Agenda and minutes
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To approve the Minutes the of the Meeting held on 21 October 2020 (Minute Nos.198 - 203) as a correct record.
The Minutes of the Meeting held on 21 October 2020 (Minute Nos. 198 – 203) 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 meeting 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.
The Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance, the Chief Financial Officer and the Head of Commissioning, Environment and Leisure have been invited to attend for this item.
The Chairman welcomed the Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance, the Chief Financial Officer and the Head of Commissioning, Environment and Leisure to the meeting.
The Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance introduced the report. He said that discretionary services must pay for themselves and there was little change to the Fees and Charges from the previous year, to reflect the difficult financial times.
The Chairman advised that Appendix II on pages 52 -69 listed the fees and charges set by Government which Swale Borough Council (SBC) had no discretion over. He invited Members to ask questions on the fees and charges set out in Appendix I which Members considered page by page.
In response to a Member’s question on the process if a suitable contract for pest control was not appointed as in recommendation (2), the Head of Commissioning, Environment and Leisure explained that SBC promoted the contractor, the contract was currently out for tender, and he was confident that contractors would come forward. In the debate that followed, Members raised concern that the Council were not just an advisory service and that it was required to go through the full tender process to select a contractor.
In response to a Member’s question on how the private disabled works charge worked, the Chief Financial Officer agreed to find out.
In response to a Member’s question on what Con 29 was, the Chief Financial Officer agreed to find out.
A Member sought clarification on the time limitation charges on electric charging points in car parks and the Head of Commissioning, Environment and Leisure confirmed there was only a cost charge if a vehicle used the facility during the car park fee-paying period. In the discussion that followed the Cabinet Member for Environment said that the use of the charging points could be monitored and the costs of installing charging points was already in the budget. The Head of Commissioning, Environment and Leisure added that the current costs outside of fee-paying hours was negligible, but 2021 was a key year for electric vehicle provision and the costs would be scrutinised and fees set accordingly.
A Member sought clarity on the car park season tickets in the Borough and the Head of Commissioning, Environment and Leisure confirmed the Multi-Storey Car Park was not included and would amend the wording in the document.
A Member referred to the fees for Travelling Fairs which was raised at the Cabinet meeting on 28 October 2020. The Head of Commissioning, Environment and Leisure said that separating the fees for fairs between local and commercial fairs would be discussed and he advised that the report would be updated for Members to consider at the next Full Council meeting in January 2021.
A Member spoke positively on the popularity of the garden waste bins but warned that the higher than inflation increase in fees could discourage subscribers. He said a 1.5% increase would be fairer and ... view the full minutes text for item 260.
The Committee is asked to consider the Performance Monitoring Report 2020/21 Quarter 2 (July – September 2020).
The Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance, and the Business Support Officer (Policy) have been invited to attend for this item.
The Leader introduced the report which set out the quarterly performance management report for second quarter 2020/21 (July – September 2020). He explained that the first quarter report was cancelled due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the Authority’s resources, but the data was fed-in to keep a running assessment.
He highlighted paragraph 1.2 on page 74 of the report which detailed that 76% of all performance indicators were green, 10% were amber and 14% were red. The Leader drew attention to Chart 1 on page 75 which charted the gradual decline in red throughout the period.
Referring to the 20 corporate indicators, measured monthly at paragraph 2.8 on page 76, the Leader said that some of the indicators in red were Covid-linked such as increase in waste collection enquiries to Customer Services and reduction in response times for Planning Enforcement complaints due to childcare issues during lockdown.
The Leader drew attention to Table 3 on page 79 and said it was no surprise that there had been an increase in the number of households living in temporary accommodation.
A Member raised an issue with how Planning Enforcement complaints were logged. He said that the reference number recorded in the Mid-Kent planning administration team in Maidstone did not correspond with reference numbers kept by the Swale Planning Enforcement team and he feared that 76.7% was an underestimate. The Business Support Officer (Policy) agreed to look into this.
In response to a Member’s comments around bin collections, the Leader said the Council were moving towards a new contract. The Head of Commissioning, Environment and Leisure added that many of the issues were historic and there had been increased interaction with the new management team at the contractor, however there were still Covid-19 related issues and missed bins was an area of focus to be improved upon.
The Chairman referred to the percentage of calls to the customer contact centre answered in 20 seconds and reminded Members there had also been a number of network issues. He asked whether there was a requirement of minimum Wi-Fi broadband strength for staff to work from home? The Head of Commissioning, Environment and Leisure said there was no minimum requirement in the terms and conditions, and that ICT Services were working well with staff with poor broadband. He added that Swale House had been made Covid-19 secure in order to facilitate staff that had poor broadband. A Member commented that resilience variance was an issue as even strong Wi-Fi sometimes dropped.
Drawing attention to the information on the sticker campaign for bins as highlighted on page 78 of the report, the Chairman suggested there needed to be more publicity to make public aware. The Head of Commissioning, Environment and Leisure said there would be a social media campaign and stickers would be put on all bins. A Member said that putting waste in the wrong bins was a major issue. In response, the Head of Commissioning, Environment and Leisure said there was a ... view the full minutes text for item 261.
The Committee is asked to consider the Forward Plan with a view to identifying possible items for pre-decision scrutiny.
In response to a Member’s question on the Land at Whitstable Road, Faversham, the Cabinet Member for Environment explained that the land was not suitable for development.
In response to questions on the impact on savings on the Clear Air Zone, the Cabinet Member for Environment said it would not deliver savings, the costs would exceed the revenue and options would be considered.
The Senior Democratic Services Officer explained that the Local Plan Panel meeting scheduled for 19 November 2020 had been cancelled and that a report would instead be considered at the Local Plan Panel meeting scheduled for 2 December 2020.
In response to a Member’s question on why the works to Swale House appeared on the Forward Plan twice, the Policy Officer reminded the meeting that the non-key decision was the update, and the key decision was the business case. The Chairman added that the Swale House Refurbishment business case would be considered for pre-scrutiny by the Committee in January 2021.
(1) That the Forward Plan be noted.
There was an adjournment from 8.22pm to 8.27pm.