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 any question 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.


33.1    In respect of question 1, Councillor Hilton asked for confirmation of whether or not any additional funds were due to be transferred to Aspire Sports and Cultural Trust in the current financial year to cover any deficit and whether any extra financial support had been provided in the previous financial year. Councillor Norman responded that no additional support had been provided to the Aspire Trust over the current financial year over the budgeted amount. She noted that negotiations regarding the contract and management fee for Aspire Leisure were ongoing and that it was her intention to bring forward a Cabinet report to update Members in due course.


33.2    In response to a supplementary question from Councillor Hilton in respect of question 2 and whether Councillor Norman was relieved that the council had not received a fine from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), Councillor Norman stated that she was pleased that no financial penalty had been issued and indicated that she had been quietly confident as the attack was outside the control of the Council, noting that the cyber-attack had been sophisticated in nature.


33.3    In response to a supplementary question from Councillor A. Chambers regarding question 5 and the tender process for City Council contracts, Councillor Norman asked Councillor A. Chambers to write to her with further information so that she could respond in further detail.


33.4    Councillor A. Chambers referred to question 6 and asked whether the Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources would commit to investigating whether the Council’s Contract Rules were followed during the procurement process for the Wellington Parade Garden tender. Councillor Norman confirmed that she would seek further information about the matter. She stated that she took claims of corruption seriously but would refute them to residents as she believed that both Members and Council staff sought to do the right thing.


33.5    In respect of a supplementary question from Councillor O’Donnell concerning question 7, Councillor Padilla confirmed that he directly worked with communities, organisations and stakeholders. He noted that the Community Engagement Team was a small one, and was responsible for covering a wide variety of areas including community safety, hate crime, young people and equalities. He noted that this was a demanding service area but reiterated assurances that he listened carefully to community organisations in the city.


33.6    Referring to question 8, Councillor Gravells asked whether the Managing Director would continue to monitor the postal service and any arising issues. Councillor Cook confirmed that the situation would be monitored should the Council receive complaints. He noted that the regulator of Royal Mail was OfCom rather than the City Council, however he paid tribute to Councillor Gravells for raising awareness which he believed had had an impact on recruitment issues at Royal Mail.


33.7    In respect of question 11, Councillor Hilton referred to the new Exacom software to manage s106 agreements and asked whether Members would receive regular reports on s106 agreements in their wards. Councillor Norman explained that the Exacom software would allow Officers to see the single source of spending, and that she was confident that the vast majority of s106 agreements had been spent within the timeframe. Councillor Norman stated that s106 agreements were discussed at Planning Committee meetings and that Members would be able to see s106 agreements in their ward within Planning Committee documents.


33.8    Councillor A. Chambers asked in relation to question 12, why roles such as Independent Investigators for Code of Conduct complaints were not advertised. Councillor Norman confirmed that she would find out further information to understand the process of appointing Independent Investigators and would respond in writing to Councillor A. Chambers. She further explained that it was standard practice to appoint Monitoring Officers through a shared service and that candidates for this role were still subject to an interview process and were required to appear before the Senior Appointments Committee, which had cross-party membership.


33.9    In response to a supplementary question from Councillor O’Donnell in respect of question 13 and funding for a local playground in Matson, Councillor Cook explained that s106 funding had to be spent in a designated manner, however it was his understanding that the area Councillor O’Donnell referred to was owned by Gloucester City Homes (GCH) and it would be up to GCH whether to install play equipment on their land.


33.10  In respect of question 14, Councillor Field noted his understanding that the Museum of Gloucester was in possession of JMW Turner paintings however they were too valuable to be put on display. He asked whether the Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure was aware of any plans to display the paintings or sell them. Councillor Lewis confirmed that he would discuss the latest position with the Head of Culture and provide Councillor Field with a written response.


33.11  Councillor Hilton referred to question 15 and asked whether any funding to maintain City Protection Officer patrols in Kingsholm would be ongoing or time-limited. Councillor Padilla confirmed that he would ask the relevant Officer to write to Councillor Hilton with further information regarding the source of funding and proposed length of the funding period. He further stressed the importance of reminding residents to report incidences of anti-social behaviour to the police, as other areas of the city which had made reports had seen increased patrols.


33.12  In response to a supplementary question from Councillor A. Chambers in respect of question 16, Councillor Norman noted that she was aware of the case and that a review had been commissioned to look at the processes followed. She noted that this review found no evidence of wrongdoing and it was therefore her view that the matter was concluded.


33.13  In response to a supplementary question from Councillor O’Donnell regarding question 17, Councillor Padilla noted that he was open to working collaboratively with Councillor O’Donnell and that he was in the process of increasing his social media presence. He further noted that would be publishing regular updates on community work in Matson in due course.


33.14  Councillor S. Chambers responded to a supplementary question from Councillor Hilton in respect of question 19, confirming that she would speak with relevant Officers with a view of discussing active planning enforcement action with him confidentially. She also suggested putting the issue on the agenda for future Planning Policy Members Working Group meetings, noting that the preferred approach of the Planning Enforcement Team was to engage, inform and support ahead of taking enforcement action.


33.15  In response to a supplementary question from Councillor A. Chambers regarding the structural engineer reports on RAAC concrete within council buildings, Councillor Norman confirmed that positive fundings had been received from the structural engineer regarding the museum roof and that other investigations were ongoing. She confirmed that safety was a priority and that she would be happy to share the relevant information with Members on the outcome of the remaining investigations.


33.16  Referring to question 21, Councillor O’Donnell asked a supplementary question regarding Councillor Padilla’s responsiveness to correspondence from residents and community organisations. Councillor Padilla stated that he completely disagreed with such comments and that he would welcome evidence so that he could respond accordingly. Councillor Padilla further advised that as Cabinet Member for Communities and Neighbourhoods, he was responsible with working with community groups all over the city of Gloucester, as well as Matson.


33.17  In respect of question 22, Councillor Field asked whether the new street cleaning machine and reduced chemical costs was likely to transcend into a budget saving. Councillor Cook confirmed that he would provide Councillor Field with a written response however it was his expectation that the saving was likely to be offset by the capital cost of investing in the machine. This said, Councillor Cook noted that he was still supportive of the change.








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