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 

No. Item


The Chairman advised that he had asked the Corporate Governance, Risk and Compliance Officer to produce a briefing on the disruption to water supply which had affected approximately 7000 properties in the town including GCHQ, 12 schools, doctors surgeries and residential nursing homes.  This briefing (Appendix 1) had been circulated to members at the start of the meeting. 


The Corporate Governance, Risk and Compliance Officer explained that he had had a further conversation with Severn Trent at 5pm, at which point they had advised that the supply to the vast majority of properties would be reinstated by 7pm, with the remainder expected to be completed by 1am.  He noted that this would be a temporary fix as engineering was required at a location alongside the motorway and this would take more work.  He felt that the Council procedures had been effective and took the opportunity to apologise for any past or future test messages, but stressed the importance of this testing in ensuring that processes remained relevant and contact information was up to date.   


The following responses were given to member questions:


·         All affected schools and doctors surgeries were due to reopen as usual tomorrow.

·         Communication from Severn Trent had been very good after the council had been informed of the issue but the fact that it was not reported to them by Severn Trent was a cause for concern and would be revisited once the issue had been fully resolved.  Had Severn Trent been in contact with the council earlier, then initial communications by the council could have been better.  DCLG had been in attendance at the Tactical Command Group meetings and commented that this was unacceptable.  It was, unfortunately, his experience that utility companies tended to be slow to report issues to the council.

·         The text alert that was received ‘from the Comms Team’ was not clear as to which Comms Team, CBC or GCC and there was a suggestion that it would be helpful to include this in future alerts.


Members, including the Cabinet Member for Corporate Services, commended officers for their handling of communications on behalf of the council. 




No apologies had been received.  Councillor Holliday has advised that she would be late and ultimately did not attend.   


Declarations of Interest


No interests were declared.


Minutes of the last meeting pdf icon PDF 93 KB

30 August 2017 (sub-committee meeting)

11 September 2017

Additional documents:


The minutes of the last meeting and those of a sub-committee had been circulated with the agenda.


Upon a vote it was unanimously


RESOLVED that the minutes of the sub-committee meeting held on the 30 August 2017 and the minutes of the committee meeting held on the 11 September 2017, be agreed and signed as an accurate record.


Public and Member questions, calls for actions and petitions


None had been received.


Matters referred to committee


No matters had been referred to the committee.


Feedback from other scrutiny meetings attended pdf icon PDF 45 KB

Gloucestershire Health and Care O&S Committee (12 September) – written update from Councillor Harvey


Gloucestershire Economic Growth O&S Committee (19 October) – update from Councillor Paul McCloskey (to follow)


Gloucestershire Scrutiny Group (20 October) – verbal update from Councillor Harman


Additional documents:


There had been no meetings of the Police and Crime Panel since the last meeting of this committee and the meeting of the Gloucestershire Scrutiny Group (20 October) had been cancelled.  


A written update on the 12 September meeting of the Health and Care Scrutiny Committee (H&CSC) had been circulated with the agenda.  A member queried why the briefing from Councillor Harvey did not include any reference to A&E and reiterated concerns he had raised at a recent council meeting regarding the current chair of O&S having taken a position as Cabinet Member at the county council.  This was particularly relative to the topic of A&E as Councillor Harman was the Executive member of the Health and Wellbeing Board.  This was an important issue for Cheltenham and he hoped that representatives were raising this issue, which appeared to be progressing with no suggestion of consultation.  Having been a member of the H&CSC at the time when Cheltenham A&E was downgraded from a 24hr service, the committee had, in his view, dismissed the issue as a Cheltenham issue and almost, he felt, treated him with contempt for having raised it.  The Chairman reassured members that A&E had not been discussed at the 12 September meeting, which has instead focussed on the Forest of Dean and stressed that the H&CSC held the statutory role to scrutinise Health.  The Chairman was aware that the Leader was going to be raising this issue as part of the Cabinet Briefing and suggested that this discussion could continue under that item.


A written update on the 19 October meeting of the Gloucestershire Economic Growth Scrutiny Committee had been circulated separately to the agenda.  Members commended the update that had been produced by Councillor McCloskey and a member who has also attended the Tewkesbury Borough presentation commented that Mike Dawson, the Chief Executive, had been particularly vocal about his support for modular houses, which as well as being of fantastic quality, also allowed for entire estates to be erected over the period of a weekend. 


Cabinet Briefing pdf icon PDF 51 KB

A written 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


The Chairman thanked the Leader for having produced a written briefing, which had been circulated with the agenda.


Further to the briefing on Devolution, the Leader updated that he would be attending a meeting with GCC the following day to discuss a local devolution deal.  He suggested that public realm works to the High Street could be used as a test case for any such deal.


Following on from the discussion on A&E, he confirmed that Cabinet had planned to raise this very issue at their next meeting (7 November) at which point it was likely they would have asked O&S to decide how they felt this issue should be taken forward.  He felt that the motion debate at Council had been useful in as much as it had resulted in an agreed position; with a letter having been sent calling on the Chair of the Trust to confirm that any proposals in relation to the future of Cheltenham’s A&E would be discussed with the council and shared with the people of Cheltenham, but now members needed to decide how Cheltenham could be best represented as part of future discussions.       


The Leader referred members to the briefing note on deprivation at the back of their agenda packs and suggested that the committee might want to consider how it could get a better understanding of the impact of this issue.   


The Leader gave the following responses to member questions:


·         All districts were consulted on what kind of local devolution deal they would be interested in and Cheltenham responded by asking for maximum involvement.  However, other districts had different views.  As stated in the written briefing, there had been no formal response to these proposals since May 2017, tomorrow represented the first opportunity to discuss the matter further.  Informally, there had been a suggestion that the High Street could be used as a test case, but there were some finer details to resolve before this could be taken forward.

·         The Leader did not feel that a devolution deal (for Gloucestershire) from central government was now likely.  However, Gloucestershire had expressed an interest in the 100% Business rate Retention pilot since Government had agreed to the continuation of the ‘no detriment clause’ which guaranteed that selected areas would not be worse off as a result of having participated in the pilot.  If accepted as a pilot, Council approval would be required.  The local devolution deal was separate.  

·         He would feedback the outcome of the 2050 discussions as part of future Cabinet Briefings. 

·         His suggestion was that the Trust should be invited to present their plans to the committee, allowing members to ask questions.

·         He confirmed that Alex Chalk, MP, had been included in communications about A&E.


A member felt that the committee should establish a task group to look at the issue of deprivation.  A number of organisations had done a lot of work and spent a lot of money over the last 20 years and it was possible  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


CBH pdf icon PDF 221 KB

Peter Hatch, Executive Director of Property and Communities (CBH) and Caroline Walker, Head of Community Services (CBH)


Peter Hatch, the Executive Director of Property and Communities and Caroline Walker, Head of Community Services, from Cheltenham Borough Homes introduced themselves to the committee.  They talked through a PowerPoint presentation (Appendix 3) and key points included:


·         The organisation had recently adopted three new aims: Great Homes; Stronger Communities and; Inspired People and under each of these aims were delivery targets. 

·         CBH managed 4,460 and 600 leasehold homes and had handed over 3 new council owned homes this year alone, with another 6 planned before March 2018.

·         With an annual rent and service charge income of nearly £20m and current arrears of only 1.34% (£259k), CBH were performing well in spite of the challenges being posed by welfare reforms. 

·         Satisfaction levels across a number of areas were high.

·         On average there were only 35 properties at any one time that were empty and awaiting new tenants.  Most homes were re-let within 17 days.

·         CBH worked with the Police, CBC and were looking forward to working with Project Solace in the near future, to work to stop ASB, whilst supporting people to stay in their homes.  As of the end of September there were 458 live ASB cases, though this included a broad range of issues and so far this year 98% of closed cases have been resolved by the safer estates team, with 100% of customers being satisfied with the outcome. 

