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)




Leader and Cabinet Members’ Question Time


52.1    Councillor Pullen asked the Cabinet Member for Environment for an update on his discussions with Amey.


52.2    Councillor Cook replied that discussions were continuing but it would not be appropriate to comment on those discussions in a public forum at this stage. He hoped that the discussions would reach a conclusion soon.


52.3    Councillor Pullen noted that the loss of recyclables had been identified in June and the service had continued to deteriorate.


52.4    Councillor Cook reiterated that he expected a conclusion to the discussions soon.


52.5    Councillor Pullen noted that the funding bid for £5.6 million for a culture hub had been unsuccessful and he asked the Leader of the Council if this would impact on the plans for the Kings Quarter development.


52.6    Councillor James replied that it had already been agreed that in the event of the bid not succeeding it was still intended to deliver a Creative Entrepreneurs Hub and it would make no difference to the Kings Quarter development.


52.7    Councillor Noakes, Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure advised that the bid had reached a national shortlist of nineteen. She noted that a representative of the Arts Council would be visiting on 1st February to discuss the reasons why the bid had not been successful. She stated that other opportunities for funding would be pursued.


52.8    Councillor Pullen stated that he would appreciate an opportunity to see the feedback. He asked the Leader of the Council if the Council would be bidding for the Future High Streets Fund.


52.9    Councillor James confirmed that the Council would be submitting a bid. He advised that the Cabinet Member for Policy and Resources had recently had an encouraging meeting with the Minister and expressions of interest had to be submitted by 22nd March 2019.


52.10  Councillor Hilton referred to the Central Post Office which was an attractive 85 year old building and asked the Leader of the Council why a public toilet had been placed in front of the building.


52.11  Councillor James advised that the siting of toilets in Kings Square had been dictated by the location of utilities. He noted that the toilets were of a semi-permanent nature and could be moved in the future.


52.12  Councillor Hilton stated that he keen to see more public toilets in the City but he believed that there must be a better location for those in Kings Square.


52.13  Councillor James indicated that other locations had been considered but he reiterated that the siting was dictated by the location of utilities. He noted that the toilet block may not be required when the Kings Quarter development was delivered.


52.14  Councillor Hilton noted that the Cabinet Member for Environment had previously stated that Amey were a nightmare to deal with and he asked Councillor Cook why he had not terminated the contract.


52.15  Councillor Cook advised that if the contract was terminated the Council could face legal proceedings for breach of contract and he was not prepared to take the risk which had the potential to cost the Council millions.


52.16 Councillor Hilton noted that the end of the financial year was approaching and would be an appropriate time to terminate the contract.


52.17  Councillor Cook doubted that alternative arrangements could be put in place within that timescale. He believed that the situation had to be dealt with step by step with the best interests of Council tax payers in mind.


52.18 Councillor Haigh asked the Cabinet Member for Planning and Housing Strategy if he would commit to the numbers of homes in the Supplementary Planning Document for Matson.


52.19  Councillor Organ stated that Gloucester City Homes would control this development. A development brief had been submitted in December and officers would consult prior to submission to the cabinet in March. He noted that viability would be the key to numbers achievable.


52.20  Councillor Haigh noted that the Supplementary Planning Document would be the property of the City Council when it was adopted. She stated that City residents needed more social and affordable housing and asked Councillor Organ again if he would commit to numbers.


52.21  Councillor Organ stated that the document would be subject to consultation and the decision of the Planning Committee therefore he was unable to give any commitment to numbers.


52.22  Councillor Coole asked the Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources for an update on the recommendation to Cabinet that customers who interact with Council services be surveyed on their preferred methods of using services.


52.23  Councillor Hannah Norman responded that the survey would be undertaken in the near future.


52.24  Councillor Wilson asked the Leader of the Council what arrangements had been made for items of historical significance in the warehouses in light of the forthcoming office move.


52.25  Councillor James replied that most of the items of historical significance were in North Warehouse which would not be vacated. He was not aware of any such items in the other warehouses but if any were found he would ensure that they were dealt with in an appropriate manner.


52.26  Councillor Stephens asked the Cabinet Member for Communities and Neighbourhoods if she would comment on the following statistics:


·       4,904 people on the Housing Waiting List, of whom

·       153 were in the Gold Band (very urgent need)

·       1,580 were in the silver band (urgent need)

·       Representing 1,737 people in urgent need of housing

·       153 households in temporary accommodation

·       8 households in temporary accommodation outside Gloucester

·       Cost of dealing with homelessness this year was £1.3 million



52.27  Councillor Watkins replied that this was the first question regarding homelessness she had received at Council in the eight months since homelessness had been added to her portfolio of responsibilities. She stated that the latest statistics (14/12/18) were as follows:


·       4,478 people on the Housing waiting list

·       145 households in temporary accommodation

·       3 households in temporary accommodation outside Gloucester


She stated that these reductions were welcomed and whilst Officers were working hard, there was still more work to be done. She stated that there was a focus on the causes of homelessness and the need to reduce those issues.


52.28  Councillor Stephens was pleased to learn that the Cabinet recognised the need for additional temporary accommodation and he called for the investment of £5 million to provide more temporary accommodation in the City. He was pleased to see a reduction in the figures but he still considered the situation to be unacceptable.


5.29    Councillor Watkins responded that the Council needed to look at how it worked with its partners. She believed that the Homelessness Reduction Act was working and she anticipated announcements of more funding in the near future.


5.30    Councillor David Brown asked the Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources for an update on the My Gloucester app. He noted that residents were increasingly encouraged to do things for themselves and the app was not always working.


5.31    Councillor Hannah Norman agreed that My Gloucester had not been the best part of the transformation process but would be further developed as part of the Ignite project.