Agenda item

Questions at Cabinet Meetings

Up to 30 minutes is allowed for this item.

 

Written questions

 

To answer any written questions from a County Councillor, (or any person living or working in the county, or is affected by the work of the County Council), about any matter which relates to any item on the agenda for this meeting.

 

The closing date for the receipt of written questions is 4.00 pm on Thursday 24 March 2022.

 

Please submit any questions to stephen.bace@gloucestershire.gov.uk

 

A written answer will be provided for each written question received (to be presented to the questioner and to Cabinet (in advance of the meeting). The questions and answers will be taken as read and will not be read out at the meeting. At the discretion of the Leader of Council, each questioner ( in attendance at the meeting) will be allowed to ask one supplementary question (in response to the answer given to the original question).

 

A copy of all written questions and written answers circulated at the meeting will be attached to the signed copy of the minutes of the meeting.

 

Urgent questions

 

An urgent written question may be asked by a member of the public about any item on the Cabinet agenda for that meeting which the Chairperson considers could not have been reasonably submitted by the deadline for the receipt of written questions, provided he or she gives notice of the question to the Chief Executive by 12 noon the day before the meeting.

Minutes:

Five public questions were received.

 

Twenty-eight member questions were received

 

 

Question 1 - Cllr Jeremy Hilton asked why the Cabinet Member was not considering the refitting of Bohanam House to enable it to be a first class care home for elderly people.

 

Cllr Carole Allaway Martin welcomed the questions on the report and, in relation to the refurbishment of Bohanam house, stated that sustainability and viability of the wider market had to be considered.  In the case of Bohanam House, the works needed to refurbish the home to modern standards would lead to a reduction in its overall capacity which would, in turn, be likely to make it unviable.

 

 

Question 2 – Cllr Jeremy Hilton asked for the occupancy rate of the last 5 years, to be provided for two years before pandemic began.

 

Cllr Carole Allaway Martin replied that accessing appropriate data would rely on the Order of St John.  She would request that the data be provided, but it may take her some time to get back to the member.

 

Question 3 – Cllr Jeremy Hilton asked why consideration was not being given to refitting Bohanam House in order to keep it in use, given that it had been rated good, whereas some of the other homes within Gloucester required improvement. 

 

Cllr Carole Allaway Martin replied that the Council needed to take a view on sustainability. The only things the Council can directly control are those within it’s own contracts and estate. Beyond this, the Council was constrained on what it could do. The purpose of the Cabinet paper was to seek agreement to go out for consultation.

 

Question 4 – Cllr Jeremy Hilton detailed that across the care homes in the city of Gloucester there was 72% occupancy rate, the minimum for viability was 60%. He asked why Bohaman House was set for closure when there were two other inadequate homes?

 

Cllr Carole Allaway Martin replied that the recommendation today was to go to consultation with a decision to be made in June depending on the information that was received.

 

Question 5 – Cllr Jeremy Hilton stated that there was a 55% occupancy rate at Bohanam house.  He asked whether, with refurbishment, the overall capacity could be reduced, bringing it up to the required occupancy level. 

 

Cllr Carole Allaway Martin reiterated that the decision before Cabinet today was merely to consult on the proposals. She commented that the price of refurbishment was speculative at this time

 

Question 6 – Cllr Jeremy Hilton asked for details of the terms and conditions of staff working at the two inadequate care homes.

 

Cllr Carole Allaway Martin replied that she would check the information, but noted that the Council doesn’t have a right to access private care homes information.

 

Question 7 – Cllr Jeremy Hilton referred to staff with many years service at Bohanam House and asked why this experience would be lost.

 

Cllr Carole Allaway Martin replied that she welcomed that experience and commitment and would await the consultation information and would encourage those individuals to respond to the consultation.

 

Question 8 – Cllr Colin Hay asked about the revisions to the forecast outturn position that had occurred since the Council set the budget.  He suggested that this appeared to be Cabinet suppressing the amount of funding that appeared to be available until the budget was set, in order to allow Cabinet to spend it at a later date. He noted that the amount would have funded all of the opposition group budget proposals.  

 

Cllr Lynden Stowe replied that this remained a projected underspend until final year-end figures came in and, with regards to overall position, that 11 months into a budget the council was close to delivering a balanced budget. This was a good outcome.

 

Question 9 – Cllr Colin Hay asked to what extent the Cabinet Member took into account the option of borrowing to fund the Capital Programme rather than  selling land that could provide young farmers with opportunities and experience. He suggested that the capital receipts did not warrant the selling of the land.

 

Cllr Lynden Stowe replied that there was an opportunity cost involved in foregoing potential income from releasing land for development. He agreed that the Council needed to encourage young farmers  but there was also a need for housing. Once a capital receipt was obtained it was then a decision as to whether to reinvest into farmland or into other council priorities.

 

Question 10 – Cllr Colin Hay asked would you consider retaining the land in the best interest of young farmers.

 

Cllr Lynden Stowe noted the question and welcomed his interest, stating that as it was part of the County Council’s budget and member could bring forward proposals through the budget process.

 

Question 16 – Cllr Roger Whyborn asked what plans and aspirations the Cabinet Member had to promote greater use of the bus network to those who are hampered by cost of fares, particularly young people and families.

 

Cllr Philip Robinson replied that the Bus Service Improvement Plan and Enhanced Partnership were asking those questions and the detail would be there.

 

Question 18 – Cllr Roger Whyborn asked would the Cabinet be committing to conduct a holistic review of the whole bus network within that partnership?

 

Cllr Philip Robinson replied that a holistic review was what the Improvement Plan and Enhanced Plan were in effect.  With regards to a franchising approach, it would not do anything to address declining demand in rural areas and would require vast sums of money.

 

Question 23 – Cllr John Bloxsom asked whether the cabinet member was saying there would be no improvement in community services or domiciliary care as a result of homes closing?

 

Cllr Carole Allaway Martin replied that she was not saying that.  The paper was about going to consultation.  The June Cabinet paper would be supported by information gathered through that consultation, and improvements to domiciliary care were very much on Cabinet’s agenda.

 

Question 25 – Cllr John Bloxsom asked that, given that the cabinet Member accepted that for care homes were essential to meet the needs of some people, why were some residents potentially being moved from ‘pillar to post’

 

Cllr Carole Allaway Martin replied that there would always be a place for care homes in Gloucestershire. The Council also had to consider the quality of our homes and how demographics was affecting that care home population. .  The Council needs to respond to changing needs and expectations.

 

Question 26 – Cllr John Bloxsom asked how closing homes where residents were settled would ensure the best outcomes for those involved?

 

Cllr Carole Allaway Martin replied that the first step was to engage with families and residents, staff and community in the consultation process. The Cabinet would then have a better understanding on how to sustain the market as well as meet people’s needs and aspirations.

 

Question 27 – Cllr John Bloxsom referred to Southfield house, plans for which had taken three years to reach fruition.  he asked how many years would it take for new provision to be made available.

 

Cllr Carole Allaway Martin replied that once a decision was made, the Cabinet would look to move as speedily as it could. Covid had slowed up the process in recent years.

 

Question 28 – Cllr John Bloxsom asked what comfort would it be to those dispersed across the County? He gave the example of people relocated as a result of previous closures to homes that were now subject to potential closure.

 

Cllr Carole Allaway Martin replied that there was a commitment to support residents regarding any change that might occur. 

 

An additional twenty-six public questions were received after the deadline but were accepted as urgent questions by the Chair.  Written answers were provided.

 

 

 

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