·         To date in 2017, legal action had been taken in 30 cases, including possession, injunctions and tenancy demotion.

·         CBH owned 16 Shared Ownership properties and oversaw 27 CBC Shared Ownership and sheltered properties, as well as 500 leaseholders. 

·         There had been 28 RTB sales in 2016/17.

·         Shared ownership was a relatively new undertaking for CBH and their processes were evolving, which included the development of a Shared Ownership Handbook.  61% of those in leasehold and shared ownership properties were satisfied with the services provided by CBH.  The sector average was 64%

·         Universal Credit would pose a significant challenge to CBH when roll –out was completed.  Their experience with the small number of customers for whom it had already been rolled out was that they required a high level of support and CBH would not have the resources to offer this same level of support to everyone that would ultimately be affected.

·         CBH had historically and continued to find it difficult to recruit staff to their technical and compliance teams.

·         Tight restrictions on the use of RTB receipts (including not being able to buy ex-authority properties) and a shortage of suitable land in Cheltenham posed a significant challenge to CBH and meant that they had to buy on the open market, which did not necessarily represent good value for money when compared to building new homes. 

·         The emerging issue of drugs, vulnerability and Dangerous Drug Networks paired with the resource issues being faced by the Police, did make aligning priorities and addressing issues quite challenging at times.


The following responses were given to member questions:


·         Dangerous Drug Networks were an  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.


UBICO pdf icon PDF 281 KB

Gareth Edmundson (Managing Director – Ubico) and Scott Williams (Client Officer – Joint Waste)


Gareth Edmundson, Managing Director of Ubico and Scott Williams, Client Officer from the Joint Waste Team, talked through a PowerPoint presentation (Appendix 4) and the key points included:


·      The old waste and recycling service had been in place since 2011 and with the collection vehicles at the end of life and waste and recycling rounds inefficient due to additional properties, changes were required.

·      An 18 month project (to implementation) was undertaken and 2 public consultations undertaken in 2016 helped to identify the improvements.

·      Although collection frequencies had stayed the same, the new service launched on the 16 October included: an expansion of the recycling materials collected at the kerbside; collection days changing for the majority of residents; new refuse vehicles and; new reusable cardboard sacks.

·      The service would take 6-8 weeks to bed-in but already a large proportion of residents had shown to be sorting their recycling appropriately.

·       Additional benefits of the new scheme would include: built in resilience for breakdowns and less time waiting for missed collections, as well as less environmental impact as a result of reduced mileage. 

·      At present, Ubico had seven shareholding authorities, over 600 employees, they maintained and operated over 350 vehicles and projected turnover for 2017/18 was circa £30m.

·      Ubico delivered a number of services for its clients which included grounds maintenance, trade waste and recycling, street cleaning and pest control amongst many others. 

·      A new management structure has resulted in there being two distinct aspects to the business: operational and commercial.

·      2017/18 milestones included, but were not limited to: implementing new terms and conditions, nurse led absence and Employee Assistance Program and recommissioning support services.

·       After a period of growth it was felt that the existing corporate values required updating whilst ensuring that they were meaningful and helping staff across the partnerships feel part of Ubico.    This would help embed the principles of: being safe; working together; improving communications and customer service and; renewing commitment to honesty and respect.

·      The 2017/18 business plan commits Ubico to developing a strategy to achieve £1m turnover from external income thus resulting in greater returns to shareholders and a number of areas would be explored.


The following responses were given to member questions:


·      Traditionally, the rebalancing of rounds was done every 7 years (based on vehicle renewal) and with the introduction of zoning this would be much easier in future.  In actual fact some contingency had already been built in to accommodate for new developments. 

·      The new vehicles included cameras as well as trackers. As part of Gloucestershire wide Health & Safety forum, Ubico is supporting a scheme led by Biffa on reporting dangerous drivers, which Gareth had witnessed first-hand having accompanied some crews during their collections.

