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Agenda and minutes

Venue: Swale House, East Street, Sittingbourne, Kent, ME10 3HT

Contact: Democratic Services, 01795 417330  Democratic Services Officer

Items
No. Item

Audio Recordings

548.

Prayers

Minutes:

The Mayor’s Chaplain said prayers.

549.

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.

550.

Apologies for Absence

551.

Minutes

To approve the Minutes of the Meeting held on 8 January 2020 (Minute Nos. 411  -  424) as a correct record, subject to the removal of questions and response 8, 9 and 10 as the Members were not in attendance at the meeting.

Minutes:

The Minutes of the Meeting held on 6 January 2020 (Minute Nos. 411 – 424) were taken as read, approved and signed by the Mayor as a correct record, subject to the removal of questions and response 8, 9 and 10 as the Members were not in attendance at the meeting.

552.

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:

The Mayor declared a non-pecuniary interest in Item 19 – Review of Polling Place – Murston Ward as he sat on the board of trustees at Sunnybank Primary School.

 

During the discussion, Councillor Ben J Martin declared an interest in Item 18 Nomination to Outside Bodies – Faversham Pools as he was a Trustee.

553.

Mayor's Announcements

Minutes:

The Mayor announced that his Civic Service had been postponed until May 2020 and further details would follow.

 

The Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing gave an update on information received from Kent Public Health on the Coronavirus.  She said that, to date,  there were no confirmed cases in Kent and she drew attention to the guidance included with a letter sent to all Kent schools which would be circulated to all Members.

554.

Nominations for Mayor - speeches

Each candidate’s proposer and seconder will be invited to speak for up to three minutes in support of their nomination.

 

If more than one nomination is received for either position a secret ballot will be taken.

 

 

Minutes:

Councillor Mike Dendor nominated Councillor Roger Clark for the role of Mayor elect for the 2020/21 civic year and gave a supporting speech.  The nomination was seconded by Councillor James Hunt who gave a supporting speech.

 

Councillor Monique Bonney nominated Councillor Paul Stephen for the role of Mayor elect for the 2020/21 civic year and give a supporting speech.  The nomination was seconded by Councillor Mike Baldock who gave a supporting speech.

555.

Nominations for Deputy Mayor - speeches

Each candidate’s proposer and seconder will be invited to speak for up to three minutes in support of their nomination.

 

If more than one nomination is received for either position a secret ballot will be taken.

Minutes:

Councillor Ben J Martin nominated Councillor Benjamin A Martin for the role of Deputy Mayor elect for the 2020/21 civic year and gave a supporting speech.  The nomination was seconded by Councillor Denise Knights who gave a supporting speech.

556.

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

Minutes:

The Mayor advised that four questions had been submitted by the public.  Mr Greenhill was not in attendance at the meeting and, and at his request, the Mayor read out his question.  Details of the questions and responses are set out below.  The response to Mr Greenhill was sent directly.

 

Question 1 – Mr Greenhill

 

“In the last financial year what was the cost of operating the brown bin collection service, how much revenue was collected by way of charges for the fortnightly collections and how much money was generated from the sale/use of the end product compost?"

 

Response: The Mayor advised that the response would be sent to Mr Greenhill.

 

Question 2 – Honorary Alderman Mike Henderson

 

“Does the Cabinet Member recognise and accept that loss of biodiversity is as important as climate change to the world’s future as he indicated to me at a recent Green Grid meeting?”

 

Response – Cabinet Member for Environment:

 

“Thank you for your question. I do agree that it is as important that we take urgent action to address the loss of biodiversity, as it is that we take action to mitigate climate change. On 26 June 2019 the Council declared both a climate and an ecological emergency. The introduction to the motion cited the report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, which described an unprecedented and accelerating rate of species extinction, with up to one million species threatened with extinction, many within decades. The motion also cited population decline, species extinction and habitat loss locally in Kent.

The progress report which was debated at the Council meeting on 8 January 2020 reported activities planned and already underway that will enhance biodiversity in Swale. For example, this winter the council has planted approximately 2500 trees, with the help of volunteers, at the country parks in the borough. There are projects under development for planting in urban and rural areas. There is a specific project for planting in some of our Air Quality Management Areas. We have invested £15,000 in the Environment Grant Scheme this year, an increase from £5,000 under the last administration. Projects supported include a number of projects for improving biodiversity. For example, the council funded a project by Swale Friends of the Earth to rewild the rec in Faversham, and to create a wild flower meadow in Selling. Funded projects also included initiatives to encourage recycling and to support beach cleans. There is huge enthusiasm amongst community groups to improve their local environment. I’m very pleased that the Council has been able to support local residents’ passion and energy to give wildlife a helping hand.

The Climate and Ecological Emergency Action Plan due to be presented to Council in April 2020 will provide a further update on the actions the Council is taking and planning for the future. If you have suggestions for further actions the Council could take to improve biodiversity, I’d be delighted to hear them.”

 

Supplementary question:

 

“Will the Council look at going  ...  view the full minutes text for item 556.

557.

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

 

Minutes:

The Mayor advised 13 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.  The Mayor advised that any questions not asked within the thirty minute time limit would receive a written response.

 

Details of the questions and response are set out below

 

Question 1 – Councillor Cameron Beart

 

“Following the decision not to progress with exploring potential options for lorry parking in the borough at the Cabinet meeting in December 2019, the Cabinet Member for Property and Economy claimed that until capacity at M2 J5 and M2 J7 were resolved, this Council would not support any new lorry parks in the area.

 

As Swale regularly tops the table for the most unofficial and illegal lorry parking in Kent already, is it an acceptable stance to ignore a pre-existing condition for fear of what may or may not happen in the future? And can the Cabinet Member please explain what she is proposing instead to address the large number of lorries having to park illegally on the streets of my Ward every night if she is ruling out providing them a safe place to stop?”

 

Response – Cabinet Member for Economy and Property

 

“Thank you Councillor Beart for your question.

 

The decision not to pursue a lorry park at Brenley Corner at this time was based largely on concerns regarding the identification of a site in proximity to Junction 7 of the M2, when the nature of long-hoped for improvements to the junction itself were not understood.  To properly tackle the issue of “Fly” lorry parking it must be dealt with comprehensively, rather than on the current piecemeal approach. We must have a carefully coordinated network of lorry parks throughout Kent and the south-east backed with the requisite enforcement powers on a Kent wide/nationwide basis. The Brenley Corner lorry park would not have solved the fly parking in Councillor Beart’s ward nor for that matter across whole borough because of the set up of the current enforcement regime in the UK.  I have written to both the Secretary of State for Transport and the Head of Highways England and KCC on this matter.”

 

Supplementary question

 

There was no supplementary question.

 

Question 2 – Councillor Cameron Beart

 

“At the Local Plan Panel meeting on the 27th November 2019, following an urgent tabled item and legal letters received by this Council, the impartiality of the Cabinet Member for Economy and Property to make decisions on aspects of the Local Plan was called into question given her chairmanship of the Five Parishes Opposition Group which would be considered a conflict of interest.

At the meeting, it was minuted that "Councillor Monique Bonney stated that she was not the Chairman of the Five Parishes Group and had resigned from the group in May 2019" and the Cabinet Member's register of interests were subsequently updated the following day to reflect this and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 557.

558.

Leader's Statement

Minutes:

The Leader advised that at the end of January 2020, he had several meetings all concentrating on a familiar topic, the tension between Government housing growth targets and Local Government’s view of the reality behind those targets.  He said that firstly himself, Councillors Bonney and Baldock met the then Housing Minister, Esther McVey, a meeting facilitated by Gordon Henderson MP and attended by him. They spent half an hour, each competing for airtime, rehearsing views that were probably known to this Council including Mr Henderson’s view that all 10,000 additional houses should be built in Faversham, a view Members may wish to pass onto residents of Faversham and their MP.   The Leader added that as Ms McVey did not survive the reshuffle, the value of the meeting was probably limited.

 

The Leader said that the following day he attended meetings of the Greater North Kent Leaders and then Kent Leaders and overwhelmingly they took a view that was very similar to Swale Borough Council’s; that houses already delivered were suffering a chronic infrastructure deficit and that, with some exceptions, future Government expectations were excessive. The following day the Leader attended South East England Council Leaders, which also included presentations from a London Borough and the Greater London Council. He said that, again, the consensus was that Government expectations of both London and the South East were unrealistic and based on a very speculative analysis of need.

 

The Leader said that the new Government may want to re-assess this concentration on London and the South East, which made up two thirds of the overall target and they may be influenced by their declared aim for greater economic growth in the North, the growing doubts about building on areas of potential flooding and the possibility that the construction industry may not be able to deliver due to skills shortages.

 

The Leader explained that Swale Borough Council wanted to deliver housing growth on their own terms, meeting local need, with developments that were environmentally sustainable and conscious of the need to build communities not dormitories. He added that there was not a vacuum.

 

Referring to the difficulties with bin collections last year and recent press interest, the Leader had requested a personal meeting with senior managers at Biffa and met the national Director of Operations the previous week to seek assurances on performance. The Director of Operations apologised for the level of service received and outlined the steps they had taken and were taking in order to avoid this in future. These included changes to operational management in Swale and improvements in the work ethic. The Leader said that whilst this would be monitored closely, he was persuaded that they recognised the issues and were bringing in more resource and vehicles in order to avoid future problems at peak periods of the year.

 

On 10 February 2020, along with officers of the Council and Cabinet Members, the Leader met with the Chief Executive and Chairman of Swale Community Leisure (SCL). He said  ...  view the full minutes text for item 558.

559.

Council Tax Support Scheme 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 97 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Leader introduced the report by saying that Swale was the second most deprived Borough in Kent and under the current scheme, along with the Folkestone and Hythe District, claimants paid at least 25% of their liability, the highest percentage payment from those in need of Council Tax support.  He said that this led to payment collection difficulties and he was critical of the scheme.

 

The Leader reflected that whilst SBC were reducing the maximum liability to 20%, SBC’s  tax rise would only have a small impact on Council Tax payers, other precepting Authorities were making increases that might take out any benefit in reducing the liability to 20%.

 

The Leader proposed the recommendations in the report and asked Members to approve the Council Tax Support Scheme 2020/21.

 

This was seconded by the Deputy Cabinet Member for Finance.

 

The Deputy Leader of the Conservative Group  recognised the struggles faced by some members of the community in paying their Council Tax.  He said that the administration had ignored the consultation results for options 2 and 3.  In response, the Leader said consultations were important but that very few people had responded to the consultation and that the administration’s view was to not introduce options 2 and 3 as this would increase hardship, which was more important.

 

In accordance with SI 2014 No.165, a recorded vote was taken, and voting was as follows:

 

For:  Bonney, Carnell, S Clark, Darby, Davey, Ellen, Gibson, Gould, Harrison, Jackson, Jayes, Knights, MacDonald, Marchington, Benjamin A Martin, Ben J Martin, McCall, Nissanga, Palmer, Perkin, Rowles, Saunders, P Stephen, S Stephen, Tatton, Thomas, Truelove, Valentine, Whelan, Winckless, Woodford Total= 31.

 

Against:  Beart, R Clark, Dendor, Hunt, Pugh, Simmons, Whiting Total = 7.

 

Abstain: Bowen, Fowle, A Hampshire, N Hampshire, Ingleton (Mayor) Neal Total = 6.

