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 2nd February 2024. 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 1 Councillor Pullen gave examples of inappropriate advice given by the City Council to residents that he had been informed of.  He sought reassurance that residents who telephone the Council will be given the correct advice to resolve their issues.  The Cabinet Member for Environment advised that when installing the completely new system some teething difficulties had been discovered which were being taken forward.  He invited the Head of Transformation and Commissioning to give more detail.  The Head of Transformation and Commissioning confirmed that additional training sessions were taking place, and a revised letter was being sent to residents to meet the challenge of getting a consistent message across.  He stated that all feedback to support the process was welcome.


In respect of question 2 Councillor Hilton noted that the Transport Hub had opened in October 2018 and asked what lessons had been learned during such a long process to get the window installed.  The Cabinet Member for Environment stated that the COVID 19 pandemic had caused the most significant delay although time had been taken up by the manufacturers.  He advised that now only the final installation agreement between the manufacturers and Stagecoach was outstanding.


In respect of question 3 Councillor Hilton referred to the £1.86m Revenue Support Grant (RSG) from central government in the 2016/17 Budget (Council 25th February 2016 Minute 66) and contrasted this with the £0.273m RSG for 2023/24 (Agenda Item 8 11.2).  He enquired whether the Leader of the Council was disappointed with government.  The Leader of the Council commented that it was always disappointing to have less money and that it was the situation across the whole local government sector.


In respect of question 4 Councillor Hilton asked whether more engagement with the owner of Spread Eagle Court would be considered to prevent the building decaying beside the soon to be completed Forum and Whitefriars development. The Cabinet Member for Environment confirmed that officers had made numerous attempts to contact the owner who appeared to be not prepared to engage.


In respect of question 5 Councillor Hilton noted that the 15,582 square feet of vacant units represented a substantial loss of potential income.  He enquired whether process of finding new tenants could be speeded up.  The Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources advised that officers were working with external agents.  She further commented that one successful let would act as a catalyst for others to follow and that the new University of Gloucestershire campus in the former Debenhams building would assist the process.


In respect of question 6 Councillor Hilton reminded Members that the New Homes Bonus had been £3.823m in 2016/17 (Council 25th February 2016 Minute 66).  He queried whether the New Homes Bonus scheme should have been discontinued.  The Cabinet Member for Planning and Housing Strategy confirmed that the scheme was for new homes but reassured Members that the incentive to build new homes in Gloucester remained.


In respect of questions 8 and 9 Councillor Wilson apprised Members that residents of Orchard Park had told him they had not known about the withdrawal of the green bin service.  He enquired how they had been engaged before the change and why they had not been informed earlier.  The Cabinet Member for Environment stated that he believed residents were aware of the access problem in advance.  He apologised for any confusion to residents who had tried to renew the service before the decision was taken by UBICO Ltd on the 1st February after an investigation into the matter.


In respect of question 10 Councillor Wilson informed Members that he had spent some time assisting residents to pay for their green bin service by telephone.  He queried the need for them to provide all their details when these were held on file for other uses such as council tax.  The Cabinet Member for Environment invited the Head of Transformation and Commissioning to respond.  The Head of Transformation and Commissioning made clear the complexity behind the scenes of integrating statutory and non-statutory systems.


In respect of question 12 Councillor D. Brown advised Members of his own difficulty in finding a city centre parking space in the morning.  He sought clarification of when the Longsmith Street car park will reopen.  The Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources confirmed that she was unable to provide a date as work was still needed.  She further advised that the Parking Team were monitoring the utilisation of spaces in the city centre and reported that spare capacity remained in other car parks.  The Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources commented that the closure of Longsmith Street car park had given an opportunity to actively promote the other car parks to residents.


In respect of question 14 Councillor D. Brown noted that although representing a very small proportion of residents, the number of responses had risen by 50% from last year’s budget consultation.  He asked what had been done differently to achieve this.  The Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources advised that although this was the highest number of responses since for some time, a low response rate was common across all local authorities.  She urged that all ward councillors encourage residents to participate in this and other consultations open on the Council website.


In respect of question 16 Councillor J. Brown sought clarification of circumstances in which the flyposting rules would not be enforced.  The Cabinet Member for Environment confirmed that action would only be taken if the sign owner failed remove the offending material.  He advised that he expected the rules to be enforced at every opportunity, as he did with those for dog fouling.


Supporting documents: