Agenda and minutes

County Council
Wednesday 17 February 2016 10.00 am

Venue: Council Chamber - Shire Hall, Gloucester. View directions

Items
No. Item

1.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 194 KB

To confirm and sign the minutes of the meeting held on 2 December 2015.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 2 December 2015 were confirmed and signed as a correct record.

2.

Declarations of Interest

Please see note (a) at the end of the agenda.

Minutes:

A copy of the declarations of interest is attached to the signed copy of the minutes.

3.

Announcements

Please see the briefing note, which does not accompany this agenda but will be circulated prior to the meeting.

Minutes:

a)       Cllr Bill Whelan

Members stood in silence as a mark of respect to Cllr Bill Whelan who had sadly passed away on Saturday, 13 February.

 

The Chairman stated that he had got to know Bill well during his time on the Council.  He said that Bill had served the local community of Churchdown, including Innsworth, as both a county and borough councillor, for a number of years. 

 

Bill had developed a great working relationship with both members and officers, and he was very well liked.  Amongst his roles on the Council, he had served on the Appeals Committee, where he brought his knowledge of life as a taxi driver to his role in determining school transport appeals.

 

One of Bill’s most notable achievements was establishing the GL3 Community Hub in Churchdown, which was recognised across the county and further afield as one of the most successful centres of its type. 

 

The Union flag over Shire Hall was flying at half mast in Bill’s memory and the Council would do the same on the day of his funeral.  The Council’s thoughts were with his partner, Kay, and other members of his family at this sad time. 

 

The Chairman invited other members, including Group Leaders, to pay tribute to Bill.  They said that Bill would be greatly missed by members, officers and the people of Churchdown.  The GL3 Community Hub was just one of the many wonderful things he had achieved for his local community.  He was a Churchdown stalwart and a true example of what a local councillor should be.  He was a close friend to many members in the chamber and he would be sadly missed.

 

Bill’s funeral would be held in Gloucester Cathedral on Friday, 11 March at 12.30pm.

 

b)       Queen’s New Year Honours

The Chairman congratulated the people living in Gloucestershire who had received awards as part of the Queen’s New Year Honours. 

 

c)       Active Together and Children’s Activity Fund

Officers would be available at lunchtime and after the meeting to provide advice to members. 

 

d)       Members’ ICT

Council officers would be in attendance at lunchtime to provide advice and assistance.

 

e)       Highways

Senior highways officers from Amey, the Council’s highways contractor, would be available immediately following the meeting to answer questions.

     

 

           

4.

Public Questions pdf icon PDF 91 KB

Up to 30 minutes is allowed for this item.

 

To answer any written public questions about matters which are within the powers and duties of the County Council.

 

The closing date for receipt of question is 10am on Wednesday, 10 February 2016.  Please send questions to the Chief Executive marked for the attention of Stephen Bace (email stephen.bace@gloucestershire.gov.uk).

 

To answer any oral questions put by members of the public with the consent of the Chairman.  Depending on the nature of the questions asked it may not be possible to provide a comprehensive answer at the meeting, in which case a written answer will be supplied as soon as reasonably possible after the meeting.

 

Questions received and proposed responses do not accompany this agenda but will be circulated prior to the meeting.

Minutes:

Thirteen public question had been received.  A copy of the questions and answers was circulated and is attached to the signed copy of the minutes.

 

The following supplementary questions were asked:

 

Question 1 -  Nigel Wise asked:

As the Council has failed outright to answer five of the formal parking enforcement questions I have presented, has failed to discover and report any legislation which provides lawful authority for APCOA to be involved in any consideration of motorist’s representations against penalty charge notices, and has intimated that Council staff appointed to consider motorists’ representations are not required to have had formal training or have any relevant qualifications, will the Council now undertake an independent review of its enforcement operations so as to bring all of the identified irregularities into lawful good order and cease purporting irrationally that everything complies with statutory requirements?

 

In response, Cllr Vernon Smith thanked Mr Wise for bringing this to his attention, but stated that the Council was implementing its car parking policy lawfully and followed national best practice. He asked that if Mr Wise had any additional information then would he share it with senior officers.

 

Question 2 – Nigel Wise asked:

The confidence of officers is irrelevant.  Where does the legislation allow officers to review prepared decisions of APCOA employees instead of considering motorists’ representations afresh and impartially?

 

Cllr Vernon Smith responded by explaining that best practice was being followed and emphasised the professionalism of officers and the support and training available to them.

 

Question 3 – Nigel Wise asked


As the Council chooses to argue that they don't need to comply with findings of tribunal adjudicators, why does the Council rely on one adjudication to do nothing to correct their errors, and why didn't the Council apply for judicial review of the 2014 judgment which found the involvement of APCOA was illegal and give the reasons why?

 

Cllr Vernon Smith reiterated his previous answer.  He was happy for officers to look at any new information, but stated that officers were complying with the law.


Question 4 – Nigel Wise asked:


Is it correct that some, at least, of the officers involved in considering motorists' representations have had no formal training and have no relevant qualification in relation to parking enforcement?

 

Cllr Vernon Smith stated that he disagreed with the statement and that officers had the training and support they needed to carry out their roles.


Question 5 – Nigel Wise asked:

Why did council officers not wish to disturb the status quo, and why had they repeatedly not provided the information he had requested. He stated that there had been an embargo on council officers responding to him including from councillors.

 

Cllr Vernon Smith explained that this was not factual and that officers carried out a professional, open and transparent job.

Question 6 – Nigel Wise asked

Will the Council now arrange for a face-to-face meeting with me and the Cabinet Member responsible Cllr Vernon Smith including council officers so that these matters can  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Petitions

To receive petitions presented by members without discussion.

Minutes:

Cllr Chris Coleman presented a petition to Cllr Vernon Smith, Cabinet Member for Highways and Flood, calling for the Council to proceed with the consultation on the railway area parking review in Cheltenham.

 

Cllr Lynden Stowe presented a petition to Cllr Paul McLain, Cabinet Member for Children and Families and Strategic Commissioning, opposing any closure of the village school in Ebrington.

6.

Corporate Parenting pdf icon PDF 70 KB

For information and members’ questions.

 

Report of the Cabinet Member for Children and Young People and Strategic Commissioning.

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the report of the Cabinet Member for Children and Young People and Strategic Commissioning be noted.

7.

Constitution Committee pdf icon PDF 707 KB

For debate and decision on the day unless the Chairman decides otherwise.

 

The report includes the recommendations of the Independent Remuneration Panel and the changes proposed to the Council’s petition scheme.

Minutes:

a)        Report of the Independent Remuneration Panel

Cllr Mark Hawthorne, Chair of the Constitution Committee, invited Richard Blamey, Chair of the IRP, to present the panel’s recommendations.

 

Mr Blamey paid tribute to panel member Gwyn Morgan who had sadly passed away in November 2015.  He said that Gwyn was well liked and respected by fellow panel members and county councillors.

 

He said that the panel had welcomed the opportunity to meet members and they had developed a good understanding of their role.  The panel were aware of issues around members’ ICT, difficulties for some members in attending training courses and the need for a mentoring programme for new councillors.  He said that a comparison had been undertaken of the basic allowance paid by county councils across the country and it was evident that members in Gloucestershire were undervalued compared with elsewhere.  The average basic allowance for county councils was £10,300.

 

The IRP recommendations would increase the basic allowance from £9,100 to £10,000 with special responsibility allowances maintained at their current value for 2016-17 and 2017-18.  He recognised that this would break the ‘building blocks’ approach with special responsibility allowances no longer being a multiple of the basic allowance.  He said that this would need to be reviewed in future.

 

Cllr Hawthorne thanked Mr Blamey and the IRP for their diligent work in reviewing the allowances. He recognised that the review had been more thorough than many of those undertaken elsewhere.  He believed, however, that it would be inappropriate to increase the basic allowance by such a significant amount when the Council was facing severe financial pressure.  He urged members to consider the wider context in light of the difficult financial decisions that would need to be taken in the next two years.

 

Cllr Hawthorne proposed and Cllr Will Windsor-Clive seconded an amendment that the allowances be maintained at their present level for 2016-17 and 2017-18 with the IRP being requested to undertake a review of the structure of the current allowances scheme following the May 2017 election.

 

A number of other members spoke in support of the IRP recommendations.  They questioned the value in having an IRP if the Council ignored its recommendations.  They believed that it was important that a wider range of people were encouraged to stand as councillors and this was unlikely to happen if the allowances were much lower than those paid elsewhere.

 

On being to the vote, the amendment was lost.

 

On being put to a recorded vote, it was

 

RESOLVED

 

i)             To increase the Basic Allowance from £9,100 to £10,000 for a two year period from 1 April 2016.

 

ii)            To maintain all Special Responsibility Allowances as a fixed sum at their 2015-16 level for a two year period from 1 April 2016.

 

The voting was as follows:

 

For (25): Cllrs David Brown, Dr John Cordwell, Iain Dobie, Bernard Fisher, Jasminder Gill, Joe Harris, Colin Hay, Jeremy Hilton, Paul Hodgkinson, Barry Kirby, Richard Leppington, Sarah Lunnon, Steve Lydon, Steve McHale,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Policy and Budget Framework - Medium Term Financial Strategy and the Council Strategy pdf icon PDF 174 KB

For debate and decision.

 

A      Report and recommendations (pages 39-54)

B      Medium Term Financial Strategy (pages 55-178)

C      Council Strategy (pages 179-204)

D      Budget consultation (pages 205-228)

E      Scrutiny budget report (pages 229-232)

F       ‘Due regard’ statement and member briefing (pages 233-290)

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chief Executive explained the procedure that would be followed. Firstly, Cllr Mark Hawthorne, Leader of the Council, and Cllr Ray Theodoulou, Cabinet Member for Finance and Change, would be asked to present the budget recommendations from the Cabinet.

 

Secondly, in order to reach a position where a substantive motion could be debated, the other groups would be invited to propose amendments to the budget but there would be no debate at that stage.  This would be a departure from the normal procedure where only one amendment could be moved and discussed at any one time.  The Chairman therefore proposed that under procedure rule 24.1 the following part of procedure rule 13.5 be suspended for the duration of the budget debate:

 

‘Only one amendment may be moved and discussed at any one time.  No further amendment may be moved until the amendment under discussion has been dealt with.’

 

The Vice-chairman seconded the motion and, on being put to the vote, the motion was supported.

 

Once the amendments had been presented, the Chief Executive advised that the Chairman would call for an adjournment to provide an opportunity for the Group Leaders to reach a common position. 

 

After the adjournment, the Leader of the Council would advise members of those areas where it had been possible to reach agreement.  Any amendments which had not been accepted or withdrawn would then be presented by the groups, debated and voted upon. 

 

Thereafter all members would have an opportunity to debate the budget in line with the normal rules of debate.  At the end of the debate, the Leader of the Council would have the right of reply. 

 

Finally, a recorded vote would be proposed from the Chairman on the substantive motion, seconded by the Vice-chairman. 

 

Cllr Mark Hawthorne, the Leader of the Council, presented the recommendation from the Cabinet meeting held on 3 February 2016.  He said that the Council faced challenges in finding savings whilst meeting increasing demand for services, particularly in adult social care and children’s services.  The proposed increase in council tax would be the first rise in five years with a 1.99% rise and a National Adult Social Care Levy of 2%.  He stated that the amount of money available was only part of the story and it was as much about how it was spent in meeting the Council’s priorities.   He noted that the Council continued to deliver efficiencies in a number of areas including the buildings and procurement programmes. 

 

He noted that 93% of the respondents to the public consultation believed that the Council had the right priorities: supporting the most vulnerable, working with communities and individuals to help them do more for themselves and reducing the Council’s running costs to get the best out of its assets.

 

He was pleased that the Government had listened to the concerns around reductions in funding through the Local Government Finance Settlement.  Following the Cabinet recommendation, the Government had notified the Council that a transitional grant of £2.475 million would be  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Motions

No motions have been received.

 

The closing date for the receipt of motions was 10am on Tuesday, 9 February 2016.

 

Minutes:

No motions had been received.

10.

Members' Questions pdf icon PDF 139 KB

 

Up to 30 minutes is allowed for this item.

 

To answer any written member questions about matters which are within the powers and duties of the County Council.

 

The closing date for receipt of questions is 10am on Wednesday, 10 February 2016. Please send questions to the Chief Executive marked for the attention of Stephen Bace (email stephen.bace@gloucestershire.gov.uk).

 

Questions received and proposed responses do not accompany this agenda but will be circulated prior to the meeting.

 

Minutes:

Forty two member questions had been received.  A copy of the answers was circulated and is attached to the signed copy of these minutes.

 

The following supplementary questions were asked:

 

Question1 – Cllr Sarah Lunnon asked, given the high level public concern, what provision would be made for future monitoring of air quality at critical receptors at local buildings and could the monitoring be put in place to establish a baseline prior to the operation of the residual waste facility.

 

Cllr Ray Theodoulou explained emissions would be monitored in accordance with official directives by the Environment Agency and  that an update report would be provided to Cllr Lunnon and that he was sure the relevant agencies would take account of the concerns the member had outlined. He didn’t have specific details of the properties mentioned.

 

Question 2 – Cllr Lesley Williams asked the Cabinet Member to reflect the need for a universal service for children in proposing a new approach.

 

Cllr Paul McLain explained that the core purpose of children’s centres were to improve outcomes for families and young people. He explained that universality applied to wider children and families services e.g. early years

 

Question 7 – Cllr Barry Kirby  asked whether the member was confident that there would be no applications for fracking in the Forest of Dean and Stroud.

 

Cllr Mark Hawthorne referred to the session that had been held by scrutiny and that while he did not have reason to believe any applications were forthcoming, any application would need to be handled in an open and transparent way with due process followed.

 

Question 9 – Cllr Steve McHale asked whether the member had a view on the police precept rise.

 

Cllr Will Windsor-Clive reiterated his answer in the paper.

 

Question 14 – Steve Lydon asked what the Cabinet Member’s view was on a Council that continually under budgeted and overspent.

 

Cllr Ray Theodoulou stated that he would advise the Council to get their budget in order.

 

Question 15 – Cllr Steve Lydon asked which of the cash rises within the budget as detailed in the answer, was the Cabinet Member most proud of.

 

Cllr Ray Theodoulou replied that he was proud of all of them.

 

Question 16 – Cllr Steve Lydon asked whether the Leader of Council was in favour of fracking.

 

In response Cllr Mark Hawthorne explained that it was important to look at any specific proposal on its merits through the planning process.

 

Question 17 – Cllr Steve Lydon asked whether detailed savings targets would be discussed as part of a budget scrutiny task group.

 

Cllr Ray Theodoulou replied that he would discuss with the member outside of the meeting.

 

Question 18 – Cllr Bernie Fisher asked if the Cheltenham Borough Council task group on street parking recommended free parking on Sundays, would the County Council follow suit?

 

Cllr Vernon Smith replied that the Council was always open to listen to proposals.

 

Question 22 – Cllr Jeremy Hilton asked why Clearwater Drive was designated as  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.

11.

Scrutiny report pdf icon PDF 144 KB

For information and members’ questions.

 

The report includes a recommendation from the Environment and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee requesting that a letter be sent to the Secretary of State relating to the extraction of unconventional hydrocarbons in Gloucestershire.

 

Minutes:

a)    Exploration for unconventional hydrocarbons

Cllr Rob Bird, Chair of the Environment and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee, presented the recommendation from the committee meeting held on 13 January 2016.  He noted that since the original motion was referred to the committee the national position had changed.  He said that a small majority of committee members had requested that the matter be referred  back to Council with a recommendation that a letter be sent to the Secretary of State requesting that the process for exploring for unconventional hydrocarbons be halted in Gloucestershire.  Some members were mindful that the Council was the statutory minerals planning authority.  Those members believed that it was unwise for the Council to express a view at the present time.

 

Cllr Nigel Moor, the Chair of the Planning Committee, stated that the matter required some careful thought as there was a risk that members supporting the recommendation might be viewed as predetermining the issue.  He said that members could be viewed as having a closed mind.  A fundamental principle of the planning process was that all the evidence including the views of the public should be considered at the time of the application. 

 

A number of members believed that it was right and proper for the Council to listen to the views of the public and send a message to the Government which recognised their concerns.  They noted that they were not considering an individual application and they could not see why the Council could not comment on an issue which was of such significance to local people. 

 

One member said that the extraction of hydrocarbons was a known cause of climate change, an issue which was of fundamental importance to national security.

 

Another member stated that exploration to find out what was present was very different to the extraction of unconventional hydrocarbons.  He failed to see an issue with taking steps to explore what was there.

 

Other members questioned the value of writing to the Secretary of State.  They remained concerned about the danger of predetermination, not only for individual planning applications but also in respect of approval of the Minerals Local Plan. They were anxious that members were able to determine matters locally.  To do that they needed to be able to show that they approached decisions with an open mind.  Making statements ahead of the decision making process might open the Council up to legal challenge including judicial review. 

 

Responding to a request for advice, the Head of Legal Services advised that members needed to satisfy themselves that they could approach the decision making process with an open mind and consider the evidence presented in an objective way.  She said that it was a matter for individual members to decide whether they wished to participate in the debate or reserve their right to comment until they were required to make decisions on individual applications or the Minerals Local Plan. 

 

On being put to a recorded vote, it was

RESOLVED that Gloucestershire County Council sends  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.

12.

Cabinet Decision Statement pdf icon PDF 121 KB

For information and members’ questions.

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the Cabinet Decision Statement  for the decisions taken on 3 February 2016  be noted.

13.

Cabinet Member Decision Statement pdf icon PDF 81 KB

For information and members’ questions.

 

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the Statement of Individual Cabinet Member Decisions for the period 1 November 2015 to 31 January 2016 be noted.

14.

Highways performance report pdf icon PDF 309 KB

For information and members’ questions.

 

To note that senior highways officers from Amey, the Council’s highways contractor, will be available immediately following the meeting to answer questions.

 

Minutes:

A member asked whether an indicator could specifically be included to reduce harmful emissions from diesel engined vehicles on the highways fleet. He believed that the time was right to make such a commitment.

 

Cllr Vernon Smith, the Cabinet Member for Highways and Flood, explained that this was complex and there would need to be discussions with officers about how such an indicator could be put in place.

 

Cllr Klara Sudbury expressed concern that performance against some of the targets did not reflect her experience on the ground in Cheltenham.  She said that she received regular complaints of blocked gullies from residents.   She was also finding that restrictions were being put on Highways Local projects that she wished to pursue in her area.

 

Cllr Vernon Smith stated that he would be happy to discuss the member’s particular concerns outside of the meeting.

 

RESOLVED to note the highways performance report.