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Agenda and minutes

Venue: Council Chamber - Swale House. View directions

Contact: Democratic Services, 01795 417330  Democratic Services Officer

Items
No. Item

Audio Recording

151.

Prayers

Minutes:

The Mayor’s Chaplain said prayers.

152.

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.

 

 

 

Minutes:

The Mayor outlined the emergency evacuation procedure.

153.

Minutes

To approve the Minutes of the Meeting held on 26 June 2019 (Minute Nos. 85 - 95) as a correct record. 

Minutes:

The Minutes of the Meeting held on 26 June 2019 (Minute Nos. 85 – 95) were taken as read, approved and signed by the Mayor as a correct record.

154.

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.

Minutes:

No interests were declared.

155.

Mayor's Announcements

Minutes:

The Mayor advised that since the last Council meeting, he had attended 12 official functions and a further 20 council or charity meetings.

 

He drew attention to the following events which he had attended on the behalf of the Council:

·         Kent Agricultural Show;

·         Sittingbourne Armed Forces Day;

·         Battle of Britain Memorial Day at the National Memorial, where he had laid a wreath; and

·         Mayor of Faversham’s Civic Service.

 

Many events had been at local schools, where he had seen an enormous amount of academic and dramatic talent, and he thanked teachers and others who went out of their way to help in developing the future community.

 

The Mayor also drew attention to the additional Council meeting on 11 September 2019.

 

156.

Questions submitted by the Public pdf icon PDF 41 KB

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 democraticservices@swale.gov.uk or call 01795 417330).

 

 

Minutes:

The Mayor advised that one question had been received from Mr Greenhill, who could not be present at the meeting.  The Leader gave his response.

 

The question and response are set out below:

 

Question:

 

“In June 2017, under the previous administration, Councillor Mike Baldock was 'found guilty' of what was considered to be a breach of the Code of Conduct for Councillors.  That finding would not and could not have been made in a court of law as a result of the use in the Standards Committee hearing of the Investigating Officer's report which would have been adjudged to be both biased and inadmissible.  The investigating Officer was a former employee and pensioner of Swale Borough Council who, in the circumstances, could not possibly have been regarded as independent and whose appointment as Investigating Officer offended the principles of natural justice. 

 

In any review of the Council's Constitution and rules of procedure will the Council write into the same that in any similar proceedings in the future the Investigating Officer will not be a former employee or pensioner of the Council and, pro. tem.,  will the Council give such an undertaking?”

 

Response:

 

“I note and welcome Mr Greenhill's concern for natural justice. I do not expect these circumstances to be repeated.”

157.

Questions submitted by Members pdf icon PDF 56 KB

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 democraticservices@swale.gov.uk or call 01795 417330).

 

Minutes:

The Mayor advised that 12 questions had been received from Members.  Each Member was invited to put his/her question, which was responded to by the relevant Cabinet Member.  The questioner was then invited to ask a supplementary question.

 

Details of the questions and responses are set out below:

 

Question 1 – submitted by Councillor Alastair Gould

 

“Given the evidence that the major determinants of health have little to do with doctors,  but are down to the impact of inequality, lack of physical activity and environmental factors, will the Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing tell Council how she sees her role, and inform us of any outline proposals she may have at this stage to tackle these and other issues which affect the health of the residents of Swale?”

 

Response – Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing

 

“Absolutely, prevention is key and every decision made by this Council can have an impact on the health and wellbeing of our residents.  I have been spending the last few months gathering together the pieces of the puzzle of what is (or is not) going on in Swale.  I will be working with my Cabinet colleagues to ensure we have the greatest impact and avoid duplication on the services we provide. 

 

We are currently advertising for a Health and Wellbeing Officer and once in post they will be the catalyst for us to make a positive change.  We will be focusing on environmental projects to improve air quality, working with external partners to improve the activity offer available for residents (there is no one size fits all) and will work on a number of projects to improve both the physical and mental health of our residents, whether that is through accessing services or through decisions taken through the planning system.  This is a developing agenda and once the puzzle has come together, I will bring forward proposals to future Cabinet meetings.”

 

There was no supplementary question.

 

Question 2 – submitted by Councillor Ghlin Whelan

 

“When do you anticipate the Sittingbourne Skate Park coming into use?”

 

Response – Cabinet Member for Community

 

“The contractors are on site and making good progress on the construction, the current programme gives a completion date of 29th September 2019, we are therefore looking to make sure the skatepark is open in time for October half-term.  It has been a long journey to get here, but over the past few months we have seen significant progress on completing this project.”

 

Supplementary question and response

 

In response to a question regarding why the sudden impetus to complete the project, the Cabinet Member acknowledged the work undertaken in the past and spoke of the action to complete this following the elections on 2May 2019.

 

Question 3 – submitted by Councillor Simon Clark

 

“Would you agree with me that it is time for a comprehensive review of the working of the Council's residents parking scheme?”

 

Response – Cabinet Member for Environment

 

“Thank you for the question, I know this is a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 157.

158.

Motion submitted in accordance with Procedure Rule 15

A.  Proposed by Councillor Nicholas Hampshire and Seconded by Councillor Simon Fowle.

 

This festive season, we the undersigned, call upon this Council to introduce free parking in all short-stay Council owned car parks on the following days:

 

·        Friday 29 November 2019

·        Saturday 30 November 2019

·        Sunday 1 December 2019

·        Friday 6 December 2019

·        Saturday 7 December 2019

·        Sunday 8 December 2019

·        Friday 13 December 2019

·        Saturday 14 December 2019

·        Sunday 15 December 2019

·        Friday 20 December 2019

·        Saturday 21 December 2019

·        Sunday 22 December 2019

·        Friday 27 December 2019

·        Saturday 28 December 2019

·        Sunday 29 December 2019

 

Additionally, we call upon the Council to provide a free shuttle bus service between our major towns of Sheerness, Sittingbourne and Faversham on Small Business Saturday (30 November 2019).

 

B.  Proposed by Councillor Alan Horton and Seconded by Councillor James Hunt.

 

This Council following the change in administration, confirm our position as a White Ribbon Borough, renewing our commitment to the ‘Pledge’ namely to;

 

Never commit, excuse or remain silent about male violence against women

We do so in the clear understanding that in this context, violence includes any gender-based act that results in, or is likely to result in physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women.

 

We pledge to continue to provide support for White Ribbon Initiatives and to provide the administrative and support role to White Ribbon Ambassadors in the same way we did in the financial year before the 2019 election.

 

We recognise the value of White Ribbon Ambassadors across the Private, Public and Voluntary Sectors and will continue to seek opportunities to recruit more and encourage local leaders, including ward councillors and Cabinet members to publicly take the ‘Pledge’ and speak out on this important topic.

Minutes:

The Mayor advised that two motions had been submitted:

 

Motion A – Free Car Parking

 

Councillor Nicholas Hampshire proposed the following motion:

 

“This festive season, we the undersigned, call upon this Council to introduce free parking in all short-stay Council owned car parks on the following days:

• Friday 29 November 2019

• Saturday 30 November 2019

• Sunday 1 December 2019

• Friday 6 December 2019

• Saturday 7 December 2019

• Sunday 8 December 2019

• Friday 13 December 2019

• Saturday 14 December 2019

• Sunday 15 December 2019

• Friday 20 December 2019

• Saturday 21 December 2019

• Sunday 22 December 2019

• Friday 27 December 2019

• Saturday 28 December 2019

• Sunday 29 December 2019

 

Additionally, we call upon the Council to provide a free shuttle bus service between our major towns of Sheerness, Sittingbourne and Faversham on

Small Business Saturday (30 November 2019).”

 

In proposing the motion, he encouraged Members to support it to help money to be spent locally for the benefit of local businesses and market traders.

 

Councillor Simon Fowle seconded the motion and reserved his right to speak.

 

The Leader spoke in support of the principle of the motion, however, advised that it was too prescriptive and would have serious financial implications on the revenue budget.  There was no mention of how it would be funded. 

 

The Leader of the Conservative Group acknowledged the point made that the Cabinet would be looking at this in the future, but at the time the motion had been submitted the next Council meeting was scheduled for October.

 

Discussion ensued on the motion on the following points:

·         The need to consider timing;

·         A suggestion to include free parking on Remembrance Sunday;

·         That there was no evidence that free parking increased footfall;

·         The potential for commuters to benefit from free parking on Fridays;

·         The need to consider financial implications;

·         An analysis of the scheme provided previously, which had been well received by residents, showed no evidence of increased footfall and benefits to traders; those who took advantage of the scheme were going to visit the town anyway;

·         Costs had been looked at from the last scheme, which equated to £63 per person for park and ride, and £35 per person who used the shuttle bus; and

·         The need to support people who did not have a car and consider more imaginative ways of encouraging additional trade, such as by late night opening.

 

Councillor Elliott Jayes proposed an amendment to add the word ‘consider’ to the motion so that it was not so prescriptive.  This was seconded by Councillor Bill Tatton.

 

Further discussion ensued on the amendment, which centred on the following themes:

·         The need to discuss ideas with retailers and consider other forms of transport, such as the train;

·         That the amendment would make the motion less prescriptive, but financial implications needed to be considered;

·         Whether the amendment negated the original motion and whether the decision was for the Council or Cabinet to make;  ...  view the full minutes text for item 158.

159.

Leader's Statement

Minutes:

The Leader updated Members regarding a meeting he had attended on Tuesday, 16 July 2019, with the Director of Regeneration and Councillor Bonney at Ebbsfleet on “Good Growth” in the Thames Corridor.  He advised that the Thames Corridor embraced a line from Bexley to Thanet on the Kent side and Barking to Clacton over in Essex, and that this was the latest initiative from Government.  There was more anxiety from some of colleagues in local government about governance rather than delivery. Most projects on the horizon, such as Crossrail, were focussed on the London area, or the parts of Kent and Essex nearest to London.

 

The Leader said that as a Borough with too much poverty and inequality, it was important to welcome any opportunities that might come from creating a productive economy in the Thames Corridor but it had to be “good growth”, i.e. it had to be sustainable.  He advised that the Corridor was due to be included in government Cabinet responsibilities, and they would be appointing a Government approved “envoy” and creating a Board of 9, plus a Chair, with three representatives each from Kent, London and Essex.

 

The Minister for Local Government James Brokenshire had made a speech which both him and Councillor Bonney had responded robustly stressing that “good growth” was impossible without investment in infrastructure, and especially in health and education. 

 

The Leader acknowledged that Swale had the worst GP-to-patient ratio in the land, and they were also facing a crisis in finding places for Secondary School pupils.  They had been told that the viability of a Further Education college was constrained by the retention of so many 16-year olds in Swale Secondary schools.  He questioned this information, given that schools had not had the capacity for 11-year olds but could accommodate extra post-16 students who could be in further education.  He questioned how, if Swale could not find school places for young people now, how was Swale expected to do so after the building of thousands more houses?  The mirage of a new school at Grovehurst was not an immediate answer.

 

The Leader gave an update on a meeting he had held with Gordon Henderson MP, where the discussion had focussed on the high levels of poverty in the local area. The Leader advised that Swale was the second most deprived borough in Kent and if Sheppey were its own Council, it would be the second most deprived in the country. The Leader had also visited Sea Shells in Sheerness and the Stanford Hill prison. He had also asked for a meeting with the MP for Faversham.

 

The Leader then spoke about the National Planning Policy Framework, the Council’s current Local Plan, and the restraints that it placed upon the Council by Viability assessments and the funding restrictions placed on housing providers.  This all combined to leave Swale woefully short of the affordable and social housing needed for local people. The Coalition was determined to intervene to re-balance the impact of the market  ...  view the full minutes text for item 159.

160.

Overview and Scrutiny Committee Annual Report pdf icon PDF 232 KB

Minutes:

The Chairman of the Scrutiny Committee introduced the Annual Report, summarising the work that had been undertaken in holding the Cabinet to account.  He drew attention to the Budget Scrutiny Committee meeting which all Cabinet and Deputy Cabinet Members would be invited to attend.  He thanked Members for their contributions to the reviews and advised that all Members were welcome to attend their meetings, acknowledging the change in membership following the local elections in May. 

 

The Chairman also thanked officers for their support, in particular the Director of Regeneration, the Chief Financial Officer, Democratic Services and the Policy and Performance Officer.

 

The Leader added his thanks to the Scrutiny Committee and commended them for their good work, particularly around Sittingbourne Town Centre regeneration.  He also praised the support provided by the Policy and Performance Officer.  He considered it was right for opposition Members to be Chairman and Vice-Chairman, and wished the Committee well in its work in the year ahead.

 

The Leader of the Conservative Group echoed his thanks to all involved, acknowledging that scrutiny played an important role which should continue in the future.  He also echoed the sentiments regarding the Chairman and Vice-Chairman positions.

 

Resolved:

 

(1) That the report be noted.

161.

Policy Development and Review Committee Annual Report pdf icon PDF 247 KB

Minutes:

The former Vice-Chairman of the Policy Development and Review Committee presented the report, and echoed the sentiments expressed in the previous item regarding contributions from Members and the support provided by the Policy and Performance Officer.

 

These sentiments were echoed by the Leader and the Leader of the Conservative Group.  Members spoke in support of the forward thinking approach of the Committee and the positive impact it had on the development of policies.

 

Resolved:

 

(1) That the report be noted.

 

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