Agenda, decisions and draft minutes

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Contact: Harry Mayo, Democracy Officer 

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies

Minutes:

Apologies were received from the Cabinet Member Housing.

2.

Declarations of interest

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member Customer and Regulatory Services declared a non-prejudicial interest in item 6 as Chair of the Neighbourhood Plan Working Group at Leckhampton with Warden Hill Parish Council.

3.

Minutes of the last meeting pdf icon PDF 238 KB

Minutes of meeting held on 1 March 2022

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 1st March were approved and signed as a correct record.

4.

Public and Member Questions and Petitions pdf icon PDF 226 KB

These must be received no later than 12 noon on Tuesday 29th March.

Minutes:

1.

Question from Councillor David Willingham to Cabinet Member Finance and Assets, Councillor Peter Jeffries

 

On Friday 4th June 2021, there was a major house fire at 168 Arle Road.  Since that time, my constituents have had to suffer the burnt-out, boarded-up, roofless shell of the building blighting their street. I understand that the efforts of the council to get remedial action take via enforcement, including the service of a s215 notice have been unsuccessful, and that a Compulsory Purchase Order, which requires a Cabinet decision, is likely to be the only way to remediate this issue and get the property back into use. I note that currently there is nothing in the Forward Plan about this matter.

Could I please seek an assurance from the relevant Cabinet Member(s) that:

a) Seeking a Compulsory Purchase Order for 168 Arle Road will be added to the Forward Plan if that is a prerequisite for making the decision?

b) The legal and municipal processes to tackle this blight and dereliction will be expedited by the Council?

 

Response from Cabinet Member

 

I can confirm that the Council’s enforcement team has successfully taken action regarding this property, ensuring that any immediate danger to public safety has been removed and that the building is now secured against unauthorised entry.

Some details of the case are of a personal and confidential nature and therefore, cannot be shared in an open public response to Cllr Willingham’s question.

I would also advise that enforcement team capacity has recently been impacted by staff Covid cases and available resources are currently being diverted in dealing with inspections of properties to assess their suitability for occupation by Ukrainian guests.

Compulsory purchase is not a quick process and is generally only used as a last resort option. However, I am able to confirm that:

a)    officers are actively assessing the option of compulsory purchase in relation to 168 Arle Road and if appropriate, a report regarding this will be listed on the Forward Plan and brought forward to Cabinet, most likely in June of this year;

b)    relevant statutory procedures will be followed in order to optimise the likelihood of the authority successfully securing ownership of the property, which should facilitate its renovation and reoccupation.

 

 

Supplementary question

 

Thank you for your response and for the enforcement actions undertaken, which will make a difference for the constituents affected by this issue. I know this is a complex legal process and I urge Cabinet to keep pushing for remediation to occur, whether by compulsory purchase or any other methods within the council’s control, such as carrying out works in default and issuing a charge against the property.

 

Response from Cabinet Member

 

Thank you for your supplementary question. As noted in my initial response, there are aspects of this case we cannot talk about here for data protection reasons, but we understand the complexities you are referring to and will support you in moving this forward along with officers.

2.

Question from Councillor David  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Community Infrastructure Levy Governance & Section 106 engagement pdf icon PDF 623 KB

Report of the Leader of the Council and the Cabinet Member Customer and Regulatory Services

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member Customer and Regulatory Services presented the report, noting that it would be voted on at June Council. The proposed new governance arrangements covered all aspects of the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) developer contributions, and proposed a scheme for greater transparency in the handling of Section 106 agreements.

 

He noted that the council was currently allowed to charge up to 5% for admin, which was then pooled, but in the new arrangements they could vote to retain some of it as Cheltenham administration costs if the amount of CIL money grew sufficiently to enable that. Further to this, he noted the 15% or 25% neighbourhood allocation that went to parish councils (depending on whether they had a Neighbourhood Plan) and that governance arrangements had been added for the element of this allocation that was from unparished areas. It suggested a process whereby a panel of seven elected members ideally reflecting a political balance would prioritise projects for the benefit of the community.

 

The report also outlined governance arrangements for the larger and more complicated strategic allocation pot, which constituted about 70-80% of CIL monies. The current arrangement was to pool that with other Joint Core Strategy (JCS) authorities, so the process had to be compatible with that going forward. The report made a concrete commitment for this council to vote on the final CIL allocation, taking the form of an infrastructure list, comprising both the shared element and uniquely Cheltenham elements.

 

The government had also published a memorandum of understanding which outlined good practice in deciding how much was pooled and how much was not, which Council would also vote on in June. He added that the arrangements for a strategic CIL board would be determined at JCS level. Finally, the report outlined governance arrangements for the handling of S106 agreements between the council and developers. While S106 agreements were a legal requirement, so the council’s ability to influence the process was limited, it was proposed that Members would be obligated to suggest possible candidates for S106 funds in their wards, and for case officers to notify the relevant ward Members early in the process so they had the opportunity to input into it. He emphasised that they had taken a belt and braces approach throughout to cover every possible eventuality, and aimed to ensure a democratic, safe and accountable process.

 

The Leader added that she had recently attended a Joint Core Strategy Member Liaison Working Group, and noted that its name was due to change to the Joint Strategic Plan.

 

The Cabinet Member Safety and Communities asked about the implications for funding in wards that were divided between parished and non-parished areas. The Cabinet Member Customer and Regulatory Services responded that 70-80% of CIL money from any area would go into the strategic pool to benefit the community as a whole, which included non-parished areas. While the 15% or 25% neighbourhood allocation automatically went to the parish council in a parished area, in an unparished area it  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Local Development Scheme pdf icon PDF 234 KB

Report of the Leader of the Council and the Cabinet Member Customer and Regulatory Services

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member Customer and Regulatory Services presented the report, noting that the LDS was the public and official statement of what would constitute their local development plan. It was comprised of three tiers, with the lowest tier being the Neighbourhood Plans which Leckhampton and Hesters Way were currently putting together. In the middle sat the Cheltenham Plan, which was under review at the moment, while the top tier was the Joint Core Strategy (soon to be renamed the Joint Strategic Plan.

 

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

RESOLVED THAT:

1.    The updated Local Development Scheme for Cheltenham Borough, attached to the report at Appendix 2, be adopted;

2.    Authority be delegated to the Head of Planning, in consultation with the Leader of the Council and the Cabinet Member Customer and Regulatory Services, to prepare the Local Development Scheme for publication.

7.

Street Naming and Numbering - review of policy pdf icon PDF 411 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member Customer and Regulatory Services

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member Customer and Regulatory Services presented the report, noting that the council was responsible for the naming and numbering of all streets in Cheltenham, and that the policy behind this needed to be refreshed. He thanked Tracey Birkinshaw and Charlotte Harber for their hard work in ensuring that the policy was built on best practice.

 

He proposed two amendments to the policy and recommendations before Cabinet. The first related to recommendation 1, which asked Cabinet to review paragraph 1.7 of the report and consider whether exceptional circumstances could be taken into account when naming streets after living individuals. The earlier policy required that they wait until 20 years had passed after the individual’s name, and for the consent of the next of kin to be sought. He suggested that, in exceptional circumstances, Cabinet should have the option to name streets after living individuals.

 

The second amendment related to the member questions submitted by Cllr. Willingham regarding the policy, and would enable the council to correct data errors on computer systems more easily.

 

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

 

RESOLVED THAT:

1.       Paragraph 1.7 of this report be reviewed, and Members consider whether very exceptional circumstances should be inserted into the policy;

a) In the event of Cabinet deciding that it should be inserted, to add ‘Exceptions to this will need to be approved by Cabinet’ after ‘Streets should not be named after living individuals’;

2.       Taking into account recommendations 1 and 1a above, the draft Street Naming and Numbering Policy as provided at Appendix 2 of this report, with any amendments arising, be approved;

3.       Authority be delegated to the Director of Planning, in consultation with the Cabinet Member Customer and Regulatory Services, to make any minor changes to the policy should further best practice emerge.

8.

Ubico Business Plan 2022/23 pdf icon PDF 327 KB

Report of the Leader of the Council

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Leader of the Council presented the report, noting that Ubico had recently given a presentation to Members on their business plan where they had responded to queries.

 

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

RESOLVED THAT:

1.    The Ubico 2022/2023 Business Plan be noted;

2.    It be noted that the Leader of the Council, as shareholder representative, proposes to sign the written resolution to approve the Ubico 2022/2023 Business Plan in due course.

9.

Publica Group (Support) Ltd Business Plan 2022-25 pdf icon PDF 342 KB

Report of the Leader of the Council

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Leader of the Council presented the report, noting that while it was in her gift to sign off on the plan, she was bringing it to Cabinet to ensure transparency and allow Members to ask questions of her and the Managing Director.

 

Jan Britton (Managing Director, Publica) added that it was a requirement of Publica’s articles of association that the shareholders (the leaders of the four councils) annually agreed its business plan. As part of this, the business plan was brought before scrutiny committees and to Cabinet prior to asking the Leader to approve it. He thanked CBC’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee for their questions and comments, which had particularly focused on Publica’s employees and had been kept in mind when amending the business plan.

 

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

RESOLVED THAT:

1.    The Publica Business Plan 2022-25 be recommended to be approved by the Leader, as the Council’s Shareholder Representative for Publica Group (Support) Ltd, subject to any comments Cabinet makes and subject to any minor amendments that might arise from the final stages of consultation with the Shareholder Councils and/or general editing.

10.

Discretionary Business Rates Reliefs and Council Tax Energy Rebate pdf icon PDF 237 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member Finance and Assets

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member Finance and Assets presented the report, which related to four business rate reliefs and a discretionary energy rebate payment. The first three business rate reliefs were temporary schemes related to retail, hospitality and leisure properties, and sought to support small businesses. The fourth related to the Covid-19 Additional Relief Fund, supporting businesses which had been ineligible for the previous round of funding. The council had received funding of £2.583m for this scheme, which needed to be targeted at the businesses most impacted.

He added that the council also had been allocated £162,450 as part of the Discretionary Energy Rebate scheme. This equated to just over 1,000 payments of £150 to residents who were energy bill payers but not eligible for the main government scheme. Funding was limited, so the priority was to support vulnerable residents and those on low incomes or means-tested benefits.

The Leader added that this was welcome news for the retail and hospitality sector, which had suffered significantly during the Covid crisis.

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

RESOLVED THAT:

1.    The Business Rates Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Relief Scheme and the  Extension of Transitional Relief and Supporting Small Business Relief Scheme for 2022/23 as detailed in appendix 2 be approved;

2.    The COVID-19 Additional Relief Fund (CARF) Scheme as detailed in appendix 3 be approved;

3.    The Executive Director Finance and Assets be authorised, in consultation with the Cabinet Member Finance and Assets, to determine levels of relief for the COVID-19 Additional Relief Fund (CARF) scheme;

4.    The Head of Revenues and Benefits be authorised, in consultation with the Cabinet Member Finance and Assets, to implement any changes to the reliefs detailed in appendix 2 and 3 as required by Government or to ensure the successful operation of the schemes;

5.    Decisions relating to the application of these reliefs be delegated to the Head of Revenues and Benefits and officers in the Business Rates team due to the volume of cases. In the case of a dispute, reconsideration is to be made by the Executive Director Finance and Assets;

6.    The Executive Director Finance and Assets be authorised, in consultation with the Cabinet Member Finance and Assets, to determine a Discretionary Council Tax Energy Rebate Scheme.

11.

Appropriation of Assets between the General Fund and Housing Revenue Account pdf icon PDF 334 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member Finance and Assets

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member Finance and Assets presented the report, noting that the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) was a ring-fenced account within the General Fund which primarily contained income arising from the housing authority’s landlord functions. Back in 2020, the government issued revised guidance regarding what could and could not be charged into an authority’s HRA. The properties concerned were generally shops and other commercial premises such as banks, where there was no longer any connection with the local authority’s housing. He noted that this would go towards the savings target identified in 2022/23 budget proposals, and removed the risks associated with commercial properties from the HRA. He added that two properties would also be incorporated into the HRA as a result of the proposals, one of which (9 Grasmere Road) had been bequeathed to the council in 2021.

The Cabinet Member Culture, Wellbeing and Business praised this as a logical approach which should benefit all parties.

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

RESOLVED THAT:

1.    The appropriation of assets between the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) and the General Fund (GF) as set out in Appendix 2, be approved, with effect from 1st April 2022.

12.

A Cultural Strategy for Cheltenham pdf icon PDF 331 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member Culture, Wellbeing and Business

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member Culture, Wellbeing and Business presented the report, thanking the members of the Culture Board and Richard Gibson for their invaluable input throughout the process of drawing together the draft strategy. In producing the draft strategy, they had consulted widely with cultural partners and key stakeholders across the town, who had endorsed its assessment of Cheltenham as a place with powerful cultural and heritage assets that needed to be celebrated and nurtured. They now had a new cultural vision for the town, which was that Cheltenham was a vibrant place and cultural destination, where a fusion of arts, digital and heritage innovation fostered creative and inclusive communities where everyone had a chance to thrive.

 

She was excited about the potential interface between cyber and cultural provision, and wanted to ensure that culture and creativity played their part in securing economic growth for the town. The Culture Board recognised that Cheltenham needed to improve its performance in terms of talent attraction and retention, particularly with regard to young graduates and entrepreneurs. Their vision of fusing cyber, arts and heritage was both credible with local residents and appealing to the outside world. Realising the benefits of local talent skills development and wider creative industries would be a critical measure of the strategy’s success.

 

The draft strategy also sought to address the long-term issue of embedded inequalities across the town and its communities. The impact of child poverty needed to be recognised, as was the need to ensure that cultural provision and venues were as accessible as possible to the local community. Cheltenham needed to lead the way in facilitating the interaction of creative, cultural and digital innovation that built on and celebrated our culture and heritage.

 

To meet this vison, the Board agreed six key themes to provide focus: opportunities to fuse heritage, cultural and digital assets, improving the life chances for young people, building inclusive and creative communities, nurturing grassroots creative talent and ambitions, supporting the visitor economy and the wider place brand, and meeting the climate change challenge.

 

In addition to this, there were six big ideas to help achieve this vision. They would forge partnerships and collaborate across the heritage, cultural and digital sectors, focus on using culture and creativity to improve life chances, promote equity of opportunity, celebrate and nurture communities, work to drive the visitor economy, and use culture, creativity and innovation to contribute to Cheltenham Zero and address climate change. Cabinet was asked to endorse the draft strategy and support the Culture Board to carry out a program of wider consultation so that the strategy could be finalised and signed off by July 2022.

 

The Cabinet Member Climate Emergency added that it was good to see Cheltenham Zero playing an integral role in the strategy.

 

The Leader added that a lot of hard work had gone into formulating the strategy, with proper consultation having been undertaken with input from all interested parties.

 

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

 

 RESOLVED THAT:  ...  view the full minutes text for item 12.

13.

Briefing from Cabinet Members

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member Cyber and Strategic Transport noted that this was his last Cabinet meeting after 31 years as a councillor, and wished to put on record his thanks to Members and officers for their support, both past and present. The Leader thanked the Cabinet Member Cyber and Strategic Transport for his service, noting that he had been Leader when she was first elected, and that his knowledge and experience had been invaluable. The Cabinet Member Safety and Communities echoed this.

The Cabinet Member Safety and Communities reported that she had been approached by the LGA to take part in a new commission on culture and economy, and was looking forward to first meeting of this. The Large Enterprise Action Group had also met with schools in an event organised by the Cheltenham Education Partnership, with over 150 young people turning up to talk about key issues such as inequality. Finally, she reported that Bristol University was setting up a global centre for political renewal, and would run commissions over the next few years to look at how politics could serve people better, and she was looking forward to engaging with this.

The Cabinet Member Customer and Regulatory Services reported that the proposed revised policy for private hire vehicles (designed to align both their wheelchair accessible vehicles policy and emissions policy) was open for consultation and would also be considered by the Licensing Committee (Miscellaneous) on 6th April. He noted that the Cabinet Member Cyber and Strategic Transport had been an integral part of ensuring that this council pursued an ambitious WAV policy in his previous portfolio, and thanked him for this.

The Cabinet Member Culture, Wellbeing and Business reported that the Information Exchange modular pod in the High Street would be fully installed by the end of the week, offering an opportunity for cultural providers, local businesses and charities to promote their activities and offers. The pod could be either staffed or not staffed, and there would be a three month trial period to see how it went. She added that following on from a question from the Cabinet Member Safety and Communities at a previous meeting, the Parks team would put up advisory signs regarding 14 major allergies in five of the largest parks in the town over the next few months.

The Cabinet Member Waste, Recycling and Street Services reported that a significant step had been taken towards refurbishing the public toilets in Montpellier Gardens. The refurbished facility would include a changing facility for severely disabled people. Following on from Cabinet approval in principle last year, significant national funding for this redevelopment was secured, and subsequently a project board set up by CBC to aid its delivery met for the first time last week. There were similar facilities in three locations in the town already, namely at the Leisure Centre, Pittville Park and the High Street, but not in the southern town centre.

The Leader added that they were in the process of going through ward  ...  view the full minutes text for item 13.

14.

Local Government Act 1972 - Exempt Business

The Cabinet 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:

Members resolved to move into exempt session.

15.

A Property Matter (a)

Report of the Cabinet Member Cyber and Strategic Transport and the Cabinet Member Finance and Assets

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member Cyber and Strategic Transport presented the report, which related to a property matter.

 

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

 

RESOLVED THAT:

1. The recommendations be approved.

16.

The Cheltenham Trust Specification and Management Fee Framework Review

Report of the Cabinet Member Culture, Wellbeing and Business

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member Culture, Wellbeing and Business presented the report, which related to a variance of the council’s management agreement with The Cheltenham Trust dated 30th September 2014, and a new specification to replace the current one.

 

RESOLVED THAT:

1. The recommendations be approved.

17.

A Property Matter (b)

Report of the Cabinet Member for Cyber and Strategic Transport

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member Cyber and Strategic Transport presented the report, which related to a property matter.

 

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

 

RESOLVED THAT:

1. The recommendations be approved.