Agenda and minutes

Venue: Council Chamber - Municipal Offices. View directions

Contact: Bev Thomas, Democratic Services Team Leader 


No. Item




Apologies were received from Cllrs. Barnes and Oliver.


Declarations of interest


There were none.


Minutes of the last meeting pdf icon PDF 808 KB

Minutes of the meeting held on 17 October 2022


The minutes of the 17th October meeting were approved and signed as a correct record.


Communications by the Mayor


The Mayor invited volunteers from the COP 26 Climate Vigil to present a quilt, which sought to build on COP 26 and the annual UN Conference of the Parties climate change conference.

One of the volunteers explained that the quilt gave residents the opportunity to show solidarity with the aims of COP 26, express their hopes, dreams and suggestions for a carbon neutral future, and send a message that the people of Cheltenham wanted action taken on climate change. Based on the principles of Craftivism, they had held a vigil in the Promenade for every day of the conference, and were delighted by how many people stopped to write their messages. She thanked everyone who had contributed, and hoped that the quilt would be on permanent display as well as a moving display around Cheltenham. It was a living testament that should offer stimulus for further creativity and action. They held another short vigil during this year’s COP 27, and continued this every 27th of the month on the Promenade.

Speaking as the Cabinet Member Climate Emergency, Cllr. Lewis thanked all the volunteers and contributors for their work on a strong visual reminder of how we needed to take the climate seriously, and looked forward to building on this in the New Year.

She then expressed her condolences to the families of Lord Nigel Jones and former county councillor Mike Skinner, both of whom had recently passed away. She had the pleasure of knowing and working alongside Mike, who was the most gentle soul, a true gentleman, and a dedicated and hard-working councillor. The late Andy Pennington had introduced her to Nigel back in the early 90s, and she remembered watching the declaration on TV in the Bell the night he was elected as Cheltenham’s MP. Nigel worked extremely hard for the town and its residents, and was very popular and a genuinely nice man, as well as a great support of Cheltenham Town FC. He was a true ambassador for the town who would be sadly missed by all who knew him. She opened up the floor for Group Leaders and any other Members who wished to express their own thanks.

Cllr. Harman added that Mike Skinner was an absolute gentleman as well as a quiet and hard-working councillor who did a lot behind the scenes in St Mark’s in particular. He had also worked with Nigel Jones for a long time, recalled the 1992 count when he was first elected, and had fond memories of their time together at the cricket festival. Despite their political differences, they always got on well.

The Leader of the Council reiterated what both the Mayor and Cllr. Harman had said. Nigel was a great friend and had a great influence on many members of her group in one form or another and would be sorely missed by all, and she sent best wishes to his family in this tough time. Cllr. Payne echoed the reflections of fellow councillors on the passing  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Communications by the Leader of the Council


The Leader reported that the Golden Valley development was moving along at pace, and the planning application for the Innovation Centre was progressing well. Both the CBC team and their partners at HBD had been recently working on social value workshops with partners and community groups, looking at key economic, cultural, environmental and community issues.

The latest residents’ survey had been published, and she highlighted that the kerbside collection satisfaction rates were among the highest out of all council services. One reason for this was that they had extended their range of recyclables, becoming the first council in the country to recycle coffee pods at the kerbside, and were now piloting the collection of soft plastics with a wider rollout planned in the New Year.

The council had also been awarded government funding for a viability study on heat networks, both for Golden Valley and the Town Centre, looking into how these networks could deliver low-cost, low-carbon energy to homes and businesses.

She reported that the climate team had been invited by the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) to share their climate decision wheel, which was now incorporated into all Cabinet and Council reports. It was excellent to see CBC leading innovative decision-making and already making good use of it in major decisions like Golden Valley.

Finally, as this was the last meeting before Christmas, she thanked officers and partners for their amazing work, and emphasised that the council could not do what it did without them.


To receive petitions


There were none.


