Cheltenham Borough Council
Cheltenham Borough Council

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Agenda item

Quarter 2 performance

Richard Gibson, Strategy and Engagement Manager

(Consider performance to the end of Quarter 2 and comment as necessary)


The Strategy and Engagement Manager introduced the update on quarter 2 performance, as circulated with the agenda.  He noted that it would look slightly different to previous years since the adoption of the new corporate plan, which was more streamlined with three actions for each of the five priorities, and also highlighted that he had removed the traffic light element and provided a factual summary of progress against each action as we had now entered the pre-election period known as purdah.  Committee members would be aware that the council had purchased a new performance reporting tool called Clearview and this would bring together performance management, risk management and project management.  The system was currently under construction, though it was hoped the new system would be available to use by the end of January and the suggestion was that the committee could review Q3 performance, on Clearview, at the February 2020 meeting. 


In response to a member question, the Executive Director of Finance & Assets explained that the original target for the council becoming financially self-sufficient had been 2020-21 and that whilst the council was on target to achieve this, this is based on existing financial arrangements with government – he highlighted that the general election now introduces some uncertainty into this plan. 


A member expressed some concerns about whether CBC can deliver the priorities in the corporate plan.  Whilst he felt it was right that the council be aspirational, he felt concerned about our ability to make Cheltenham the Cyber-Capital of the UK and the revitalisation of the town centre.  Questioning whether Cheltenham was in-fact attractive to cyber companies, he noted that there were 19 other cyber security centres in the UK and whilst the town centre was showing improvement, as demonstrated by the next agenda item, the Town Hall was proving difficult to maintain.  The Strategy and Engagement Manager was of the view that Cheltenham was an attractive proposition to cyber companies, particularly with GCHQ, a major cyber employer, being based in the town.  He went on to acknowledge that the revitalisation of the town centre was critical, but disputed the suggestion that the Town Hall was at all dilapidated, stressing that this building was maintained well by the council and that the discussions around the Town Hall centred on creating a more viable asset which was used and meaningful to a wider number of people than at present. 


In response to a member query, the Strategy and Engagement Manager explained that, whilst the council had been awarded £22m to enable infrastructure at West Cheltenham, this would not resolve Junction 10 and whilst Junction 10 was an important part of the equation and GCC were actively lobbying Government, it would cost hundreds of millions to deliver and the cyber park would happen with or without it. 


A member voiced concerns that the cyber-park would polarise even more areas of deprivation and affluence.  Whilst another member agreed that this was a risk, a third felt that the scheme was key to addressing deprivation in the town and would do so by creating a whole raft of jobs and not just top end jobs.  Other members shared their hopes that the University of Gloucestershire would provide cyber related courses and that employers would help educate the towns children.  The Strategy and Engagement Manager assured members that having had many discussions about these very issues, the policy framework for inclusive growth would improve deprived areas and benefit local residents.   


The Strategy and Engagement Manager acknowledged that the cyber project was a major project, perhaps the biggest ever undertaken, with the potential to generate huge dividends for both the town and the council.  Given the level of investment, it was only right and proper that members had questions and the committee were at liberty to request a detailed presentation at any time.  


On behalf of the committee, the Chairman thanked the Strategy and Engagement Manger for his attendance and looked forward to seeing a preview of the Clearview system in February.


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