Agenda item

Motions

For debate and decision.

 

The following motions had been received by the closing date at 10am on Tuesday, 29 November 2016.

 

Motion 782 - Community Support Payments (Fracking) in Gloucestershire

Proposed by Cllr Barry Kirby

Seconded by Cllr Graham Morgan

 

This Council notes that the Government have recently changed their ‘fracking’ policy to include a personal payment to households within the area of proposed ‘fracking’ sites.

 

This Council believes that this is fundamentally wrong, as it could lead to critical environmental decisions being taken away from communities as a whole. This Council reaffirms that the protection of Gloucestershire’s environment is a key priority for this Authority.

 

This Council also notes its disappointment in the Government for abolishing the Department for Energy and Climate Change.

 

This Council asks that the Leader of the Council writes to Gloucestershire’s six MPs and the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to urge them to re-evaluate Government policy over the proposed Community Support Payments for fracking.

 

Motion 783 – Open Contracting

Proposed by Cllr Sarah Lunnon

Seconded by Cllr Mike Sztymiak

 

That Gloucestershire County Council commits to the Open Contracting Global Principles and takes action to ensure that:

- By the end of 2017 complete information for all contracting processes over £1m, including details of the tender, award and contract process, the full text of contracts and amendments, and performance information, are proactively published;
- By the end of 2018 complete information is available for all contracting processes, over £500*, is proactively published

The presumption should be that the text of all contracts is open by default. Redactions should only be permitted: (a) at the explicit written request of the parties to the contract; (b) subject to the public interest tests of the Freedom of Information act; (c) with the minimum possible redactions; and (d) with full justifications for any redaction given.

Furthermore, to ensure public access to information on the operation of outsourced services, all future contracts of the Council should include a model clause providing full public access to performance reporting and other key information required to exercise effective scrutiny.

(*This should be set the same as the threshold in the local government transparency code)

Notes:
The Open Contracting Global Principles were developed through an extensive consultation process involving governments, private sector and civil society. The UK Government has endorsed the principles in it's 2013-15 and 2016-18 Open Government Partnership National Action Plans.

The Council is required by the provision of the Local Government Transparency Code to disclose a log of all contracts entered into. This motion builds upon that practice, adding a requirement for enhanced disclosure of contract text, performance information and information about the whole contracting process.

This motion is proposed on a basic understanding of fairness, that those paying the bill be allowed to see the itemised invoices, to understand exactly what they are buying. In terms of public interest it will also enable full scrutiny of how and what public money is being spent on and enable the public or their representatives to spot misuse of public funds, inept services delivery or bad contractual decision making. Open Contracting also promotes a level playing field in public contracting, bringing greater opportunities for SMEs, and ensuring government gets better value for money.

 

Motion 784 – GFirst LEP

Proposed by Cllr Jeremy Hilton
Seconded by Cllr Joe Harris

 

This Council notes that in England, local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) are voluntary partnerships between local authorities and businesses set up in 2011 by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to help determine local economic priorities and lead economic growth and job creation within the local area.

This Council notes that in Gloucestershire, GFirst is our Local Enterprise Partnership, of which the leader of Gloucestershire County Council is a member of the board.

The Council welcomes the work done so far by the GFirst LEP to help develop a thriving economy in Gloucestershire.

However, this Council notes that GFirst LEP holds its regular board meetings ‘behind closed doors’ when it decides on key economic priorities, including the awarding public funds to major infrastructure and investment projects.

This Council, therefore, calls on GFirst LEP in spirit of openness and public accountability to hold its regular board meetings in public and to publish its board papers in the public domain.

Motion 785 – Grammar schools in Gloucestershire

Proposed by Cllr Richard Leppington

Seconded by Cllr David Prince

 

This Council notes the Prime Minister's recent support for the UKIP policy to reintroduce grammar schools. We call on Gloucestershire MPs to support the creation of new grammar schools throughout Gloucestershire.

 

Motion 787 – Pavements
Proposed by Cllr Paul Hodgkinson
Seconded by Cllr Chris Coleman

 

This Council notes that there are many damaged pavements and footpaths across Gloucestershire in need of repair.

