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.
Leader and Cabinet Members’ Question Time
44.1 With regard to question 1, Councillor Hilton asked the Cabinet Member for Planning and Housing Strategy, Councillor S. Chambers, if Members could be provided with a full list of s.106 agreements over the past ten years. Whilst she could not be certain how far such records went back, Councillor S. Chambers stated that she would speak with officers regarding what could be provided. Councillor S. Chambers also informed Councillor Hilton that recruiting to the role of a dedicated s. 106 officer would commence upon the conclusion of the review currently underway.
44.2 In response to Councillor Pullen asking whether under-represented groups would be targeted to encourage applications for a Voter Authority Certificate, the Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources, Councillor Norman advised that Voter ID was a new process. She highlighted that there were no scheduled elections in Gloucester in May 2023 and that the elections team (in whom she had the greatest confidence), would be liaising colleagues in other authorities post-May in order to learn lessons in order to better implement the changes.
44.3 Councillor Pullen asked, in relation to question 4, why it had taken two years to get to the point of engaging consultants to draw up the Climate Change Action Plan and how much would it cost to engage the consultants. The Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Environment stated that it was right that it would take time, that the Climate Change Manager had been working on multiple strands and that the cost would be reflected in the budget.
44.4 With regard to question 6, Councillor O’Donnell asked whether the Council would explicitly support the Billies chips scheme. Councillor S. Chambers advised that the Council adhered to strict statutory obligations with regard to homelessness, worked with numerous partner organisations and that businesses are themselves open to support the scheme.
44.5 Councillor Wilson noted, in respect of question 7, that Government guidance encouraged greater engagement with residents regarding applications to erect 5G masts. He asked if how residents are made aware of such proposals could be further examined. Councillor S. Chambers highlighted that it was a Government priority to improve connectivity infrastructure and that Councillor Wilson’s suggestion would be looked at.
44.6 In respect of question 9, Councillor D. Brown asked if reopening the King George V playing fields could be treated with some urgency. Councillor Norman advised that the facility was previously maintained by Amey but that the new provider did not offer such a service. She encouraged any groups who may wish to make use of it and would be willing to be involved in its maintenance approach the Council.
44.7 Councillor Chambers-Dubus asked why there was not a wider campaign (similar to Streetlink) such as on bus stops to highlight the support available to assist with the cost of living crisis. Councillor Padilla advised that he would speak with officers regarding what could be achieved.
44.8 Councillor Bowkett asked in respect of question 13 whether the short term initiatives to reduce carbon emissions had been started or were planned. Councillor Cook advised that measures involving the crematorium were under consideration. The procuring of ‘green gas’ was being examined.
44.9 With regard to question 21, Councillor Hilton asked if the local press was incorrect in reporting that the cost of building the new Wellington Parade Garden was approximately £49k. Councillor Padilla stated that the figure was exclusive of VAT and that he did not recognise the reported figure.
44.10 In respect of question 22, Councillor Cook advised Councillor Bhaimia that the cameras that were operational were being used.
44.11 Councillor D. Brown asked if there was a possible timeframe for when floodlights could be installed at playing pitches. The Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure, Councillor Lewis, advised that he would like to see this as soon as was possible but that it would require planning permission.
44.12 In response to Councillor Bowkett’s supplementary question to question 25, Councillor Cook advised that he was committed to the Climate Change Strategy being completed within six months.
44.13 Councillor Hilton asked would the housing stock survey results be published prior to the Annual Meeting of the Council. Councillor S. Chambers advised that the response rate had been very good but that only once the survey was fully complete could options be considered.
44.14 Councillor D. Brown stated that he had been given conflicting advice regarding Legionella certificates and asked for this to be explained. Councillor Norman advised that all active buildings managed by the Council did not present Legionella concerns and, as such, the Council was fulfilling its obligations.
44.15 In respect of question 30, Councillor Hilton asked if it was time to seek other partners to progress the regeneration of the Fleece Hotel, Councillor Cook advised that dialogue was ongoing and that he would not rule out any partner at this early stage unless absolutely necessary.
44.16 Councillor D. Brown asked when a local accreditation scheme for bars and clubs might be launched. Councillor Cook shared his hope that it would be this year.
Questions to Chairs of Committees
44.17 In respect of the number of applications considered by the Planning Committee, Councillor Hilton asked the Chair of the Planning Committee, Councillor Taylor, if the Committee should be more forthright in bring applications to Committee. Councillor Taylor advised that numerous applications could be (due to their nature) determined by officers. The scheme of delegation could be examined at any point.
44.18 Councillor Hilton asked the Chair of the Audit and Governance Committee, Councillor Wilson, if he would ensure discussions would be in public. Councillor Wilson advised that he would always consider the advice of the Monitoring Officer. As far as was possible, he wished to see as much discussed in public but that this would be determined on a case by case basis.