Cheltenham Borough Council
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Agenda and minutes

Venue: Pittville Room - Municipal Offices. View directions

Contact: Saira Malin, Democracy Officer 

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies

Minutes:

No apologies had been received.  

2.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

Councillor Colin Hay declared a non-pecuniary interest in agenda item 7 as a member of the Cheltenham Trust. 

3.

Minutes of the last meeting pdf icon PDF 891 KB

11 April 2016

Minutes:

The minutes of the last meeting had been circulated with the agenda.

 

Upon a vote it was

 

RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on the 11 April 2016 be agreed and signed as an accurate record.

4.

Public and Member questions, calls for actions and petitions

Minutes:

No questions had been received.

5.

Matters referred to committee

Minutes:

No matters had been referred to committee.

6.

Cabinet Briefing pdf icon PDF 51 KB

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

Minutes:

The Leader referred members to the briefing which had been circulated with the agenda.

 

Regarding devolution, he could not say at this point what impact the result of the EU Referendum would have but he was very aware that it would change a lot of things for lots of people.

 

The Cabinet Member Clean and Green Environment was also in attendance to update members on the recycling review and answer any questions. He advised that a review of the council's waste fleet was due in mid-2017 and a vehicle order would have to be submitted by the end of 2016 around the budget process.  This provided a good opportunity to engage the public in a two-stage consultation.  Stage one in July would ask the public what they think about the current service, their likes, dislikes and improvements they would like to see.  He acknowledged that July was a holiday period but would provide a full calendar month for the consultation and there were plans to engage the public in many different ways using social media and engaging with target groups.  Following this consultation a feasibility study with options would be developed and this may lead to a second consultation in September with a report to Cabinet around November time. 

 

Referring to a recent ITV documentary he wished to make it absolutely clear that the council had no plans to move to a three weekly collection for residual waste. They would be considering all the options and the outcome was to provide a good a service as possible within the budget constraints and to increase recycling while reducing waste to landfill.

 

In response to questions, the Cabinet Member advised the following:

  • The consultation would focus on individual service users rather than private landlords and they would be assisted by CBH and neighbourhood projects in identifying potential consultees. It was important to engage with people in HMOs and flats as they would have different needs.
  • He agreed that clear communication with neighbouring authorities was key and he had been disappointed that Tewkesbury Borough Council had gone ahead with changes without consulting this council. It was important to look at what other councils were doing as part of the review.
  • He viewed the consultation as an opportunity for education and to inform the public about recycling and why it was important.
  • The survey would ask for postcode details so that the respondees could be verified and results could be analysed on the basis of where people live in the town.
  • He acknowledged the difficulties in enforcement in some areas of the town where big bins were used and it was difficult to identify who was responsible for them. A member identified London Road as a particular problem.
  • Regarding new developments, particularly as a result of the JCS, there was now a planning policy in place which would oblige developers to ensure their plans are compatible with efficient collection of waste. He acknowledged that this had not always been the case in the past  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

CHELTENHAM TRUST pdf icon PDF 648 KB

Julie Finch, Chief Executive of The Cheltenham Trust

(presentation and Q&A session)

Minutes:

Julie Finch, Chief Executive of the Cheltenham Trust gave a presentation which set out their aims and objectives and outlined some performance highlights of the Trust in their first year of operation

 

Following the presentation there was a question and answer session:

·         A Member asked whether the Wilson would become more dependent on subsidies from other activities as the council financial support decreased and would that have a negative impact on those other activities?

·         The Trust’s aims were to create social value for the town and in the case of the Wilson, the council's funding was facilitating education and community engagement but that would not be at the expense of other community activity. In order to increase the commercial viability it would be necessary to develop the buildings and facilities and for that funding was needed.

·         The Trust was not seeking to replace paid workers with volunteers. The volunteers performed a valuable role and added value to the work of the Trust. They received a full induction programme and had the opportunity to develop their skills. There was a high turnover of volunteers particularly among younger people who may be doing it as a short term position to gain experience.

·         She acknowledged the importance of getting younger children engaged in sport by engaging families. She advised that Sport England were due to lower their age funding threshold for children and the Trust would be looking to make a bid for funding. The Trust were currently planning to introduce a new concept, namely a Sport and Play Hub. This was designed to provide an appropriate environment for families with the right products and would accommodate new social groupings.

 

A number of questions from Members and the responses from the Trust had been circulated in advance of the meeting.

  • Regarding the question on the Burrell collection, the Chief Executive confirmed that they had been aware of this through the Museums Journal. The Wilson did receive lots of ideas for potential exhibitions and it was a two-year process to get an exhibition in place. The Trust had to be selective and their choices were based on their target audience for the Wilson.
  • As Chief Executive she was not phased by the responsibility for the Town Hall and the Pittville Pump Room and indeed she had experience of managing similar buildings in her previous roles. She emphasised the importance of venues needing to be living and breathing and the Trust facilitated this through the activities they offered and engagement with local people and visitors.
  • The Trust did review “cost-effectiveness” but there was an element of subjectivity in assessing the value that is created from a particular activity. A new national framework called Culture Counts was being developed to assist in this process and the Trust intended to adopt it. She would be happy to update the committee in six months time.

