Agenda, decisions and minutes

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No. Item




Apologies were received from Councillor Lewis.


Declarations of interest


There were none.


Minutes of the last meeting pdf icon PDF 267 KB

To approve the draft minutes of the meeting held on 19 September 2023.  The minutes of the extraordinary meeting held on 28 September 2023 will be approved at the November meeting of Cabinet.


The draft minutes of the meeting held on 19 September 2023 were approved as a true record. 


The minutes of the extraordinary meeting held on 28 September 2023 will be approved at the November meeting of Cabinet.



Public and Member Questions and Petitions pdf icon PDF 211 KB

Questions must be received no later than 12 noon on the seventh working day before the date of the meeting


There were no Member questions.


Two public questions had been received:


1.  Question from Mr Steven Thomas to Cabinet Member for Climate Emergency, Councillor Alisha Lewis

The Cheltenham plan details a push towards electric vehicles and commits to having the entire taxi fleet electrical by 2030.


It is my opinion that the extraction process for Lithium and cobalt batteries is not environmentally friendly and I have concerns around the use of child labour in the extraction process.  Further there are concerns regarding the spontaneous combustion of these batteries. Lithium batteries can be prone to combustion if they are damaged and this is backed up with evidence supplied by the London fire brigade which show a record rate of e-scooter fires in the capital due to issues with these batteries:


Can the Council advise whether it has conducted any assessments to understand the risks and impacts of this policy position? As a member of the public I am concerned about using public transport and taxis in Cheltenham where there is potentially a risk to my health from modes of transport that use lithium batteries.


Cabinet Member response:

Lithium batteries in vehicles are designed with multiple safety features to mitigate the risk of fire or explosion. This includes advanced thermal management systems, battery management systems, and robust structural design to protect the battery cells. EVs powered by lithium batteries are more energy-efficient than conventional vehicles. They can be charged with electricity from renewable sources, further reducing their environmental footprint. The use of batteries in electric vehicles significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions compared to traditional internal combustion engines, contributing to our fight against climate change.


While there are some limited concerns about the safety of lithium batteries, we live in a world in which vehicles currently drive around our town powered by highly flammable petrol and diesel. These batteries represent a potential step forward towards a slightly safer town and a substantial contribution towards a reduction in vehicle emissions and improved air quality. They are not a total solution, and we will continue to advocate for more car sharing and the use of public transport to reduce the number of vehicles on the road and encourage opportunities for residents to take up even more sustainable transport options like walking and cycling.


Supplementary question:

Given the huge push for modes of transport where electric batteries are used, are Cheltenham Borough Council concerned about the exploitation of child slave labour and if so, what are they actively doing to remedy it?

Cabinet Member response

In the absence of Councillor Lewis, the Leader said a response would be provided in writing in due course.



2.  Question from Mr Steven Thomas to Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Culture, Tourism and Wellbeing, Councillor Max Wilkinson

At the September meeting you stated that vacant units in Cheltenham town centre will be used for housing.  I believe this contradicts comments made at the council meeting in July which were supportive of promoting a vibrant high street for businesses.


With  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Housing Regulations, Cheltenham Borough Homes Housing Review pdf icon PDF 867 KB

Report of the Leader, Councillor Rowena Hay, and Cabinet Member for Housing, Councillor Victoria Atherstone

Additional documents:


The Leader introduced her report with the following statement:


I became a councillor over two decades ago because I wanted to make changes to improve things for all our residents.  Following the ravages of the pandemic and more latterly a cost of living crisis that has forced families to make unimaginable choices, I am more committed than ever to taking the right decisions to continue supporting our communities even when those decisions result in change.  But change is something we must embrace in order to keep delivering our priorities.  Back in 2003, it was the right thing to do to establish our ALMO (Arms’ Length Management Organisation).  Indeed, I was part of this council, when the then Labour government were offering financial incentives which we took advantage of to bring our homes up to the decent homes standard.  This funding stopped in 2016 but for twenty years, CBH has worked with CBC to deliver investment in existing stock, new housing, a financially resilient Housing Revenue Account, high tenant and leaseholder satisfaction, all of which we are rightly proud of and give our very sincere thanks to CBH for all they have done.


The reasons we need to look to wind up CBH as a company and bring the housing function back into the heart of CBC as one team are several this government is increasing the accountability on Local Authorities via legislation which we have to respond to in both the private and public sector housing that this council will be responsible for.


CBC has a medium term funding gap of £4m and we must look and re-look at every area of efficiency to protect services and support our communities.  He strengthening partnership work that was undertaken over the last two years has been successful.  However, since then we have seen a significant rise in interest rates now at an all-time 40-year high, a cost of living crisis, huge rises in materials for house building and massive energy cost hikes.


The significant reduction on ALMOs across the country (for a variety of reasons) also shows that it is those authorities who are retaining ALMOs who are increasingly the outliers, however a key priority for us has been and will remain is the tenants’ voice which we must strengthen and grow.


