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Agenda item

Member Questions properly submitted in accordance with Council Procedure Rules

To receive any questions submitted under Rule of Procedure 13. Any items received will be circulated on 29 September 2020.

 

(Any questions must be submitted in writing to Democratic Services by, not later than, 10.00am on the working day immediately preceding the date of the meeting).

Minutes:

26.1          The following questions had been received from Councillor Stanley to the Lead Member for Built Environment.  The answers were given by the Lead Member for Built Environment, Councillor Gore, but were taken as read without discussion.

Update on the primary schools

On 26 January 2020 Council resolved that:

1.    the Council confirms its continued support for the provision of adequate school places across Tewkesbury Borough, noting the County Council’s own policy that any such primary schools should be within walking distance of most of the new developments.

2.    the Council works with the County Council, and any other interested party, to find a solution that works for everyone.

Question 1:

What is the latest update from Gloucestershire County Council on the school for the north of Bishop’s Cleeve?

Answer 1:

The County Council has advised that work is still ongoing in relation to identifying a location and land for the new school.

Section 106 Infrastructure 

Tewkesbury Borough has seen substantial housing growth over recent years with further large development expected in the future. Developer Section 106 commitments are an essential part of ensuring that the local infrastructure needs of our residents are met and where these commitments are overdue, it is the Borough which is responsible for enforcement.

As a ward Councillor, I have been seeking details of all Section 106 Agreements in Bishop’s Cleeve where commitment trigger points have passed, and the agreements are outstanding.

Question 1:

What Section 106 Agreements are outstanding in Bishop’s Cleeve?

Answer 1:

In Bishop’s Cleeve there are both financial and non-financial obligations that are due now and into the future. The table below provides an indication of the outstanding S106 Agreements for the Bishop’s Cleeve area relating to the S106 Agreements that the Borough Council has entered into. Most of the obligations below are not due yet, as the trigger point has not been met.

In addition, there are also Gloucestershire County Council S106 planning obligations as part of Bishop’s Cleeve developments, such as highway mitigation, education and library contributions.  The County Council currently negotiates S106 Agreements independently of the Borough Council for their elements, which they also enter into separate legal agreements. As a result, the Borough Council does not currently monitor the County Council S106 Agreements.   A full list has been requested from the County Council and can be provided to Members once it has been received.  Working in partnership with the County Council, Officers are commencing discussions on how the S106 process can be improved.

Financial Contributions

App No

Address

Obligation

Amount

Status

10/01005/OUT

Homelands Farm, Gotherington Lane, Bishop’s Cleeve, GL52 8EN

Contribution to Bowls

£1,596.90

Not due until Community Building is handed over

10/01005/OUT

Homelands Farm, Gotherington Lane, Bishop’s Cleeve, GL52 8EN

"LEAP" means a 'local equipped area for play' commuted Sum (maintenance fee)

-

Not due or determined yet - if management company then no commuted sum

10/01216/OUT

Cleevelands, Evesham Road, Bishop’s Cleeve

"MUGA Maintenance Commuted Sum" (maintenance fee) means the sum of £16,421 (sixteen thousand four hundred and twenty one pounds)

-

Not due or determined yet - if management company then no commuted sum.

10/01216/OUT

Cleevelands, Evesham Road, Bishop’s Cleeve

"Sports Equipment Contribution" 

£10,000.00

Linked with the Community Building.

10/01216/OUT

Cleevelands, Evesham Road, Bishop’s Cleeve

Three LEAP maintenance commuted sums of £33,512 x 3 instalments

-

Not due or determined yet - if management company then no commuted sum

18/00249/OUT

Land At Stoke Road, Bishop’s Cleeve, GL52 7DG

the Recycling and Waste Bins Contribution' means the sum of £73 (seventy three pounds) per Dwelling payable towards the costs

-

Obligations not due yet, development not

started.

