Agenda and minutes

County Council - Wednesday 6 July 2022 10.00 am

Venue: Quayside House, Gloucester GL1 2TZ

Contact: Simon Harper 

Items
No. Item

85.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 186 KB

To confirm and sign the minutes of the meeting held on 18 May 2022.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 18 May 2022 were confirmed and signed as a correct record, subject to the inclusion of Cllr Pam Tracey on the attendance list.

 

86.

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.

 

87.

Announcements pdf icon PDF 12 KB

a)    Queen’s Birthday Honours

To congratulate the people living and working in Gloucestershire who have received honours (see list attached). 

 

b)    Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE)

Representatives from the LGBCE will be making a presentation on the review of county division boundaries on 20 July at 10am.  A Teams invitation will be sent to all members. 

 

Minutes:

a)    Queen’s Birthday Honours

 

The Chairman congratulated the people living and working in Gloucestershire who had received honours.

 

b)    Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE)

 

Representatives from the LGBCE would be making a presentation on the review of county division boundaries on 20 July 2022 at 10am. A Teams invitation would be sent to all members.

 

c)    Integrated Care System

 

The One Gloucestershire Integrated Care System became a legal entity on 1 July 2022, formally bringing together the NHS, Social Care, Public Health and other public, voluntary and community sector organisations. It would work alongside the One Gloucestershire Health and Wellbeing Partnership to ensure a joined-up approach across public sector, community and voluntary organisations.

 

The Health Scrutiny Committee would be receiving a briefing on the new arrangements at its meeting on 12 July, which all members were invited to watch via the webcast.

 

d)    Stephen Radford-Hancock

 

The Chairman wished Stephen Radford-Hancock, who would shortly be stepping down from his role as Liberal Democrat Political Assistant, the very best in his new role in the private sector.

 

The Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, Cllr Paul Hodgkinson, spoke on behalf of the Group as to the support Stephen had provided them over the last 4 years, and commented on how diligent, enthusiastic and organised he had been. He wished Stephen all the best in his new role.

 

e)    Simon Harper

 

The Chairman led members in wishing Simon Harper, who would shortly be stepping down from his role as Head of Democratic Services, the very best in his new role at Oxfordshire County Council.

 

Members commented on his professionalism, impartiality, and the support he had provided members over the years, both professionally and personally. Several members paid tribute to his role in raising the profile of scrutiny at the Council, which had led to the Council winning scrutiny awards. They wished him every success for the future, whilst recognising that his departure would be a loss for the Council.

 

Simon Harper thanked members for the respect and value they had shown him, which had made his job worthwhile. He also thanked the rest of the Democratic Services team for their support over the years.

 

88.

Public questions pdf icon PDF 124 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 questions was 10am on Monday, 27 June 2022.However, questions that relate to reports on the agenda may be submitted up to 10am on Wednesday, 29 June 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.

 

Minutes:

Thirty-five questions had been received. The following supplementary

questions were asked:

 

Question 6 - Dede Liss stated that county farms needed protecting and that Gloucestershire County Council should be treating the need to increase the growing of food as an emergency. She asked if the Cabinet Member would do the right thing and support the motion on the agenda on County Farms in full.

 

Cllr David Gray replied that Gloucestershire County Council was very engaged with the rural estate and continued to make contributions to biodiversity. The funds were not there to expand the rural estate, but it was important to get the maximum out of what the Council did have as well as to adopt sustainable practices. He broadly supported the motion and was keen that our farmers were seen as exemplars of best practice.

 

Question 14 -  Liz Child stated that there was mounting evidence of the benefits of improving soil and it was important to give tenant farmers reference points to use soil regeneration techniques. She asked that the County Council give farmers the best opportunities.

 

Cllr Lynden Stowe replied that improvement of soil health was essential. However, he felt that there was a plethora of organisations across the country who were better qualified to communicate that message.

 

Question 24 -  Adrian Oldman asked whether the Cabinet Member would commit to increasing the number of hectares of land owned by the Council and whether it was time to review the Estate Plan which had last been revised in 2016.

 

Cllr Lynden Stowe replied that the Council was not in a position financially to invest in more farmland and that there was a tight capital programme. He explained that where a business case existed then the Council would look at it. He had confidence in managers and land owners of the other 98% of farms that were not owned by the Council. Farming in Gloucestershire was innovative, but there was always room for greater productivity as well as managing and farming in environmentally sensitive ways.

 

Question 30 - Adrian Oldman stated that there had been 48 timetabled bus service cancellations in one day.  He asked whether the Cabinet Member was happy with the level of service provided by Stagecoach and what mark out of ten he would give them. 

 

Cllr Philip Robinson replied that it was not his place to defend a commercial service. He recognised that the company had tried to be transparent around the services they were not running. This resulted in fewer people waiting on the kerbside for a bus that was not going to show up. He would prefer a better service, but that was a matter for Stagecoach and he was not going to give them a mark out of ten.

 

Question 31 - Adrian Oldman stated that there were a high number of cancellations affecting bus users and that affected passenger confidence with people  moving to alternative forms of transport. He asked how that would be addressed noting the Bus Service Improvement  ...  view the full minutes text for item 88.

89.

Corporate Parenting pdf icon PDF 173 KB

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

 

Minutes:

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

 

Members were advised that the Improvement Plan, which would address the issues raised by Ofsted, had been approved by Cabinet last month. It included an Improvement Board to monitor the plan. Cllr Davies had met with the management team in Children’s Services and was impressed by the high morale and determination to continue with the improvement journey, despite the continued challenge of developing a stable and skilled workforce and ensuring consistency across the service.

 

Members were informed that the Bright Spots Survey had been launched in May to enable the Council to listen to children in care and care leavers, and 79 surveys had been completed so far.

 

The Council was continuing to support care leavers with work experience, and had been working closely with local employers, including GCHQ, on opportunities.

 

Members were also advised that whilst the statistics evidenced the constant challenge and increased demand for Children’s Services, the results remained encouraging and were moving in the right direction.

 

It was noted that the next Corporate Parenting Group meeting was scheduled for 26 July.

 

One member queried how many children accommodated under Section 20 of the Children’s Act, were then transferred to permanent guardianship by the Council under Section 47 of the Act, and whether this had resulted in problems with parents? Cllr Davies replied that he would respond to the member outside of the meeting.

 

Another member asked what support the Council was providing to carers given the current cost of living crisis. Cllr Davies agreed to look into this outside of the meeting and would get back to the member.

 

90.

Petitions

To receive petitions, if any, without discussion.

Minutes:

No petitions were presented.

 

91.

Motions pdf icon PDF 188 KB

The Council’s Constitution provides for a maximum of two hours for debate on motions.  The time limit for member speeches is three minutes and the time limit for proposing a motion is five minutes.

 

In accordance with Procedural Rule 10.2 in Part 4 of the Council Constitution, the Chief Executive has prepared a short accompanying note for each motion in respect of any implications for climate change, resources, human rights and any other pertinent factors they may wish to include in accordance with the Council’s Policy Framework.

 

Motion 904 - Gloucestershire County Council Farms

Proposed by Cllr Beki Hoyland

Seconded by Cllr Chloe Turner

 

Council notes:

That the rural estate is spread throughout the county and consists of 63 farms plus 40 additional lettings, extending across 7,000 acres. The estate generally comprises smaller family farms, with the majority being between 80 to 140 acres.

More than half of the county council-run farms have already signed up to the Countryside Stewardship scheme, which is a government initiative offering financial incentives to farmers to look after and improve the environment.

Regenerative agro-ecology builds soils and sequesters carbon. Agriculture can form part GCC’s solution to climate change at the same time as producing high quality food if careful management of soils, manures, plants and animals are utilised.

Farmers that lease from the County Council come from diverse backgrounds and bring huge commitment, hard work and passion and achieve high welfare standards so important to the British public.

Council farms provide a valuable route into agriculture for new entrants that in turn benefit the county with diverse, successful farms and farmers.

Proper land management will help to prevent flooding and water pollution, positively contributing to the 25-year environment plan for public goods.

