Agenda item

Draft Corporate Plan

Objective: To consider the draft Corporate Plan for 2023-27 before its final approval in February


Darren Knight, Executive Director Place and Communities


Darren Knight (Executive Director of Place and Communities) introduced his paper, explaining that the corporate plan set the framework for the council’s initiatives over the next few years, guiding future opportunities and allowing them to prioritise resources and skills. Thanks to the previous corporate plan, they had not started from a blank piece of paper, and projects like the Golden Valley development and housing investment plan continued to be key priorities, alongside the cost of living crisis and other agendas like sport.

The plan was not set in stone, but was rather a working document. It also included a number of measures of success and KPIs, while the discussion paper summarised the results of the residents’ satisfaction survey, which was to come to the next O&S meeting in January. From a resident’s perspective, it showed overall satisfaction, though there were some areas where they could improve. The plan was now in the process of wider engagement, and they had met with all but one of the town’s parish councils to discuss it. The plan set out their ambitions for Cheltenham, but also the challenges faced in operating.

The Chair moved into Member questions and debate:

  • Several Members praised the plan as an ambitious, interesting and readable brochure for the town. The Executive Director of Place and Communities thanked them for their feedback and emphasised the importance of accessibility and reducing jargon, which was why they had also produced a one page version.
  • One Member noted that the old symbol for Gloucestershire Constabulary had been used, and it needed to be G3R rather than E2R. The Executive Director of Place and Communities was happy to correct this.
  • One Member suggested that it could be worth considering the geospatial location of answers to the satisfaction survey that were less than satisfied, in order to target future engagement and support.
  • One Member suggested that while the present measures of success were largely positive things (e.g. the number of new businesses and the retail occupancy rate), it might be worth including other measures that were about reducing negative things, like antisocial behaviour. It was good to see positivity, but it could also be useful to view things from the other perspective. It was important to avoid the trap of false positives, like opening more food banks. The Executive Director of Place and Communities agreed that reducing ASB and improving night-time safety were key.
  • One Member noted that in their role as Chair of Licensing Committee, the council’s aspiration to retain the Purple Flag night-time safety award was close to their heart.
  • One Member stressed that it was important for the ‘more homes’ priority to mean more affordable homes. The Executive Director of Place and Communities agreed, and highlighted the central focus on affordable homes in the housing investment plan, and CBH were investing heavily in both this and carbon neutral homes.
  • One Member noted that nearly half of those surveyed who had left the town had done so for a better job, and asked what was being done to ensure they retained talent. The Executive Director of Place and Communities highlighted the importance of investing in skills, and they had just allocated some Shared Prosperity Funding to a number of institutions including Gloucestershire College. He hoped that by the time the corporate plan was debated at Council in February, he would be able to report on the positive results of this.
  • One Member was pleased with the focus on residents, and asked how the two-way relationship between residents and their authority was being built. The Executive Director of Place and Communities advocated a strong mutual relationship, in which residents felt they were able to influence council decision-making. CBH was boosting resident engagement and interaction, and he would recruit residents to test the digital platform in the new year before it went live.
  • One Member noted that several residents’ groups in their ward were keen to get involved with the climate and carbon neutrality agendas but were finding it hard to do their bit. The Executive Director of Place and Communities agreed it was important to get residents involved with Cheltenham Zero, and would follow this up offline with the climate change team. They could arrange for officers to meet these groups directly.
  • One Member advocated a higher level of community group involvement in order to ensure that future prosperity was evenly distributed. It was important to invest from the ground up rather than just entice new people in. They cited the example of Preston council, which focused procurement on anchor institutions based in the local area. A systemic approach was needed to help priorities complement each other. The Executive Director of Place and Communities agreed about the importance of recycling the Cheltenham pound through the local supply chain, and reported that they had started to establish the anchor institutions network across Gloucestershire alongside the county council. Procurement was a useful way to support the local supply chain, though they were sometimes limited by procurement rules.
  • One Member asked how conflicts between competing interests, like the ambition to build affordable homes versus the need for sustainability, were managed. The Executive Director of Place and Communities acknowledged that there were always complexities and areas of compromise which were sometimes tricky to navigate, and they were making changes to manage this. On the sustainability question, he noted that the climate change SPD had been well received, and the new climate change impact assessment tool ensured that these key concerns were taken into account from the very start of the decision-making process.
  • One Member queried the placement of Golden Valley as priority 1 when it would not have a significant impact during the corporate plan’s timeframe. The Executive Director of Place and Communities clarified that while it was a flagship project, this didn’t mean that other projects weren’t treated with importance.


The Chair thanked the Executive Director of Place and Communities for putting together an document that reflected the town’s ambitions.

Supporting documents: