Cheltenham Borough Council
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:

Councillors Wilkinson, Holliday and Hay had advised that they would be late and subsequently arrived at 6.05pm, 6.35pm and 7.15pm respectively. 

2.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

No interests were declared.

3.

Minutes of the last meeting pdf icon PDF 128 KB

31 October 2016

Minutes:

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

 

Upon a vote it was unanimously

 

RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on the 31 October 2016 be agreed and signed as an accurate record.

4.

Public and Member questions, calls for actions and petitions

Minutes:

None had been received.

5.

Matters referred to committee

Minutes:

Council had asked that Overview and Scrutiny review bus services in general and how they could be better provided in Cheltenham.  This item featured later on the agenda.    

6.

Feedback from other scrutiny meetings attended pdf icon PDF 23 KB

Gloucestershire Health and Care O&S Committee (15 November) – update from Councillor Harvey

 

Police and Crime Panel (7 November)   - verbal update from Councillor Helena McCloskey

 

The Gloucestershire Economic Growth O&S Committee has not met since the last meeting of this committee.

Minutes:

Councillor Harvey had produced a written update on the recent meeting (15 November) of the Gloucestershire Health and Care O&S Committee.  This had been circulated with the agenda and was taken as read.  As a County representative on this committee, the Chairman advised that a special meeting had been arranged for the 15 December 2016 to discuss some of the issues raised in this update. 

 

Councillor H McCloskey provided a verbal update on the recent meeting of the Police and Crime Panel.  The Panel received a presentation on the new Operating Model. These changes were implemented in anticipation of further financial cuts in the coming years and to address the increase in computer enabled crime.  As a result of the changes the organisation had become more resilient and flexible and had seen improvements in performance. National statistics showed that Gloucestershire now had the fourth lowest crime rate in the country, the lowest rate for violent crime and a significant increase in customer satisfaction. Further work was required on the Neighbourhood Policing model. PCSOs would still be assigned to particular communities but would be called out to other areas and would attend less community group and Parish Council meetings.  The Panel recommended that local policing should be stabilised as a priority. 

 

Discussions at Government level were on-going regarding possible changes to the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) role. These included the overseeing of fire services and certain aspects of the criminal justice system and could have a major impact on the PCC workload and potential revision of the Police and Crime Plan.

 

The Panel considered performance statistics for the 101 non-emergency number in comparison with other similar forces. Concern was expressed that only data up to March 2015 was available on the national website. Further data, although submitted, had not been audited and was therefore not available, which the panel found disappointing.  However, the User Satisfaction Survey for the 12 months ending September 2016 showed 97.2% satisfaction rate with ease of contact with the Gloucestershire 101 service.

 

Councillor H McCloskey gave the following responses to member questions;

 

·         The proposal that the PCC should oversee fire services had come from Government and the PCC for Gloucestershire was of the opinion that this should remain separate.

·         Gloucestershire was ahead of the game somewhat and had identified Cyber Crime as a priority for the force 18 months to 2 years ago.  A special unit was established, which employed computer experts and officers were given basic training, as the first point of contact for cyber crime. 

 

Some members felt that it was self-defeating for Neighbourhood Policing teams not to attend community or Parish Council meetings as these were often effective an means of building relationships and trust or simply learning about local issues. 

 

The Chairman reminded members that the PCC had attended a meeting earlier in the year and the committee agreed that another invitation should be extended to him, for 2017.

 

The Gloucestershire Economic Growth O&S Committee had not met since  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Cabinet Briefing

A verbal 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 gave a verbal briefing to the committee.  In view of the discussion just prior to his briefing in which members had discussed neighbourhood policing, the Leader explained that a number of PCSOs had been moved from Cheltenham to Gloucester to tackle ASB issues.  The council had recently been approached with the suggestion of joint funding of ASB, though he was keen that Cheltenham PCSO’s be reinstated first. 

