Agenda and minutes
Venue: Council Chamber, - Swale House. View directions
Contact: Democratic Services, 01795 417330 Senior Democratic Services Officer
Fire Evacuation Procedure
The Chairman will advise the meeting of the evacuation procedures to follow in the event of an emergency. This is particularly important for visitors and members of the public who will be unfamiliar with the building and procedures.
The Chairman will inform the meeting whether there is a planned evacuation drill due to take place, what the alarm sounds like (i.e. ringing bells), where the closest emergency exit route is, and where the second closest emergency exit route is, in the event that the closest exit or route is blocked.
The Chairman will inform the meeting that:
(a) in the event of the alarm sounding, everybody must leave the building via the nearest safe available exit and gather at the Assembly points at the far side of the Car Park; and
(b) the lifts must not be used in the event of an evacuation.
Any officers present at the meeting will aid with the evacuation.
It is important that the Chairman is informed of any person attending who is disabled or unable to use the stairs, so that suitable arrangements may be made in the event of an emergency.
The Chairman drew attention to the fire evacuation procedure.
To approve the Minutes of the Meeting held on 17 January 2018 (Minute Nos. 438 - 445) as a correct record.
The Minutes of the Meeting held on 17 January 2018 (Minute Nos. 438 – 445) were taken as read, approved and signed by the Chairman as a correct record.
Declarations of Interest
Councillors should not act or take decisions in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves or their spouse, civil partner or person with whom they are living with as a spouse or civil partner. They must declare and resolve any interests and relationships.
The Chairman will ask Members if they have any interests to declare in respect of items on this agenda, under the following headings:
(a) Disclosable Pecuniary Interests (DPI) under the Localism Act 2011. The nature as well as the existence of any such interest must be declared. After declaring a DPI, the Member must leave the meeting and not take part in the discussion or vote. This applies even if there is provision for public speaking.
(b) Disclosable Non Pecuniary (DNPI) under the Code of Conduct adopted by the Council in May 2012. The nature as well as the existence of any such interest must be declared. After declaring a DNPI interest, the Member may stay, speak and vote on the matter.
(c) Where it is possible that a fair-minded and informed observer, having considered the facts would conclude that there was a real possibility that the Member might be predetermined or biased the Member should declare their predetermination or bias and then leave the room while that item is considered.
Advice to Members: If any Councillor has any doubt about the existence or nature of any DPI or DNPI which he/she may have in any item on this agenda, he/she should seek advice from the Monitoring Officer, the Head of Legal or from other Solicitors in Legal Services as early as possible, and in advance of the Meeting.
No interests were declared.
The Committee is asked to consider the Tenant Strategy Refresh.
The Cabinet Member for Housing and Wellbeing and the Strategic Housing and Health Manager have been invited to attend for this item.
The Chairman welcomed the Cabinet Member for Housing and Wellbeing and the Strategic Housing and Health Manager to the meeting.
The Cabinet Member for Housing and Wellbeing introduced the report which set-out the background to the Refreshed Tenancy Strategy, and the eight week consultation process. He advised that there were very few changes, and these included a few statistics. Local Authorities were required to have a tenancy strategy, even if they had no housing stock. The strategy enabled Swale Borough Council (SBC) to have a monitoring role in relation to the housing associations who had the housing stock. The Cabinet Member welcomed comments from Members on the refreshed strategy.
In response to a question, the Strategic Housing and Health Manager explained that the changes to the strategy were mainly data updates, particularly changes to rent levels. She drew Members’ attention to paragraph 10.1 in the Tenancy Strategy document which outlined the new Government grant programme, the Shared Ownership Affordable Homes Programme 2016-21 (SOAHP) which enabled Registered Providers (RP) to charge rents of up 80% of local market rents. She also drew attention to paragraph 11.2.4 which required RPs to reduce social housing rents by 1% a year for four years.
