Agenda and minutes
Venue: Council Chamber, Swale House, East Street, Sittingbourne, ME10 3HT. View directions
Contact: Democratic Services, 01795 417330 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. Nobody must leave the assembly point until everybody can be accounted for and nobody must return to the building until the Chairman 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 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 Mayor drew attention to the Emergency Evacuation Procedure.
To approve the Minutes of the Extraordinary Council Meeting and Council Meeting held on 6 October 2021 (Minute Nos. 332 – 334 and 335 - 354) as correct records.
The Minutes of the Extraordinary Council Meeting (Minute Nos. 332 – 334) and Council Meeting (Minute Nos. 335 – 354) held on 6 October 20221 were taken as read, approved and signed by the Mayor 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 Interests (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 meeting 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 Leader paid tribute to Nigel Alexander, Facilities Officer at Swale Borough Council (SBC) who sadly passed away recently. The Leader said that Nigel had been a fantastic servant of SBC and the sort of person who got enormous joy out of helping people. The Leader said that Nigel was incredibly kind and generous and gave more to SBC than he was contracted to do.
The Mayor led the minute’s silence in memory of Nigel.
The Mayor reported that from mid-June 2021 he had attended 28 events on behalf of the Council which included:
· South East Reserve Forces Cadet meeting via zoom;
· launch of the health and wellbeing Women’s experiences of Covid-19 hosted by Diversity House;
· afternoon tea at Woodstock Club, Sittingbourne with The Royal Society of St George;
· afternoon tea at Judd’s Folly with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Swale;
· Swale Arts Media event at 34 High Street, Sittingbourne;
· Parish mass at St Peter & Paul’s Church, Borden to rededicate the new east window;
· the Lord Lieutenant of Kent Lady Colgrain presented the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services to the Historical Research Group of Sittingbourne at the hub in The Forum Sittingbourne;
· Mayor of Maidstone’s charity cruise along the river Medway and guided tour of Allington Castle, Maidstone;
· Licensing of the Revendend David Ridley at St Michael’s Church, Sittingbourne;
· MS Swale BBQ in Teynham;
· Boxing for Parkinsons event at Beachfield Park, Sheerness;
· Swale Migration Dissemination event at 34 High Street, Sittingbourne to view the pop-up exhibition regarding 250 years of migration stories and objects across Swale;
· The Dissemination of Swale Migration Stories and Articles over the past 250 years event held at the Avenue Theatre, Sittingbourne;
· the MS Swale Garden Party;
· quiz evening at The Woodstock Club, Sittingbourne on behalf of The Royal Society of St George;
· Diversity House Adult Bike Event held at Milton Creek, Sittingbourne;
· 17th Annual AGM Citizens Advice at Judd’s Folly, Faversham;
· Swale Youth Forum;
· Swale Friends of Earth - Swale Big Green Exhibition at the Guildhall, Faversham;
· Art exhibition at The Swale Media Centre;
· Diversity House Family Festival Day held at Diversity House, Sittingbourne;
· Unveiling of the Roman Temple at Watling Drive, Newington hosted by Persimmon Homes;
· Opening of the Poppy Day Appeal at The Forum, Sittingbourne;
· Trafalgar Day Meal with the Royal Society of St George; and
· Charity Dog Show for the Happy Endings Rescue Charity.
The Leader opened his statement by saying that he had indicated at the Extraordinary Scrutiny Meeting on 21 October 2021 that he would use his statement to reflect on the significance for all of us involved in politics of the dreadful murder of the MP for Southend West Sir David Amess the previous Friday.
Since then, he noticed a motion had been put to this Council, so he had edited down some of the things he had wanted to say.
The Leader said violent attacks on elected representatives had become far too commonplace, and nobody should pretend that all had been well meaning bliss in the past. He said that Members would recall that in 1841 Parliament spent much time debating the violent intimidation and bribery of that year’s elections. However, he considered there had been a transparent increase in toxicity in the last decade in this country. He said that there was nothing disrespectful about saying to opponents, I profoundly disagree with your point of view, these are my reasons and here is the evidence to back-up my point of view. Indeed, this was respectful in the sense that it was taking those with different opinions seriously but it was unacceptable to have the degree of simple hatred that had made our politics toxic, hatred that was deliberately spread as widely as possible. The Leader stated that it was said that social media was the culprit, but social media took much of its lead from our mainstream media, which over a period of time had used the promotion of hate as a devise to achieve the political aims of the newspaper proprietors.
