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 summons
· A matter coming within their portfolio of responsibilities
Only one supplementary question is allowed per question.
Concerning the proposed disposal of public open space on the junction of Armscroft and Barnwood Roads known as Cross Keys Rest Garden (agenda item 8) Councillor Radley referred to the Open Space Strategy for Gloucester 2021-26 (Cabinet 10th February 2021 agenda item 13). She informed Members of her perception that the recommendation for full public consultation had not been followed, that the ward and county division councillors had not been consulted at the earliest opportunity, community groups not engaged with to challenge the `Low Community Value’ rating and that site works by the developer during the S123 (Local Government Act 1972) consultation period gave an impression of predetermination. Councillor Radley sought clarification on these points for the reassurance of residents. She further asked where the bench to be provided by the developer (7.2) would go and if public access to the remaining open space would be provided.
The Leader of the Council stated that having seen the detail of the objections to the proposal, he believed Cabinet were minded to defer the decision so that each could be given careful consideration. He affirmed that due process had been followed to bring the proposal forward without impropriety. The Leader of the Council noted that more than sixty responses to the Open Space Strategy were received, none objecting to the grading of the space in question. He commented that community responses could not be guaranteed but gave assurance that the matter would be raised during the further investigations to be undertaken prior to the proposal being brought back to Cabinet. The Leader of the Council stated that he did not know at this stage where the proposed public rest area with bench would be situated.
Regarding the same matter (agenda item 8) Councillor Hilton asked why the required Public Notice was published on the day of the local elections, 13th May 2021, as he believed it was not sensible for the consultation period to end before new councillors were settled in and requested that the ward and county division councillors be fully consulted should the decision be deferred. The Leader of the Council confirmed that the relevant councillors would be consulted again. He sought clarification from the officers present in relation to the Public Notice. The Managing Director advised that 13th May was most likely the first available date in the publication schedule of the local press.
Councillor Hilton further enquired how the developers gained access to the site to commence work and if the part of the site not being built on as indicated in plans presented to the Planning Committee (2 March 2021 agenda item 6) could remain for public benefit. The Leader of the Council confirmed the developers had entered the site without authorisation and were told to stop work with One Legal having been consulted over issuing an injunction if necessary. He sought guidance on the use of the remaining open space from the Managing Director who advised that he understood that planning permission would most likely have been refused had the development not had an outside garden or amenity space.