Public Questions pdf icon PDF 194 KB

These must be received no later than 12 noon on Monday 5 December 2022.


1.  Question from Dr Cook to the Leader, Councillor Rowena Hay


Between April 2019 and March 2022, Cheltenham Borough Council paid leasing costs for the mayor's car of £14 439, with a further £1079 spent on fuel. This is the highest amount paid by any council in the South West. If the leasing costs had not been paid, we could have paid for 6275 children to have hot meals in the coming Christmas Holidays. How can the council justify spending so much on leasing costs for the car, when council finances are so limited, and whilst many Cheltenham residents are sat in cold homes, and struggling to feed themselves or their children?


Response from Cabinet Member


Thank you for the question.  We are proud of the work that the Mayor of Cheltenham does to support civic life in Cheltenham. While the global pandemic has impacted Mayoral engagements in 2020 and 2021, in a typical year the Mayor attends hundreds of engagements, sometimes 3 or 4 in the same day. Firstly it is not realistic to use public transport for the Mayor’s schedule as the bus services, which are the responsibility of Gloucestershire County Council, are neither reliable nor frequent enough. Secondly, the Mayor wears a chain of historical significance and heritage value, therefore retaining a car is preferable for safety.


It is also important to remember that a key part of the role of Mayor is to raise money for their chosen charities. Over the last ten years £195k has been raised for local good causes doing absolutely essential and valuable work in our communities. Therefore the cost of leasing a car should be offset against the funds raised which are far in excess of the annual cost of leasing a green and sustainable car.


One of the Mayor’s charities for this year is #feedcheltenham which directly helps people who are struggling to feed themselves and their families. I hope the Mayor succeeds in raising as much money for this essential cause as possible during these difficult and challenging times.


Supplementary question from Dr Cook to the Leader, Councillor Rowena Hay


Thank you for the answer. I am sorry to hear that the Mayor feels it is unsafe to travel on public transport. If, both as a society and at this council, provided the necessary support and benefits for those in need, there would be no need for charity.


What lower-cost travel solutions have been explored, and if these are not possible due to safety risks, can these be mitigated – for example, by using a protective case for the mayoral chain? If public transport is not feasible, could a daily car hire be more cost-effective than leasing a vehicle for a year?


The Mayor clarified that the original response had described travelling by bus as unrealistic rather than unsafe. She added that the route nearest to her did not run during the week.


Response from Cabinet Member


Some years ago, this authority owned a car specifically for the Mayor,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


Member Questions pdf icon PDF 232 KB

These must be received no later than 12 noon on Monday 5 December 2022.


1.  Question from Councillor Tabi Joy to Cabinet Member for Finance and Assets, Councillor Peter Jeffries

Due to the voter ID requirements set to be implemented from May 2023, and dealing with this on top of existing low voter turnout in many wards in Cheltenham, do we have a voter engagement plan in place to encourage people to vote and support them in voting?

Response from Cabinet Member

The Elections Act received Royal Assent in April 2022.  Laying of the voter identification Statutory Instrument occurred on 6 November 2022 with it expected to come into effect by mid-January 2023 in readiness for the 4th of May 2023 elections. We currently do not have any elections planned for May 2023 in Cheltenham, somewhat of a blessing one may say, as the information and timetable for such a fundamental change in our voting system  is somewhat condensed. We do have a draft engagement plan in place, but this may be subject to additions and changes.


2.  Question from Councillor Tabi Joy to Cabinet Member for Finance and Assets, Councillor Peter Jeffries

Since the range of voter ID options are very restrictive for those on a lower income or from a younger demographic, with railcards or students cards not being considered valid ID and thus excluding them from the voting process, how will we publicise postal voting or special registration forms as an alternative for those who may not be able to bring the right form of ID to the polling station?

