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Agenda and minutes

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Items
No. Item

89.

Fire 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.

 

Minutes:

The Chairman drew attention to the Fire Evacuation Procedure.

90.

Minutes

To approve the Minutes of the Meeting held on 7 June 2018 (Minute Nos. 42 - 53) as a correct record.

Minutes:

The Minutes of the Meeting held on 7 June 2018 (Minutes Nos. 42 - 53) were taken as read, approved and signed by the Chairman as a correct record.

91.

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.

92.

Sittingbourne Town Centre Regeneration Update pdf icon PDF 58 KB

To receive a written update.

Minutes:

The Committee considered the written update.

 

Several Members thanked the Sittingbourne Town Centre Manager for circulating the Critical Path Analysis and Risk Register documents that had previously been requested.

 

A Member sought an update on the Central Avenue, Sittingbourne one-way reversal scheme associated with the High Street market closure.  The Chief Financial Officer agreed to arrange for this information to be circulated to Scrutiny Committee Members.

 

There was a discussion around the completion dates of the roadworks.

 

Resolved:

 

(1)  That the report be noted.

93.

Financial Management Report pdf icon PDF 118 KB

The Committee is asked to consider the Financial Management Report.

 

The Cabinet Member and Deputy Cabinet Member for Finance and Performance have been invited to attend for this item.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chairman welcomed the Cabinet Member for Finance and Performance and the Chief Financial Officer to the meeting.

 

The Cabinet Member for Finance and Performance introduced the report which set out the revenue and capital outturn position for 2017/2018.  He highlighted the £829,000 underspend and praised the Finance Team for their continued hard work in achieving savings.  He highlighted recent investments and advised the Scrutiny Committee that, subject to any comments received, the report would be considered by Cabinet at their meeting on 11 July 2018.  Finally, he congratulated the Finance Team for winning the Team of the Year award at the Swale Stars ceremony.

 

The Cabinet Member for Finance and Performance invited Members’ comments.

 

A Member referred to the additional income from Beach Huts on page 7 and asked how many Huts were owned and rented out by Swale Borough Council (SBC)?  The Chief Financial Officer agreed to find out.

 

A Member sought clarification on the £29k underspend of Members’ Allowances on page 9.  The Cabinet Member for Finance and Performance advised that some allowances were not claimed.

 

In response to a question, the Chief Financial Officer advised that ‘Corporate Items’ as referred to on page 10 were detailed on pages 28 to 29 of the report and were non-service costs that related to the whole Council.  In response to the same Member, the Chief Financial Officer explained what the costs were.

 

There was a discussion around Members Localism Grants (page 31) and the Cabinet Member for Finance and Performance confirmed that most of the grant money had been spent.  He explained the reasons why grant money was sometimes unspent and highlighted the strict monitoring process that was followed.

 

A Member drew attention to the £44k underspend on public conveniences cleaning on page 33 of the report.  In response, the Chief Financial Officer advised that the underspend was as a result of savings on the cleaning contract, and the savings would be reinvested into improving the facilities.

 

In response to a Member’s question on the difference between Revenue Rollover Requests and Revenue Operational Bid Requests, the Chief Financial Officer explained that Operational Bid Requests were made to a general underspend pool and Revenue Rollover Requests were from within an individual service area.  The Chief Financial Officer agreed to make the wording more clear.

 

A Member praised the format of the report and Members congratulated the Finance Team and compared them favourably to other less well-managed Councils.

 

POST MEETING NOTE:  The follow up information requested was provided by the Chief Financial Officer and circulated to all Members of the Scrutiny Committee the day after the meeting.

 

Resolved:

 

(1)  That the gross revenue underspend on services of £829,000 (including £1,917,000 additional income) be noted.

 

(2)  That the revenue services rollovers of £571,660 and the setting up of new reserves as set out in Table 3 in Appendix I for approval be noted.

 

(3)  That the revenue service bids of £288,060, as set out in Table 4 in Appendix I be noted.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 93.

94.

Performance Monitoring Report pdf icon PDF 3 MB

The Committee is asked to consider the Performance Monitoring Report.

 

The Deputy Cabinet Member for Finance and Performance and the Policy and Performance Manager have been invited to attend for this item.

Minutes:

The Chairman welcomed the Policy and Performance Manager and Business Improvement Officer to the meeting for this item.

 

The Cabinet Member for Finance and Performance introduced the report which set out the quarterly portfolio-based balanced scorecard performance reports for Quarter 4 (January to March 2018).  He drew attention to the high targets set and praised the excellent performance figures achieved.  The Policy and Performance Manager gave an explanation of the Balanced Scorecard Performance reports.

 

Corporate Overview

 

A Member raised a concern at the high risk scores for Cyber security and General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).  The Policy and Performance Manager reminded Members that the risk summary on the scorecard was at a very high level and that much more detail on risk management was regularly provided to the Audit Committee.

 

In the discussion that followed, the Chairman said that he expected the GDPR risk to be high because of the high impact a breach might have.  Another Member was pleased that there were plans in place to reduce risks and suggested that the GDPR Officer should work with the Information Commissioners Office to stress test.

 

The Policy and Performance Manager agreed to provide Members with more detail on the two risks identified.

 

A Member drew attention to the high levels of long-term sickness.   The Cabinet Member for Finance and Performance advised that long-term sickness was not controllable and that just a few members of staff being off could alter the figures.  He added that the Health and Safety Committee monitored stress levels of staff at their meetings.  The Chairman agreed that short-term sickness levels needed to be managed, but reminded the Committee that the figures were from January 2018 – March 2018 when winter sickness was more common.

 

Environment and Rural Affairs

 

Members congratulated all those involved in achieving 100%  target in responding to complaints.

 

Finance and Performance

 

There was no discussion.

 

Housing and Wellbeing

 

In response to a question from a Member, the Strategic Housing and Health Manager gave the definition of Affordable Housing as set by Central Government.  In response to a question from the same Member, the Housing Options Manager clarified that the graph showed the number of people who had been prevented from becoming homeless after approaching Housing for advice, and added that some customers didn’t return after the first approach.

 

The Cabinet Member for Finance and Performance praised the work of Resident Services.  A Member agreed and spoke positively about the continued increase in the number of long-term empty homes being brought back into use.

 

Planning Services

 

The Policy and Performance Manager highlighted the improvements across the service.  A Member gave particular praise to the improvements in response times in Planning Enforcement.

 

Regeneration

 

The Chairman praised the 100% target achieved in response to complaints. 

 

In response to a question from a Member, the Policy and Performance Manager agreed to provide a follow-up response on why the Rateable Business Growth always peaked in Quarter One.

 

A Member drew attention to the low levels of achievement in  ...  view the full minutes text for item 94.

95.

Change to the Order of Business

Minutes:

The Chairman advised of a change to the running order, to move back the item on Housing – Update on recommendations made by the Scrutiny Committee, as the Cabinet Member for Housing and Safer Communities had been delayed.

96.

Reviews at Follow-up Stage and Log of Recommendations

Verbal update on frequency of future updates.

Minutes:

The Policy and Performance Officer explained that this item usually gave a monthly update on what progress had been made following recommendations the Scrutiny Committee had made in past reports or discussions.  He advised that, as monthly progress was historically slow, Members might wish to consider the item was brought to Scrutiny Committee every three months.  He suggest that, in the case of the current Leisure and Tourism item, the Cabinet Member for Regeneration and officers be invited to the Scrutiny Committee meeting every six months.

 

All Members in attendance agreed.

 

Resolved:

 

(1)   Members agreed that the Reviews at Follow-up Stage and Log of Recommendations be reported to Scrutiny Committee every three months.

97.

Committee Work Programme 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 123 KB

The Committee is asked to consider the Scrutiny Committee’s Work Programme for the municipal year 2018/19.

Minutes:

The Policy and Performance Officer introduced the Committee Work Programme 2018/19.  He highlighted current items still under review.

