Agenda and minutes

County Council - Wednesday 21 February 2024 10.00 am

Venue: Council Chamber - Shire Hall, Gloucester. View directions

Contact: Stephen Bace 

Items
No. Item

2.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 253 KB

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 8 November 2023 were confirmed and signed

as a correct record, subject to adding a reference to public questioner Izaac Taliford being a Cheltenham Borough Councillor.

3.

Declarations of Interest

Please see Note (b) at the end of the agenda.

Minutes:

No declarations of interest were received.

4.

Announcements pdf icon PDF 53 KB

Please see the briefing note, which does not accompany this agenda but will be circulated prior to the meeting.

Minutes:

4.1         New Year Honours

The Chair extended his congratulations to the people living in Gloucestershire who had received awards as part of the New Year Honours. He reminded members that the list had been emailed to all councillors and published alongside the Council papers.

 

4.2       Bill Hobman

 

Members were invited to pay their tributes to Honorary Alderman Bill Hobman who sadly passed away in January. The Chair shared that Bill had served on the Council between 1981 – 2005. He sat on a number of committees during that time and was also Chair of Council between 2001-2002. 

 

The following Councillors paid their respects:

 

Cllr David Drew: I had the good fortune to serve with Bill in 1993, a long time ago, he along with Val who was a formidable campaigner in her own right. The thing about Bill, you never misunderstood where he stood about anything, he was the most straightforward person you could ever meet. He was a good friend, we had our ups and downs, as anyone who knew Bill will remember because he would never yield to something he didn’t believe was the right way to do things. He was incredibly loyal, he was a great server of the Labour Party with 28 years on Forest of Dean District Council and all the years he spent on this Council. We should pay tribute to people like Bill, he served us so well, he was a true forester, he knew where he lived and where he came from and I’m sure people will recognise what he did for so many years, and he did it for the people he represented, never for himself.

 

Cllr Alan Preest: I served with Bill on Lydney Town Council and the Forest of Dean District Council for a number of years from the early 2000s and succeeded him on his retirement as a County Council in 2005. A man who knew protocol inside out, who cared for others, and despite polar opposite political beliefs, I had the upmost respect for him and had very few disagreements. I actually learnt so much from Bill, 10:30 in the Cross Keys Inn next to Lydney Town Hall following Lydney Town Council once a month on a Monday was a great university, tickets should have been sold. I have many memories of Bill; one was to find him every year without fail come rain or shine on the Saturday before remembrance with a poppy tray around his neck and the tin being shaken vigorously. Another memory, Labour HQ in Regent Street in Lydney, Bill was the handyman and often turned up at the builders’ merchants where I worked, looking for bits and pieces, he would look for me and then inevitably haggle me to get the best discounts for Labour HQ and he would win. We’ve lost a true Forest and Gloucestershire political icon, and an undoubtably decent man. Bill, Rest in Peace.

 

Cllr Colin Hay: I served with Bill for quite a time in the 80s  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Public Questions pdf icon PDF 174 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, 12 February 2024.

 

However, questions that relate to reports on the agenda may be submitted up to 10am on Wednesday, 14 February 2024.

 

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 public questions were submitted prior to the meeting. The following supplementary questions were asked:

 

Question 3 – Cheltenham Borough Councillor, Ed Chidley, requested an update on what was being done by GCC to address speeding on Harp Hill and Battledown Approach in Cheltenham.

 

Cllr Dave Norman explained that the implementation of road safety measures needed to be driven by data relating to the number of casualties and fatalities, and currently there was no significant data to support the request being made. However, Cllr Norman encouraged the member of the public to continue to engage with the Council on their concerns.

 

Question 6 – Steve Gower stated that he had been overwhelmed by Gloucester City Council’s unanimous response to a motion calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, and asked whether the County Council was morally bankrupt as no county councillor had asked for a similar motion to be presented. He requested that a member bring forward an emergency motion calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

 

Cllr Mark Hawthorne refuted the accusation that the County Council was morally bankrupt. He explained that many members had made their views clear on the Gaza conflict, and he did not believe a motion was the only way in which members could express their opinions. He added that the Council supported those fleeing conflict across the world on a daily basis, helping thousands of individuals find refuge in the County.

 

Question 8 – David Redgewell asked whether a date had been set for the establishment of a bus forum involving bus passengers.

 

Cllr Philip Robinson confirmed that a date had not yet been set.

 

Question 9 – David Redgewell queried who was responsible for the removal of out-of-date passenger notices on bus shelters.

 

Cllr Robinson confirmed that the responsibility belonged to GCC. He would consider whether there was a solution to the concerns raised by Mr Redgewell.

 

Question 10 – David Redgewell asked what the Council was doing to attract large public transport companies to Gloucestershire.

 

Cllr Robinson highlighted that the ZEBRA 2 scheme could potentially provide the County with £22m investment from the Department for Transport (DfT) and £8m from operators. He added that major investors had not been contacted but this could be considered.

