Agenda item

Public Question Time (15 Minutes)

The opportunity is given to members of the public to put questions to Cabinet Members or Committee Chairs 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.


48.1    Mr Steve Gower stated that since 2010 there had been 20 per cent cuts to the environmental health department and no prosecutions of rogue landlords since 2015 and a reduction in police numbers of 222 and 70% of crimes being committed with no further action taking place in 2017 alone.


A recent statement from the homeless charity Shelter pleading for at least three million social housing units to be built in the UK. Yet in Gloucester, all empty dwellings, re-structuring of commercial properties into domestic and new build future projects, have no provision for Social Housing at all.


Last year he asked a public question to the then Homeless Councillor - that question was: “How many vulnerable people have died in supported living and HMOs for the homeless that were provided by this city in 2017” and the answer was an emphatic 47. Which was quickly denied the next day. Can the new Homeless Councillor please give a response to the same question for 2018?


He also asked in 2017, who the Independent body overseeing complaints for residents within the applications of the upcoming Social Impact Bond, was and indeed is.


He stated that he was still waiting for a response.      


Last year he asked who the Independent body or appropriate professional individual is, that should be contacted in the event of any complaint made about a Councillor in this City.


He asked today for more transparency within Council regarding any professional conflict of interest, so that no confusion exists regarding any such problem facing individuals or indeed Council.


Food bank usage has tripled since 2010.


Will there be a position for councillor of hunger.


He asked the Leader of the Council if he believed that Council members and staff should be ethically, morally and legally accountable for all of the above-stated points – as part of their Public Service to the citizens of this City?


48.2    The Leader of the Council addressed the following points:-


·       A rogue landlord had been successfully prosecuted in 2017 and addressing standards remained an ongoing priority.

·       Policing was the responsibility of the Police and Crime Commissioner and the Chief Constable.

·       Affordable housing had been determined at 20 per cent in the Joint Core Strategy unless viability assessments indicated a lower figure.

·       Conversion of offices to residential use without the requirement for affordable housing was national policy.

·       Complaints on Councillor conduct should be directed to the Council’s Monitoring Officer.

·       Councillors were accountable to the scrutiny process, through public question time and ultimately to the electorate through the ballot box.


48.3    Councillor Watkins, Cabinet Member for Communities and Neighbourhoods advised that the figures for deaths in HMOs had not been provided by the Council although every such death was a tragedy.  She advised that complaints from tenants should be addressed to the landlord in the first instance and if necessary to a local Councillor, the Member of Parliament or the Housing Ombudsman.