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Agenda and minutes

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

Contact: Democratic Services, 01795 417330 

No. Item


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; 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 Chairman drew attention to the emergency evacuation procedure.



To approve the Minutes of the Meeting held on 23 January 2019 (Minute Nos. 455 - 459) as a correct record.


The Minutes of the meeting held on 23 January 2019 (Minute Nos. 455 – 459) were taken as read, approved and signed by the Chairman as a correct record.


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.



No interests were declared.


Invitation to Utility Companies

A number of Utility Companies have been invited to attend to discuss Swale’s infrastructure requirements.


The Chairman welcomed Mr Steve Whitlock, Asset Engineering Manager (SGN) to the meeting.


Mr Whitlock gave a presentation to Members which included technical information on gas processes, planning for future development and the future of gas.  He also advised that a new bio methane gas plant commenced operation on the Kemsley Paper Mill site in November 2018, and that plans were in place to replace the gas main within the structure of the Kingsferry Bridge on the Isle of Sheppey.


A Member sought clarification of SGN’s status and role in the industry.  Mr Whitlock explained that SGN were a limited company, whose role was to manage the gas distribution network in areas of the South of England, and in Scotland. He advised that SGN were a statutory undertaker, regulated by Ofgem. He agreed to provide a schematic map of Kent for Members.


In response to a question on data sharing and the cumulative affect new development may have on the gas supply to neighbouring authorities, Mr Whitlock confirmed that this was considered.


There was a discussion on fracking, and Steve Whitlock advised that, to his knowledge, there were no plans for SGN to become involved in this.


There was a discussion around the impact that development such as extensions and the formation of concrete parking areas in gardens had on gas pipes, and Mr Whitlock explained that there were periodic surveys and annual inspections of key areas where there might be risk of damage to mains as a result of development.  He drew attention to the ‘Dial before you dig’ service which gave advice on how to protect apparatus in advance of any work. 


A Member sought more detail on the proposed work to the gas main at Kingsferry Bridge.  In response, Mr Whitlock explained that there had previously been a negligible leak that was quickly identified  and made safe, but additional minor leaks further up Ferry Road were then diagnosed.  He advised that construction work was programmed for 2020/21.


In response to a Member’s question, Mr Whitlock explained that when leaks were reported, the history of reported leaks in an area were considered when repairs were scheduled, and this might lead to a larger area of replacement pipework and a bigger and more lengthy project than planned.


In response to a question, Mr Whitlock confirmed that imported gas was subject to the same rules and regulations as that sourced from the North Sea.


A Member highlighted the slow growth in supplying homes with green gas.  Mr Whitlock explained the complicated process involved and advised that economies of scale influenced the rate of growth.


Members discussed the impact that Brexit might have on importing gas from outside the UK.  Mr Whitlock explained the robust distribution network and investment in the service and said he was confident of the long term future of gas services.


The Chairman thanked Mr Whitlock for his attendance and Members applauded.


Members agreed that an update from Mr Whitlock at a future Scrutiny Committee Meeting  ...  view the full minutes text for item 522.


Record of Thanks


The Chairman thanked all Committee Members for their input over the past year, in particular Councillors Conway, Samuel and Stokes who were standing down.  The Chairman also gave thanks to the Policy and Performance Officer and Democratic Services for their work throughout the year.




The Chairman called an adjournment from 8.46pm to 8.50pm.


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