Agenda item

Leader and Cabinet Members' Question Time (15 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 summons

·       A matter coming within their portfolio of responsibilities


Only one supplementary question is allowed per question.


Questions must be submitted to by 12 noon on Thursday 28th April 2022. Responses to questions will be published in an addendum to the agenda by 12 noon on the day of the Cabinet Meeting.


In respect of question 2 Councillor Hilton advised that he had no access to the report referred to in the published response.  He asked whether it was known that Civica UK Ltd intended to withdraw from the provision of ICT services when the decision not to progress a shared services option with the County Council was made and whether the rationale behind it would prevent reopening discussions.


The Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources assured Councillor Hilton that she would forward a copy of the report in question directly to him.  She confirmed that she had not been aware of Civica’s intention to withdraw until their announcement in February 2022.  The Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources noted that when the shared service decision was made the County Council were unable to procure the level of service and flexibility the City Council required, nor to provide the needed reassurances on pricing at that time.


In respect of question 3 Councillor Hilton sought reassurance that Civica UK Ltd had not withdrawn from the IT services procurement process because of the cyber incident at the City Council in December 2021.


The Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources stated that she understood the decision had been made following their own review of the direction of their business across the sector as a whole.  She invited the Director of Policy and Resources to respond as he had been present at meetings with Civica representatives.  The Director of Policy and Resources confirmed the Cabinet Member’s statement to be correct and that Civica were reviewing the ongoing provision of IT services for other local authorities.


In respect of question 4 Councillor Hilton asked if the Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources was disappointed that an unreliable service provider had cost officer time.  The Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources replied that she was disappointed.  She however emphasised that the decision to withdraw had been taken by Civica head office and that local Civica staff had demonstrated unwavering commitment and support to the City Council.


In respect of question 7 Councillor Hilton noted the importance of resolving the IT services issue as soon as possible and that 3 months was the minimum period to bring them back in house.  He enquired what the maximum period might be.  The Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources confirmed that 18 months had been allowed to plan in detail should that option be pursued.  She expressed confidence that it could be completed sooner than that.


In respect of question 8 Councillor Pullen informed the Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure that he had been told in a meeting with Richard Graham MP’s Chief of Staff that 62% of residents in the latter’s own survey opposed charges.  He sought reassurance that residents’ opinions would be respected when making the decision.  The Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure made it clear that the opinions of residents would be taken into account when the decision is made but stated that he had not been present at the meeting in question so could not comment on the survey.


In respect of question 16 Councillor Radley advised that she had received reports of confusion among residents in the situation at issue and requested more detail on how they are to obtain information and support.


The Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources reassured Councillor Radley that reports would be passed to officers for action.  She stated that the first point of contact for residents was the Council website then telephone (01452 396396).  The Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources paid tribute to the hard work of officers in processing the large number of Council Tax Rebates despite the challenges of the cyber incident.  She noted that Gloucester City Council was one of the only local authorities to have already made Council Tax Rebate payments with a  third batch about to be delivered.


In respect of question 29 Councillor Pullen reminded the Cabinet Member for Leisure and Culture of the considerable quantity of extra work necessary should the Aspire Culture and Leisure Trust not agree to a contract extension and asked who would deliver the services if this happened.


The Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure advised that discussions with the Aspire Chief Executive were progressing well and that he was satisfied that the proposed year-long extension would give both parties time to prepare for the longer term should Cabinet accept the recommendations in his report.


In respect of question 30 Councillor Pullen queried whether legal advice had been sought to ensure that the Partnership Delivery Plan could not be considered a contract variation.  At the invitation of the Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure the Head of Culture responded that legal advice was being sought.


In respect of question 31 Councillor Pullen sought clarification of the term Multi-Site Operator and whether Aspire qualified as such.  The Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure requested that the Head of Culture elucidate the matter.  The Head of Culture confirmed that although Aspire was technically a Multi-Site Operator, operating GL1 and the Oxstalls Sports Park, in this context the term tended to refer to bodies operating sites across different towns or cities.  He stressed however that it was not intended for any procurement exercise to exclude Aspire or other Single-Site Operators so that the options would not be limited.


RESOLVED that the written questions submitted and corresponding responses are noted.


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