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 21 February 2017 (Minute Nos. 1206 - 1210) as a correct record.
The Minutes of the Meeting held on 21 February 2017 (Minute Nos. 1206 – 1210) 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.
Change to the Order of Business
The Committee agreed to a change in the order of business as minuted.
Urgent Item - Council Tax Support Scheme 2018/19
The Chairman welcomed the Cabinet Member for Finance and Performance and the Revenue and Benefits Manager (Technical and Financial) to the meeting.
The Cabinet Member for Performance and Finance introduced the report which noted the outcome of the public consultation on proposed changes to the current Council Tax Support Scheme (CTS), and the scheme would be considered by Full Council before 31 January 2018. The CTS scheme was introduced in April 2013. The percentage collected in 2016/17 was 85% and for 2017/18, 50% had been collected to-date. The Cabinet Member stated the importance of reducing overall costs of the scheme but ensuring it was done fairly, and that Officers had also looked at what other Kent districts were providing.
The Revenue and Benefits Manager reminded Members that in 2016/17, 11 options had been looked at, nine of which had been approved by the Council. She drew attention to Table 3 on page 4 of the Committee report which set out six options to change CTS for 2018/19, she also drew attention to Appendix I of the Committee report which gave an overview of the responses from the public consultation on the six options.
In response to questions from a Member, the Revenue and Benefits Manager stated that they were proposing to restrict the level of CTS to Band D and capital limit to £10,000. She explained that 13,000 residents had been consulted and a good response had been received. The Revenue and Benefits Manager referred to Option 2 and considered that implementing a limit to £10,000 would not affect collection rates.
The Cabinet Member for Finance and Performance stated that at Medway Council the amount of support for applicants was 35% but that this was the highest in Kent. He considered that if the Council were to go above 25% this would lead to problems collecting Council Tax.
In response to queries from a Member, the Revenue and Benefits Manager reported that the 52.5% collected so far this year was down 0.2% from the same period last year. She confirmed that anybody could respond to the consultation, not just claimants, and apart from the 13,000 people emailed, the consultation had also been added to Facebook, Twitter and included in The “Inside Swale” residents magazine.
A Member raised concern that reducing the level of support to 75% would make it difficult for people to manage financially. He was also concerned that most of those who had responded to the survey were not claimants and maybe of the view that people should not claim at all. The member considered that the Council should maintain at 20% maximum level of support, and that the £16,000 capital limit.
In response to a query from a Member, the Revenue and Benefits Manager reported that most Kent Authorities had set their level of support at 80% or higher, Medway was 65% and Shepway was 75%.
A Member noted that it stated that 48% of people agreed this option on page 1 of the Appendix, however on ... view the full minutes text for item 299.
The Committee is asked to consider the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Policy (Report to-follow).
The Cabinet Member for Safer Families and Communities, Chairman of General Licensing Committee, the Resilience and Licensing Officer and the Licensing Officer have been invited to attend for this item.
Report published 18 October 2017.
The Chairman welcomed the Cabinet Member for Safer Families and Communities, the Chairman of the General Licensing Committee (GLC), the Resilience and Licensing Manager and the Licensing Officer to the meeting.
The Cabinet Member for Safer Families and Communities introduced the report which provided Members with information and guidance on a new draft ‘Statement of Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Policy’ for comments from Members prior to public consultation. He welcomed the opportunity for the Policy Development and Review Committee (PDRC) to consider the document and to provide sound advice for those constructing the policy. He hoped the policy would provide flexible, smooth and efficient online business working which worked for the Council and the taxi industry. The overriding objective of the policy was the need to ensure the safety of customers. He referred to the child exploitation issues that had occurred in places such as Rotherham which he stated must not be allowed to happen in Swale.
The Committee then considered the main points for the proposed changes to the draft Taxi Policy as set out in the Committee report, and made comments on those, as highlighted below:
Vehicles – page 8 of the draft policy
6 monthly Test
The Resilience and Licensing Officer reported that mileage and age of the vehicle would be included as part of the 6 monthly test.
In response to a query from a Member, the Licensing Officer advised that the team would be looking at proposing a mileage limit to be agreed but suggested of 150,000 upwards for Hackney Carriage Vehicles.
The Chairman of the GLC explained that currently vehicles were only required to undergo a 6 monthly test if they were five years old, this was being amended so vehicles were subject to a 6 monthly test, regardless of the age of the vehicle.
Members raised points which included: need to consult with operators to ensure the mileage levels were correct; to what extent would the Council be able to insist on requirements, such as ensuring vehicles carried a spare tyre?; and it was more important to ensure the vehicle was serviced regularly than how high the mileage was.
In response to queries from Members, the Licensing Officer explained that vehicles over five years old were subject to two tests per year, an MOT test and a compliance test. The compliance test was more extensive than an MOT and issues that would be considered as advisory on an MOT would be a fail under a compliance test. Moving forward, the Certificates of Compliance would be sent from the garage electronically to officers at Swale Borough Council (SBC).
The Chairman of the GLC advised that only a limited number of garages carried out Compliance Tests which gave the Council more control.
In response to a query from a Member, the Resilience and Licensing Manager stated that they would be looking to carry-out spot checks on compliance testing in the future.
Electric / Hybrid Type
The Licensing Officer explained that initially they would only ... view the full minutes text for item 300.
The Committee is asked to consider the Annual Report 2016/17 to Council.
The Policy and Performance Officer drew attention to the Annual Report 2016/17 to Council. He drew attention to an error in paragraph 3 of Appendix I, that the attendance should refer to the Policy Development and Review Committee, not Scrutiny Committee as stated.
The Policy and Performance Officer noted that there had not been much business in 2016/17 but hoped that this would improve for the current year. In response to a query from a Member, he explained that meetings had been cancelled due to the calling of the snap General Election and no policies coming forward for review, but extra meetings could be held later on in the year if necessary.
(1) That the draft Annual Report to Council (Appendix I) be agreed and submitted to Full Council for consideration.
The Committee is asked to consider the Work Programme 2017/18.
The Policy and Performance Officer introduced the report which set-out the Policies, Plans and Strategies due to be reviewed by the Committee during the coming year.
(1) That the schedule of Polices, Plans and Strategies due for review be noted.