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)




16.1    Councillor Stephens asked if the relevant Cabinet Member could update Members of the forecasted financial deficit over the year and if there were any plans for an emergency budget in the autumn to reset the budget.


16.2    The Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources, Councillor H. Norman advised that the latest delta return would be circulated to group leaders. She further advised that both the s. 151 officer and herself believed there was no requirement to hold an emergency budget but that the right to hold one was reserved should it be necessary.


16.3    In response to a question from Councillor Stephens regarding whether a failure by central government to fully reimburse costs incurred in response to the COVID-19 pandemic would represent an act of bad faith, Councillor H. Norman stated that the Council had spent what it needed to and that the support that central government had actioned over recent months was unprecedented in its scale.


16.4    Councillor Hilton asked the Leader of the Council, Councillor Cook, why a Cabinet Member is quoted in the media in representations of what he termed good news and an officer is quoted in articles regarding what he termed bad news. Councillor Cook advised that he does not have operational involvement in the Council’s communications work and that it was possible that Councillor Hilton was being selective in his reading of coverage.


16.5    Councillor Stephens noted that flytipping represented a great cost to the Council and asked if Councillor Cook agreed that the Council needed to be more proactive and, for example, use powers at its disposal under environmental protection law. Councillor Cook advised that officers were already working in Councillor Stephens ward to address this issue and that it was possible a Community Protection Notice could be issued. He further advised that the Council was working with residents in the first instance and that he was fully committeed to improving the City’s outdoor space.


16.6    In response to a question from Councillor Hilton in respect of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee’s recommendations regarding the options appraisal for the Waste, Streetcare and Ground Maintenance contract, Councillor Cook advised that Cabinet intended to accept the recommendations at it would not present a large additional cost to investigate bring the services ‘in house’.


16.7    Councillor Hilton asked whether there would be an enhancement in the streetcare provision when a new contract was entered into. Councillor Cook stated that this would likely require additional costs and that this cost would have to come from elsewhere. He invited Councillor Hilton to suggest where this money could come from.


16.8    In respect of a question from Councillor Hyman regarding whether there would be any changes to community funding such as the Citizen’s Advice Bureau and the Gloucester Law Centre, the Cabinet Member for Communities and Neighbourhoods, Councillor Watkins, advised that there were no planned changes.


16.9    Councillor Field noted the good work done by the athletics club at Blackbridge and that young and disabled people would require toilet facilities. He asked Councillor Morgan if he supported this. Councillor Morgan agreed that it was an essential part of the experience and that there was no reason why anyone would oppose it.


16.10  Councillor Wilson asked what discussions had taken place at the Cabinet away day in respect of a ‘worst case scenario’ regarding monies being reimbursed by central government for spending related to the Covid-19 pandemic. Councillor H. Norman replied that all Cabinet Members were examining their budgets and what projects could be postponed. She advised that this did not include changing staffing levels. Councillor H. Norman also stated, in response to Councillor Wilson’s supplementary question, that she did not believe that the Council was at the point of having to choose between statutory and non-statutory services.


16.11  Councillor Morgan, in response to a question from Councillor Hampson as to what support would be given to the Aspire Trust, stated that he was aware of the difficulties that faced the leisure sector and that he would be continuing discussions with them despite there being no request for help at present. Councillor Cook advised that a letter would be sent by South West Councils to the government regarding providing funding for the leisure industry.


16.12  Councillor Coole asked Councillor Melvin if she had had any discussions with businesses and stakeholders regarding how the Council could support the recently announced ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme. Councillor Melvin advised that there were continual discussions and that officers were working with the relevant venues to which the scheme applied.


16.13  Councillor Hampson asked Councillor Watkins if she was aware that there was an acute shortage of bespoke housing support for veterans, particularly for those with mental health issues such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He also asked if officers had relevant training. Councillor Watkins replied that she was aware and relevant information had been passed to the housing team.