Stroud District Councillors’ Report September 2019

Summary of SDC Wotton Ward Councillors’ Council meetings and local business.

SDC Matters

Strategic Director recruitment.

In line with the recommendations of the external Peer Challenge held earlier this year and the CEO’s aspirations to create a senior management structure capable of making SDC an ‘exemplar’ Council, the process of appointing 4 Strategic Directors continues. A good number of applications were received for the positions responsible for Place, People, Communities and Information Technology. The latter is for a 2-year fixed contract.

Following the initial applications process, a ‘long list’ of potential candidates was created, who were then interviewed either in person or by telephone. From this a ‘short list’ was reached and these were reviewed by the SDC selection panel (which includes Cllr Tucker) and the final candidates selected. Final interviews, including ‘discussions’ with captains of local industries and other external senior officers start on the 8th October and include a presentation/questions session to SDC members and officers, followed by a formal interview by the selection panel. Two appointments will be made w/b 7th October and two w/b 21 October. (Cllr Tucker)

Canal Restoration Phase 1b – Stonehouse to Saul.

A survey to provide insight into how and why residents use the canal corridor, including what would encourage them to use it more, has closed. A five-mile section of canal between Thrupp and Stonehouse has been restored, with the next phase of the project being to connect Stroud and Stonehouse to the nation’s inland waterway network. Together with the Cotswold Canals Trust, Stroud District Council received initial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund (now known as the Heritage Fund), of £842,000 development funding in 2018, prior to applying for a further £9 million to complete the project. 

Many suggestions were received from residents across the District and others, the information provided will be used to shape the next part of the canal restoration, from ‘The Ocean’ in Stonehouse, to Saul Junction. Preparation of the significant and wide-ranging input needed for the Lottery Fund application next February continues unabated. It is a condition of the application that all arrangements with landowners and for any land purchases are complete by then. However, should these not be forthcoming at that time, then having taken legal advice, SDC’s Strategy & Resources Committee agreed at its last meeting to authorise officers to realise the land through compulsory purchase powers. However, it is hoped that this will not be necessary and will only be used as a last resort. (Cllr Braun & Tucker)

Changes to Recycling rounds

Just a reminder that changes to waste and recycling collection rounds have been introduced to cater for the growth in properties across the district. This won’t affect the day that collections are made on but does mean that some existing collection times are changing with some now being collected much earlier in the morning. Where opportunities exist, all councillors are asked to remind residents to ensure their waste and recycling is put out by 6am to ensure there is no disruption to the service.

Dog fouling fine

Following resident complaints and discussions with District Councillors, Neighbourhood Wardens have recently been active in problem areas. Warning signs have been erected and ‘no poo’ signs have been sprayed on pavements. The number of reported incidents across the District have reduced following the recent heavy fines imposed at Cheltenham Magistrates’ Court on a Cam resident, where a total penalty of £1077 was imposed. You can report dog mess fouling on

Paws on Patrol’

Paws on Patrol’ is a crime prevention scheme where dog owners register to be the ‘eyes and ears’ for their communities whilst out walking their dogs.

Paws on Patrol scheme members simply provide the Council and the police with information which could help to make neighbourhoods safer, by being on the lookout for incidents such as:

Further information on this scheme can be found on the following link:

If you would like to become a Paws on Patrol member please complete the registration form and email it to or call 01453 754276. 

Community Services & Licencing Committee. (Cllr Ken Tucker) 5th September 2019.

Members received a verbal update from the Police and Crime Commissioner, which included crime statistics and the likely outcome of increased policing due to the increase in funding from central government. The 2019 report can be read at:

Members were pleased to note that the CS&L 2019-2020 Q1 budget outturn was mainly on track.

The Health & Wellbeing plan for 2019-2022 was presented by the H&W officer Emma Keating-Clark. This was a most excellent and informative presentation and worth viewing on:

Other updates were received from the Youth Service Task & Finish Group, the County Health and Overview Scrutiny Committee, Museum in the Park , Police and Crime Panel, Gfirst LEP - Visitor Economy/Tourism Business Group and from member Performance Monitoring

Meetings attended by Cllr Tucker:

2 Sept SDC Investment & Development Panel

2 Sept North Nibley Parish Council

5 Sept SDC Community Safety

5 Sept Community Services & Licencing Committee meeting

6 Sept GCC Community Workshop

9 Sept Alliance Chair & Leaders meeting

10 Sept SDC Finance Workshop

11 Sept Holidays!

24 Sept Wotton Memory Group

24 Sept Wotton Youth Partnership

25 Sept SDC Mobilisation Board meeting (new in-house Direct Labour Organisation)

26 Sept Alliance Group member meeting

30 Sept GCC presentation on MaiDen, a highly useful tool to review the following topics:

Deprivation, Economy, Environment, Equality & Diversity, Geography & Boundaries, Health and population as well as many others. This is ‘open information’ and can be accessed by all on the GCC website.

Environment Committee (Cllr George James) – Meeting held on 12th September 2019.

Environment Committee Budget

Full Council approved the General Fund Revenue budget for 2019/20 in February 2019 including budget proposals of the administration.

The latest budget for the Environment Committee, taking into account the adjustments for ‘carry forwards’, is £5.610m. The original Budget was £5.462m.

