Agenda and minutes

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No. Item



To approve the Minutes of the Meeting held on 17 November 2021 (Minute Nos. 436 - 439) as a correct record.



The Minutes of the Meeting held on 17 November 2021 (Minute Nos. 436 – 439) 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 Interests (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.

Part B Minutes for Information


An update on Master's House, Sheerness pdf icon PDF 179 KB

Additional documents:


The Cabinet Member for Economy and Property introduced the report which set out the works, progress and financial propriety in respect of the Cabinet approval at the meeting on 17 March 2021 to allocate capital funds to the low carbon refurbishment of the Master’s House, Sheerness.  She outlined the three recommendations that had been approved by Cabinet.  Following a tendering process, in a difficult market, the Cabinet Member said that a local Sheerness company had been employed to carry out the project and preliminary works had commenced.


Members were invited to comment and ask questions.


A Member sought clarification on the costs of the project so far and any further costs with regard to Phase 2 of the project.  The Interim Property Manager explained that as well as the £1.3m approved by Cabinet, there was an additional £234,750 Salix grant, but this would not cover all the costs.  With rising costs as a result of the Covid-19 Pandemic and Brexit, the contract needed to be re-evaluated otherwise it would have gone over budget.  The Member spoke on the priorities of the project and raised concern that community organisations might not be able to afford the rent.  In response, the Cabinet Member for Economy and Property reminded Members of the poor state the building had got into and that it had been un-fit for rental.  The project would allow the building to meet Energy Performance Certificate standards and to be accessible for all.  She welcomed the net zero targets and economic benefits of the refurbished building for Sheerness, through the rental and community opportunities.  The Member referred to paragraph 1.7 in the report and the option of terminating the contract, with the saving of £1.3m and suggested the funds be diverted to the refurbishment of Swale House instead.


In response to a question, the Interim Property Manager explained that there would not be a penalty if the extended completion date of 30 June 2022 was missed.  Salix, the grant funding agency, was aware of the timescales and price increases and had allowed extensions to the contract.  A Member asked about what work had been undertaken to look for potential commercial tenants.  The Cabinet Member said that there had been some interest in the project and that a number of different models were being looked at, with both short and long-term rental options.


A Member asked whether there would be an opportunity for start-up businesses to use the building.  The Cabinet Member said the layout and size of the rooms in Master’s House were ideal for small businesses.  She added that the pandemic had shown that small businesses needed space and ‘Locate in Kent’ had confirmed there was demand.  The Cabinet Member acknowledged the Member’s comment that buildings such as this would fall into disrepair if historical maintenance was not kept up.


A Member considered Sheerness was not an office-heavy environment and that there was already space available if needed.  He asked what would draw people to Master’s House and felt that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 543.


Financial Management Report - Second Quarter 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 453 KB


The Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance introduced the report which set out the revenue and capital projected outturn position for 2021/22, based on service activity up to the end of September 2021 and collated from monitoring returns from budget managers.


The Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance drew attention to the projected overspend of £359k as set out in Table 1 on page 61 of the report.  He referred to the £1.04m set aside for the Covid Recovery Fund, with a balance of £594k after funding the leisure centre schemes set out in paragraph 3.8 of the report.  He also drew attention to the £286k overspend in relation to bus companies’ compensation on page 73 of the report, which could reduce to £100k overspend which he considered to be encouraging.  The Council would receive an additional £198k of Government Covid funding for the loss of sales, fees and charges income.  It was hoped that the Council would not need to spend all the Covid-19 Pandemic funding.


The Chairman invited comments and questions on the main report.


A Member congratulated the finance team on 98.6% of invoices from suppliers being paid within 30 days of receipt.


The Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and the Director of Resources responded as below:


Page 68

Customer Service Centre:  the underspend was due to vacancies within the team.


Page 71

Parking Partnership with Maidstone Borough Council – additional costs:  the re-charge from parking management was activity based and the shared cost had gone up and this was the estimate for the year.


Page 72

Shared Service costs – 2021/22 Budget reported service savings for the Air Quality Project Officer:  the £42k overspend was due to the post being removed from the current year’s budget and a crossover in staffing, the post was now vacant and the overspend would reduce.


Page 73

Salary underspend:  the intention was to fill the vacancies and the Council was actively pursuing this.  It was not considered good practice to offer supplementary payments to attract people to jobs.


Sittingbourne Town Centre – bus companies compensation:  this was due to the overall financial impact on the bus companies at both the hub and the High Street during the Spirit of Sittingbourne regeneration.


Page 75

Sittingbourne Christmas Lights: funding for this came from the Improvement & Resilience Fund and could not be broken down.


The Director of Resources agreed to send responses to all Members to the following:


Page 65

Coronation Clock Tower, Sheerness:  where was the £38k from Section 106 agreements from?

Murston Old Church: was the £20k funding part of the Communities Fund or was it additional funding?


Appendix I


Page 68

Democratic Services – Members Allowances & Travel:  more information requested on the £23k overspend.


Page 69

Appeal Costs – Additional costs – Litigation costs:  a request for a breakdown on the £233k overspend.


Page 71

Public Conveniences – net cost savings on premises expenses (including reduced business rates): what was the percentage of the business rate savings and how  ...  view the full minutes text for item 544.


Cabinet Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 133 KB

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


The Democratic Services Officer updated Members with changes to the Forward Plan since it had been added to the agenda.  These included:


·         Page 84: Environmental Enforcement Policy – now to go to the March 2022 Cabinet;

·         Page 85: Recommendations from the Local Plan Panel meeting held on 27 January 2022 – this meeting had now been cancelled;

·         Page 86:  Recommendations from the Local Plan Panel meeting held on 24 March 2022 – these would go to the next Cabinet meeting after 16 March 2022.


In response to a question, the Chief Executive explained that it was correct that the Levelling-up Fund application on page 85 of the report was non-key as it was related to the Council putting in a bid for funding.



(1)      That the report be noted.


Adjournment of Meeting


The meeting was adjourned from 8.21 pm to 8.27 pm.

Appendix I pdf icon PDF 154 KB