Ultimately, as Leader of the Council and Shareholder, along with my Cabinet colleagues, we have to try and act on behalf of all of our residents and businesses.  The financial pressures this council faces has, for the first time,  forced Cabinet to look at stopping or reducing services.  CBH customers are some of the most in need and vulnerable in our borough and they are more dependent on housing and council services than anyone else.  Our residents in wards like mine have also suffered more than any other group.  In this context, with this decision, I and my Cabinet have chosen to try and protect services, maintain customer satisfaction, and supercharge housing delivery by bringing CBC and CBH together  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Approval of Budget Strategy, Process and Timetable pdf icon PDF 471 KB

Report of Cabinet Member for Finance and Assets, Councillor Peter Jeffries

Additional documents:


The Cabinet Member for Finance and Assets said the council has faced unprecedented financial challenges over the last 5-10 years but has overcome these with a risk-aware approach to increased commercial activities, the Covid recovery budget, and a robust savings and reserves strategy to maintain services to residents and customers.  The approach for 2024-25 has not changed, and we continue to move forward and review how resources are allocated, taking into account the Golden Valley Development and our climate change pathway.  The starting point is ensuring the key priorities can be delivered and services to residents maintained, with assumptions built into the budget for inflation, interest rates, and pay awards. Areas of growth and corporate priorities have been assessed, a savings and efficiency strategy set, and reserves strengthened, following two years of offsetting the largest cost pressures.  The timetable is set out at Appendix 2.


A Member agreed that the council has faced many financial challenges in recent years, yet has continued to delivery excellent services, particularly in housing.  He said we have to keep taking decisions to deliver the right level of service to residents, and although no vote is required on this item, it is important that the right decisions are made.  He thanked the Cabinet Member for Finance and Assets and the finance team for their work – it is not an easy job.

A Member agreed that many people in Cheltenham, particularly the young and old, are living with enormous challenges, and much has been done to help them – which would not have been possible without secure finances at the heart of everything we do.  She thanked the Cabinet Member for Finance and Assets and all the finance officers for their work and looked forward to a good year ahead.

The Leader commented that with no information about any settlement until November, officers have to make assumptions on what the budget might be with no certainty from government.  She said no private business could be run like this. The Cabinet Member for Finance and Assets agreed, but hoped for a quiet run into budget setting in November.  He said there was a lot of work ahead for the team, but was confident that the would rise to the challenge, and thanked them for the work they are about to commence.



1.    the budget setting timetable at Appendix 2 and outlined in section 5 of this report is approved;


2.    the outline budget strategy outlined in section 6 is approved;


3.    the £475k overspend reported to Cabinet in September 2023 and large amount of work which will be required to close this gap and deliver the required savings and efficiencies in 2023/24 is noted;


4.    the intention for this Council to remain in the Gloucestershire Business Rates Pool in 2024-25 as outlined in section 7 is noted;


5.    the Section 151 Officer, Deputy Section 151 Officer and the Cabinet Member for Finance and Assets are requested to consider suggestions from the Budget Scrutiny Working  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Briefing from Cabinet Members


The Leader invited Members to share any briefings.

The Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Culture, Tourism and Wellbeing thanked the organisers of the recent Gloucestershire Property Forum, where empty shop units were discussed, and also Men in Sheds for welcoming him at Dundry Nurseries last week.

The Cabinet Member for Safety and Communities shared the following:

-       the survey on the safety of women in Cheltenham can be accessed via the website, giving women the opportunity to share their thoughts on safety in the town centre.  She was keen to welcome as many experiences as possible, and encouraged Members to share this with friends and colleagues;

-       thanks to Helen Down and other CBC officers, colleagues at Cheltenham Alliance for Race Equity, the Everyman, Cheltenham Festivals and local schools for organising a summer competition which gave children the opportunity to say what they think about living in Cheltenham.  There were many entries, and the Mayor is delivering prizes to finalists at local schools.  Ten children aged 7-18 attended the Cheltenham Literature Festival last week and read their entries to a large group of people.  This was an amazing experience, particularly appropriate in Black Lives Matter month, giving voice to those who don’t always have it – something this council does well.     

The Cabinet Member for Customer and Regulatory Services said that earlier in the year, the council approved £128k in community grants for all sorts of local initiatives, from defibrillators to pollinators to new pedestrian pathways.  He was happy to report that these projects have now started, and recently visited Bath Road to see the new-repainted utility boxes, beautifully decorated by the brilliant street artist Rhys Cowe.  He said this is something to celebrate, and was happy to say that there are more grants to come.



Member decisions since last meeting


Members reported on decisions taken since the last meeting as follows:


29 September, 2023:  Cabinet Member for Customer and Regulatory Services

Revised Fixed Penalty Fees for Enviro-crimes


29 September, 2023:  Cabinet Member for Waste, Recycling and Street Services

To award a contract to Talis Amos Ltd to supply 1x John Deere 6130M and side arm flail attachment


05 October, 2023:  Leader

To use funding from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund to enter into delivery agreements


05 October, 2023:  Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Culture, Tourism and Wellbeing

Public Art Celebrating Women






Local Government Act 1972 - Exempt Business


Local Government Act 1972 - Exempt Business 



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)



Exempt Minutes of Cabinet, 11 July 2023

To approve the exempt minutes of the Cabinet meeting held on 11 July 2023


The exempt minutes of the meeting on 11 July were approved as a true record.