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)




74.1    Councillor Pullen asked the Leader of the Council whether he had confidence in the Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure given the overspend in her portfolio.


74.2    Councillor James replied that he had absolute confidence in the Cabinet Member. He noted that there were particular challenges in her portfolio including the Guildhall, the Museums and the Tourist Information Centre and advised that admission charges had been abolished for the Museum of Gloucester and the Folk Museum was being handed over to the civic trust.  Her was confident that the budget situation would improve and cited the £1.5 million funding obtained from the Great Place fund as an example.


74.3    Councillor Pulllen stated that the Overview and Scrutiny Committee had been given a range of excuses yet the Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources had said Cabinet Members worked together and all portfolios were within budget.


74.4    Councillor James confirmed that the Cabinet did work as a team and were responsible for ensuring that the overall budget balanced.


74.5    Councillor Pullen asked the Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources how members of the public would access the services provided by Green Square as they would not be able to operate out of the new reception.


74.6    Councillor Hannah Norman advised that three options were being considered and would be discussed with Green Square in the first instance and she undertook to share consensus with Members.


74.7    Councillor Pullen hoped there would be no deterioration in the service provided.


74.8    Councillor Hannah Norman stated that was the intention.


74.9    Councillor Hilton asked the Cabinet Member for Communities and Neighbourhoods for an explanation why work on the garden in Wellington Square, which Officers had stated would be completed by April, had not yet been started.


74.10  Councillor Watkins stated that part of the reason was due to changes to the plans following public consultation and work would start as soon as was possible.


74.11  Councillor Hilton had not been made aware of or received any amended plans and noted that the funding of £6,000 proved from Members’ allocations remained in place.


74.12  Councillor Watkins stated that Councillors had been made aware of the consultation. She could understand the Councillor’s frustration and suggested he speak to the Officers involved after the meeting and to contact her if he still had concerns. Councillor Hilton indicated that he would prefer a written report.


74.13  Councillor Hilton asked the Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure for information on the funding for the proposed Modern Creative Art Centre.


74.14  Councillor Noakes replied that the funding bid had not been successful but it was one of only two bids from the South West which had been put forward. The bid had received a great deal of support including from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation.


74.15  Councillor Hilton asked if it was true that the current users had been given notice to quit King’s House.


74.16  Councillor Noakes stated that the Creative Entrepreneurs Hub remained a key aim and a vital part of the King’s Quarter devevelopment.


74.17  Councillor Wilson asked the Leader of the Council if the Gloucestershire resilience Forum were considering Brexit.


74.18  Councillor James that the Forum was meeting on a weekly basisd although the situation still remained as green. The Forum would correspond with daily telephone calls from Friday.


74.19  Councillor Haigh asked the Cabinet Member for Planning and Housing Strategy what progress was being made with the City Plan which had been intended to run from 2016.


74.20  Councillor Organ stated that information and policies were being presented to the Planning Policy Members Working Group and it was intended to present the draft City Plan to Council in July.


74.21  Councillor Morgan asked the Leader of the Council if he could work with developers to ensure that the Copeland Play Area was adopted before another school holiday.


74.22  Councillor James stated that he had been in touch with both Bovis and Robert Hitchins and the transfer documents had arrived at the Council that day.


74.23  Councillor Morgan asked the Leader of the Council if he would instruct Officers to expediate the matter


74.24  Councillor James stated that the Cabinet Member for Environment had assured him that he would expediate the matter.


74.25  Councillor Hansdot asked the Cabinet Member for Communities and Neighbourhoods if premises used for housing the homeless complied with food and hygiene standards.


74.26  Councillor Watkins stated that she was not aware of any issues. She noted that Officers ensured the quality of the accommodation which received regular inspections.


74.27  Councillor Hansdot asked if hotels and bed and breakfast establishments had to meet a minimum star rating.


74.28  Councillor Watkins confirmed that Officers worked with premises to ensure that they reached the required standards.


74.29  Councillor Derbyshire noted that people in Coney Hill had expressed concerns that local shops were closing. She recognized that this was a national problem but asked the Leader of the Council if the Council had a strategy to address this issue.


74.30  Councillor James stated that there was a strategy and noted initiatives to reduce business rates by a third for two years, a bid to the Future High Street Fund for £10 million, the investment in Kings Walk. He noted that there had been an update by Reef and an announcement would be made soon. He noted that Reef considered Gloucester to be the most exciting of all their portfolios. He also noted the opening of a new Chinese Restaurant, a Games Shop and a new Menswear Store.


74.31  Councillor Coole noted the initiative to provide free sanitary products in schools and he asked the Cabinet Member for Communities and Neighbourhoods if the Council would follow suit.


74.32  Councillor Watkins replied that the issue was still on the agenda and she was looking at alternative ways to provide these items.


74.33  Councillor Lugg asked the Cabinet Member for Environment if he would join her in welcoming Worcester City Council on joining the City Council and other local authorities  who had supported

 the ‘Send a Message in a Bottle’ campaign to reduce plastic waste in the River Severn.


74.34  Councillor Cook indicated that he was pleased to join Councillor Lugg in congratulating Worcester City Council on resolving to support the campaign.