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)




30.1       Councillor Hilton asked Councillor Morgan why the Council’s bid for Gloucester to become the City of Culture in 2025 was withdrawn after It being announced that a bid would be pursued. In response Councillor Morgan stated that it was withdrawn because of the short period between the deadline to express an interest and to put in a formal bid. It had become clear that everything required for a complete bid could not come as quickly or as effectively as hoped. Therefore, it was decided that it was more sensible to not put in a bid that was not ready owing to time constraints rather than an incomplete one. In response to a supplementary question regarding why the potential bid had not been dropped sooner when it had been pointed out that a bid may be costly and not deliverable, Councillor Morgan stated that they decided to withdraw after discussing the issue with partner organisations.



30.2       Councillor Hilton asked Councillor Cook, why there had not been a replacement food store that had been promised following the closure of Sainsburys on Northgate Street. In response Councillor Cook stated that the site he was referring to was owned by a private sector company therefore Councillor Hilton would need to get in contact with them. In response to a supplementary question regarding whether Councillor Melvin had been overly optimistic in an assertion made at a Council Meeting on the 19th November 2020, Councillor Cook stated that he could not speak for other Councillors, that schemes to develop on sites took time and that the Coronavirus Pandemic had caused delays in nearly all areas of life.


30.3       Councillor Pullen asked Councillor Gravells how many Afghan families the Council hoped to resettle and what would be done to ensure that those that resettled in Gloucester were properly looked after. In response Councillor Gravells stated that the work to resettle Afghan families was being coordinated by the Gloucestershire Strategic Housing Partnership in conjunction with other local authorities. He stated that the long-term aim was to acquire 35 houses in the County to rehouse families. He stated that he had been disappointed to hear that only one family had currently been resettled but this was because there was a process that needed to be followed to ensure that families were properly looked after once they came to the country. He stated that he wanted to help partner organisations who had helped with the resettlement scheme such as the County Council and GARAS. He encouraged any landlord in the private sector who wanted to help with the resettlement scheme to get in touch with himself or the Head of Communities.


30.4       Councillor Pullen asked Councillor Morgan why they continued to pursue the City of Culture bid, when it had been briefed that a bid may be all-consuming, may cost in the region of £500,000, did not have cross-party support, and had inconsistent support from districts. In response, Councillor Morgan stated that he was not embarrassed to be ambitious for the City of Gloucester and that he did not believe opposition parties could be against an idea that had not been finalised. He stated that he did not understand why anyone would be against the principle of Gloucester becoming the City of Culture. He stated that there was a point where it became clear that a City of Culture application would have been unsuccessful, which was why it was withdrawn. In response to a supplementary question regarding whether the administration would give assurances that cross-party support would be sought before launching such large scale bids in the future, Councillor Morgan stated that the administration had a good record of discussing major items on a cross-party basis, and their measure of co-operation was greater than in most authorities. 



30.5       Councillor Field asked Councillor Cook whether he would support the introduction of more water top up points. In response Councillor Cook stated that he had discussed the refill project numerous times in the chamber. He stated that he was not inclined to introduce water fountains across the City as they were not necessarily hygienic and were costly. In response to a supplementary about whether Councillor Cook would support the principle of  more top up points, not water fountains if it had support from the business community, Councillor Cook stated that he did not believe it was for the Council to tell Private Business Owners whether they wanted a water top up point and that there were already 40-50 businesses signed up to the refill scheme in Gloucester.


30.6       Councillor Lewis asked Councillor Morgan whether he was aware that Gloucester now had its first ever professional female Basketball Team. In response, Councillor Morgan stated that he was aware that Gloucester City Queens was the first professional female basketball team in Gloucester, and that they had won their first match. He further added that there would soon be a male equivalent professional basketball team called Gloucester City Kings.


30.7       Councillor Hyman asked Councillor Cook, whether he agreed with Richard Graham MP that Elmbridge residents should vote for a Tewkesbury MP. Councillor Cook responded that regardless of the results of the Boundary Commission Review, the residents of Elmbridge would still vote for Gloucester City Councillors. He stated that he believed that it was not an issue that was his to get involved with, that he sympathised with any residents of Elmbridge that felt that they were not properly represented but in any case they would vote for a City Councillor.


30.8       Councillor D.Brown asked Councillor Morgan why the Scriptorium at Blackfriars was closed prior to the History Festival. In response, Councillor Morgan stated that the closure of the Scriptorium was a surprise to everyone. He stated that his understanding was that there was a routine survey undertaken by a surveyor and that it was felt unwise to have activity under the scriptorium. He stated that the bookstore needed to be relocated. He added that he did not believe that there was a safety issue with the scriptorium but that it was an ongoing discussion. In response to a supplementary question, Councillor Morgan responded that he would be pleased to keep Councillor D.Brown updated on the situation. Councillor Cook added that his understanding was that the area on the floor had been closed for safety reasons, and that whilst the upstairs was not yet reopened, the ground floor had.


30.9       Councillor Chambers-Dubus asked Councillor Cook about whether residents would be compensated for missed Green Bin Collections. Councillor Cook responded that last year, during the first National Lockdown, bin collections were very difficult and that there were several weeks where there were no green bin collections whatsoever. He stated that the issue this year was caused by a lack of drivers and considerable numbers of people being required to self-isolate. He stated that no household had more than one missed green bin collection this year. He stated that last year, residents received more in compensation, than was lost through missed green bin collections. He added that he applauded the work that the groundwork team had been doing. In response to a supplementary regarding how residents would be informed that there would be no compensation, Councillor Cook stated that a resident could contact the Here to Help service and that it would be made clear that there would be no compensation. He added that if the situation changed in the future and there were numerous missed bin collections owing to the Pandemic, then compensation may be considered. However, he stated that if there was a refund for recent missed bin collections, it would be approximately a £1.87 for each resident and that the cost of providing a refund would possibly be higher than the refund itself.


30.10    Councillor Wilson asked Councillor Cook whether he had had conversations with Urbaser to try and solve the issue regarding the lack of drivers. In response, Councillor Cook said that Urbaser had raised the salary of drivers to try and attract more and that he had had discussions with them. He stated that a new driver had been hired but failed to turn up to a shift on Friday. He stated that there were wide ranging issues regarding driver shortages and would not be resolved until the Government got more people to take HGV tests. In response to a supplementary, Councillor Cook stated that the issue of a lack of drivers was a Europe wide issue and that he would therefore not blame Brexit for the shortage.