Agenda and minutes

County Council - Wednesday 16 February 2022 10.00 am

Items
No. Item

50.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 256 KB

To confirm and sign the minutes of the meeting held on 8 December 2021.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 8 December 2021 were confirmed and signed as a correct record.

51.

Declarations of interest

Please declare any disclosable pecuniary interests or personal interests that you may have relating to any specific matters which may be discussed at the meeting.

 

Minutes:

No declarations were made.

52.

Announcements pdf icon PDF 93 KB

 

a)    Queen’s New Year Honours

To congratulate the people living in Gloucestershire who received awards as part of the Queen’s New Year Honours. 

 

b)    Roy Birch

To stand in silence as a mark of respect to former County Councillor, Roy Birch, who passed away at the end of 2021.  Roy served on the County Council for eight years representing the Division of Tidenham, near Chepstow for the Liberal Democrats.  He was also a member of the Forest of Dean District Council for 24 years and served on Tidenham Parish Council for 33 years.

 

 

 

Minutes:

a)    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.

 

b)    Roy Birch

 

The Chairman and other members paid personal tributes to former County Councillor Roy Birch who sadly passed away in November 2021.

 

Roy had served on the County Council from 1993 to 2001, representing the Division of Tidenham, near Chepstow, for the Liberal Democrats.  He was also a member of the Forest of Dean District Council for 24 years and served on Tidenham Parish Council for 33 years.

 

Members commented on his great character, his commitment to the community of Tidenham, and his astute knowledge of financial and budgetary issues.

 

c)    Major Tom Hancock

 

The Chairman and other members paid tribute to Major Tom Hancock, well known former Deputy Lieutenant, who sadly passed away on 8 February 2022, aged 94.

 

Members commented on Major Tom’s outstanding contribution to local communities as a Tewkesbury Borough Councillor and Honorary Alderman, and as President and Chairman of the Royal British Legion Winchcombe Branch, the Diocesan and Deanery Synods and the Gloucestershire Playing Fields Association.

 

A private funeral and a memorial service would be held at St Peter's, Winchcombe on 23 April 2022 at 2.30pm.

 

 

d)    Dr James Hodson FSA

 

The Chairman paid tribute to Dr James Hodson, notable local historian, who passed away suddenly on 20 January 2022, aged 74.

 

James was a dedicated volunteer and a former chair of the Friends of Gloucestershire Archives.  He was a key member of the fundraising group for the For the Record archives transformation project. His contribution to archives and local history in Gloucestershire was enormous and he would be missed.

 

The Chairman invited members to participate in a minute’s silence as a mark of respect for Roy Birch, Major Tom Hancock and Dr James Hodson.

 

e)    Andrea Clarke

 

The Chairman, on behalf of the Council, wished Andrea Clarke, Democratic Services, all the best for the future as she would shortly be retiring from the Council after more than 20 years.

 

She was well known to members having supported a range of committees and other bodies including Health Scrutiny, Children and Families Scrutiny and the Health and Wellbeing Board.  Andrea’s grasp of the scrutiny process, including constructively challenging council officers and partner organisations, had been a significant part of the success of scrutiny at the Council. 

 

 

53.

Public questions

Minutes:

Fifteen public questions had been submitted prior to the meeting. The

following supplementary questions were asked:

 

Question 11 – Clare Stone stated, while she could see that the figures outlined by the Cabinet Member would feed into a passenger needs assessment, she did not believe that this constituted a proper assessment. She suggested that it hadn’t taken into account equality issues and asked that a proper needs assessment be carried out.  In addition, she asked whether the Council could also publish the assessment that had been carried out so far.  She pointed out that a £1.3m trial on demand responsive transport showed that money was available for public transport.

 

Cllr Philip Robinson outlined that there was a specific grant to provide the trial and this wasn’t money that could be put into community transport.  In relation to the assessment, a personal travel plan service with an outside agency would be in place and they would speak to the residents affected as to what their needs were. He noted that a large number of the residents effected lived in Herefordshire.

 

Question 13 – Clare Stone asked how could it be that the issue of a County border was being allowed to make such an impression on services provided.

 

Cllr Philip Robinson replied that the County Council should not be supporting the transport needs of people that resided in Herefordshire. There had been suggestions of some support being provided by Herefordshire Council but currently there were no options on the table that Herefordshire Council felt was affordable in order to work in partnership.  He emphasised that this was a commercial service operated by Stagecoach and they had chosen to withdraw it.

 

54.

Corporate Parenting pdf icon PDF 148 KB

Cllr Stephen Davies, Cabinet Member for Children’s Safeguarding and Early Years, to present the report.

Minutes:

Cllr Stephen Davies, Cabinet Member for Children’s Safeguarding and Early Years, presented the Corporate Parenting report.