This Council is aware that only £800K a year in capital is used for resurfacing footways.  

Given the poor state of our county’s pavements, this Council calls not only for the creation of a dedicated revenue budget for 2017/2018 to focus specifically on pavement repair, but also asks the Cabinet Member to report back to the Highways Advisory Group on measures to improve the inspection and fixing of pavements, before reporting back to the Environment and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee with a positive action plan.

Motion 788 – Bus services

Proposed by Cllr Klara Sudbury

Seconded by Cllr Nigel Robbins

This Council recognises the essential role that bus services play in – a) enabling more active lives b) travel opportunities c) healthier lifestyles d) reducing rural isolation and e) tackling congestion especially in urban areas.

This Council notes the funded public transport consultation that ended in January of this year, but is concerned about both the reduction in budget and the decline in passenger numbers. This has resulted in the withdrawal of much valued public transport profoundly affecting people’s lives by denying access to many services, jobs and independence.

This Council in its commitment to the bus service across Gloucestershire asks the Cabinet Member

a) to take steps to protect the Council’s bus service budget in 2017/18 from any further reductions.

b) to lobby the government to fully fund the council’s concessionary schemes and

c) to work with the districts on a campaign to increase passenger numbers headed up by this Council’s Communications Team.

Minutes:

Motion 782 - Community Support Payments (Fracking) in Gloucestershire

Cllr Barry Kirby and Cllr Graham Morgan, the proposer and seconder of the motion, accepted the changes highlighted below:

 

This Council notes that the Government have recently proposed a change to their ‘fracking’ policy to include a personal payment to households within the area of proposed ‘fracking’ sites.

 

This Council believes that this is fundamentally wrong, as it could lead to critical environmental decisions being taken away from communities as a whole. This Council reaffirms that the protection of Gloucestershire’s environment is a key priority for this authority.

 

This Council notes its disappointment in the Government for abolishing the Department for Energy and Climate Change. This Council also notes its disappointment that that previous recommendations made by Environment and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee have not been supported by the administration. Therefore this Council requests that the Cabinet Member for Fire, Planning and Infrastructure establishes a cross party advisory group to consider those aspects of the Local Minerals Plan that relate to ‘Fracking’. This would allow members to represent the concerns of local communities.

 

This Council asks that the Leader of the Council writes to Gloucestershire’s six MPs and the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to urge them to re-evaluate Government policy over the proposed Community Support Payment for fracking.

 

This Council affirms its opposition in principle alone to any attempt to Frack in the Forest of Dean and other parts of the county.

 

In proposing the motion, Cllr Kirby noted that although the licence for the Forest of Dean had been returned by the applicant, there could be other applications for licences in the Forest of Dean and other parts of the county.  He stated that by offering community support payments the Prime Minister had in effect said that she did not trust Local Government to look after local communities.  With the current economic difficulties local people might be tempted to take the money to make ends meet. He was concerned at the disastrous impact on the environment when fracking went wrong as demonstrated by incidents in the USA.

 

In seconding the motion, Cllr Morgan believed that fracking was fundamentally wrong with operations in one area potentially having an effect much further afield.  He referred to drilling in Preston, Lancashire resulting in seismic activity much further south in the country with an epicentre near Birmingham and tremors being felt in Gloucestershire.  He also expressed concern at the potential impact on water supplies in areas where fracking was taking place.

 

Cllr Nigel Moor, the Cabinet Member for Fire, Planning and Infrastructure, stated that there were no licences in Gloucestershire and the geology of the county meant that the chances of fracking were very slim.  He believed that the motion was premature and he was concerned that speculating was causing unnecessary alarm amongst residents.

 

A member expressed concern at the potential safety aspects of fracking.  He said that the Government was in effect ‘bribing’ people with payments.  He called upon the Government to invest more in renewable forms of energy such as solar, wind and hydro power.

 

Another member questioned how setting up an advisory group would fit in with the timetable for the Minerals Local Plan.  She said that government, both at a national and local level, had a responsibility to protect local communities.  High carbon energy such as that generated by fracking was resulting in serious damage to the environment.

