Agenda item

Members' Questions

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, 15 May 2023.

 

However, questions that relate to reports on the agenda may be submitted up to 10am on Wednesday, 17 May 2023.

 

Please send questions to the Chief Executive marked for the attention of Stephen Bace (email stephen.bace@gloucestershire.gov.uk)

 

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

 

As background information, the Cabinet Decisions for the meeting held on 29 March 2023 can be found at:

 

https://glostext.gloucestershire.gov.uk/mgDelegatedDecisions.aspx?bcr=1&DM=117C

 

Cabinet Member Decision statements for the period 11 March 2023 to 5 May 2023 can be found at:

 

https://glostext.gloucestershire.gov.uk/mgDelegatedDecisions.aspx?XXR=0&&DR=11%2f03%2f2023-05%2f05%2f2023&ACT=Find&RP=0&K=0&V=0&DM=3&HD=0&DS=2&Next=true&NOW=11042023091053&META=mgdelegateddecisions

 

 

Minutes:

Sixty-one Member questions had been submitted prior to the meeting. The following supplementary questions were asked:

Question 1 – Cllr David Drew asked whether the Cabinet member would meet with Stroud District Council and Stonehouse Town Council to give clarity over plans for railway station development in the area.

Cllr David Gray agreed to meet with the local councils.

Question 3 – Cllr David Drew asked why the County was paying to repair a wall on Slad Road, and why it had led to the closure of the road for so long.

Cllr Dom Morris explained that the Council owned the wall and so it was our responsibility to fix it. The repair had taken longer than planned which is why the road closure had to be extended.

Question 5 – Cllr Graham Morgan raised concern that the lack of public transport in some areas was leading to the isolation of residents and asked how much of the 2011 decision by the Council to cut subsidies by 20% was affecting the issues seen today. He also asked the Cabinet Member to encourage Stagecoach to only use single-decker buses for routes on narrow country lanes.

Cllr Philip Robinson reassured that the council had already been encouraging Stagecoach to use suitable vehicles for the roads they travel, and that he and officers were constantly considering the wellbeing impact on residents of public transport changes.

Question 6 – Cllr Chris McFarling asked whether the Cabinet member would re-consider writing to central government to increase active travel investment. He also asked that such a letter emphasised the urgent need to decarbonise the transport sector in response to the climate emergency.

Cllr David Gray explained that Gloucestershire had been attracting a considerable amount of funding for active travel but agreed to consider writing further on this issue.

Question 7 – Chris McFarling asked if the Cabinet member would reassure Council that investment and promotion of jobs in the green economy would be budgeted for at the earliest opportunity.

Cllr Philip Robinson confirmed he could give that assurance and explained that the Employment and Skills Hub was already identifying skills and jobs in this area. He invited Cllr McFarling to visit the Hub to see the work already being done.

Question 8 – Cllr Chloe Turner asked whether additional data on other fines referred to in the Cabinet Member’s written response could be shared.

Cllr Dom Morris agreed that he was happy to provide further data and reiterated that fines were acting as a successful deterrent to utilities companies overrunning their roadworks permits.

Question 14 – Cllr Wendy Thomas reiterated that her original question asked for data on the Forest of Dean Robin service as well as North Cotswold.

Cllr Philip Robinson apologised for the omission and agreed to send the data. He shared that anecdotally, feedback was very positive.

Question 18 – Cllr John Bloxsom asked for confirmation that the council representative on the Cotswold Canal Trust had changed and if so, asked for clarification as to why it was done through delegated authority rather than being brought to Council.

Cllr Mark Hawthorne explained that the urgency of making changes to appointments on outside bodies determined whether the delegated authority process was used. Given that there were several conversations ongoing at the time around finance, it was important to fill the vacancy as quickly as possible.

Question 20 & 21 – Cllr Rebecca Halifax raised concerns around newly developed schools in Cirencester taking students, and therefore funding, away from already established schools.

Cllr Philip Robinson explained that the school place planning team considered options very carefully and they would not have missed any causes for concern. He was happy to discuss it in more detail with the Member.

Question 23 – Cllr Rebecca Halifax asked for a date when the provision of Places of Safety in the County would increase to 36.

Cllr Stephan Fifield confirmed he would respond in writing to the Member.

Question 28 – Cllr Jeremy Hilton asked for a copy of the parking restriction proposal for the St Oswald’s Park housing development d.

Cllr Dom Morris agreed to send a copy and added that he was happy to discuss in further detail if needed.

Question 29 – Cllr Jeremy Hilton asked when the Parking Manager role at GCC would be filled permanently.