In response to a question on the circumstances that RPs were required to grant lifetime tenancies to households whose circumstances were unlikely to change over time, the Strategic Housing and Health Manager explained that this would include anyone who had extra vulnerabilities or mobility issues, and could not sustain a tenancy on the open market. In response to a further question on whether in the situation of a lifetime tenancy, one person died, she explained that this was down to the individual housing association. They had individual tenancy policies, but generally, the tenancy would move to the other person if succession applied. If they were under-occupying they could apply to the Housing Register and bid on smaller homes when they became available. The person would not be evicted or made homeless.
A Member considered the wording in paragraph 7.2.1 in relation to two year tenancies only being issued in ‘exceptional circumstances’ was not strong enough, and asked what exceptional circumstances might be. He also asked whether further checks were made on any additional income coming into the household (paragraph 7.6.2). The Strategic Housing and Health Manager explained that a tenant could get a two or five-year fixed term tenancy, or a two-year which could be reviewed. This was carried out in a managed way, and was down to the individual housing associations. The standard tenancy was five-year fixed term. She also explained that with regard to income, a nominated person in the household would be verified, but if an income was not declared, this was difficult to follow-up.
A Member referred to the 1% decrease in rent over four years, and whether there was any scope for rent to increase in relation to changes in the open market, and whether these costs were passed on and the impact on viability. ... view the full minutes text for item 493.
The Committee is asked to consider the Revised Open Spaces/Play Strategy.
The Cabinet Member for Environment and Rural Affairs, the Head of Commissioning and Customer Contact and the Leisure and Technical Services Manager have been invited to attend for this item.
The Chairman welcomed the Head of Commissioning and Customer Contact, the Leisure and Technical Services Manager, and the Greenspaces Manager to the meeting.
The Head of Commissioning and Customer Contact introduced the report which set out the Open Spaces and Play Strategy 2017-22 and the processes undertaken to arrive at the final draft and what happened next. He outlined the following: a suggestion that the timeframe of the Strategy be changed to 2018-23; that they had tried to combine technical evidence in the Strategy so that it was more streamlined; the Strategy brought the Play Areas and Open Spaces together in one document; the consultation commenced on 12 March 2018 and would be circulated to residents, partner organisations and regional organisations; and the Strategy would be considered at Cabinet on 30 May 2018 for formal adoption. The Head of Commissioning and Customer Contact explained that the Strategy was based on technical assessments made in 2016/17, and was evidence-based in relation to the Local Plan. He stated that it was a move away from previous strategies, as the Council was seeing a decrease in resources, together with a greater demand on the Council. He considered it to be a fundamental policy change.
The Chairman invited consideration and questions from the Committee and suggested the document be split into sections for discussion.
The Report, pages 19 – 24
The following points were raised:
· The Strategy was linked to other departments at SBC in relation to Section 106 agreements and Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), and this would dictate how it went forward;
· Welcomed decision to not have a play area on every new development;
· Welcomed £100,000 investment per year for five years on other existing open spaces as noted in paragraph 2.8; and
· Needed to remember and consider small sites as well.
A Member asked how funding was going to be achieved for this. The Head of Commissioning and Customer Contact stated that there were two elements, either Section 106 monies or CIL. The Council had not adopted the CIL approach, so this left the Section 106 option. He explained that the date of 2017-22 fell in-line with the Local Plan process, so the targets and demands were running together. He added that it was not possible to maintain all the present and potential play areas if there was one on each development site. The same amount of funding would be requested, so there would be quality instead of quantity.
A Member asked if the consultant’s report had been made public yet. The Head of Commissioning and Customer Contact advised that it was not public at the moment as the process was not at that stage yet, and the report would be used to enable a set of principles to be signed-up to. It provided technical guidance and would be referred to on how decisions had been made.
The Head of Commissioning and Customer Contact outlined the process put in place to fund open spaces which included working on a formula based on ... view the full minutes text for item 494.
The Committee is asked to review and discuss the Committee’s Work Programme (attached) for the remainder of the year.
The Policy and Performance Officer drew attention to the updated (tabled) work programme and advised that together with the new meeting on 10 April 2018, an additional meeting would also be required. The items for these two meetings included:
· Digital Strategy
· Regeneration Strategy
· Swale Strategic Air Quality Action Plan 2018-22
· Debt Recovery and Discretionary Housing Payment policies.
(1) That the Work Programme be noted.