Agenda item

Communications by the Leader of the Council


The Leader of the Council reported that in partnership with Cheltenham Borough Homes,  27 new affordable homes in a variety of tenures had been delivered on the former Monkscroft Villas site (now called Radford Court), increasing the number of homes that were previously on the site by more than 800%. She added that all 27 homes would shortly be occupied as various tenancy agreements had been signed, and looked forward to delivering more units in the town as part of £180m investment into affordable homes in the years to come.

She added that the council’s response to the Covid-19 crisis had been audited, and that the auditors had found it to have a sound system of governance, risk management and controls, with internal controls operating effectively and being consistently applied to support the achievement of objectives.

At the government’s briefing on the extension of restrictions last week, there had been no suggestion of any further financial support in the form of grants to businesses. The business rates holiday of 100% for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses since 1st April 2020 would come to an end on 30th June, with a discount of 66% until 31st March 2022. Businesses were calling for the 100% discount to be extended, but there had been no response to this from the government as yet.

The Leader informed Council that the UK had been running a scheme to support locally employed staff (LES) in Afghanistan, often in dangerous and challenging situations, in recognition of their commitment and bravery shown supporting UK forces since 2013. The scheme consisted of two elements, one of which was the ex-gratia scheme which would close in November 2022, and the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy which launched in April 2021, reflecting the changing situation in Afghanistan and consequent risk to LES. Both schemes were intended to support current and former LES who had worked for British Forces and to provide appropriate support that honoured their service and properly reflected their work and the risks involved. The schemes provided a range of in-country packages of assistance in Afghanistan and, for those who meet the criteria, relocation to the UK with their dependants. As such, 3000 former interpreters and their families were coming to the UK, including 35 to Gloucestershire. The Leader welcomed these individuals and stressed that they would have the council’s support.

She added that the council was a finalist in the Room 151 Impact award in the Tackling Covid-19 category, which recognised the extraordinary contribution that council finance departments had made to supporting their communities through the pandemic through revenues and benefits, supporting frontline services and business grants. The category winners would be announced at a virtual awards ceremony on 1st July.

The Leader reported a series of changes to committee membership. Cllr. Barrell would become a reserve member of Planning Committee, with Cllr. Clark taking her place and Cllr. Lewis taking Cllr. Clark’s spot on Licensing Committee. Cllr. Stafford would replace Cllr. Brownsteen on the Asset Management Working Group, Cllr. Harvey would replace Cllr. Brownsteen on the Disciplinary Committee and Cllr. McCloskey would be an additional reserve member of Full Licensing Committee.

Finally, she added her congratulations to Cllr. Brownsteen on the birth of his child.