Agenda item

Public Questions



Question from Amber Astron Christo to Cabinet Member Clean and Green Environment, Councillor Chris Coleman


Why does the Council continue to fail to sweep up the leaves in the roads throughout Cheltenham?

If you do not sweep up the leaves, they are rapidly reduced to silt in wet weather, which sits as deep mud on the roadsides/pavements and then gets washed into the drains, causing flooding in the roads and further afield as the silt moves into the Chelt and the river system; then, in dry weather, the micro-particles become airborne and create breathing problems when inhaled.

Why bother with slogans like ‘Clean & Green’ while you are failing the people of Cheltenham at the most basic level?


Response from Cabinet Member


I do not share your view that the Council is failing the people of Cheltenham.  Cheltenham is proud of the amount of trees it has in the town and we are actively encouraging the planting of more trees as part of a response to the climate emergency.  The many trees we have in the town in streets, parks and open spaces do however mean that a lot of leaves fall on the ground, not just during the Autumn period.

Ubico, on behalf of the Council, undertakes road sweeping operations using two 15T mechanical road sweepers throughout the borough all year round, irrespective of the leaf fall period.  In addition to the mechanical road sweeping, teams of operatives manually clear leaves from pavements, grass verges, open spaces and roads.  A planned maintenance programme, including deep cleans, takes place each year which includes leaf clearance and digging out detritus from gullies.  For information, the December 2019 deep clean programme covered the following roads:

9 Dec: Edward St, Brandon Place, Tryers Road, Suffolk St

10 Dec: Painswick Road (Suffolk Road - Grafton Road)

11 Dec: Painswick Road (Grafton Road - Shurdington Road)

12 Dec: Grafton Road

13 Dec: St Philips Street, Norwood Road, Shurdington Rd (Bath Rd –Moorend Pk Rd)

16 Dec: Park Place

17 Dec: Gratton Road

18 Dec: Ashford Road

19 Dec: Andover Road & Andover Street

24 Dec: Princes St & Sydenham Road North

To further improve the quality of street cleansing the Council, working in partnership with Ubico, is actively seeking better joined up working arrangements with Gloucestershire County Council Highways. 


Supplementary Question


The questioner did not take the response as read.


Response from Cabinet Member


I do not accept the premise of the question. There is a continuous process of cleaning up leaves, as outlined in the original answer.


Question from  Amber Astron Christo to Cabinet Member Development and Safety, Councillor Andrew McKinlay


a) Do you wish to install Uber in Cheltenham, seeing as it was recently exposed in London as failing to do security checks on all their drivers, while destroying the livelihoods of local cabbies?

b) By insisting on larger wheelchair access vehicles only, why are you are prioritising access to a minority of wheelchair-using passengers over the majority, who either have no wish to use a large van-like vehicle to travel from town, or passengers who have back/knee problems or other disabilities, which make accessing these higher vehicles painful and difficult?

c) Why can't you come up with a formula to have a reasonable number of cabs on the ranks accessible for wheelchair users (perhaps they could have their own area on the rank), rather than insisting on all of the cabs being of this type?


Response from Cabinet Member


a)Uber is able to operate in Cheltenham without being licensed to operate here

through a combination of deregulation of licensing laws and weak primary legislation dating back to 1847.

Taxi and private hire licensing law has become very complex but in very simple terms, as long as the Uber vehicle and driver is licensed by the same authority as the Uber operating licence, there is a “right to roam”.  This means that, in this case, Uber cars can roam anywhere and accept bookings provided that the journey is properly booked in advance (via the phone app) and the journey is recorded against the operating licence associated with the Uber vehicle being hailed.  

Therefore, an Uber car licensed, for example, by Bath and North East Somerset Council can accept bookings in Cheltenham if:

  • The driver and vehicle are also licensed by Bath and North East Somerset Council; and
  • The hailing is made via the Uber phone app (and therefore not plying for hire); and
  • The booking is recorded against the Uber operating licence issued by Bath and North East Somerset Council (and therefore dispatched by Uber Bath).


Ms Astron Christo may be interested to read a fuller explanation of this in the May edition of the Trade Times:[UNIQID]  

Provided that Uber cars comply with the rules outlined above, this council is powerless to act.  Where Uber cars do not comply with the rules, the council can act and has, for example see:

b)         The council’s decision to adopt a policy requiring public hire vehicles to be wheelchair accessible was thoroughly consulted on and scrutinised.  The council is of the view that it is important that the travelling public have equal access to services, recognising that disability comes in a variety of forms.

Members of the public who may struggle with access to licensed vehicles due to the policy change can continue to use saloon type vehicles through the private hire trade.  

c)         Officers considered a variety of ways to implement a wheelchair accessible policy.  However, there was no fair way of doing so other than applying the policy to the whole trade.  There was recognition that the policy will incur additional costs on the public hire trade and there was no approach that would have made it fair for some licensed vehicles to have incurred the costs and for others not. 

There is no legislative approach or statutory guidance on an approach to implement a partial wheelchair accessible policy that Members could rely on to provide some form of legitimate basis.

The overriding concern for Members remained equal access to services however and based on this, Members took the view that a full fleet of wheelchair accessible vehicles is appropriate.


Supplementary Question


The questioner did not take the response as read.


Response from Cabinet Member


I do not accept the assertion that having wheelchair-accessible vehicles discriminates against non-disabled people. Some people have very specific requirements which are not met by the majority of vehicles and have to make specific arrangements. It is difficult to hire private hire vehicles who can offer these specific arrangements, and often not possible while standing at a taxi rank.


