Agenda item

Motions

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 888 - Armed Forces Community Covenant 

Proposed by Cllr Andrew Gravells

Seconded by Cllr Dom Morris

 

Nearly a decade ago, in February 2012, Gloucestershire County Council along with its partners including the six district councils, local NHS representatives, and the Police and Crime Commissioner, signed the Armed Forces Community Covenant 

 

The Covenant is a statement of mutual support between the civilian community and its local Armed Forces Community. It encourages support for the Armed Forces Community residing in Gloucestershire and recognises and remembers their sacrifices. This includes in-service and ex-service personnel, their families and widow(er)s, reservists, and partners in Gloucestershire. It’s important that we continue to work with veterans in the county too, and we place on record our appreciation and gratitude to those organisations which work tirelessly with our local veterans and their families.

 

For the County Council and its partner organisations, the Armed Forces Community Covenant presents an opportunity for us all to continue sharing our knowledge and experience of how Local Government is structured and how it works, with the local bases in order to assist and advise our military neighbours  and their families in practical ways when they might need our help or advice.

 

The County Council continues to keep in touch with the Military bases in the county, doing its best to ensure that all Military personnel  are aware of how to access the Local Government  services which are available , and also how we can  learn from them on   how we can  address any  issues which they encounter .

 

In the last few weeks, we have planned, and now begun, an e-learning course for all Elected Members, and county council staff, in an effort to make our Council even more effective in our work with our military residents.

 

Now, we believe that the time is right to update and reinforce the Covenant.

 

Therefore, this Council proposes that on the 10-year anniversary of the original signing, the county council invites all original signatories (or their replacement bodies) to re-sign, highlighting their continued commitment to honouring the Armed Forces Community, and to contact all of the Gloucestershire Town and Parish Councils, inviting them to sign the updated Covenant too.

 

 

Motion 889 - Severn Edge STEP Fusion Reactor

Proposed by Cllr David Gray

Seconded Cllr Philip Robinson

 

This Council welcomes and celebrates the announcement that the Severn Edge bid for the Berkeley and Oldbury sites has been shortlisted down to one of five as this reactor offers opportunities for Gloucestershire to:

 

  • Be at the forefront of decarbonised energy production and establish ourself as a leader in tackling climate change by building a world-leading prototype fusion power plant.
  • Create opportunities for local education, skills, and employment, as well as unlock regional opportunities for growth, funding and investment – all of which would help us level up in Gloucestershire.
  • Strengthen our economic success and innovation across the Western Gateway to achieve our shared goals of creating a greener, more inclusive future economy.  

This Council therefore fully commits to working with Western Gateway partners to see this vital project delivered in Gloucestershire.

 

 

Motion 890 - Domestic Abuse

Proposed by Cllr Wendy Thomas

Seconded by Cllr John Bloxsom

 

Council deplores the risks that women and girls in Gloucestershire are subject to resulting from male violence.

 

Council is committed to ensuring that those who need to escape from domestic abuse are given as much support and assistance as possible so that they are able to re-build their lives away from abuse and harm.

 

We recognise that housing provision, delivered by partner organisations and housing authorities, is a key element of this support. Many victims of domestic abuse are forced to flee their homes to seek safety and support in a refuge or other form of temporary accommodation often in another area in order to put a safe distance between themselves and their abusers.

 

We note findings by Women’s Aid that most women living with an abuser reported that abuse had worsened during the pandemic, with a fifth prevented from leaving by a lack of housing or refuge space.

 

In Gloucestershire referrals to the Domestic Abuse Helpline are reported to remain high and contacts into Children Service relating to Domestic Abuse are also reported to remain high.

 

We are also concerned that complex barriers to seeking support can result in lower levels of reporting and reduced access to domestic abuse services from people in some communities, including LBGT+ communities, and believe these gaps need to be addressed.

 

We welcome the introduction of new statutory duties upon this authority within the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 to support victims of domestic abuse and their children in domestic abuse safe accommodation and the inclusion of a duty to assess the need for accommodation-based support and prepare strategies to provide such support for victims.

 

Council is concerned that whilst there were 40 refuge spaces, spread across five districts, within Gloucestershire in at the time of the adoption of the Supporting People Strategy 2005-10, there are now only nine refuge spaces with all of these being delivered by an independent provider within just one district in the County.

 

Council acknowledges that whilst provision of dispersed accommodation, such as Places of Safety, can enable women to stay in their communities, this does not remove the need other forms of safe accommodation including refuges nor offer the intensive support to women and children that properly funded refuges can.

 

Council notes that demand for accommodation is higher than the provision available, that many refuge referrals are declined due to lack of space or capacity and that those most likely to access refuge provision may have minimal access to the resources needed to secure their safety without the support of this type of provision.

