Agenda and minutes
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Contact: Bev Thomas, Democratic Services Team Leader
Apologies were received from Councillors Beale, Britter, Fifield, Holliday, Jeffries, Lewis and Oliver.
Declarations of interest
There were none.
Minutes of the meeting held on 24 July 2023.
The minutes of the Extraordinary meeting held on 28 September 2023 will be considered at the next Ordinary meeting of Council.
The minutes of the meeting held on 24 July were approved as a true record.
The minutes of the last meeting, held on 28 September, will be considered at the meeting on 11 December.
Communications by the Mayor
The Mayor began by welcoming the newly-elected Member for Prestbury ward, Councillor Stan Smith.
He said that everyone would be aware of the horrific recent attacks on Israeli citizens and unfolding tragedy in Gaza, and share a sense of deep sadness at the loss of innocent life and hope for all those in the region. He invited Members to stand and join him for a moment’s reflection.
Communications by the Leader of the Council
The Leader also welcomed Councillor Smith, and shared the following:
- the newest statistics from our efforts to reduce carbon emissions at CBC show a 15% decrease on last year. More statistics will follow at Council in December;
- the Appointments and Remuneration Panel has appointed an interim Head of Climate to continue to drive our ambitious climate agenda;
- CBC has increased fines for litter, fly-tipping and graffiti to the maximum on-the-spot fixed penalties allowable under a recent change in regulations, to send a clear message on these anti-social activities;
- there are now around 60 families using the Feed Cheltenham Leisure Passes; families are excited to have free access to leisure activities, particularly swimming;
- the final design for the Montpellier Gardens public toilets has now been signed off by MDUK as compliant with Changing Places requirements. The procurement for a construction contractor will go live in the next couple of weeks and a decision brought back to Cabinet or full Council if required;
- the final draft statement of accounts for 2021-22 has been presented to Audit, Compliance and Governance Committee, and it is expected that an unqualified audit opinion will be issued by Grant Thornton, allowing the team to move onto the audit for 2022-23 in the new year;
- preparations for setting the 2024-25 budget are starting; CBC’s settlement from central government will be based on the Autumn Statement which isn’t due until the end of November. The team will therefore need to make a number of assumptions on funding levels to ensure that the draft budget proposals can be taken to Cabinet in December in advance of the consultation period.
She went on to explain that on 17 October, Cabinet would be considering recommendations that CBH be wound up and management of the housing stock be brought back to CBC:
- she said CBH was set up as an Arms’ Length Management Organisation (ALMO) to allow greater access to central government funding to meet the Decent Homes standard, a Labour government initiative set targets to bring all public sector social housing up to standard by 2010;
- when government funding came to an end in 2016, CBC and CBH worked successfully in partnership, investing in existing stock, building new housing, establishing a resilient housing revenue account and, most importantly, focussing on high tenant and leaseholder satisfaction;
- responding to recent challenges, the partnership has protected and cared for communities in Cheltenham, and the role of CBH in Cheltenham is one to be celebrated;
- however, with new financial challenges and an updated regulatory framework, it is now time to review CBH’s future, to ensure the council can deliver a housing service in full alignment with its strategic priorities and ensure it is in the strongest possible position to deliver for Cheltenham’s communities. The most important consideration will be the tenants, and the report is very much about strengthening tenant participation and the improvement board.
She ended with the following items:
- she sits on ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
To receive petitions
There were none.
There were no public questions on this occasion.
Eight Member questions had been received. The written responses were taken as read.
1. Question from Councillor Diggory Seacome to Cabinet Member Economic Development, Culture, Tourism and Wellbeing, Councillor Max Wilkinson
We were promised last year, before the installation of the ice rink, that mains electricity, or at least work starting on providing it, was to be installed. This has not happened. When is that likely to happen?
Response from Cabinet Member
Thank you to Councillor Seacome for the question. He raises an important issue. Cllr Seacome is a close follower of matters in Imperial Square and of discussions at this Council. Therefore, he will know that it is correct to say that this authority is seeking to install electrical power sources for events. However, the position stated on the ice rink for this year, and until electrical infrastructure is installed, was to not use traditional diesel generators and instead pursue alternative energy supplies. That is exactly what we are aiming to do this winter, by using an HVO fuel and battery method. This innovative solution is being provided by a locally based company at the leading edge of its field. This technology will make a substantial cut in event emissions compared to a traditional diesel generator. The emissions will, of course, be measured and reported on after the event, but the amount of HVO fuel used will be reliant on the weather. Crucially for local residents of Imperial Square, the hyperlocal air quality impacts of a diesel generator will be vastly reduced too.
We are extremely pleased to have moved away from the traditional diesel fuel option which most outdoor events regularly rely upon. It is a huge step forward for the Council’s climate goals and one which we will look to build on. Work is underway to understand how we may be able to increase the fixed power supply to Imperial Gardens using the funding secured through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. Hydrock, an engineering design company, have been appointed to work with the Council and National Grid to develop a design and specification for any required infrastructure. A proposal for any required infrastructure to deliver the power required to support events in the gardens is expected to be provided to the Council early in 2024 when Members will be able to take a decision on the wider risks and benefits of proceeding.
At the end of the ice rink period, can we have statistics for the improved form of fuelling?
Response from Cabinet Member
2. Question from Councillor Tabi Joy to Cabinet Member for Waste, Recycling and Street Services, Councillor Iain Dobie
In terms of brown bag garden waste collection, why are some streets are qualified for and why some aren’t qualified for, and is it an iterative process where more streets may become qualified?
Response from Cabinet Member
The Council’s main garden waste service is a borough wide brown bin collection service from the kerbside. However, in some roads residents have little ... view the full minutes text for item 8.
Report of the Electoral Registration Officer
The Executive Director for Finance, Assets and Regeneration introduced the report, saying that the Local Government Boundary Commission for England completed its review, with the order made on 18 July 2023, and changes coming into effect on 02 May 2024. The council has a statutory duty to review its polling districts, places and stations, and make sure that these are accessible to all. The consultation exercise is now complete and the recommendations ready to be put forward. He thanked everyone who shared their views, and Kim Smith and the elections team in particular for finding an alternative polling station for Battledown ward, following local concern about the closure of Holy Apostles school for the by-election earlier this year.
In response to Member questions, the Executive Director for Finance, Assets and Regeneration and the Electoral Services Manager confirmed that:
- although at present, the polling station for a county council by-election in Park and Lansdown wards would be a portakabin at the Town Hall or Salem Baptist Church rather than the usual polling stations, it is hoped that with the county boundary changes next year, these anomalies will be matched up so that people don’t go to different polling stations for borough and county elections;
- although some voters may find the new polling station in Battledown more difficult to get to, the council cannot consider helping people get there. Cheltenham is unique in the number of polling stations and their proximity to voters, particularly compared with rural areas where people sometimes have to travel substantially further. The council always looks for polling stations that are as amenable as possible for voters. In Battledown, the proposed portakabin at the cricket club has good parking, and the cricket club is looking to make itself more accessible, with the clubhouse itself used as the polling station in future.
In debate, Members made the following observations:
- with a few polling stations some way outside the ward, people may have trouble recognising the area where they live in relation to the ward where they live, which seems bizarre;
- will the Leader consider keeping the boundary working group– some wards need to be revisited, such as Benhall, which is split by a dual carriageway. Ward boundary changes should come from the local authority – we shouldn’t have to wait for the boundary commission who don’t know the area to make piecemeal changes that are number-based rather than community-based. As an example, in May, a small part of Hesters Way ward will end up in Tewkesbury constituency, which seems ludicrous. The boundary working group could draw up something for the future that is more representative of communities and works well;
- thanks to the team who delivered this work – it has involved a huge amount of hard work.
The Leader said most people would continue to vote in the same place as previously. Although CBC could ask the question, she doubted whether the Boundary Commission would consider re-looking at Cheltenham for at ... view the full minutes text for item 9.
Appointment of the Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Following the resignation of the Chair of Overview and Scrutiny Committee, the Chief Executive called for nominations for his replacement.
The Leader of the Conservative group, Councillor Harman, said that, in accordance with the arrangement that the Chair should represent a group other than the majority group, he proposed Councillor Joy as Chair. She has indicated that she is prepared to take the role for the remainder of the council term.
Councillor Seacome seconded the nomination of Councillor Joy. There were no other nominations.
The Mayor invited Members to vote; Councillor Joy’s election as Chair of Overview and Scrutiny was unanimously approved.
Notices of Motion
There were no motions on this occasion.
Any other item the Mayor determines as urgent and which requires a decision
There were none.
Local Government Act 1972 -Exempt Information
The Council 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 paragraphs 3 and 5, 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)
Paragraph 5; Information in respect of which a claim to legal professional privilege could be maintained in legal proceedings
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 paragraphs 3 and 5, 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)
Paragraph 5: Information in respect of which a claim to legal professional privilege could be maintained in legal proceedings
Exempt minutes of the meeting held on 24 July 2023
The exempt minutes of the meeting held on 25 July were approved as a true record.