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 workplan
The Leader commented that the Government had now confirmed that it would not be progressing with any new Devolution deals at the current time. This was not surprising as civil servants working on it had been transferred to work on Brexit. He assured members that there was continuing discussion on matters raised in the proposed devolution package and how they could be progressed locally. The committee has asked for an update on Gloucestershire Airport. The Leader reminded members that the Airport was jointly owned by Cheltenham and Gloucester City Council but was located in Tewkesbury Borough. Just over a year ago, having acknowledged that the Board required an increased skill set, a new Chair, and Vice-Chair were appointed, with extensive knowledge of Airports and Property, respectively and the number of Directors appointed by the Council(s) reduced from three to two. Over the last year there had been a particular focus on project management and ensuring that best value could be achieved. He made the committee aware that an issue had arisen recently in relation to pensions. The airport is part of the Local Government Pension Scheme which is managed by Gloucestershire County Council who allocate costs. As a business, the company is now deemed higher risk than councils and allocated higher costs which compounds the existing deficit. £550,000 of Growth Deal funding had enabled the Airport to create a new access road, which had in turn allowed for a new hangar development, though this was yet to be completed. Officers were, at present, giving consideration to whether the Council(s) should directly invest in hangar development and get a return on any such investment, as well as the ground rent. The Shareholders Forum were scheduled to meet again in March 2017.
In response to member questions, the Leader gave the following responses:
- It was still hoped that the Borough Council would be able to take more direct responsibility for its highways as part of a local deal. In particular the High Street needed to be improved and discussions were ongoing about a collective response to this, which included the BID.
- A full consultation was required to cease the late night levy, as had been required to implement it and it was this to which the Council item for the 23 February related.
The Cabinet Member Clean and Green Environment hoped that members were aware of the decision that had been taken in December, for the procurement of vehicles. It had also been decided that Councillors Babbage, Payne and Britter, would form part of the cabinet member working groups for the waste and recycling service redesign and route optimisation project; which represented a good spread of members from across the Borough.
The Cabinet Member took the opportunity to announce that the Council had secured funding for two ‘changing places’ accessible toilets. The £136k of funding had been awarded by the GCC ‘disabled people and young children special breaks’ capital grant and this included £12k of staff costs. This was great news for the town and those that needed facilities such as this. One would be located at the Pittville play area and another in the town centre. He was also aware that the Trust had made a successful bid to install a ‘changing places’ accessible toilet at Leisure@ which would mean the town would have three facilities. The next steps would include engaging with users of accessible toilets to ensure that any new facilities met a range of needs and where the town centre toilet should be located. He did stress that an element of creative thinking would be required in order to identify a way of meeting the £16k of ongoing revenue cost for maintenance.
The Chairman congratulated the Cabinet Member on the successful bid, which would be a welcome addition to the town. He hoped that the good news would be communicated to representatives of St. Vincent’s and St. Georges, and to the wider community.