 

Council resolves that both the Adult Social Care and Communities Scrutiny Committee and the Children and Families Scrutiny Committee should consider the Domestic Abuse Needs Assessment for Gloucestershire and the Gloucestershire Domestic Abuse Strategy and in particular if the strategy has been given effect through commissioning/decommissioning decisions so as to meet “the need to ensure that all survivors are able to access safe accommodation irrespective of where they originally reside” (Domestic Abuse Statutory Guidance Framework Para 291) including provision in more than one place and provision which is suited to meet a range of needs including complex needs.

 

 

Motion 891 - Climate Leadership

Proposed by Cllr Chloe Turner

Seconded by Cllr Chris McFarling

 

Council notes: 

 

·         That this authority declared a climate emergency in May 2019, with a goal to reach net zero by 2030, and as a member of UK100, has committed to deliver a carbon neutral county by 2045 (with an 80% reduction by 2030).

 

·         That the Glasgow Climate Pact signed at COP26 recognises a crucial role for communities and local authorities. By “recognizing the important role of … local communities and civil society, including youth and children, in addressing and responding to climate change, and highlighting the urgent need for multilevel and cooperative action” the Pact makes plain the need for action at every level of government and society. Furthermore, the Pact explicitly calls on us “to actively involve ... local communities in designing and implementing climate action”.

 

·         That shortly before COP26, the UK government published its Net Zero Strategy, which includes the intention to establish a Net Zero Forum to coordinate the strategy with local government. 

 

Council believes:

 

·         That despite the wholehearted efforts of Alok Sharma MP and others, COP26 failed to provide the national targets to put the world on course for limiting global average temperature rise to 1.5C, and failed to commit to the phasing out of fossil fuels and to the carbon price mechanisms needed to shift the world economy from them. 

 

·         That the Climate Change Committee is correct when it states that it is “crucial for the [Net Zero] Forum to promptly develop an agreed understanding of the role of local government in delivering Net Zero.”

 

Council resolves, in line with the Glasgow Climate Pact and associated declarations to call on Cabinet to: 

 

Local climate leadership:

 

  • To complete the delivery of Carbon Literacy training for council staff and members by December 2022, to ensure we are consistent in addressing the climate emergency across our activities. 

 

  • To undertake a robust review of our 2019 Climate Change Strategy and associated Action Plan, and to ensure that other council strategies developed or reviewed from this point are congruent with the renewed Climate Change Strategy.

 

  • To recognise a hierarchy of action with direct investment in facilities, infrastructure and changes to services first, with carbon off-setting as a last resort.

 

  • To provide leadership with the issue of clear and regular (monthly) guidance and information on the path to net zero through the Greener Gloucestershire campaign, with transparency regarding the council's work, and honesty with regard to the changes in homes, transport and diets required of us all. To lend the council’s commitment and authority to the newly established body Climate Leadership Gloucestershire, and to support and learn from neighbouring councils and other partners as they bring forward plans for decarbonising their own activities and supply chains, identifying and engaging in opportunities for working together. 

 

Sustainable production and consumption:

  • To accelerate our work on waste reduction, circular economy initiatives, sustainable food strategies and natural carbon capture, in particular on the council-owned rural estate. To consider the potential for a Carbon Capture, Usage and Storage system for the Waste to Energy facility at Javelin Park, especially if funding from BEIS is made available, as has been suggested.
  • To expand our work on new renewables projects on county-owned land/buildings and in partnership with other landowners, and to continue to review our existing energy procurement to maximise the efficiency and sustainability of supply.

 

Active Travel:

  • To build on recent active travel bid successes for our urban areas, and step up funding efforts for our rural districts where public transport options are limited. To ensure timely delivery of commitments in our Local Transport Plan and Bus Service Improvement Plan with regard to active, public and shared transport

 

Finance:

  • To request that the Pension Committee review the allocation of passive funds in the Council’s pension scheme as part of the upcoming MTFS exercise (if not sooner), and consider moving these passive funds to the new Paris Aligned Benchmark Passive Fund offered by the Brunel Pension Partnership for schemes within its pool.

 

·         To bring forward proposals for a local Green Investment Bond, as promoted by the LGA, to enable our communities to invest in local green infrastructure projects.

 

 

Motion 892 - Repairing public confidence in Gloucestershire Highways

Proposed by Cllr  Roger Whyborn

Seconded by Cllr Lisa Spivey

 

This Council recognises that our county’s highway maintenance is failing at numerous points, with councillors from all parties inundated by appeals from residents to fix potholes, mend broken infrastructure, replace signs, cut overgrown vegetation and clear leaves from drains, as well as reports of dodgy traffic lights and poor-quality repairs.

 

This Council also notes that the number of potholes has been going up year on year, with 24,668 needing to be repaired in 2019/20, 36,447 in 2020/21 and more than 43,000 in the first half of 2021/22. Taken together with the proportion of carriageways and other assets at “end of life” this indicates progressive deterioration of our highways infrastructure.

 

This Council believes, in short, that the system is broken.  Moreover:

 

·         Councillors and our residents are frustrated by the unresponsiveness of the system and its lack of local sensitivity to local situations, leading to a widespread sense of a lack of empowerment.

 

·         Council is concerned that, having declared a Climate Emergency, our highways leaders are moving too slowly, in both policy and operations, to address the changes required to decarbonise our county and protect our communities from climate-change events.

 

This Council believes major changes must be applied to the culture of our highways leadership if the Council is to regain the confidence of the people of Gloucestershire. As such, it calls upon Cabinet to:

 

·         Conduct a detailed review, in consultation with districts, parishes and communities, of the way the Council delivers highways services to the county.

 

·         Consider, through scrutiny, how best to devolve decisions on spending priorities and operational decisions to a local level, to the maximum extent possible, to enable local ownership and to empower our communities.

 

·         Establish a task and finish group to interrogate how we can achieve the best value-for the taxpayer and superior highway results for our residents – bringing in experts from better-performing councils and interest groups to provide advice to our councillors.

 

 

Motion 893 - Policing and anti-social behaviour

Proposed by Cllr Jeremy Hilton

Seconded by Cllr David Brown

 

This Council believes that improved police patrols, especially on foot, by Gloucestershire Constabulary would help reduce the incidence of petty crime and anti-social behaviour.

 

This Council notes that Chris Nelson, the newly elected Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), committed in his manifesto to cut anti-social behaviour in our communities by 50% during his term of office.

 

This Council notes that the PCC has also promised to employ an extra 300 police officers.

 

This Council agrees that the burden of providing the additional financial resources to Gloucestershire Constabulary to allow for the extra 300 members of staff should be borne by the Government and not by the local council taxpayer.

 

This Council therefore:

  • Invites the Police and Crime Commissioner to provide a public presentation to the County Council on how he intends to deliver on his commitment to halve anti-social behaviour in Gloucestershire over the next three and a half years.
  • Asks the Leader of the Council to write to the Home Secretary seeking further funds to allow the PCC to employ more police officers in Gloucestershire without overburdening Gloucestershire taxpayers.

 

 

 

Minutes:

Motion 888 - Armed Forces Community Covenant 

 

Cllr Andrew Gravells proposed and Cllr Dom Morris seconded the motion, (as published with the agenda for the meeting). Cllr Gravells, as Armed Forces Covenant Champion for the County Council, encouraged members, regardless of political affiliation, to support the motion.

 

Outlining personal reflections of his associations with the armed forces, including family associations and working alongside British and American Forces personnel at Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), Cllr Gravels spoke with pride about his work as Local Government Association (LGA) representative on the Central Government Cabinet Office Committee and in the development of the Armed Forces Community Covenant.

 

Cllr Gravells informed members that the Covenant represented a commitment from Government (and all those who sign up to it) to ensure all those who serve or have served in the Armed Forces and their families were treated with fairness and respect in the communities they serve or have served in. Representing a statement of mutual support between the civilian community and the local armed forces community of Gloucestershire, the Gloucestershire County Council Armed Forces Covenant was signed in 2012.

 

It was explained that the principal aims of the Covenant included:  

 

1)    To recognise the unique obligations of, and sacrifices made by the armed forces.

 

2)    To remove disadvantages arising for service people from membership, or former membership, of the armed forces.

 

3)    To consider that special provision for service people may be justified by the effects on such people of membership, or former membership, of the armed forces.

 

Cllr Gravells sought agreement to update the Gloucestershire County Council Covenant to include new organisations and to reaffirm the Council’s commitment to the Gloucestershire Armed Forces community.  This currently stood at around 2,400 serving personnel, increasing to a much larger number if immediate families, veterans and reservists were included.

 

Since taking over the role of Armed Forces Covenant Champion, Cllr Gravells, working alongside the Honourable Company of Gloucestershire, had been involved in a number of issues aimed at promoting the Gloucestershire County Council Covenant. Cllr Gravells stated that it was the support of the Honourable Company and the small covenant team based at Shire Hall that had encouraged him to continue in promoting the Covenant to every city, town, village and parish in Gloucestershire. It was for this reason that the updating and re-signing of the covenant was so important.

 

Commending the work of reservists who worked for the Council, the Covenant team at Shire Hall and the universal recognition attributed to the Glosters Regiment, Cllr Gravells reflected on his appreciation of the democratic freedom assigned to the council meeting, a freedom denied to so many around the world. He encouraged everyone to support the motion by placing on record their appreciation and gratitude to the Armed Forces Community of Gloucestershire.

 

Seconding the motion, Cllr Dom Morris, reflected on some of his own personal experiences whilst deployed with the armed forces. Speaking with visible emotion of the losses and sacrifices endured by so many during the deployment to Afghanistan and of the enormity of the repercussions on the armed forces and their families, Cllr Morris stated how fitting it was on the 10th Anniversary of its signing, to reaffirm the Council’s commitment to Gloucestershire’s Armed Forces Community. 