Response from Cabinet Member

You mention the restrictive nature of the ID options chosen by the government, and I have to agree that currently they will have a significantly detrimental effect for younger residents and those on lower incomes. There will be a national awareness campaign starting on 8 January.  We are still waiting for the Electoral Commission to provide us with resources to reflect the key message of the mass advertising campaign. We have a draft Voter ID engagement plan that, through various mediums includes using social media, our website, CBH newsletter and website, provide leaflets to community groups, hold surgeries for electors to apply for Voter ID Certificate. This is not an exhaustive list of activities for engagement.

So in the period before the 2023 May elections we can maximise the key messages for the benefit of our residents.

As I have mentioned in my answer to your previous question we do not have elections planed during 2023, this will give Cheltenham an opportunity to evaluate the impact of this engagement campaign, and it’s effect in areas that do have election in May 2023, it’s impact and how our residents responded will prove beneficial. Equally being able to understand the impact of the new voter ID process, the positive and negatives should again be beneficial in our planned elections in 2024.


3.  Question from Councillor Tabi Joy to Cabinet Member for Customer and Regulatory Affairs, Councillor Martin Horwood

It appears that Gloucestershire County Council are extending the Zwings electric  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.


Treasury Mid-Term Report 2022/23 pdf icon PDF 669 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member for Finance and Assets


The Cabinet Member Finance, Assets and Regeneration introduced the report, which set out the council’s treasury management activities up to September 2022. The global economy had changed significantly since the strategy was agreed, and the economic volatility that began in early 2022 had continued during the first six months of the financial year. This had been compounded by the additional volatility created in our domestic financial market by political turbulence in Westminster.

The report provided details of the outturn position for treasury activities for the first six months of this financial year, and highlighted compliance with the council’s policies previously approved by members in March 2022. The outturn forecast for this financial year at the time of the report being produced was that the General Fund would be in a deficit position against the budget of over £134,000, after the HRA had made its contribution for debt and received its share of investment income.

However, since September, and with a jump in interest rates and some additional interest due, the estimated outturn had now changed favourably, with a deficit of £35,000 now predicted. This would be updated accordingly for the 2022/23 revised budget. He added that all treasury management activities undertaken during the first six months of 2022/23 complied fully with the CIPFA Code of Practice and the Authority’s approved Treasury Management Strategy.

He thanked the Treasury Management Panel for providing an effective layer of additional oversight, and the finance team for their work throughout a busy year, and commended the report to Members.

The Mayor moved into Member questions:

  • One Member asked whether, with further increases in interest rates expected, this was being factored into the council’s calculations regarding projects like its major housing commitments. The Cabinet Member Finance, Assets and Regeneration assured them that they were receiving constant advice on this, though it would be challenging going forward.


The Mayor moved into debate, where Members made the following points:

  • The table on page 42 of the reports pack, which outlined the income return on investments for all 121 Arlingclose clients, highlighted the sterling job that the finance team had done.
  • It was clear from sitting on the Treasury Management Panel that the finance officers were diligent and especially careful about who they were lending to.
  • Managing financial affairs during a time of economic crisis was difficult, especially when they were very limited in terms of what they could do to increase revenue.
  • It was good to see that the council was mindful of divesting from its investments in fossil fuels as soon as possible.


The Cabinet Member Finance, Assets and Regeneration thanked councillors for their comments.

The Mayor moved to the vote, it was unanimously:


1.    The contents of this summary report of the treasury management activity during the first six months of 2022/23 be noted.

FOR: 37




Local Council Tax Support Scheme pdf icon PDF 379 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member for Finance and Assets

Additional documents:


The Cabinet Member Finance, Assets and Regeneration introduced the report, noting that since 2013, the council had been required to set its annual local council tax support scheme for working age residents. Council tax support for pensioners was not localised and continued to be provided for by a national scheme. Funding for this scheme was rolled into the Revenue Support Grant and subject to annual cuts, but as the council no longer received this it needed to fund its share of the cost of the scheme itself.

