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 drew attention to the emergency evacuation procedure.
To approve the Minutes of the Meeting held on Wednesday 29 January 2020 (Minute Nos. 486 – 491) as a correct record.
The Minutes of the Meeting held on 29 January 2020 (Minute Nos. 486 – 491) 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 Chairman changed the order of business as minuted.
At this point a Member spoke about the Policy Development and Review Committee (PDRC) meeting held on 16 October 2019, when the Committee had been asked to consider Area Committees. He spoke about his disappointment that the report to Cabinet on 12 February 2020 did not reflect any of the suggestions put forward by the Committee. The Chairman noted the comments.
The Member also raised concern that he had only received the Climate Change and Ecological Emergency Action Plan report a few minutes before the meeting. He stated that this was unacceptable and he would not be able to consider it.
Councillor Lloyd Bowen moved the following motion: “That agenda item No. 5 (Climate Change and Ecological Emergency Action Plan) be deferred for consideration at a future PDRC meeting. This was seconded by Councillor Mike Dendor.
The Policy and Performance Officer stated that the report had been emailed to Committee Members on Monday 2 March 2020.
The Cabinet Member for Environment apologised that it had not been possible to publish the report with the agenda. He explained that the officer working on the report had been off sick for a month and an external consultant had been asked to produce the report. He welcomed the input of the Committee.
On being put to the vote the motion to defer the item was lost.
The Committee is asked to consider the Housing Allocations Policy.
The Cabinet Member for Housing, the Head of Housing, Economy and Community Services, the Housing Options Manager, and the Strategy and Enabling Officer have been invited to attend for this item.
The Chairman welcomed the Cabinet Member for Housing to the meeting and invited him to introduce the report.
The Cabinet Member stated that in Swale the demand for social housing was greater than the number of homes available, and the Allocations Policy set-out how social housing in the Borough was allocated. The current policy needed to be updated following a number of changes in Government legislation. He drew attention to Table 2 on page 7 of the report, which set-out the review of qualification criteria and the proposed recommendations.
The Head of Housing, Economy and Community introduced the Housing Options Manager and Policy and Performance Officer, both of whom had worked hard to produce the report. She stressed the importance of ensuring the policy was right as there was not much housing coming forward.
Members considered the report and the following points were made:
· Excellent report;
· slight concern that the recommendations could leave it open for other Local Authorities (LA) to re-house people in Swale;
· welcomed the reduction of residency to 2 years; and
· 2 year residency fair and simple but what would the implications be?;
In response to questions from Members, the Policy and Performance Officer stated that they did not record residency numbers and would need to look at a years worth of applications to be able to quantify this. The Housing Options Manager stated that reducing the residency to 2 years would help to reduce their workload.
A Member referred to Table 3 (Residency and Local Connection Criteria) on page 8 of the report, and asked how a person fleeing domestic abuse and staying with family, rather than in a refuge would qualify? The Policy and Performance Officer explained that they would not, and would need to register as homeless and go through the correct process.
In response to a query from a Member, the Policy and Performance Officer reported that with regard to prison release cases, if they had been resident in Swale and were located in a prison outside of the area, they would be considered for housing. The Head of Housing, Economy and Community explained that prison release was a complex issue and it was important that they were settled near family and friends to ensure they had a support network following release.
The Chairman thanked the Cabinet Member for Housing, Head of Housing, Economy and Community, Housing Options Manager and Policy and Performance Officer for attending the meeting.
(1) That the residency in Swale be reduced to 2 years in-line with recommended guidance.
(2) That officers look at providing a suitable affordability taper for Faversham.
The Committee is asked to consider the CCTV Policy.
The Cabinet Member for Community and the Community Services Manager have been invited to attend for this item.
The Chairman welcomed the Cabinet Member for Community and the Economy and Community Services Manager to the meeting.
The Cabinet Member for Community introduced the report and explained that the draft Public Space CCTV Policy, set-out at Appendix I to the report, complied with Government legislation and the Council’s legal obligations. It would be considered by Cabinet on 22 April 2020.
In response to a query from a Member, the Head of Housing, Economy and Community Services stated that the Council was still contracted with Medway and they were reviewing the out-of-hours service separately.
A Member asked whether CCTV in town centres could be used in regard to illegal parking? The Economy and Community Services Manager stated that this could be considered but it was about whether the Police had the resources. Other partner agencies including parking control would be consulted.
Following a request from a Member, the Economy and Community Services Manager explained that it would be for officers to decide where the cameras were installed to ensure the relevant criteria was met.
The Chairman thanked the Cabinet Member for Community and Economy and Community Services Manager for attending the meeting.
The Committee is asked to consider the Climate Change and Ecological Emergency Action Plan. Report to-follow.
The Cabinet Member for Environment, the Head of Policy, Comms and Customer Services, and the Climate Change Officer have been invited to attend for this item.
Report published 2 March 2020.
The Chairman welcomed the Cabinet Member for Environment and the Interim Policy and Performance Manager to the meeting.
The Cabinet Member for Environment introduced the report which provided an update on the Council’s response to the declaration of a Climate Change and Ecological Emergency. He explained that an action plan was required to mitigate against a changing climate and this was set-out at Appendix I of the report.
The Cabinet Member explained that due to staff sickness it had been necessary to engage an external consultant to produce the action plan. He stressed that it was a ‘living’ document which would be considered by Full Council at their meeting on 1 April 2020 as specified in the declaration. He referred to the six main focus areas on page 9 of the action plan.
The Cabinet Member referred to the 10 possible actions. He also talked about some of the enabling tools and explained that of the potential actions some required changes in national and local legislation.
In response to concerns about the quality of the Action Plan, the Interim Policy and Performance Manager accepted there were issues with the report, and explained that this was due to the consultant not having a working knowledge of local authorities. It had been decided that it would be better for Members to have the long list of actions to consider and to actively give feedback.
The Cabinet Member asked Members for feedback and suggestions for actions.
Members raised points and asked questions of the Cabinet Member for Environment and Policy and Performance Manager. A summary is provided below:
· Some of the introduction needed rewriting to make it more meaningful;
· some of the graphs were not clear and were difficult to read;
· had a Special Projects Fund been established? The Cabinet Member for Environment stated that it had;
· concerned about the suggestion to increase the range of edible fruits etc. in Council owned parks, rooftops and open spaces;
· every action should outline the financial implications and needed to be pragmatic and accept that some might be too costly to action;
· alarmist to refer to ‘mass extinction. The Cabinet Member explained that this referred across all animal species and not just humans;
· suggested the following action points:
- How we share knowledge with parish and town councils;
- how we resource;
- enabling tools;
- leading by example – where electric vehicle (EV) charging points should be provided;
- supporting local residents;
- Local Plan;
- EVs as a borough and what was required from Kent County Council (KCC);
- air quality;
- recycling – want to increase blue bin waste and decrease green bin waste; and
- green space – which fitted in with biodiversity and ecology.
· communication and education were key;
· the Council should be encouraging local businesses and schools to provide environmentally friendly lighting which was switched off when the site was not in use. Was there a way we could enforce this? The Cabinet Member for Environment stated that that would ... view the full minutes text for item 612.
The Committee is asked to review and discuss the Committee’s Work Programme for the remainder of the year.
The Policy and Performance Officer introduced the work programme. He advised that he would let Members know when other policies, plans and strategies were coming forward for consideration.
(1) That the Committee Work Programme be noted.