Cheltenham Borough Council
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Agenda and minutes

Venue: Pittville Room - Municipal Offices

Contact: Saira Malin, Democracy Officer 

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies

The Leader, Councillor Steve Jordan

Minutes:

The Leader had given his apologies.

2.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

No interests were declared.

3.

Minutes of the last meeting pdf icon PDF 103 KB

3 June 2019

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 3 June 2019, be agreed and signed as an accurate record.

 

4.

Public and Member questions, calls for actions and petitions

Minutes:

None were received.

5.

Matters referred to committee

Minutes:

No matters had been referred to the committee.

6.

Call in - Improvements to the Household Recycling Centre and changes to bring bank sites pdf icon PDF 71 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chairman, who had made the request for call-in, had done so for three main reasons: he refuted the assertion that there had been meaningful public consultation in terms of the four bring bank sites which had been identified for removal of the CBC bring banks; 32% of those surveyed had supported the removal of the garden waste skip at the household recycling centre, but what of the other 68%, and; the report suggested that carbon emissions would drop as a result of larger vehicles making fewer journeys (to empty bring bank skips) but it appeared no account had been taken of the residents that would have to travel further to access bring banks at other locations.

 

Karen Watson, the interim Client Manager for Environmental Services outlined the rationale for the recommendations in the Cabinet report.  There had been a large increase in resident recycling and the household recycling centre continued to be well used.  Feedback from users of the site suggested that they would like the site to accept a wider range of materials, but for this to be considered, the site would need to be optimised to create more space, whilst managing health and safety and operating costs would need to be reduced to fund the cost of recycling any additional materials.  All existing containers were old and in varying states of disrepair and therefore needed to be replaced.  Larger (new) containers would have greater capacity and therefore need to be emptied less frequently.  In addition to the household recycling centre, the Council also provided 12 bring bank sites across the town and following the public consultation there was support for the removal of some of the less well used recycling banks where residents can access the kerbside recycling service.  Everest Road and the High Street had the lowest usage, Church Piece caused the biggest health and safety issues, as well as reducing the number of car parking spaces in a relatively small car park, and the Hatherley area benefitted from bring bank sites in two local supermarkets, with Asda – Hatherley Lane being the least well used.  These sites also caused more fly-tipping issues.

 

The Cabinet Member Clean and Green Environment had prepared answers to some of the questions that were circulated in advance (Appendix 1) but after reading his response to the first question, the Chairman invited other members of the committee to put any questions they had.  The Cabinet Member and Client Manager gave the following responses:

 

·      The removal of the garden waste skip at the household recycling centre would create a large area on the site which could accommodate skips for the collection of alternative materials.  Over 16,000 people subscribed to the garden waste scheme and further consultation would provide insight into why people continued to use the site when alternatives were available.     

·      There had been no accidents at Church Piece, which was described as a miracle, and ‘near miss’ data was not collated.  But the driver(s) were so concerned by the risks posed  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Unauthorised encampment policy - Gloucestershire Constabulary pdf icon PDF 253 KB

Inspector John Turner (20 mins)

Minutes:

Police Sergeant (PS) Mike Yates attended on behalf of Inspector John Turner who had been named on the agenda. 

 

He would aim to provide the committee with a better understanding of the Police powers when dealing with unauthorised camping, as well as commenting on proposed legislative amendments aimed at improving the effectiveness of enforcement against unauthorised encampments.  

 

Members were referred to Gloucestershire Constabulary’s (GC) ‘Unauthorised Encampments Policy’, as circulated with the agenda.  In summary, he explained, unauthorised camping was a civil offence and not necessarily a Police issue, though they would deal with supporting interested parties (occupiers of the land and landowners), in order to prevent breach of the peace and threats to person or property.  In most instances, the lead authority would be the District Council in respect of District Council owned land and privately owned land or common land where there was no identified owner. 

