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 Holliday, McCloskey and Hay had given their apologies.  Councillor Flynn would substitute for Councillor Hay.

2.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

No interests were declared.  

3.

Minutes of the last meeting

The minutes of the last meeting (12 June) will be tabled for approval at the next scheduled meeting (11 September).

Minutes:

The minutes of the last meeting (12 June) would be tabled for approval at the next meeting of the committee (11 September). 

4.

Public and Member questions, calls for actions and petitions

Minutes:

None had been received.

5.

Matters referred to committee

Minutes:

The Leader would give feedback on Cabinet’s response to the recommendations of this committee in relation to the call-in meeting, under the Cabinet Briefing item.

6.

Feedback from other scrutiny meetings attended pdf icon PDF 50 KB

Gloucestershire Health and Care O&S Committee (7 March and 6 June) – written update from Councillor Harvey

 

Police and Crime Panel (14 March)   - written update from Councillor Helena McCloskey

 

Gloucestershire Economic Growth O&S Committee (21 June) – written update from Councillor Paul McCloskey (to follow)

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Updates on the Police and Crime Panel and Health and Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee had been circulated with the agenda.  An update on the recent meeting of the Gloucestershire Economic Growth Scrutiny Committee had been circulated separately to the agenda (Appendix 1). 

 

Members were asked to contact the briefing authors directly with any comments or questions.

 

The Chairman had attended the 6 June meeting of the Health and Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee in his capacity as the newly appointed Cabinet Member for Public Health and advised that Sarah Scott, the Director of Public Health had given a very interesting presentation and whilst there were areas where the County Council performed very well, some inequalities within districts had been identified.  He suggested that this could be something the committee may wish to discuss further with Sarah Scott at a future meeting.

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 confirmed that a group of independent experts, co-ordinated by the LEP and the Gloucestershire Economic Growth Joint Committee were both discussing major infrastructure.  These groups would be looking at what kind of things we needed to be lobbying for (e.g. faster train journey to London).  He suggested that this was an important issue and that everyone should be involved in the discussions.

 

Members would be aware that there were safeguarding issues at the County Council and Police, which was concerning.  A special County Council meeting had been arranged, which he would be attending as he was keen to understand the issues and suggested that this was something Cheltenham needed to look at.

 

Further to the call-in meeting held on the 12 June and the request the Cabinet reconsider the Springbank decision; he advised that Cabinet, having just met, had upheld their original decision to approve the application.  He reiterated that the original legislation was aimed at parished areas and with no national guidance as to what constitutes a neighbourhood, local guidance had been developed which aimed to reduce the risk of very large areas.  The Leckhampton with Warden Hill application had been straight forward and unlike something such as the JCS, there was no huge consultation before a decision was reached, Cabinet had limited powers in the neighbourhood planning process and could merely receive applications and decide to approve or refuse. 

His view was that cabinet had no other option other than to approve the application, which was valid and tomorrow (27 June) would have defaulted to approval if no decision had been made.  Whilst he appreciated that some would have preferred a different outcome, he explained that this decision did not preclude further discussions on boundaries. 

 

The Leader gave the following responses to member questions:

 

·      It was possible to give feedback at a local and national level about the neighbourhood planning process.

·      It was notable that both Springbank and West Cheltenham had refuse to defer their applications to allow for further discussion.  

·      Councillor Jeffries had declared an interest and did not participate in any decisions relating to the Springbank application.

 

8.

Police and Crime Commissioner

Martin Surl, Police and Crime Commissioner

Minutes:

The Chairman welcomed the Police and Crime Commissioner (P&CC) and asked that, before providing verbal responses to the questions which had been submitted by members of the committee, (see table below) the P&CC give a brief overview.  

 

Whilst he had been happy to accept the invitation by the committee, in the spirit of co-operation, he reminded members that it was the role of the Police and Crime Panel to scrutinise him in his role as P&CC.  Despite the shortcomings reported in the press and without trying to make any attempt to belittle the child protection issues that had been raised, he wanted to assure members that there were also many successes.  This was not to say that the force were not under monumental pressure, having lost £30m of funding and over 200 officers, reducing numbers from 1300 to 1053.  The Chancellors announcement that funding would remain at the same level equated to, for Gloucestershire, a £4.2m shortfall if the force maintained the current level of officers (1058) and a £6.5m shortfall if the P&CC kept to his commitment to increase officer numbers to 1100.  This at a time when crime was increasing and growing in complexity.  His Police and Crime Plan, identical to his manifesto, set out what he aimed to achieve, during this current 4 year term, his second after his re-election in 2016 and this plan acknowledged the importance of neighbourhood policing and this included the need for improved Neighbourhood Watch schemes.  

 

1.

Question from Councillor Payne

 

In light of the recent heightened terrorist threat, could you explain how the £1 million you allocate to community projects contributes to public safety.  Have you considered to option of redistributing this money to combating the terrorist threat?

 

The £1m allocation equated to only 1% of the P&CCs overall budget and was set up after he was first elected in 2012.  He assured members that the counter terrorism network was very well funded by the Government and suggested that what was severely lacking was neighbourhood policing, which resulted in the loss of contact with communities and the intelligence that came with these community links, as well as the reduction in crime.  The funding had supported over 300 successful projects across the county, including the Street Pastors project in Cheltenham and he highlighted that these projects had been able to draw in funding from other areas.  He felt that these projects represented his most successful achievements.  

2.

Question from Councillor Payne

 

I take the view that a good working relationship between the local police and councillors benefits the whole community. At a recent meeting with your deputy, he stated that Neighbourhood Policing had significantly improved. There appears to be little or no evidence to support that statement. Could you please give your assessment of the current state of Neighbourhood Policing?

 

Crime rates in Cheltenham were rising, meaning increasing pressure on ever reducing resources and funding.  The Constabulary were committed to neighbourhood policing and were in the process  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Place Strategy

Tim Atkins (Managing Director – Place and Economic Development) and Kevan Blackadder (BID Director)

Minutes:

The Managing Director for Place and Economic Development and BID Director had been invited to provide the committee with an update on the Place Strategy, as well as reassuring the committee that BID were engaging with the process of developing the Place Strategy.

 

The Managing Director for Place and Economic Development reminded the committee that the Place Strategy was approved by Council in March 2017 and a number of consultation exercises had and would be undertaken.  This was a long term plan and the overall vision was “A place where everybody thrives” and focussed on four key values: a pioneering spirit, nurturing, connecting and reconnecting and creativity.  A clear plan for the public realm in the town centre was required going forward but it was important to note that the transformation of the town would take time. 

 

The BID Director confirmed that the BID were involved in the development of the Place Strategy and were happy to engage because the businesses had identified 5 areas which they wanted BID to focus on and the Place Strategy included 3 of these (public realm improvements, town centre events and parking and accessibility).  BID had talked to a number of town centre businesses, as well as Spirax Sparco, Superdry and the Chamber of Commerce and the messages had been consistent:

 

  • There was a skills shortage in Cheltenham, particularly in engineering and law.
  • The high cost of living meant that people working in the town often couldn’t afford to live here.  More starter homes were needed.
  • People did not feel incentivised to cycle because of the lack of places to park bicycles.
  • A number of businesses had moved their headquarters from Cheltenham and in order to attract and retain businesses there was a need for more commercial space
  • The bus service was reliable and affordable but it was felt that some services could run later into the evening.
  • Signage in and around the town was poor.
  • There was no central area for the public to gather.
  • The opening of the John Lewis store was really positive for the town but people felt that the Strand end of the high street was ‘a disgrace’.  A sentiment shared by two national retailers who had recently visited the town.

 

The BID Director stressed that these issues must be resolved to ensure that the transformation of the town could move forward successfully. 

 

Despite some of the negative feedback relating to Cheltenham, members felt strongly that it was still a nice place to live and suggested that the town centre was looking less attractive in recent months because of the major works at the Brewery and John Lewis sites.  They all hoped that John Lewis would be a catalyst for further improvements.

 

In response to a member question, the Director of Place and Economic Development explained that the West Cheltenham scheme would have a massive impact on the town but it was important that members be aware that this would take some 15 years to bring to fruition.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.

10.

end of year performance pdf icon PDF 111 KB

Richard Gibson, Strategy and Engagement Manager

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Strategy and Engagement Manager introduced the end of year performance as circulated with the agenda.  He reminded members that the 2016-17 action plan was approved by Council back in April 2016 had identified 95 milestones and this report set out progress against those milestones.  He advised that 55 were complete, 32 were green, meaning the project was on track to be delivered against a revised timescale and 8 which were amber, meaning that there were concerns about the deliverability of the project against the original timescales. These amber milestones were set out at 3.2 of the paper and he suggested that this was where the committee may wish to focus their discussion.

 

The Strategy and Engagement Manager gave the following responses to member questions:

 

  • Ubico had done a lot to promote the no side-waste policy, but this remained a borough wide issue and compliance was very much voluntary at the moment.  The challenge was around when to enforce this policy and the kind of reaction this would evoke.  The committee could request a briefing if members wanted to understand the issue better. 
  • Those actions with Wilf Tomaney named as ‘Lead’ had been passed on to other officers since Wilf’s retirement.
  • The highways issue was a complex agenda and progress was proving difficult, however, it remained a political ambition for this council.  Perhaps this was another area on which the committee could ask for a further briefing.  
  • Whitehall capacity for progressing new devolution deals was much reduced but discussions were still ongoing and regarding a local arrangement.  He accepted, should use a different term to ‘devolution’.
  • A commitment had been made to make Shopmobility work and it was important that this issue was resolved.  This would now be taken forward by Mirjam Wiedemann , the new Economic Development Manager

 

A member sought clarification about the potential for a garden waste income windfall. 

 

Another member congratulated the Strategy and Engagement Manager for presenting a report which demonstrated the amount that was being done, and suggested that those actions that had not been completed, were out of the control of the council and perhaps these should not be taken forward. 