The Leader asked whether SBC’s house was in order and said that if he followed the question through, and stressed that he did not have any particular members or events in mind. However he considered that Members needed to look at themselves and to this end the Standards Committee led by Councillor Hannah Perkin would be looking at the way the Council demonstrated respect for each other. The Leader added that nobody wanted to eschew robust political debate, and to do that would question the whole point of electing Members, but the Council needed to debate more around principle and performance and less on personalities.
The Leader said that as he had mentioned before, Members in their groups might like to consider the future of local government, though there was no clear picture of what that might be.
The Leader stated that major capital funding was going to Mayors in city regions of the country and we naturally asked, with colleagues, what about us in the shire counties? We had infrastructure needs too, especially a county like Kent. The Leader said that early indications from government were not entirely palatable and we had been told about County deals, of Mayors and devolution. He considered that some County Council Leaders had been quite excited about that but not he thought the Leader of Kent County Council. The Leader ... view the full minutes text for item 418.
Questions submitted by the Public
To consider any questions submitted by the public. (The deadline for questions is 4.30 pm on the Wednesday before the meeting – please contact Democratic Services by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01795 417330).
The Mayor announced that there had been a questions submitted by a member of the public but it had subsequently been withdrawn.
Questions submitted by Members
To consider any questions submitted by Members. (The deadline for questions is 4.30 pm on the Monday the week before the meeting – please contact Democratic Services by e-mailing email@example.com or call 01795 417330).
The Mayor advised that five questions had been received from Members. Each Member was invited to put their question which was responded to by the relevant Cabinet Member. The questioner was then invited to ask a supplementary question:
Question 1 – Councillor Steve Davey
Could the Cabinet member for Housing report on progress towards getting more affordable housing from the planning system, and especially if there has been an increase in the housing for social rent?
Response – Cabinet Member for Housing
Affordable housing s106 contributions are only applicable on certain sites in Swale that meet the thresholds of the Councils current Local Affordable Housing policy DM8. These homes are delivered by Registered Providers (RP) with nil grant contribution. Additional affordable homes, including social rented housing, has been secured and is being delivered across different sites using Homes England Strategic Partnership Funding (HESP), the Affordable Homes Programme (AHP) and RP recycled grant funding.
Since May 2019 up until the end of September 2021, 493 new affordable dwellings have been provided in the borough, of which 220 have been affordable rent tenure, a further 88 are social rent and 185 are shared ownership. Further delivery of social rented housing is expected to continue across the borough as part of the 581 new affordable homes in the pipeline on sites across Swale including in Faversham, Sittingbourne, Halfway and the villages. In the previous 4 year period to May 2019 there were 412 new affordable dwellings provided and no new social rent homes.
In short, in 2 and half years, the council has delivered more new affordable homes than had been delivered in the previous 4 years with more on the way. Big thanks has to go to the Council’s Affordable Housing Manager, Rebecca Walker for her tireless work securing the right mix and volume of affordable housing from both section 106 planning and from RPs utilising grant funding here in Swale.
Welcomed the Leader’s comments about the Council’s in-house housing company and asked that, given the inevitable difficulties around planning and problems that may arise, could the Cabinet Member provide any information on timescales for that much needed housing?
The Cabinet Member for Housing stated that it was hoped that a planning application would be submitted in the new year with a hope to start building within the next financial year. He added that there may have been social homes delivered but a lot more were needed and those in temporary accommodation were at record levels and approximately 1,200 people were on Swale’s housing register. It was the aim of the Council’s Rainbow Homes board to ensure the housing was provided as quickly as possible, efficiently and to a good quality.
Question 2 – Councillor Tim Gibson
Please could the Cabinet Member for Economy and Property give us a progress report on the "makeover" of town centres?
Response – Cabinet Member for Economy and Property
In Sittingbourne town centre some of the old street name plates have been ... view the full minutes text for item 420.
Motion - Condolences to Sir David Amess MP and safety of politicians
This Council mourns the loss of Sir David Amess MP, who was killed performing his constituency duties on 15 October 2021. We send our condolences to his family and friends, and we all reflect on the risks taken every day by those representatives working to keep our democratic, consensual way of life.
This Council restates the power of
democratic politics to make a positive difference to people’s
lives and recognises that politicians of all parties are
overwhelmingly dedicated, decent people, discharging their duties
to their constituents and residents as best they
This Council asks that the Group Leaders collectively convey our condolences on the loss of Sir David to the Speaker of the House of Commons and write to the Leaders of all political parties in Westminster to support measures that would see politicians within all tiers of government kept safe and secure so that they can continue working hard on behalf of their constituents.
Proposed: Councillor Alan Horton
Seconded: Councillor David Simmons
The following amendment to the final paragraph will be proposed at the meeting.
This Council asks that the Group Leaders collectively convey our condolences on the loss of Sir David to the Speaker of the House of Commons and write to the Leaders of all political parties in Westminster to support measure that would see all people kept safe and secure so that they can continue with their everyday lives.
Proposed: Councillor Richard Palmer
Seconded: Councillor Monique Bonney
The Leader of the main opposition group stated that he was saddened and disappointed at the response that the motion had generated by some Members and withdrew the motion.
The Cabinet Member for Community introduced the report and proposed the recommendations which asked Members to adopt the draft version of the Swale Statement of Principles under the Gambling Act 2005, so that it could be published on 3 January 2022, and that the draft Local Area Profile be adopted as Appendix 3 to the Statement of Principles. On seconding the recommendations Councillor Mike Baldock reserved his right to speak.
Councillor Alan Horton thanked officers for the very detailed report which he supported.
The Mayor invited other Members to respond and comments made included:
· On page 21 paragraph 23 of the report it listed the persons or bodies to use in exercise of its functions, and referred to an ‘enforcement officer’, and suggested that it specify and explain what kind of enforcement officer e.g. police officer, KCC Enforcement officer etc.;
· referred to page 45 of the report which mentioned that door supervisors at casino and bingo services were not required to be registered by the Security Industry Authority (SIA), why was this?;
· typographical error in paragraph 36 on page 23 of the report, sub-paragraph a) should read “Every person is entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of their possessions….” not his as stated;
· thanked the Licensing Officer and the team for their work on the report; and
· noted that there were two responses to the consultation.
In summing-up the Cabinet Member for Community thanked the licensing team for their work on the report. In response to questions raised he stated that the enforcement officer referred to in paragraph 23 would be a licensing enforcement officer, he agreed to ask the licensing team to ensure that it was clear in the report. Referring to the query about door supervisors, the Cabinet Member for Community explained that unfortunately that was what the Act required but noted that as outlined in the report door supervisors not employed by a casino or bingo operator did have to be SIA registered. The typographical error in paragraph 36 on page 23 of the report would be amended.
(1) That the draft version of the Swale Statement of Principles under the Gambling Act 2005 be adopted and published on 3 January 2022.
(2) That the draft version of the Local Area Profile be adopted so that it can be published as Appendix 3 of the Swale Statement of Principles under the Gambling Act 2005.
Appendix III and IV published 10.11.21.
The Leader introduced the report which set-out changes to the political balance and committee seat allocations and memberships as a result of recent changes to the membership of political groups.
The Leader drew attention to an amendment to Appendix III of the report, Membership of Committees, as there was a Swale Independents Alliance group vacancy on the General Licensing Committee. The Leader of the Swale Independents Alliance group advised that Councillor Richard Palmer would fill the vacant seat for that Committee. The Leader proposed the recommendations in the report which were seconded by the Leader of the main opposition group.
(1) That the political calculation as set-out in Appendix II, as amended to allocate the unallocated seats on Emergency and Standards Committee be agreed.
(2) That the allocation of seats and appointments of Members to those Committees, in accordance with the wishes of Group Leaders, as set-out in Appendix III of the report, and as updated, be agreed.
(3) That the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of those Committees, as set-out in Appendix IV of the report be agreed.
Council is asked to note the recommendations from the following meetings:
Minutes from the Audit Committee meeting held on 26 October 2021.
(1) That Minute No. 401 from the Audit Committee held on 26 October 2021 be noted.