 

When negotiations or civil remedies had been deemed unsuitable or failed, police would consider becoming involved in bringing about the prompt and lawful removal of unauthorised encampments, including the use of police powers under Section 61 and 62 of the Criminal Justice & Public Order Act 1994.  Section 61 could be applied once one or more of three conditions were met: damage to the land or property on the land; the use of threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour towards the occupier, a member of their family, an employee or an agent for the occupier, or; there are six or more vehicles on the land.  However, other considerations would also include whether action was proportionate and necessary, and resources would be a consideration given the level of resources that would be required were the direction to leave not be heeded.  It was noted that decisions to evict would be made by an Officer not below the rank of Inspector.  If the unauthorised campers had not left by the date and time specified, or, if they were to return to the same site within a three month period, then they would be referred to the Magistrates court where they could be given a fine or sentenced to up to three months in prison.  Section 62 was not as prescriptive on the conditions to be met but stipulated that a suitable alternative location must be available in the same local authority area.

 

In terms of the proposed legislative amendments, at this stage there had been nothing more than a government circular and therefore it wasn’t possible for him to comment on how effective proposed changes might be.  However, regardless of any amendments, there would be a need for any action to be proportionate and to give consideration to resources.  Ultimately, he suggested, any action would simply move the problem from one place to another. 

 

PS Yates gave the following responses to member questions:

 

·      STORM was the name of the incident log system used by the police.

·      Unfortunately he had no recent experience of dealing with unauthorised encampments in the Borough and therefore couldn’t give a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

UBICO annual report and performance pdf icon PDF 144 KB

Gareth Edmundson (MD, Ubico), Karen Watson (Client Officer) and Councillor Coleman (Cabinet Member Clean and Green) (30 mins)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Gareth Edmundson, the MD for Ubico, welcomed the opportunity to present the Ubico Annual Performance Report (2018-19) to the committee.  He explained that he had now been in post for two years and 2018-19 had been another strong year for the organisation, especially in terms of consolidating their position.  He welcomed the realignment of the relationship between Ubico and CBC, as he now saw Karen Watson, the Client Manager and her team regularly at the depot, which demonstrated the strength of the council as a commissioner. 

 

Comprehensive performance information had been circulated with the agenda but key points included:

 

·         8 months of work had resulted in significant improvements to health and safety and Ubico having achieved the International Standard for Health and Safety (ISO45001).

·         A new Fleet Manager was appointed and improved management of fleet and assets would deliver future dividends. 

·         Opportunities for sharing and exchanging vehicles to smooth out any cost volatilities were currently being explored.

·         Ubico would soon be implementing new fleet management software which would underpin operations and were actively investigating how technology could improve the service, including in-cab software.

·         To ensure that the finance team was appropriately resourced for a company of Ubico’s size and turnover, they had recruited a full-time Financial Controller and technician.  This had allowed for improved financial data, monthly reporting, and would enable improved budget setting and forecasting for the future. 

·         The ability to demonstrate value for money was important to UbicoUbico compared favourably to outsourced providers within the market; Ubico remained at 5.8% (corporate overheads), where outsourcing typically resulted in 9% and a profit margin of 3-4%.  Ubico delivered at cost which was why financial planning was so important.

·         Ubico would continue to pursue commercial opportunities and in the coming years intended to present a number of investment opportunities to shareholders in areas including: hire vehicles; commercial waste, and; fleet maintenance.

·         Operationally, Ubico consistently met stretch targets for food waste collections and as such were currently piloting some adjustments.  

·         The seasonal nature of garden waste meant that weight spiked at certain times of the year and an additional vehicle was used to reduce pressure on existing rounds.

·         Adoption of a new ‘People Strategy’ and ‘Code of Conduct’ aimed to align all Ubico staff, where many had been bought together from partner organisations.  Induction information was also currently being redesigned.

 

The Managing Director of Ubico gave the following responses to member questions:

 

·         The figures being reported for missed collections did not include those where collections had to be abandoned for health and safety reasons.

·         As mentioned, historically Ubico did not have sufficient finance team resource and as a consequence some financial risks were not built into the budget.  For example, the partnership sum did not reflect the age and condition of the fleet, and therefore the increasing maintenance costs.  The partnership sum needed to reflect the actual position otherwise Ubico would, in a sense, start the year in deficit. 