 

The chair thanked the Chief Executive for a very informative presentation and wished her every success for the Trust going forward.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Review of the council's performance at the end of the year April 2015 to March 2016 pdf icon PDF 155 KB

Richard Gibson, Strategy and Engagement Manager

(no decision required)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Strategy and Engagement Manager introduced the end of year performance report.  The report took information and data from the council’s performance management system, to provide an overview of how the council was performing against the milestones, performance indicators and outcomes set out in the 2015-16 action plan.  He invited comments and observations from members, as well as requests for further information for the purposes of clarity, before the report was tabled with Cabinet on the 12 July 2016.

 

The following responses were given to member questions;

 

·         The indicator referred to in paragraph 4.2 is a statutory one regarding ‘households’ who present themselves to the council as a homeless. He agreed to circulate the precise definition used by the council and request Martin Stacey, the council’s Lead Commissioner for housing Services to give Members more information on how it was applied.

·         The Cabinet is reviewing all the options for extending HMO licensing. There is already a current mandatory duty in place with regard to some HMOs, but the government may introduce a wider scheme covering other categories of property. If government were to extend mandatory licensing, the council would have to comply but could choose to adopt additional policies within the borough. As detailed in the report there had been a change of emphasis and there was now a plan to recruit a permanent member of staff to carry out HMO work and support enforcement officers. This role would be financed by an anticipated increase in council income resulting from licensing activity.

·         The officer updated members on the two Domestic Homicide Reviews that had been carried out.  Both had been born out of tragedies and so it was very important for lessons to be learnt. Any communications needed to be handled sensitively but the results of the reviews would be summarised in the public domain and there were plans for member seminars to brief members in more detail.

·         A Member commented that they were disappointed with the performance on staff appraisals and another member asked whether the sickness procedures were robust enough to root out any sickness that was not genuine. Members were  also concerned that the workforce  was now much more stretched, often delivering the same level of work as previously but with a much reduced number of officers. This could exacerbate stress in the workplace and they asked how overall health of the organisation was being monitored.

The officer confirmed that sickness procedures were robust but also supportive, particularly in relation to mental health issues. Managers and staff had excellent support from colleagues in Go shared services in dealing with these issues. He highlighted that with a much smaller workforce individual cases of long-term sickness had more impact on the overall percentages. 

·         A member referred to the milestone COM 03A and asked about the timescales for the planned survey work of HMOs.
The Director of Built Environment anticipated that the survey could take between 12 and 18 months. If during the course of the survey officers detected  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Hidden Deprivation STG - progress review pdf icon PDF 75 KB

Rosalind Reeves, Democratic Services Manager

(see recommendation) 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Democratic Services Manager introduced the June 2016 progress update on the Hidden Deprivation in the Town Centre scrutiny task group.  The group had been established in 2013 but had been unable to conclude its review following the 2014 elections in which original members had either left the council or been appointed to Cabinet.  Rather than have the work that had been done, be lost, the O&S Committee agreed to forward an interim report to Cabinet, with a request that they provide guidance as to which of the recommendations they would support further work being done.  In October 2014, Cabinet considered the interim report and supported a number of recommendations that issues be referred to other groups where work was already being done.  Recommendations relating to regulatory and environmental services, be considered as part of the REST commissioning review.  Cabinet concluded that no further scrutiny was required.  The update attached at Appendix 1 set out the progress that had been made, but there were admittedly areas that would benefit from further work and the suggestion was that this could be included in the review to be undertaken by the newly established task group looking at Town centre issues.

 

Members agreed with this approach. They were keen for the town centre task group to look at the state of private housing but this would need to take account of the survey work being done.

 

Another Member referred to the proposed new Public Sociology course being offered by the University of Gloucestershire from September and suggested that ward councillors might like to have an input and see the results.

 

RESOLVED that areas of the original STG recommendations requiring further work be included in the review of the newly established STG looking at Town centre issues and no further updates be required in relation to the original review.

 

10.

Procurement and contract management strategy - 12 month review pdf icon PDF 81 KB

Dave Baker, Business Partner - Procurement

(no decision required)

Minutes:

The Director of Resources gave apologies for Dave Baker, the Business Partner – Procurement (GO Shared Services) who could not attend this meeting.

