Agenda item

Public questions

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 question is 10am on Wednesday, 15 March 2017.  Please send questions to the Chief Executive marked for the attention of Stephen Bace (email


To answer any oral questions put by members of the public with the consent of the Chairman.  Depending on the nature of the questions asked it may not be possible to provide a comprehensive answer at the meeting, in which case a written answer will be supplied as soon as reasonably possible after the meeting.


Questions received and proposed responses do not accompany this agenda but will be circulated prior to the meeting.


Twenty-one written public questions had been received. The following supplementary questions were asked:


Question 1 – Martin Large questioned the factual accuracy of the figures provided in 2015 for the costs of cancelling the Javelin Park contract. He asked if the member could specify the financial and environmental benefits of the incinerator over 25 years compared to cheaper and more flexible methods of waste disposal.


In response Cllr Ray Theodoulou stated that the figures had been accurate at the time, but could have been subject to change.  He did not see that there was public interest in a more detailed breakdown.


Question 2 – Jojo Mehta stated that there was a moral and legal responsibility to protect the Council given that the Javelin Park contract was the biggest the Council had ever undertaken. She explained that a complaint had been made to the Competition and Markets Authority, she asked how the leader could justify allowing the contract to be signed knowing these consequences.


Cllr Mark Hawthorne replied that despite the concerns raised by the member of the public, no alternative had been brought forward. The Council had undergone a long procurement route and there had been opportunities throughout that process for concerns to be raised. Planning permission had been gained and the decision had been made in a democratic way.


Question 3 – Rachel Smith asked whether Cabinet would commit to the release of all major contracts to the public as there was a clear public interest in having full access.


Cllr Ray Theodoulou explained that a cross party working group would be responding to that issue.               


Question 4 – Gerald Hartley suggested that the use of the recycling position was misleading as percentages were distorted by tonnage being added to recyclate. He asked whether it was time to use ‘tonnage per capita to landfill’ as the figure to publicise?


Cllr Ray Theodoulou suggested that a member of Stroud Council would be welcome to attend the Joint Waste Committee and make a proposal if they wished to do so.         


Question 5 -  Gerald Hartley asked that if Stroud’s waste to landfill figures were replicated across the County, would the total amount sent to landfill be enough to serve the incinerator?


Cllr Ray Theodoulou stated that figures produced showed that Stroud had some way to catch up with regards to waste performance.


Question 6 – Gerald Hartley asked how the costs of the appeal against the Information Commissioner’s decision would have been funded if there had not been a budget approved by Council.


In response, Cllr Ray Theodoulou stated that this was a hypothetical question with no answer.


Question 7 – Gerald Hartley stated that if the Council and UBB did not accept that schedule 23 was an exhaustive list, could they choose which elements they would alter or ignore in response to FOI?


Cllr Ray Theodoulou replied that enquiries were responded to in good faith and following procedure.             


Question 8 – Gerald Hartley  asked what the County Council’s view was on the Local Government Transparency Code and whether there would be any review.


Cllr Ray Theodoulou referred him to the answer to question 3 which detailed the cross party working group.


Question 9 – David Willingham asked whether it undermined public confidence in the County Council if, when constituents reported issues, there was ‘buck passing’ and arguments  on budgets. He suggested that the only way to progress issuing was to escalate to councillors or use the local media.


Cllr Vernon Smith stated that he did not agree with the individual’s view and that the specific incident he referred to had  been resolved.


Question 11 – David Willingham provided details of the movement of a sign and taxi rank and asked for better collaboration between highways and licensing teams so that it would not be disjointed.


Cllr Vernon Smith stated that all parties worked in partnership together. 


Question 12 – David Willingham asked that officers keep him informed about the highway surface remodelling work at Alstone Lane so he could let residents know when it had been fixed.


Cllr Vernon Smith replied that he was happy to make sure that Local Highways Managers kept him updated.


Question 15 –  David Willingham asked whether it changed the risk profile around likely collisions for cyclists on A435 Cirencester Road if the council was aware of cyclists using the other side of cones to avoid traffic streams.


Cllr Vernon Smith stated that he could raise this with the Commissioning Director at an upcoming meeting.


Question 17 –  David Willingham asked whether extra funding would be made available for safe cycling provision.


Cllr Vernon Smith stated that he would be meeting with the Commissioning Director and this was where any additional tweaks to the programme could be discussed.


Question 20 – Iain Richens asked the member to explain how he could say the judge upholds the appeal on the Council’s Waste contract when a quote from the decision stated that ‘ we have rejected the Council and UBB’s case to a great extent’


Cllr Ray Theodoulou stated that there were elements within the contract that were upheld and that it was not a complete finding against council.



Three oral questions were received:


Question 1 - Sue Oppenheimer suggested that a thorough assessment using independent experts showed that the Incinerator contract did not provide value for money. In the first ten years or more the incinerator would be more expensive than any other alternative, including continuing to landfill. She asked if the cabinet member would ask officers to plot the costs over the 25 years?


Cllr Ray Theodoulou stated that the council had carried out an open and transparent tender process with opportunities for other companies to submit bids. 


Question 2 – Sue Oppenheimer informed members that Community R4C’s barrister had submitted a complaint to the Competition and Markets Authority, copied to the Chief Executive of the Council, showing that the Javelin Park Incinerator Contract had broken competition law.  She suggested that this had left the Council exposed to massive risk and she asked whether  the council had undertaken a risk assessment in relation to this.


Cllr Ray Theodoulou replied that it would be unwise to comment on the matter at this time when the Council would be asked to respond. He stated that an open procurement process had been undertaken in line with best practice at the time and acting on legal advice. 


Question 3 – Sue Oppenheimer stated that in the tribunal ruling regarding the County Council’s appeal against the Information Commissioner, Judge Shanks stated that “The Cabinet system tends to concentrate decision making in the hands of a small number of people, and individual elected Councillors do not always have the capability to ask for or act on the information that others might. In the end it is the electorate which must hold the Council as a whole to account and the electorate are more able to do that properly if relevant information is available to all.”  She asked, would the Cabinet Member agree with this comment?


Cllr Ray Theodoulou stated that the Judge was entitled to his opinion about the form that Local Government took and that many others would hold a different view.




Supporting documents: