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.


If you would like to ask a question at this meeting, please contact as soon as possible and by Monday 6 July 2020 at the latest.


13.1    Richard Ford asked the following question of the Leader of the Council:


          Section 85(1) of the Local Government Act 1972 states :-


“If a member of a local authority fails throughout a period of six consecutive months from the date of his last attendance to attend any meeting of the authority, he shall, unless the failure was due to some reason approved by the authority before the expiry of that period, cease to be a member of the authority “


No such approval in accordance with s85(1) was made by Gloucester City Council within the requisite time frame and therefore Councillor Lee Hawthorne was automatically excluded from the Council by statute on 10th January 2020.


Please could the Leader of the Council therefore confirm that in accordance with s12(1) of the Scheme of Members’ Allowances with regard to overpayments to Councillors former Councillor Hawthorne will be contacted and asked to repay any allowances erroneously paid to him in respect of the period since he was automatically excluded from the Council on 10th January 2020?


13.2    Councillor Cook stated that it was wrong to conclude that former Councillor Hawthorne's absence from the council was not permitted by a lawful leave of absence granted by the Council.

Mr Hawthorne's leave of absence was considered and approved by this council in November 2019, well before the expiry of the statutory sixth month period.

The resolution passed by the council did not restrict the leave of absence to matters relating to the payment of allowances.

The council was asked to approve a leave of absence for a period of up to six months.

The council was aware of the circumstances which prompted the request, and the council approved that absence.

During that period after, Mr Hawthorne resigned his seat and left the council. The vacant seat would remain vacant because it was not possible to conduct a by-election at present because of the national regulations introduced as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic and the suspension of local government elections.


13.3    Jon Ellis asked, via telephone, when the Council was going to review its mowing regimes in the city. The 20 day cycle appears unsustainable in a city that seeks an increase its biodiversity. The current regimes need to be replaced with more sensitive and cost effective ones which leave wider verges and more areas for wildlife to flourish..

13.4    Councillor Cook advised that the Council had, for a number of years, carried out management regimes on open spaces to improve biodiversity. He stated that there was an annual haycut with a ‘tidy up’ operation conducted in the autumn. He suggested that there would always been a difference of opinion between people on a subjective matter of appearance of green space.


13.5    Deborah Hill asked the Cabinet Member for Communities and Neighbourhoods: As a member of Gloucester City Council and former Chairman of Marketing Gloucester Ltd would you have expected to have been included as a Stakeholder in any Internal Audit work and associated report on Marketing Gloucester Ltd undertaken by Gloucester City Council (as 100% shareholder in Marketing Gloucester Ltd.)?


13.6    Councillor Watkins apologised that Ms Hill had had poor experiences with MGL. During her time as Chair, there was no audit report for Councillor Watkins to consider. Had there been, she would have ensured she was aware of the contents of the report and she confirmed that the former Chair was aware of the 2017 internal audit report.


13.7    Bob Newby asked: Given that the choice of Hempsted Meadows as the site for a COVID Testing Station displaced up to 100 micro-businesses, risking their bankruptcy, and deprived up to 1,000 buying customers of their chosen place to shop, please explain why it was decided that it was the best location and what other locations were considered?


13.8    Councillor Cook stated that he was not aware that other sites were considered. He advised that the NHS had identified the site through consultation with the County Council. Previous to the establishment of the Hempsted site, there had been a testing facility in Brockworth for NHS workers. Other key workers had to go to Worcester or Bristol. A temporary station was initiated at Plock Court but, following an increase in demand, the NHS identified Hempsted Meadows as a viable site to increase testing capacity.


13.9    A question from Steve Gower was provided in advance and was read out on his behalf:


          Following a recent FOI request to the question:


Q. Please can you tell me the number of people on the DO NOT rehouse list as on 11/06/2020 used by our emergency homeless call centre (EDT)


A. The Council does not record these figures.


Will the council acknowledge that it is the councils housing officers that contribute information to the list, for what purpose are these lists used and why doesn't council keep a record of them?


13.10  Councillor Watkins confirmed that the Council did not have a ‘Do not rehouse’ as there was a duty to provide assistance to those who are homeless or threatened with homelessness.