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Agenda and minutes

Venue: St Vincent’s & St George’s Association, Phoenix, 86-90 Winchcombe Street, Cheltenham, GL52 2NW

Contact: Saira Malin, Democracy Officer 

No. Item




No apologies had been received but Councillor Holliday had advised that she would be late and subsequently arrived at 6.45pm.


Declarations of Interest


No interests were declared.


Minutes of the last meeting pdf icon PDF 827 KB

27 June 2016


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 27 June 2016 be agreed and signed as an accurate record.


Public and Member questions, calls for actions and petitions


None were submitted.


Matters referred to committee


No matters were referred to the committee.


access issues for those with disabilities

A talk by service users


The Chairman explained that earlier in the year, he and other members, including the Police and Crime Commissioner and local MP, had taken part in the Wheelchair Challenge, which had provided a genuine insight into some of the difficulties wheelchair users face on a daily basis.  At that time, he had also attended a talk on by the ladies that would be speaking to the committee this evening and was keen that the committee hear it and give some thought as to if and how the council could provide any solutions. 


Bille-Jane had lived independently for 19 years and Nicola Bates who had lived independently for 8 years, stressed the importance of disabled toilets on their wellbeing, not just their availability, but their accessibility, as for some, this could often mean the difference between being able to go out and not.  


They proceeded to outline some of the many issues that users often encountered when using disabled toilets: 

  • Some disabled toilets weren’t big enough to accommodate modern, battery powered wheelchairs, let alone the carer(s) that the wheelchair user may need to have assist them, depending on the severity of their disability.  
  • Some of the toilets were set on plinths and in some cases this meant that they were too high for wheelchair users to be able to manoeuvre themselves onto.  
  • Panic alarms could be activated by accident where the cords were wrapped around the bar.
  • It was often the case that disabled toilets were used as storage areas for highchairs and whilst this undoubtedly posed an accessibility issue for wheelchair users and it also raised hygiene concerns.  
  • It was also important for the rails and bars to be correctly fitted.  Nicola had recently had an experience where the bar had come away from the wall and she had fallen to the floor and bumped her head. 

The best example of a disabled toilet in Cheltenham had been in the Beechwood Arcade, though this had closed since John Lewis had taken over the building.  Another good example was the toilet at the Brewery (located next to the cash points), this was a really large space but it didn’t have a hoist or changing bed. 


Billie-Jane and Nicola felt that when considering the layout and facilities for new disabled toilets, they should be consulting those people that will be using the toilet: people with disabilities, wheelchair users and carers, so that the result is a facility that works. 


They then talked through some of the issues faced when trying to use buses;


·         Much of the space was only large enough to accommodate a manual wheelchair, rather than powered chairs which were much bigger. 

·         Wheelchair users were expected to position the back of their chairs against the window but this necessitated a certain amount of manoeuvring and this was often impeded by the position of some of the poles.

·         A lack of straps meant that there were occasions when the weight of the chair would cause it to move as buses took  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Feedback from other scrutiny meetings attended

Gloucestershire Economic Growth O&S Committee (7 September) – verbal update from Councillor Paul McCloskey


Police and Crime Panel (9 September)   - verbal update from Councillor Helena McCloskey


The Gloucestershire Health and Care O&S Committee are not scheduled to meet until 13 September. 


Councillor P McCloskey provided a verbal update on the recent meeting of the Gloucestershire Economic Growth Overview and Scrutiny Committee.  He explained that the committee were responsible for reviewing the decisions of the Gloucestershire Economic Growth Joint Committee, and the overall impact and delivery outcomes of the Gloucestershire Strategic Economic Plan, as well as making recommendations to the Gloucestershire Local Enterprise Community Interest Company (Gfirst) and Gloucestershire Economic Growth Joint Committee on issues and improvements. 


At a recent meeting the committee had considered the following:


The Low Carbon Economy of Gloucestershire, its value and potential: Stroud District had proposed that be added to the Scrutiny Committee Work Plan. Once the standard template had been completed, it would be sent to the committee for ratification.


Tourism: the committee received a presentation from Cotswolds Tourism and Forest of Dean Association which covered what they do, economic benefits, as well as the benefits of working in partnership.  Both Cotswolds Tourism and Forest of Dean Association had been keen for Cheltenham & Gloucester to join the partnership. The rationale being that they already interacted with trade shows for foreign tour operators and could encourage more visitors to the UK to visit Gloucestershire.  They presented figures from 2015 which demonstrated the economic benefits, including;

       Gloucestershire welcomes over 18 million day visitors a year

       2 million staying visitor trips (equating to 6.2 million visitor nights)

       Total visitor related spend of £1 billion 

       An estimated actual employment of 25,250

       8% of all employment

       Economic impact to the local economy - £1.5 billion (an increase of 7% from 2014)


They quoted figures that £1 spent by them on tourism marketing generated £43 for the local economy. One of the key strategies was ‘Destination Management Plans’ which were a means of ensuring each destination presented itself in the best way to visitors. A Tourism Task Group would be established and a pdf of the presentation would be sent to members by email. 


Pub is The Hub: The task group that had been established a couple of years ago, led by Barry Kirby and had worked across the 4 rural districts (i.e. excluding Cheltenham & Gloucester) and had now produced a final report.  The next stage was to identify two or three possible locations that might benefit and run a pilot. ‘Pub is a Hub’ was a not-for-profit organisation that had expanded across the country over the last 15 years.


2050 Vision Workshop: The committee had decided to have a review of the impact of Brexit on Gloucestershire.  A workshop had been arranged for the 30 September 2016 which Councillor Steve Jordan would attend as Leader of the Council, but Councillor McCloskey questioned how other members could get involved. 


The Chairman thanked Councillor P McCloskey for his update.  He too was a new member on the group, though in his capacity as a County Councillor and despite having a very large remit, he felt the group did some very important work. 

Councillor Hay, as  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


Cabinet Briefing

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. 


Cabinet Member Corporate Services will attend and participate a Q&A session on 2020.


The Leader, as a continuation from Councillor McCloskey’s update, advised that there had been a lot of activity over the last week: the Gloucestershire Economic Growth Joint Committee and Leadership Gloucestershire.  In relation to devolution, he suggested the Gloucestershire Strategic economic plan would be a useful document for members to look at.  KPMG had concluded a three month piece of work looking at the devolution bid as it stands and how to could be moved forward and whilst he had not yet seen the final report, nobody was yet certain about the position on Government Policy on this.  There was a case for having dedicated resources looking at defining the Gloucestershire vision and broadening it as necessary and there was a chance that this could be funded through the business pool.  20/50 vision was being run in parallel by the Local Enterprise Partnership, who had bought in external experts to look at it. The LGA and XXX, as part of Leading Places, were looking at how to improve and build communities and the Leader suggested that these four threads would need to be pulled together at some point.  His enquired as to how the committee wanted to be kept informed on all of these developments and the committee agreed that a Member Seminar should be arranged, as well as a meeting of the Devolution STG, at a stage when there was something more to share with them on the Devolution bid.  The Leader acknowledged the increase in reported Hate Crime in Gloucestershire, following Brexit and confirmed that a strategy was being drafted.  At this stage, he had no news on the parliamentary boundary review.


The Chairman introduced the Cabinet Member Corporate Services.  He had been invited to answer questions from the committee in reference to 2020, following his announcement that Revenues and Benefits and Customer Services would not be included in the shared arrangement.  The Chairman confirmed that rather than asking the Cabinet Member to produce a written report, the committee would instead be given the opportunity to question the Cabinet Member directly.


The Cabinet Member Corporate Services gave the following responses to member questions;


·         The Transition Funding was not predicated by a certain level of involvement and as such, was not considered to be in jeopardy.

·         Admittedly members of the Cabinet Member working group were comfortable with the proposal to include Revenues and Benefits within 2020 but it was not always possible to provide these groups with all the information required to form a comprehensive understanding of every situation.  As a council, a level of control had to be seeded to any joint committee or company and his political judgement was that it was appropriate for these services (Revs & Bens and Customer Services), which he considered to be sensitive in nature, to remain with the council, so that they could be directly responsible. 

·         The £159k saving that would have been generated from the inclusion of these services in 2020, whilst not an insignificant sum, was not insurmountable when compared  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.


cheltenham Business Improvement District - update pdf icon PDF 190 KB

Presentation by Kevan Blackadder, BID Director (Cheltenham BID)   


Kevan Blackadder, Business Improvement District (BID) Director of Cheltenham BID gave a short PowerPoint presentation (Appendix 1) which set out the progress that had been made to date in relation to the BID, future plans and how the success would be measured. 


He gave the following answers to member questions;


·         The BID was now keen to explore all options along with CBC. Improved Wi-Fi would allow for use of smarter footfall cameras.

·         Tim Atkins, Director of Place and Economic Development at CBC was a member of the Shadow Board, which ensured a co-ordinated approach to Tourism. 

·         Town centre indicators would be used to measure the effectiveness of the BID which included sales performance, footfall and vacant unit levels and baselines were currently being developed. 

·         In relation to parking charges the BID would lobby GCC and CBC to incentivise people to visit the town centre on days, weeks and months when footfall was lower, by offering reduced parking charges at those times.  Another initiative that could encourage more people into the town centre was if parking charges did not apply until later in the morning, perhaps from 10am instead of 8am. 


The Chairman commended those involved in the BID for their hard work and thanked Kevan for his attendance.


The committee would look forward to receiving similar updates in the future.


There were no recommendations arising from this item.