 

Members were advised that the Council’s Ofsted inspection would be completed this week. The Cabinet Member remarked on a notable increase in morale amongst officers in children’s services the day the inspection was announced, and thanked officers for their hard work over the last few weeks. He also thanked members for not submitting questions to Council on children’s services which had allowed officers to focus on the inspection.

 

Members noted that the date of the next Corporate Parenting meeting had been detailed incorrectly in the Corporate Parenting report and would take place on 24 March 2022. New mentors had been recruited from the ambassador programme, with regular challenging meetings held with the Cabinet Member.

 

One member queried what the expected timescale was for verbal feedback and the formal written report from Ofsted. Cllr Davies replied that whilst they would be given some indication on the outcome of the inspection when it finished this week, they could not talk about it until the formal written report had been produced, which could take a matter of weeks.

 

One member took the opportunity to thank officers in children’s services for their efforts during this challenging time.

 

Another member asked whether the Cabinet Member thought the number of children in care would surpass 1000 by 2025 or whether he thought numbers had reached their peak and would start to reduce? Cllr Davies responded that there were several factors contributing to the numbers of children in care, however he hoped with the introduction of family hubs, youth support services, and early intervention, that numbers would not continue to increase. However, it was noted that the number of children in care was increasing nationally, with local authorities still grappling with the impact of Covid.

 

There was a further question as to whether the Council had eyes on those care leavers residing in accommodation deemed unsuitable? In response, Cllr Davies explained that the Council had an obligation to reach out to care leavers; however, the difficulty was that care leavers did not have an obligation to respond.

 

55.

Petitions

Cllr David Drew to present a petition relating to permit parking in the Horns Road area of Stroud to Cllr Dave Norman, Cabinet Member for Public Protection, Parking and Libraries.

 

Cllr Ben Evans to present a petition relating to a road junction in Churchdown to Cllr Vernon Smith, Cabinet Member for Highways and Flood.

 

Cllr Gill Moseley to present a petition relating to bus services from Ross-on-Wye and Ledbury through Newent to Gloucester to Cllr Philip Robinson, Cabinet Member for Economy, Education and Skills.

 

To receive any other petitions from members without discussion.

Minutes:

Cllr Dr David Drew presented a petition relating to permit parking in the Horns Road area of Stroud to Cllr Dave Norman, Cabinet Member for Public Protection, Parking and Libraries.

 

Cllr Ben Evans presented a petition relating to a road junction in Churchdown to Cllr Vernon Smith, Cabinet Member for Highways and Flood.

 

Cllr Gill Moseley presented a petition relating to bus services from Ross-on-Wye and Ledbury through Newent to Gloucester to Cllr Philip Robinson, Cabinet Member for Economy, Education and Skills.

 

Cllr Paul Baker presented a petition relating to the lack of any safe crossing points on the Old Bath Road in Cheltenham to Cllr Dave Norman, Cabinet Member for Public Protection, Parking and Libraries.

 

56.

Council Strategy pdf icon PDF 132 KB

Cllr Mark Hawthorne, the Leader of the Council, to present the draft Council Strategy 2022-2026.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chief Executive, Pete Bungard, explained the proposed procedure for the Council Strategy debate.

 

Initially, Cllr Mark Hawthorne, Leader of the Council, and Cllr Lynden Stowe, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and Change, would present the recommendations from the Cabinet. 

 

In order to reach a position where a substantive motion could be debated, other political groups would then be invited to propose amendments to the Council Strategy.  These would be moved and seconded but not debated at this stage.  This was a departure from the normal procedure where only one amendment could be moved and discussed at any one time. 

 

Once the amendments had been presented, the Chairman would call for an adjournment to provide an opportunity for Group Leaders to reach a common position where possible. 

 

After the adjournment, the Leader of the Council would advise members where it had been possible to reach agreement – these would be treated as friendly amendments to the strategy.  Any amendments which had not been accepted or withdrawn would be presented by the political groups, debated, and voted upon.  Each group would present their unsupported amendments on bloc.

 

Thereafter all members would have an opportunity to debate the Council Strategy in accordance with the normal rules of debate.

 

At the end of the debate, the Leader of the Council would have the right of reply. The vote would then be taken. This would not need to be a recorded vote.

 

The Chairman therefore proposed that under procedure rule 23.1 the following part of procedure rule 12.5 be suspended for the duration of the Council Strategy 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.

 

Conservative Group

 

Cllr Mark Hawthorne, the Leader of the Council, and Cllr Lynden Stowe, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and Change, presented the recommendations from the Cabinet meeting held on 26 January 2022.

 

Before introducing the Strategy, the Leader wanted to put on record his thanks to GCC staff who had continued, despite the difficult circumstances of the pandemic over the last 2 years, to deliver to and support local communities, ensuring the most vulnerable were protected.

 

He continued by stating that now was the time to consider how to lead the journey of recovery, to build back better. It was an opportunity to build back greener, giving people the opportunities to lead greener and healthier lives, by investing in 1000 electric vehicle charging points, commencing construction of the £20m Arle Court Transport Hub, and investing £1m into the Climate Change Action Fund.

 

The Leader outlined the ambition for Gloucestershire to be home to the UK’s first Nuclear Fusion Power Plant, as well as to become a new city region as part of the Western Gateway Powerhouse.

 

Members were informed that the Strategy set out how investment for Gloucestershire  ...  view the full minutes text for item 56.

57.

Policy and Budget Framework - Medium Term Financial Strategy

Minutes:

The report before members included the budget report and recommendations, Medium Term Financial Strategy, budget consultation report, scrutiny budget report, and Equality Impact Assessment.

 

The Chief Executive explained the procedure for this item, which would be the same process as used for the Council Strategy, except that a recorded vote would be proposed by the Chairman, and seconded by the Vice-Chairman, at each stage of the debate.

 

The Chairman therefore proposed that under procedure rule 23.1 the following part of procedure rule 12.5 be suspended for the duration of the Council Strategy 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.

 

Conservative Group

 

Cllr Stowe and Cllr Hawthorne presented the recommendations from the Cabinet meeting held on 26 January 2022.

 

Cllr Stowe explained that the recommendation detailed in the report had since been updated because of changes in grant funding. Thanking members for their involvement in the budget scrutiny process, he stated his view that the budget proposals were the most positive for a generation based on the most positive statement from government for a generation. He stated that the budget formed the basis for investing in today, as well as investing in building back better for tomorrow.

 

Cllr Stowe explained that they would be asking taxpayers to pay an extra 1.99 percent, plus an extra 1 percent that was ringfenced for adult social care, but that this remained one of the lowest county council taxes in the Country.

 

Emphasising that the most vulnerable people in the County would always be the top priority, Cllr Stowe highlighted the extra £14million in this year’s budget for Children’s Services and £9million for Adults Social Care and for those living with disabilities. An extra £2million would be pumped into Community Safety to ensure that the County’s firefighters were equipped and trained to the highest standards; an extra £2.7 million would go towards highways maintenance; and £1million would go towards combatting climate change. Additionally, Highways Local had been firmly embedded within the budget.

 

Continuing to the capital programme, it was iterated that a further £100million would be invested into roads; £150million into new schools and refurbishments; and £20million into cycle routes. It was also noted that the general reserve position of just short of £22million was considered to be at the appropriate level.

 

Members were informed that the public had indicated its support for the proposed budget, as evidenced by the results of the public consultation.

 

Cllr Hawthorne, in seconding the proposed budget recommendations, endorsed the budget that would deliver for Gloucestershire and build back better over the coming 12 months.

 

Liberal Democrat Group

 

 

Proposal

One off or ongoing?

2022/23 Cost £000s

Revenue or Capital

 

Funded from

1

Reserve to fund shovel-ready 20mph schemes in 22/23

One off

450

Capital

£100k from cancelling council chamber upgrades + £350k from  ...  view the full minutes text for item 57.

58.

Member 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, 9 February 2022. 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.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Thirty-nine member questions had been received. The following supplementary questions were asked:

 

Question 1 – Cllr Jeremy Hilton explained the ICT issues and implications arising from the recent cyber attack on Gloucester City Council. The County Council was the only public body blocking City Council email addresses. He looked for assurances that from 1 March 2022 this would be resolved.

 

Cllr Lynden Stowe replied that this was subject to work with the City Council and that it was important not to compromise the County Council systems.

 

Question 3 – Cllr Jeremy Hilton stated that elected members lived in the County, he asked if that same criteria should be applied to senior officers at the Council earning over £100,000.

 

Cllr Lynden Stowe did not agree and stated it was important to have the best individuals in the roles.

 

Question 7 – Cllr Colin Hay asked for assurances that the Cabinet Member would work with other road safety users to get the campaign off the ground to alert people of the changes to the Highway Code.

 

Cllr Dave Norman replied that the Council had a role and responsibility with regards to road safety. He felt that there was information available and it was everyone’s responsibility when using the highway to understand the code.

 

Question 8 – Cllr Paul Hodgkinson asked whether, in circumstances where Covid measures were being retained, it would be wrong for Gloucestershire County Council to retain them without asking the public.

 

Cllr Mark Hawthorne informed that member that if Cllr Hodgkinson had specific issues around powers relating to Covid then he should raise those as  specific questions.

 

Question 9 – Cllr Paul Hodgkinson asked if the member would be looking to run a wider consultation as to whether the HRC booking system would be retained?

