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)




54.1    Councillor Hilton noted that £100k had been allocated to produce the Gloucester Window at the bus station to tell the story of Gloucester and asked Councillor Cook what progress had been made on design and work. Councillor Cook advised that Councillor Hilton had been invited to join the discussion on what images could be on the window panels. He further advised that a list of possibilities had been submitted and proposals were forthcoming. Councillor Cook stated, in response to a supplementary question, that he was confident the project would be within budget.


54.2    Councillor Hilton asked Councillor Hannah Norman what was being to done to prepare for the eventual return of ‘in person’ Council and Committee meetings given the enabling legislation for virtual meetings was due to expire in May. Councillor Norman advised that there was currently no scheduled date for Parliament to amend the legislation and that returning to the Chamber was being considered. She further advised that, depending on capacity assessments of available room, others venues were being examined for their suitability. Councillor Norman advised that, while the Council had received some additional funds, providing for webcasting meetings was not currently in the draft budget but that amendments would be considered as was the case each year.


54.3    Councillor Stephens noted that the previous year’s budget provided for a £100k Neighbourhood Environmental Improvement Fund through a Labour Group amendment. He asked Councillor Cook for an update on the fund by way of how many bids had been received and how much had been allocated. Councillor Cook advised that he was aware of one bid to improve the Rose Garden on London Road and that he would write with further details. Councillor Stephens further asked Councillor Cook would commit to any unspent funds being carried over into the next financial year. Councillor Cook stated that while such matters required discussion he considered it likely that funds would be carried over.


54.4    Councillor Stephens stated that he had raised concerns over flytipping, and particularly on private land, in July. He asked Councillor Cook how many community protection notices had been issued. Councillor Cook advised that he was himself aware of one. He further advised that he had had meetings with officers regarding making improvements and for additional enforcement. He also provided assurance that using CCTV and enforcement notices would be considered in order to act as a deterrent.


54.5    Councillor Lugg asked what Covid safety measures would be put in place for count assistants working at the upcoming elections in May. Councillor H. Norman advised that early planning for all aspects of the elections had been taking place. In the context of counting votes, she advised that this would be done in a significantly larger space than usual and over a number of days. In relation to polling stations, Councillor Norman advised that staff would be provided with PPE, that there would be screens between staff and voters and that capacity would be limited in order to maintain physical distancing.


54.6    Councillor Coole asked Councillor Watkins if she agreed that the newly constituted Commission on Racial Equality was a good example of cross-party work to address inequality in society. Councillor Watkins agreed and thanked Members for their constructive collaborative work in getting the Commission off the ground. Councillor Coole then asked if it was therefore inappropriate for the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government to refer to such initiatives as the work of ‘town hall militants’ and ‘the woke brigade.’ Councillor Watkins reiterated her support for the work being done and stated that no one agrees with everybody on everything.


54.7    Councillor Field informed Members that Milton Avenue in his ward had recently seen significantly flooding and asked what plans were in place to prevent it happening in the future. Councillor Cook that he would be working with Members and Officers to draw up plans.


54.8    Councillor Hansdot advised that a resident had informed him that an antiques shop in the City Centre had been displaying Nazi regalia and asked how it could be allowed that it be displayed in open view. Councillor Watkins stated that she would be happy to take this up and that she would not want such items to be displayed and cause upset in the community.


54.9    In respect of the Debenhams building, Councillor D. Brown asked for assurances that, following the company’s collapse, the building would not become dilapidated and work beset by delay. Councillor Cook provided such assurance.


54.10  Councillor Pullen asked what plans there were to provide Covid vaccinations to homeless people. Councillor Watkins advised that P3 was taking the lead on assisting vulnerable people to take up the vaccine and that is was high up the agenda. Assurance was provided that the top four categories would be vaccinated by mid-February.


54.11  Councillor Wilson asked what, when it was appropriate to start reopening cinemas, plans were being made to reopen the cinema at the Guildhall. Councillor Morgan advised that the Guildhall cinema had opened between lockdowns with Covid specific measures and that the Team was looking ahead to a viable programme. He further advised that the cinema had been refurbished during lockdown and was a good value offer.


54.12  Councillor Hampson asked Councillor Watkins whether consideration had been given to the vaccination of migrants who lacked a legal status. Councillor Watkins advised that services were still being provided to those without recourse to public funds but that, given the administering of the Covid vaccines was not a City Council matter, the question might be better directed elsewhere.


54.13  Councillor Field noted that the Chief Executive of the Culture Trust would be standing down and queried why this was the case. Councillor Morgan advised that he was not aware that the reason was any other than a personal one and thanked the outgoing Chief Executive for their hard work and dedication over the last four years.