 

He referred members to the Place Strategy briefing note which had been circulated with the agenda.  This provided an update on the Place Strategy as well as some context to Devolution.  The Autumn Statement hadn’t given much clarity on Devolution, but many of the civil servants who had been supporting it had been diverted to Brexit and this could demonstrate a reduced appetite for Devolution.  He also felt that there was a preference for bids from authorities with a directly elected Mayor. 

 

In relation to the JCS, members would be aware that Tewkesbury Borough Council did not approve the document for public consultation, though Cheltenham and Gloucester had.  A further meeting at TBC had been arranged for the 31 January and as soon as he had confirmation that this date was definitely going ahead he would be contacting members about when we would have our debate.  He noted that he was currently minded to schedule the debate for the 10 February (Budget setting) meeting, rather than arrange a third meeting in February, as he imagined it would be a relatively short debate, simply to affirm the debate that had been held at the previous meeting. 

 

At their meeting in November, the Cabinet had considered an urgent item on the Crematorium development programme.  Cabinet agreed to change the scope of the programme to develop the business case for a second new chapel and potential alternative access road options.  This was taken as an urgent decision so as not to delay the programme to replace the existing cremators.

 

This council was not consulted prior to the A40 Bus Lane scheme being dropped, though, nor had it been advised that it was to be included in the first instance.  In response to a member question, the Leader confirmed that the money for this project had come from the short lived Local Transport Board and as such, had gone back to the Local Enterprise Partnership rather than GCC.  It may be that this council would be interested in bidding for some of this funding. 

8.

Stagecoach pdf icon PDF 110 KB

PowerPoint presentation by Rupert Cox, Managing Director (Stagecoach West)

Minutes:

Council had referred the matter of Cheltenham’s bus service and how it could be improved, to this committee.  The Chairman explained that the Managing Director of Stagecoach (West) had been asked to prepare a PowerPoint presentation and reminded members that the focus of the debate would be the bus service in general, rather than individual services.

 

Rupert Cox, the Managing Director of Stagecoach (West) introduced the PowerPoint presentation (attached at Appendix 1).  In addition to the slides, he explained;

 

·         They  employed 180 people based in Cheltenham, up from 140

      10 years ago.

·         The depot at Lansdown Industrial Estate could accommodate 65 buses.   The fleet currently totalled 63, so this represented a future constraint.

·         35 new buses were introduced 2 years ago and only 10 days ago,  new 94 buses had been introduced.  The average age of the fleet was 4.7 years compared to the national average of 8.5 years.

·         According to the DfT only 1 in 9 counties was seeing passenger growth.  Cheltenham was at 2% growth; 30% since 2005.  This did not apply to all routes however, some of the letter services had seen a  1-2%  decline  and  he  felt  that  cheaper fuel prices were impacting these  local/shorter  services.  This reduction was on all categories of passenger free/child/single/concession).   At the       moment, the £2 daily fare for under 19’s was showing growth of 30% plus.

·         Transport Focus were finalising the 2016 surveys.  Overall satisfaction with the service was at 90% in 2014 and rose to 91% in 2015.   The national average was 83%.  Value for Money, whilst ahead of the national average, was the lowest scoring at 69%.  Each year approximately 1000 passengers were surveyed and 30% said that the bus represented better value than their car.

·         In 2014 Stagecoach undertook an exercise with GCC surveying people about why they had come to Cheltenham.  Over a 1 week period 1400 people were surveyed (the target was 1000) and of those 1400 people, 40% had travelled to the town by bus.  Whilst on average bus users  were  spending  less  on  each  visit,  they  were making more journeys  to  the  town  and  so spend more across a typical year. He therefore considered it a myth that getting people to journey to town in their car was better  for  the economy.  42% of those that had driven to town on the day of the survey said that they had used the bus at some point.

·         In  support  of  Small  Business  Saturday and some of the highstreets  in  Gloucestershire,  a  special  fare  of  £2 was being offered.

·         If  only  2% of those that drove to the town centre used a bus it would help to ease congestion.

·         Zurich paid for their staff to travel to and from work for free.   A new service  was  introduced  which  stopped  outside the terminal  building  at  Gloucestershire  Airport  and which is seeing growing   usage. Stagecoach had a good relationship with the Racecourse and 80 extra buses ran during Festival week.  Through work with the Cheltenham BID any  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Update from the Urban Gulls Focus Group pdf icon PDF 85 KB

Discussion paper of the Urban Gulls Group (to be presented by Helen Down, Team Leader, Participation and Engagement)

Minutes:

In the absence of Helen Down, Team Leader – Participation and Engagement, the Chairman introduced the paper on behalf of the Urban Gulls Focus Group.  Urban gull complaints were nuisance related, but gulls were wild birds and as such the council did not have a statutory responsibility to deal with them.  However, in recognition of the considerable disturbance that they caused, the council did allocate a budget for gull control.  Prior to 2015, the budget was £5000 per annum for the oiling of eggs.  In 2015 the budget was increased to £9,100 and enabled the switch from oiling to replacing eggs with dummy eggs when the oil was withdrawn from sale.  Dummy egg replacement was more effective than oil as the gull would continue to sit on them for longer, without re-laying and adults that failed to produce offspring at a site tended to move on in future years.  Gulls were also noisiest with hatchlings in the nest, so noise reduced over the summer when the eggs did not hatch.  Whilst more effective, dummy egg replacement was more expensive due to the hire cost of the cherry picker needed to replace the eggs and collect them again at the end of the season.  The Urban Gulls Focus Group was attended by residents and councillors from affected areas and would, from this point onwards, be chaired by Councillor Harman.  The Group were of the opinion that a strategy had to be developed within the context of budget constraints and operational capacity. 

 

As Chairman of the committee, Councillor Harman explained that it had been suggested that a Scrutiny Task Group should be set-up to develop a strategy, but given that the Focus Group already operated well, members may not be minded to do this.  He noted that the publication of this report had sparked media interest from the Gloucestershire Echo and BBC Radio Gloucestershire, both of whom had said that they would be happy to assist with a media campaign in the future. 

 

Expert advice was that the problem could not be eradicated irrespective of budget and therefore members questioned whether spending more would actually benefit the town.  Members were keen that a more scientific approach be adopted when devising the strategy.  There were no calls from members to establish a task group. 

 

The committee agreed that the Urban Gulls Focus Group should investigate further what strategy would deal with the issue more comprehensively, based on scientific evidence.

 

The Chairman confirmed that the Focus Group were scheduled to meet again in January 2017.

10.

The Update on Private Rented Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMO) Survey pdf icon PDF 71 KB

Discussion paper by Mark Nelson, Built Environment Enforcement Officer

Minutes:

Mark Nelson, Enforcement Manager, introduced the discussion paper as circulated with the agenda.  He explained that following a desktop analysis to identify possible Houses of Multiple Occupancy (HMO’s), 450 had been identified within the St Pauls Ward and survey work commenced in early September 2016.  So far 225 HMO’s had been fully inspected and a further 72 properties had been visited and found not to be HMO’s following an interview with the occupants.  If this trend continued it was likely that approximately 300 HMO’s would have been identified in St Paul’s.  Of the HMO’s inspected thus far, only 10 had been referred to the enforcement team for further investigation (following the identification of poor management, poor standards of accommodation or where a licensable HMO was not licensed) and this figure (5%) was extremely low for this type of housing stock.  He felt that this was undoubtedly a result of the proactive work that had been undertaken by enforcement officers over the last 5 years, which had included the licensing of 130 HMO’s in the St Pauls ward area under the Governments Mandatory HMO Licensing Scheme.  It was likely that the survey work in St Pauls would be complete by February and at that stage a report could be produced. 

 

In response to a member question, the Enforcement Manager explained that the housing health and safety rating system was a risk-based evaluation tool used to assess safety in housing. There were 29 types of hazard which are assessed under this system and category 1 hazards posed the most risk to the occupants. The level of risk was determined by the likelihood of harm caused by the hazard and the severity of the harm which would result. In the example of a glass door; it might only be rated as category 1 if there was trip hazard which increased the risk of the glass being broken. 

