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 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 Friday 1st December 2023. 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 noted that in the time since support for Gloucester Airport Limited was reviewed by Council (15th December 2020) there have been elections and new officers in post.  He enquired by what authority the airport could be sold without consulting Council Members.  The Leader of the Council stated that the publication by the press of Councillor Hilton’s open letter relating to a potential sale had preempted his intention to notify Group Leaders and Council Members.  He referred to the relevant sections of the report considered at the Council meeting (agenda item 4) and further commented that the Council was always experiencing changes in personnel.


In respect of question 3 Councillor Hilton asked if consideration was being given to the retention of the freehold with a long lease issued, as is the case with other commercial operations in the City, so that the Council could maintain an interest in the airport.  The Leader of the Council responded that any potential sale was in its earliest stages and nothing could be ruled in or out.


In respect of question 4 Councillor Hilton informed Members that he believed his open letter on the potential sale had increased the number of prospective buyers and queried whether the company referred to in the response had made their approach and the Non-Disclosure Agreement been signed before the Overview & Scrutiny Committee considered the airport’s business plan (25 September 2023 minute 40).  The Leader of the Council gave assurance that a written answer would be provided.


In respect of question 5 Councillor Hilton sought reassurance that the airport would continue to operate in the long term, perhaps under a protective covenant, rather than the land being sold off for housing.  The Leader of the Council noted that discussions with any potential buyers had not taken place yet.  He confirmed that measures such as covenants would be considered when it becomes necessary.


In respect of question 6 Councillor Hilton asked whether the Leader of the Council considered that informing Council Members a few hours before the press release constituted proper consultation.  The Leader of the Council commented that the matter was raised in public before he had a chance to inform Members as he would have liked.


In respect of question 14 Councillor Wilson sought clarification on whether the potential sale was driven by anyone else.  The Leader of the Council reiterated that the issue was to have been addressed in the fullness of time anyway but that as an approach had been made the opportunity was being assessed.


In respect of question 15 Councillor Conder enquired how the best price for residents could be achieved if the airport had not been on the open market.  The Leader of the Council stated that a third-party valuation would have to be sought.  He however noted that although any plans were at their earliest stage, more prospective buyers had come forward to compete.


In respect of question 16 Councillor Conder asked if the airport board had undertaken due diligence.  The Leader of the Council commented that he expected them to do so.  He made it clear that he wanted them to maintain an aviation hub on the site well into the future.


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