Agenda and minutes

Venue: Council Chamber - Municipal Offices. View directions

Contact: Harry Mayo, Democracy Officer  01242 264 211

No. Item




Cllrs. Harvey and Fifield sent apologies, with Cllr. Willingham substituting.


Declarations of interest


There were none.


Minutes of the last meeting pdf icon PDF 253 KB

Minutes of meeting held on 31st October


The minutes of the 31st October meeting were approved and signed as a correct record.


Public and Member questions, calls for actions and petitions


There were none.


Cabinet Briefing

Briefing from Councillor Hay, Leader (if she has an update, or if O&S Members have questions for her)


Objective: An update from the Cabinet on key issues for Cabinet Members which may be of interest to Overview and Scrutiny and may inform the work plan


The Leader was not in attendance to give a briefing.


Matters referred to committee


There were none.


South West Audit Partnership (SWAP) pdf icon PDF 334 KB

Objective: Performance review, data and analysis


David Hill, SWAP Chief Executive


David Hill, Chief Executive of the South West Audit Partnership (SWAP), highlighted the key points of his report. The SWAP was an internal audit company operating mainly in the government sector, including large councils like Liverpool City and Kent County, although they worked with charitable bodies too. The partnership was first created in 2005 and had since grown to 26 official partners. It operated as a not for profit partnership, so any surplus made in the year went into its reserves. In terms of governance, the owner’s board set the strategy, and all the partners were represented on the board of directors, including Darren Knight as the CBC representative.

He emphasised the SWAP’s 100% partner retention, which he hoped said something about the work they did. They took professional engagement seriously, and were considered a top performer in the sector in terms of innovation and investment in new technology. The partnership regularly turned in a surplus, expected to be around £950k this year, so financial performance was good. The only issue was their pension liability, as with all public sector bodies, but they were in the fortunate position that when the Somerset unitary authority formed next year, the large majority of the SWAP’s pension deficit would be swallowed back in and come off the balance sheet.

He highlighted the topic of innovation, noting that they had produced a one page report which had been picked up both nationally and globally, and that they were investing significantly in new technologies. This included data visualisation, i.e. how their work linked to the council’s core objectives and strategic risks. It was important to audit the right things at the right time. They were also moving into other new technologies, like NLP and AI. The internal audit world was changing, and so were its budgets – in the past, around 95% of costs went on staff, and now it was more like 75%. The new Audit Management System was being implemented and would hopefully be live in the next month or two.

The Chair thanked the officers for their report, and moved into Member questions and debate:

  • One Member noted that in their role on Audit and Governance Committee (to which the SWAP regularly reported) they had seen the value they brought to the governance of Cheltenham. Another Member who sat on this committee agreed.
  • One Member asked about the issues faced both in terms of attracting and retaining qualified staff, and what they were doing with apprenticeships and academia to ensure there was a pipeline of staff coming in. The SWAP Chief Executive responded that they sought to develop the team in-house wherever possible, and had made 58 internal promotions in the last 18 months. Their focus on innovation was a key factor in staff retention, as it made them more attractive in a marketplace that often lacked it. Some turnover was to be expected, and they were not finding retention to be a major issue. On the pipeline question, they had two  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


Draft Corporate Plan pdf icon PDF 304 KB

Objective: To consider the draft Corporate Plan for 2023-27 before its final approval in February


Darren Knight, Executive Director Place and Communities

Additional documents:


Darren Knight (Executive Director of Place and Communities) introduced his paper, explaining that the corporate plan set the framework for the council’s initiatives over the next few years, guiding future opportunities and allowing them to prioritise resources and skills. Thanks to the previous corporate plan, they had not started from a blank piece of paper, and projects like the Golden Valley development and housing investment plan continued to be key priorities, alongside the cost of living crisis and other agendas like sport.

The plan was not set in stone, but was rather a working document. It also included a number of measures of success and KPIs, while the discussion paper summarised the results of the residents’ satisfaction survey, which was to come to the next O&S meeting in January. From a resident’s perspective, it showed overall satisfaction, though there were some areas where they could improve. The plan was now in the process of wider engagement, and they had met with all but one of the town’s parish councils to discuss it. The plan set out their ambitions for Cheltenham, but also the challenges faced in operating.

The Chair moved into Member questions and debate:

  • Several Members praised the plan as an ambitious, interesting and readable brochure for the town. The Executive Director of Place and Communities thanked them for their feedback and emphasised the importance of accessibility and reducing jargon, which was why they had also produced a one page version.
  • One Member noted that the old symbol for Gloucestershire Constabulary had been used, and it needed to be G3R rather than E2R. The Executive Director of Place and Communities was happy to correct this.
  • One Member suggested that it could be worth considering the geospatial location of answers to the satisfaction survey that were less than satisfied, in order to target future engagement and support.
  • One Member suggested that while the present measures of success were largely positive things (e.g. the number of new businesses and the retail occupancy rate), it might be worth including other measures that were about reducing negative things, like antisocial behaviour. It was good to see positivity, but it could also be useful to view things from the other perspective. It was important to avoid the trap of false positives, like opening more food banks. The Executive Director of Place and Communities agreed that reducing ASB and improving night-time safety were key.
  • One Member noted that in their role as Chair of Licensing Committee, the council’s aspiration to retain the Purple Flag night-time safety award was close to their heart.
  • One Member stressed that it was important for the ‘more homes’ priority to mean more affordable homes. The Executive Director of Place and Communities agreed, and highlighted the central focus on affordable homes in the housing investment plan, and CBH were investing heavily in both this and carbon neutral homes.
  • One Member noted that nearly half of those surveyed who had left the town had done so for a better job, and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.


Feedback from other scrutiny meetings attended pdf icon PDF 14 KB

Gloucestershire Police and Crime Panel (4th November) – update from Councillor Clucas


The Gloucestershire Economic Growth O&S Committee and the Gloucestershire Health O&S Committee have not met since the last O&S meeting.


The update from the Police and Crime Panel was taken as read.

Cllr. Willingham added that he had attended two relevant county council committees in his role as a county councillor. The first was a joint meeting of the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee and the Adult Social Care and Communities Scrutiny Committee, which invited nine mostly NHS organisations for a discussion about urgent and emergency care systems in Gloucestershire. He was not sure that the length of time spent on this topic had led to any great outcomes or proposals. It should not have needed three hours to establish that a number of organisations had staff retention issues, as staff did not feel sufficiently valued and often suffered abuse. He was sure that the regular O&S representative would be able to give further detail on this going forward.

There had also been a joint meeting of Environment Scrutiny and Economic Growth Scrutiny, which had covered two issues relevant to Cheltenham. The first of these was Stagecoach’s withdrawal of a number of bus services, on which the county believed that sufficient notice was not provided. The second was the Community Infrastructure Levy, on which the county felt it did not have enough influence, and was considering judicially reviewing Stroud’s CIL policy. In his view, this was not a helpful development in delivering infrastructure for anyone. He was aware that Cllr. Horwood, as Cabinet Member for CIL, was reviewing processes to ensure they worked well for Cheltenham. It was also key to ensure that Planning Committee approved both S106 and CIL contributions rather than letting developers convince them that this was double dipping, when they could afford to pay more.


Updates from scrutiny task groups pdf icon PDF 185 KB

Harry Mayo (Democracy Officer)


The update was taken as read. The Democracy Officer added that another meeting of the task group had taken place since the update was circulated, focusing on the topic of housing. Following a recommendation from the last O&S meeting, fuel poverty had been added to the task group’s remit, and this had been discussed in detail at the meeting.

Cllr. Willingham added in his role as Chair of the task group that it was clear there were a number of urgent actions that needed to be progressed before the end of the process.


Review of scrutiny workplan pdf icon PDF 137 KB


The workplan was taken as read.


Date of next meeting

9th January 2023


The Chair noted that the next meeting had been moved from the 9th January to the 31st January, in order to accommodate an extraordinary meeting of Full Council on the 9th.


Golden Valley pdf icon PDF 294 KB

Objective: Detailed look at the possible impact of the site on local residents, and how risks relating to this are being addressed


Martin Chastney (Senior Development Manager)

Gethin Evans (Golden Valley Marketing and Communication Lead Officer)

Paul Jones (Executive Director of Finance, Assets and Regeneration)

Richard King (Construction Manager, Major Developments & Regeneration)

Paul Minnis (Director of Major Developments & Regeneration)



The Chair explained that although this was originally listed as an exempt item, it had been agreed that it would take place in public session as the paper did not contain any commercially sensitive information.

Paul Minnis (Director of Major Developments & Regeneration) began by introducing a number of key officers from the Golden Valley team, namely Martin Chastney (Senior Development Manager), Gethin Evans (Marketing and Communication Lead Officer) and Richard King (Head of Construction). He explained that since the development agreement with HBD x Factory was signed in June 2022, they had mainly been concerned with the southern parcel of the site, which would be the commercial centre, rather than the northern parcel, which would be mainly residential.

The key part of the first phase of the southern parcel was the Innovation Centre, which was in the region of 120,000 square feet but would involve other land uses as well. After the initial phase of masterplanning this year, they had moved onto public consultation, with a concentrated phase of this early next year to inform the completion of the masterplan process, before the planning applications phase. He acknowledged a number of key recent challenges, including interest rates, material costs and inflation, which had pushed the masterplanning and design process on a bit, but they were still targeting next summer to submit the planning applications. A significant planning phase would follow, before they hoped to be on site the following year to deliver the first phase by 2026.

Martin Chastney (Senior Development Manager) summarised the key points of the paper that been circulated to members, which had sought to identify the key impacts on local residents and explain how these were being addressed. He acknowledged that development could be a very intrusive activity with a real impact on local residents, and that the council was held to a higher bar than other developers. It was important to be a considerate developer and take the lead in understanding and mitigating these risks.

He emphasised that they did not have all the answers at this point, and while the paper listed a number of development and construction impacts, it was more about articulating the processes they would follow in the coming weeks and months to better understand and respond to the risks. The paper outlined a number of statutory processes in place to respond to impacts, including the high level of consultation attached to the planning process and the requirements placed on builders and contractors during the construction phase.

However, he stressed that they would go beyond what was required by law, and ensure that strong communication networks were established between communities and residents, while engaging with stakeholder groups to ensure that feedback loops were solid. Gathering information was key, both from websites and from oral and written feedback. There was a clear need to undertake a responsive design process in order to mitigate risk.

He highlighted that the report was a snapshot of where they were at the moment, and he hoped  ...  view the full minutes text for item 13.



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).”



Members resolved to move into exempt session.


Exempt minutes

Exempt minutes of the 31st October meeting


The exempt minutes of the 31st October meeting were approved and signed as a correct record.