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)




17.1    Councillor Pullen  congratulated Councillor James and his wife on the birth of their daughter. He queried how long the transition period would be following the conclusion of the Together Gloucester project and the recruitment of staff into new roles and requested clarity in how the success of the project would be assessed.


17.2    Councillor Norman advised that the implementation of the proposals were ongoing and senior management were supporting staff in developing  new ways of working. He noted that the Managing Director was providing Members with regular updates on the process and encouraged any Members who wished to discuss this further, to arrange a meeting with an appropriate Head of Service.


17.3    In response to Councillor Pullen’s request for a guarantee that the organisation would not undergo a further restructure process, Councillor Norman advised that the Council had no current plans for a further restructure. He acknowledged that the Council was dependant on funding from Central Government and continued to face significant challenges and could not therefore make such a definite commitment.


17.4    In response to Councillor Pullen’s query regarding clarification of what services would be curtailed as a result of the Together Gloucester Process, Councillor Norman advised that discussions with officers were on-going.  The principal aim was to deliver existing services in new and more efficient ways rather than reduce provision but this would remain an iterative process. He noted that the Council would continue to deliver the statutory services for which it was responsible.


17.5    Councillor Hilton referencing the three fires that had occurred in various parts of the City Centre, thanked Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service for their brave work in keeping people safe. Noting reports in the media that these fires had been started deliberately, he queried what actions were being taken to protect sites of local and historic importance.


17.6    Councillor Watkins confirmed that these fires were being treated as suspicious. She reported that officers were considering what additional security could be put in place to minimise the risk of a reoccurrence.


17.7    Councillor Hilton stated that the whole organisation should have been consulted on the proposed office move to Shire Hall. He queried whether City Council staff would be accommodated together at Shire Hall or whether they would be dispersed through the building, noting that the Council was at a very real risk of losing its identity.


17.8    Councillor Norman reported that discussions were at a very early stage and options around where staff would be located were still in their infancy. He advised that the Council would retain the use of the Civic Suite and the whole of the 3rd Floor, North Warehouse  to protect it’s identity. He confirmed that all Members would be apprised on the proposals prior to any formal decision being taken.


17.9    In response to Councillor Hansdot’s request for an apology for the grass cutting regime delivered by Amey this year, Councillor Cook stated that he had apologised to residents and Members for Amey’s failures in delivering the trial in the way they had proposed.  He noted that the Amey had now deployed additional resource and equipment in an attempt to remedy the situation.


17.10  Councillor Hansdot stated that the Cabinet Member was apportioning blame to an organisation that was being asked to undertake more work for a reduced fee.


17.11  Councillor Cook reported that it had been Amey that had suggested the 30 day grass cutting trial and had devised the proposed cutting regime and the savings schedule. He commented that the additional expenditure incurred by the City Council as a result of these failures would be charged back to Amey.


17.12 In response to Councillor Fearn’s query regarding the decision to close the Gloucester Life Museum prior to consulting staff, Councillor Noakes advised that the proposals actually transferred the management of the Museum site to the Gloucester Civic Trust. She went on further to explain that there was no proposed reduction in staff, as those currently working in the Life Museum would be transferred to the City Museum if the proposals went ahead.


17.13  Councillor Fearn questioned whether a city aiming to become the City of Culture would consider closing one of its cultural venues, noting that a petition protesting against the transfer of the collection to one site had attracted 1,100 signatures.


17.14 Councillor Tracey reported that she had experienced very long waiting times when trying to get through to the main contact helpline and had additionally received complaints from residents. She queried what action would be taken to resolve this issue.


17.15  Councillor Norman acknowledged the issues with being able to contact the Council. He stated that he had requested a meeting with officers the following day to address these concerns and undertook to provide a written response to all Members with regards to this.


17.16 Councillor Coole expressed disappointment that the proposals for the Bus Station were being cut back, noting that the revised proposals contained fewer public toilets and no information point.


17.17  Councillor Watkins reported that the original proposals had to be revised after exploration works identified main sewer and gas lines near the site which were outside of the City Council’s control. She acknowledged that the new proposals contained fewer public toilets commenting that the development would not compromise on quality of the provision that was delivered. With regards to the information point, she advised that the revised proposals now contained two retail units, any proposals to use one of these units as an information centre would be subject to a separate business case assessment. She welcomed the progress of the development, noting that construction and budgets were on schedule.  


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