·         Authorities had adopted very different approaches to reducing residual waste,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Update on the development of the Gloucestershire Joint Health & Wellbeing strategy pdf icon PDF 110 KB

Richard Gibson (Strategy and Engagement Manager) (20 mins)

Minutes:

Richard Gibson, Strategy and Engagement Manager passed on the apologies of Councillor Harman, as Cabinet Member for Public Health and Communities at Gloucestershire County Council, who had wanted to attend the meeting.  He made clear that it was not he, nor Cheltenham Borough Council (CBC), that were responsible for writing this strategy, but rather the Gloucestershire Health and Wellbeing Board (HWB Board), who had a statutory duty to develop a strategy.  The current strategy for 2012-2032 ‘Fit for the Future’ focussed on five priorities, with action cards for each.  In 2018, Gloucestershire County Council (GCC) commissioned an LGA Peer Challenge and this concluded that the strategy needed to be refreshed.  This was still very much a working progress, though extensive community engagement had been undertaken; resulting in seven proposed priorities (set out at 3.4) and eight principles for ways of working (set out at 3.10).  He noted that Pat Pratley, Chief Executive of CBC, as the district council officer representative on the board had been named as the strategic lead for the ‘Housing’ priority.  The revised draft would be considered by the HWB Board on the 23 July and then would follow a consultation phase before the strategy was tabled for final approval in November 2019. 

 

In response to a member question, the Strategy and Engagement Manager reiterated that the strategy was a HWB Board document and not a GCC document; which aimed to bring together partners to work together to improve health and wellbeing outcomes and reduce inequalities through commissioning. 

 

Members voiced their concerns that the strategy felt unfocussed and risked leading to little or no action to improve health and wellbeing outcomes for local residents.  The Chairman committed to writing to the HWB Board and asking that the revised draft strategy needed to include specific actions with smart outcomes.  The Strategy and Engagement Manager asked that Pat Pratley, Chief Executive be included in any correspondence.   

10.

Review of the council's performance at end of quarter 4 ( April 2018 to March 2019) pdf icon PDF 152 KB

Richard Gibson (Strategy and Engagement Manage) (20 mins)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Richard Gibson, Strategy and Engagement Manager introduced the corporate performance report, reminding members that this data was presented annually, providing the committee with an opportunity to make any comments or observations prior to the report being taken to Cabinet, where any comments would be reported verbally. 

 

In the 2018-19 interim action plan, 90 milestones were identified, of which 63 (70%) had been completed successfully, 19 (21%) were not delivered within the financial year but were on track to be delivered within the revised timescale, and 8 (9%) were not completed by the end of the financial year.  Many of the 8 milestones that had not been completed related to major projects which were very complex, but those that had been delivered or were on target, represented a vast amount of activity.  He noted that these reports would look very different in the future as a result of a new performance management system. 

 

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

 

  • External consultants (Focus) had developed 5 options ranging from £4m-30m but that with Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council reducing the amount of capital funding available until 2021 and 2022 there had been concerns about our ability to raise sufficient funds to deliver the project.  However, the project was continuing and a shopping list was currently being devised with a view to delivering as much redevelopment as possible within what remained of the £1.7m capital still available.  It was suggested that a further update could be scheduled on the work plan.
  • The Cabinet Member Housing explained that in relation to contactless donation points to support homelessness charities, it was determined that although it might produce benefits at the outset, given the cost of installation, this would quickly drop-off and the decision was made to not progress the project.  The Executive Director of People and Change reported that a Project Manager had reviewed this issue and proposed an initiative whereby homelessness charities registered as recipients of the Cheltenham Lottery fund.  The Cabinet Member would be providing an update to Cabinet on this issue. 

 

The Lead members would schedule a further update for a future meeting. 

11.

