Agenda item

Members' Question Time

a)         Leader and Cabinet Members’ Question Time (30 minutes)


        Any member of the Council may ask the Leader of the Council or any Cabinet Member any question without prior notice, upon:


·       Any matter relating to the Council’s administration

·       Any matter relating to any report of the Cabinet appearing on the Council’s summons

·       A matter coming within their portfolio of responsibilities


        Only one supplementary question is allowed per question.


c)     Questions to Chairs of Meetings (15 Minutes)




Cabinet Members’ Question Time


32.1    Councillor Haigh asked the Leader of the Council, whether he considered the Government’s proposal to establish new grammar school a threat to the existing education system and detrimental to those pupils enrolled in main stream schools within the County.


32.2    Councillor James advised that it was unlikely that any proposals for new grammar schools within the County would be bought forward, noting that a decision on any such matter fell under Gloucestershire County Council’s jurisdiction.


32.3    Councillor Haigh reflected that a key aim of Memorandum of Understanding between Gloucestershire County Council and Gloucester City Council was to progress the development at Blackfriars, querying why no definitive results had yet been produced.


32.4    Councillor James reported that the site was subject to a £4.31 million growth deal in order to de-risk the site. He advised that adoption of a local development order would help secure a developer for the site.


32.5    Councillor Haigh questioned what action was being taken by the City Council to invest in the site, noting that other developers were not prepared to invest.


32.6    Councillor James advised that the City Council would encourage private investment in the site, acknowledging that this would continue to remain difficult if there continued to be major constraints. He commented that the work undertaken to de-risk the site was to reduce the limitations before marketing the site externally.


32.7    Councillor Hilton asked the Cabinet Member for Environment whether he was happy with the quality of the street cleansing in Kingsholm and Wotton ward, commenting that that though the area was in very close proximity to the City Centre the quality of the cleansing in both areas did not mirror each other.


32.8    Councillor Cook (Cabinet Member for Environment) admitted that as he had only been recently appointed into the role, he was not as familiar with the Kingsholm and Wotton area as he would have liked to be. He suggested a walkabout with the ward Councillors to gain a better understanding of the issues experienced in the area.


32.9    Councillor Hilton agreed to a walkabout with the Cabinet Member to explore if any improvements could be made to the street cleansing regime.


32.10  Councillor Hilton asked the Leader of the Council, if he agreed with planning officers’ objections to the use of yellow bricks in the stadium design for Gloucester City AFC, as reported in the local media.


32.11  Councillor James explained that he did not have an issue with proposed colour schemes so long as they were in keeping with original design of the building, noting that he was not a member of Planning Committee and therefore not in a position to make a decision on the designs submitted by Gloucester City AFC.


32.12  Councillor Hilton noted that the Gloucester Rugby Stadium reflected the club’s colours commenting that Gloucester City AFC should be allowed to do the same to ensure consistency and fairness.


32.13  Councillor James reported that Planning Committee was obliged to determine each application on its own merit.


32.14  Councillor Pullen reported that areas within Moreland were experiencing significant issues with abandoned vehicles, with as many as 19 vehicles left abandoned in a single car park. He asked if the Cabinet Member for Environment would consider reviewing the criteria for abandoned vehicles to make the process quicker and more efficient.


32.15  Councillor Cook acknowledged that this was an issue affecting the whole City, and offered to accompany the ward Councillor on a walkabout in the ward to understand the issues better. He agreed that he would ask officers to compile a report on the current criteria used in dealing with abandoned vehicles.


32.16  Councillor Pullen suggested that the Cabinet Member liaise with the Police and Crime Commissioner, as Gloucestershire Constabulary no longer took responsibility for vehicles abandoned on highways.


32.17  Councillor Cook concurred that vehicles abandoned on highways posed a significant threat to motorists and other road users and agreed that it would be beneficial to discuss the issue with the Police and Crime Commissioner.


32.18  Councillor Hyman asked the Cabinet Member for Environment the number of incidents where enforcement action for dog fouling was taken against an individual in the last few years.


32.19  Councillor Cook stated that he was unsure of the exact number of incidents, but would endeavour to find out and report back.


32.20  Councillor Gravells asked the Leader of the Council if he would be prepared to write to Highways England in support of his campaign for a quieter M5 through Abbeymead and Abbeydale.


32.21  Councillor James congratulated Councillor Gravells on his campaign to reduce noise pollution and confirmed that he would be happy to write a letter to Highways England in support of this campaign.  


32.22  Councillor Wilson stated that the Gloucester Lottery could be construed as an encouragement for residents to gamble and requested assurance that the Council would not aggressively market the scheme.


32.23 Councillor Watkins (Cabinet Member for Communities and Neighbourhoods) explained that this had been outlined in press release issued to coincide with the launch of the Gloucester Lottery.  She expressed hope that residents within the City would support the various charities and community groups advertised in the scheme.


32.24  Councillor Lugg asked whether the Cabinet Member agreed that the demise of the Help to Buy Scheme adversely affected young people and families.


32.25  Councillor Organ commented that the life of the Help to Buy scheme had been finite noting that the market offered greater competition and offers to help new buyers onto the property ladder.


32.26  Councillor Ryall asked whether an initial evaluation of the effectiveness of the Safe and Attractive Streets policy had been conducted.


32.27  Councillor Watkins advised that the initial evaluation had demonstrated a reduction in the overall numbers of rough sleepers and beggars and there had been further success in getting some of these clients housed. She acknowledged that this was not a quick solution and that the option for a PSPO had not been ruled out but the preference was to assist these individuals in developing a long term solution. She stated that consultation on the option to implement a PSPO was scheduled between November 2016 and February 2017 and encouraged Members and residents to continue to report any incidents of anti-social behaviour. 


32.28  Councillor Ryall queried what action was being undertaken to ensure these individuals and issues were not simply being relegated to other wards within close proximity to the City Centre.


32.29  Councillor Watkins explained that a central component of the approach was to work in partnership with other agencies and support services to ensure that individuals remained known. She reported that new individuals on the streets of Kingsholm and Wotton ward had been quickly identified through this process.


32.30  Councillor Tracey asked the Cabinet Member for Environment what enforcement action would be taken against repeat flytipping offenders and queried whether the Cabinet member would attend a walkabout around Westgate ward to understand the issues experienced by residents.


32.31  Councillor Cook confirmed that the City Council intended to take strong enforcement action on offenders and agreed to attend an accompanied walkabout of the Westgate ward. He acknowledged that residents would be expected to take more responsibility for their own communities.


32.32  Councillor Brazil asked the Cabinet Member for Environment what the surplus of the £110,000 generated from garden waste charge would be used on and whether a reduction of the charge would be considered.


32.33  Councillor Cook reported that in the event of the number of garden waste participants exceeding 20,000, it may become necessary to purchase a new vehicle, in which case any surplus income from the scheme would be utilised.


32.34  Councillor Pullen queried whether the Gloucester Lottery scheme would be supplementary to the current funding the City Council provided to the voluntary and grants sector.


32.35  Councillor Watkins stated that the Gloucester Lottery was currently complementary to the VCS group but given the current financial climate this could not be continued to be guaranteed for the future.


32.36  Councillor Pullen asked the Cabinet Member whether the Gloucester Lottery scheme discriminated against multi-faith groups who were opposed to any form of gambling.


32.37  Councillor Watkins refuted that the scheme excluded multi faith groups as there were other funding streams that these groups could access. She welcomed the exciting opportunity for additional income generation the scheme presented.



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