Question from James Lodge to the Leader of the Council, Councillor Steve Jordan


Within the West Cheltenham Strategic Master Plan, SPD dated December 2019, there are references to the need for high density developments:

  • Page 12, objective E
  • Page 29, B4 ‘and a key driver to increase densities’
  • There are other areas within the document that seem at odds with the above statements:
  • Page 34, C2 relating to the existing topography and strategic landscape character, with consideration given to long views to the Cotswolds and Hayden Hill.
  • Pages 51 and 53 mentions 2 recent developments as being ‘examples of cutting edge development’. Neither of these have building elevations anywhere near those proposed within this document i.e. page 58 states ’up to 6 storeys’

Would you please provide the financial calculations that identify the need for high density buildings, especially as relating to buildings of 3 storeys and above?


Response from Cabinet Member


High density does not necessarily mean 3+ storey buildings, although both high density and higher than traditional (2 storey) buildings are referenced in the SPD.

The reasons for considering high density and/or higher (vertically) than traditional 2 storey development include:

-       Efficient use of land (i.e. high density development accommodates more activity on a fixed space than lower density development)

-       Creating a sufficient population in a given area to support service and facility provision

-       To enhance economic productivity


The eventual densities and heights across the site will be determined through the planning application process. This will be a balance between meeting the final SPD’s aspirations and identified constraints, understanding the contributions made through the planning application consultation process and the financial implications of developing high density, high (vertically) buildings, amongst other things.


Question from James Lodge to the Leader of the Council, Councillor Steve Jordan



Also relating to the Cheltenham Strategic Master Plan, SPD dated December 2019:

  • Page 47, item D7 mentions that ‘large expanses of surface parking will not be permitted’


Will this also be applied to current GCHQ parking, so that the existing surface parking area would be replaced by a multi storey facility, which is urgently needed to alleviate the excessive and extensive on-street parking all around this facility?


Response from Cabinet Member


The planning system (for example through Supplementary Planning Document) cannot require existing operations to make physical changes in the way implied through the question. Parking provision at GCHQ is the responsibility of GCHQ, although the Council has been working with them and Gloucestershire County Council as Highways Authority to minimise the impact of commuter parking in the area.


Question from Trudie Wheat to the Leader of the Council, Councillor Steve Jordan


On page 18 of the West Cheltenham Strategic Master Plan, SPD dated December 2019 item 3.2.3 mentions solar/wind potential. If wind turbines are being considered, what would be the maximum height from ground level and what would be the maximum blade length?


Response from Cabinet Member


The Draft SPD is seeking to explore and establish principles, in this case for renewable/green energy sources. No turbines are identified at this stage, but they may form part of the energy solution for a future scheme. Should turbines be considered appropriate as part of the energy strategy for detailed proposals, they would be the subject of a planning application which would specify size/height/location etc.


Question from Maureen Dolan to the Leader of the Council, Steve Jordan


What plans, if any, are being made for Fiddlers Green Lane?

My concerns (which I share with many others) are firstly the volume of traffic and the weight of the vehicles using the lane, i.e. double loaded car transporters, coaches and 18 ton lorries, to name but a few.


Response from Cabinet Member 


Cheltenham and Tewkesbury Borough Councils are currently consulting on the ‘Cyber Central Garden Community West Cheltenham Strategic Masterplan Draft Supplementary Planning Document’ (

This consultation document contains the emerging strategic masterplan (not final plans) for the land west of Fiddlers Green Lane.I would encourage anyone with views to feed them in to the consultation which closes on 17th February.


Question from Maureen Dolan to the Leader of the Council, Steve Jordan


Can Fiddlers Green Lane be made to only allow cars to use it? Taking into account this would have to be after the turning into Meadow Close up to Telstar Road. I would like to see traffic calming in the form of narrowing of the lane as in chicanes. These would slow down the traffic and reduce parking.


Response from Cabinet Member


It is too early to determine exactly what, if any, changes need to be made to the road network in West Cheltenham to accommodate proposed growth at West Cheltenham (Cyber Central). This will be done through the planning application process.


Supplementary Question


The questioner was not present and so no supplementary question was asked.


Response from Cabinet Member


The Leader of the Council added that the closing date for the consultation referred to in the question was the day of this meeting, Monday 17th February.


Question from the Charmian Sheppard, Hesters Way Neighbourhood Plan Forum, to the Leader of the Council, Councillor Steve Jordan


Seven and a half thousand employees and 3000 dwellings will create a massive increase in traffic, despite noble schemes for improving green alternatives to coax people away from the car. The Hester’s Way Neighbourhood Plan Forum and residents neighbouring the new Cyber Central Garden Community area are concerned about the increase in traffic along Fiddlers Green Lane and nearby roads that this development will bring and the impact on their quality of life. The Government’s Garden Communities Prospectus does make reference to the need “to build places people are happy to call home… places that lift our spirits whether we live in them or merely pass through.”

The SPD “Cyber Central Garden Community” not only recognises the importance of upgrading Junction 10 when it comes to the new development and traffic management, it seems to hinge on it. 

It is understood that if Junction 10 is not upgraded, other road infrastructure improvements will have to take place at a cost to developers of the site. This would reduce the funds available for high quality environmental sustainability, may mean less affordable homes and would almost certainly impact on the community offer. It would undermine the entire SPD and what it seeks to achieve, certainly in the context of a Garden Community.

Will the Leader commit to ensuring a new SPD is drawn up for the site should Junction 10 upgrading not happen or the work be planned so far into the future that the initial phases of the development would be completed before the Junction upgrade?


Response from Cabinet Member


Should M5 Junction 10 not be upgraded, it is possible/likely that the SPD would need to be revised to take into account alternatives. We are expecting an announcement on Junction 10 as part of Governments Spring Budget announcements in March 2020, before we plan to present the SPD to Full Council in April 2020.

If Junction 10 is approved but the works are far into the future, it may be that controls would be imposed to limit development until such a time that works to deliver an all movement junction had been completed.