Council farms are a long tradition in Gloucestershire, part of the heritage of our beautiful rural county; while other counties have lost or greatly reduced their farm holdings; our own county is fortunate to have maintained a substantial rural estate.

Council believes that:

The rural estate gives GCC the ability to influence the nature and quality of agriculture in Gloucestershire, acting as exemplar and enabler on the use of innovative farming methods and environmental stewardship.

The rural estate represents a significant asset in the council’s climate ambitions, offering opportunities for carbon sequestration, biodiversity and local food production.

A local circular economy based on regenerative methods of food production will build resilience into the county’s economy; making food affordable, accessible and fair whilst reducing carbon use and ensuring profitable farms.

The changing landscape of farming over the coming decades may provide opportunities to expand the rural estate both in scale and variety of holding, creating more opportunity for apprenticeships and new entrants into farming and horticulture.

Council calls on the Cabinet to:

Maintain or increase the number of hectares of land and farms owned by the council; ring fencing 50% of profits from the sale of any holdings for the sole use of future investment in new holdings.

Continue to ensure and that  ...  view the full agenda text for item 91.

Minutes:

Motion 904 – Gloucestershire County Council Farms

 

Cllr Beki Hoyland proposed and Cllr Chloe Turner seconded the motion included on the agenda.

 

Cllr Hoyland stated that Gloucestershire County Council (GCC) owned 7000 acres of farmland, most of which was purchased in the first half of the 20th Century when local food production was considered important as war and financial crisis made food imports difficult. She explained that the world then experienced a phase of plenty and the issue of food security seemed to be a thing of the past, however the world was changing again, with financial crises, wars, changing political landscapes and pandemics combining to highlight insecurities in food supply chains. She added that mass produced food from across the globe was vulnerable to the breakdown of supply chains whilst also contributing to the looming crisis of climate change and loss of biodiversity.  She reiterated that the GCC rural estate could be part of the solution to this double catastrophe, by using the land to produce good quality food, and build soil which could lock up carbon from the atmosphere. It would also shorten supply chains, making them more robust and resulting in lower emissions from transportation.

 

Cllr Hoyland detailed her positive experience of visiting Gammage Farm, a GCC farm, and highlighted its exemplary work.

 

She detailed the barriers she experienced when deciding to become a farmer growing up, and explained that the Council rural estate could help to ensure diversity of people working on land. As a rural county, Gloucestershire had a role to play in mitigating the effects of climate change. Weather patterns had already changed, leading to more floods and drought, and farms could help balance this by storing water so urban populations could survive. She explained that the Council could work with experts in Gloucestershire, such as the Wildlife Trust, Council for Protection of Rural England, Hartpury University and the Royal Agricultural University, and contribute to the conversation. The Council could also help young people from diverse backgrounds find work and bring their enthusiasm and creativity.

 

Cllr Chloe Turner, in seconding the motion, informed members that DEFRA provided a report to Parliament each year on local authority rural estates and has made clear the public benefit of these to residents by enabling entrants to develop farming businesses, providing beneficial educational visits, and contributing to environmental enrichment and the production of local food.

 

Cllr Turner explained that the GCC rural estate would be even more crucial in light of the transition to the environmental land management schemes, and as food insecurity reared its head. She added that as well as a heritage asset, the estate was also a modern asset, facilitating diversity. It could also be a steady revenue generator for Council priorities and that there was no economic case for a reduction in holdings. Cllr Turner referred to the clear Government steer to support rural estates, as well as the clear support from the electorate for the GCC rural estate to not be diminished,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 91.

92.

Member questions pdf icon PDF 115 KB

Up to 45 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 was 10am on Monday, 27 June 2022.However, questions that relate to reports on the agenda may be submitted up to 10am on Wednesday, 29 June 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.

 

As background information, the Cabinet Decision Statement for the meeting held on 22 June 2022 and the Cabinet Member Decision Statements over the period 7 May to 27 June 2022 are available on the GCC website - https://glostext.gloucestershire.gov.uk/mgDelegatedDecisions.aspx?bcr=1&DM=3 .