 

Answering a question, the Monitoring Officer explained that members were entitled to express their views on the matter so long as they took an objective and balanced approach.  Members, including members of the Planning Committee, might want to make clear that they were making comments based on the information before them at this time and they remained open to listening to all the arguments.

 

A member echoed the words of the Cabinet Member and believed that there had been a huge amount of scare mongering with the viability of fracking in Gloucestershire extremely limited.  He noted that the Council had a fundamental role in relation to minerals planning and it was important that the Minerals Local Plan was robust enough to withstand any legal challenge.  The Council could not say that it was against fracking and it needed to have a plan which set out the criteria against which applications would be determined. 

 

In summing up, Cllr Kirby stated that it was important that the public were well informed about fracking.  He was anxious that the politics were taken out of the issue because it was such a serious matter.  He said that the motion was carefully worded so that there was no danger of predetermining applications.  He noted that there were already some presumptions against particular activities in the Minerals Local Plan (for example opencast mining) and he could not see any reason why a similar presumption could not apply to fracking.  He said that it would be for the advisory group to determine a work plan to allow it to fit in with the timetable for the adoption of the Minerals Local Plan.

 

On being put to a recorded vote, it was:

 

RESOLVED that

 

This Council notes that the Government have recently proposed a change to their ‘fracking’ policy to include a personal payment to households within the area of proposed ‘fracking’ sites.

 

This Council believes that this is fundamentally wrong, as it could lead to critical environmental decisions being taken away from communities as a whole. This Council reaffirms that the protection of Gloucestershire’s environment is a key priority for this authority.

 

This Council notes its disappointment in the Government for abolishing the Department for Energy and Climate Change. This Council also notes its disappointment that that previous recommendations made by Environment and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee have not been supported by the administration. Therefore this Council requests that the Cabinet Member for Fire, Planning and Infrastructure establishes a cross party advisory group to consider those aspects of the Local Minerals Plan that relate to ‘Fracking’. This would allow members to represent the concerns of local communities.

 

This Council asks that the Leader of the Council writes to Gloucestershire’s six MPs and the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to urge them to re-evaluate Government policy over the proposed Community Support Payment for fracking.

 

This Council affirms its opposition in principle alone to any attempt to Frack in the Forest of Dean and other parts of the county.

 

The voting was as follows:

 

For (22): Councillors David Brown, Chris Coleman, Dr John Cordwell, Iain Dobie, Bernard Fisher, Joe Harris, Colin Hay, Jeremy Hilton, Paul Hodgkinson, Barry Kirby, Sarah Lunnon, Steve Lydon, Steve McHale, Tracy Millard, Graham Morgan, Brian Oosthuysen, Nigel Robbins OBE, Mike Sztymiak, Simon Wheeler, Jack Williams, Lesley Williams MBE and Suzanne Williams.

 

Against (0)

 

Abstentions (24): Councillors Dorcas Binns, Rob Bird, Tony Blackburn, Andrew Gravells, Tim Harman, Mark Hawthorne MBE, Tony Hicks, Paul McLain, Patrick Molyneux, Nigel Moor, Shaun Parsons, Alan Preest, David Prince, Brian Robinson, Vernon Smith, Lynden Stowe, Ray Theodoulou, Brian Tipper, Pam Tracey MBE, Robert Vines, Stan Waddington, Kathy Williams, Roger Wilson and Will Windsor-Clive.

 

 

Motion 783 – Open Contracting

Cllr Sarah Lunnon proposed and Cllr Mike Sztymiak seconded the following motion:

 

That Gloucestershire County Council commits to the Open Contracting Global Principles and takes action to ensure that:

- By the end of 2017 complete information for all contracting processes over £1m, including details of the tender, award and contract process, the full text of contracts and amendments, and performance information, are proactively published;
- By the end of 2018 complete information is available for all contracting processes, over £500*, is proactively published

The presumption should be that the text of all contracts is open by default. Redactions should only be permitted: (a) at the explicit written request of the parties to the contract; (b) subject to the public interest tests of the Freedom of Information act; (c) with the minimum possible redactions; and (d) with full justifications for any redaction given.


Furthermore, to ensure public access to information on the operation of outsourced services, all future contracts of the Council should include a model clause providing full public access to performance reporting and other key information required to exercise effective scrutiny.

