Agenda and minutes
Venue: Committee Room - Swale House. 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 outlined the emergency evacuation procedure.
To approve the Minutes of the Meeting held on 16 October 2019 (Minute Nos. 300 - 306) as a correct record.
The Minutes of the Meeting held on 16 October 2019 (Minutes Nos. 300 – 306) were taken as read, approved and signed by the Chairman as a correct record.
The Deputy Leader thanked Members of the Policy Development and Review Committee (PDRC) for their input at that meeting.
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 report of the Working Group.
The Chairman said that the report would be considered page by page and each recommendation discussed.
The Chairman invited the Deputy Leader to speak. The Deputy Leader thanked the Working Group for their work on the report.
A Member of the Working Group introduced the report. He outlined the recommendations (a) to (g). The Deputy Leader drew attention to recommendation (f) and said that it was the Committee’s role to consider the number of area committees per year. The Policy and Performance Officer explained the process for considering any amendments to the recommendations and explained that the Policy Development and Review Committee could only make recommendations to the Cabinet member with responsibility for the Constitutional review.
Pages 4 – 6 – Provisions for area committees, survey results, should the Council introduce area committees?
A Member drew attention to Appendix III on page 47 of the report and said there should be a full cost benefit carried out before a decision was made. He referred to the Special Responsibility Allowance granted to chairmen of the area committees, which would have to be agreed by the Remuneration Panel.
A Member said that under previous area committees, chairmen did not receive an allowance. The same Member had concerns about what activities would cease if there were higher direct staff costs, or increased demands on senior management resources as at 3.7 of the report.
In the discussion that followed it was acknowledged that the proposed area committees had delegated power to distribute funds and the Remuneration panel would need to be consulted.
A Member shared his concern about the impact that the introduction of the area committees would have on officers who already had a heavy workload and in teams where experienced officers had not been replaced. Other Members agreed that the cost benefit analysis had to be quantifiable.
In response to a Member’s question on how staff costs were calculated, the Policy and Performance Officer advised that the hourly rate costs were provided by Human Resources, and there were currently no senior staff costs included in the estimated costs.
Members made other points that included:
· The public would need to be fully aware of how area committees were funded;
· what was ‘public participation’ and how was it measured?;
· there should be a review after a year, to consider how much public interest there was;
· area committees were not just about public engagement;
· the public could still contribute and be effective without attending area committees;
· area committees could also be useful for engaging with parish and town councils in areas where they existed; and
· there was no purpose if the public did not attend as Ward Members could meet residents at any time, and there were other mechanisms already available such as ward surgeries.
A Member said that the previous Local Engagement Fora were ineffective. In response, a Member said that the proposal was for area committees, not public engagement fora. He said that the area committees could be set up to deal with ... view the full minutes text for item 371.