 

Resolved:

 

(1)  That the outcome of the public consultation, having taking consideration of the potential impact of the proposed changes on working age claimants with the protected characteristics of disability, age and sex under the Equalities Act 2010, be noted.

 

(2)  That options 1-6 as changes to the current scheme, as set out in table 3, paragraph 3.6, be approved.

560.

Budgets and Council Tax for 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 1001 KB

Minutes:

The Leader gave a short history of previous budgets at SBC and praised the first budget from the coalition.  He praised the efficiency and good management from the Chief Financial Officer, the Financial Services Manager, the Finance Team and the Management Team.

 

The Leader spoke of the restraints in the current economic environment and reduction in levels of Government support and looking forward, the limitations in tax revenue and the loss of the New Homes Bonus.  He said that SBC needed to be cautious about its own finances with uncertainty of income from the Sittingbourne Town Centre project and there might be financial pressures from waste and other services contracts which needed to be improved.  The Leader spoke of the increase in levy from the Lower Medway Internal Drainage Board and his belief and support of other authorities who considered that the charge should be set as a separate precept.

 

The Leader was critical of the increased reserves managed by the previous administration and he drew attention to paragraph 3.13 on page 60 of the report. He said that the base budget was balanced without making a transfer from the General Fund and said it was necessary to increase the Swale part of the Council Tax by £4.95 per year for a Band D property to avoid making cuts to services and would endanger the viability of the budget for future years without the increase.

 

In referring to the detailed budget proposals in Appendix II on page 63, the Leader highlighted some significant and beneficial changes to the budget which included £30k on security services to ensure the safety of staff; £26k for hire of an electric vehicle/hybrid vehicle for the Mayor, £90k for the reinstatement of free car parking to two leisure centres; £26k running costs for new toilets at Milton Regis and Minster; £50k savings on the CCTV contract; £40k on a new health promotion post; £74k for staff to tackle homelessness; and £68k for the Real Living Wage.  The Leader said that the changes reflected some of the administration’s priorities without too much burden on the budget.

 

The Leader said that the budget needed to be as realistic as possible and that previous budgets had led to significant variances over the course of a financial year.  He said that a realistic level of funding had now been set to tackle homelessness for this year.  The Leader said that other administration priorities would be met by one-off funding from reserves.  He outlined the projects that had already been allocated funding, said that grant funding would be available for each of the next three years and he encouraged Councillors to promote bids in the interests of their communities.

 

The Leader said he had welcomed the Scrutiny Committee’s recommendation to increase the funding to tackle the climate emergency and said that £50k would be allocated for two years from the Special Projects Fund.  He said he would also be recommending to Cabinet that a one-off £20k grant be allocated from  ...  view the full minutes text for item 560.

561.

Treasury Management Strategy 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 164 KB

Minutes:

The Leader introduced the report which sought to approve the Treasury Management Strategy 2020/21 and the Prudential and Treasury Management Indicators and to approve the Treasury Management Policy in Appendix II. He drew attention to paragraphs 2.5 to 27 on page 93 of the report, which set out the sources of borrowing and said that currently it was considered that investments in the money market rather than retail properties were advisable.  The Leader said that SBC were not currently investing in equities but if in the future it did, ethical expectations would be considered.  He praised the Finance Team for their work and professionalism.

 

In seconding the recommendations, the Chairman of the Audit Committee said that the Audit Committee received regular reports and there were no areas of concern.

 

The Deputy Leader of the Conservative Group thanked the Chief Financial Officer, the Financial Services Manager and the Finance Team.

 

Resolved:

 

(1)  That the Treasury Management Strategy 2020/21 and the Prudential and Treasury Management Indicators be approved.

 

(2)  That the Treasury Management Policy in Appendix II be approved.

562.

Pay Policy Report pdf icon PDF 68 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Leader introduced the report and said that the administration had inherited a good Pay Policy and encouraged all Members to read the policy carefully.  He highlighted the changes in the Real Living Wage at section 3.1 on pages 108 – 109 and drew attention to the impact of the long term sickness of the Chief Executive at Appendix I(H).