 

The Chairman suggested that no new reviews should commence until existing reviews were completed and that a review on Utilities could be considered at the end of 2018.

 

Resolved:

 

(1)  Members noted the report.

98.

Housing - Update on recommendations made by the Scrutiny Committee pdf icon PDF 95 KB

The Cabinet Member for Housing and Safer Communities and the Strategic Housing and Health Manager have been invited to attend for this item.

Minutes:

The Chairman welcomed the Cabinet Member for Housing and Safer Communities, the Strategic Housing and Health Manager and the Housing Options Manager to the meeting.  He explained the Scrutiny Committee’s concern over the lack of progress in the recommendations and subsequent invitation to attend the meeting.

 

The Cabinet Member for Housing and Safer Communities thanked the Chairman and explained that whilst the recommendations were being worked on, updates had not been forthcoming, but would be provided in the future.

 

The Chairman went through the recommendations one by one and invited questions.

 

Recommendation (1)

 

In response to a question from a Member, the Strategic Housing and Health Manager explained the difference between affordable and social housing and different types of housing schemes available.

 

In the discussion that followed, the Strategic Housing and Health Manager explained that affordable homes were not only available to homeless households and explained the process of bidding on social housing.  She advised that new homes built were not necessarily automatically given to the homeless.  The Housing Options Manager added that, of the 30 homes currently available to bid on, six per month were usually allocated to the homeless.  She said that she hoped it would soon rise to 10 per month.

 

The Cabinet Member for Housing and Safer Communities advised that there was a number of criteria to examine when considering if an applicant qualified for a property, and a homeless person did not automatically rise to the top of the list.

 

Recommendation (2)

 

The Cabinet Member for Housing and Safer Communities said that there were meetings with Optivo on a quarterly basis, as well as more regular communication when a proposed new housing development exceeded more than 10 houses.  He added that the Cabinet Member for Planning was carrying out a review of how homes in the future could be constructed with facilities to be suitable homes for life.

 

Recommendation (5)

 

In response to a question from a Member on whether loans could be used to restore properties, the Cabinet Member for Housing and Safer Communities advised that the Policy was to bring homes back into use for landlords to rent out commercially.

 

In the debate that followed, the Cabinet Member for Housing and Safer Communities referred to the former Citizens Advice Bureau building in Station Street, Sittingbourne being considered for temporary housing accommodation by Cabinet on 11 July 2018, and the 11 new properties Optivo were planning to build on land-locked land at Minster recently sold by SBC.  He added that 65 empty homes were brought back to use last year and work was continuing to add more.

 

A Member drew attention that the development of new housing built by Housing Associations could not be sustained without subsidies as costs would not be covered.  The Cabinet Member for Housing and Safer Communities agreed, and highlighted the reduction in housing stock as a direct result of the Right to Buy scheme.

 

The Housing Options Manager spoke of the affordability tests carried out by Optivo and advised  ...  view the full minutes text for item 98.

99.

Other Review Progress Reports

The Committee is asked to consider updates on other reviews.

Minutes:

A Member advised that Members of the Development Management Task and Finish Group would be meeting on 25 July 2018 to progress the review.

 

The Policy and Performance Officer agreed to arrange a meeting of those on the Regeneration (other than Sittingbourne Town Centre) Task and Finish Group.  The Chairman clarified that the review would cover the wider area of Sittingbourne not associated with the current regeneration scheme.  A Member suggested including the issue of lack of skills in Swale as part of the review.

100.

Cabinet Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 89 KB

The Committee is asked to consider the Forward Plan with a view to identifying possible items for pre-decision scrutiny.

Minutes:

The Senior Democratic Services Officer advised Members of the changes to the Forward Plan since the Scrutiny Agenda had been published and reminded Members that the updated Forward Plan had been circulated via despatch.

101.

Urgent Business Requests

The Committee is asked to consider any requests from Committee Members to commence a review.

Minutes:

There were none.

 

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