The Future of Public Convenience Provision pdf icon PDF 291 KB

Mark Sheldon (Director of Projects) (20 mins)

Minutes:

Mark Sheldon, the Director of Corporate Projects, introduced the report which identified a number of options for the future provision of public conveniences in the town; ultimately the aim of which was to provide access to a greater number of well-maintained and more accessible facilities.  Members would be aware that of the new ‘Changing Places’ accessible toilet at Pittville Park, whilst paid for by Gloucestershire County Council, it now fell to Cheltenham Borough Council to cover maintenance costs and this was an additional consideration of the review, with an effort being made to off-set these costs by achieving savings elsewhere.  The review had focussed on four options, with option 3 (community partnership scheme initiative) covering some of the town’s toilet provision being the preferred option to explore further.  Partnership schemes work on the basis whereby participating businesses agree to let members of the public use their facilities during normal opening hours without the need to make a purchase from the business, a strategy that had been adopted in a number of other areas across the country including Gloucester.  He stressed that the reference to closures at 4.3 of the report was premature, but rather this was one option and would only result in a formal recommendation if a successful community partnership scheme could be put in place following a consultation process. Other options for managing toilets could include transferring responsibility to a third party.

 

The Director of Corporate Projects gave the following responses to member questions:

 

·      Commercial opportunities would arise from the ability to use redundant amenities for something else. 

·      Charging for the use of public conveniences, a strategy which had been adopted in many other tourist destinations would be considered, but the partnership scheme was the preferred option. 

·         The option for a Changing Places facility within Regent Arcade was being explored in view of the possibility that the arcade would be open later in the evening as a consequence of the planned cinema complex. 

·         A partnership scheme with local businesses could result in improved access to well-maintained facilities for longer periods of time (pubs and restaurants well into the evening). 

·         Initial discussions had been held with The Cheltenham Trust regarding transfer of all operational liabilities of the Imperial Gardens facilities.  Members commented that this facility, as it stood, fell far below what should be considered as acceptable standards and officers did not disagree. 

·         £500 per annum, per business, would be offered to incentivise participation in the Cheltenham scheme, though it was possible that some would participate for free.  Initial contact with businesses had not yet commenced. 

 

The proposal for retention of the Sandford Park facilities was welcomed, as was the recognition that the facilities were no longer fit for purpose and in need of refurbishment. 

 

The Director of Corporate Projects and Cabinet Member Clean and Green Environment thanked the committee for their feedback.  Members were comfortable with option 3, welcomed the opportunity to share their thoughts at this stage and looked forward to considering further recommendations on this issue  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.

12.

Cabinet Briefing pdf icon PDF 50 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

Minutes:

The Leader had given his apologies and as such, a written briefing had been circulated with the agenda.  Members were asked to contact him directly with any comments or queries. 

13.

Updates from scrutiny task groups

Minutes:

There were none. 

14.

Review of scrutiny workplan pdf icon PDF 70 KB

Minutes:

The scrutiny work plan had been circulated with the agenda and would be updated to reflect the matters arising from this meeting, namely:

 

·         Consideration of the Cabinet report on the Household Recycling Centrfe would be scheduled for a future meeting.

·         Consideration of the draft Gloucestershire Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy would be scheduled for a future meeting.

·         Consideration of the Cabinet report on the future of public conveniences would be scheduled for a future meeting. 

 

The Chairman also noted that as per the request of the committee, three additional 2020 meeting dates had been identified (30 March, 26 May and 27 July) and these would be marked as ‘if required’.

 

A member suggested that the meeting currently scheduled for the 20 April 2020 would likely prove inconvenient for any members that were campaigning in advance of the borough elections.  The Lead members would consider this at the next briefing.  

15.

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)

 

16.

Exempt Minutes

To approve the exempt minutes of the meeting held on 3 June 2019

Minutes:

The exempt minutes of the meeting held on the 3 June had been circulated with the agenda. 

 

Upon a vote it was unanimously

 

RESOLVED that the exempt minutes of the meeting held on the 3 June be agreed and signed as an accurate record. 

17.

Date of next meeting

19 August 2019 (additonal date)

 

Additional 2020 dates:

Monday 30 March 2020

Tuesday 26 May 2020

Monday 27 July 2020

Minutes:

The next meeting was scheduled for Monday 19 August.