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 questions is 10am on Wednesday, 8 May 2019. Please send questions to the Chief Executive marked for the attention of Stephen Bace (email email@example.com).
Questions received and proposed responses do not accompany this agenda but will be available prior to the meeting.
Sixteen questions had been received. A copy of the answers was circulated and is attached to the signed copy of the minutes.
The following supplementary questions were asked:
Question 2 – Steve Gower said that he was quoted figures in a previous answer regarding the number of deaths of individuals in supported living as well as anecdotal information regarding individuals who had been defined as too ill for the homeless hub following assessment. He asked whether the Cabinet Member had any concerns about these instances and asked how referrals were made and what the criteria was to get into the homeless hub.
Cllr Kathy Williams replied that she could not comment on individual cases. She outlined that the Council had recently received a grant from Government that would be put into contracts to improve facilities in this area. There were many reasons why individuals might die who were in supported housing and the Coroner would make a decision on the causes of those deaths. The member would provide what information was available.
Question 3 – Henry Jones stated that it was clear that the Council did hold the reduction of carbon footprint as a high priority to a degree and asked whether the Council in theory supported destigmatising economic inactivity by rolling out means adjusted universal based income. He suggested that those who were nominally unemployed would be praiseworthy, instead of being vilified and would give a boost to the self esteem of the ‘unemployable’.
Cllr Lynden Stowe replied that reducing the carbon footprint was a high priority for the council and welcomed the endorsement of that. He gave the example of the work being carried out around streetlighting. On the specific supplementary he suggested that it was not something for him to comment on but that a view should be sought from national government and that the individual should lobby his MP.
Question 5 – Senan Clifford identified inaccuracies in the percentages provided in the answer. He asked that given that fossil fuels were a major contributor to climate change emissions how wise was it to invest in this for Council workers pensions?
Cllr Ray Theodoulou explained that the Brunel organisation had been set up by Government to manage the pension fund of a group of county councils (there were 10 in the group). The Council had no responsibility for the investments that were made as those decisions had been devolved to Brunel. He replied that he would pass on the comments made to Brunel.
Question 6 – Jennie Ireland commented on the manmade decline in biodiversity and asked what measures the Council would put in place to protect, generate and restore biodiversity?
Cllr Nigel Moor replied that a report of a task group chaired by Cllr Rachel Smith on biodiversity had been presented to Cabinet and he had undertaken to respond to the recommendations. Once he had done that it would be shared more widely.
Question 7 – Jennie Ireland asked what plans and budget were in place for tree planting with 3 billion needing to be planted.
Cllr Nigel Moor stated that an increase of that scale would require government intervention to incentivise land owners
Question 8 – Louise Proud asked what positive action had been taken at senior positions in the Council to reduce the gender pay gap.
Cllr Mark Hawthorne explained that the Council had seen huge success for women across the whole organisation in terms of recruitment (social workers and fire service for example) which had created an adverse effect on the figures. He understood the point that there was a need to increase the number of women in senior roles. Currently 77% of those on the apprenticeship levy at levels 2 and 3 were women and of those on the Aspiring Leaders’ Programme, 65% were women.
Question 10 – Louise Proud asked whether the Leader of Council would commit to the production of a transparent action plan with smart targets within the year to tackle the gender pay gap.
Cllr Mark Hawthorne replied that if it was felt an action plan would help demonstrate the work in this area then this was something the Council could look into producing.
Question 11 – Yvonne Dignon asked whether the Council had a plan to make changes to support planting of trees on tenanted Gloucestershire land, including changing the legal framework.
Cllr Lynden Stowe replied that there was no plan at this time as those legal contracts existed for many long term tenants. Any restrictions would impact the structure of the County estate. He hoped that tenant farmers would take up the challenges to plant more trees and stated that he had every confidence in farmers to do the right thing.
Question 12 – Yvonne Dignon asked whether the Council was going to make representations to Government on the legal framework to allow the planting of more trees.
Cllr Lyndon Stowe replied that it was not appropriate to ask Government to make those changes and he recognised the good work of tenant farmers, as well as other farmers across the county, in supplying food to the nation. He felt that it was up to market to dictate what was grown and over the course of time there might be a shift to plant produce.
Question 15 – Lyndon Edwardson asked whether the Council had plans for a food security strategy in relation to climate change.
Cllr Nigel Moor stated that he was confident that this would be discussed at the summit on climate change the following week and that a strategy in relation to an approach to climate change would be put out to consultation over the Summer.
Question 16 – Lyndon Edwardson suggested that setting up a citizens assembly to be consulted on the subject of climate change and help inform the Council’s approach.
Cllr Nigel Moor reiterated that a strategy would be out for consultation in the Summer and that setting up a citizens assembly would be something he would reflect on.