 

He introduced the 12 month review of the Procurement and contract management strategy which set out the achievements to date.  The strategy had been adopted by all GoSS partners in 2015, with the purpose of a common strategy being to develop a common approach to achieving effective procurement across all partners and make it easier to engage with, and improve the experience for all suppliers, especially Small and Medium Enterprises and local suppliers where applicable.  Members of the O&S Committee at the time, had asked that a 12 month review be scheduled which would allow members to consider if the ‘culture’ had changed following the adoption of the revised strategy, which they were keen should not discourage local contractors from applying. 

 

In summing up he considered good progress had been made in a relatively short space of time but he acknowledged that there was still work to be done.

 

In response to questions from Members he gave the following responses:

  • The results in the table in 4.2 would identify Gloucestershire suppliers by their postcode so any such suppliers used by the 2020 Partnership would be picked up.
  • A former member of the scrutiny task group looking at the crematorium had highlighted the problems of selecting a supplier with an inappropriate heavy weighting on cost rather than quality and asked for assurance that any new strategy would address this.
    The Director confirmed that more recent tenders had focused on getting the scoring criteria right up front so that a more comprehensive assessment could be carried out before a supplier was selected.
  • The Exec Board had reviewed the ‘no Purchase Order, no Pay policy’ and with improved management information they could now focus on the service areas who were not complying. Officers were also working on improved interfaces between ICT applications used by Property Services and Agresso which would assist in this objective.
  • A member suggested that if the suppliers were aware that if they did not supply a purchase order number they would not get paid that might resolve the problem. The Director advised that this had been considered. However the Exec Board considered this could have had an adverse impact on some of the council’s small suppliers and hence they decided on the slightly softer approach.

 

The offer of a similar update in June 2017 had been made and the committee were happy to scheduled something on the work plan, but would take a view nearer the time about whether this should be a briefing note rather than a discussion paper. 

 

11.

Car Parking Strategy Update pdf icon PDF 209 KB

Mike Redman, Director of Environment

Minutes:

The Director of Environment attended the meeting to give an update on the car parking strategy which had been requested by members of the committee keen to get an update on the current status.

 

In his introduction, he explained that the Cabinet Member Working Group (CMWG) had spent some time trying to understand and get to grips with the complex issues surrounding car parking in the town. There were fundamental questions regarding whether there is the right capacity in the town, whether any car parking land could be released for development and whether the car parking provision was meeting the needs of local businesses and supporting the retail economy. At the same time there was also a need to encourage sustainable transport and not undermine local transport companies.  Car parking also provided a very significant income contribution to the council's budget and so the financial impact of any subsidies needed to be carefully considered. For that reason the CPMWG would be considering the financial implications of introducing free car parking after 6 p.m. before any implementation.

 

In the discussions that followed, some Members were concerned that the report did not articulate a long-term vision or strategy. They suggested that a strategy would not start from the current offering but would look at where parking was needed, the types of car parking required and the facilities and this could then feed into the local plan.

 

The Director reminded members that this report was an update rather than the final strategy. Blue sky thinking was an option but there would always be limits on funding available and current locations of car parks would have to be taken into consideration. The review would be looking at whether any of the existing car parks could be released for development and whether there were any options for extending existing car parks through decking.

 

Members were disappointed to read that it was proving difficult to engage with Gloucestershire County Council. The Director confirmed that county officers had pulled out of a recent meeting of the CMWG but he was seeking to re-engage them and bring them along to the next meeting. He would welcome any assistance from Members in encouraging their county council colleagues to engage with this strategy work.

 

It was noted that there had been a question tabled to the County Council Cabinet Member proposing that he reintroduce Parking Boards as they provided a valuable forum for engagement of local members. 

 

Members requested that the car parking strategy should also look at parking provision for two wheeled motorised vehicles.

 

A Member also highlighted the problem in Charlton Kings which offered free parking for a limited period. Without any enforcement in place, this was now being used by commuters going into Cheltenham by bus, thereby depriving local people of spaces to enable them to do their local shopping and business.

 

The Director confirmed that this would be considered. Bath Road car park had suffered similar problems in the past which resulted in the introduction of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.

12.

Updates from scrutiny task groups pdf icon PDF 60 KB

·         Review/agree membership of STGs

·         Agree high level objectives for the Town Centre Issues STG

Minutes:

The Democratic Services Manager, Rosalind Reeves, referred members to the update that had been circulated. With regard to the Broadband scrutiny task group, the former chair Councillor Roger Whyborn was preparing a handover report to the chair of the new task group who was still to be appointed.

 

The committee need to agree terms of reference for the proposed town centre review. Due to the late hour, it was agreed that these would be discussed by the lead members at their next chairs briefing. They noted the request that CCP and CBH should be involved.

 

13.

Review of scrutiny work plan pdf icon PDF 66 KB

Minutes:

The chair referred to the suggestion that there should be a pre-Council seminar on disabled access in and around Cheltenham. It had now been decided that a better approach would be for councillors to go to visit the Victory Trust and this was being arranged.

 

14.

Date of next meeting

12 September 2016

Minutes:

12 September 2016