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.


51.1    A Gloucester resident asked the following of Councillor Cook via telephone:


          A recent Freedom of Information request detailed that the £650,000 City Protection Officer contract in 2018 went to a company called City Safe.


The contract funds were made up of a consortium from Gloucester's Business Improvement District, Gloucester City Council and Gloucestershire's Police and Crime Commissioner.


Could the council confirm if any other businesses were in the tendering for the contract and if so how many?


Could the council confirm the director of the company that won the tender?


Could the council confirm if they or any director of the company is a sitting councilor.


Would the City Council expect that a sitting councilor to declare an interest to the City Council with regards of their position within that company?


If they would expect a sitting councilor to declare an interest and if they didn’t, what would the likely outcome be?


51.2    Councillor Cook thanked the resident for the question and noted that it contained misconceptions. There was no £650,000 city protection officer contract and no contract of that value with City Safe.  It might have been that the resident was thinking of £650,000 in funding provided by Government to help Councils manage the second and third lockdowns, some - but not all - of which was spent on Covid Marshaling and which saw Gloucester, Cheltenham, Stroud and Tewkesbury Councils join together to work with City Safe in a well-regarded marshaling effort across all four areas.


City Safe was a Business Crime Reduction Partnership engaged in supporting the safety of the city’s day and night time economy.  The City Council was just one part of that partnership.  More about City Safe could be found online –


City Safe was engaged by Gloucester Business Improvement District – The BID – to manage a contract to provide suitably trained and qualified city protection officers.  Gloucester BID were the lead partner in that project and the City Council, and the Police and Crime Commissioner were funding partners.  The City Council did not carry out the procurement of that contract but three companies bid competitively to provide the Community Protection Officer team.  It was also understood that City Safe received only £5,000 per year to manage that contract on behalf of the BID.      


City Safe’s board was broadly representative of its principal partner organisations;  Gloucester BID, Gloucester retail and hospitality businesses and the City Council.  The Council was represented on the Board by the Cabinet Member for Communities and Neighbourhoods, Councillor Jennie Watkins and had been since 2014.


Councillor Watkins’ involvement in City Safe is no secret, was an entirely proper involvement, known to the Council and publicly stated on the City Safe website.


Both City Safe and the City Council have procedures to manage potential conflicts of interest and Councillor Cook had every confidence that Councillor Watkins knows and observes those procedures.


51.3    A question from a Gloucester resident to Councillor Cook was read of on their behalf:


Would the Cabinet Member for Environment give an undertaking that no tree they are responsible for will be chopped down without at least two weeks written notification, put up nearby? Trees were a particular source of confusion, with the county council taking/sharing responsibility in some areas, but this question applied to the city council's obligations.


51.4    Councillor Cook advised that trees were only removed for for sound arboricultural reasons such as if they were dangerous, causing a statutory nuisance or they are patently the wrong tree in the wrong place. He further advised that the Council did not want to remove trees but on occasion had to act quickly. If, for example, a tree posed danger, waiting two weeks would prolong unnecessary risk. Councillor Cook invited the resident to report any inappropriate removals and noted that to provide non-recyclable signage on every tree which needed removing would require additional expense and resource.