Stroud District Council AGM REPORT

At SDC the conservatives no longer have a majority to be in control of the Council administration.

Conservatives 21

Labour 16

Lib Dems 6

Greens 5

The Conservative leader resigned to make a dignified transition to a three party administration of Liberal Democrats, Labour and Greens. Geoff Wheeler (Labour) was voted in as leader. We formed an Executive.

I am now on the Executive as the Executive Member for Community Services.

Policy areas:

I am looking at a review of the Subscription Rooms which was without a manager for nearly a year. We need to make this building a hub and generate money for its upkeep. It no longer has the air of a Regency building. A new manager has done wonders with promotion of activities, having reduced the subsidy of £250,000.

I oversee inside The Museum in the Park and Stratford Park Leisure Centre and the grounds outside. I met with the judges for Stroud in Bloom at the Museum before they judged Stratford Park and the town of Stroud. The new contract for the Leisure Centre is going well and John and I went for a morning to the ‘Generation Games’ where we tried Archery and I tried to hit a hockey ball. This was a good opportunity to see the Astroturf.

I have been briefed by the chief officers on the wide range of issues affecting the Council. Litter, fly tipping, the commons, cemeteries, and grass cutting are included in Public Spaces. Licencing includes The Gambling Act, the licencing of 22 various activities including Zoos, Kennels, Caravans and Camping, cooling towers, taxis and tattooists and street trading.

Joint Use Sports Centres: There are 3 in the District at Thomas Keble, Maiden Head and Katharine Lady Berkeley’s School. I presented a paper to Executive following the 2nd trance of the review. The 1st part of the review included the handing back of the Wotton Swimming Pool. We resolved not to hand back the Joint Use Sports Centres and to update on the financial position in 12 months’ time with the objective of increasing site usage, reducing operational costs and reducing the subsidy per user. No of the schools are ready to have them given back whilst they sites are still running at a loss.

The Youth Work Strategy: £150,000 over 3 years has been given by the District Council to implement a Strategy, which will help to build an infrastructure to enable public and voluntary sector organisations to work in partnership on youth work provision and reduce inequality. Three youth workers working on contracts will provide at least 5 hours of youth support per week in specific localities, working in unison with universal youth work providers in each area. There is a need for back up, as we discovered in Wotton, when we contracted 2 youth workers. There will be help for Youth Forums and a budget will provide related activities budget will provide for. The Youth Council will be able to develop with training programmes. Networks across the district will be set up and become a hub for advice, support on policy and practice. There will be a training and development budget for the collective workforce, including a bursary system for young people who want to train as locally qualified youth workers.

Stratford Park: The Stratford Park Grounds Maintenance Contract has to be renewed and is to go out to tender. Carlos Novlos is working on this working on this. The current contract is for £210,000. The new contract will start on 1st December.

Subscription Rooms: We are looking at the options for the future of the Subscription Rooms. It costs a quarter of a million pounds to run. This is divided up into corporate costs, salaries, maintenance of the building, and a budget to run activities.

Grants: We are looking at grants and have to decide whether to cut or to increase certain grants such as CAB, who are under great pressure with benefits and debt. In the next financial year there will be a complete review, with new criteria for awarding grants

Parking: I presented a parking review to Executive. GCC from 1st April will be contracting out ON street parking. Off street parking will still be dealt with by SDC officers. The back office work (parking tickets) has been dealt with by Cotswold District Council, but in the future the work will be done in house at SDC and this will be a saving of £32,000.

New Recycling Service: The new service has achieved the 30% recycling target and continues to be around 31%. Complaints and resident queries are now lower than before the scheme was introduced. There are actual savings to the Council of £70,000 for 2012/13 and predicted £245,000 for 2014/15.

Tree management: A new survey took place in January 2013 (trees in amenity areas only). There are budget pressures around tree maintenance, hence an addition £15,000 has been put into the budget. Public spaces are very aware of the disease affecting ash trees.

Public Toilets: There is to be a review of toilets in Dursley. The toilets in Castle Street car park are to be demolished and thus releasing 4 more parking spaces. There are now toilets in Sainsbury’s, the swimming pool and 400 yards away in May Lane by the Old Spot. The latter toilets are to be refurbished. The cost of this is in the region of £60,000. There will be a pay back of £11,000 per year.

Cllr. June Cordwell