Agenda and minutes

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

Contact: Democratic and Electoral Services 

Link: Watch meeting

Items
No. Item

88.

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.

89.

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.

90.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 186 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 8th January 2024.

Minutes:

RESOLVED – That the minutes of the meeting held on Monday 8th January were approved and signed by the Chair as a correct record.

91.

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 democratic.services@gloucester.gov.uk by 12 noon on Wednesday 31st January 2024 or telephone (01452) 396203 for support.

Minutes:

There were no public questions.

92.

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.

Minutes:

There were no petitions nor deputations.

93.

Action Point Item pdf icon PDF 151 KB

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

Minutes:

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

94.

Lease of Land at Hempsted Meadow pdf icon PDF 124 KB

To consider the report of the Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources and Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure outlining the options for the disposal of land at Hempsted Meadows by way of a lease for the provision of a dedicated event space to include a car boot sale, markets and associated amenities.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

94.1    The Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources, Councillor Hannah Norman, introduced the report and explained that it outlined how the Council proposed to formalise a long-term lease for Hempsted Meadow. She reminded Members of the previous licensing arrangement and outlined the resolutions that Cabinet were being asked to approve, as set out in 2.2 of the report.

 

94.2    The Chair referred to Appendix 1 and asked for clarification on the map and site plans which Councillor Norman and the Investment Manager provided. The Investment Manager advised Members which areas of the map included grass and hard standing for the car park area, and noted that in order to accommodate toilets and office space on the site, the new leaseholder would look after a larger parcel of estate than the current arrangement.

 

94.3    Councillor Morgan queried whether there was a proposal to extend the lease to the land to the right of the access road which had been previously used for alternative purposes. The Investment Manager confirmed that the proposals covered the site included in Appendix 1 only, and the other parcels of the estate would be available for other leases or purposes, including events.

 

94.4    Councillor A. Chambers asked why the proposals for a long-term lease with regular break clauses were not in place previously. He further asked whether there would be joint break clauses within the new agreement. Councillor Norman advised that a license in respect of the site had been issued initially, following the hiatus where the land was used as a testing site during the Covid-19 pandemic. She expressed the view that now was the appropriate time to provide the license holder with the opportunity to continue to operate while the Council considered longer-term provision for the land. Councillor Norman also advised that the break clauses would need to be mutual.

 

94.5    In response to a further query from Councillor A. Chambers regarding the possibility of a replacement provider, Councillor Norman stated that there would be a competitive lease process and that the Council would be seeking a tenant who was committed to the site and financially stable.

 

94.6    In respect of the narrative at 3.6 and the fixed rate income, Councillor Wilson asked whether the proposed long-term lease arrangement would be index linked. Councillor Norman confirmed that this was the expectation however the valuation of the land would need to be considered for various uses to enable to Council to have the best possible consideration.

 

94.7    Councillor Wilson asked what the Council’s powers would be in the event of another pandemic. The Investment Manager advised that pandemic clauses were now common in lease agreements, and if there were pandemic restrictions on trading in the future, it would likely be in the new tenant’s best interest to work with the Council.

 

94.8    In response to a question from Councillor Pullen as to whether the new leaseholder would be able to sublease on the site, Councillor Norman advised that consideration would need to take place as part  ...  view the full minutes text for item 94.

95.

Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan pdf icon PDF 814 KB

To consider the report of the Cabinet Member for Environment seeking the adoption of a Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

95.1    The Cabinet Member for Environment, Councillor Cook, introduced the report and explained that Cabinet was being asked to recommend to Council to resolve that the Climate Change Strategy be adopted and issued for public consultation. He reminded Members of the background of the strategy, which was outlined in paragraph 3 in the report, and advised that Section 4 of the Climate Change Strategy, provided in Appendix 1, outlined in significant detail how the Council intended to approach decarbonisation. Councillor Cook thanked WSP consultants and senior Officers for their efforts in producing the strategy, as well as Members who had provided comments and contributions.

 

95.2    The Chair expressed the view that the report was very detailed and made for good reading. He asked how the Council could best influence areas, such as transport and highways, which were not under its control but were considered to be significant drivers of emissions. The Climate Change and Decarbonisation Lead agreed that the Council was not the responsible authority for highways, however it was his hope that Officers would work collaboratively with colleagues in Gloucestershire County Council.  He also noted that the Climate Leadership Gloucestershire group was key in driving collaboration between the District and County Councils. The Climate Change and Decarbonisation Lead further commented that the Council was leading by example, through its hybrid working model and green travel initiatives, and could use its assets to assist the highways authority, such as providing more electric vehicle charging points in car parks and promoting green infrastructure.