 

Members felt that were the number of HMO’s in St Pauls to exceed the national limit of 10%, that this council should invoke Article 4 Direction and remove permitted development rights of HMO’s within that area (and any other ward found to exceed the national limit), so that planning permission needed to be obtained.  This would be flagged with the Planning Liaison Group at this stage, with a request that they consider the issue further once the final survey results have been fully collated and analysed, assuming the final figure was in fact above the 10% limit.   

 

The Chairman thanked the Enforcement Manager for his attendance and looked forward to seeing the final report. 

 

11.

Quarter 2 performance review pdf icon PDF 125 KB

Report by Richard Gibson, Strategy and Engagement Manager (to follow)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Richard Gibson, the Strategy and Engagement Manager, introduced the Quarter 2 performance figures and he apologised for the delay in having circulated it to members.  He highlighted that of the 99 milestones identified in the 2016-17 action plan, 37 were amber, meaning there were concerns about the deliverability of the project and 7 were red and related to 4 key projects; North Place (1), car parking (3), the Cheltenham Plan (2) and the Crematorium development (1).  Being classed as red meant that there are concerns about whether these milestones will be delivered by March 2017. 

 

The Strategy and Engagement Officer and the Leader where appropriate, gave the following responses to member questions;

 

·    Adoption of the Cheltenham Plan was amber as officers were optimistic that this could be done within 2017, though admittedly this was almost entirely dependent on the JCS.

·         If the JCS was unable to be adopted as planned then the council would need to have a Local Plan which included strategic allocations set out in the JCS and the implications of this were in the process of being determined.  But we were not in that situation yet.  However, the Leader acknowledged that it is more difficult to properly assess new developments without the framework of an adopted strategic plan.

·         The potential for developing a business case for a second chapel had always been included in the Crematorium Development programme and it was in the context of the original costings of £10m having reduced that the potential for the second chapel was being considered now. 

·         The MD Place and Economic Development had confirmed at the last meeting of this committee that representatives from GCC had attended a meeting of the Parking Working Group. 

 

Given that the deadline for the opening of the new crematorium building has been pushed back, members of the committee felt that they would like to understand more about the reasons why.  The committee agreed that they would invite a formal update on the programme, to their next meeting, to establish how the programme was progressing.

12.

Updates from scrutiny task groups pdf icon PDF 56 KB

Minutes:

The Democracy Officer explained that progress in relation to the Devolution task group was as it had been at the time that the summary had been circulated with the agenda; there had been no further developments.

 

The Street People STG had held a workshop with various agencies to discuss the extent of the issue in Cheltenham.  This was a useful session and the task group agreed that they needed to meet with representatives of Project SOLACE, which worked to bring agencies together to deal with anti-social behaviour and which had resulted in the number of persistent beggars in Gloucester having fallen significantly.  This meeting would be arranged in due course.  A number of members of the committee felt that some of the messages coming from Project SOLACE were quite negative and urged the STG to take a different approach.  Members of the committee, who also sat on the STG gave assurances that the group accepted that this was a complex issue, with no single solution; some rough sleepers were genuinely homeless, for some it was a lifestyle choice and some were not homeless at all, claiming benefits and free prescriptions and were begging to make, in some cases, hundreds of pounds a day. 

13.

Review of scrutiny workplan pdf icon PDF 60 KB

Minutes:

The work plan had been circulated with the agenda and would be updated to include a formal update on the Crematorium Development Programme at the meeting in January, as well as a briefing note on progress relating to car parking.    

 

The committee agreed the two items that had been proposed for the next meeting (January 16); Everyman Theatre presentation from Geoffrey Rowe and a further discussion on the Place Strategy. 

14.

Date of next meeting

16 January 2017

Minutes:

The next meeting was scheduled for Monday 16 January 2017.