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 17 July 2019 (Minute Nos. 133 - 138) as a correct record.
The Minutes of the Meeting held on 17 July 2019 (Minute Nos. 133 – 138) were taken as read, approved and signed by the Chairman as a correct record, subject to including Councillor Corrie Woodford as being in attendance at the 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.
Part B Minutes for Information
The Committee is asked to consider an initial draft of new strategic priorities, providing input and challenge.
The Chairman welcomed the Leader to the meeting and invited him to introduce the report.
The Leader explained that following the election in May 2019, there had been a radical change in direction, with different priorities. A new corporate plan was needed to reflect these priorities and acknowledge and develop the changes over the next four years. The Leader outlined the background to the corporate plan and explained that it was an overarching statement, not a manifesto, and was a plan for the administration up-to 2023. He stressed the need to avoid silo working within the organisation, and that everyone within the Council understood the overall direction of travel, with Cabinet Members and officers working together.
The Leader outlined the four priorities within the corporate plan, as set out in Appendix I of the report. He highlighted the following themes within the priorities:
Priority 1: Building the right homes in the right places and supporting quality jobs for all
Housing needed to be amenable to the local area, with more affordable and social housing. An economic improvement strategy was needed to expand opportunities and improve salaries throughout the borough.
Priority 2: Investing in our environment and responding positively to global challenges
There needed to be stronger emphasis on the environment, especially climate change. There was the opportunity to improve parks and public spaces with a special projects fund, and air pollution needed to be tackled and the borough kept clean.
Priority 3: Tackling deprivation and creating equal opportunities for everyone
The Leader stated there was too much inequality in Swale. He wanted the Council to work more with the local community, e.g. with foodbanks, and to work with the voluntary sector.
Priority 4: Renewing local democracy and making the council fit for the future
The Leader said there would be a 4-year programme of making the council more responsive and to enhance the role of individual members. He added that the introduction of area committees and the return to the committee system in the future would enable decision-making to be broader, and not limited to just a few members.
Members were invited to ask questions and make comments.
A Member referred to paragraph 1.6 of the report and asked whether other areas within the borough, not solely Sittingbourne, could be included when considering an appropriate range of tenure options on brownfield sites for development. The Leader was happy to make that amendment and to include the whole borough.
In response to a Member’s questions, the Leader explained that the new CCTV system was in the process of being commissioned, and CCTVs would be located where there was a history of anti-social behaviour and/or criminal activity.
A Member asked whether the Council would initiate any affordable housing itself. The Leader said that this had not been ruled out, but there were more immediate steps that could be taken, by being more robust with developers at Planning Committee. There was also the option to work in partnership with housing associations.
A Member ... view the full minutes text for item 239.
The committee is asked to review progress made by the working group and agree a provisional recommendation on the geography of area committees.
The Working Group Coordinator gave an update following the Working Group’s first meeting on 3 September 2019. He drew Members’ attention to the tabled paper which set-out the preliminary public consultation responses. He summarised the responses and reported that over half of the responses had indicated that residents were in favour of area committees.
In the discussion that followed, Members raised points which included:
· Only a tiny percentage had responded to the consultation, the results were not representative of the whole Borough;
· thanks to the Working Group for the work they had done so far;
· the wording on the consultation needed to be clearer to explain more on what the role of area committees was;
· area committees could work well in an area that was unparished;
· did not understand how area committees and parish councils fitted together;
· residents’ expectations might be raised with issues such as housing, planning and infrastructure, but area committees would have no influence;
· it looked as though some urban and rural areas might be cut in two with regard to the geographical areas that the committees might cover;
· area committees gave residents the opportunity to talk strategically about an area which crossed parish boundaries;
· this was not about numbers, but about receiving useful comments;
· this was an initial consultation, not a definitive document;
· needed to balance the cost of the area committees against whether they were worth having; and
· the consultation needed to have information on what area committees were, their intentions, and links with the current processes.
The Head of Policy, Communications and Customer Services explained that the consultation was not intended to be statistically robust, but was more about soliciting ideas.
In response to questions, the Interim Policy and Performance Manager explained that there had been a good spread of responses to the consultation from across the Borough. She advised that there had been some information on the key areas of work that the area committees would cover, without adding too much at this stage and leaving it open to encourage residents to add what they thought was relevant.
The Working Group Coordinator explained that the public consultation closed on 2 November 2019, and the working group would meet again on 8 October 2019.
There was some discussion as to whether there would be another consultation following the final report going to Cabinet, so that the final version could be put out to residents. It was suggested that this be considered by the working group.
(1) That the consideration on the possible introduction of area committees be noted.
To receive a verbal update.
The Policy and Performance Officer briefly explained the background and history of the Policy Development and Review Committee (PDRC) which was a ’sounding board’ for Cabinet for both new and revised policies. He explained that as there was a new administration, with a change in direction, it was unclear as to what policies needed to be examined at this stage.
The Leader said that it was important that the PDRC was involved in the process of looking at policies. He suggested the Swale Heritage Strategy and the Economic Improvement Strategy could be looked at by the PDRC as the strategies developed. The Deputy Leader welcomed the Committee’s input right from the beginning of a new strategy or policy.
The Leader explained that he would speak to the Chairman and the Policy and Performance Officer on putting together a forward plan of items for the PDRC to consider in the future.
(1) That the verbal report be noted.