Agenda and draft minutes

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

Contact: Democratic and Electoral Services 

Link: Watch meeting

Items
No. Item

101.

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.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

102.

Declaration of Party Whipping

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

 

Minutes:

There were no declarations of party whipping.

103.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 204 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meetings held on 22nd January 2024 and 5th February 2024.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED – That the minutes of the meetings held on Monday 22nd January 2024 and Monday 5th February 2024 were approved and signed by the Chair as a correct record.

104.

Public Question Time (15 minutes)

The opportunity is given to members of the public to put questions the Chair provided that questions do not contravene the provisions set out Council Procedure Rule 10.01.

 

To ask a question at this meeting, please submit it to democratic.services@gloucester.gov.uk by 12 noon on Wednesday 21st February 2024 or telephone 01452 396203 for support.

 

Questions and responses will be published at least 24 hours before the meeting. Supplementary questions may be put and answered during the meeting, subject to the relevant time limit.

Minutes:

There were no public questions.

105.

Petitions and Deputations (15 minutes)

The opportunity is given to members of the public to present a petition or deputation provided that any such petition or deputation does not contravene the provisions set out Council Procedure Rule 11.01.

 

To present a petition or deputation at this meeting, please provide the subject matter to democratic.services@gloucester.gov.uk by 12 noon on Wednesday 21st February 2024 or telephone 01452 396203 for support.

Minutes:

There were no petitions nor deputations.

106.

Action Point Item pdf icon PDF 131 KB

To note the outomes of action points arising from previous meetings.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED – That the Overview and Scrutiny Committee NOTE the updates.

107.

Private Sector Stock Condition Survey pdf icon PDF 180 KB

To consider the report of the Cabinet Member for Planning and Housing Strategy providing a summary of the Private Sector Stock Condition Survey that was undertaken for the Council in 2023, and presenting the options available to the Council to address the key conclusions set out in the survey report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

107.1  The Cabinet Member for Planning and Housing Strategy, Councillor S. Chambers, introduced the report and explained that it provided a wealth of information about the condition of the housing stock in Gloucester which would feed into the new Housing Strategy. She provided an overview of the headlines of the report.

 

107.2  The Chair asked for clarification as to what was meant by ethical low-cost loan organisations at 2.2(e). Councillor S. Chambers advised that these were loans which were compliant with the Islamic faith. In response to a follow-up query from Councillor Morgan, Councillor Wilson advised Members that interest on regular loans was not compatible with the Islamic faith and that ethical loans provided an alternative offering for the Muslim community.

 

107.3  The Chair referred to 3.12.9 in the report and noted that there was a perception that there was a high number of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) in the city. He noted that the figures in the report had led to the decision not to pursue additional licenses and asked for further clarification on the rationale. The Housing Innovation Manager explained that the low HMO numbers identified in the survey had confirmed that there was no demonstratable need to pursue additional HMO licensing at the current time.

 

107.4  Councillor Hilton observed that the report was comprehensive but noted that he was disappointed that Members had not received a briefing or presentation as he felt it would have been helpful for Members to have an overview of the detailed report. He stated that there were high concentrations of HMOs in Barton and Tredworth, Kingsholm and Wotton and Westgate and expressed the view that there should be a thorough investigation into the pockets of the city with high HMO prevalence.

 

107.5  Councillor Hilton also raised concerns about the recommendation at 2.2(c) for the Planning Committee to determine whether there was a case for Article 4 Direction to manage conversion of houses into HMOs, noting that in his view this should be a matter to be considered by the new administration rather than Planning Committee. Councillor S. Chambers advised that the report covered the whole city, and that the survey results had not identified a need to direct staffing resource towards Article 4 Direction. She noted that the survey and report had followed the usual governance processes.

 

107.6    Councillor Pullen thanked Councillor S. Chambers and Officers for the detailed report, and agreed that a briefing would have been helpful, suggesting that this was a matter for the Scrutiny Group Leads to consider for future meetings. He referred to 3.7 in the report and the statement that 73 households had refused to participate in the survey and asked whether the Council could have applied any legal pressure to encourage participation. He also asserted that the Moreland ward had similar issues as the other wards identified in the report, and asked for further information as to the powers the Council had to intervene if serious issues were identified. The Housing Innovation Manager commented  ...  view the full minutes text for item 107.

