Agenda item

Public Questions

These must be received no later than 12 noon on Monday 14 February 2022



Question from Peter Fringsto the Leader of the Council, Councillor Rowena Hay


In the 2020-2021 CBC Carbon Emissions Report, only the carbon impact of the airport’s ground operations is published. The Climate Change Committee's report ‘Local Authorities and the 6th Carbon Budget’ says:

"Local authorities can separate airport and aviation emissions, but should not ignore them in climate conversations.” Although local authorities are not required to include aviation emissions in their local footprint, it is important that local people know what contribution aviation emissions from Gloucestershire Airport are making to the climate crisis – because local people – through the Cheltenham and Gloucester councils – own the airport.


Will the borough council commit to reporting on aviation emissions and publish annual figures starting from 2019 (the year the council declared a climate emergency)?



Response from Cabinet Member


Thank you to Mr Frings for his question. He is right to raise this issue.  While news reports tell us that technology in the aviation industry is improving and moves are being made towards low carbon flight, there remains a clear and difficult-to-resolve conflict between aviation operations and our environmental goals. We understand the carbon impact of aviation emissions is often much greater than the impact of emissions from ground operations.  We continue to improve the way we calculate our carbon footprint as an authority and strive to lead the way in the accuracy, transparency and thoroughness of our reporting.


However, whilst Gloucestershire Airport is owned jointly by Cheltenham Borough and Gloucester City Councils, it is operated by Gloucestershire Airport Ltd (GAL) under a long leasehold interest. As such, we currently include 50% of the airport’s Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions in CBC’s carbon emissions reports and will continue to do so (these are covered under our Scope 3 emissions). This follows current Green House Gas (GHG) reporting guidelines. We will encourage GAL to publish its full carbon footprint, including aviation emissions, over which CBC currently has no direct control.



Question from David Newman to the Chair of the Standards Committee, Councillor Max Wilkinson


If the House of Commons Select Committee on Standards can enjoy the democracy of membership consisting of 7 MPs and 5 Lay members with full voting rights, why can the Cheltenham Borough Council Standards Committee's 2 Independent members who sit with 7 Councillor members not have voting rights too, which at present they are denied?


If it is considered right by Parliament that Lay members have full voting rights surely it is only right that the same rule be enjoyed in Local Government?


Please could this matter be raised with the full Council. I would hope it would be considered an essential need to change the present rule in the interests of fairness, democracy and accountability.



Response from Chair of Standards Committee


Thank you to Mr Newman for asking this important question. Standards of political conduct are a talking point at national level, after recent news events. It is right that we always check our processes and procedures to ensure we are following best practice.


Our Standards Committee membership is informed by best practice and legislation. The Local Government and Housing Act 1989 at s. 13 makes the initial point that co-opted members have no voting rights and the Localism Act states that Independent Persons have an advisory role when operating within a Standards Committee.  Independent members make their views known both through the formal report before the Committee and during the proceedings, by having the option to address the Committee.


Notwithstanding the above, I will refer this matter to the next Standards Committee meeting for discussion.



Question from Tess Beck to the Cabinet Member Safety and Communities, Councillor Flo Clucas


Does the council carry out any background checks (e.g. DBS, police check) on people who put themselves up as candidates in local elections - either at the nomination stage or once a candidate is elected/ takes up office?



Response from Cabinet Member


The Council does not carry out background checks on candidates standing in local elections.  The nomination paper includes the candidate’s consent to nomination in which the candidate must declare that they meet at least one of the qualifications listed in the consent form.  This form also includes the disqualifications for election and holding office as a member of the local authority.  The candidate must sign the consent confirming that they qualify to stand and that they are not disqualified, which must be witnessed.  Guidance about standing as a candidate can be found at:


Upon election, no checks are undertaken by the Council.



Supplementary question


Thank you for your response and your helpful link to the Electoral Commission. From the link, it appears that there are fewer background checks on someone standing for - or even taking up - public office than there are for someone wanting to become a taxi driver, for example. The electoral commission rules are determined at national level. Does the local authority have the power to impose its own restrictions, e.g. to prevent someone who is subject to an injunction or ASBO, or with a history of offending from taking up public office?



Response from Cabinet Member


Thank you for your question, you are quite right that background checks are a national issue. If somebody were to apply for a licence, there would be some checks in relation to this to ensure the safety of those using the service they provided. However, the provisions that disqualify persons from holding office are set down in legislation at national level, and local authorities cannot have their alternative provisions at a local level.


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