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)




60.1    Councillor Hilton conveyed the Liberal Democrat Group’s best regards to the Mayor. Councillor Hilton asked Councillor James if he could confirm whether he had been on holiday to Italy with the former Chief Executive of MGL while he himself was Chair. Councillor James confirmed that he had and that it was a wedding gift.


60.2    Councillor Hilton asked Councillor James who had paid for travel and accommodation on said trip. Councillor James reiterated that it was a wedding gift and he had consulted the rules on receiving gifts and considered that this gift did not come within the scope of the rules.


60.3    Councillor Stephens wished the Mayor a speedy recovery. Councillor Stephens asked Councillor Cook if he could accept or refute the allegation that senior officers had pressurized MGL to organise unaffordable events. Councillor Cook stated that he was not involved in MGL at the time and that he could neither confirm nor deny such an allegation.


60.4    Councillor Stephens asked Councillor Cook to clarify whether senior Conservative Members had placed pressure upon either MGL or officers with regard to such events. Councillor Cook advised that the Cabinet (excempt Councillor James) had approved the funding cut and this was the extent of his knowledge.


60.5    Councillor Hilton asked Councillor James to confirm whether Councillor Melvin had assisted in drawing up the tender documents for the sale of the Herbert, Kimberley and Philpotts warehouses. Councillor James replied by stating that there was no such involvement on Councillor Melvin’s part.


60.6    Councillor Hilton asked Councillor James whether he agreed that, if Councillor Melvin did assist, it was inappropriate given Councillor Melvin’s interest in part of the property. Councillor James advised that the tender documents were drawn up by officers.


60.7    In relation to the recent purchase of St. Oswald’s Retail Park and, specifically, the land to the rear of the site, Councillor Stephens asked Councillor James if an indication could be given as to the process by which plans would be taken forward and a likely timescale. Councillor James advised that the land was jointly owned by the City Council and Tesco. He further advised that he had asked for a report to be brought to Cabinet in March which should show the way forward and Tesco’s intentions.


60.8    Councillor Stephens stated that, as a landlord, this provided an opportunity for social housing. Did the Cabinet Member of Planning and Housing Strategy agree that social housing was the most pressing housing need. Councillor Gravells advised that there had been discussions with a number of social housing providers and that it was necessary to continue negotiations. As these were commercial issues, there was a need for confidentiality.


60.9    Councillor Wilson asked Councillor H. Norman regarding reports on Marketing Gloucester which referred to concerns regarding amounts of payments CEO sent to  himself. He asked:


- Were these payments made for “consultancy” services provided in the    setting up of UK:DRIC,

- were they part of the £476,000 total spend,

- who approved these payments and;

- how much was the total?

60.10  Councillor H. Norman informed Councillor Wilson that a review of UK:DRIC would be undertaken and that she would write to him with the answers to his questions.

60.11  Councillor Pullen asked Councillor Cook what preparations were being made to re-tender the Amey contract and whether there was enough resource available. Councillor Cook responded that officers were taking tendering very seriously and that he was hopeful it would be done in partnership.

60.12  Councillor Pullen then asked that Councillor Cook give a guarantee that a full options appraisal would be carried out including the option to bring the service back ‘in house.’ Councillor Cook confirmed that a full options appraisal would be carried out including the option to bring the service back ‘in house’.

60.13  Councillor Field asked Councillor Cook if he would join him in condemning the vandalism that had been committed around the space at Milton Avenue and if he would meet with him to explore how the site could be made more secure. Councillor Cook agreed that vandalism should not be tolerated and stated that he would meet Councillor Field to explore options.

60.14  Councillor Coole asked Councillor Cook what action the Council was taking to build resilience in case of extreme weather events. Councillor Cook stated that there was capacity and that officers were engaged in flood mitigation.

60.15  Councillor Coole then asked if Councillor Cook would agree to liaise with other bodies including the County Council. Councillor Cook confirmed that he had regular meetings with his counterpart at the County Council and that a climate officer was now in place.

60.16  Councillor D. Brown noted that the Gloucester Business Improvement District had been paying MGL £3.9k for maintenance. He asked Councillor Cook if the BID had made any other payments for events. Councillor Cook advised that this was a matter for the BID itself.

60.17  Councillor Hansdot asked Councillor Watkins why officers were advising those who had been served a notice of eviction to remain in the property until bailiffs attend. Councillor Watkins advised that individuals had to remain in the property for as long as was legal. She stated that as the Homelessness Reduction Act had been enacted, much prevention work had been undertaken. Councillor Watkins encouraged Members to raise cases with officers.

Questions to Chairs of Committees

60.18  Councillor Haigh asked the Chair of the Audit and Governance Committee, Councillor Melvin, if the minutes of MGL performance review meetings had been circulated to that Committee. Councillor Melvin advised that this would be followed up.