108.

Financial Monitoring Quarter 3 Report pdf icon PDF 340 KB

To consider the report of the Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources presenting the Council’s current financial position against the agreed budgets for the 2023/24 financial year, performance of the Council against certain key financial performance indicators, year-end forecasts, and the financial pressures on the Council during the 3rd Quarter ended 31st December 2023.

 

TO FOLLOW.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

108.1  The Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources, Councillor Norman, introduced the report and provided an overview of the main headlines. She advised Members that the forecast year end position was currently a decrease to the Council’s General Fund Balance of £683k against a budgeted decrease of £104k, which was improvement on the Q2 forecast deficit.

 

108.2  The Chair stated that he was pleased to note that the Council had received a £400k windfall of business rates refunds following a review of the application of business rates to museums by the Valuation Office. In response to his request for further information, the Financial Services Manager stated that this was due to a longstanding national challenge  against the Valuation Office which had been ongoing since 2011. He confirmed that the Valuation Office had this year concluded its review with a  decision that museums should not be rateable which had resulted in a 12-year backdated rebate.

 

108.3  The Chair referred to 5.5 in the report and the narrative regarding the South West Regional Development Agency (SWRDA) assets. He asked for clarification as to what properties were still in Council ownership. Councillor Norman confirmed that Southgate Moorings Car Park was still in ownership, and that income received from this car park was reserved for regeneration purposes.

 

108.4  Councillor Wilson noted that the shortfalls in the in the Q3 Financial Monitoring Report and Money Plan recently considered by Council appeared to be different, with a forecast deficit of £349k in the Money Plan and a predicted deficit in the Q3 Financial Monitoring Report of £683k. He asked which document was the most up to date. The Head of Finance and Resources confirmed that both reports should be seen in parallel, with the Financial Monitoring Report providing retrospective figures and the Money Plan looking forward.

 

108.5  Councillor Wilson asked whether this suggested that the financial situation had deteriorated by £334k, or whether the deficits were not comparable. The Head of Finance and Resources confirmed that the figures were comparable, and that the Council was still expecting the deficit to continue to reduce towards the outturn of the financial year.

 

108.6  In response to a further question from Councillor Wilson as to whether the forecast deficit in the Money Plan papers was too optimistic, the Head of Finance and Resources confirmed that in his view, the Council was not being too optimistic and that he expected the figures to align more closely in the remaining financial quarter. Councillor Norman further noted that an improved trend had been seen from throughout each Quarterly Financial Monitoring Report and that in previous years, the Council had seen improvements in the final outturn.

 

108.7  Councillor Pullen referred to the £130k reduction in expected income from Longsmith Street Car Park due to its continued closure, and asked for an update on the current position. He also asked for clarification as to the expected costs needed to reopen the car park. Councillor Norman confirmed that she was still awaiting the final report  ...  view the full minutes text for item 108.

109.

Future Opportunities for the Fleece pdf icon PDF 152 KB

To consider the report of the Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Environment seeking approval to enable Officers to explore a potential development option for the Fleece Hotel site (including Longsmith Street Carpark) with the Phoenix Village Project.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

109.1  The Leader of the Council, Councillor Richard Cook, introduced the report and explained that it sought Cabinet approval to explore a potential development option for the Fleece Hotel site with the Phoenix Village Project. He outlined the recommendations at 2.2 in the report and highlighted that the Appendix 1 showed the extent of the site.

 

109.2  Councillor Cook advised that although the site was initially earmarked for a boutique hotel or retail opportunity following receipt of Levelling Up funding for the development of the site, the Covid-19 pandemic had changed the local economy and the initial agreement had been reconsidered. He advised that the Phoenix Village Project were developing a business plan as a community hub with provision for young adults and that next steps would be work with Phoenix Village to develop a Statement of Intent for negotiations.

 

109.3  The Chair expressed the view that the proposals were interesting and ambitious, and asked whether the plans were realistic. The Head of Place advised that the report sought Cabinet approval to enter into negotiations, and that the Council would obtain further detailed information about the proposals once those negotiations had taken place. He noted that Officers would provide further recommendations to Cabinet based on those discussions.

 

109.4  Councillor Wilson stated his view that the proposals were worthwhile, but noted that he wondered why the Phoenix Village Project were particularly interested in the Fleece site. He highlighted that development of the site would be a large, expensive and demanding project. Councillor Cook noted that the Phoenix Village Project had approached the Council with their interest, and had already undertaken a visit of the site.

 

109.5  Councillor Hilton asked whether the Council intended to pursue a secure freehold sale for the site, where the Council intended to obtain grant funding from and whether there would be any capital implications for the Council if the funding bid was unsuccessful. He also asked for further information as to the current condition of the historic inn, and what the Phoenix Village Project future intentions were for this building. The Head of Place confirmed that the building remained in a similar condition to that of Councillor Hilton’s recent visit and that several surveys had been undertaken which had provided an idea of costs of restoration. He advised that there were 3 distinct parts to the site, and that the Council had not decided whether the sale would be freehold or leasehold and that this would form part of the negotiations. The Head of Place  confirmed that the Council had had positive discussions with a national organisation, and that the intention, subject to approval, was to make a 2-stage grant funding bid. In terms of the historic inn, he advised that he had not seen specified allocation plans for this part of the site.

 

109.6  Councillor Pullen expressed the view that the proposals were innovative and refreshing. He asked for clarification as to whether the Council intended to seek grant funding to prepare the site, with  ...  view the full minutes text for item 109.

110.

2022-2024 Council Plan Six Month Update pdf icon PDF 158 KB

To consider the report of the Leader of the Council seeking to update Members on the delivery of the activities as outlined in the Council Plan 2022-2024 to build a greener, fairer, better Gloucester.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

110.1  Councillor Cook introduced the report and explained that it sought to provide an update on the delivery of the activities as outlined in the Council Plan 2022-24. He reminded Members that the Council plan included 45 actions split across the three priorities set out in 3.3. He advised that of the 45 actions, 35 were currently complete or expected to complete on time, 9 were delayed and 1 was not expected to be completed. He further outlined some of the notable achievements set out at 3.6 in the report.

 

110.2  The Chair referred to the narrative around the successful funding bids to Arts Council England and the increase in cultural organisations which had been awarded National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) status. He asked what the NPOs were in the city. Councillor Cook confirmed that these organisations included Gloucester Guildhall, Strike a Light and Gloucester Culture Trust.

 

110.3  In response to a further query from the Chair regarding the benefits of NPO status, Councillor Cook advised that NPOs were granted significant investment from the Arts Council.

 

110.4  Councillor Wilson noted that the action around supporting the recommendations of the Commission to Review Race Relations had been delayed and requested further information as to why, The Managing Director confirmed that the legacy organisation which emerged from the Race Commission’s work was newly formed and were still establishing their objectives. He advised that Officers had met with the organisation and they had confirmed that they no longer operated under the ‘GREAG’ name, however they were working to establish a business plan.

 

110.5  In response to concerns raised by Councillor Pullen regarding the re-branding of the organisation, the Managing Director noted that the Council needed to be guided by them as it was inappropriate for the authority to drive the agenda on such a sensitive issue. He further noted that the organisation was also being supported by the VCS alliance. Councillor Pullen suggested that the new Overview and Scrutiny Committee, following the local elections, may wish to invite the legacy organisation to a future meeting to provide an update on their vision going forward.

 

110.6  Councillor A. Chambers referred to the narrative in the report regarding the regeneration of Matson and Podsmead, noting that the action relating to Matson regeneration was delayed. He asked for an update on the current situation and whether the Council was putting any pressure on the provider to progress energy improvements. The Managing Director noted that Gloucester City Homes (GCH) was responsible for leading on the action, and that they had not been able to take forward their original proposal for regeneration. He understood that GCH were formulating plans to deliver improvements to the existing housing stock throughout Matson with a view of improving the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) ratings in homes. Councillor S. Chambers further confirmed that she had received assurances from one of the GCH directors that he would provide her with the timescale of the EPC work within the next few days.

 

110.7  In response to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 110.

111.

Overview and Scrutiny Committee Work Programme and Council Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 258 KB

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

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

112.

Date of Next Meeting

Monday 3rd June 2024 at 6.30pm in Civic Suite, North Warehouse.

Minutes:

Monday 3rd June 2024 at 6.30pm in Civic Suite, North Warehouse.