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)
18.1 Councillor Stephens asked the Cabinet Member for Planning and Housing Strategy if he could confirm that provision would be made for the continuation of independent advice for tenants in respect of the proposed regeneration of Podsmead and Matson estates and if so, for what length of time.
Councillor Gravells undertook to provide a written response.
Councillor Stephens understood that the service was provided by the tenant participation service and funded by Gloucester City Homes which he believed would compromise the concept of independent advice.
Councillor Gravells stated that the transfer of the housing stock to Gloucester City Homes provided the greatest benefit to the people of the city including the write-off of millions of pounds of debt. He would arrange a meeting with GCH and the legal section next week.
18.2 Councillor Stephens stated that Councillors were being told at every meeting that Amey would meet all targets and he asked the Cabinet Member for Environment when he was going to do his job.
Councillor Cook responded that Councillor Stephens had not been listening to his earlier statement when he advised that a further £300,000 would be withheld from Amey.
Councillor Stephens stated that there was no evidence that withholding payment would solve the problem and he called for an urgent report to be presented to the Cabinet and the Overview and Scrutiny Committee to terminate the contract and bring the service back in-house.
18.3 Councillor Hilton asked the Leader of the Council what progress had been made with regard to 67-69 London Road following the decision made in May 2018.
Councillor James replied that he was in regular contact, new agents had been appointed and the Council was doing its best to keep the owners to their word.
Councillor Hilton noted that the motion had requested the Leader to acquire these properties and he asked why a Compulsory Purchase Order had not been made.
Councillor James replied that the owners needed to be realistic about the property values. He noted that new partners had been introduced without success and he noted that Compulsory Purchase Orders were lengthy and costly proceedures with uncertain outcomes.
18.4 Councillor Hilton asked the Cabinet Member for Environment to give a broad indication of the payment required to achieve an early termination of the Amey contract. Councillor Cook stated that he could not discuss the figures in a public meeting.
Councillor Hilton noted that the Council had been trapped in a contract without a break clause for fifteen years and he asked Councillor Cook to confirm his previous statement that this was the worst contract he had ever seen.
Councillor Cook agreed that this was the case but noted that the contract had been agreed and extended by all the parties in the Chamber.
18.5 Councillor Pullen stated that the brother of a resident had recently been fined £100 for spitting in the street by 3GS. He was a vulnerable adult with special needs living in supported accommodation and Councillor Pullen asked the Cabinet Member for environment if such people should be exempted.
Councillor Cook replied that he was not sure how 3GS staff could be expected to know the circumstances of every person in the City but he understood that an appeal had been received and would be looked at carefully.
Councillor Pullen stated that the 3GS website stated that there was no appeal on the penalty and non-payers would be taken to court.
Councillor Cook assured Councillor Pullen that there was an appeal process in place.
18.6 Councillor Hansdot asked the Cabinet Member for Environment why, for two weeks running, black and green bins and green boxes had not been collected in Barton and Tredworth and no litter had been collected.
Councillor Cook noted that he had previously stated that the contractor had nine staff off sick, of a total of 39, and it was a case of all hands to the pumps. He expected the service to have returned to normal by the end of Friday.
18.7 Councillor Coole asked the Leader of the Council why the public toilets at the Transport Hub were being closed at 5.30 pm.
Councillor James explained that it was a trial at the request of Stagecoach as incidents of anti-social behaviour had occurred.
18.8 Councillor Haigh noted that the Council paid high rents to place homeless people in bed and breakfast accommodation and she asked the Cabinet Member for Communities and Neighbourhoods if pressure could be brought to bear on landlords to ensure that satisfactory accommodation was provided.
Councillor Watkins responded that the Council worked with a wide range of providers, licensed HMOs and inspected premises. Any complaints were taken seriously and investigated. She stated that it was hoped to reduce the dependence on bed and breakfast accommodation and the 48 units being acquired would assist in this.
Councillor Haigh stated that she understood future initiatives but in the meantime vulnerable people were being placed in unsuitable accommodation and could the Cabinet Member ensure that such properties are inspected.
Councillor Watkins stated that details of specific cases would be helpful.
18.9 Councillor Hampson asked the Cabinet Member for Environment if he could find out what happened to the waste sent to Valencia.
Councillor Cook undertook to ask Amey and Councillor Hampson asked for a written response to the next meeting.