Agenda item

Public Question Time (15 Minutes)

The opportunity is given to members of the public to put questions to Cabinet Members or Committee Chairs 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.


14.1    Mr Critchard of Church Farm, Hempstead, thanked Members for the opportunity to address the Council. He advised that his detailed queries regarding the Council’s procedure for dealing with planning applications(attached at Appendix 1) had been submitted in advance of the meeting and had been circulated to all Members. He requested that the Cabinet Member for Housing and Planning (Councillor Organ) provide a written response to these queries prior to the Planning Committee meeting scheduled for the 1st August 2017, where he was planning to make detailed representations on application 17/00488/FUL.


14.2    Councillor Organ advised that he was unable to provide specific responses to any application due to be considered by Planning Committee, so as to not prejudice the process. He confirmed that Mr Critchard would be provided with a written response in a timely fashion.


14.3    Mr Gower addressed the Committee on behalf of a fellow resident of the City, who was currently street homeless and struggling with very complex personal issues. He questioned why the Council, which was committed to implementing the Gloucestershire Entrenched Homeless Social Impact Bond (SIB), to help tackle issues related to entrenched rough sleeping, had issued this resident with an enforcement order for street begging and were threatening to expel him from the City Centre area. He advised that he had a number of additional queries and requested a response to all his queries in writing from the relevant Cabinet Member.


            He went on further to query the proportion of residential and commercial properties in the City owned by overseas residents and business, reflecting that a significant number of these properties were unoccupied and could be used to address the housing shortage. 


14.4    Councillor Watkins (Deputy Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Communities and Neighbourhoods) explained that the Council promoted engagement and support in dealing with such individuals and only used enforcement as a final option when all other options had been exhausted. She welcomed a private conversation with Mr Gower to discuss the personal circumstances of this case and confirmed that a response to Mr Gower’s questions would be provided in writing.


14.5    Mr Hodges, of Kingsholm Square, questioned whether the Council thought it appropriate to borrow up to £80 million to develop a property investment portfolio, given the financial climate and past experience with Icelandic banks.


14.6    Councillor Norman (Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources) reported that this item was due to be discussed as a substantive item later on in the agenda and encouraged Mr Hodges to remain and listen to the debate.


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