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Agenda and draft minutes

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

Contact: Democratic Services, 01795 417330 

Items
No. Item

338.

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.

 

Minutes:

The Chairman drew attention to the emergency evacuation procedure.

339.

Minutes

To approve the Minutes of the Meeting held on 2 October 2019 (Minute Nos. 262 - 270) as a correct record.

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting held on Wednesday 2 October 2019 (Minute Nos. 262 – 270) were taken as read, approved and signed by the Chairman as a correct record.

340.

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.

341.

Scrutiny of 2020/21 Fees and Charges proposals pdf icon PDF 1 MB

The Committee is asked to consider the proposals.

 

The Leader, the Chief Financial Officer and the Head of Commissioning, Environment and Leisure have been invited to attend for this item.

 

Updated report added 29 October 2019.

Minutes:

The Chairman welcomed the Leader, the Chief Financial Officer and the Head of Commissioning, Environment and Leisure to the meeting.

 

The Chairman advised that the report had been considered by Cabinet the previous week, and would be considered by Council the following week.  He said that Appendix I on pages 54-71 were areas where the Council had some discretion on charges and Appendix II listed the fees and charges set by Government which Swale Borough Council (SBC) had no discretion over.

 

The Leader introduced the report and advised that most fees had been frozen, there were a few small rises and a few new charges.  He highlighted that parking charges were frozen and the fee for the new multi-storey car park in Sittingbourne would be reduced to £7 per day.  The Leader drew attention to the planning fee charges on page 7 of the report, and advised Members that the fee for pre-application planning advice meetings, for very large major and major applications, would be increased to £3,000 and £2,000 respectively.  He also drew attention to the tabled paper which compared the fees charged for pre-application advice in other Kent authorities, and said that SBC set the highest fees in Kent.

 

The Chairman asked Members to ask questions on the fees and charges set out in Appendix I which was considered page by page.

 

Page 7

 

A Member raised concern that that the increase in planning fees would affect some smaller developers.  Other Members raised issues including whether the increase sent out the wrong message to developers, how much income the fees generated and sought clarification on the minimum and maximum level of fees on the tabled paper.

 

In response, the Leader said that the increase was not significant to deter developers or affect development opportunities in Swale.  The Chief Financial Officer advised that pre-application planning fees income was £120k, as recorded on page 73 of the report.  A Member said that SBC received more major development planning applications than any other Borough in Kent and as the figures on the tabled paper referred to the current year, the fees charged by other authorities for next year was not yet known.

 

Page 22

 

In response to the Chairman’s question on who pays for litter picking after events on Council land where no fee is charged, the Head of Commissioning, Environment and Leisure advised that litter management discussions took place with organisers.

 

Page 28

 

There was a discussion on the reduction of collection of garden waste bins.  The Head of Commissioning, Environment and Leisure explained that the service was good value for money at £37 per year, but some flexibility was required to allow for the weather and Christmas collections. 

 

Page 30

 

A Member drew attention that the comment in New Street developments should read ‘no inflationary increase’ for three of the items.  The Head of Commissioning, Environment and Leisure confirmed he would clarify the position ahead of the Council meeting.

 

The Head of Commissioning, Environment and Leisure confirmed that fly  ...  view the full minutes text for item 341.

342.

Special Projects Fund

The Leader and Chief Financial Officer have been invited to attend for this item.

 

Members are invited to ask questions.

Minutes:

The Leader gave a summary of the background and purposes of the Special Projects Fund, and explained that £1million per annum over a 4 year period would come from reserves and would fund small one-off public projects.  He explained that Members could bid for small projects through the relevant Cabinet Member and sign off of each project was made by the relevant Cabinet Member and Head of Service, then the Leader and Chief Financial Officer.    The Leader added that so far 12% of the £4million had been committed to get projects moving as commencement of projects was unlikely until Spring 2020.

 

The Chief Financial Officer referred to the tabled Appendix which listed projects already bid for and their estimated costs, and said that Faversham Swimming Pool should also be added to the list.  He added that details of the bidding and signing-off process would be reported to the next Cabinet meeting and in future, every finance report would set out the funding.

