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
43.1 Councillor Stephens asked the Leader of the Council if there would be an opportunity to debate announcements, in particular that by the Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure which referred to support for the UK City of Culture 2025 ambition (42.6).
Councillor Cook replied that he would ask officers to consult the Constitution of the Council so that the matter may be taken forward.
43.2 Councillor Hilton asked the Leader of the Council if he intended to seek appointment to the Board and Chair of Marketing Gloucester Limited (MGL) as the former Leader had done.
Councillor Cook informed Councillor Hilton that he had no plans to do so and reminded him that the current Chair of MGL was a Cabinet Member.
Councillor Hilton noted that the former Leader of the Council had stepped down as MGL Chair due to a potential conflict of interest. He sought clarification from the Leader of the Council on his views concerning conflicts of interest.
Councillor Cook agreed that there should be no conflict of interest and stated that he had stepped down as Chair of Gloucester Docks Estates Company Limited for that reason.
43.3 Councillor Stephens asked the Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources how many applications had been made to the Council Tax Discretionary Hardship Scheme, and how many of those had been successful.
Councillor H Norman answered that she was aware of one application but would check and share the latest figures.
Councillor Stephens noted that the Local Council Tax Support Scheme (LCTS) report presented to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee of 28th October 2019 had estimated that approximately 3,500 households would be affected by that scheme and asked if there was a communication problem.
Councillor H Norman referred to discussions with advice agencies and partner organisations but indicated that she wished to defer further debate as the scheme had only recently been introduced. However, she took the opportunity to urge residents in need of assistance to apply for support.
43.4 Councillor Hilton enquired of the Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure whether the Review of Marketing Gloucester Limited (MGL) would be ready in time for Members to make a judgement at the Overview and Scrutiny Committee of 19th December 2019.
Councillor Morgan advised that although the review had been at the request of the MGL board rather the Council, he was confident it would be available in time for the Overview and Scrutiny Committee Members to give the recommendations full consideration.
Councillor Hilton sought assurance that the full report would be placed in the public domain.
Councillor Morgan reassured Members that the report would be a public document except for any elements of a sensitive commercial nature should there be any.
43.5 Councillor Field referred to evidence he had been sent of antisocial behaviour and asked the Leader of the Council how such behaviour was being combatted.
Councillor Cook drew Members’ attention to the work undertaken by the City Protection Officers and City Safe partnership to deal with antisocial behaviour and prevention of it occurring in the first place.
Councillor Field asked if the Leader was willing be introduced to the business person who had provided the evidence in question.
Councillor Cook confirmed that the matter came under the remit of the Cabinet Member for Communities and Neighbourhoods who would co-operate with Councillor Field.
43.6 Councillor Wilson asked the Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources if the warning issued by the auditors of the last set of Marketing Gloucester Limited (MGL) accounts was related to the £100,000 reduction to the MGL budget in 2018.
Councillor H Norman replied that the assumption could not be made, but that she would enquire into the matter and provide a written response.
43.7 Councillor Coole requested an update from the Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure on progress made towards new seating the Gloucester Guildhall cinema.
Councillor Morgan stated that he would find out.
43.8 Councillor Pullen informed the Cabinet Member for Environment that, when recently dealing with rainwater ingress, the Gloucestershire Bike Project had been told that the Council did not supply sandbags and sought confirmation that this information was correct.
Councillor Cook confirmed that the Council did not supply sandbags.
Councillor Pullen asked if the Cabinet Member for Environment was confident that the Council could fulfil its obligations in the event of a major flooding incident.
Councillor Cook replied that in the event of such an incident the County Council Civil Protection Team would respond rather than the City Council.
43.9 Councillor Lugg observed that despite recent road closures and flooding incidents no updates had been distributed to Members. She sought clarification from the Cabinet Member for Environment on the current position regarding issuing notifications.
Councillor Cook noted that the City Council website published updates on such incidents. He advised that although he had been briefed that the recent events represented minimal risk, he agreed that Members should receive updates and would raise the matter with officers.
43.10 Councillor Haigh requested from the Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure an update on work to address recent heating problems at Blackfriars Priory.
Councillor Morgan informed Members that the remedial work was expected to be complete next week after the parts necessary for repair of the boiler had been supplied.
Councillor Haigh noted that the Pinocchio performance rehearsals had been affected and asked if costs had been incurred.
Councillor Morgan gave assurance that he would get an answer.
43.11 Councillor Melvin as Chair of the Audit and Governance Committee expressed concern that confidential material presented to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee had appeared in the public domain. She sought reassurance from the Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources that the person responsible would resign their position.
Councillor H Norman advised that the Monitoring Officer was investigating the incident. She stated that it was not yet known if the person responsible was an officer, Member or from outside the Council but that once identified they would be dealt with in accordance with the applicable code of conduct.
43.12 Councillor Hampson referred to the cessation of kerbside collections for textiles which he believed may have financial implications for local charity shops. He asked the Cabinet Member for Environment if the local charity shops had been notified.
Councillor Cook reiterated that the cessation had been necessary to save disposal costs. He reminded Members that charity shops were only one means by which residents might discard unwanted textiles, recycling sites being another.
Questions to Chairs of Meetings
43.13 Councillor Wilson asked the Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee if the consideration of Marketing Gloucester Limited at the meeting of 19th December 2019 would be held in public.
Councillor Coole confirmed that it would and that they wanted any confidential element to be presented in an appendix so that the report remains public.
43.14 Councillor Haigh noted that Overview and Scrutiny Committee had implemented the guidance recently issued by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. She asked the Chair what further steps they would take to ensure good scrutiny.
Councillor Coole advised that they would attend the Centre for Public Scrutiny Local Government Scrutiny Conference and intended the Committee to continue to be groundbreaking.