 

Cllr Morris suggested that, whilst the public had led the way with the Help 4 Heroes Campaign, he believed there had been a moral failure by the State in its initial treatment, including responding to mental health needs, of those returning from Afghanistan. This had been addressed with the passing of legislation and a commitment by the Government at the time to introduce an Armed Forces Community Covenant, setting out the State’s responsibilities to its servicemen and women and their families.

 

Reflecting on some of the positive aspects of his experiences, Cllr Morris referred to the humour, the stamina and the ‘can do’ attitude of in-service and ex-service personnel and commended that, in agreeing to the motion, the Council reaffirm its support to the Gloucestershire Armed Forces Community.

 

Members from all political groups spoke with sentiment and resolve in support of the Gloucestershire Armed Forces Community and agreed that the re-affirmation of the Covenant would send a strong message of commitment and respect to the community from the original signatories.

 

RESOLVED that on the 10-year anniversary of the original signing Gloucestershire County Council invite all original signatories, (or their replacement bodies), to re-sign the Gloucestershire Armed Forces Community Covenant, highlighting their continued commitment to honouring the Armed Forces Community, and to contact all of the Gloucestershire Town and Parish Councils to sign the Covenant.

 

Motion 889 – Severn Edge STEP Fusion Reactor

 

Cllr David Gray proposed and Cllr Philip Robinson seconded the motion included on the agenda. 

 

Cllr Gray outlined the motion by referencing recent media coverage of the United Nations COP 26 (Conference of the Parties) Climate Change Conference held in Glasgow recently. Highlighting the challenges of global warming, climate change and the ambitious target set by Gloucestershire to achieve carbon neutral emissions for the county by 2045 (5 years ahead of the national target in 2050), Cllr Gray explained how electricity production had been the one sector of the UK economy where progress towards decarbonisation had experienced the fastest progress.

 

In 2010, 70% of UK electricity was generated from fossil fuels. Although, this percentage had reduced, with 40% of electricity production now generated from renewable resources and a further 20% from nuclear fission, 40% of today’s energy production was still generated from hydrocarbon fuels. He emphasised the urgency in reducing the levels of carbon emissions generated by industry, and from transport and home-heating energy requirements. Furthermore, there was also a need to address the increasing dependency on electricity production generated by the use of electronic vehicles/cycles and heat pumps.

 

Expressing concerns about the impact of inconsistent weather conditions on energy production and efforts to create a greener, more inclusive economy, he believed the consequences of increasing consumptions of gas, oil and coal on the levels of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere represented a serious threat to the success of achieving the global target of limiting heat rise to 1.5 centigrade.

 

The benefits of producing energy from nuclear fusion, which he described as a “brilliant solution to both the need to get to net zero carbon emissions as soon as possible and the need to do so in a way that allowed the flexibility to use wind, solar, hydro and other renewable sources of power to provide the base load of power supply but not compromise energy security”.

 

He advocated the safety and cleanliness of fusion energy production and stated that, unlike nuclear fission, the fusion fuel cycle was inherently safer due to the reaction process ending as soon as the fuel input ended, and with no long term nuclear waste. Fuel production provided an abundant supply of energy, with a tiny amount producing an amount of power equivalent to that produced from tonnes of carbon dioxide emitting coal production. At the forefront of this emerging, clean and safe technology energy production, the UK’s commitment to build a prototype Spherical Tokomak Energy Production (STEP) fusion reactor was an exciting prospect.

 

Fusion energy production was a ‘potential global game changer’. Encouraging members to support the motion to provide a “greener Gloucestershire, a greener UK and a greener world”, he stated that, for Gloucestershire to be included in one of the five bids out of an initial 15 bids to build the prototype in the county was both remarkable and exciting. He encouraged members to support the Council’s work with its Western Gateway Partners to deliver the project without delay.

 

In seconding the motion, Cllr Philip Robinson, outlined some of the technological detail relating to fusion energy production and referred to the huge potential for the economic growth of Gloucestershire in locating a fusion reactor in the county. He referred to the significant benefits to local employment, skills development and reputation of the county as a pioneer of energy production and stressed how important it was not to delay the project but to take advantage of the benefits as quickly as possible.

 

Speaking in support of the motion, several members referred to the limitless green energy and benefits to economic growth and local employment, (including encouraging young people to remain in the county), anticipated from the building of a fusion reactor in Gloucestershire.

 

Other members, whilst supporting the motion, stressed the need to combine the initiative with sufficient infrastructure for the project and highlighted the impact of large scale energy production on the local road network and transportation links across the county.

 

One member suggested that discussions with other local authorities would be necessary in order to ensure successful outcomes and to consider the impact of the development on road and cycle links, and on the Sharpness Development Plan.

