the meeting of stakeholders there was agreement that partnership working was vital on the issue of community safety. Critical partners included :
- Gloucestershire Constabulary in terms of enforcement, intelligence and data gathering
- Criminal Justice System
- Education providers
- County Council (Highways)/Borough Council for lighting on highways, CCTV etc
She reported that the actions arising from the meeting included :
- Police and Crime Commissioner and CBC to continue working to develop shared outcomes through the work of Safer Gloucestershire and the Cheltenham CSP and any subsequent bidding activity
- Police and Crime Commissioner to provide data and intelligence on crime trends (including in parks connected to the petition)
- Relevant GCC Cabinet Member to be engaged
- Recognition that other mechanism going through Parliament, such as the Online Safety Bill
In the debate that ... view the full minutes text for item 9.
Report of the Leader and Cabinet Member Customer and Regulatory Services
The Cabinet Member Customer and Regulatory Services presented the joint report and recorded his thanks to the Leader, Chief Executive and the Director of community and economic development for their contributions.
He reminded Members that CIL was created some years ago to supplement and partly replace S106 agreements, which still persist. Developer contributions were extracted for the benefit of the community and was a complex process. Officers had been requested to keep the process under review, with respect to the levelling up and regeneration bill.
In excess of £1 m had been amassed from CIL charging to date. It was now important and timely to put governance arrangements in place to facilitate the allocation of this money.
The Cabinet Member advised Council that Cabinet had approved XXX and there was now enhanced transparency for S106 processes. He outlined the three elements of CIL as follows:
- 80 % allocation for strategic infrastructure- shared with Tewkesbury and Gloucester via the Joint Strategic Plan (JSP). He believed strongly that the future infrastructure list should reflect the emphasis of this Council on climate change and the environment and could include a wider range of infrastructure including health and education. A Memorandum of Understanding would be created to ensure there was transparency in the democratic and JSP processes and Council would have a vote on the final infrastructure list.
- 15% - 25% neighbourhood allocation - spending within the neighbourhood of contributing development (in the case of the 15% that a Parish Council, without an adopted Neighbourhood Plan, must receive, this is up to a maximum of £100 per existing Council Tax paying dwelling). This allocation must be transferred to the relevant parish council or an upcapped 15% is retained by the Borough Council to be spent on neighbourhood projects where the development is not in a parish. The transferred allocation rises to an upcapped 25% when a parish or Neighbourhood Forum has a ‘made’ (adopted by Borough Council) Neighbourhood Plan in place. No Cheltenham parish or forum has a Neighbourhood Plan in place at the current time, although plans are being developed at Hester’s Way Neighbourhood Forum and Leckhampton with Warden Hill Parish Council.
- 5% allocation to use to offset costs of CIL administration
The Cabinet Member highlighted that half of the borough lay in unparished areas and a governance process was required in those areas to allocate how the 15% of CIL generated in those areas would be allocated. A 7-Member neighbourhood panel was therefore proposed which would reflect political balance and comprise representation of such unparished areas of the town. This would set the priority funding projects for CIL allocation.
In terms of existing S106 agreements which are technical and legal agreements between the developer and planning officer, acting on legal advice, Councillors often feel that historically they appear without their input . A governance process was now proposed that where there is a possibility of a S106 agreement the planning officer would consult local members in that ward in ... view the full minutes text for item 10.
Report of the Cabinet Member Climate Emergency
The Cabinet Member Climate Emergency introduced the report, noting that Cheltenham was England’s most complete Regency town, with its many Regency buildings having undergone many changes in use over time to remain valuable and relevant in the modern day. The council needed to ensure that what they built next lived up to the same aspirations, allowing future generations to enjoy them in the same way. Future developments in the town needed to be resilient, and adapt to the world as it would be as well as how it was now. To deliver this, they had to implement important checks and balances for developments against their climate goals. Failing to take action on the climate was not an option.
She emphasised that the supplementary planning document (SPD) was intentionally as ambitious as it could be within their legal remit. It was not just a statement of what they valued, but a real set of commitments to underpin future policy. The council’s excellent climate team had included numerous useful ideas and suggestions to help developers make their applications more climate-friendly, and the document gave a clear sense of the landscape in which they would be building, both in a physical and regulatory sense. It was a good looking document which should be both interesting and easy to understand. She thanked the councillors who had worked on the topic over the years, especially the previous Cabinet Member for the climate emergency, and officers from both the planning and environment teams. In summary, she stressed the need for substantial action to change the way the council operated, starting with a road map for building a more climate friendly town.
One Member praised the way that data was presented in the SPD, making it very clear and easy to understand; another, while sceptical about some of the figures regarding energy savings, was happy to follow up with the Cabinet Member and officers about it offline. The Green group said this was exactly the kind of document that they wanted to see.
In response to Member questions, the Cabinet Member Climate Emergency said that:
- When approved, the guidance would apply to all applications determined from now on, not to those applications already in the system. The Director of Community and Economic Development confirmed this;
- The continual updating of the document with local examples of applications approved or rejected by the council, based on the guidance, would be useful, although it would probably need to be in a separate location so that the main document did not need to be continually republished;
- The document’s principles generally supported the protection of nature reserves and local wildlife sites, but it could be updated if it became necessary to highlight the issue at any point.
- The SPD would was not policy, but would underpin the Cheltenham Plan, and could be used by Planning Committee when determining applications;
- Regarding enforcement strategy, the up-coming planning review coming up would look at every aspect of the process, including ... view the full minutes text for item 11.
Proposed by Councillor Wilkinson; seconded by Councillor Jeffries
This Council notes that:
- On 1 April 2022, Ofgem increased the energy price cap by 54%
- In light of the increased energy price cap, the average standard tariff energy bill will increase by £693 per year. The average pre-pay meter energy bill will increase by £708 per year (Ofgem, 2022)
- On 6 April 2022, the Government increased National Insurance by 1.25 percentage points, which is projected to cost the average family an additional £108 per year
- The Government has suspended the pensions ‘triple lock’ for 2022/23, meaning that Cheltenham’s pensioners will see a rise of 3.1% this year (instead of 8.3% under the triple lock formula). This year, this will cost Cheltenham pensioners on the full new state pension an average of £487, and those on the full basic state pension and average of £373 (TUC, 2022)
- Last year Cheltenham Foodbank distributed 3,777 three-day emergency food supplies given to people in crisis.
- Council notes the news that following calls by the Liberal Democrats last October for a windfall tax on energy companies, the Government has belatedly introduced one
This Council declares a ‘Cost of Living Emergency’ and calls on the Government to:
1. Immediately reduce the standard rate of VAT from 20% to 17.5% for one year, saving the average household a further £600 this year.
2. Re-introduce the pensions triple lock to support pensioners.
3. Immediately use revenue from the windfall tax on energy companies to help Cheltenham families with their energy bills.
Further, Council asks officers to:
- Continue this authority’s excellent track record of promptly distributing emergency funding to those in need.
- Investigate how to further support existing initiatives aimed at supporting those in need, including the Cheltenham Food Network and No Child Left Behind.
- Investigate with partners, including The Cheltenham Trust, Cheltenham Borough Homes and others, what can be done to further support struggling Cheltenham people.
Councillor Wilkinson introduced his motion, saying that the reality for too many people was that they could not afford to live at the moment. With the economy struggling, GDP flat-lining, the IDMF predicting the UK will have the slowest growth of G7 nations in 2023, huge rises in energy, food and transport costs, poverty was on the increase, and the motion outlined some national policy levers that could immediately help. A VAT cut, genuine windfall tax on energy companies, and certainty over the pensions triple lock would go some way to help. The motion also proposed a small audit of what we do locally to keep vital services going.
He said the picture in Cheltenham was really concerning, with many individual cases highlighting the increasing levels of hardship, and people having to choose between paying for food or energy. Illustrating this, there has been huge, unsustainable increase in the use of foodbanks across the town, with their work supplemented by other organisations, charities and concession schemes.
Whilst acknowledging that the current situation ... view the full minutes text for item 12.
Any other item the Mayor determines as urgent and which requires a decision