Cheltenham Borough Council
Cheltenham Borough Council

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Agenda item

Member Questions

These must be received no later than 12 noon on Tuesday 9 October 2018.

Minutes:

1.

Question from Councillor Louis Savage to the Leader, Councillor Steve Jordan

 

Can he confirm that Cheltenham Borough Council uses the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism?

 

Response from Cabinet Member

 

Cheltenham Borough Council has robust anti-discrimination policies including tackling racism. We work with the Cheltenham Hebrew Congregation and Gloucestershire Liberal Jewish Community to hold an annual act of remembrance on national Holocaust Memorial Day at the Council Offices and provide small grants to support this.  We have good relationships with the community in Cheltenham. CBC is also represented on the county Hate Crime and Incident Strategic Group and recently held staff training on hate crime.  To my knowledge the definition of antisemitism has never been an issue but if it was we would use the definition referred to.   

 

In a supplementary question Councillor Savage queried whether there was any merit in adopting this in to the Council’s policy in order to send out as strong a message as possible to the Jewish community.

 

The Cabinet Member stated that he would be happy to take this away and put all the necessary steps in place.

2.

Question from Councillor Louis Savage to the Cabinet Member Development and Safety, Councillor Andrew McKinlay

 

Engine-idling is a major contributor to air pollution. Buses, delivery vehicles and private cars can frequently be observed running engines whilst stationary in Cheltenham town centre. 

Can he explain the steps which CBC has taken to address this issue?

What enforcement powers, if any, are available to the council? 

 

 

Response from Cabinet Member

 

Engine idling is a contributor to air pollution.  It is important to recognise the difference between vehicles stopped in traffic and stationary vehicles with the engine running (true “idling”).  Buses from the Stagecoach fleet are fitted with monitoring devices that record fuel consumption, and drivers are encouraged to stop engines when stationary, if they do not, then the engines automatically cut out after a fixed period.  It is also important to note that Stagecoach buses often sound like the engines are running, when actually the noise is from an air conditioning fan.  Other bus companies do not operate such a system, and also operate (generally) older vehicles.  The Public Protection team are currently considering options for further enforcement against idling vehicles as a specific operation or in connection with particular events.

 

Enforcement powers are available in: The Road Traffic (Vehicle Emissions) (Fixed Penalty) (England) Regulations 2002.  Powers are only available on application to Secretary of State and only applicable in an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA).  Currently the whole of Cheltenham is an AQMA, however monitoring of pollution levels over the last few years have indicated that most of the Borough meets legal limits for air pollution and the whole-borough AQMA is inappropriate. The Public Protection team is working towards reducing the AQMA to a much smaller area, to allow us to concentrate efforts on dealing with the most affected area.  The Regulations specify two offences, one is “Stationary idling”, which carries a Fixed Penalty Notice of £20, and the other is an “Emissions Offence” with a Fixed Penalty Notice of £60.  The FPN fee for the idling offence is so low it is barely economic to try and enforce it.  The emissions offence requires vehicles to be stopped on the highway (requiring the help of the Police), tested using specialist equipment that either needs to be bought or hired in, which again has cost recovery implications.

 

In a supplementary question Councillor Savage queried whether the Council had any scope to change the fixed penalties for idling and felt it key the Council work with local partners having observed a police car parked with its engine on for over 30 minutes.

 

The Cabinet member acknowledged that engine idling was the single biggest cause of pollution, however, it is not within the council’s gift to change the penalties. He also acknowledged the importance in working with local partners to meet the Councils objectives.

3.

Question from Councillor Dilys Barrell to Cabinet Member, Healthy Lifestyles Councillor Flo Clucas

 

Can the Cabinet Member please outline any information that she has in relation to the numbers of young people who are self-harming in Cheltenham, what contributory factors there are, and how the problem might be addressed?

 

Response from Cabinet Member

 

The council has recently received a children’s needs assessment that has been pulled together by officers at Gloucestershire County Council’s Strategic Needs Assessment Team. Data from the needs assessment will be shared at a seminar on Weds 7th November to which all elected members have been invited.

 

In terms of the statistics on self-harm the rates of admission for self-harm in Under 18s in Cheltenham (150.6 per 10,000) was above the Gloucestershire rate of 141.5 per 10,000. The chart below shows several wards but particularly St Mark’s had significantly higher rates than both the Cheltenham and Gloucestershire rates in the same period.

 

Admissions for self-harm in Cheltenham were predominantly for children aged 10-19, following the Gloucestershire trend, with slightly higher numbers recorded in the 15-19 age group compared to the 10-14 age group. Whilst the numbers of under 18 admissions for self-harm in Gloucestershire have reduced by 46.9% over the period 2013/14 to 2017/18, in Cheltenham however the number has increased by 51.7%.

 

However, when looking at the number of Under 18 admissions by deprivation quintile, Cheltenham does not follow the national trend of self harm increasing with deprivation levels. The data shows Quintile 5 (the areas with lowest deprivation) had the highest number of Under 18 admissions in Cheltenham over the 5 years 2013/14 to 2017/18. However a much higher proportion of children in Cheltenham live in this quintile than in many areas of the county.

 

In a supplementary question, Councillor Barrell requested that the Cabinet consider the contributory figures at the seminar on 7th November.

 

In response, the Cabinet Member advised that following the seminar they were commencing a year of action during which a number of measures were being taken to assist schools and parents in reducing the vulnerability of young people. The Mayor confirmed that he would be happy for Councillor Barrell to assist in the organisation of the year of events.

4.

Question from Councillor Diggory Seacome to Cabinet Member, Development and Safety, Councillor Andrew McKinlay

 

Can Andrew McKinlay please tell me if there is any update on my suggestion (which he agreed was being considered) to alter the entrance to Post Office Lane so that traffic coming from the Boots side could escape down it, thus bringing the benefit of deliveries being made possible to residents in that stretch of the road.

 

Response from Cabinet Member

 

The traffic flow along Post Office Lane was reversed as part of the phase 4 trial such that traffic can legally enter from the North but not South. This allows traffic either delivering or inadvertently heading towards the bus gate to legally avoid the enforcement camera.  In addition, GCC are putting up signs to clearly indicate that loading and unloading should be done in designated bays only and that the lane should not be blocked.  The BID are also speaking to the local businesses to explain the importance of communicating the loading/unloading information to their suppliers.  GCC are also investigating a long term solution which will put a no-stopping traffic regulation order on Post Office Lane.

 

In a supplementary question Councillor Seacome asked for a timeframe for this.

 

The Cabinet Member acknowledged that there was not an ideal solution for Post Office Lane. He advised that phase 3 of the transport plan to make Clarence Parade/ Clarence Street 2 way was not yet complete although this had been approved by the TRO committee so could be undertaken without doing trial works for phase 4. He reported that traders had expressed concern in terms of access for deliveries and he acknowledged that this was a problem. He advised that the current consultation on the TRO ran until December and a TRO committee report would be submitted in February.

5.

Question from Councillor Baker to Cabinet Member Clean and Green Environment, Councillor Chris Coleman

 

Can I ask the Cabinet Member what progress has been made in stopping the use of single use plastic by this Council and its associated organisations e.g. Leisure@?

 

Response from Cabinet Member

 

The Council recognises its role as leader in respect of this issue and that there is a huge opportunity for the authority to influence change, both directly through its own procurement processes and indirectly through its relationship with partner organisations. We appreciate the urgency of this issue particularly in light of the scale of the problem highlighted by Blue Planet and the ‘Drowning in Plastic’ programmes on the BBC.

 

At the Council meeting on 26 March, Members were advised that since December 2017, the officers began to purchase wooden stirrers instead of

plastic stirrers and to purchase paper cups rather than the Polyethylene PE

coated cups for the member’s room.

 

Plastic water cups are only made available at the water machines in the

committee suite which are collected for recycling. Elsewhere throughout the

building staff are expected to use their own drinking receptacles.

 

The general use of the vending machine is low and officers are currently in

dialogue with the supplier to explore options for the machine including alternatives

to the use of plastic cups.

 

Since March, the former vending machine in the Municipal Offices which dispensed drinks in plastic cups has been replaced with a machine which dispenses paper cups which are compostable. The new machine also enables users to dispense drinks into their own cups.

 

We are still using up the stock of plastic cups used for the water machine and members vending machine, and plastic stirrers, but should soon be moving on to using recyclable and biodegradable products.

 

Both Officers and Members are continuing to encourage our partner

organisations to choose alternatives to plastics where it is practical to do so.  UBICO and the Trust have been asked to provide an update and this will be forwarded to members.

 

In response, Mr Baker thanked the Cabinet Member and felt satisfied that good progress was being made.  He did, however, feel that there was a bigger issue at the Lido and Leisure@ and hoped a response would be received shortly from them. He advised that Cheltenham now has a plastic free campaign and felt it may be beneficial for Karen Watson to get involved in the operation. 

6.

Question from Councillor Baker to Cabinet Member Clean and Green Environment, Councillor Chris Coleman

 

I have been delighted to see how many of our local retailers have dropped the use of single use plastics such as plastic straws and cutlery but many continue to use single use plastic in large quantities. Could we consider the introduction of an award to recognise retailers who have stopped using single use plastics perhaps by issuing a window sticker and having a roll of honour on our website ?

 

Response from Cabinet Member 

 

The Government’s new waste and resources strategy is due to be published this autumn and it is expected to set out significant changes for waste and recycling.   The requirements of the new strategy are expected to build on the EU circular economy commitments and shape how communities and local authorities approach reduction, re-use and recycling. 

 

Any suggestions for reduction, re-use and recycling can be reviewed as part of the new waste and resources strategy and taken forward where possible. The suggestion of an award will be considered and if members have any other suggestions relating to waste and recycling or street cleansing initiatives please forward them to Karen Watson, Karen.watson@cheltenham.gov.uk.

 

7.

Question from Councillor Baker to Cabinet Member Clean and Green Environment, Councillor Chris Coleman

 

Can we have an update on the success of our recent kerbside recycling initiatives?

 

Response from Cabinet Member

 

The enhanced recycling service was introduced in October 2017 and was so successful that additional capacity was required to collect the increased recycling presented at kerbside. 

 

In addition to glass, paper and tins, householders are now able to present more plastics at kerbside - plastic pots, tubs and trays, as well as black plastic, can now be put into the recycling boxes. Householders are also able to present small electrical items, batteries, textiles and shoes and more cardboard. 

 

Total Household Waste Recycled, Composted, AD & Reused is measured by a national performance indicator, NI 192, and this measure demonstrates that Cheltenham’s household recycling rate has increased from 48.39% in March 2018 to 52.72% a year as at August 2018.

 

8.

Question from Councillor Martin Horwood to the Cabinet Member Development and Safety, Councillor Andrew McKinlay

 

Does the Cabinet Member reject the county council’s changed proposal for the site of a new Leckhampton secondary school which would encroach on the Local Green Space in the draft Cheltenham Local Plan and potentially add significantly to local traffic congestion by allowing both the new school and the housing it was going to replace?

 

Response from Cabinet Member

 

On 20th September 2018 we were notified of the County Council’s intention to prepare a planning application in an area proposed by the Cheltenham Plan as Local Green Space. In this notification a request was made to change the Cheltenham Plan designation of Local Green Space and allocate land to accommodate a secondary school.

 

We had a detailed debate at council on 11 December 2017 regarding the location of land to accommodate a new school and designation of Local Green Space. Having carefully considered the implications of changing the plan to accommodate the request made by Gloucestershire County Council, I am of the view that the Cheltenham Plan, as consulted upon earlier this year, remains sound and that development should remain to be focussed in the allocation already established by Cheltenham Plan policy MD5.

 

In response, Councillor Horwood queried whether the Cabinet shared his sentiment that the County Councils’ behaviour showed contempt for the local plan and Cheltenham Borough Council? He was extremely alarmed at the County Council’s behaviour to move the school to an area previously allocated for Green Space in the Cheltenham local plan at the eleventh hour.

 

The Cabinet Member agreed that the County Council’s behaviour had been unacceptable, particularly given the fact that the senior education officer at GCC had been in attendance when the matter had been debated at Council on 11th December 2017. He stated that they would be defending the local plan which had been submitted to the inspectorate. 

 

9.

Question from Councillor Martin Horwood to the Cabinet Member Development and Safety, Councillor Andrew McKinlay

 

Will the council defend the boundary of the proposed Local Green Space in Leckhampton in the draft Cheltenham Local Plan now that the draft plan has been submitted to the Inspectorate?

 

 

Response from Cabinet Member

 

The Cheltenham Plan has moved to submission.  We will be defending the policies of the Plan as agreed by Council on 11th December 2017.

10.

Question from Councillor Martin Horwood to the Cabinet Member Development and Safety, Councillor Andrew McKinlay

 

Was the county council consulted on the boundary of the Local Green Space before the draft Cheltenham Local Plan was submitted and, if so, over what period?

 

Response from Cabinet Member

 

Gloucestershire County Council is a statutory consultee and as such was consulted on the Cheltenham Plan as a whole, this included Local Green Space.  However, we worked very closely with the education and property teams in the lead up to the consideration of the Plan, including representation by the Head of Education at the council meeting on 11th December 2017.

 

A representation was formally submitted to the Pre Submission consultation of the Cheltenham Plan on 23rd March 2018 by Gloucestershire county Council which states “I am writing to reconfirm that the most appropriate location for the new secondary school is using a combination of GCC land at Farm Lane, Leckhampton together with part of the land south of the Shurdington Road, Leckhampton. I am therefore writing in support of your Plan Pre- Submission that part of location MD5 be identified specifically to include provision for a secondary school site.”

11.

Question from Councillor Martin Horwood to the Cabinet Member Development and Safety, Councillor Andrew McKinlay

 

When did the county council inform this council of its intention to change the proposed location of the new Leckhampton secondary school and when did they allow this to be made public?

 

 

Response from Cabinet Member

 

The Council received formal notification in a letter received 20th September 2018.

12.

Question from Councillor Martin Horwood to the Cabinet Member Development and Safety, Councillor Steve Jordan

 

When did the county council confirm to this council that it had reserved to itself the right to give the new Leckhampton secondary school planning permission and is this open to legal challenge?

 

Response from Cabinet Member

 

Recognising the sensitivities of the site at Leckhampton, Cheltenham officers engaged with Gloucestershire County Council officers on whether the planning application could be delegated to the Planning Committee of Cheltenham Borough Council.  Positive engagement on this issue took place and verbal agreement reached with the Head of Education that this could be actioned.

 

We became aware of the change in position of the County Council at the end of April 2018.

 

Applications for school provision are classed as a Regulation 3 application as defined by the Town and Country Planning Regulations.  For such applications the County Council is deemed to be the Local Planning Authority.  The planning application will be managed by the development Management team of the County Council.

13.

Question from Councillor Stephen Cooke to the Cabinet Member Clean and Green Environment, Councillor Chris Coleman

 

Under the new green box recycling scheme, Cheltenham Borough residents spend time sorting out their recycling into separate categories and quite reasonably seek reassurance that this effort is worthwhile. What proportion of plastic put in to recycling bins is actually sent for recycling?

 

Response from Cabinet Member

 

All plastics presented for collection at the kerbside are recycled.

 

As part of the continued promotion of recycling, I have asked officers to make more information available on the website to promote what happens to all the materials we recycle. From next week, food crews will be stickering green wheeled refuse bins to remind householders to present any food waste they generate.

 

In a supplementary question Councillor Cooke cited a Local Government Association report which stated only one third of plastic was being recycled. He queried what audit trail there was to satisfy the Council that the recycling was being done?

 

The Cabinet Member acknowledged that the scheme could be confusing for residents, however, he felt confident in the contractual arrangements with the joint waste team and that the necessary recycling was taking place.

14.

Question from Councillor Stephen Cooke to the Cabinet Member Clean and Green Environment, Councillor Chris Coleman

 

When residents have problems with collection of their waste or recycling bins they are advised to contact the council cleansing department at an ‘@cheltenham.gov’ email address who liaise with Ubico to arrange or reschedule collection.

As Ubico is a related but separate organisation from CBC, will the Council review the contact mechanism to ensure clear and direct lines of communication and responsibility exist between residents and Ubico?

 

Response from

 

Customer queries are dealt with by the Council’s customer services’ team, including those relating to waste, recycling, grounds maintenance and street cleansing.  UBICO staff deal directly with householders where issues are not straight forward.   The Council, in conjunction with UBICO, is reviewing the need for a technological solution to improve communication with householders, the Council and UBICO.

 

In a supplementary question Councillor Cooke noted that as residents pay for bins to be emptied via their council tax would the Council consider financially compensating them for late collections which could incentivise Ubico ?

The Cabinet Member advised that following the service redesign a first class service was now being offered to residents and a positive recycling offer with the scheme being more successful than predicted. He refused to accept that Ubico and CBC were underperforming.

 

He explained that customers relations surrounding waste and recycling had been intentionally retained in house and if there were any particular issues relating to refuse Members could come to the Cabinet Member with them directly.

15.

Question from Councillor Stephen Cooke to the Cabinet Member Development and Safety, Councillor Andrew McKinlay

 

Disabled parking provision is about access and equity for those who do not have the same choices as able bodied residents. Severely disabled residents may be disadvantaged despite the mitigation measures highlighted at the last council meeting and instituted as part of the reconfiguration of roads and disabled parking following the Boots corner closure. As a result, some may lose independent access to the town centre in which they live. 

What measures are the Council taking to ensure equitable provision and access for those with the most severe disabilities who cannot take advantage of the mitigation measures so far proposed, and will the Cabinet member be prepared to meet with me to consider measures to address exceptional cases?”

 

 

Response from Cabinet Member

 

Prior to the trial starting and in line with all other phases, meetings were held with representatives of various disability representative groups. This resulted in the additional blue badge parking bays being included in the scheme.

There are however alternatives for those individuals for whom these bays do not work. These include

  • the CBC shop mobility scheme which will deliver a scooter to a central car park if accessing the office is challenging
  • public service bus; all of the Stagecoach fleet in Cheltenham is low floored but again this assumes that an individual can access a bus stop picking up point
  • taxis which are also exempt from the restrictions. CBC is encouraging that more taxis are fully disable compliant

I am happy to discuss any specific concerns with Cllr Cooke.

 

In a supplementary question Councillor Cooke firstly wished to pass on his thanks for the work that had already been done around improving the disabled parking. However, he still felt that the arrangements were not adequate for those most severely disabled. He asked whether the Council were prepared to take a number of additional interventions i.e. a limited number of day tickets for the disabled.

 

The Cabinet Member  confirmed that he was happy to make revisions to the on street and off street parking in order to make it accessible for everybody, he was happy to discuss the specifics further with Councillor Cooke.

 

 

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