Agenda item

Members' Question Time

a)    Leader and Cabinet Members’ Question Time (45 minutes) 


Any member of the Council may ask the Leader of the Council or any Cabinet Member up to five questions 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 


b)    Questions to Chairs of Meetings (15 Minutes) 


Questions and responses will be published at least 24 hours before the meeting. Supplementary questions will be put and answered during the meeting, subject to the relevant time limit.


35.1       In respect of question 1, Councillor Hilton asked what was the Council doing to encourage interest in the HKP warehouses in the event that Dowdeswell Group Ltd did not proceed with their purchase. Councillor Norman responded that officers were in regular contact with various developers and she was confident that alternative options would come forward if required.


35.2       Concerning question 2, Councillor Hilton asked what work was being done to ensure that pedestrians were granted access at the footbridge to ensure that they did not need to make a long diversion by the railway station. Councillor Cook responded that he would ask officers to approach Network Rail, however, he believed they not keen and the intention was to provide adequate signage for any diversion.


35.3       In respect of question 3, Councillor Pullen asked why the charity Gloucester Feed the Hungry had received a large business rates bill and what was being done with regard to lift repairs needed at the premises, which was owned by the council. Councillor Norman advised that Gloucester Feed the Hungry should make an application for a business rates relief and the council was following up on the lift repairs.


35.4       In response to question 4, Councillor Pullen asked what progress was being made to work with the Gloucestershire County Council to ensure that publicly owned buildings were being made available for the warm spaces scheme. Councillor Padilla stated that he would follow up and provide a written answer after the meeting.


35.5       In respect of question 5, Councillor Castle asked whether the City Council held any bonds on new developments. Councillor S. Chambers replied that she would follow up and provide a written answer.


35.6       In respect of question 7, Councillor A. Chambers asked what lessons the council had learnt from the breakdown in communication that led to asbestos not being removed from a site in Matson for some time. The Leader of the Council stated that when the presence of asbestos was reported, Urbaser, the council’s waste service provider at that time, contracted with and paid a third party to remove it; however, the asbestos was not removed and Urbaser did not pass the information over to Ubico, the council’s new waste service provider. He added that he had been assured that there were no public footpaths in the immediate vicinity of the site.


35.7       Concerning question 8, Councillor Sawyer asked how many Ukrainian refugees had been housed in Gloucester to date. Councillor S. Chambers stated that she would provide an up to date answer in writing.


35.8       In respect of question 9, Councillor D. Brown asked when an improved version of the “MyGloucester” app would be available. Councillor Norman stated that it was not an app and that the reporting portal was available via the council’s website. She encouraged all Members to use it to report issues in their ward.


35.9       Regarding question 10, Councillor Wilson asked whether it would be possible to create a combined list of Warm Places available through the City and County Council and for that to be readily available. Councillor Padilla confirmed that a joint list would be circulated when available.


35.10   Concerning question 11, Councillor Field asked whether Gloucester City Homes (GCH) had plans to decarbonise their existing portfolio. Councillor S.Chambers said that this was correct, and that she would endeavour to provide Councillor Field details of the order of decarbonisation works planned for existing GCH properties in Podsmead.


35.11   In respect of question 12, Councillor Hilton asked whether the full cost of recovery from the cyber incident would be less than £1 million. Councillor Norman advised she could not confirm the exact figure until the recovery was complete. She added that officers were doing their best for the authority and that with every decision they took, they were looking to provide value for money.


35.12   Concerning question 13, Councillor Pullen asked if the council could guarantee that it would prosecute individuals who parked on the grass at The Lannett in future. The Leader of the Council stated that, now that the council was familiar with the process, the intention would be to pursue every case with due diligence with the aim of securing a successful outcome for the council.


35.13   Concerning question 14, Councillor A. Chambers asked why the council  had not obtained planning and conservation consents in respect of the removal of a historic wall by a contractor as part of the works carried out at the London Road Rose Garden. Councillor S. Chambers encouraged Councillor A. Chambers to provide her with the so that she could provide a written response.



35.14   Regarding question 16, Councillor D. Brown asked whether Gloucester could do more as a City to assist the Royal British Legion, by setting up a one stop shop to assist veterans. Councillor Padilla said that the council had made a commitment to support the Armed Forces and were working with the County Council on this. He said that the intention was to establish a hub where armed forces personnel, past and present, could visit and receive support.


35.15   In respect of question 17, Councillor Field asked whether footfall data was collected from events such as the continental market. Councillor Lewis advised that footfall data was collected, but that he did not have figures to hand and would provide them in writing if available. He noted that in future organisers should perhaps work more closely with the council to promote events.


35.16   In respect of question 18, Councillor Hilton noted that the number of staff leaving the council appeared high and asked for the reasons behind this. Councillor Norman stated said that data from the exit interviews conducted showed that 60% of those leaving would recommend the council as an employer. She noted the relative size of the council and stated that staff leaving the organisation for career progression reasons should be seen positively, as it indicated that the council was successfully developing is staff.


35.17   Concerning question 19, Councillor Pullen asked how much it cost the council to have a private contractor open its mail. Councillor Norman stated that it was common for local authorities, as well as private companies to utilise a digital mail service, as it provided an efficient service. She advised that she would confirm the costs in writing.


35.18   Concerning question 20, Councillor A. Chambers asked whether contractors had been overpaid in respect of works at Wellington Parade as an invoice he had seen suggested they had charged the council VAT at 40%. Councillor Norman advised that she would look into it and provide a written response.


35.19   In respect of question 22, Councillor Hilton asked for assurance that autumn leaves would be cleared from Kingsholm and Wotton by Christmas. Councillor Cook responded that the intention was to clear the leaves in accordance with the schedule provided, which was available to all Members on request.


35.20   Regarding question 23, Councillor A. Chambers asked why, despite a build-up of rubbish resulting in fires at two other properties, he had been advised that the council could not take any action in respect of the fire hazard created by the build-up of rubbish outside a further property. Councillor Cook explained that some matters were outside the legal powers available to the council and that Councillor Gravells, Councillor for Abbeydale ward where the property in question was situated, had already brought the issue to the attention of the MP for Gloucester for help with strengthening the relevant national legislative procedures. He thanked Councillor A. Chambers and Councillor Gravells for pursuing the matter.


35.21   Regarding question 24, Councillor A. Chambers asked whether the council would publicise the recommendations from the Local Government Association Corporate Peer Challenge widely, in addition to publication on the council’s website. Councillor Cook confirmed that the intention was to share the report and recommendations publicly.


Questions to Chairs of Committees


35.22   In respect of question 1, Councillor A. Chambers asked what further changes to the Constitution the General Purposes Committee would seek to implement in order to limit Councillors’ opportunities to ask questions. Councillor Williams referred Councillor A. Chambers to the comprehensive written response.


35.23   In respect of question 2, Councillor A. Chambers asked whether it was appropriate to propose that Members’ questions be edited. Councillor K.Williams responded that Members questions were not edited and referred Councillor A. Chambers to the written response .


35.24   In regard to question 5, Councillor A. Chambers asked whether, when Councillors were opposed to the questions that Members asked, a constitutional reason should be given for that opposition. The Mayor indicated that the question did not require a response.


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