Agenda and minutes
Venue: Council Chamber, Swale House, East Street, Sittingbourne, ME10 3HT. View directions
Contact: Democratic Services, 01795 417330 Senior Democratic Services Officer
Emergency 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 emergency evacuation procedure.
To approve the Minutes of the Meeting held on 6 November 2018 (Minute Nos. 305 - 311) as a correct record. Link to Minutes
The Minutes of the Meeting held on 6 November 2018 (Minute Nos. 305 – 311) 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 updated Tree Policy.
The Cabinet Member for Environment and Rural Affairs, the Leisure and Technical Manager and the Greenspaces Manager have been invited to attend for this item.
The Chairman welcomed the Cabinet Member for Environment and Rural Affairs, the Leisure and Technical Manager and the Greenspaces Manager to the meeting.
The Cabinet Member for Environment and Rural Affairs invited Members to give feedback on the Tree Policy, which had last been reviewed in 2015.
Members made a number of comments on the policy, and the Cabinet Member and officers answered Members’ questions. A summary of the feedback and comments is set out below:
· Correct typographical error to show the Draft Policy was for 2019 – 2023.
· The intention was for more comprehensive information to be provided on the website for the general public.
· Officers were asked to re-draft the document to be more user-friendly for residents, rather than a corporate document, and to cover additional areas such as the future management of woodlands and involvement of community groups; new developments and expectations, to make it clearer what would be acceptable; and to include a definition of ‘property’ as it was not clear if this included fences.
· Officers were asked to clarify how the public should inform the Council of any problems.
· Members queried the frequency of inspections, and the meaning of the wording ‘where appropriate’ in terms of notifying Ward Members and Parish Councils, as some Members considered that they should be notified in any event.
· Officers were asked to review the wording on page 13 under ‘Tree Touching Building’ which read ‘it is advised to contact the Council to arrange for removal of the nuisance’.
· Officers were asked to review the wording on page 14 under ‘Trees dropping fruit/seeds’ regarding the term ‘unsupervised children’ and to consider whether this should include reference to animals such as dogs and horses.
· Officers were asked to review the wording on page 15 under ‘Trees and TV Signal’ to consider if a tree not being managed had caused a problem with the TV signal.
· Officers were asked to review the wording on page 15 under ‘Tree roots – in garden/causing damage’ to consider potential problems where gardens had artificial grass.
· Officers were asked to consider the section regarding replanting, to reflect that two trees should be planted for every tree that was removed, and that this might not be in the same area as the tree that had been removed.
There was some discussion regarding the frequency of inspections of trees, and the circumstances when Ward Members and Parish Councils would be notified of any issues. Members were also advised of the resources available to look after the 4,700 trees managed by the Council.
Further discussion ensued, and Officers were asked to consider the following feedback when reviewing the policy:
· To clarify the circumstances when Ward Members and Parish Councils would be notified of any issues relating to Council-managed trees in their area.
· To include the names of all seven sites in section two of the policy.
· To review the wording of section 10 on replanting, to reflect that trees removed could be replaced with ‘more appropriate species’ of trees; ... view the full minutes text for item 356.
The Committee is asked to consider a further iteration of the Council’s new Corporate Plan covering the period 2019/2022.
The Leader and the Head of Policy, Communication and Customer Services have been invited to attend for this item.
Corporate Plan Consultation Draft added on 22 November 2018.
The Chairman welcomed the Leader and the Head of Policy, Communication and Customer Services to the meeting.
The Leader advised that this was the second time that the draft Corporate Plan had been considered by the Committee, referring to the way it had been drafted to reflect feedback and the opportunity given to Group Leaders and Parish/Town Councils to discuss the draft. The document was currently out for consultation, and he welcomed views from the Committee which would be considered together with other responses received.
A discussion ensued regarding the document, where some Members questioned whether now was the right time for a Corporate Plan to be approved, given the local elections in May 2019, and whether some of the content was presumptuous, referring in particular to Objective 2.2.
The Leader advised that the Corporate Plan was a living document and could be revisited after the elections in May 2019 if the new Council wished to do so.
General comments were made as follows:
· Priority 1 – 1.6 – whether the words ‘embrace opportunities’ were the right words.
· Priority 2 – 2.2 – whether there should be mention of traffic problems.
· Priority 2 – 2.4 – whether the word ‘pragmatic’ was the right word to use, and whether ‘innovative’ would be more suitable.
· Priority 3 – 3.1 – whether this wording should be reviewed.
· Priority 3 – 3.2 – whether the word ‘experiment’ was the right word to use; suggestions such as ‘pilot’ or ‘trial’ were made.
· Priority 3 – 3.5 – whether the term ‘second to none’ was the right term to use and how it could be measured.
· Whether reference should be made to the heritage strategy, as well as the tourism strategy.
The Leader welcomed the suggestions for revised wording, and clarified the position regarding reducing the dependency on government-controlled funding sources.
In response to questions, the Head of Policy, Communications and Customer Services clarified that the document was a strategic steer over the life of the plan. He referred to the annual reports which were based on the Corporate Plan and he was looking at ways to coordinate progress on the objectives.
Councillor Mike Baldock proposed and Councillor Monique Bonney seconded that the Cabinet be asked to defer approval of the Corporate Plan until June 2019. This was put to the vote but not supported.
The Chairman thanked the Leader and the Head of Policy, Communications and Customer Service for attending the meeting.
The Committee is asked to note the Committee’s Work Programme (attached) for the remainder of the year.
The Policy and Performance Officer introduced the work programme which set out the items due to be considered by the Committee. It was noted that the Tree Policy would also be considered at the January 2019 meeting.