Up to 45 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 was 10am on Monday, 14 March 2022.However, questions that relate to reports on the agenda may be submitted up to 10am on Wednesday, 16 March 2022.
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 circulated prior to the meeting.
As background information, the Cabinet Decision Statements for the meeting held on 23 February 2022 and the Cabinet Member Decision Statements over the period 16 February to 15 March 2022 are available at https://glostext.gloucestershire.gov.uk/mgDelegatedDecisions.aspx?XXR=0&&DR=16%2f02%2f2022-15%2f03%2f2022&ACT=Find&RP=0&K=0&V=0&DM=3&HD=0&DS=2&Next=true&NOW=15032022175805&META=mgdelegateddecisions
Thirty-eight member questions had been received. The following supplementary questions were asked
Question 1 – Cllr Steve Robinson asked whether the Cabinet Member agreed that transporting children that distance to go to school did not sit well with the agreed climate change actions and asked the cabinet member if he would consider schooling the children in Nailsworth and sourcing funding from prospective developers to extend the school.
Cllr Philip Robinson replied that he understood it was disappointing for any parent when their child did not get a place at their first preference. The admission authority’s responsibility was to ensure sufficient school places. Any extension of schools would have an impact on nearby schools. The forecasting data showed a fall in pupil numbers in future years. For that reason there were currently no plans to increase capacity.
Question 2 – Cllr Steve Robinson stated he was pleased that the windows were going to be fitted.
Question 3 – Cllr Paul Hodgkinson asked why the Covid board had been disbanded alongside the stopping of the weekly figures. In addition, the Government was charging for tests from 1 April. He asked whether the leader would like to disassociate himself from that Government decision.
Cllr Mark Hawthorne replied that he did not wish to do that and detailed the journey taken over the previous two years citing vaccination and effective treatments to allow us to reach a stage to live with Covid-19. The Council would work closely with the NHS. He felt it was the right time to take those steps. Many of the staff that had been deployed in this area were now deployed in supporting Ukrainian refugees.
Question 4 – Cllr Paul Hodgkinson stated that hospitalisations with Covid-19 were high and that tests were being charged for. He asked, would the cabinet member like to ensure the supply of free Covid tests in the way Portsmouth had done.
Cllr Tim Harman replied that limited free testing for people with symptoms would still be available and he did not anticipate following the example of Portsmouth.
Question 5 – Cllr Paul Hodgkinson asked, whether the Cabinet Member could give some examples of actions he was taking to protect vulnerable residents.
Cllr Tim Harman replied that the public health team worked in partnership to provide support. A fourth round of jabs had been made available for those over 75 or vulnerable.
Question 6 – Cllr Rebecca Halifax asked for a diplomatic solution to the situation at Cirencester Abbey Grounds and asked to meet with the Cabinet Member.
Cllr David Gray replied that he appreciated the need for a sensible solution and to help Cirencester get the permissions needed and he would be happy to discuss this with the member on site.
Question 7 - Cllr Rebecca Halifax stated that referrals regarding eating disorders had gone up 500% and stated that a phone service would not be sufficient. She asked how much of that 280k would come back into that service
Cllr Tim Harman replied that he understood the issue and would provide details of the figures involved.
Question 8 – Cllr Linda Cohen stated that it was important to understand how the Council would link smaller areas, such as Wotton Under Edge, to the rest of the cycle spine.
Cllr David Gray stated that the spine was not the only focus but also places like Wotton under Edge, with the aim to allow everyone in the county to have access to active travel. The longer term vision was to join these places up.
Question 11 – Cllr John Bloxsom asked if feedback would be sought from cyclists on the ‘cycle spine’?
Cllr David Gray replied that anyone who wanted to make a contribution could provide feedback. The consultation was a dynamic one that was keen to capture as many voices as possible to ensure the scheme met the needs of residents.
Question 12 – Cllr John Bloxsom asked why no financial information had been given in the consultation process for Stroud library and asked if the absence of the information made the process flawed.
Cllr Dave Norman replied that he would discuss that with the officers and provide an answer to the member.
Question 14 – Cllr John Bloxsom asked what say the public would have on future usage of the building.
Cllr Dave Norman replied that discussions were underway to discuss options.
Question 16 – Cllr John Bloxsom asked whether the Cabinet Member accepted that bidders should be given information on the condition of the former Stonehouse library property.
Cllr Lynden Stowe replied that bidders might have different uses in mind and therefore the work that was needed would depend on the use. He welcomed the community putting in bids. Due diligence would be carried out.
Question 17 – Cllr John Bloxsom stated that bidders had been told that they hadn’t been allowed a copy of the survey as it was out of date. He asked would it not be reasonable to share the information with interested parties?
Cllr Lynden Stowe replied that the advice provided was that the figure could not be relied on and bidders needed to make their own assessment as to what the cost of work would be according to how they wished to use the building.
Question 19 – Cllr Jeremy Hilton asked for details of how the ‘missing link’ along the Llanthony Road scheme would connect with the city centre cycle network. He felt that it would improve the road junction linking to the Gloucester City football club ground. The club wanted to put signage up and had asked whether temporary signs would be put up during construction and then permanent signage thereafter?
Cllr David Gray replied that he would take those points away.
Question 20 – Cllr Jeremy Hilton asked would more money be available to continue the concrete roads renewal programme?
Cllr Vernon Smith replied that the programme had specific funds but all of the network was considered for ongoing maintenance. He would continue to lobby for government funding.
Question 24 – Cllr John Bloxsom read a note regarding county deals from Stroud District Council and asked if it was accurate.
Cllr Mark Hawthorne replied that the report was incorrect. There had been a debate on the white paper at Leadership Gloucestershire. He believed there were some officers that argued for consideration of a level 3 deal which would require a directly elected mayor, but this was not something welcomed by Members. He felt that starting with a ‘blank piece of paper’ would lead to things taking too long. A document was being produced that summarised what had been done so far and would act as a starting point.
Question 27 – Cllr Wendy Thomas asked if the Leader was aware of the CCN report in March suggesting an underestimation of the costs of adult social care and she asked was this something that was being considered.
Cllr Mark Hawthorne replied that what the LGA and CCN were doing was to try to quantify the scheme at this stage. Assumptions had been made by Government and the Treasury. The sector would come up with the evidence base on the cost of implementing the policy. This would be shared with Government officials to shape the final package.
Question 28 – Cllr David Willingham asked about the promotion of the Flare App and suggested it damaged the reputation of the council. He asked should the Council have done their due diligence in checking the app and he expressed his concern on its effects on women’s safety?
Cllr Mark Hawthorne stated that these questions should be raised with the police. The county council had supported their partner in promoting the app. He felt that the questions were not a good use of Council’s time.
Question 29 – Cllr David Willingham asked whether sufficient resources were available for inspection before utility works had been finalised on Cheltenham highway.
Cllr Vernon Smith replied that interim works had 6 months to carry out the work under the law and that the resources were available for inspections.
Question 30 – Cllr Roger Whyborn asked if the cabinet member was working on a plan B should the results of the evaluation on Schools Streets lead to it not being viewed as viable going forward.
Cllr David Gray replied that this would be data led. The Council would await the outcome and would look at a wide range of options.
Question 32 – Cllr David Willingham asked the Council to explore providing mental health first aid training if possible.
Cllr Tim Harman replied that everything would be under review.