Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Monday, 30th October 2023 6.30 pm

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

Contact: Democratic and Electoral Services 

No. Item


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.


Councillors Castle and Toleman declared an interest in agenda item 7 (Leisure Provision Update) owing to their positions as trustees on the board of Aspire Leisure Trust.


Declaration of Party Whipping

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



There were no declarations of party whipping.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 149 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meetings held on 25th September and 2nd October 2023.

Additional documents:


RESOLVED – That the minutes of the meetings held on 25th September and 2nd October 2023 were approved and signed as a correct record by the Chair.


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.


To ask a question at this meeting, please submit it to by 12 noon on Wednesday 25th October 2023 or telephone (01452) 396206 for support.


There were no public questions.


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.


There were no petitions nor deputations.


Leisure Provision Update

To receive a verbal update from the Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure.


56.1    The Chair asked, on behalf of Councillor Hyman, whether the Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure thought that outsourcing Aspire had led to the situation the City Council was in and whether it would be better to in-house leisure services. The Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure, Councillor Lewis, advised that the advice from sector expert consultants, SLC, was that the Leisure Management market would be most effectively and economically delivered by third party operators rather than by the Council. He noted that this was the approach that Council has agreed to take as it procured a new provider, and that the options appraisal published in May 2022 demonstrated that the in-house option was costlier to taxpayers.


56.2    In response to a query from Councillor Hilton regarding the additional costs of in-housing the leisure service, Councillor Lewis reiterated that the options appraisal report commissioned by SLC showed that the most cost-effective option was for services to be delivered by an external provider.


56.3    In response to an additional question from Councillor Hilton regarding the background papers to the 2022 Cabinet Report, the Head of Culture and Leisure confirmed that the SLC executive summary was published as an appendix as part of the 2022 options appraisal.


56.4    Councillor Hilton asked for further information about the temporary leisure provider and the potential impact on the VAT shelter. Councillor Lewis confirmed that the Council had considered bids from 3 companies, and each had confirmed that they were content with the proposed support from the Council in the short term. He reiterated that in his view, the Council was not in a position to insource Leisure Services and that the providers being considered were well versed in running leisure facilities.


56.5    The Chair asked, on behalf of Councillor Hyman, what was meant by the statement made at the recent Extraordinary Council meeting that the Council did not have a statutory duty to provide leisure services, and whether it was the Cabinet Members’ view that the Council ought to stop supporting these services. Councillor Lewis replied that the response given at the Council meeting was a factual one. He confirmed that the Council had no intention to cease providing leisure services and that he was committed to appoint a temporary provider as soon as possible so that residents could access leisure facilities again. Councillor Lewis further added that the Council had supported some clubs to return to the facilities in the intervening weeks immediately following the closure of the facilities by Aspire Leisure.


56.6    The Chair asked whether there was previously an aim of divorcing some leisure services from the Council through reducing the Aspire Management Fee. Councillor Lewis confirmed that this was the former model which the Council had been achieving before the Covid-19 pandemic.


56.7    Councillor Sawyer asked for clarification as to the oversight procedures in place between the Council and Aspire. The Head of Culture confirmed that senior Officers had met with Aspire monthly, and these meetings also included finance reconciliation.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 56.


Temporary Accommodation Acquisition Programme pdf icon PDF 144 KB

To consider the report of the Cabinet Member for Planning and Housing Strategy and Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources setting out a programme of capital investment to increase the Council’s temporary accommodation portfolio to reduce the costs associated with using hotels and other buildings to provide temporary accommodation for households who present to the Council as homeless.

Additional documents:


57.1    The Cabinet Member for Planning and Housing Strategy, Councillor S. Chambers, introduced the report and explained that it sought to set out a programme of capital investment to increase the Council’s temporary accommodation portfolio to reduce the costs associated with using hotels and other buildings to provide temporary accommodation. She explained that where households were threatened with homelessness or made homeless, the Council had statutory obligations to safeguard those households, and in certain circumstances, to provide emergency temporary accommodation.


57.2    Councillor S. Chambers advised Members that the Council had seen a marked increase in the number of households being accommodated within temporary accommodation over the last 6 months. She explained that there was a significant challenge with accessing long-term accommodation due to high demand for rented accommodation in Gloucester.


57.3    The Chair expressed the view that the solution outlined in the report was sensible and noted that it was a shame that more support was not being provided to Councils from Central Government. He asked for clarification on what was meant by ‘exempt accommodation’ rates which Councillor S. Chambers provided.


57.4    The Chair asked for further information as to the buildings the Council was minded to acquire for the purposes of providing temporary accommodation. The Corporate Director confirmed that the Council was considering options, however accommodation was in short supply and that the recommendations in the report needed to be approved by Council before Officers could proceed with developing a programme.


57.5    Councillor Wilson expressed the view that the report was a good one and that he felt that the proposals were the right thing to do. He asked whether, even with increased interests rates, increasing the Council’s temporary accommodation through capital investments was cheaper than the current approach. The Corporate Director replied that it was, and that the Housing Innovation Manager was working closely with the Finance Team. She further expressed the view that increasing temporary accommodation provision was also a better way of providing support to households faced with homelessness.


57.6    The Chair asked why the Council proposed not to exceed acquisitions over £5m. The Corporate Director explained that the initial suggestion was £3m, however the Council wanted to provide some flexibility and the £5m figure was considered to be pragmatic.


57.7    In response to a query from Councillor Hilton regarding whether the proposed buildings for acquisition included traditional housing or office space, Councillor S. Chambers confirmed that all options were being considered and encouraged Members who had any ideas for suitable buildings to pass their suggestions onto the Housing Innovation Manager. The Corporate Director added that larger accommodation schemes were not always the best way of managing residents’ needs and smaller, varied schemes were the preferred option so that the right level of support could be provided to families.


57.8    Councillor Hilton observed that households seeking support from the Council had different needs, to which Councillor S. Chambers agreed. She referred to alternative schemes, such as Snow Capel, St Oswalds and Hill Farm, and expressed the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 57.


Overview and Scrutiny Work Programme and Council Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 244 KB

To receive the latest version of the Committee’s work programme and the Council’s Forward Plan.

Additional documents:


RESOLVED – That the Overview and Scrutiny Committee NOTE the Work Programme.


Date of Next Meeting

Monday 27th November 2023 at 6.30pm in Civic Suite, North Warehouse.


Monday 27th November 2023.