 

Question 11 – David Redgewell asked whether the Council had plans to invest in bus stations across the County, such as Stroud, Lydney and Cirencester, and asked whether real-time bus information would be installed.

 

Cllr Robinson confirmed that there were plans to invest in Stroud, and that the installation of real-time information displays would be included as part of those plans.

 

Question 12 – David Redgewell sought confirmation as to whether the Council had gone out to tender for passenger facilities at Arle Court.

 

Cllr Robinson confirmed that plans were in place to do so.

 

Question 13 – David Redgewell queried whether the Council had plans to introduce multi-operator ticketing.

 

Cllr Robinson recognised the desirability of multi-operator ticketing and explained that this was being looked into by the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Corporate Parenting pdf icon PDF 179 KB

Minutes:

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

 

6.2      He informed members that since the report had been produced, an additional Corporate Parenting Group meeting had taken place on 13 February 2024 to commence detailed work to progress the six workstreams that had been identified as priorities for children in care (CIC) and care leavers. He commented that whilst good progress was made at that meeting, attendance had been poor, and therefore the best format for workshops would be considered going forward to increase attendance. The output from the meeting would be reported at the next Corporate Parenting Group meeting on 4 March 2024.

 

6.3      Cllr Davies highlighted the Virtual School’s Star Award Event, which celebrated the success, particularly in exams, of young people and children in care.

 

6.4      Members were informed that a dedicated workstream on education, training and employment performance for care leavers had been established. Progress with this workstream would be reported at the next Corporate Parenting Group meeting.

 

6.5      Additionally, the slight fall in the numbers of CIC was highlighted. This was considered a good indicator that the Council was progressing in the right direction, and reflected the organisational changes, improvements and significant investments that had been made and continued to be made.

 

6.6      One member highlighted the link between higher education and better life outcomes. They queried why so few care leavers went on to higher education in Gloucestershire compared with the national average, especially given the excellent education opportunities available within the County.

 

6.7      In response, Cllr Davies reaffirmed that this was being addressed through a specific workstream, and that an update would be provided at the next Corporate Parenting Group meeting. He added that more care leavers had gone to university this year than previously, and that at the University of Gloucestershire, care leavers were able to stay in their accommodation throughout the whole year and not just term time to encourage more to attend.

 

6.8      A member queried what could be done to ensure that more CIC remained in County. They cited that 28.7% of CIC currently resided outside of Gloucestershire and queried the human and financial cost of this.

 

6.9      Cllr Davies highlighted that in some cases it was important for a child to be placed out of County. He explained that this was an area that was starting to be looked at to ensure there was capacity within the County. There was no significant difference in the cost of care for a child placed out of County, however Cllr Davies would provide further details following the meeting.

 

6.10    A question was asked as to what work was being done to address persistent absence amongst CIC. Cllr Davies explained that this was a national issue post-Covid, however officers were looking into it locally. Further details would be provided following the meeting.

 

6.11    A further question was asked about what was being done to address the concerns raised by residents about Southfield House  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Petitions

Minutes:

A petition from Cllr Paul Baker was presented to Cllr Dave Norman to request a zebra crossing on Sandford Road in Cheltenham.

 

A petition from Cllr Emma Nelson was presented to Cllr Dave Norman to request a zebra crossing on Church Road in Leckhampton, Cheltenham.

 

Cllr Nelson emphasised the community wide support for this petition, with many feeling Church Road was currently too dangerous to allow children to walk to school. She felt the council needed to do more to encourage active travel, which was good for children’s mental and physical health, as well as for the environment, but it also had to be safe.

8.

POLICY AND BUDGET FRAMEWORK - MEDIUM TERM FINANCIAL STRATEGY pdf icon PDF 178 KB

Pete Bungard, the Chief Executive, will explain how the budget debate will take place (a flowchart will be displayed in the room).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

8.1      The report before members included the budget recommendations, Medium Term Financial Strategy, budget consultation report, scrutiny budget report and equality impact assessment.

 

8.2      The Chair invited the Chief Executive to explain the procedure that would be followed for the first part of the meeting.

 

8.3      Cllr Lynden Stowe, Cabinet Member for Finance and Change, and Cllr Mark Hawthorne MBE, Leader of the Council, would first be asked to present the recommended budget that had been approved by Cabinet.

 

8.4      Second, in order to reach a position where a substantive budget could be debated, the other political groups would be invited to propose amendments to the budget but there would be no debate. This would be a departure from the normal procedure (Procedure Rule 12.5) where only one amendment could be moved and discussed at any one time.

 

8.5      Once the amendments had been presented, the Chair would call for an

adjournment to provide an opportunity for the Group Leaders to reach a common position.

 

8.6      The Chair asked Council to indicate their support for this approach, which was unanimously supported. The Chair then proposed under Procedure Rule 23.1 that Procedure Rule 12.5 be suspended for the duration of the budget debate due to reasons described above. This was seconded by Cllr Susan Williams, Vice-Chair of Council.

 

Conservative Group

 

8.7      Cllr Lynden Stowe, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and Change, was asked to introduce the budget being proposed by the Cabinet following its meeting held on 31 January 2024.

 

8.8      Members were first informed that a correction had been identified to the precept figures included in the meeting papers. A copy of the correction had been printed for members at the meeting and published as an addendum alongside the original meeting papers. Members were reminded that when voting on today’s recommendations, it was those outlined in this addendum.

 

8.9      Cllr Stowe first wished to thank all the officers who had been involved in the formulation of this budget over several months. Secondly, he thanked members across the chamber for their input through the scrutiny process, he recognised the comments received had been useful in helping to fine tune the detail. The Cabinet Member wished to thank members of the public, stakeholders, and staff, for taking the time to provide consultation responses.

 

8.10    He shared with members that when he first presented this budget in January to Cabinet, this year’s government settlement had been tight. However, the additional funding announced two weeks ago of £5.2m for social care meant that the administration was able to include additional investment in this budget today and ensure delivery of the Council’s core services.

 

8.11    The Council revenue budget for 2024/25 would increase from £566m to £616m, an increase of 8.8%, which included an increase in government funding of £26.4m or 13.2%.

 

8.12    He stated that the administration took very seriously the setting of the council tax levy, especially when they would be asking council taxpayers to pay more than the previous year.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Members' Questions pdf icon PDF 169 KB

Up to 45 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, 12 February 2024.

 

However, questions that relate to reports on the agenda may be submitted up to 10am on Wednesday, 14 February 2024.

 

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 Member Decision Statements over the period 1 November 2023 to 31 January 2024 are available on the GCC website:

 

, 1 November 2023 - 31 January 2024 (gloucestershire.gov.uk)

Minutes:

Fifty public questions were submitted prior to the meeting. The following supplementary questions were asked:

 

Question 2 – Cllr John Bloxsom queried how the transferring of assets from Stonehouse to Frampton assisted the Levelling Up agenda and queried where the rest of the spending on fixed assets had gone as the response to his original question referred to only £7k out of a total of £14k.

 

Cllr Lynden Stowe explained that many grant applications as part of the Build Back Better scheme were made for events, whereas in this case it had been for the purchase of an asset. The transfer of those assets had been made following discussions with the Monitoring Officer to ensure due process was carried out. It appeared the market stalls had been offered elsewhere; however, this had been declined. It was therefore the intention of Frampton to make a charitable donation to body put forward by the original grantee. In reference, to Cllr Bloxsom’s second point, Cllr Stowe explained that he did not have access to information on the rest of spending.

 

Questions 3, 4 and 5 – Cllr Ben Evans sought clarification regarding the number of youth centres that remained in use in Gloucestershire.

 

Cllr Stephen Davies would seek confirmation on this.

 

Question 6 – Cllr Evans asked how the Council was going to meet its statutory duty to provide youth work services, following the introduction of new statutory guidance.

 

Cllr Davies explained that a task and finish group had looked at the provision of youth services and had recognised that the Council should be investing where it would have the most impact. The Council was currently recommissioning its youth support services. Cllr Davies agreed to provide further information in a written answer.

 

Question 7 – Cllr Paul Hodgkinson sought to understand whether the extra funding in Gloucestershire for NHS dentistry would have an impact and lead to more people having access to an NHS dentist.

 

Cllr Mark Hawthorne would raise that with the Integrated Care Board (ICB) and ask them to provide a figure.

 

Questions 9 and 10 – Cllr Lisa Spivey asked how many road defects it would take to alter the safety regime.

 

Cllr Dom Morris clarified that road safety was not the same as road defects, however he would be happy to meet with the member and their local highways manager to discuss the issue in further detail.

 

Question 11 – Cllr Colin Hay asked whether the Cabinet Member stood by his comment that the latest funding settlement was good.

 

Cllr Stowe advised that as the Cabinet Member responsible for finance, he was going to want as much money as possible from the Government, however they had to be pragmatic given the huge challenges facing the Country currently. As such, he believed that the settlement which provided a 13.2% increase year on year was good. He would continue to lobby on behalf of the Council for additional funding as and when possible.

 

Question 12 – Cllr Roger Whyborn asked for  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.

10.

Scrutiny pdf icon PDF 136 KB

Minutes:

10.1    The report was noted.

 

10.2    Cllr Lisa Spivey, Chair of the Adult Social Care and Communities Scrutiny Committee, paid thanks to staff at HM Coroners Court for Gloucestershire for recently hosting a member visit and for all the work that they do at such a difficult time for residents.

11.

Constitution Committee pdf icon PDF 67 KB

Minutes:

The report was noted.