The monitoring position for the committee at 30 June 2019 shows a projected net overspend of £72k against the latest budget. The overall position on the General Fund will be considered by Strategy and Resources committee at their meeting in October 2019.

The out-turn position is mainly attributable to the major items with an explanation of the significant variances that have arisen (a significant variation is defined as being +/-£20,000 on each reporting line).

Chalford Design Statement

The Chalford Design Statement was produced under the initiative originally launched by the former Countryside Commission to encourage communities to identify local character and to set out design guidance at the local level. A Village Design Statement [VDS] is a practical tool to help influence decisions on local design. Prepared correctly, a VDS will provide a clear statement of the character of a particular village or locality against which planning applications may be assessed. It is not about whether development should take place (this is one of the purposes of both the current Adopted Stroud District Local Plan, but about how development should be undertaken so as to respect the sense of place and local identity.

Local people in villages and smaller more dispersed rural communities are well placed to identify local character and distinctiveness, described in terms of the landscape setting of their villages, the pattern and shape of the settlements, and the nature of buildings, spaces, landmarks and special features.

At the national scale Government continues to seek to devolve powers to local councils and neighbourhoods thereby giving local communities influence and a voice in making planning decisions. This design statement is about letting the people who know and care for an area to influence development within it. The adopted Local Plan contains several policies which refer to Neighbourhood Development Plans, Design Statements and accompanying evidence. In particular Core Policy 4 Place Making (CP4) explicitly refers to the use of design statements for the consideration of development proposals.

Meetings attended by Cllr James:

2 Sept North Nibley Parish Council meeting.

12 Sept Environment Committee

18 Sept KLBS Careers evening

30 Sept SDC Committee Chairs Training Workshop.

Housing Committee (Cllr Catherine Braun) - 10 September 2019.

Following the approval of planning permission by the Development Control Committee, for 8 new affordable homes for rent on the Gloucester Street/Bradley Street site in Wotton, the Housing Committee agreed the proposal for SDC to undertake the development, as part of its new programme of council house building. Councillors emphasised the importance of consideration for the wellbeing of the current tenants and were given assurance that they will receive a high level of support from SDC to relocate (as well as the statutory home loss payment), and if they wish, to return to a new home on the site when the scheme is finished. The programme of work would not be scheduled immediately in order to allow further time for the tenants to find a new council property in the local area which is suitable for them. New build properties on the site will be built to a high standard, to ensure reduced heating bills and carbon impact.  

The Committee also discussed the latest Budget Monitoring Report. We noted that there was an underspend on the Tanners Piece site in Nailsworth – where SDC has built 11 new independent living units for older people. This reflects a slightly lower build cost. The budget for new temporary accommodation for the homeless is not yet spent, due to delays in procuring the preferred site. (Report).

Other issues discussed and agreed were:

Further detail on these issues can be found on the Committee website (see link).

Green Infrastructure, Sport and Recreation Study

SDC has been working with a range of specialist consultants to examine current and projected needs for open space, green infrastructure, sport and recreation in Stroud District and has now published the findings (link). Recommendations relating to local facilities include a clubhouse and a second hockey pitch at Wotton Community Parc and floodlighting for Wotton RFC. Cllr Braun has shared the recommendations with WCSF and is following up with officers.

These recommendations will not result in direct financial support for the recommended projects, but inclusion within the study recommendations and future SDC strategy, should help the relevant organisations when they apply for future funding bids and in the allocation of funds via s106 and the Community Infrastructure Levy.

SDC commissioned the work recognising that healthy environments and well-being of communities require open space and associated facilities to be of an appropriate quantity, quality and location. Also, the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) requires local planning authorities to set out policies enabling communities to access high quality open spaces and opportunities for sport and recreation. The assessments generally use the clusters of Parishes and Towns established in the current Local Plan. The study outputs will be used to inform the Council’s Local Plan Review and the Council’s decision-making process up to 2040.

Separate reports were required because of the varied topic matter and differing methodologies of assessment involved. The executive summary conveys a broad strategy direction for the Local Plan Review to consider.

These are the principal study reports:

Stroud District Carbon Neutral 2030 Commitment

A new Carbon Neutral Officer is now in post at SDC. Rachel Brain will be working to secure funding and develop partnership working, focusing on Stroud District but also working with the County Council and beyond. The District is keen to support community-based action (working with Transition Stroud and local Community Climate Action Groups) as an important element of the CN 2030 strategy.

Meetings attended by Cllr Braun:

2 Sept North Nibley Parish Council

6 Sept Stroud District Action on Plastic meeting

6 Sept Meeting – SDC Housing Officers

10 Sept SDC Housing Committee meeting

12 Sept Stroud District Action on Plastic Steering Group meeting

16 Sept Dryleaze Residents Meeting

16 Sept Wotton Town Council meeting

17 Sept Greenway Group meeting

18 Sept Presentation of the findings of the Sports Open Spaces/Green Infrastructure studies

20 Sept Climate Strike, Stroud and Tree Planting at Ebley Mill

23 Sept Greenway Steering Group meeting

23 Sept Networking and Support for Community Climate Action Groups

26 Sept Community Climate Action Group public meeting for Wotton & surrounding areas