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)




            Questions to Cabinet Members


28.1    Councillor Pullen welcomed Councillor H. Norman to her new post as Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources and stated that he was pleased that the closure of reception on the last Wednesday of the month would cease. He asked of the Cabinet Member how, in light of residents and others unable to access the Council’s reception, how he should have answered their queries regarding the closure.


28.2    Councillor H. Norman stated that training was not affected by some who were unable to access the building and apologised to those individuals who could not access the Council’s offices. She further stated that good quality had been delivered during the closures.


28.3    Councillor Pullen noted that at the most recent meeting of the Cabinet, the outgoing Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources stated that he wished the new Cabinet Member for remaining within budget. He asked how confident the new Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources was for remaining within budget. Councillor H. Norman stated that the Cabinet was a strong team and that she was confident this would happen.


28.4    By way of a supplementary question, Councillor Pullen asked the Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources, Councillor H. Norman, what pressure would be put on the Culture and Leisure portfolio to remain within its budget. Councillor H. Norman stated that the whole Cabinet would be working together so that all portfolios would remain in budget.


28.5    Councillor Hilton congratulated Councillor H. Norman on her new post. He asked of the Cabinet Member for Environment, Councillor Cook, if the shortfall of £300k of income from Amey resulting from the missing recycling waste and underselling of other recyclable materials had been recovered. Councillor Cook advised that payments had been withheld and would continue to be withheld until a satisfactory resolution was achieved.


28.6    Councillor Hilton asked whether the Council had received legal advice on whether there were sufficient grounds to issue Amey with a notice to terminate the contract and if the Council had issued instructions to terminate the streetcare contract. Councillor Cook advised that the Council’s representatives continued to liaise with representatives from Amey to find a resolution.


28.7    Councillor Hilton asked of the Councillor Cook what progress had been made in bringing forward alternative arrangements for the delivery of the streetcare services. Councillor Cook stated that he would continue to receive options appraisals and guidance accordingly. By way of a supplementary question, Councillor Hilton asked what Councillor Cook’s preferred option was –to go out to tender on the open market or to bring the services ‘in house’ as a Council direct labour organisation. Councillor Cook advised that he would examine all relevant option on an objective basis.


28.8    Councillor Toleman asked the Cabinet Member for Housing Strategy and Planning, Councillor Organ, to confirm whether the transfer of housing stock to Gloucester City Homes was a cross-party endeavour. Councillor Organ confirmed that it was.


28.9    Councillor Coole asked the Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources, Councillor H. Norman, if, given the announcement that reception closures would cease, he had been incorrect in his assessment of the level of interactions sought on closure days.Councillor H. Norman stated that there had been a difference in calculations and definitions of those who had been interacting with the Council on closure days.


28.10  Councillor Coole asked Councillor H. Norman if she would apologise to those who could not access Council services. Councillor H. Norman stated that she would apologise to anyone inconvenienced by closures and that it had been a beneficial training programme.


28.11  Council Haigh asked the Leader of the Council, Councillor James, what the funding source for the King’s Square development was. Councillor James responded that the first phase was under the Capital Programme.


28.12  Councillor Lugg asked Councillor Cook what the ultimate destination of a black plastic tray was. Councillor Cook advised that such items were not recyclable.


28.13  Councillor Lewis asked Richard Cook if there had been any improvement in the recycling of food waste. Councillor Cook advised that there had been a 13% increase in such recycling which represented 450 tonnes per year.


28.14  Councillor Ryall asked Councillor James if he would join her in welcoming all new students to Gloucester. Councillor James welcomed all the new students and informed Members that he attended the opening of the new business school. Councillor James further stated that the new students would undoubtedly enhance the life of the City.


28.15  Councillor Ryall asked Councillor James what action had been taken to overcome some negative perceptions of safety in the City. Upon deferment, Councillor Watkins thanked partners, particularly the University of Gloucestershire, for working with the City Council to address safety concerns. He stated that he was confident that such concerns would be allayed. 


28.16  Councillor Wilson asked Councillor James if he had been in contact with the Local Government Association (LGA) given the chances of a ‘No-Deal’ Brexit had increased and what the Council would do to help the most vulnerable were there to be no agreement with the European Union. Councillor James advised that the Council took its lead from the LGA as well as briefing notes from the Key Cities Group. He further stated that such matters would be dealt with as and when they arose.


28.17  Councillor Dee asked the Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure, Councillor Noakes, how well attended the recent History Festival was. Councillor Noakes advised that it was a very successful festival and informed Members that the talks at Blackfriars saw a large increase in visitors from all over the world.


28.18  Councillor D. Brown asked Councillor Cook if there was explanation for delays in green waste collection. Councillor Cook advised Councillor D. Brown to furnish him with the details and he would respond accordingly.


28.19  Councillor D. Brown asked of Councillor Cook if there were any early indications of take up for the new green waste collection. Councillor Cook advised that it was likely to be commensurate with previous years.


28.20  Councillor Hampson asked Councillor Cook if there was any advice for residents who had had their green waste collection delayed and whether there was a possibility of a refund. Councillor Cook advised that residents should report their concerns to the Council and, in relation to refunds, further advised that he would be raising the matter with the relevant parties.


28.21  Councillor Gravells noted that upcoming AGM of the National Sherriff’s Association and asked Councillor James if he agreed with him that all should be done to preserve the Sheriff’s Mill and other similarly historic buildings. Councillor James stated that he did agree and that he was looking forward to discovering more about such matters.


            Questions to Chairs of Committees


28.22  Councillor Haigh asked the Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Councillor Coole, whether he thought the Council should contribute a submission to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MCLG) in relation to statutory scrutiny guidance which was due to be published at the end of the year. Councillor Coole stated that it would be useful to prepare a submission.


28.23  Councillor Hilton asked the Chair of the Planning Committee, Councillor Taylor, whether he had, to date, met Redrow Homes or their agents since the 5th August 2016 to discuss planning applications in respect of 89 or 100 dwellings on the former Civil Service Sports Ground. Councillor Taylor advised that he had not met either Redrow Homes or their agents prior to any planning application.


28.24  As a supplementary question, Councillor Hilton asked Councillor Taylor what verbal or written discussions he had had with Members of the Cabinet or Council Officers in respect of the two applications. Councillor Taylor advised that no such discussions had taken place.