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, 21 December 2018. 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.
Forty seven questions had been received. A copy of the answers was circulated and is attached to the signed copy of the minutes.
Question 1 – Cllr Iain Dobie asked whether the cabinet member agreed that the net effect of the movement of the building of a new secondary school in Cheltenham would lead to more expensive housing and less community green space.
Cllr Lynden Stowe replied that while he agreed that the building would reduce the amount of green space, he did not agree that it would necessarily lead to more expensive housing in the area. Clear guidance had been taken from Counsel and it was felt that the only sensible option was to build on County Council land. He was convinced that it was the right site and would be a very good secondary school for Cheltenham.
Question 5 – Cllr Kate Haigh asked whether the intention was to collate data so it was clear what unsupervised visits were undertaken by unqualified Children’s Social Workers.
Cllr Richard Boyles explained that as part of the training programme, when proper assessments had been carried out, those social workers in training would carry out unsupervised visits. They would also declare their position with the family and these visits would not include statutory visits such as for those children in care. He would discuss further with the Director of Children Services as to how data was collated.
Question 7 – Cllr Jeremy Hilton referred to the Joint Waste Committee minutes from June, noting that it was important that decisions were taken in unison. He asked if any plans were in place to charge at recycling centres.
Cllr Nigel Moor replied that there was no charging going forward. The changes to recycling centres had been a balancing act with investment to make them more efficient and user friendly.
Question 8 – Cllr Jeremy Hilton welcomed the new equipment being provided to Household Recycling Centres but stated that he believed that the centres should be open seven days a week.
Cllr Ray Theodoulou explained that this was the right use of council resources and that the Council could only spend the money it had.
Question 9 - Cllr Alan Preest stated that he had already asked Health Scrutiny to look at concerns around future health care provision for the South Forest. Referring to the answer provided to his question, he asked for further details on the commitment made to Lydney people as part of the planning process and asked that the Chair of Health and Care Scrutiny Committee address this with the Clinical Commissioning Group.
In the absence of the Chair of Health and Care Scrutiny Committee, a written response would be provided.
Question 10 – Cllr Paul Hodgkinson asked what the Council had done to prepare for Brexit since the last meeting.
Cllr Mark Hawthorne explained that the Council had not taken any direct action regarding this but was paying close attention to the advice from the LGA. He referred to a recent update from the LGA relating to EU nationals standing for district election in 2019 and reiterated that the LGA had a seat at the table and was making good progress.
Question 12 – Cllr Paul Hodgkinson asked if the Cabinet Member could confirm that all of the collected plastics would be going to the County Recycling Centres and were being recycled.
Cllr Nigel Moor replied that this was the responsibility of district councils. In relation to the Swindon situation, he understood that this was a local issue relating to the recycling of plastics.
Question 13 – Cllr Paul Hodgkinson identified Prism network, and stated that total funding this year for the network was £250. He asked how the Council could justify such a small amount of money given the work they were doing.
Cllr Tim Harman replied that he would come back to the member with details of how it was calculated.
Question 14 – Cllr David Brown asked whether the Leader of Council would not work with the Commissioner to request more money from the Home Secretary for Policing.
Cllr Mark Hawthorne explained that with the Commissioner’s recent consultation on a business case to take on the governance of Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service, he did not feel he could justify the Commissioner’s stance that there was not enough funding. He stated that the Council had an excellent track record of working in collaboration and wished for a good working relationship with the Commissioner.
Question 15 – Simon Wheeler asked whether the Cabinet Member would engage with him to talk to local members and other stakeholders to discuss a way forward in relation to the introduction of a 20mph scheme in residential areas in Cheltenham.
Cllr Nigel Moor drew the member’s attention to the report from the Minister of State for the Department of Transport looking at the impact of 20mph schemes. He asked the member to keep an open mind about the types of schemes he wished to introduce. As the Highways Authority the Council would look to support the councillor as appropriate but it was a matter for him as the local member to progress.
Question 24 – Cllr Lesley Williams asked what the Council was doing to promote the daily mile to the 48% of children that were not currently running it.
Cllr Richard Boyles explained that there was work underway with the Public Health team to run a Gloucester Healthy Living and Learning Programme with primary schools. The 52% figure for those running the daily mile was one of the best in the country.
Question 25 – Cllr Lesley Williams asked for reassurance that those who worked in GIS areas were sufficiently supported.
Cllr Kathy Williams explained that for those people working at GIS it was important to give them the right to be independent. Following a HR investigation, improvements would be made and an offer had been made to the member to make a visit and speak to the people involved.
Question 28 – Cllr Lesley Williams asked the Leader about how he was going to ensure there was appropriate experience in the Media Team.
Cllr Mark Hawthorne replied that there were new people coming in, but the resilience came from the breadth of skills in the team and across the organisation.
Question 32 – Cllr Eva Ward referred to the Council’s leadership role within the county with regards to carbon emissions. She asked if the Cabinet Member believed the Council could substantially raise its ambitions across the county.
Cllr Nigel Moor replied that he did believe this and referred to a report that would be received by Cabinet in December.
Question 37 - Cllr Rachel Smith asked whether any assessment had taken place as to how far proposals within the ‘Looking to Future Strategy’ would impact on carbon emissions.
Cllr Nigel Moor referred the member to the report which would be part of the Cabinet papers in December.
Question 39 – Cllr Rachel Smith asked what proportion of the overall highways budget was forecast for cycling infrastructure.
Cllr Vernon Smith offered to meet with the member to discuss in more detail.
Question 40 – Cllr Joe Harris stated that parking was a huge issue and there was a need for solutions. He suggested that the County had now waited long enough for a parking review.
Cllr Dave Norman explained that he had emailed the member previously with an offer to meet him and the appropriate officers to discuss further and that he had not got back to him. He stated that the offer was still open.
Question 41 – Cllr Joe Harris asked whether the County Council supported the changes to the market place scheme in Cirencester. He stated that the town council was ready to progress this.
Cllr Dave Norman replied that he was happy to talk to Cirencester Town Council.
Question 44 – Cllr Joe Harris referred to facilities at Paternoster School, including the damp portacabins. He asked if the Cabinet Member would work with him and the school to find a solution.
Cllr Lynden Stowe explained that the school was becoming an Academy and would have greater responsibility around this, but that he was happy to work with the Member and governors at the school.
Question 45 – Cllr Brian Oosthuysen asked that when Leadership Gloucestershire considers proposals around Vision 2050 would they consider the role of scrutiny as part of their work?
Cllr Mark Hawthorne replied that he thought the draft Concordat included a timetable for reviewing all county wide structure and scrutiny functions. This was due to go back to Leadership Gloucestershire in the new year.
Question 46 – Cllr Colin Hay noted the reply to his question adding that the effect on a child of exclusion was devastating. Primary school exclusions Pupil Referral Units did a great job, but the increase in exclusions was worrying.
Cllr Richard Boyles agreed with the member and stated that he worked with schools to highlight the issues.