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Question 3. Cllr Cate Cody asked if individuals forgot to bring ‘keep cups’ to Council meetings, could facilities be provided to dispose of waste responsibly as well as provision of food caddies.

 

Cllr Mark Hawthorne replied these points would be actioned including ensuring those facilities were provided in the new Council Chamber.

 

Question 5.  Cllr Roger Whyborn asked whether the Cabinet Member’s answer meant that he had accepted the policy of filling one pothole at a time while ignoring the other potholes in the area.

 

Cllr Dom Morris replied that the aim was to make highways better and that he had been working with officers to see what was going well and what could be done better.

 

Question 6. Cllr Roger Whyborn asked whether the Cabinet Member had been persuaded by the team to change his mind and that he no longer accepted that the roads were in a terrible state.

 

Cllr Dom Morris replied that he had been clear on what had been done well and where improvement was needed. He would work with officers and members on this journey of improvement.

 

Question 8 - Cllr Roger Whyborn asked whether there had been serious underfunding in road safety and whether 2022 wasn’t looking any better.

 

Cllr Dom Morris replied that he was excited about work being carried out in communities. A Road Safety Policy document was being put together. He encouraged colleagues to work with communities to take advantage of the Community Road Safety Fund.

 

Question 12 - Cllr Alex Hegenbarth asked whether there was an opportunity to introduce a hybrid system where at peak times the booking system was in place for Household Recycling Centres, but at other times it could be open for any residents who arrived at a Recycling Centre.

 

Cllr David Gray replied that there was no evidence that the booking system was leading to individuals disposing of waste elsewhere. It was an excellent system and he encouraged the public to use it. If individuals turned up without an appointment, staff would try to fit them in.

 

Question 13 - Cllr Alex Hegenbarth asked whether the council had done any general consultation on whether residents were happy with the booking system.

 

Cllr David Gray replied that the volume had remained steady which suggested everyone who previously used the service was still using it. He encouraged individuals to work with the system and with officers who would be as flexible as possible.

 

Question 14- Cllr Paul Hodgkinson stated that, despite reporting that vegetation was covering road signs, there were still issues with the Highways Team responding. He asked if the Cabinet Member thought it was acceptable that members of the public were doing some of this work themselves, and what the member would do about the situation.

 

Cllr Dom Morris replied that the big stuff was being done, but he was working with officers to look at those issues, such as cutting back vegetation etc.

 

Question 15 -Cllr Paul Hodgkinson asked at what point did the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 92.

93.

Scrutiny

93a

Scrutiny committee report pdf icon PDF 219 KB

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

 

Cllr Philip Awford, Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Chair

Cllr Andrew Gravells, Health Chair

Cllr Stephan Fifield, Adult Social Care and Communities Chair

Cllr Andrew Miller, Children and Families Chair

Cllr Chris McFarling, Environment Vice-chair

Cllr Matt Babbage, Economic Growth Chair

Cllr Jeremy Hilton, Fire and Rescue Chair

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

 

Minutes:

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

 

Cllr Jeremy Hilton, Chair of the Fire and Rescue Scrutiny Committee, invited Committee and other interested members to attend a Fire Scrutiny Training session on 5 October 2022, which would be led by a leading expert from the Centre for Governance and Scrutiny. He also reminded members of the Committee to ensure that they sent substitutes if they were unable to attend any meetings.

 

One member requested that a summary report on key scrutiny activity be provided at Council. Cllr Awford responded that he would consider the production of an annual scrutiny report for Council.

 

 

94.

Chair of Environment Scrutiny Committee

Following the appointment of Cllr Dom Morris as the Cabinet Member for Highways and Flood, to elect a new Chair of the Environment Scrutiny Committee.

Minutes:

Cllr Mark Hawthorne proposed and Cllr Andrew Miller seconded that Cllr Vernon Smith be nominated as Chair of the Environment Scrutiny Committee.

 

Cllr Beki Hoyland proposed and Cllr Paul Hodgkinson seconded that Cllr Chris McFarling be nominated as Chair of the Environment Scrutiny Committee.

 

On being put the vote, it was

 

RESOLVED that Cllr Vernon Smith be appointed as Chair of the Environment Scrutiny Committee.