In 2019/20, they approved a new scheme, with one of the main aims being to ensure that the most vulnerable and those with the lowest incomes continued to receive 100% support. The proposed council tax support scheme from 1st April 2023 for working age people would continue to 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.

Due to the impact of Covid, the caseload for working age people had increased significantly in 2020/21, and was up by 25% in April 2021. From the 1st March 2020, there were 3,984 recipients totalling £3.3million, and by April 2021 this 25% rise had taken the numbers up to 4,988 recipients totalling £4.7million. By October 2021, there had been a slight reduction in these numbers, to 4,839 recipients totalling £4.5million. As of October 2022, there were 4,643 residents totalling £4.2million of support.

Despite the increase in the number of working age residents requiring assistance compared to pre-pandemic levels, they continued to provide 100% support to the most vulnerable and those with the lowest incomes. Many residents were still recovering financially from the effects of the pandemic, in addition to the cost-of-living emergency, and this scheme would provide some vital help for the most financially vulnerable residents.  

He drew colleagues’ attention to the fourth recommendation, which took into account the fact that the government had not yet made up its mind as to what support it planned to give to residents receiving welfare benefits. The delegation in the recommendation allowed the council to make the relevant changes when this became clear.

He thanked officers working in Revenues and Benefits for the extraordinary work they put in to support residents in the town, and commended the report to Members.

The Mayor moved into Member questions:

  • One Member asked what proportion of the £4.2m funding mentioned in the report went to the council, and how this compared to the county and the police. The Cabinet Member Finance, Assets and Regeneration did not have the figures to hand but agreed to provide a written response after the meeting.


The Mayor moved into debate, where Members made the following points:


  • It was good to see that council was continuing to choose to provide 100% council relief to the families most in need.
  • The number of people needing support had grown by more than 20% during the pandemic,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.


Review of the Constitution pdf icon PDF 209 KB

Report of the Leader


The Leader introduced the report, explaining that the constitution was the council’s overarching rulebook, and was a living document that needed to be fit for purpose. The changes outlined in the report had been recommended to Council by the cross-party Constitution Working Group.

The Mayor moved into Member questions:

  • One Member asked whether public and member questions and their written answers could automatically be taken as read, as it was not a good use of time to read out a full question and answer that had already been circulated. The Leader was happy to take this to the next CWG, though she was not sure it could be done in practice. Being a democratically accountable body meant that any member of the public had the right to ask questions.
  • One Member asked whether there was a process in place to report back on how the measures were working. The Monitoring Officer confirmed that this was part of the Constitution Working Group.


The Mayor moved into debate, where Members made the following points:

·         They had once passed out during a councillor’s memorial service where attendees had been required to remain standing, and later found out that they had a medical condition which caused discomfort and difficulty in thinking clearly while standing. With that in mind, the removal of requirement for Members to stand whilst speaking at Council meetings was welcome, as there were many reasons why someone might want to remain seated, and should not have to ask permission or apologise for this. However, the phrase ‘for the purposes of inclusivity’ was needless and discriminatory language that would make Members who chose to sit down seem different, and place an expectation on them to stand.

·         It would be more accessible if Members remained seated when addressing the meeting, as they did for all other committees, as they were then closer to their microphones and more easily picked up by the live stream. The Leader responded that freedom of choice was important, noting that she suffered from backache when she leant over the microphone.

·         The changes to notice arrangements around Member questions and reduced speech lengths in Council meetings were undemocratic, and reduced the opportunity to scrutinise and hold decision-makers to account. At the moment, Members had the weekend after the agenda and reports were published to submit questions, but this would no longer be the case.

·         Having access to reports before the questions deadline was better for scrutiny and accountability, but trying out different deadlines and notice periods to see what worked best was wise.

·         Extending the notice period for questions was counterintuitive, as they should be making it easier to ask questions rather than harder. Administrative convenience was being prioritised over democracy.

·         Accompanying reports for motions would be appreciated.

·         At Planning Committee, councillors were allowed 5 minutes to speak while members of the public had just 3. There ought to be parity, whether it became 5 for everyone or 3 for everyone. The Leader agreed that parity between Members and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.


Member Code of Conduct pdf icon PDF 204 KB

Report of the Leader

Additional documents:


The Leader introduced the report, which sought to ensure that the Code of Conduct remained up to date and aligned with best practice. The Code needed to be fit for purpose, and from a transparency point of view it was important to ensure that the public were not confused by differences between one authority and another across the county. In order to avoid this, the group of Monitoring Officers for the Gloucestershire councils had been involved in discussing and drafting a proposed unified Member Code of Conduct, taking into account the LGA model and their experiences of operating the present Codes in the individual Councils.

She added that the Code was now at a stage where councils had been actively consulting upon it and were moving towards adoption. There were a number of benefits of having a unified code, including Members sitting on more than one council having one consistent set of rules. She was aware of this from a personal point of view, as her husband was a county councillor and the differences in CBC and GCC’s constitutions were clear. The Code had been considered by the Standards Committee on 4th August and the Constitution Working Group on 14th October, both of whom agreed to recommend it to Council.

The Mayor moved into Member questions:

  • One Member noted that the Code was only as good as those who oversaw its implementation, and asked whether there was mandatory training for Standards Committee members. The Leader confirmed that there was, in addition to the training provided to the two Independent Members who sat on Standards.
  • One Member asked when exactly the Code applied to councillors’ conduct. The Leader clarified that the Code applied whenever they were acting in their role as a councillor, due to their role as public figures and their responsibility to represent their constituents.


The Mayor moved to the vote, where it was unanimously:



1.    The Member Code of Conduct be adopted with effect from 1 January 2023.


FOR: 36






Overview and Scrutiny Referral - Council motion on UNICEF child-friendly city status and No Child Left Behind (18th July) pdf icon PDF 388 KB

Report of the Chair of Overview and Scrutiny


The Chair of Overview and Scrutiny, Cllr. Payne, introduced the report, which digested the O&S response to the referral from Council on 18th July. He explained that having been requested by Council to investigate the UNICEF child-friendly city offer and how it compared to No Child Left Behind’s present work, the committee had considered a report from Richard Gibson (Head of Communities, Wellbeing and Partnerships) outlining the different possible approaches.

He noted that it was an unusual request of O&S, and all in his time on the committee he could not recall it being asked before to adjudicate on a motion. The committee had asked a wide range of questions about the various schemes and ultimately put forward two recommendations. The first of these concerned No Child Left Behind, and he thanked Cllr. Clucas and the council’s many partners for making this possible. NCLB focused on a very specific group (children living in deprivation in Cheltenham) and fulfilled a sound and important function, so the O&S recommendation was to ring-fence it. He clarified that this meant it should not be constrained, but rather should develop from within, led by experienced partners who understood the job. He was keen to ensure that its impact, organisation and governance were not diluted by another scheme.

He continued by saying that in an ideal world, with greater resources available, the UNICEF scheme would be a welcome addition, especially in terms of giving children and young people a say in the direction of government. However, this was a 3-5 year program, and we did not have the resources to do that at the moment. A change in policy direction was needed at a higher level, and this would be better progressed on a county-wide basis. The situation was changing, and he hoped they could take a more open approach now. Engaging with the county council would enable us to assess their appetite for delivering this scheme. He hoped Members would support the recommendations, which would ensure that both systems remained alive, and the council could potentially pursue the UNICEF system in the future.

The Mayor moved into debate, where Members made the following points:

  • The request for county council involvement was suitable, as CBC had done its bit and now needed the county to step up too.
  • O&S deserved thanks for taking such a detailed look at the issue, as did Cllr. Clucas for her amendment back in July that sent it to them. UNICEF was undoubtedly a recognised global brand, and it would be good to take this to the county council with their increased scope and platform.
  • Cllr. Clucas and the officers involved deserved thanks for their work on NCLB, which worked very hard for the town. Hopefully the Members who also sat on the county council could work together to bring forward a motion on the UNICEF child-friendly approach at the county level.
  • The county would soon be hiring a new Executive Director of Children’s Services, and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 13.


Notices of Motion pdf icon PDF 222 KB


Motion A

Proposed by Cllr. Flynn; seconded by Cllr. Joy

Free school meals for all primary school children in England 

4 million children are living in poverty in the UK.

For many children, living in poverty can mean going to school hungry, sleeping in a cold bedroom, and feeling worried and anxious about the stress at home. Poverty affects young people long into their future too - children growing up in poverty have significantlyworse chances in life, poorer health and fewer opportunities.   

Many professional education and health organisations, as well as individuals, are calling on the Government to extend Free School Meal provision including, but not limited to:

·         Barnardo’s - campaigning for Free School Meals for all Primary school children in England (they have a petition here ) and have published a Cost of Living report which can be found here

·         The National Education Union - also calling for Free School Meals for all Primary School Children (

·         The Food Foundation – advocating for an extension to the existing provision. They have an evidence pack that can be found here which cites research indicating that for every £1 invested, £1.38 would be returned, through social, health and educational benefits, resulting in £8.9bn in core benefits.

This Council notes:

  • Free school meals for all primary-aged children would mean that every child would get at least one nutritious, healthy, filling meal a day, whatever they are facing at home.  
  • Around 800,000 children living in poverty are currently missing out on free school meals. Children in England are only eligible for free school meals if their families have net earnings below £7,400 per year.
  • Free School Meals would relieve stress, anxiety for children at mealtimes, and relieve pressure for families living in poverty. 
  • Free school meals have been proven to reduce obesity and also to improve attendance and attainment rates at school.
  • Scotland, Wales and some boroughs in London have already committed to extending universal free school meals to all primary children and are exploring options for expansion into secondary schools as well. 

This Council calls on Cheltenham’s Member of Parliament, Alex Chalk, to support the Free School Meals for All Bill, which will be tabled in Parliament on Tuesday 13 December.

In proposing the motion, Cllr. Flynn explained that it came about following a meeting of the Scrutiny Task Group on Tackling Multiple Deprivation which had focused on education, and heard from a local school where, despite over 90% of pupils living in poverty, only 55% were eligible for free school meals. Following some research on this, she spoke to Barnardo’s about their free school meals campaign and liaised with the National Education Union. After submitting the motion, she was advised by the NEU that a bill on free school meals had been tabled in parliament for the day after this meeting (13th December), and adjusted the motion accordingly to request that the council call on Alex Chalk MP directly to support the bill.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 14.


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


There were none.


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)




“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)



A Property Matter

Report of the Leader – TO FOLLOW

Additional documents:


The Leader of the Council introduced the report which had been circulated to Members as a late supplement to the published agenda.

For the benefit of Members who had joined more recently, she provided the background to the Minster project. Members then had the opportunity to ask questions and then debate the report.



  1. the original business case was predicated on shipping container-based construction with a lifespan of 10 years.
  2. Council notes and approves the updated business plan for the MX recognising the longer lifespan of the building and extending the return on investment from 10 years to at least 25 years be approved.
  3. up to £2.560m in additional funding to complete construction be approved (see financial implications and section 5 of the report for detail).
  4. authority be delegated to the Chief Executive and the Executive Director Finance, Assets and Regeneration in consultation with the Leader, to negotiate an updated governance and joint venture for the operation of the MX building with Plexal and WSC Group to replace the previous arrangement with WSC Cheltenham.
  5. recommended governance for the project be presented by officers to Council for approval in February 2023.


Voting- 29 in favour; 0 against; 3 abstentions