 

The Deputy Cabinet Member for Finance seconded the recommendations.

 

Resolved: 

 

(1)  That the proposed Pay Policy Statement be agreed for publication on the Council’s web site.

 

(2)  That the information within the Pay Policy Statement is updated with actual year-end figures before final publication.

563.

Election of Mayor Elect and Deputy Mayor elect

The Mayor will declare at this point in the meeting who has been elected Mayor and Deputy Mayor elect for 2020/21 and Council will be asked to approve the appointment for Mayor and Deputy Mayor.

Minutes:

The Mayor announced that Councillor Paul Stephen had been appointed Mayor elect for the 2020/21 civic year, and Councillor Benjamin A Martin had been appointed Deputy Mayor for the 2020/21 civic year.

 

Resolved:

 

(1)  That the Mayor elect for the civic year 2020/21 be Councillor Paul Stephen.

 

(2)  That the Deputy Mayor elect for the civic year 2020/21 be Councillor Benjamin A Martin.

564.

Appointment to Outside Bodies - Queenborough Fisheries Trust pdf icon PDF 55 KB

Minutes:

This item was withdrawn from the Agenda.

565.

Appointment to Outside Bodies - Faversham Pools pdf icon PDF 54 KB

Minutes:

The Leader introduced the report which sought to nominate a Member to sit as a trustee on the Board of Faversham Pools Trustees.

 

The Leader proposed, and Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing seconded the proposal, that Councillor Tim Valentine be nominated to sit as a trustee on the Board of Faversham Pools Trustees.

 

Councillor Lloyd Bowen proposed and Councillor Cameron Beart seconded the proposal, that Councillor David Simmons be nominated to sit as a trustee on the Board of Faversham Pools.

 

In the debate that followed, a Member raised an issue about the status of a trustee within an organisation and raised concern about whether there was a conflict of interests if a Cabinet Member with responsibility for a particular function was appointed to an outside body with the same function.

 

In response, the Leader explained that there had been a high level discussion with the Senior Management Team, the Leader of the Conservative Group and himself, about concerns raised in nominating Members to Outside Bodies and it was re-iterated that so long as Members understood their responsibilities, then any conflicts of interest could be managed.

 

Resolved:

 

(1)  That Councillor Tim Valentine be nominated to sit as a trustee on the Board of Faversham Pools.

566.

Review of Polling Place - Murston Ward pdf icon PDF 63 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Leader introduced the report and proposed the recommendation which was seconded by the Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing.

 

Resolved:

 

(1)  That Council agrees to change the polling place for the Murston ward from Sunnybank Primary School to Woodcombe Sports and Social Club.

567.

Timetable of meetings 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 58 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Leader proposed and the Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing seconded the timetable of meetings, as set out within the report.

 

Resolved:

 

(1)  That the programme of meetings set out in Appendix I to the report be agreed.

568.

Recommendations for Approval pdf icon PDF 79 KB

Council is asked to note the recommendations from the following meetings:

 

Standards Committee Meeting held on 16 January 2020

Audit Committee Meeting held on 21 January 2020

General Purposes Committee held on 12 February 2020

Cabinet Meeting held on 12 February 2020

Minutes:

Resolved:

 

(1)  That  Minute no. 460 from the Standards Committee meeting held on 16 January 2020 be noted.

(2)  That  Minute no. 466 from the Audit Committee Meeting held on 21 January 2020 be noted.

(3)  That Minute No. 509 from the General Purposes Committee held on 12 February 2020 be noted

(4)That Minute Nos. 515, 516 and 517 from the Cabinet Meeting held on 12 February 2020 be noted.

569.

Adjournment of Meeting

Minutes:

The meeting was adjourned from 19: 17 to 19:27 and from 20:45 until 20:55.

 

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