 

Another member agreed that Gloucestershire would be a suitable location for the reactor site but expressed caution on the prospect of securing the bid in comparison with the other bids and in relation to alternative technological advances in energy production.

 

One member expressed strong reservations about the Council investing in the development, stating there was insufficient time to progress the development and that there were still a number of issues to be addressed before some of the objectives could be realised from the proposals. The member stated that, whilst he would prefer it to be otherwise, he felt there was not enough time to meet the primary objective of reducing the required carbon emissions via this initiative.

 

Disappointed the motion would not receive the unanimous support it was hoped it would receive, Cllr Mark Hawthorne urged those members with reservations to reconsider their views. He stated that it would be short-sighted to say no to the investment and proposed that a recorded vote be taken. The proposal for a recorded vote was supported by 9 other members at the meeting. Prior to the vote, several members expressed their disappointment at the hesitation from some members.

 

Summarising, Cllr Gray acknowledged the request to consider improvements to the county’s transportation network and agreed future investment would be necessary. He acknowledged that a number of issues would need to be considered before progressing the development. However, as an incentive to delivering global change in terms of energy production and in meeting local targets to reduce carbon emissions, the proposal to fully commit to working with Western Gateway partners in delivering this important project sent a strong message from the Council to Government on Gloucestershire’s future commitment to green energy production.

 

On being put to a recorded vote, it was

 

RESOLVED to commit to workingwith Western Gateway partners to see this vital (Severn Edge STEP Fusion Reactor) project delivered in Gloucestershire.   

 

The voting was as follows:

 

For (48): Cllrs Carole Allaway-Martin, Phil Awford, Matt Babbage,Paul Baker, John Bloxsom, David Brown, Alastair Chambers, Linda Cohen, Stephen Davies, David Drew, Ben Evans, Stephan Fifield, Bernie Fisher, Andrew Gravells, David Gray, Terry Hale, Rebecca Halifax, Tim Harman, Joe Harris, Mark Hawthorne, Colin Hay, Jeremy Hilton, Stephen Hirst, Paul Hodgkinson, Nick Housden, Mark McKenzie-Charrington, Andrew Miller, Graham Morgan, Dom Morris, Gill Moseley, Emma Nelson, Dave Norman, Sajid Patel, Alan Preest, Philip Robinson, Steve Robinson, Vernon Smith, Lisa Spivey, Lynden Stowe, Wendy Thomas, Brian Tipper, Pam Tracey, Chloe Turner, Robert Vines, Roger Whyborn, Kathy Williams, Susan Williams, David Willingham

 

Against (0)

 

Abstentions (3):Cllrs Cate Cody, Beki Hoyland and Chris McFarling

 

Motion 890 – Domestic Abuse

 

Cllr Thomas advised that she, along with the seconder, Cllr John Bloxsom, had accepted a friendly amendment proposed by the Conservative Group.  The motion now read as follows:

 

This Council believes that all people should be able to live in a happy and safe homes, free from violence and abuse.

 

This Council is particularly concerned that 78% of domestic abuse victims in Gloucestershire are female and 93% of perpetrators are male. Council deplores the risks that women and girls in Gloucestershire are subject to resulting from male violence.

 

Council is committed to ensure that those who are suffering from domestic abuse are given support and assistance so that they are able to live their lives safe from harm.

 

We recognise that housing provision, delivered by partner organisations and housing authorities, is a key element of this support.  Unfortunately, some victims of domestic abuse are forced to flee their homes to seek safety and support in a refuge or other form of temporary accommodation often in another area in order to put a safe distance between themselves and their abusers. We believe that support for victims to remain in their own homes, or to be resettled elsewhere (whichever they believe is most appropriate) is central to tackling domestic abuse, including making every effort to remove perpetrators and keeping victims in their own homes where they so wish.

We note findings by Women’s Aid nationally that most women living with an abuser reported that abuse had worsened during the pandemic, with a fifth prevented from leaving by a lack of housing or refuge space.

 

In Gloucestershire referrals to the Domestic Abuse Helpline are reported to remain high and contacts into Children Service relating to Domestic Abuse are also reported to remain high.

 

We are also concerned that complex barriers to seeking support, can result in lower levels of reporting and reduced access to domestic abuse services from people in some communities, including LBGT+ communities, and believe work should continue to address these gaps.

 

We welcome the introduction of new statutory duties upon this authority within the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 to support victims of domestic abuse and their children in domestic abuse safe accommodation and the inclusion of a duty to assess the need for accommodation-based support and prepare strategies to provide such support for victims.

 

Council notes that whilst there were 40 refuge spaces, spread across five districts, within Gloucestershire in at the time of the adoption of the Supporting People Strategy 2005-10, there are now only nine refuge spaces with all of these being delivered by an independent provider within just one district in the County. We believe that the Adult Social Care and Communities Scrutiny Committee and the Children and Families Scrutiny Committee should consider whether refuge provision in the county needs to be expanded.

 

Council acknowledges that whilst provision of dispersed accommodation, such as Places of Safety, can enable women to stay in their communities and meet particular needs, such as those with older male children, this does not remove the need for sufficient refuge accommodation as part of a mix of domestic abuse safe accommodation-based support.

 

Council notes that demand for accommodation is higher than the provision available and that those most likely to access refuge provision may have minimal access to the resources needed to secure their safety without the support of this type of provision.

 

Therefore, this Council resolves that both the Adult Social Care and Communities Scrutiny Committee and the Children and Families Scrutiny Committee should consider the Domestic Abuse Needs Assessment for Gloucestershire and the Gloucestershire Domestic Abuse Strategy. In particular, the committees should scrutinise our partnership work to ensure that we are providing sufficient accommodation and support for victims who are forced to leave their homes, including refuge accommodation which can help meet the needs of survivors to access safe accommodation irrespective of where they may have originally resided.

 

In presenting the motion, Cllr Thomas stated that it was fitting at this meeting for the Council to support the view that all people should be able to live in a happy and safe home, free from violence and abuse. Expressing concern that 78% of domestic abuse victims in Gloucestershire were female and 93% of perpetrators male, she sought the support of members to acknowledge the risks to women and girls in Gloucestershire resulting from male violence.

 

She also sought to ensure that those suffering from domestic abuse were given the support and assistance they required to enable them to live their lives safely and free from harm. Identifying housing provision, delivered by partner organisations and housing authorities, as a key element of this support, she acknowledged that some victims of domestic abuse were forced to flee their homes to seek safety and support in a refuge or other form of temporary accommodation, often in another area or location, in order to place a safe distance between themselves and their abusers. This should make it possible for victims to remain in their own homes, or resettled elsewhere, if this was considered a better option. This was central to tackling domestic abuse, including making every effort to remove perpetrators and keeping victims in their own homes if appropriate.

 

It was suggested that most women living with an abuser had experienced heightened abuse during the pandemic, with a fifth of victims prevented from leaving the home where the abuse was taking place due to a lack of housing or refuge space. In Gloucestershire, referrals to the Domestic Abuse Helpline were reported as high. Contact with Children’s Services in relation to Domestic Abuse was also reported as remaining high.

 

The impact of complex barriers on people seeking support could result in lower levels of reporting and reduced access to domestic abuse services from people in some communities, including LBGT+ Communities. It was proposed that more work should be invested in continuing to address these gaps.

 

The introduction of new statutory duties introduced by the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 placed a duty for the Council to assess the need for accommodation-based support and to produce strategies to provide such support for victims.

 

Concern was expressed at the reduced number of domestic abuse refuge spaces across Gloucestershire, reducing from 40 at the timing of the adoption of the Supporting People Strategy 2005-10, to nine refuge spaces currently.

 

Cllr Thomas proposed that the Adult Social Care and Communities Scrutiny Committee and the Children and Families Scrutiny Committee consider the Domestic Abuse Needs Assessment for Gloucestershire and the Gloucestershire Domestic Abuse Strategy as the foundation for scrutinising the Council’s partnership work in ensuring sufficient accommodation.

 

Several members spoke in support of the proposal and agreed that, following the recent pandemic and the significant escalation of domestic abuse, this was a timely juncture at which to consider the issue. Noting concerns about the risks to young children and the detrimental effect on families and communities, the urgency and seriousness of the issue was acknowledged, with some members relaying personal concerns and experiences.

 

Voting on the motion, as amended, Council

 

RESOLVED that this Council believes all people should be able to live in a happy and safe homes, free from violence and abuse.

 

This Council is particularly concerned that 78% of domestic abuse victims in Gloucestershire are female and 93% of perpetrators are male. Council deplores the risks that women and girls in Gloucestershire are subject to resulting from male violence.

 

This Council is committed to ensuring that those who are suffering from domestic abuse are given support and assistance so that they are able to live their lives safe from harm.

 

This Council recognises that housing provision, delivered by partner organisations and housing authorities, is a key element of this support. 

 

Unfortunately, some victims of domestic abuse are forced to flee their homes to seek safety and support in a refuge or other form of temporary accommodation often in another area in order to put a safe distance between themselves and their abusers. We believe that support for victims to remain in their own homes, or to be resettled elsewhere (whichever they believe is most appropriate) is central to tackling domestic abuse, including making every effort to remove perpetrators and keeping victims in their own homes where they so wish.

 

We note findings by Women’s Aid nationally that most women living with an abuser reported that abuse had worsened during the pandemic, with a fifth prevented from leaving by a lack of housing or refuge space.

 

In Gloucestershire referrals to the Domestic Abuse Helpline are reported to remain high and contacts into Children Service relating to Domestic Abuse are also reported to remain high.

 

We are also concerned that complex barriers to seeking support, can result in lower levels of reporting and reduced access to domestic abuse services from people in some communities, including LBGT+ communities, and believe work should continue to address these gaps.

 

We welcome the introduction of new statutory duties upon this authority within the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 to support victims of domestic abuse and their children in domestic abuse safe accommodation and the inclusion of a duty to assess the need for accommodation-based support and prepare strategies to provide such support for victims.

 

Council notes that, whilst there were 40 refuge spaces, spread across five districts, within Gloucestershire at the time of the adoption of the Supporting People Strategy 2005-10, there are now only nine refuge spaces, with all of these being delivered by an independent provider within just one district in the County.

 

We believe that the Adult Social Care and Communities Scrutiny Committee and the Children and Families Scrutiny Committee should consider whether refuge provision in the county needs to be expanded.

 

Council acknowledges that whilst provision of dispersed accommodation, such as Places of Safety, can enable women to stay in their communities and meet particular needs, such as those with older male children, this does not remove the need for sufficient refuge accommodation as part of a mix of domestic abuse safe accommodation-based support.

 

Council notes that demand for accommodation is higher than the provision available and that those most likely to access refuge provision may have minimal access to the resources needed to secure their safety without the support of this type of provision.

 

Therefore, this Council resolves that both the Adult Social Care and Communities Scrutiny Committee and the Children and Families Scrutiny Committee should consider the Domestic Abuse Needs Assessment for Gloucestershire and the Gloucestershire Domestic Abuse Strategy. In particular, the committees should scrutinise our partnership work to ensure that we are providing sufficient accommodation and support for victims who are forced to leave their homes, including refuge accommodation which can help meet the needs of survivors to access safe accommodation irrespective of where they may have originally resided.

 

Motion 891 – Climate Leadership

 

Cllr Chloe Turner proposed and Cllr Chris McFarling seconded the motion, as published with the agenda.

 

Cllr Turner explained she was presenting the motion from both a political and a personal perspective. Highlighting the impact and repercussions of climate change on future generations, she expressed personal disappointment at some of the missed opportunities following the United Nations COP 26 Climate Change Conference held in Glasgow in the Autumn.

 

Expressing the seriousness and urgency in responding to the grim realities of climate change, a significant number of members shared Cllr Turner’s concerns from both a global perspective and from a local perspective, referencing the impact on flooding, land management, employment and food production. Members spoke with huge depth of feeling and agreed that it was important to take action quickly and responsively.

 

Some members highlighted the investment and work already underway in the county’s response to climate change and noted the previous motion for the Council to commit to working with its Western Gateway partners in delivering the Severn Edge STEP Fusion Reactor project in Gloucestershire. Other members referred to the need to prioritise the impact of transportation links on climate change. 

 

In response to the request to the Pension Committee to review the allocation of passive funds in the Council’s pension scheme as part of the upcoming Medium Term Financial Strategy review, Cllr Lynden Stowe, Chair of the Pensions Committee, informed members that the committee had approved a new Strategic Asset Allocation (SAA) for the Gloucestershire Pension Fund at a meeting on Friday 3 December 2021 and confirmed that the new SAA included the use of the new Paris aligned passive portfolio.

 

It was confirmed that, at the previous week’s meeting, the Pensions Committee had requested a review of the funds passive asset allocation to include climate change aligned benchmarks. The new Strategic Asset Allocation would utilise the Paris aligned passive portfolio for all passive investment requirements.

 

Cllr David Gray proposed and Cllr Mark Hawthorne seconded that the motion be referred to the Environment Scrutiny Committee for consideration. They believed that a more detailed discussion on how to take the proposals forward would be useful.

 

RESOLVED to refer Motion 891 (Climate Leadership), as published with the agenda for the Council meeting on 8 December 2021, to the Environment Scrutiny Committee for consideration, with a report back to Council on the outcomes of the review.

 

Motion 892 – Repairing public confidence in Gloucestershire Highways

 

Cllr Roger Whyborn proposed and Cllr Lisa Spivey seconded the motion included on the agenda.

 

Cllr Whyborn outlined perceptions of a broken infrastructure in relation to the county’s highway maintenance programme. He referred to several areas of concern, including pot-hole repairs, the condition and placement of highway signage, overgrown vegetation, drainage issues, traffic management arrangements and the quality of road repairs.

 

Cllr Whyborn noted the frustrations of fellow councillors and from members of the public regarding dissatisfaction at the poor quality condition and maintenance of Gloucestershire highways and called on members to support the proposal for a detailed review, in consultation with districts, parishes and local communities, of the Council’s highway maintenance services.

 

Seconding the motion, Cllr Lisa Spivey elaborated on the concerns raised at the meeting by outlining the hazards to both drivers and pedestrians from poor quality repairs, bad signage, pot-holes and poor visibility due to overgrown vegetation.

 

Endorsing the concerns, several members concurred with perceptions of poor quality highway maintenance. They believed that the Council’s scrutiny process should consider how best the Council might devolve its highway maintenance decisions, including its spending priorities and operational arrangements, to a localised level by empowering communities with the decisions and enabling local ownership.

 

Included in the motion was a proposal for a scrutiny task and finish group to be established to consider how best to achieve best value for money for the taxpayer, aided by the support of local experts from higher performing councils and interest groups.

 

Acknowledging the concerns, Cllr Vernon Smith, Cabinet Member for Highways and Flooding, commended the work and commitment of officers from the Council’s highways team and proposed the following amendment. The amendment was seconded by Cllr Dom Morris:

 

This Council recognises that our county’s highway maintenance is failing at numerous points, with councillors from all parties inundated by appeals from residents to fix potholes, mend broken infrastructure, replace signs, cut overgrown vegetation and clear leaves from drains, as well as reports of dodgy traffic lights and poor-quality repairs has faced enormous challenges over the past two years, largely due to the Covid 19 pandemic.

 

This Council also notes that the number of potholes has been going up year on year, with 24,668 needing to be repaired in 2019/20, 36,447 in 2020/21 and more than 43,000 in the first half of 2021/22. Taken together with the proportion of carriageways and other assets at “end of life” this indicates progressive deterioration of our highways infrastructure.

  

We have invested £150 million into our resurfacing scheme which has been a success. In the last four years, over 562 miles of road have been resurfaced – with many more scheduled to be done.

 

This council also notes that the Conservatives were the only party to commit to an additional £100 million into this scheme at the local elections in May.

 

This Council believes, in short, that the system is broken. Moreover:

 

· Councillors and our residents are frustrated by the unresponsiveness of the system and its lack of local sensitivity to local situations, leading to a widespread sense of a lack of empowerment.

 

· Council is concerned that, having declared a Climate Emergency, our highways leaders are moving too slowly, in both policy and operations, to address the changes required to decarbonise our county and protect our communities from climate-change events.

 

This Council believes major changes must be applied to the culture of our highways leadership if the Council is to regain the confidence of the people of Gloucestershire.

 

However, we recognise there have been issues with routine maintenance. There is a need to ensure that the customer’s experience of our Highways service is a positive one, which is why we have invested in appointing Jason Humm as the new Director of Highways and Transport. We have also appointed Cllr Morris as the Cabinet Champion for Highways Customer Experience.

 

As such, it calls upon Cabinet to –

 

Conduct a detailed review, in consultation with districts, parishes and communities, of the way the Council delivers highways services to the county.

· Consider, through scrutiny, how best to devolve decisions on spending priorities and operational decisions to a local level, to the maximum extent possible, to enable local ownership and to empower our communities.

· Establish a task and finish group to interrogate how we can achieve the best value-for the taxpayer and superior highway results for our residents – bring in experts to look into ways to improve Customer Service and Systems to help the public to report routine maintenance issues.

 

from better-performing councils and interest groups to provide advice to our councillors.

 

Cllr Smith referred to the impact of the recent pandemic on structural repairs, the limitations created from the restricted supply chain and the repercussions of having to maintain socially distanced working arrangements. He assured members that the current administration would continue to invest in improving the county’s highways.

 

Following an adjournment of the meeting to consider the amendment in more detail, a number of members spoke against the proposal and re-affirmed their concerns. They referred to the poor management and leadership of the current administration and objected strongly to the explanation that the pandemic had been an influencing factor on performance. Some members referred to a lack of confidence from other local authorities and members of the public.

 

Seeking an immediate and rapid response to the situation, opposition members spoke strongly against the amendment. On being put to the vote, the amendment was accepted and formed the substantive motion.

 

Voting on the substantive motion, it was

 

RESOLVED that this Council recognises that our county’s highway maintenance has faced enormous challenges over the past two years, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

We have invested £150 million into our resurfacing scheme which has been a success.   In the last four years, over 562 miles of road have been resurfaced, with many more scheduled to be done.

 

This Council also notes that the Conservatives were the only party to commit to an additional £100 million into this scheme at the local elections in May 2021. However, we recognise there have been issues with routine maintenance.

 

There is a need to ensure that the customer’s experience of our Highways service is a positive one, which is why we have invested in appointing Jason Humm as the new Director of Highways and Transport. We have also appointed Cllr Morris as the Cabinet Champion for Highways Customer Experience.

 

As such, Council calls upon Cabinet to –

 

·         Conduct a detailed review, in consultation with districts, parishes and communities, of the way the Council delivers highways services to the county, and

 

·         Establish a task and finish group to bring in experts to look into ways to improve Customer Service and Systems to help the public to report routine maintenance issues.

 

Motion 893 - Policing and anti-social behaviour

 

Having reached the two-hour time limit for considering motions, there was no time to consider Motion 893, as proposed by Cllr Jeremy Hilton and seconded by Cllr David Brown.

Supporting documents: