Cheltenham Borough Council
Cheltenham Borough Council

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Agenda item

Cabinet Briefing

An 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. 

Minutes:

The Leader informed the meeting that the County Council had recently undertaken a review of the scrutiny process and one proposal was to amend the remit of the Gloucestershire Economic Growth Overview and Scrutiny Committee to include the environment portfolio. This proposal had been made without consultation with the districts so he reported that he had raised this directly with the County Council as a concern. That said, the County Council did not adopt this change at their Council meeting.

Members expressed concerns however with the decision by the County Council to split health and social care/public health and the impact this would have on district representation. They felt this was a reduction in the power of scrutiny which GCC had approved without consultation. It was agreed that this would be included in the aforementioned joint letter from the Leader and Chair of O&S.

The Leader then made reference to the enquiry from some O&S Members with regard to the spending of the £800k fine income from  Boots Corner and the letter received from the County Council Cabinet Member.  He explained that this would be a reducing income stream and the letter from Councillor Moor had confirmed it would be spent in Cheltenham with the priority on making the transport system function. In addition, the fines income was being used to fund the Clarence Street/Clarence Parade changes and any surplus would be spent in consultation with CBC in the normal way. Whilst this was a positive commitment the Leader was unsure as to what it meant in reality.

Some Members believed that the changes at Clarence Street/Parade were budgeted for as part of the original TRO and highlighted that funds should be more targeted at upgrading cycle paths and pavements.

The Leader clarified that the CTP had been funded by the sustainable local transport fund which had been allocated in early 2012. However, he was unsure of the remaining funds and had not seen an itemised spend to date. One Member felt that the letter from Councillor Moor was dismissive and unsatisfactory with no reference that the spend of the fines income would be on the upgrade of pedestrian and cycle facilities in the town as originally suggested.  It was proposed that further clarification be sought from the County with a request that information be presented in terms of a balance sheet to enable Members to see where the fine income was being spent and to see what funds remained. They felt that it was important to maximise sustainable transport around the town. Members agreed that as the Leader had written to Councillor Moor in the first instance that he be requested to write again to seek further clarification.

When asked who would fund the changes if, at the end of phase 4 of the CTP, it was decided that it was not viable and therefore the system reverted back, the Leader stated that the TRO order would not be implemented and would lapse after the 18 month trial. He questioned however, whether this scenario would actually incur a huge amount of cost.