 

95.3    The Chair referred to the Council’s ambition to plant more trees, and asked whether there would be provision for tree lined avenues as a requirement in new planning applications. The Climate Change and Decarbonisation Lead confirmed that developers were now required to include tree lined streets in planning applications, which also had public health and social value benefits. Councillor Cook further confirmed that under current planning legislation, developers were required to show how they would contribute to biodiversity net gain.

 

95.4    Councillor Pullen thanked Officers and Councillor Cook for the detailed report. He asked for further details as to how the Council proposed to consult on the Climate Change Strategy. He wondered that as the strategy was such an important piece of work for the city, whether consideration could be given to consulting through roadshows as well as the usual online consultation methods. Councillor Cook responded that the detail around how consultation would be undertaken was yet to be developed. The Climate Change and Decarbonisation Lead noted that as a District Council, the Council was more limited in funding than larger authorities but would look to improve consultation, particularly in its discussions with young people.

 

95.5    Councillor Pullen referred to the narrative in the report at 3.8 concerning Member engagement, and asked whether consideration could be given to a Member Briefing following the 2024 local elections to brief new Councillors on the Climate Change Strategy. Councillor Cook noted his agreement, and confirmed that this could be included  ...  view the full minutes text for item 95.

96.

Housing and Homelessness Strategy pdf icon PDF 315 KB

To scope a new Housing Strategy for Gloucester.

Minutes:

96.1    The Cabinet Member for Planning and Housing Strategy, Councillor Stephanie Chambers, and the Housing Innovation Manager delivered a presentation outlining the background of the Council’s current Housing and Homelessness Strategy 2020-25 and the timeline for the production of the next Housing Strategy, which would be due for adoption in 2025. The Housing Innovation Manager explained that he was keen to seek the views of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee to scope this work, and that Officers would use the suggestions to prepare a draft strategy on which residents and stakeholders would be consulted towards the end of 2024. He confirmed that the Council aimed to adopt the new Housing strategy in Spring/Summer 2025.

 

96.2    The Housing Innovation Manager suggested Members consider whether there was a case for a longer strategic strategy with annual action plan updates, whether the timeline of the strategy could be aligned with other corporate strategies, how the Council should monitor outcomes and how the Overview and Scrutiny Committee wished to be involved in such monitoring.

 

96.3    The Chair reminded Members of the recommendation of the Peer Review panel for the Overview and Scrutiny Committee to have more of a role in policy development, which was the idea of bringing this strategy forward to the Committee at the earliest stage of development.

 

96.4    Councillor Hilton asserted that more affordable homes were needed to meet the demand for housing in Gloucester, and that there was an additional challenge as there was very limited developable land available in Gloucester. He expressed the view that it would be useful for Officers to consider local brownfield sites and their potential for development into housing. Councillor Hilton felt that the Council needed to continue to lobby central Government through the Local Government Association (LGA) and that the Council should aim to provide appropriate accommodation alongside the prevalent houses of multiple occupation (HMOs).

 

96.5    Councillor Pullen suggested that the Overview and Scrutiny Committee consider establishing a Task and Finish Group to work with Officers to develop the new Housing Strategy. It was agreed that this could be a useful way forward and a future work consideration for the new Overview and Scrutiny Committee following the 2024 local elections.

 

96.6    Councillor Tracey noted her concerns about the number of empty homes in the city which could otherwise be used to meet the current housing demand.

 

96.7    Councillor A. Chambers noted that there would always be a need for HMOs in city provided that they met the necessary Council building regulations. He further commented that any issues with anti-social behaviour should be reported and dealt with via the correct route.

 

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

97.

Leisure Services Update pdf icon PDF 90 KB

To consider the report of the Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure providing an update on leisure provision in Gloucester.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

97.1    The Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure, Councillor Andrew Lewis, introduced the Leisure Services Update Report which had been requested by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee following a previous update.

 

97.2    Councillor Hilton asked how much outstanding debt the former Aspire Leisure Trust owed the Council. Councillor Lewis confirmed that he would make follow up enquiries and that this information would be provided to Overview and Scrutiny Committee Members in due course,

 

97.3    Councillor Pullen asked for clarification as to what was meant by the LTS acronym. The Head of Culture clarified that this referred to Learn to Swim.

 

97.4    Councillor Pullen referred to the current membership figure which stood at 450, compared to a pre-closure membership of 1,032. He asked how soon it was likely to be before membership reached pre-closure figures. Councillor Lewis advised Members that the situation was improving, and that the new provider was also attracting users from outside of Gloucester.