Cllr Dom Morris explained that recruitment was ongoing for that position.

Question 31 – Cllr Paul Hodgkinson raised concern around the delay of reported road safety defect being fixed. He asked the Cabinet Member at what stage he would consider declaring a road emergency.

Cllr Dom Morris said Highways officers took road safety incredibly seriously and that he was happy to have a further discussion with the Member on this issue.

Question 32 – Cllr Paul Hodgkinson stressed that the road between Compton Abdale and Northleach had been waiting to be fixed for months and asked whether the Cabinet Member was aware of how dangerous it had been.

Cllr Morris explained that the road in question had now been resurfaced.

Question 34 – Cllr Paul Baker asked if GCC had experienced a significant cut in government capital grant for road infrastructure this year.

Cllr Dom Morris explained that he was unsure and would come back to the member with a response.

Question 35 – Cllr Roger Whyborn asked whether the fifteen-year timescale to institute the bus service would be accelerated.

Cllr Philip Robinson explained that he would make enquiries on the question raised.

Question 38 – Cllr Alex Hegenbarth asked whether the independent road safety audits in the Cabinet Member’s answer could be made available to Members automatically rather than on request so they were equipped to reassure residents.

Cllr Dave Norman explained that he was regularly meeting with residents in his area to discuss audits supported by his Local Highways Manager and encouraged the Member to do the same.

Question 42 – Cllr Colin Hay raised concern over deficits. He asked whether the Cabinet Member thought it was a good idea to ignore the growing deficit, as advised by Government, and asked if the Cabinet Member thought the government would respond to the LGA and county treasurers who were asking about this issue.

Cllr Philip Robinson explained that was not a question he was able to answer.

Question 43 – Cllr Lisa Spivey said that some potholes were still yet to be repaired on the roads raised in her original question and asked whether the Cabinet member thought it was at the stage that residents had to take road safety into their own hands.

Cllr Dom Morris reiterated that Highways had spent 3 days making the site in question safe and they were currently identifying funding to make this site a longer-term resurfacing and drainage project. He disagreed with the comment on road safety.

Question 46 – Cllr Lisa Spivey asked if the Cabinet Member would join residents to see the current damage on their roads.

Cllr Dom Morris explained he was aware of the needs in that area and was working to get the roads in question resurfaced.

Question 47 – Cllr Lisa Spivey asked if the Cabinet Member was surprised that 99% of claims against the Council for vehicle damage were refused.

Cllr Dom Morris explained that this was a credit to the road safety policy team who were keeping the road networks as safe as possible.

Question 48 - Cllr Lisa Spivey asked whether the Cabinet Member thought the criteria for claiming vehicle damage compensation needed review.

Cllr Dom Morris said he was happy to discuss the issue further with the member.

Question 49 – Cllr Gill Moseley asked if any road safety bids had been submitted from other bodies such as community groups (particularly where the area was unparished), how many bids had been rejected, whether there was a predicted underspend for the Community Safety Fund, and, if there was an underspend, what proposals were there to allow for further bidding.

Cllr Dave Norman said that he would provide a written response to the Member.

Question 50 – Cllr Gill Moseley asked about the upkeep of Southend Lane in Newent. The Member asked why developer contribution had not been sought towards the resurfacing.

Cllr Dom Morris explained that the road had been resurfaced and would come back to the member with specific information about developer contributions.

Question 51 – Cllr Paul Hodgkinson asked whether the Cabinet Member was engaging a deliberate policy to allow minor roads to fall into disrepair in order to keep up with main road maintenance.

Cllr Dom Morris replied that that was not a deliberate policy.

Question 52 – Cllr Paul Hodgkinson asked why the Cabinet Member was not fulfilling his legal responsibility to keep the minor roads safe.

Cllr Dom Morris explained that he was carrying out his responsibility to keep the highways safe and was doing everything he could through the resurfacing programme to improve overall network standards.

Question 53 – Cllr Paul Hodgkinson asked whether the Council was doing anything to combat incidences of hate crimes against members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Cllr Mark Hawthorne agreed that it was an important concern and suggested it be brought to the attention of the Police and Crime Panel.

Question 58 – Cllr Paul Baker raised concern over a decline in attendance of state schools to the Cheltenham Festivals because of the requirement for them to have a license to attend. Volunteers were also having to spend a lot of time on licensing applications. He expressed his dissatisfaction with the approach of the County Council and asked if the Cabinet Member would agree to a meeting with himself, officers, and representatives from the performing arts.

Cllr Stephen Davies agreed to have that meeting and explained that they were following national guidance and would be happy to improve it if possible.

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