Agenda and minutes

MGL Review Special Meeting, Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Tuesday, 10th March 2020 6.30 pm

Venue: Civic Suite, North Warehouse, The Docks, Gloucester, GL1 2EP

Contact: Democratic and Electoral Services 

Items
No. Item

2.

Declarations of Interest

To receive from Members, declarations of the existence of any disclosable pecuniary, or non-pecuniary, interests and the nature of those interests in relation to any agenda item. Please see Agenda Notes.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

3.

Declaration of Party Whipping

To declare if any issues to be covered in the Agenda are under party whip.

 

Minutes:

There were no declarations of party whipping.

4.

Public Question Time (15 minutes)

To receive any questions from members of the public provided that a question does not relate to:

 

·         Matters which are the subject of current or pending legal proceedings, or

·         Matters relating to employees or former employees of the Council or comments in respect of individual Council Officers

Minutes:

 

4.1       A member of the public asked whether matters relating to the oversight of the former Chief Executive of MGL’s personal expenses would be discussed during the meeting and whether the whistleblowing allegations in relation to the former CEO of MGL would be explored, as she understood that the council had not retained a copy of the report into the allegations.

 

4.2      In response to the above queries, the Chair advised that these issues were likely to be explored by Committee members and attendees during the meeting.

 

5.

Petitions and Deputations (15 minutes)

To receive any petitions and deputations provided that no such petition or deputation is in relation to:

 

·         Matters relating to individual Council Officers, or

·         Matters relating to current or pending legal proceedings

Minutes:

5.1 There were no petiitons and deputations.

6.

Marketing Gloucester Limited Review pdf icon PDF 80 KB

To consider the information provided to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee concerning recent events relating to Marketing Gloucester Ltd and the UK Digital Retail Innovation Centre (UKDRIC).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

6.1       The Chair reminded the Committee of the need to act in a collegiate manner and to act as a critical friend. Further, they stated that the meeting was about fact finding in order to make cogent recommendations for the future, and to provide a solid foundation for the incoming Overview & Scrutiny Committee after the May elections. They then invited Councillor James and Councillor Watkins, both former Chairs of the board of Marketing Gloucester Limited (MGL) to address the Committee.

 

6.2       Councillor Watkins first addressed the Committee. Before proceeding, she stipulated that as she was no longer Chair of the Board of MGL, she could not respond to any questions on behalf of the company. Therefore, any financial related questions about MGL would need to be directed to the insolvency practitioner.

 

6.3       Councillor James expressed his concern with some of the procedural matters regarding the meeting, noting that the committee report had only been published the day before the meeting, allowing insufficient time to prepare. He stated that the former CEO of MGL, and the former bookkeeper should have been invited to attend the meeting as they would be more likely to be able to answer questions of detail that he could not. Councillor James added that he had suggested to the Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee that some board members should have been invited to the meeting due to their closer involvement in issues such as the company’s finances and the UK DRIC.

 

6.4       Councillor James then turned his attention to the contents of the report.  In relation to question 2 in appendix 1, his view was that the reduction in grant funding from the council was not matched by a reduction of expectations, with MGL expected to run the same number of events with a reduced budget. He contrasted the situation to other partner organisations, some of which had products to sell in order to increase revenue, and highlighted the shorter timescale within which MGL were expected to achieve the savings. He believed there was a limit to which costs could have been reduced by MGL. Councillor James outlined that he had documents and emails showing that he had suggested to council Officers that the Service Level Agreement should have been altered to reflect the reduction in funding. Furthermore, he questioned the Officer response to question 2 of the report, particularly the quote from the insolvency practitioner that “too many high-risk projects were entered into” and explained that he was not sure what this meant.

 

6.5       Councillor James stated that he was happy that there was no active police investigation underway, the suggestion of which had been upsetting for all involved. However, he added that he had only found out from the Committee report which was being considered in the meeting, in contrast to the public way in which the announcement about a potential police investigation had been made.

 

6.6       In relation to the financial issues which were faced by MGL, his view was that this  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Date of Next Meeting

Monday the15th of June 2020.