18/00249/OUT

Land At Stoke Road, Bishop’s Cleeve, GL52 7DG

Pitches Contribution' payable towards costs of the provision of off-site playing pitches & changing facilities at Cheltenham North RFC

£80,000.00

Obligations not due yet, development not started

14/01233/FUL

Part Parcel 7346, Evesham Road, Millham House

Dog Bins

£322.00

Obligations not due yet, development not started

14/01233/FUL

Part Parcel 7346, Evesham Road, Millham House

Off-site sports facilities

£43,513.00

Obligations not due yet, development not started

14/01233/FUL

Part Parcel 7346, Evesham Road, Millham House

Off-site play facilities

£19,994.00

Obligations not due yet, development not started

14/01233/FUL

Part Parcel 7346, Evesham Road, Millham House

Indoor sports

£11,321.00

Obligations not due yet, development not started

14/01233/FUL

Part Parcel 7346, Evesham Road, Millham House

Recycling

£1,300.00

Obligations not due yet, development not started

17/00449/OUT

Local Centre Plots 7 And 8

Still being uploaded + DOV

-

Deed of Variation still in progress

Non-Financial Contributions

AH = Affordable Housing

POS = Public Open Space

LEAP = Local Equipped Area for Play

MUGA = Multi-Use Games Area

App No

Address

Obligation Type

07/00448/OUT

Homelands Farm, Gotherington Lane, Bishop’s Cleeve

AH - Units On Site

07/00448/OUT

Homelands Farm, Gotherington Lane, Bishop’s Cleeve

POS - Commuted Sum

07/00448/OUT

Homelands Farm, Gotherington Lane, Bishop’s Cleeve

POS - Transfer of Land

10/01005/OUT

Homelands Farm, Gotherington Lane, Bishop’s Cleeve, GL52 8EN

Highways - S106 Provided On Site

10/01005/OUT

Homelands Farm, Gotherington Lane, Bishop’s Cleeve, GL52 8EN

AH - Units On Site

10/01005/OUT

Homelands Farm, Gotherington Lane, Bishop’s Cleeve, GL52 8EN

Ecology/Wildlife - S106 On Site Provision

10/01005/OUT

Homelands Farm, Gotherington Lane, Bishop’s Cleeve, GL52 8EN

POS - S106 Provided On Site

10/01005/OUT

Homelands Farm, Gotherington Lane, Bishop’s Cleeve, GL52 8EN

POS - Transfer of Land

10/01005/OUT

Homelands Farm, Gotherington Lane, Bishop’s Cleeve, GL52 8EN

Allotments - S106 Provided On Site

10/01005/OUT

Homelands Farm, Gotherington Lane, Bishop’s Cleeve, GL52 8EN

Pitches & Changing Rooms - S106 Provided On Site

10/01005/OUT

Homelands Farm, Gotherington Lane, Bishop’s Cleeve, GL52 8EN

POS MUGA - S106 Provided On Site

10/01005/OUT

Homelands Farm, Gotherington Lane, Bishop’s Cleeve, GL52 8EN

POS LEAP - S106 Provided On Site

10/01005/OUT

Homelands Farm, Gotherington Lane, Bishop’s Cleeve, GL52 8EN

POS LEAP - S106 Provided On Site

10/01005/OUT

Homelands Farm, Gotherington Lane, Bishop’s Cleeve, GL52 8EN

POS LEAP - S106 Provided On Site

10/01005/OUT

Homelands Farm, Gotherington Lane, Bishop’s Cleeve, GL52 8EN

S106 Miscellaneous - Youth Shelter

10/01005/OUT

Homelands Farm, Gotherington Lane, Bishop’s Cleeve, GL52 8EN

Community Centre - to be provided on site – discussions ongoing

15/01177/FUL

Adjacent, 74 Evesham Road, Bishop’s Cleeve, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire

AH - Units On Site

15/01177/FUL

Adjacent, 74 Evesham Road, Bishop’s Cleeve, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire

POS - S106 Provided On Site

15/01177/FUL

Adjacent, 74 Evesham Road, Bishop’s Cleeve, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire

Play Facilities - S106 Provided On Site

15/01177/FUL

Adjacent, 74 Evesham Road, Bishop’s Cleeve, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire

POS - Transfer of Land

10/01216/OUT

Cleevelands, Evesham Road, Bishop’s Cleeve

AH - Units On Site

10/01216/OUT

Cleevelands, Evesham Road, Bishop’s Cleeve

POS - S106 Provided On Site

10/01216/OUT

Cleevelands, Evesham Road, Bishop’s Cleeve

POS LEAP - S106 Provided On Site

10/01216/OUT

Cleevelands, Evesham Road, Bishop’s Cleeve

POS LEAP - S106 Provided On Site

10/01216/OUT

Cleevelands, Evesham Road, Bishop’s Cleeve

POS LEAP - S106 Provided On Site

10/01216/OUT

Cleevelands, Evesham Road, Bishop’s Cleeve

POS MUGA - S106 Provided On Site

10/01216/OUT

Cleevelands, Evesham Road, Bishop’s Cleeve

Pitches & Changing Rooms - S106 Provided On Site

10/01216/OUT

Cleevelands, Evesham Road, Bishop’s Cleeve

Community Centre – to be  provided on site – discussions ongoing

10/01216/OUT

Cleevelands, Evesham Road, Bishop’s Cleeve

Smart Water - S106 Provision

10/01216/OUT

Cleevelands, Evesham Road, Bishop’s Cleeve

Ecology/Wildlife - S106 On Site Provision

18/00249/OUT

Land At Stoke Road, Bishop’s Cleeve, GL52 7DG

AH - Units On Site

18/00249/OUT

Land At Stoke Road, Bishop’s Cleeve, GL52 7DG

POS- S106 Provided On Site

18/00249/OUT

Land At Stoke Road, Bishop’s Cleeve, GL52 7DG

Play Facilities - S106 Provided On Site

14/01233/FUL

Part Parcel 7346, Millham House, Evesham Road, Bishop’s Cleeve, Cheltenham

AH - Units on Site

17/00449/OUT

Local Centre Plots 7 And 8, Cleevelands

DOV in progress

Question 2:

How many outstanding Section 106 commitments are there across the Borough?

Answer 2:

The monitoring of Section 106 Agreements has been highlighted as an important issue for the Council and one that I have been championing. Officers will continue to work with the Lead Member to improve processes and monitoring systems. Exacom, a new computer system, has been acquired to assist in the management, administration, monitoring and co-ordination of Section 106 Agreements and sums. A dedicated temporary officer is to be appointed to input all the historical and current 106 Agreements onto the new system. This will allow all S106 Agreements to be reviewed. It is anticipated that this work will take approximately six months to complete.

26.2          The Mayor invited supplementary questions. The Member asked the following and the answers were provided by the Head of Development Services:

                 Question:

The Councillor had hoped for detailed conversations between Tewkesbury Borough Council and the County Council regarding school provision in Bishop’s Cleeve, he understood the school was due to open by 2023 but things had still not moved forward. What will the Borough Council do to ensure it receives a detailed update on the Bishop’s Cleeve school and on other schools in the Borough as this was not the only school that Councillors had been concerned about.

                 Answer:

                 The Head of Development Services indicated that she would provide a written response following the meeting.

                 Question:

What are the trigger points for the S106 Agreements?

Answer:

                 The Head of Development Services indicated that she would provide a written response following the meeting.

                 Question:

When will the work to establish the number of outstanding S106 Agreements be completed?

                 Answer:

                 The Head of Development Services indicated that she would provide a written response following the meeting.

26.3          The following questions had been received from Councillor Munro to the Lead Member for Finance and Asset Management. The answers were given by the Lead Member for Finance and Asset Management, Councillor Vines, but were taken as read without discussion.

Cleeve Common is one of Tewkesbury Borough Council’s best open spaces and is extensively used by residents of both Tewkesbury Borough and Cheltenham Borough. It has been a lifeline during the pandemic for local residents. The recent decisions made by the Council’s Executive Committee have caused a lot of consternation on social media which as a local Councillor I was not able to counter as I had not been party to the decisions made at the meeting on 26 August.

I have the following questions:

Question 1:

What assurances can the Council give local residents that the loss of the historic golf club, and income it provides, will not affect the standard of maintenance of the Common? The rent is understood to be about 20% of the Cleeve Conservators (who maintain the Common) income and they have indicated on social media that they will not be able to maintain the Common to current standards. Did the Council specifically work with the Conservators to understand their income streams to be able to understand the implications of the income loss and how this can be made good.

Answer 1:

The Council has a good relationship with Cleeve Common Trust and Officers have maintained a dialogue with Trustees over the last 18 months regarding the possibility of the Council being forced to exercise a break clause in its licence for the use of the Common for the provision of golf. This position was crystallised this year following notice being served by the Council’s golf tenant and the break clause for the Common expiring in September. A decision to exercise the break clause was made in recognition of the Council’s extremely difficult financial position and following confirmation from an independent industry expert of the financial unviability of the current provision.

It was understood from previous discussions with the Trust that the loss of licence income could be offset by grants that were available from various sources to manage the Common as common land rather than it being used for golf. It is not known by Officers whether those sources of funding are still available following recent events and with the forthcoming withdrawal from the European Union.

Regardless of the grant funding position, the Council maintains a good relationship with the Trust and Officers are working alongside it to investigate possible options for the continuation of golf on the Common without the Council’s exposure to the financial risks and liabilities associated with direct golf provision by the Council. Officers are currently in confidential negotiations with a number of interested parties which could result in the continued provision of golf and would maintain income levels for the Trust.

Question 2:

In terms of the clubhouse building, which is scheduled to be demolished as soon as possible after 31 March 2021, what is the timeline for a business case for a replacement facility and how does the Council plan to consult with local residents to establish what people would like to see. Has the Council contacted local clubs that use the Common and clubhouse to see how the changes will affect them? Is the Council considering working with partner organisations, such as Cheltenham Borough Council, to see if there is scope for joint initiatives for any new facility?

Answer 2:

Should discussions with interested parties fail to materialise into a viable solution for the use of the clubhouse to support a third-party provision of golf, Officers will review options being put forward by other interested parties for alternative uses. All potential uses will need to ensure continued community use of the asset and remove the Council from the financial liabilities associated with the current provision and the asset itself.

Should no viable proposition be found, Officers will need to move forward with plans for the demolition of the building and the provision of parking facilities. The option of providing replacement facilities will be considered in 2021 and, depending on the viability of any business case, Officers will then develop a communications and consultation plan to engage the community.

Officers have spoken to the golf club about its position with regards to the licence agreement and the affect it will have on that club. No other casual users of the premises have currently been consulted.

Officers are currently working with Cleeve Common Trust and interested parties to find potential solutions. No contact has been made with Cheltenham Borough Council, but the question can be asked of them if they wish to invest in community facilities outside of their Borough boundary, should Members wish that question to be raised.

Question 3:

In the short term, the clubhouse provides the only public toilet facility on Cleeve Hill. The importance of public toilets both for public health and for enabling residents to enjoy the open space cannot be overstressed. What provision does the Council plan to make?

Answer 3:

The provision of public toilets is not a service that the Borough Council delivers in any part of the Borough. Public toilets, where they do exist, are now provided at a Parish level. Should the Council demolish the current facility, it will engage with the local Parish Council about the possibility of re-provision.

Question 4:

What support is being given to employees affected by the closure of the clubhouse?

Answer 4:

Responsibility for the employee’s rests with the current employer, the Share Club Ltd. Officers will, however, seek to provide indirect help and advice where it can. It will also seek to ensure that TUPE requirements between employers, where applicable, are met should that opportunity arise.

Question 5:

How will the Council secure the car park at night to ensure it does not attract anti-social behaviour?

Answer 5:

Officers will look at a range of measures including height barriers, lockable gates and CCTV. The consideration of anti-social behaviour will need to be made if the Council wishes to see the re-provision of public toilets on site.

