Agenda, decisions and minutes

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No. Item




There were none.


Declarations of interest


There were none.


Minutes of the last meeting pdf icon PDF 397 KB

Minutes of 11th October meeting


The minutes of the 11th October meeting were approved and signed as a correct record.


Public and Member Questions and Petitions pdf icon PDF 107 KB

These must be received no later than 12 noon on Tuesday 2 November

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Public Questions

There was one public question. As the questioner was not in attendance to ask a supplementary, the question and answer were taken as read.


Question from Tess Beck to the Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Culture, Tourism and Wellbeing, Councillor Max Wilkinson


In 2014 Cheltenham Borough Council (CBC) set up the Cheltenham Trust as a charitable trust to deliver culture and leisure services on behalf of the council and to manage some of the council’s most significant public buildings. The specification for the council’s contract with the Trust was very detailed including what services the Trust would deliver, who would fund what, who was liable for what. And it was almost entirely public. 

In April 2022 CBC Cabinet agreed a new specification with the Trust and this agreement and the review was entirely restricted. Although a restriction of some of the financial information contained within the review may be justified, I fail to understand the reasoning for restricting the whole of the review and revised specification, given the level of public interest.

 Given that the Cheltenham Trust is charged with delivering a number of the council’s strategic priorities on behalf of Cheltenham Borough Council (including helping people in Cheltenham live healthier, fulfilling and active lives, inspiring people in Cheltenham to take part in and gain valuable skills and experiences, and promote Cheltenham as a word class place to live, work, study and visit), there should be a greater level of transparency. Any argument to maintain the exemption is likely to be outweighed by the public interest in the information being disclosed. We can infer the Trust has been relieved of some responsibilities (e.g. the duty to provide tourist information services) but why can this not be made explicit? 

Can the Cabinet members and officers responsible for the report and revised specification undertake to review the documentation with a view to making as much of the information as possible public in the interests of transparency?


Response from Cabinet Member


Thank you Tess for bringing this question to Cabinet.

I am a firm believer that the council should be as open and as transparent as possible, including in its relationships with its commissioned providers who are delivering services on behalf of the council.

You are correct in saying that when the report came to cabinet earlier this year to seek approval for the updated specification, it was restricted and therefore members of the public were unable to see some details. This was because the covering report did contain some financial information that we did not wish to be put in the public domain.

However, the specification itself, which sets out the council’s specific requirements for how the agreed services will be delivered, does not contain any financial information.

I have liaised with officers and also sought legal advice and I am happy that we will now place the current specification (as agreed by Cabinet on 5 April, prior to the date on which I took over this portfolio) in  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Local Council Tax Support Scheme pdf icon PDF 382 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member Finance, Assets and Regeneration

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


In 2019/20, the council had approved a new scheme, one of the main aims of which was 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 five 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.


He explained that due to the impact of Covid, the caseload for working age people had increased by 25% across 2020/21.On the 1st March 2020, there were 3,984 recipients totalling £3.3m, this rose to 4,988 recipients totalling £4.7m by April 2021. By October 2021, there had been a slight reduction to 4,839 recipients totalling £4.5m. This trend continued, by October 2022 there were 4643 recipients totalling £4.2m in support.


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


He drew colleagues’ attention to the fourth recommendation, which gave officers a degree of flexibility to react to possible changes from national government regarding benefits. It was important that they be in a position to make the relevant changes to the policy when the government made up its mind about what support it would give residents in receipt of welfare. He thanked officers in the Revenues and Benefits team for their extraordinary efforts to support residents, and commended the report to Cabinet.


The Cabinet Member Housing thanked him for bringing this repot forward, and highlighted the importance of the scheme. During the pandemic, they had seen the figures in need of support increase significantly, and it was good to see this declining again now. She was grateful that they were in a position to offer such extensive support.

The Cabinet Member Customer and Regulatory Services added that he was proud to see the council going above and beyond what they were required to do by law, and supporting 5,000 of the most vulnerable people in their community. The government had a tin ear when it came to the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Quarterly Budget Monitoring Report, July - September pdf icon PDF 457 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member Finance, Assets and Regeneration


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The Cabinet Member Finance, Assets and Regeneration introduced the report, explaining that it made for sober reading due to the cost-of-living emergency declared by the council. Since the Q1 report, inflation had further increased to 10.1% and was expected to hit 13% in the winter. Interest rates had also increased again and now stood at 3%.

The Q2 report forecast an overspend of more than £2.39m, of which £1.985m was estimated to relate to economic pressures as a result of the rising inflation, rising interest rates and the wider economic volatility. This was against a budget which, when approved, was prudent and realistic for a town recovering from a pandemic. Rising interest rates had both a negative pressure on borrowing costs and a positive effect on investment income, but overall they were left with a significant net pressure on their budgeted position. The most significant cost of living pressure faced continued to be the predicted cost of energy as they entered the crucial winter period.

He reminded colleagues of a number of actions the council was taking to reduce costs in this area, including reducing their energy usage, which also supports their campaign towards Net Zero. He thanked the Cabinet Member Climate Emergency for her hard work in driving forward this priority. The current monitoring position for the 2022/23 budget clearly showed that even with the decisions this administration had taken over the last two years, there was still very significant economic volatility and uncertainty affecting how they managed resources, delivered services and progressed their community priorities

The proposal to fund the projected overspend using general balances would provide the council with short term resilience throughout the cost-of-living crisis. With interest rates and inflation continuing to rise, their available resources would be continually reviewed to enable the council to support the most vulnerable residents in our town through the financial pressures they were also facing. He thanked all those involved in the report for the work they had undertaken, and thanked Cabinet colleagues for their continued support as they traversed the volatile financial future before them.

The Cabinet Member Climate Emergency added that residents would be sympathetic to their position, as we were all having to tighten our belts. The legacy of central government had left them in a profound financial hole, but they were in a fortunate position due to the investments they had made to secure their long-term financial future. She thanked the Cabinet Member and the finance team for ensuring that the work they did continued despite a tough financial situation.

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



1.    the contents of the report including the key projected variances to the 2022-23 budget approved by Council on 21 February 2022 and the actions to ensure overspends are reduced as far as possible by the end of the financial year be noted. 


Draft Corporate Plan pdf icon PDF 385 KB

Report of the Leader of the Council

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The Leader of the Council introduced the report, explaining that the current Corporate Plan came to an end in 2022/2023 and so a new one was required. The existing plan set out significant flagship initiatives which were still continuing, such as plans to make Cheltenham the cyber capital of the UK through the Golden Valley Development, the Climate Emergency Action Plan: Pathway to Net Zero, and increasing the number of affordable carbon neutral homes through our £180m housing investment plan. Our approach was therefore to refresh our existing Corporate Plan to ensure that the focus remained on these critically important initiatives that would provide huge benefits to the people of Cheltenham, as well as ensuring we are able to respond to other opportunities and challenges ahead.

She highlighted that the financial pressures facing local government continued, with further challenges needed to navigate including energy costs and wider inflationary pressures. She recognised that the council also had a role to play in partnership with others when it came to supporting residents, communities and businesses with the cost of living crisis.

The Corporate Plan was a critical document that ensured strategic direction, focused prioritisation of resources and formed a key component of good corporate governance. Without a refreshed plan, the council would be operating without an agreed framework of priorities and objectives. She welcomed comments and asked for Cabinet’s support as set out in the recommendations.

The Cabinet Member Cyber, Regeneration and Commercial Income highlighted the work that had gone into this report. He had recently hosted a group of next generation leaders from the Local Government Association (LGA), who had been impressed by the town’s ambition and especially projects like Golden Valley. This excitement stemmed from good corporate governance and project management. The corporate plan underlined a real focus on housing investment.

The Cabinet Member Finance, Assets and Regeneration echoed these comments. Compared to the budget monitoring report, which painted a stark picture, it was great to see a continuing focus on vital corporate priorities, and ambition rather than doom and gloom.

The Cabinet Member Waste, Recycling and Street Services highlighted the importance of working with parish councils on projects like this, and added that he was attending a meeting of the five parish councils this coming Saturday. Every level of local government needed to be engaged, particularly on topics like climate change, and it needed to be a two-way process with feedback on both sides.

The Cabinet Member Climate Emergency praised the draft plan as a spectacular document, which she was glad to see embed climate concerns at every stage.

The Cabinet Member Housing added that she had also attended the LGA visit along with colleagues. The strong relationship between CBC and CBH had also been a source of admiration. It was good to see a focus on delivering affordable homes and supporting struggling residents, and she was looking forward to delivering on ambitious goals in the future, like the pipeline of 450 homes over the next 4-5 years. She  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


Briefing from Cabinet Members


The Cabinet Member Customer and Regulatory Services reported that the borough’s Air Quality Action Plan was now live on The report was data-heavy but showed that no part of Cheltenham currently exceeded the limit in nitrous oxide or PM2.5s, which contributed respiratory disorders and lung and heart issues. One small area had historically hit higher than allowed levels of nitrous oxide, and although it didn’t at the moment, they had declared a limited AQMA for that specific area. There was no absolutely safe level of air pollution, and they could not be complacent. They needed to keep working across the whole town to monitor and improve levels where possible.

He explained that the plan included more than 20 actions for the whole borough, and 7 additional actions for the specific area. This issue required action not just by CBC but also by other councils, businesses, residents and communities, and specifically GCC as the highways authority due to the importance of traffic pollution. He thanked his predecessor in the portfolio (Cllr. Wilkinson) for his work on this, as well as Louis Krog, Bernadette Reed and the whole Environmental Health team. They had been out on the A40 today looking at brand new nitrous oxide monitoring equipment, and understood that they needed to go beyond their statutory obligations to deliver cleaner air.

The Cabinet Member Safety and Communities added that this meeting’s agenda had been a topic of discussion at a meeting of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris, where she spoke to colleagues from Europe and across the world. She had been able to point to exactly what Cheltenham was doing to develop mechanisms for generating income far beyond government funding. She was always looking to spread the message about what Cheltenham was doing, and this would enable other places to learn from it.

The Cabinet Member Waste, Recycling and Street Services reminded colleagues that they had been the first council in the country to begin roadside recycling of coffee pods. The Podback scheme had now recycled 2 million of these, and it had cost the council nothing because it had been developed alongside the commercial sector. It had also generated a number of pocket forests, and there would be a ceremony in one of these soon to celebrate their success, with the Mayor in attendance. This was ground-breaking work which other councils were now undertaking.

The Cabinet Member Economic Development, Culture, Tourism and Wellbeing added that he had recently attended a meeting of the Charlton Kings Senior Citizens Welfare Committee alongside Cllr. Boyes, and had been able to inform them of the work they were doing to support senior citizens, including warm spaces and the food network. The key question attendees had asked was about access to this support, considering the unreliability of buses. It was clear that this issue would come to a head over the winter, and he hoped that the county council would find a resolution in its discussions with Stagecoach  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.