 

The Chairman felt it important to continue dialogue with GCC about highways matters and looked forward to seeing how the Place Strategy could provide the framework for these discussions.  He agreed that it would be beneficial for the committee to receive further briefings on this and the side waste issue.  This would be added to the work plan accordingly.

 

No decision was required.

 

11.

Street People scrutiny task group - final report pdf icon PDF 86 KB

Councillor Payne in the absence of the Chairman of the task group (Councillor Savage)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Payne would present this item on behalf of Councillor Savage who had chaired the task group but was not able to attend the meeting. 

 

Councillor Payne wished to put on record, his thanks to Councillor Savage and Saira Malin, Democracy Officer, for drafting what he considered to be an excellent report and one which he was pleased to be able to present to the committee.  It was clear to members, residents and businesses that the number of people begging, sleeping and drinking on the streets in Cheltenham had risen over the last year and this was not to the advantage of anyone, including those exhibiting these behaviours.  At the first meeting of the task group, it was evident that street people presented a wide variety and complexity of issues and that there was no single solution.  He noted, however, that not all were vulnerable and in fact a large proportion of the 12 or so individuals on the streets of Cheltenham, were not in fact homeless and were instead begging to fund a drug or alcohol addiction.  In view of the fact that some individuals travelled between Cheltenham and Gloucester and having discussed some of the successes that Gloucester City had achieved as part of Project Solace, the group decided it needed to meet with representatives of the project.  Managed by Gloucester City Council and Gloucestershire Constabulary, and delivered by a team of three, including two seconded Police Officers, the team engaged with those that that took responsibility for their actions and supported individuals to address the root causes of anti-social behaviour, in a co-ordinated way.  Where individuals would not engage and anti-social behaviour persisted, enforcement was taken, but it had been reassuring for the group that this was a last resort, with enforcement action only having been taken against 2 individuals since the projects inception.  The task group were made aware that the council was already considering a business case for joining the Solace partnership and felt that this would provide an effective solution by increasing resources for Cheltenham and ensuring a co-ordinated approach.  On the 11 April 2017, Cabinet agreed that Cheltenham would join the Solace partnership and the task group were in full support of this decision, given the conclusions it had already drawn on the issue.  In closing, Councillor Payne commented that with a better understanding of the issue and as part of Solace, the council were well placed to move forward and tackle the issues in a way that Police action could not, as it was self-defeating to fine someone that was begging on the street, although this would continue to be used as a last resort.  He was pleased to be able to table this report and hoped that members would support the recommendations.  

 

A number of members commended the report, which demonstrated the sensitive and measured approach that the task group had adopted when undertaking this review and voiced their support for Cheltenham having joined the Solace partnership. 

 

In response to a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.

12.

scrutiny topic registration form pdf icon PDF 67 KB

Review the topic registration form (including officer implications) and decide if and how you want to scrutinise the issue

Minutes:

The Democracy Officer introduced the scrutiny topic registration form which had been circulated with the agenda.  The form had been submitted by Councillor Parsons and related to the impact of race meetings on local residents.  She referred members to the officer implications which had been included overleaf and asked that the committee give consideration to these implications when deciding if and how it wished to scrutinise the issue.  Options included:

 

·         Setting up a task group

·         An officer report at a scheduled meeting of the committee

·         A member seminar

·         A one-off meeting

·         No action

 

A member felt that the issues raised by Councillor Parsons were similar to those experienced by residents in other areas during other festivals and events and felt that the review should look at these issues across the town.  Other members disagreed, feeling that scope would then be too wide. 

 

In view of the officer implications which indicated that many of these discussions were already ongoing and which highlighted a resource issue, the committee agreed that a one-off, sub-committee meeting with officers from the council and County Council, as well as representatives from the Racecourse, would be the most appropriate course of action.  The Democracy Officer would contact members with some provisional dates in due course.

13.

Review of scrutiny workplan pdf icon PDF 63 KB

Minutes:

The work plan had been circulated with the agenda. 

 

The Democracy Officer advised that she was still waiting for CBH and the Charlton Kings Flood Action Group to confirm whether they could attend the September or October meeting of the committee.  She noted that she had started to draft the annual report and that this would be approved by the lead members (Councillors Harman, Payne and Walkett).  The committee would be asked to endorse the annual report in September, before it was tabled with Council, to note, in October.

14.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACT 1972 - EXEMPT INFORMATION

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)

 

Minutes:

Upon a vote it was unanimously

 

RESOLVED 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)

15.

approve exempt minutes of the last meeting

20 February 2017

Minutes:

The exempt minutes of the meeting held on the 20 February 2017 had been circulated with the agenda.

 

Upon a vote it was unanimously

 

RESOLVED that the exempt minutes of the meeting held on the 20 February 2017 be agreed and signed as an accurate record.

16.

Date of next meeting

11 September 2017

Minutes:

The next meeting was scheduled for Monday 11 September.