·      During the first 6-8 weeks missed bins would not be reported until 3pm and collections made the next day but after this initial period had passed, supervisors would be able to simply radio the vehicle and the collection made the same day as far as possible.

·      The new vehicles all  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.


PUBLICA pdf icon PDF 161 KB

David Neudegg (Managing Director – Publica)


David Neudegg, the Managing Director of Publica explained that he has been asked to attend the meeting to address two key points; any implications arising from the fact that CBC commissioned less services from Publica and future scrutiny arrangemens.  David talked through a PowerPoint presentation (Appendix 5) which covered the following key points:


·         Publica would launch on the 1 November 2017.

·         The company had 4 ambitions; to be a great provider: to be a great place to work; to be a growing and improving company and; to support our member councils deliver their ambitions.

·         Service monitoring included: an Annual Service Plan which would be agreed with each Council in February/march and would set out service standards and any specific pieces of work; quarterly meetings with the Council’s service commissioner and relevant portfolio holder; quarterly Client Officer Group meetings of Lead Commissioners and Publica to overall performance and strategic issues and; reports of the Client Officer Group would also be considered by the Member Liaison Group which would have representatives from each council. 

·         The formation of a Member Liaison Group had arisen from a suggestion by members at CBC as a means for back benchers to have an opportunity for informal involvement.  The suggestion was that there would be 2-3 representatives from each council and the Terms of Reference for this group was being developed at the moment.

·         Member Councils had a number of ‘Reserved Powers’ and these Reserved Powers required 75% approval by Member Councils.  A procedure had been established with the aim of ensuring that any major decisions were reached unanimously. 

·         The Reserved Powers were exercised on behalf of each council by the Leader. 

·         It would be for each council to establish procedures to ensure transparency and scrutiny. 

·         The original structure of three companies had changed to just one, which would be simpler, cheaper and provided improved trading opportunities.  All services had been moved to this company. 

·         CBC had equal voting rights on all reserved matters regardless of the value of business it had in the company. 

·         CBC would have the right, in the future and if it wished to, add services without requiring agreement from the other partners.



David Neudegg provided the following responses to member questions:


·         Clients such as CBH, Ubico and the Trust would be treated the same as partner councils, simply without voting rights.  Publica would be happy to attend Board meetings of any client, as required.

·         The Annual Service Plan would match the Corporate Strategy and as such it was suggested that there would be merit in it being taken to O&S ahead of it being agreed, as was the case with the Corporate Strategy.  However, this would be for each council to decide.

·         Perhaps rather than having representatives from the Member Liaison Group attend O&S meetings to provide feedback it would be more sensible to circulate the minutes of those meetings.

·         The Governance arrangements that had been put in place for Publica were based on those for Ubico, though  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.


Review of scrutiny workplan pdf icon PDF 63 KB


The work plan had been circulated with the agenda. 


Members were asked to review the items scheduled for consideration at the next meeting (27 November) given that two additional items had been added:


·         Public realm planting and options for the Arle Nursery asset

·         Gloucestershire Airport update


The committee agreed that the Solace and Cemetery and Crematorium items should be briefing notes given the limited progress that would be reported in November.  This resulted in a far more manageable agenda for the November meeting. 


There were no other changes to the work plan.



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(s) 3 and 7, 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)


Paragraph 7; Information relating to any action taken or to be taken in connection with

the prevention, investigation or prosecution of crime.



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(s) 3 and 7, 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)


Paragraph 7; Information relating to any action taken or to be taken in connection with the prevention, investigation or prosecution of crime.



EXEMPT Minutes

30 August 2017 (sub-committee meeting)


The exempt minutes of the sub-committee had been circulated with the agenda.


Upon a vote, by those that had attended the sub-committee meeting, it was unanimously


RESOLVED that the exempt minutes of the sub-committee meeting held on the 30 August 2017, be agreed and signed as an accurate record.


Date of next meeting

27 November 2017


The next meeting was scheduled for the 27 November 2017.