Agenda item

Member questions

 

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, 29 November 2017. 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:

Eighteen member questions had been received. The following supplementary questions were asked:

 

Question 1 – Cllr Bernie Fisher asked when the problem around the subsidence on the A438 would be resolved as this had been an issue for four years.

 

Cllr Vernon Smith stated that he understood the frustration with landslips and that action with regards to this was prioritised, with the best way forward considered. This particular landslip was a complex one and he would be happy to meet with the member and officers at the site to discuss further. 

 

 

Question 3 – Cllr Paul Hodgkinson stated that his question related to serious abuse of children and that he was asking for a summary made publically available of the visits made by council officers to Dowdeswell Court and Badgeworth Court to ensure it was on public record. 

 

Cllr Richard Boyles replied that he was happy to share the detail he had been provided with by officers. Records showed that the visits were made by senior officers in relation to placements by the County Council and other local authorities. The records did not categorise the nature of concern, but they were regarding staffing. The law around record keeping was not as robust back then.

 

 

Question 4 – Cllr Paul Hodgkinson asked why, after a series of events, Gloucestershire County Council had failed to inform other councils of the concern. This was despite convictions and charges being brought around child sexual abuse. The member suggested that information had been given to the Council and that it had failed to act.

 

Cllr Richard Boyles explained that records showed that Gloucestershire County Council did send messages to other councils with regards to incidents. He stated that he was happy to work with officers and the police if an investigation was being carried out on these matters. It was important that the police were given the opportunity to carry out their investigations fully.

 

 

Question 5 – Cllr Paul Hodgkinson explained that freedom of information requests to 40 councils had shown no record of any warnings or activity. He asked what the Cabinet Member could do to reassure victims?

 

Cllr Richard Boyles replied that he would work with the police and partners fully. He was sympathetic to the victims. He explained that he could not comment on the activity of the Council in terms of communicating with other councils on this matter in the 1960s and 1970s. He could only focus on assisting with any current investigation.

 

 

Question 6 – Cllr Paul Hodgkinson stated that he had been provided with information that two County Councillors had been members of the advisory board which was part of the Badgeworth Court School.  He had reservations about the information given in the written answer.

 

Cllr Richard Boyles replied that he had shared all the information he had on the matter and that the Council did not have significant records of that period. He explained that the responsibility of licencing for the school during that time was the Department of Education and Science. Record keeping was not great years ago.

 

 

Question 7 – Cllr Paul Hodgkinson asked whether the Cabinet Member would commit to seeking out the Council’s Directors of Education serving from 1965 onwards to investigate the matter fully. He also asked if the Cabinet Member would commit to meeting the victims of abuse.

 

Cllr Richard Boyles reiterated that the investigation should be carried out by the Constabulary. He would work with the Police and that he would take legal advice to ensure that nothing obstructed their investigations. He was happy to meet with individuals in due time.

 

 

Question 8 – Cllr Joe Harris stated that there were similar serious concerns following a terrible Ofsted inspection.  He asked whether an internal investigation would be carried out identifying the lessons learned following the closure of Colne House School.

 

Cllr Richard Boyles stated that a police investigation had been carried out in Autumn 2016 with no prosecutions resulting from that. If further information was available then the police would be interested in receiving that and the Council would provide any information requested to contribute to an investigation.

 

 

Question 9 – Cllr Simon Wheeler expressed his concern regarding the time taken to collect mobility equipment to social services. He asked whether the Cabinet Member would look into the reasons why and into this case in particular.

 

Cllr Kathy Williams stated that she would speak to the member following the meeting to understand the particular issues he had faced. She stated that there was a 90% return rate.

 

 

Question 10 – Cllr Colin Hay asked whether it was the time to increase the contribution from the Council to the GFirst LEP?

 

Cllr Lynden Stowe stated that he recognised the work that the LEP had done including securing over £100 million for infrastructure.  He explained that the move forward to business rate pooling across the seven authorities would hopefully bring additional funding. He also referred to the new Local Industrial Strategy and what might come forward.

 

 

Question 14 – Cllr Rachel Smith asked whether the Leader of the Council could give assurances that women who needed to raise a harassment concern could do so with the confidence that they would be believed.

 

Cllr Mark Hawthorne replied that he was able to give that assurance and said that if any member had suggestions on how to strengthen that pathway then he was happy to take those suggestions.

 

 

Question 15 – Cllr Rachel Smith asked the Cabinet Member if he could help her understand the £100m savings figure in relation to the Residual Waste Project at Javelin Park, particularly against the figures within the Ernst and Young Report and a target recycling rate of 70%.

 

Cllr Ray Theodoulou stated that when considering the long term investment, the £100m was the best estimate. He would look again at the figures Cllr Smith and raised and provide a response.

 

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