Agenda item

Motions

For debate and decision on the day, unless the Chairman decides otherwise.

 

The closing date for the receipt of motions was 10am on Friday, 23 August 2013.

 

The following motions have been received:

 

Motion 687

This council resolves to set up an all party task group to investigate the options for unitary working arrangements in Gloucestershire.

 

The group should consult widely with key stakeholders including the business community, local and voluntary groups, local district, city and borough councils, parish and town councils, neighbourhood partnerships, neighbouring authorities and other public authorities to find their views on whether they are in favour of a unitary authority or authorities.

 

The work should also consider how best to ensure local democracy is enhanced rather than diminished by exploring and making recommendations on how best to capitalise on our town and parish councils. The group would also draw on good practice elsewhere where local area boards or similar arrangements have been set up.

 

The group should also provide an estimate of the costs and benefits arising from a change to unitary working.

 

The group should report back to full council by the AGM of the council with quarterly updates on progress.

 

Proposed by Cllr Steve Lydon

Seconded by Cllr Brian Oosthuysen

 

Motion 688

This council commends the public protection work carried out by the trading standards service in Gloucestershire.

 

This council notes that trading standards is a statutory service that protects the most vulnerable consumers in dealing with ‘rogue traders’ and also helps legitimate traders to trade well.

 

This council recognises that over the last three financial years, the county’s trading standards service budget and total number of employees has been cut by 50%. 

 

This council is concerned that any further cuts to the current trading standards service may put individuals, communities and public health more generally at risk, and could damage local businesses and the economy.

 

This council therefore recommends that the trading standards service is protected if possible from further cuts during the life of this council.

 

Proposed by Cllr Jeremy Hilton

Seconded by Cllr Iain Dobie

 

Minutes:

Motion 687
 

Cllr Steve Lydon moved and Cllr Graham Morgan seconded the following motion:

 

This Council resolves to set up an all party task group to investigate the options for unitary working arrangements in Gloucestershire.

 

The group should consult widely with key stakeholders including the business community, local and voluntary groups, local district, city and borough councils, parish and town councils, neighbourhood partnerships, neighbouring authorities and other public authorities to find their views on whether they are in favour of a unitary authority or authorities.

 

The work should also consider how best to ensure local democracy is enhanced rather than diminished by exploring and making recommendations on how best to capitalise on our town and parish councils. The group would also draw on good practice elsewhere where local area boards or similar arrangements have been set up.

 

The group should also provide an estimate of the costs and benefits arising from a change to unitary working.

 

The group should report back to full council by the AGM of the Council with quarterly updates on progress.

 

Cllr Steve Lydon noted the financial pressures on councils and believed that the time was now right to look at the feasibility of establishing a unitary local government structure in Gloucestershire.  He said that there was a great deal of confusion amongst the public on who was responsible for particular services. A new structure should be capable of ‘thinking strategically and delivering locally’. It was important to seek the views of the district councils and the wider community including businesses, the public and other public sector organisations.  The public was disinterested in local democracy and a new structure would help address the growing ‘democratic deficit’.

 

Some members were concerned about the disruption and costs arising from local government reorganisation.  They noted that joint working was already delivering significant savings in a number of areas.  They believed that the councils should concentrate on the services they were providing whilst looking for further opportunities to work together.  They expressed serious concern that reorganisation would jeopardise the co-operation and goodwill that had been developed over recent years.  This could result in joint working arrangements being disrupted and relationships breaking down.  They noted that reviews of the electoral arrangements in some districts were about to be undertaken and this work would be wasted if a unitary structure was taken forward.

 

The Leader of the Council supported the establishment of a scrutiny task group to investigate the options available.  He questioned, however, whether the £20 million of savings identified in the 2007 report by Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) on a unitary structure were still available.  He noted that there had been significant changes to working practices since that time with a number of successful joint working arrangements now in place.  These not only extended to the district councils but to other public sector organisations such as the NHS and Police.  He believed that it was important that any new arrangements did not disrupt the co-terminus boundaries the County Council shared with other organisations.  The County Council alone had made savings of more than £65 million over the last four years.   

 

The mover and seconder of the motion accepted a change to the motion to use the Council’s scrutiny process to set up an all party task group to investigate the options for unitary working arrangements in Gloucestershire. 

 

In seconding the motion, Cllr Graham Morgan noted the serious financial pressure on district councils with significant deficits being faced in future years.  He said that parish and town councils were at breaking point as a result of services being pushed down to them due to the lack of funding.  He believed that the Council owed it to the people of Gloucestershire to explore the options available.     

 

RESOLVED that the Council uses its scrutiny process to set up an all party task group to investigate the options for unitary working arrangements in Gloucestershire.

 

The group should consult widely with key stakeholders including the business community, local and voluntary groups, local district, city and borough councils, parish and town councils, neighbourhood partnerships, neighbouring authorities and other public authorities to find their views on whether they are in favour of a unitary authority or authorities.

 

The work should also consider how best to ensure local democracy is enhanced rather than diminished by exploring and making recommendations on how best to capitalise on our town and parish councils. The group would also draw on good practice elsewhere where local area boards or similar arrangements have been set up.

 

The group should also provide an estimate of the costs and benefits arising from a change to unitary working.

 

The group should report back to full Council by the AGM of the Council with quarterly updates on progress.

 

 

Motion 688

 

Cllr Jeremy Hilton moved and Cllr Iain Dobie seconded the following motion:

 

This Council commends the public protection work carried out by the Trading Standards Service in Gloucestershire.

 

This Council notes that trading standards is a statutory service that protects the most vulnerable consumers in dealing with ‘rogue traders’ and also helps legitimate traders to trade well.

 

This Council recognises that over the last three financial years, the County’s Trading Standards Service budget and total number of employees has been cut by 50%. 

 

This Council is concerned that any further cuts to the current Trading Standards Service may put individuals, communities and public health more generally at risk, and could damage local businesses and the economy.

 

This Council therefore recommends that the Trading Standards Service is protected if possible from further cuts during the life of this Council.

 

Cllr Jeremy Hilton expressed concern that the Trading Standards Service had seen a disproportionate reduction in budget compared with other services.  Staff numbers had been reduced from 46 to 24, five specialist teams had been reorganised into just two generic teams and the number of visits had fallen from 4,000 to around 700.  In overall terms, the budget for the Trading Standards Service at around £1 million represented just 0.25 per cent of the County Council’s annual spend. 

 

In seconding the motion, Cllr Iain Dobie noted that the service not only protected vulnerable people from rogue traders but also protected the general public from unsafe products.  These included electrical goods and toys. 

 

A number of members recognised the importance of the service and paid tribute to the excellent work undertaken by Trading Standards Officers.  They stated, however, that decisions relating to the budget should be taken at the time the budget was set.  In any event, a decision to protect a budget ‘if possible’ was meaningless. 

 

A member believed that it was reasonable to raise the issue at full Council and put a marker down that that the service should be protected.

 

On being put to the vote, the motion was defeated.