 

Cllr David Gray stated that there would be a broader consultation in the coming months and he suggested that the booking system had been a big success.

 

Question 10 – Cllr Lisa Spivey asked for reassurance that when the Pension Committee carried out its comprehensive review this year that best practice was considered as not just being a financial return.

 

Cllr Lynden Stowe replied that he understood the points made and part of the partnership with Brunel allowed an ability to influence with regards to ESG policies. The Committee did not pick individual shares to invest in.

 

Question 12 - Cllr Roger Whyborn asked if the cabinet member understood the extreme sense of disempowerment felt by communities over speeding and did he have any plans to do anything about that.

 

Cllr Dave Norman replied that the Council was committed to investing in this area and were working with the Police and Crime Commissioner. Consultation was the way forward.

 

Question 13 – Cllr Roger Whyborn asked where and when did the member propose to plant the 500 trees at the Arle Court Transport Hub.

 

Cllr David Gray replied that everything would be done by 2024 on the site.

 

Question 14 – Cllr Gill Moseley asked  ...  view the full minutes text for item 58.

59.

Scrutiny report pdf icon PDF 219 KB

Cllr Phil Awford, Chair of Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee, to present the report which provides a summary of recent scrutiny committee activities. Scrutiny Committee Chairs to answer questions:

 

Cllr Philip Awford, Corporate Overview and Scrutiny

Cllr Andrew Gravells, Health 

Cllr Stephen Hirst, Adult Social Care and Communities

Cllr Andrew Miller, Children and Families

Cllr Dom Morris, Environment

Cllr Matt Babbage, Economic Growth

Cllr Jeremy Hilton, Fire and Rescue

Cllr Steve Robinson (Vice-chair), Gloucestershire Police and Crime Panel

 

Minutes:

Cllr Phil Awford, Chair of the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee, presented the report which provided a summary of recent scrutiny activities.

 

The report highlighted the breadth of scrutiny activity that had been undertaken by non-executive members over the past few months. Attention was drawn to the budget scrutiny session which was held on 6 January and members and officers involved in that process were thanked. It was also noted that the Police and Crime Panel had considered the Commissioner’s budget and the Restoring our Rivers task group continued to meet and would be looking to make recommendations.

 

60.

Constitution Committee report pdf icon PDF 1 MB

Cllr Mark Hawthorne, Chairman of the Constitution Committee, to present the report from the meeting held on 16 January 2022.

Minutes:

Richard Blamey, Chair of the Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP), presented the Panel’s recommendations regarding members’ allowances. It was understood that the Panel was recommending an increase to the basic allowance of £250, and to maintain the Special Responsibility Allowances at their current levels. Consideration had also been given to the introduction of a cycling allowance for members to incentivise travel by cycle, however further enquiries relating to the cycling rate for staff would need to be made.

 

On being put to the vote it was

 

RESOLVED to

 

a)   Increase the Basic Allowance from £10,500 to £10,750 for the financial year 2022-23.

b)   Maintain Special Responsibility Allowances at their current level

c)   Note the revised Members’ Allowances Scheme for 2022-23 at Appendix B of the report presented to the Constitution Committee.

 

Cllr Mark Hawthorne, Chair of the Constitution Committee, presented the rest of the report which set out proposed changes to the Council’s Constitution.

 

One member requested that it be made clear, in reference to the proposed amendment for public and member questions, that it would still be possible to ask questions of reports that had been published late. The Monitoring Officer confirmed that was the intention and agreed to take on board the principle.

 

RESOLVED that the recommendations in the report relating to public and member questions, Pension Committee, and Contract Procedure Rules be approved.

 

 

61.

Appointment of External Auditor pdf icon PDF 265 KB

Cllr Colin Hay, Chair of the Audit and Governance Committee, to present the report.

Minutes:

Cllr Colin Hay, Chair of the Audit and Governance Committee, presented the report on the appointment of external auditors.

 

On being put to the vote it was

 

RESOLVED that the Council accepts Public Sector Audit Appointments’ invitation to opt into the sector-led option for the appointment of external auditors for the five financial years from 1 April 2023.

 

62.

Gloucestershire LGPS 2020-21 Annual Report pdf icon PDF 59 KB

Cllr Lynden Stowe, Chair of the Pension Committee, to present the 2020-21 Annual Report for the Gloucestershire Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Cllr Lynden Stowe, Chair of the Pension Committee, presented the 2020-21 Annual Report for the Gloucestershire Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS).

 

Thanking present and past members of the Committee, particularly Ray Theodoulou who had chaired the Committee previously, Cllr Stowe explained that the scheme was in a good position, highlighting that the membership of the Brunel Partnership was increasing; there had been a significant rise in the value of the Fund; and the Fund was in the top quartile of local government pension schemes.

 

One member echoed the view that the scheme was in a good position.

 

The report was noted.