 

The Chairman asked whether the £100k recently allocated to Murston church came from the Special Projects Fund?  The Leader explained that it had come from the Communities Fund. The ward Member expressed disappointment not to be advised about this.  In the discussion that followed, the Chief Financial Officer confirmed that there was £250k in the Communities Fund.  A Member questioned the process, how applications were made and why this information had not been shared before?  The Chief Financial Officer explained that as projects needed to be progressed, the same process for signing-off that had been used for the Regeneration Fund under the previous administration was replicated.

 

A Member supported the objectives of the Special Fund but questioned whether all the projects on the tabled paper (Appendix I) were appropriate.  He said that the role of Scrutiny was to ensure that the correct things were being done and money was being well spent and without knowing all the details it was difficult to do that, or to inform the public that money was being spent well.  He asked that more detailed information be contained in Cabinet reports and suggested that volunteer organisations could be involved in carrying out some of the work. The Leader acknowledged the comments. 

 

A Member drew attention that funding for projects had been agreed in public documents, but costs had changed.

 

The Chairman asked for more ward Member consultation.

 

In response to a question from a Member on whether funding had been assigned to specific parks (Appendix I), the Leader advised that it had not.

 

In response to a Member’s question on the cleaning of 4 Air Quality Management  Areas, it was confirmed that St. Paul’s had already had a deep clean. 

 

A Member questioned where the information received from the survey of local haulage and bus companies would be used as the Council had no direct control.  The Cabinet Member for Environment advised that the information would be used to apply to Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs to fund an electric bus  ...  view the full minutes text for item 342.

343.

Other Review Progress Reports

The Committee is asked to consider updates on other reviews:

 

Regeneration Schemes (other than Sittingbourne Town Centre).

Minutes:

Regeneration (other than Sittingbourne Town Centre)

 

The lead Member of the Task and Finish Group advised that there had been a meeting with Heads of Service on projects but due to the General Election announcement, another meeting would not be held until the New Year.

344.

Cabinet Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 79 KB

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

Minutes:

The Chairman drew attention to the updated Forward Plan which had been tabled. 

345.

Committee Work Programme pdf icon PDF 42 KB

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

Minutes:

The Chairman drew Members’ attention to the tabled revised Committee Work Programme and advised changes were necessary as the next Scrutiny Committee meeting scheduled for 10 December 2019 had been cancelled due to the General Election.  The Policy and Performance Officer advised that an updated version would be circulated.

 

The Chief Finance Officer explained that the third quarter budget monitoring report would not be ready in time for the meeting scheduled on 22 January 2020, but the second quarter budget monitoring and performance monitoring report (second quarter) report would be presented.  The third quarter budget monitoring would be presented to the March 2020 meeting.

346.

Exclusion of the Press and Public

Minutes:

The Chairman clarified that the report to be considered under Agenda Item 9 urgent business was confidential and proposed this part of the meeting to be held in closed session. The proposal was seconded. The Chairman reminded Members of the consequences of any breach of confidentiality.

 

Resolved:

 

(1) That under Section 100 (4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following item of business on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act: Paragraph 3: Information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information).

347.

Urgent Business Requests

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

Minutes:

Call-in

 

The Chairman explained that Cabinet resolved at its meeting on 30 October 2019 that delegated authority be given to the Director of Regeneration and the Chief Financial Officer in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Economy and Property to determine a way forward based upon Option B in the restricted report:

 

(1)     That delegated authority be given to the Director of Regeneration and the Chief Financial Officer in consultation with the Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and the Cabinet Member for Economy and Property to determine a way forward based upon Option B in the restricted report.

 

Subsequently, the Chairman requested that the Cabinet decision be called-in for consideration by the Scrutiny Committee in order that more information around the reasons and proposals could be provided, and to consider any viable alternatives.

 

The Chairman welcomed the Cabinet Member for Economy and Property and the Director of Regeneration.

 

The Leader gave his support to the Cabinet decision, explained the advantages and disadvantages of each option, and gave a summary of the Council’s current and likely future position.  The Leader, Cabinet Member for Economy and Chief Financial Officer answered questions.

 

Recommended:

 

(1)  That the Cabinet decision to go forward with Option B be supported.

348.

Adjournment of meeting

Minutes:

The Chairman called an adjournment at 20.31 hrs in order for Members to consider the confidential appendix.  The meeting was reconvened at 20.40hrs.

 

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