 

97.5    In response to a further query from Councillor Pullen regarding membership figures, Councillor Lewis reiterated that he was encouraged by the latest figures and he felt it was positive that membership had reached 450 just 9 weeks following the closure of Aspire.

 

97.6    Councillor Pullen expressed the view that free car parking in Asda for Freedom Leisure customers and staff was a good idea, and queried whether the use of the car park came at a cost to the Council. Councillor Lewis confirmed that it did not, and that Asda had become open to the idea due to the potential for increased footfall from Leisure service customers in store.

 

97.7    Councillor Castle referred to the narrative at paragraph 13 in the report, and asked what the Council’s plans for investment were should it not succeed in its bid to Sport England for capital investment funding from the Swimming Pool Support Fund. The Head of Culture advised that a decision from Sport England was imminent, however the Council would still invest capital works on GL1 and Oxstalls in the event that it was not successful, and this would take place during the lifetime of the next permanent Leisure Services contract.

 

97.8    In response to a further query from Councillor Castle as to how much the Council planned to invest, the Head of Culture confirmed that the Council planned on putting forward £8m of capital investment over the course of a 10-15 year contract.

 

97.9    Councillor Castle referred to the successful PR figure of 71% in the Freedom Leisure performance report. She asked how this figure had been calculated. Councillor Lewis agreed to seek clarification from Freedom Leisure and it was agreed that this information would be circulated to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee in due course.

 

97.10  In response to a query from Councillor Wilson regarding which facilities had been reopened since the closure of Aspire Leisure, Councillor Lewis advised that all facilities had been reopened apart from the GL1 sauna.

 

97.11  In response to a question from Councillor Zaman regarding discounts for local  ...  view the full minutes text for item 97.

98.

Museum Development Plan Update pdf icon PDF 139 KB

To consider the report of the Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure providing an overview of progress made to date against the Museum Development Plan 2021-2026.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

98.1    The Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure, Councillor Andrew Lewis, introduced the Museum Development Plan Progress Update report and invited questions from Members.

 

98.2    The Chair asked whether the Council was confident that the Museum of Gloucester would retain its accreditation. Councillor Lewis confirmed that he was as confident as he could be.

 

98.3    In relation to the former Folk of Gloucester Museum decant, the Chair asked whether all of its collections were being decanted to the Museum of Gloucester. The Head of Culture confirmed that there were a large number of items belonging to the Museum of Gloucester which were still at the Folk of Gloucester Museum. He noted that there was previously a list of around 1000 objects which the Folk of Gloucester wished to retain, however the position had now changed and it was likely that all items would be decanted to the Museum of Gloucester.

 

98.4    In response to a further question from the Chair as to whether there were any security concerns around this collection, Councillor Lewis replied that he was not aware of security concerns from the Folk of Gloucester Museum.

 

98.5    Councillor Pullen referred to 8.4 in the report regarding discussions with the county Library service and asked for clarification that the building was in the ownership of the County Council rather than the City Council, to which Councillor Lewis confirmed that it was.

 

98.6    Councillor Pullen asked whether it would make sense for the museum to expand into the library building when it became vacant. Councillor Lewis advised that conversations regarding the future use of the space were ongoing with the County Council and confirmed that the library was due to relocate to the former Debenhams building towards the end of the year.

 

98.7    Councillor Hilton referred to 3.5 in the report regarding the accreditation renewal for the Museum of Gloucester. He asked what the deadline of the submission of returns was, and how onerous a task it would be for Officers. He also asked whether there would be any budgetary impact as a result of this process. The Head of Culture advised that the Council had not yet received a timeframe and that the submission could take several months to prepare. This said, he confirmed that the culture service had systems in place and that he did not believe it would require additional financial resource.

 

98.8    Councillor Tracey referred to surplus disposals and asked whether there were any opportunities to sell on some collections such as clothes and pottery. The Head of Culture explained that good collection management did require disposal, however in order to achieve accreditation, the museum needed to follow a designated process rather than opting to sell items at first instance. He noted that financially motivated sales could take place, however other options, such as decanting to other museums, should be considered first.

 

98.9    In response to a question from Councillor A. Chambers regarding collection digitisation and the prospect of an online portal, Councillor Lewis explained that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 98.

99.

Overview and Scrutiny Committee Work Programme and Council Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 248 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.

100.

Date of Next Meeting

Monday 26th February 2024 at 6.30pm in Civic Suite, North Warehouse.

Minutes:

Monday 26th February 2024 at Civic Suite, North Warehouse.