Agenda item

Public and Member Questions and Petitions

These must be received no later than 12 noon on the fifth working day before the date of the meeting



Question from Luka Renna (on behalf of Montpellier Skatepark) to the Cabinet Member Culture, Wellbeing and Business, Councillor Victoria Atherstone


Since 2005, there have been various research papers that highlight the benefits that a skatepark can bring to a community. These include an improvement in young people's health and mental wellbeing, along with a reduction in youth crime. With these in mind, would the Cabinet Member Culture, Wellbeing and Business, work with myself and others to look at improving the town’s skateboarding facilities?



Response from Cabinet Member


Yes, I would be delighted to meet with you to explore how the council can work closely with local groups like yourselves to improve skate parks. Like you, I believe in the positive impact skate parks can have on young people’s physical and mental wellbeing, and have seen many skate parks across the UK first-hand, including the skatepark on London’s South Bank. It stopped me in my tracks to watch the skaters, as the teenagers and adults were very skilled. Many others stopped to watch them too.


I understand that officers from the Council’s Green Space team have very recently met with representatives from the local skateboard community, and had very constructive discussions about the potential upgrading of the Montpellier Gardens skate park. The current five year improvement plan for play and recreation facilities is coming to an end, and condition surveys are underway to inform proposed refurbishment priorities over the next five years. The process involves evaluating the physical condition of equipment, safety, accessibility, and play value. I have requested that particular attention be given to Montpellier skate park with a view to incorporating some improvements to it in 2023/24. Security and lighting considerations will also form part of this.


Thinking more strategically, early discussions are underway around the subject of commissioning a sports and physical activity strategy for Cheltenham that will look at both the physical infrastructure and the community infrastructure to increase physical activity and mental wellbeing – so skate parks could well form part of this.



Supplementary question


How can we work together to efficiently and effectively raise the funding needed to build a skatepark, especially considering the tight financial situation due to Covid?


Response from Cabinet Member


The first step would be to create some kind of forum where we and other interested parties can come together informally to work out our collective ambitions going forward. In addition to this, our plans for a new sports and recreation strategy for the town will help us to outline objectives more clearly, including things like skateboarding. Once this is done, we will be able to try and find funds to support it, which can be done in a lot of ways – though we must be mindful that this is not something that will happen overnight.



Question from Peter Frings to the Cabinet Member Waste, Recycling and Street Services, Councillor Iain Dobie


In 2020, Clean Air Cheltenham hosted a webinar on the Workplace Parking Levy, presented by a speaker from Nottingham City Council. Clean Air Cheltenham also supplied (to the Director of Environment, in September 2021) information and costs for a feasibility study led by Nottingham City Council officers. Nottingham has raised over £75m through the scheme for investment in local transport infrastructure. Oxford intends to implement a WPL in 2023, and Leicester is currently consulting on introducing one. Oxford, like Cheltenham is a two-tier authority – so the scheme can be applied by a ‘non-unitary’ local authority.


Have any approaches been made to Gloucestershire County Council to jointly undertake a feasibility study?


Are there any plans to undertake a feasibility study, or has the idea of a Workplace Parking Levy been ruled out?


If so, what were the reasons for this decision?



Response from Cabinet Member


Cheltenham Borough Council does not itself have the powers to introduce such a levy. The initiation of any such scheme would need to come from Gloucestershire County Council and any levy monies collected would be spent by that authority. We would advise the questioner to raise this matter with Gloucestershire County Council in the first instance.  Cheltenham Borough Council would then be in a position to engage, based on the County Council’s response to any such question.


Our proposed ‘Climate Change Mitigation Pathway’ will be considered for approval by Council on the 21st February. It sets out eleven actions in Section E of the document, under the heading ‘Active Travel, Transport and Air Quality’ which will support both improvements in local air quality and a reduction in transport-related carbon emissions.



Question from Peter Frings to the Cabinet Member Climate Emergency, Councillor Max Wilkinson


Cheltenham’s Air Quality Action Plan expired in 2019. Questions chasing the preparation of a new AQAP have been asked at the January 2020 cabinet meeting; at the February 2021 Council meeting (by Cllr. Mason); and most recently at the April 2021 Cabinet meeting.


When will a draft be published for consultation?


Is there a timetable for when the final plan will be published?



Response from Cabinet Member


Despite the additional public protection staffing challenges arising from the pandemic, we have been busy consulting key partners on the content and proposed actions.  The final document will include two sections: a formal Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) which covers the Air Quality Management Area (AQMA), and a section covering our town wide approach.  The formal AQAP will focus on an area which follows the road corridor from St George’s Street to the junction of Tewkesbury Road with Gloucester Road. The publication of this document for consultation is imminent.


I specifically requested that publication of the new AQAP and the wider strategy should take place simultaneously, following discussions with the questioner and Clean Air Cheltenham. This was to avoid giving any false impression that the Council’s focus for improved air quality was solely in relation to the AQAP area, rather than as it is, town wide.  Indeed, we are undertaking significant air quality monitoring across the wider borough.


I anticipate that both documents will be published before the end of March 2022.



Supporting documents: