Agenda and minutes
Venue: Council Chamber, Swale House, East Street, Sittingbourne, ME10 3HT. View directions
Contact: Democratic Services, 01795 417330 Democratic Services Officer
The Mayor’s Chaplain said prayers.
Emergency Evacuation Procedure
The Mayor 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 Mayor 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 Mayor 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. Nobody must leave the assembly point until everybody can be accounted for and nobody must return to the building until the Mayor has informed them that it is safe to do so; 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 Mayor 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 Mayor outlined the emergency evacuation procedure.
The Minutes of the Meetings held on 21 May 2019 (Minute Nos. 1 – 9) and 22 May 2019 (Minute Nos. 10 – 18) were taken as read and approved as correct records.
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 Mayor 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.
Councillor Monique Bonney declared a non-pecuniary interest as she was Chairman of the Five Parishes Group.
The Mayor advised that he had attended 14 functions since the last Council meeting, all relating to Swale, only using the civic car on 4 occasions. He drew attention to the following:
· his first duty as Mayor, which was to raise the Blue Flags over Sheerness and Minster Beaches, and he thanked the Seafront Staff for their hard work;
· he had met with the Chair of Kent County Council (KCC) and other Kent Mayors;
· he had attended the Queenborough Independence Day with the Mayor of Queenborough.
The Mayor drew attention to Minster’s Village Fair and Sittingbourne’s Armed Forces Day which were both taking place on 29 June 2019.
The Leader introduced the report, explaining that the purpose behind the changes to council procedures was to make meetings more spontaneous and inclusive; to allow more time for motions and debate; and less time for the Leader’s Statement. He proposed the recommendations in the report, which was seconded.
In respect of the procedure for submitting Member questions, the Leader clarified that the term ‘giving notice’ meant submitting the question.
The Leader of the Conservative Group advised that he would support the changes in the spirit of cooperation, but he had some reservations about interpretation and the haste in which changes were being made, and suggested the item should be referred back to the General Purposes Committee.
Debate ensued, where a Member spoke against the proposed changes to the publishing of questions and answers in advance of the meeting. The Deputy Leader welcomed contributions from Members and encouraged them to make their views known to him or the General Purposes Committee, as there would be many changes to be discussed over the coming months.
The Leader responded by saying the new procedure would be less disjointed for the public, who could come along to the meeting to ask questions and hear answers, and then read about it in the minutes.
(1) That the Constitution be amended as follows:
(1.1) Council Procedure Rules section 14, Member Questions, in accordance with the changes set out in Appendix 2 of the report.
(1.2) Council Procedure Rules section 18, Leader’s Statement, in accordance with the changes set out in Appendix 4 of the report.
(1.3) Public Participation Rules section 5, Planning Committee, in accordance with the changes set out in Appendix 6 of the report.
(2) That the amendments set out above take effect immediately.
Recommendations for Noting
Council is asked to note the recommendations from the General Purposes Committee meeting on 12 June 2019, as this has been considered as a separate report earlier in the meeting.
(1) That the recommendations from the General Purposes Committee meeting held on 12 June 2019 be noted, as they had been subject to a separate report considered earlier in the meeting.
To consider any questions submitted by the public. (The deadline for questions is 4.30pm on the Wednesday before the meeting – please contact Democratic Services by e-mailing email@example.com or call 01795 417330).
Information added 24 June 2019
Question published Tuesday 25 June 2019.
Response published Wednesday 26 June 2019.
The Mayor advised that a question had been submitted by Stephen Palmer. As he could not be present at the meeting, the written question and response was tabled. This is set out below.
Question submitted by Stephen Palmer:
“With reference to the Spirit of Sittingbourne, what processes and procedures are in place to ensure that the Spirit of Sittingbourne is being delivered to a high level of quality and that the council are not being charged for rework of errors? As I understand it the bus stops have been repositioned as they were installed in the wrong place. The raised paving slabs that assist partially sighted people have been relaid twice. The paving outside the station has been relaid twice and now the road signage at the Forum bus stops is not spelt correctly, as of 7 June. There appears to be a lot of rework and should not be charged to the council.”
Response by the Cabinet Member for Economy and Property:
“The highway works are regularly checked by Spirit’s highway design consultant and the KCC highways engineer throughout the month for quality and specification. A monthly drawdown request is sent to the Council and this is checked and scrutinised by the Council’s appointed independent Monitoring Surveyor who also carries out a site inspection with the Council’s Scheme Manager. The Monitoring Surveyor then provides a monthly progress report to the Chief Finance Officer confirming the amount to be paid.
All works that need to be re-done are met by the principal highways contractor or the specific sub-contractor that carried out the work on their behalf. This is purely at the principal contractor or sub-contractor’s costs and not that of the employer or funder.”
To consider any questions submitted by Members. (The deadline for questions is 4.30pm on the Monday the week before the meeting – please contact Democratic Services by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01795 417330).
Information added 24 June 2019
Questions published on Tuesday 25 June 2019. Responses added 26.6.19
The Mayor advised that five questions had been submitted.
Question 1 – Submitted by Councillor Tim Gibson
“Do you have any plans to restore concessionary parking rates to the Leisure Centres in Sittingbourne and Sheerness?”
Response to Question 1 - Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance
“One of the Coalition’s priorities is the health of the residents. We want to ensure there are opportunities for improving both mental and physical health and the leisure centres provide both. The removal of the car parking subsidy by the previous administration was a signal of an approach to disincentivise usage of the centres.
The centres offer a range of uses including children’s learning to swim classes, GP referral schemes and we want to remove any barriers to people attending. The renovation work to both centres is nearing completion so the range of facilities on offer has increased.
Therefore we are currently looking at the option to reinstall the subsidy and will bring a report to the July Cabinet to discuss further.”
Supplementary Question and Response
Councillor Tim Gibson asked “are you aware of the impact of the removal of concessionary parking on residents and parking in local roads?” The Leader advised that he was aware and it served as a reminder that sometimes there were unintended consequences.
Question 2 – Submitted by Councillor Tony Winckless
“Do you have any plans to improve the public facilities at Milton Country Park?”
Response to Question 2 – Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance
“A further Coalition priority is to introduce a Special Projects Fund of £1m a year, over the next four years, to make improvements to the public realm of the Borough.
The allocation of this fund will depend upon bids for projects and I know Councillor Winckless will lend his support to Milton Creek Country Park, given his dedicated support to the site over the years.
The Head of Commissioning, Environment and Leisure will be taking a discussion report to Policy Development and Review Committee (PDRC) in due course to start off the process.”
Supplementary Question and Response
Councillor Tony Winckless asked “if the Cabinet would like to have a tour around the park to see where the money could be spent?”
The Leader advised that yes they would accept an invitation but it was a matter for local decision making as to where the money would be spent, if the grant was successful. This could include items such as toilets, additional seating and footpath clearing.
Question 3 – submitted by Councillor Ken Rowles
“What are the prospects of Government funding coming into Swale and the rest of the Thames Corridor to meet the enormous deficit between housing growth and infrastructure?”
Response to Question 3 – Cabinet Member for Economy and Property
“Funding opportunities are currently intermittent, and infrastructure goes beyond highways. At present delivery of wider infrastructure needs, including health and schools, are expected to be met through developer contributions, where possible – and developer funding can only be sought for need arising ... view the full minutes text for item 93.
A. Proposed by Councillor Tim Valentine and seconded by Councillor Eddie Thomas (further information attached).
That the Council resolves:
B. Proposed by Councillor Monique Bonney and seconded by Councillor Sarah Stephen.
This Council notes the
demonstrable lack of public support for a Southern link road
dependent on house building and/or commercial development for
funding. This motion supersedes the previous motion passed by
Council on 26th July 2017 and confirms that a southern link road
dependant on housebuilding and/or commercial development for
funding delivery is not a strategic objective of Council.
Motion A – Climate and Ecological Emergency
Councillor Tim Valentine proposed and spoke in support of the following motion, emphasising the need to take action:
“That the Council resolves:
In proposing the Motion, Councillor Tim Valentine summarised the notes to the motion as set out on the agenda, referring to the impacts of climate change which were being felt around the world; the vulnerability of Swale to the effects of climate breakdown; the impact of air pollution; the unprecedented and accelerated rate of species extinction, including the impact on butterflies in Kent; the effect of changes in land use on wildlife; the need to reduce carbon emissions and for the Council to show leadership and take action by declaring a climate emergency and committing resources to address it.
This was seconded by Councillor Eddie Thomas who reserved his right to speak.
The Leader congratulated Councillor Tim Valentine on his speech and Motion, and urged Members to support it.
The Leader of the Conservative Group also congratulated Councillor Tim Valentine, and said that whilst he supported the motion, he considered there were lots of loop holes in the ... view the full minutes text for item 94.
The Leader advised that since the last Council meeting, he had had meetings with other Kent Leaders, KCC members, the MP for Sittingbourne and Sheppey and representatives of the local community. He had also joined the Cabinet Member for Economy and Property at the Thames Gateway Kent Partnership where she had made a very forceful and cogent case for Health investment throughout North Kent.
The Leader advised that the same theme had recurred over and over. There was a sense that all over Kent, Councils were being asked by Government to accept unrealistic levels of housing allocations; that there was already a serious deficit in infrastructure delivery, and that that deficit was set to increase and that support was contingent on more centralised control and less local autonomy for locally elected members.
The Leader advised that he was particularly disturbed by an assertion from one significant County Member that when it came to housing growth, it would prove impossible to achieve both infrastructure investment and affordable housing at the same time. If that notion was accepted, then he considered that the Council would be letting down its local community.
The Leader then gave an update on the immediate aims of the Coalition.
· On the constitutional review, an ‘objectives and options’ paper would be considered by the Policy Development and Review Committee (PDRC) in July, and a resolution would be submitted to Full Council in October 2019.
· Progress was being responsibly made by the Deputy Leader on reviewing the Local Plan in such a way as to reflect the deep concerns of residents right across Swale. Personally, he was pleased to see last Thursday that the planning committee had not been prepared to be cavalier about the need for affordable housing, for genuine infrastructure and for protecting our environment.
· Steps were in place to re-organise and enhance the Council’s resources in housing and health; high level meetings had been organised with housing providers and contacts had been forged with community groups that regularly confronted the problems of social exclusion.
· They were in the process of reviewing provision for CCTV surveillance and a report would be considered at the July 2019 Cabinet meeting.
· They were looking forward to meeting local business leaders, who must be conscious of the need for skills enhancement locally. A meeting had been arranged with Further Education leaders in the near future, however, he did not wish to diminish previous efforts or the challenges involved.
· The Cabinet’s commitment to environmental issues had been represented by the motion at tonight’s meeting, proposed by the Cabinet Member for the Environment who brought depth and knowledge to their understanding of these vital issues.
· Questions and answers under agenda item 10 indicated their intention to introduce a projects budget that would be used to enhance local people’s experience of our open spaces, in our towns, in the countryside and in our leisure and tourist environment.
· Much time had been spent by Cabinet members and officers on sorting out concerns about the Sittingbourne ... view the full minutes text for item 95.