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Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Council Chamber, 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 5 June 2019 (Minute Nos. 24 - 33) as a correct record.



The Minutes of the Meeting held 5 June 2019 (Minute Nos. 24 – 33) 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.


Introduction from the Chairman


The Chairman of Scrutiny welcomed everyone to the meeting, and said that the Scrutiny Committee wanted to be a critical friend to the administration and work where possible with Members to the benefit of the residents of Swale.  He said that Cabinet and Officers of the Council should be reminded of the powers of the Scrutiny Committee and that requests from the Committee to Cabinet Members and Officers should be actioned and met where at all possible.  He added that where there were difficulties, the Cabinet Member or Officer should discuss this with the Chairman, Vice-Chairman and Officers.


A visiting Member supported the Chairman and the role of Scrutiny.


The Vice-Chairman sought clarity on whether a Deputy Cabinet Member was able to sit on Scrutiny Committee.  In the discussion that followed, the Senior Democratic Services Officer advised Members on the situation and the Chairman requested that the circumstances be resolved by the time of the next Scrutiny Committee meeting in September 2019.


Financial Management Report pdf icon PDF 305 KB

The Committee is asked to consider the Financial Management Year End Report 2018/19.

Additional documents:


The Chairman welcomed Councillor Alastair Gould (Deputy Cabinet Member for Planning) attending the meeting as representative for the Cabinet Member for Finance, and the Chief Financial Officer.


The Deputy Cabinet Member for Planning introduced the report and referred to service underspends which would be rolled over, with some funds used for Special Projects in the future.  He highlighted the additional income from the Sittingbourne Town Centre Regeneration and explained that £4m would be received over the next 4 years from the growth of Business Rates, and £1.7m from the North Kent Business Rate Plan.  For the benefit of new Councillors, the Chief Financial Officer gave a brief history and explanation of the budget savings.


Members asked questions and raised points which included:


·        Where was the funding of the car parking concessions and the Real Living Wage coming from in the future?;

·        clarification on the future costs for topping up the Special Projects fund;

·        did the reinstatement of the car park concession include Sheerness Leisure Centre?;

·        was the car park concession at the leisure centres for users of the centre only?;

·        what were the implications on other pay grades in implementing the Real Living Wage to Swale Borough Council (SBC) staff?;

·        if the Real Living Wage level continued to increase, were SBC tied into the agreement and was it reviewed annually?;

·        why did the car parking concession exclude Faversham Swimming Pool?;

·        did the £68k funding for the Real Living Wage include national insurance and pension contributions?;

·        where were the running costs of the Special Projects coming from?

·        had an Impact Equality Assessment been carried out when considering the Real Living Wage and were any other alternatives considered to remunerating staff?


In response, the Deputy Cabinet Member for Planning spoke positively on the benefits of the Real Living Wage and said that SBC should take the lead and incur the costs, which would not have a huge impact on the Council budget.  The Chief Financial Officer said that it was SBC’s decision to implement the Real Living Wage, it was only a small part of the wage bill and the cost did include National Insurance and Pension contributions.  He added that more information would be tabled before the Cabinet meeting on 10 July 2019.


The Deputy Cabinet Member for Planning confirmed that the concession for parking was for users of the leisure centre only.  The Chief Financial Officer said that Faversham Pool was not run by SBC but there were ongoing discussions around concessions for that car park.


The Chairman went through Appendix I, page by page.

In response to a Member’s question on the reduction in income from Land Charges (page 23), the Chief Financial Officer explained that customers could now carry out land charges more cheaply by not using a Local Authority and figures were expected to continue to fall in the future although other ideas of bringing in customers were being looked at by the team.


A Member asked which building the Sheerness District Office (page 28) was.  The  ...  view the full minutes text for item 112.


Reviews Paused during 2018/19

The Committee is asked to consider updates on:


Development Management; and

Regeneration Review.


Development Management


The Policy and Performance Officer gave an outline of the work that had already been carried out and explained that the recommendations made in an interim report were not accepted by the previous Cabinet.  He added that there were further aspects of the review to work on if Members wished to continue.


In the discussion that followed, the Vice-Chairman gave more details on aspects of the review that could be considered in the future.


Members agreed to abandon the review.




The Policy and Performance Officer explained that the Regeneration review had gone in a different direction to its original purpose.  The Chairman agreed and said that the review could look at a few specific projects as the previous review had got too big.    


Members agreed to re-commence the review with the following Members sitting on the Task and Finish Group:


Councillor Cameron Beart (co-opted Member)

Councillor Steve Davey

Councillor Tim Gibson

Councillor Lee McCall

Councillor Pete Neal

Councillor Ken Pugh


In the interests of geographical balance, it was agreed that a Faversham Ward Member be co-opted onto the group, and an email would be sent out to Members for a volunteer.¹


It was agreed that Councillor Beart be the interim co-ordinator.


¹POST MEETING NOTE:  Councillor Benjamin A Martin agreed to be co-opted onto the Regeneration Task and Finish Group.


Scrutiny Committee in Council Structures


The Chairman proposed that a future review should focus on what benefits the Scrutiny Committee might have in different Council structures such as Cabinet/Executive or hybrid Council structures.  Councillor Ken Pugh seconded the proposal.


Members agreed that the Scrutiny function in different Council structures should be a future review.


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.


The Senior Democratic Services Officer advised that the Forward Plan had been republished since the Scrutiny Agenda had been published and Members had received the updated Forward Plan electronically.


Members asked that Cabinet Member names be added to the Lead Member column on the Forward Plan.




(1)  That the Forward Plan was noted.


Urgent Business Requests

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


There were no urgent business requests.


Committee Work Programme pdf icon PDF 88 KB

The Committee is asked to note the Committee’s Work Programme (attached) for the remainder of the year.


Tabled update added 5.7.19.


Sittingbourne Town Centre Regeneration


The Chairman invited questions on the Sittingbourne Town Centre Regeneration tabled update.


Members raised the following:


·        Not enough space at the bus station area with buses loading and unloading; not wide enough for wheelchairs and buggies;

·        buses taking too long to get up St.Michael’s Road when leaving The Forum;

·        one particular bus operator blocking other buses at the stand;

·        the loading area should be a bus waiting area;

·        what part of the leisure development scheme at Bourne Place had not been built in accordance with the approved scheme and why?;

·        would PDR newsletters be circulated to Councillors?;

·        have the electric charging points been replaced by mother and child bays in the multi-storey car park?;

·        have the Cabinet Member and Deputy Cabinet Member taken up their place on the Board?;

·        some parts of the road were dangerous to cross, what provisions were in place for the elderly?;

·        the carriageway and footway works surrounding the multi-storey car park were not substantially complete, further update required;

·        little activity outside the multi-storey car park, further update for provisional opening for use required; and

·        when would the block paving at the train station be finished?


The Senior Democratic Services Officer agreed to forward questions and seek answers to outstanding questions from the previous Scrutiny Committee held in June 2019.


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