Question 6:

The decisions made at the Executive Committee are of interest to the public and there has been a lot of disquiet about what is happening and the lack of public scrutiny. Please can you advise who made the decision to commission a report on the golf club, what the cost was, and set out Member involvement in the issue prior to the Executive Committee on 26 August. Please can you explain why this was not an issue that full Council was asked to consider.

Answer 6:

The decision to commission an independent report by an industry expert was made by the Head of Finance and Asset Management in order to give Members of the Executive Committee an independent view on the viability of the current golf provision when considering whether to continue with the licence for the Common. Without this viewpoint it would have been difficult for Members to fully consider the financial implications for the Council.

The report cost £3,650.

The Members of the Executive Committee were briefed about the golf club at informal Exec/CLT meetings on 26 June and 13 August 2020.

In accordance with the Constitution, the decision was made by the Executive Committee as this is not a matter reserved to Council.

26.4          The Mayor invited supplementary questions. The Member asked the following and the answers were provided by the Head of Finance and Asset Management:

                 Question:

The Member questioned whether there was assurance that the finances were available for Cleeve Common Trust to maintain the Common to its current high standards; whether Officers had undertaken detailed discussions about that; and whether the shortfall had been spelt out to the Executive Committee when it had considered the issue.

                 Answer:

                 The Head of Finance and Asset Management explained that several discussions had taken place with the Trust about licences and finances – initially the Council had been led to believe funding was available through grants - but the Trust had not provided any confirmation on that to date. The team was working with the Cleeve Common Trust looking at sources of funding as well as potential other licensees for the land. Within the report to the Executive Committee, it had been stated that £25,000 was no longer payable to the Trust so he could confirm that Members had been advised of the shortfall.

                 Question:

                 The Member was pleased to see the Council was discussing the continuation of golf on the Common but questioned whether those could come to fruition by the end of March.

                 Answer:

                 The Head of Finance and Asset Management explained that there were no exact timescales at the moment but informal exploratory conversations had been held and, as negotiations developed, timescales would be established; he was hopeful to bring the information back to Members as soon as possible.

                 Question:

                 The Member was concerned that the decisions had been made ‘behind closed doors’ and questioned how the Council would keep Members updated on progress, negotiations with golf clubs and whether the Council would be involved in the decisions moving forward.

                 Answer:

                 The Head of Finance and Asset Management confirmed that reports would be brought forward as necessary in line with the Council’s Constitution. They would be confidential depending on the decisions to be made and the information contained within the reports.

26.5          The following question had been received from Councillor Munro to the Lead Member for Built Environment. The answer was given by the Lead Member for Built Environment, Councillor Gore, but was taken as read without discussion.

Question 1:

The plan is for the Grangefield to be seeded as a wildflower meadow, originally in autumn 2019, then spring 2020, and now autumn 2020. Please can the Council advise of the project timetable for the works due to happen this autumn, when it expects the wildflower seeding to take place and how it will communicate its plan to local residents?

Answer 1:

The Grangefield project was based on biodiversity principles and this was the basis upon which the grant for the scheme was awarded. This was to enable the creation of a space where nature can thrive and evolving landscape can change, which in turn requires a very different form of management and therefore the usual principle of a detailed management plan is not in place.

Staff resource issues have unfortunately delayed this work; however, I can advise that Officers recently met at the Grangefield to discuss future works on site and a plan of action for the next six months is now under development. A contractor will be engaged to plant the seeds in time for the next growing season. Once the contractor has been appointed, and we have a detailed work programme, this will be promoted on the Council’s website, social media, local school and signage on site.

26.6          The Mayor invited supplementary questions. The Member asked the following and the answer was provided by the Head of Development Services:

                 Question:

When will the plan be completed and available to Members and can confirmation be given whether the seeds will be sown this autumn or next spring as it was unclear what is meant by the ‘next growing season’?

                 Answer:

                 The Head of Development Services indicated that she would provide a written response following the meeting.