Broadband scrutiny task group interim report pdf icon PDF 141 KB

Report of the Broadband scrutiny task group - to be presented by Councillor Roger Whyborn, former Chairman of the task group (see recommendations)

Additional documents:


Councillor Whyborn, as former Chairman of the Broadband STG, introduced the Task Group report which had been produced by the Democratic Services Manager on behalf of the task group.  Councillor Whyborn referred members to paragraph 6.4 of the report, which set out two possible explanations as to why areas of high speed broadband deprivation have not been addressed: (1) that the relationship between Fastershire and BT is dysfunctional and that insufficient effort is being made to achieve workable solutions in the urban areas that have been identified, or; (2) the parameters set by central government make it impossible to legally disburse funding through Fastershire to upgrade the broadband infrastructure in urban areas of Cheltenham and Gloucester.  Councillor Whyborn felt that Fastershire and Gloucestershire County Council needed to start being clear about why these issues hadn’t, or indeed, couldn’t be addressed. 


Councillor Payne had attended meetings of the Parish Council with BT and Fastershire in the past and was left with the impression that Fastershire were intimidated by BT and therefore unable to assert themselves.


In response to a member question, Councillor Whyborn reminded members of the motion that had been passed by Council in February 2015 which instructed officers to develop a policy such that future planning applications for new developments will have a requirement to access to an appropriate quality of broadband facilities at a minimal set-up cost to the householder.  This has sent a message to developers that this was the direction of travel and would ultimately be incorporated into the local plan, and as such, the issue was not with new builds but rather existing properties.  The group had been successful in extracting maps which made problem areas easily identifiable and the suggestion was these maps should be included in any future reports.  The £350 for satellite vouchers was seen as a limited solution, albeit, a last resort for a small number of individual premises in hard to reach places in Cheltenham and Gloucester.


The committee were in agreement that Recommendation 3 represented the most appropriate form of action, but also that the wording needed to be amended so as to make a stronger statement.


Upon a vote it was unanimously


RESOLVED that a letter be written to the chair of the Gloucestershire Economic Growth Overview and Scrutiny Committee, and be copied to Fastershire, BT and Virgin Media, and the wording of this letter would be agreed by email, outside of the meeting.


Overview and Scrutiny annual report 2015-16 pdf icon PDF 69 KB

Report of the Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Councillor Tim Harman (see recommendation)

Additional documents:


The Chairman introduced the Annual Overview and Scrutiny Report 2015-16.  The report summarised some of the successes of the previous year and he took the opportunity to thank those members who had been involved in task groups and the officers that had supported them. 


Upon a vote it was unanimously


RESOLVED that the Annual Report of the Overview and Scrutiny 2015-16 be endorsed and forwarded to Council to be noted.


Updates from scrutiny task groups pdf icon PDF 57 KB

Please see attached STG summary.


Consider the Topic Registration Form, including Officer implications and decide if and how the issue will be scrutinised.

Additional documents:


Members were referred to the update that had been circulated with the agenda. 


This would be updated to reflect the decision by the committee to end the work of the Broadband task group and instead have this committee monitor the situation and encourage the Gloucestershire Economic Growth O&S Committee to scrutinise further developments.  There were no further developments to be included at this stage. 


The Democracy Officer referred members to the Scrutiny Topic Registration form which had also been circulated with the agenda.  This form had been submitted by Councillor Mason and called for a review of the noise levels produced by some of the festivals that are held in Imperial and Montpellier Gardens and the potential long term damage to the ground and trees from such intense activities.  Officer implications had been included on the reverse of the form and highlighted that Officers were of the view that the Gardens Forum Group and the already planned assessment of events, provided an existing mechanism for consideration of this issue and given that these groups involved many of the same Officers, it would prove difficult to support a third group in the form of a task group. 


Councillor Mason, as proposer of the topic, reiterated that there was no suggestion that the Council should terminate its arrangement with the Festivals to hold events in the gardens.  National noise guidelines stated that, in areas such as Montpellier Gardens, noise levels should not exceed 60dB and yet often did, particularly during the Jazz Festival.  He questioned whether CBC, as the planning authority, should be allowing the Festivals to flout the national guidelines. 


Members of the committee, who had attended meetings of the Gardens Forum in the past, suggested that representatives of the Festivals would often pay lip service to resident’s concerns and would on occasion intimate that a new venue could be found and members were innately aware that this was a real possibility in the future. 


Given the officer implications that had been set-out on the registration form, the committee were minded not to establish a task group and instead, take the opportunity to question the Festivals directly on the issues raised, at the next meeting of the committee (31 October), which the Festivals were already due to attend.  The Democracy Officer would be contacting members in due course to invite questions in advance of the meeting and members should take this opportunity to raise particular issues.



Review of scrutiny workplan pdf icon PDF 66 KB


The work plan had been circulated with the agenda and would be updated to include a future update on the BID. 


Date of next meeting

31 October 2016


The next meeting was scheduled for Monday 31 October 2016.