(*This should be set the same as the threshold in the local government transparency code)

Notes:
The Open Contracting Global Principles were developed through an extensive consultation process involving governments, private sector and civil society. The UK Government has endorsed the principles in it's 2013-15 and 2016-18 Open Government Partnership National Action Plans.

The Council is required by the provision of the Local Government Transparency Code to disclose a log of all contracts entered into. This motion builds upon that practice, adding a requirement for enhanced disclosure of contract text, performance information and information about the whole contracting process.

This motion is proposed on a basic understanding of fairness, that those paying the bill be allowed to see the itemised invoices, to understand exactly what they are buying. In terms of public interest it will also enable full scrutiny of how and what public money is being spent on and enable the public or their representatives to spot misuse of public funds, inept services delivery or bad contractual decision making. Open Contracting also promotes a level playing field in public contracting, bringing greater opportunities for SMEs, and ensuring government gets better value for money.

 

Cllr Lunnon stated that a recent report from the Public Accounts Committee had highlighted the lack of transparency in Government contracts with private companies.  The same problems also applied to local government contracts and were allowing companies to avoid public transparency and accountability.  She recognised that there might be particular circumstances relating to commercial confidentiality when information was not published, but that should be the exception rather than the norm. 

 

She was concerned that the current approach by the Council resulted in the redaction of information when documents were published.  Members across the Council needed to be reassured that good governance arrangements were in place and should have confidence in decisions made by the Cabinet.

                                                                                                      

In seconding the motion, Cllr Sztymiak stated that he worked for Capita, who had contracts with public sector organisations, and the views he was expressing were his own and not related to his employer in any way.  He believed that the public had the right to know how contracts were being awarded and he was concerned that holding back information had a serious impact on public confidence.  A move towards open contracting would be a step in the right direction.

 

Another member said that over use of commercial confidentiality was resulting in people losing faith in the public sector.  He stated that it was vitally important to demonstrate that value for money was being provided for the people of Gloucestershire.

 

Cllr Ray Theodoulou, the Cabinet Member for Finance and Change, stated that the Council was committed to the National Transparency Code.  He said that the Council was providing additional information on contracts where it was lawful and there was no disclosure of sensitive commercial information.  He noted that the law permitted the redaction of information in contracts where it was commercially sensitive.

 

As the motion related to changes to the constitution, Cllr Sarah Lunnon and Cllr Mike Sztymiak agreed that the motion be referred to the Constitution Committee. 

 

It was noted that both the proposer and seconder of the original motion, would have an opportunity to present the motion at the next meeting of the Constitution Committee on 16 January 2017.

 

 

Motion 784 – GFirst LEP

Cllr Jeremy Hilton proposed and Cllr Joe Harris seconded the motion detailed on the agenda.

 

Cllr Hilton stated that up until March 2016 decisions relating to major infrastructure projects in Gloucestershire were made at meetings open to the public.  These projects now came under the remit of the GFirst Board which did not meet in public. He felt that it was important that local people should have an opportunity to influence the spending of significant sums of public money.  He made particular reference to the bid document for the Gloucestershire Airport project which had not been made public even though there was strong public sector involvement in the scheme.

 

Cllr Joe Harris, the Chairman of the Economic Growth Overview and Scrutiny Committee, noted that GFirst LEP was taking forward a number of exciting projects in Gloucestershire.  These covered a wide range of areas including engineering, renewable energy and agri-tech. He believed that it was important that the activities of GFirst LEP were open to public scrutiny. 

 

Other members spoke in support of the motion but they recognised that GFirst LEP had limited capacity.  They did not want GFirst LEP to be disadvantaged compared to other local enterprise partnerships through having to hold meetings in public.  They felt that in the interests of probity the same rules should apply to all LEPs throughout the country.  To help GFirst LEP it was suggested that they be offered the use of the meeting facilities at Shire Hall.

 

Cllr Mark Hawthorne, a board member of GFirst LEP, stated that local enterprise partnerships had replaced regional development agencies which were seen as undemocratic and bureaucratic organisations.  The bidding process for projects was complex but local enterprise partnerships had been set-up with a clear set of rules. He noted that the County Council was the accountable body for GFirst LEP.  Local projects received a great deal of publicity through the media and GFirst LEP held public meetings from time to time for people to express their views.  He recognised that there might be more of a role for the Economic Growth Overview and Scrutiny Committee in scrutinising proposals.  He suggested that Cllr Harris as the chairman of the committee meet with Diane Savory, the Chair of GFirst LEP.

 

RESOLVED that

 

This Council notes that in England, local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) are voluntary partnerships between local authorities and businesses set up in 2011 by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to help determine local economic priorities and lead economic growth and job creation within the local area.

This Council notes that in Gloucestershire, GFirst is our Local Enterprise Partnership, of which the Leader of Gloucestershire County Council is a member of the board.

The Council welcomes the work done so far by the GFirst LEP to help develop a thriving economy in Gloucestershire.

However, this Council notes that GFirst LEP holds its regular board meetings ‘behind closed doors’ when it decides on key economic priorities, including the awarding public funds to major infrastructure and investment projects.

This Council, therefore, calls on GFirst LEP in spirit of openness and public accountability to hold its regular board meetings in public and to publish its board papers in the public domain.

 

 

Motion 785 – Grammar schools in Gloucestershire

The following motion proposed by Cllr Richard Leppington and seconded by Cllr David Prince was withdrawn as Cllr Leppington was unable to attend the meeting due to a commitment at the Forest of Dean District Council. 

 

This Council notes the Prime Minister's recent support for the UKIP policy to reintroduce grammar schools. We call on Gloucestershire MPs to support the creation of new grammar schools throughout Gloucestershire.

 

 

Motion 787 – Pavements

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson proposed and Cllr Chris Coleman seconded the following motion:

 

This Council notes that there are many damaged pavements and foot ways across Gloucestershire in need of repair.

This Council is aware that only £800K a year in capital is used for resurfacing footways.  

Given the poor state of our county’s pavements, this Council calls not only for the creation of a dedicated revenue budget for 2017/2018 to focus specifically on pavement repair, but also asks the Cabinet Member to report back to the Highways Advisory Group on measures to improve the inspection and fixing of pavements, before reporting back to the Environment and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee with a positive action plan.

 

Cllr Hodgkinson stated that concerns were regularly raised by members of the public regarding the poor condition of pavements and foot ways.  It was evident that there was not a dedicated revenue budget for their day-to-day maintenance and their condition was deteriorating.  He was concerned that residents, particularly vulnerable people, were tripping and falling.  He called for a dedicated revenue budget to be included in the 2017-18 Council budget. 

 

In seconding the motion, Cllr Coleman said that everyone could see that many pavements and foot ways were unsafe and even dangerous.  He recognised that this was particularly problematic for older people, families with young children, disabled people and cyclists.  He stated that when a road was resurfaced the foot way alongside was often left untouched as there were no dedicated resources available.  The purpose of the motion was to seek agreement to the principle that a dedicated revenue budget for pavement and foot way maintenance should be included in the Council budget each year.  The amount of funding could be considered as part of the Council debate on the budget in February.

 

A procedural motion that a vote on the motion be taken was not supported.

 

Cllr Vernon Smith moved and Cllr Mark Hawthorne seconded the following amendment (see highlighted text).

 

The Council notes there are many damaged pavements and footpaths across Gloucestershire in need of repair.

 

This Council is aware that although only £800,000 a year is in a dedicated footways capital budget, there are many other highways’ capital schemes that include significant footways spend.

 

This Council asks the Cabinet Member to report back to the Highways Advisory Group on measures to improve the inspection and fixing of pavements, before reporting back to the Environment and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee with a positive action plan.

 

In moving the amendment, Cllr Smith stated that the £800,000 capital budget for pavements and footways was for dedicated schemes.  He said that pavements and foot ways were part of the infrastructure and were included in a large number of other schemes.  He referred to Elmbridge Court which was not just a road improvement scheme but also included a bus lane, cycle path, new drainage and foot ways.  He noted that members had the opportunity to use their Highways Local funding to support the maintenance of foot ways in their own area. 

 

In seconding the amendment, Cllr Hawthorne referred to the number of improvement schemes going on across the county that involved pavements and foot ways.  He believed that the original wording of the motion was misleading and not an accurate reflection of the actual position. He said that he was using the Lengthsman Scheme for cutting back hedges and tidying up foot ways in his own division of Quedgeley.  He was concerned that an attempt was being made to commit funding for a particular purpose ahead of the Council budget debate in February.

 

Some members referred to recent highway improvement schemes where no work had been undertaken on adjacent footways because no funding was available.  They recognised that the Highways Local and Lengthsman schemes could be used to maintain foot ways but the resources available to individual members did not stretch far. 

 

Cllr Stan Waddington, Chairman of the Highways Advisory Group, supported the amendment as he believed that the £800,000 figure in the original motion was misleading.  He noted that the funding for Highways Local across the county amounted to around £1.5 million and individual members were working with their local highway managers to take forward footway schemes in their own area.  He recognised that it would be useful for the Highways Advisory Group to undertake an exercise to identify the total sum being spent on foot ways in the county.

 

A member stated that the real issue was that there was not a maintenance programme for foot ways on housing estates and pavements alongside streets.  He referred to a pavement at St Oswalds Priory in Gloucester which was falling into the road and becoming dangerous.

 

Some members were concerned that the original motion was predetermining the Council budget ahead of public consultation.  If more money was required for pavements and foot ways, they questioned where it would come from when the Council was facing increasing demand for services to some of the most vulnerable people in the community.  These included adult social care, children’s services and disability services.

 

A member recognised that there were areas where foot ways and pavements needed to be repaired.  He thanked the Cabinet Member for the work that had been undertaken in Cheltenham and for keeping local members informed throughout the process.

 

Cllr Hodgkinson, the mover of the original motion, believed that the amendment countered the motion.  He stressed that the original motion did not identify an amount to be spent but was simply seeking to establish the principle that a dedicated revenue budget should be included in the Council budget. Whatever the outcome of the amendment, he was anxious that no cuts were made to the Highways Local funding for members.

 

On being put to the vote, the amendment was supported.

 

A member said that she was pleased that the maintenance and improvement of foot ways and pavements was at last being highlighted.  She believed that it was an issue of social justice as the most disadvantaged people in society were most likely to use foot ways and pavements.  She called for a robust process to be in place to approach homeowners when garden hedges grew out over foot ways.  She expressed concern that big infrastructure schemes sometimes resulted in poorly designed foot ways which caused difficulties for pedestrians.

 

Another member stated that the foot ways in his division were in a very poor condition and some of them were dangerous, particularly for disabled people.  He said that in some cases they had not been touched since they were constructed as part of new housing developments in the 1960s and 1970s.

 

A vote was taken on the substantive motion, and it was:

 

RESOLVED that

 

The Council notes there are many damaged pavements and footpaths across Gloucestershire in need of repair.

 

This Council is aware that although only £800,000 a year is in a dedicated footways capital budget, there are many other highways’ capital schemes that include significant footways spend.

 

This Council asks the Cabinet Member to report back to the Highways Advisory Group on measures to improve the inspection and fixing of pavements, before reporting back to the Environment and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee with a positive action plan.

 

 

Motion 788 – Bus services

The following motion proposed Cllr Nigel Robbins and seconded by Cllr Suzanne Williams was not considered as the two hour limit for motions had been reached.

This Council recognises the essential role that bus services play in – a) enabling more active lives b) travel opportunities c) healthier lifestyles d) reducing rural isolation and e) tackling congestion especially in urban areas.

This Council notes the funded public transport consultation that ended in January of this year, but is concerned about both the reduction in budget and the decline in passenger numbers. This has resulted in the withdrawal of much valued public transport profoundly affecting people’s lives by denying access to many services, jobs and independence.

This Council in its commitment to the bus service across Gloucestershire asks the Cabinet Member:

a) To take steps to protect the Council’s bus service budget in 2017/18 from any further reductions.

b) To lobby the government to fully fund the council’s concessionary schemes.

c) To work with the districts on a campaign to increase passenger numbers headed up by this Council’s Communications Team.