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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 6 November 2019 (Minute Nos. 338 - 348) as a correct record.


The Minutes of the meeting held on Wednesday 6 November 2019 (Minute Nos. 338 – 348) 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 South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP)

Rhiannon Mort, Capital Programme Manager has confirmed attendance at the meeting.


The Vice-Chairman-in-the-chair introduced Rhiannon Mort, Capital Programme Manager for South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP).  Ms Mort gave a presentation which included information on SELEP’s investment in projects in Swale, funding streams and future projects.


Members asked questions and made points which included:


·         Were there fewer projects in Kent, particularly in Swale, that had been allocated funding, compared to other areas of the South East?;

·         praise for the A2500 Lower Road, Minster scheme;

·         were there plans in place to retain those trained at the proposed Kent and Medway Medical school in the area, to benefit the local community?;

·         suggested investment in primary care facilities as GP Hubs lacked the space to retain trainees;

·         who decided on the allocation of funds for projects when a bid was submitted?;

·         how could Swale improve its chances of receiving funding?;

·         what was the future for funding after March 2021?;

·         there should be a focus on local growth so that there was less travel to work and less damage to the environment;

·         the infrastructure gap needed filling; and

·         support for the Digital Skills partnership as there was a shortage of IT skills.


In response, Ms Mort said that funding was fairly proportioned across areas, according to the population.  She said that SELEP could not influence the NHS to retain trained staff but there was evidence that the facility would benefit the local area and it was important to create places where people wanted to work, stay and continue to live.  In addressing the question of how to improve chances of receiving funding, Ms Mort explained that robust business cases, sometimes in conjunction with neighbouring authorities or related organisations could improve chances of receiving funding along with evidencing value for money, identifying clear priorities and deliverability of a scheme.


On the subject of the Lower Thames Crossing, Ms Mort said that the project would serve many purposes and provide connectivity to the north and south.  A Member highlighted the environmental impact and suggested that other forms of transport such as rail freight should be considered. 


The Economy and Community Services Manager explained that future funding was unknown as Central Government’s post-Brexit plans had been delayed with no announcements. Ms Mort said that some projects had not delivered as expected and other projects would receive funding instead.  She highlighted the ‘Growing Places’ fund which was a cycle of funding by re-investing using rental income.


The Economy and Community Services Manager detailed the process for submitting bids.  He explained that businesses cases for projects were put together in accordance with the administration’s priorities, in response to a call for bids.  There was a scoring system and projects were then prioritised.  He said there was a risk going forward that projects developed in advance of any announcements on future funding may not fit the Government’s funding requirements.


The Economy and Community Services Manager drew attention to the challenges and said that revenue was an issue, particularly in relation to the Further Education funding model.


The Vice-Chairman-in-the-chair thanked Ms Mort  ...  view the full minutes text for item 451.


Performance Monitoring Report pdf icon PDF 280 KB

The Committee is asked to consider the Performance Monitoring Report Quarter 2 July – September 2019.


The Vice-Chairman-in-the-chair welcomed the Leader and the Business Improvement Officer to the meeting.  He drew attention that whilst the performance figures were now out of date, due to the delayed meeting because of the General Election, it was useful to see trends.


The Leader highlighted the waste collection targets and said that whilst there had been improvements, it remained in the red.  He drew attention to chart 1 on page 7 of the report and said that although there was further improvement in the second quarter, there were still too many red flags because of the failure of the waste contract. He added that the failure had affected other targets such as phone calls in the CSC.  The Leader was encouraged by the figures achieved in planning application targets in table 4, drew attention to the tabled update on the Sittingbourne Town Centre scheme and advised that trading was due to start in March 2020.


The Vice-Chairman-in-the-chair sought clarity on how to interpret the tables on Appendix II on page 15 of the report and went through the report page by page.


Table 1, page 8


The Chairman said that he hoped the next quarter figures would show further improvement and he was disappointed that the Scrutiny Committee were only being informed of the issues with the waste contract now.  He asked how food waste had got into the residual waste stream?  The Vice-Chairman-in-the-chair raised communication issues.  In response, the Leader explained that there was a variety of issues with the contract that was approaching its end.  He highlighted vehicle and staff issues and said that the Contractors had to be more accountable.  The Leader said that there had been some improvements but the quality of service had reduced again and the Council were in a difficult position.  He said there were 2 years left to run on the contract and that he would be meeting with the Contractors again very soon.


Page 9


The Vice-Chairman-in-the-chair referred to the percentage of CSC abandoned calls and commented that digital use had not been as high as expected.  The Business Improvement officer agreed and said this was being looked at and would be reported to a future meeting.


Table 5, page 11


The Chairman sought further information on the Beach Huts and Mill Skate park.  A visiting Member said that the Beach Huts should not be amber as the project had not yet started.


Tables 8 and 9, page 13


The Business Improvement Officer confirmed that the Mid Kent Audit should be 2019-20, not 2018-19.

The Chairman asked whether staff were available to undertake audit projects?  In response, the Business Improvement Officer said that the projects were on a rolling schedule that followed a cycle and projects would be worked on when resource was available.  A visiting Member added that the process of when to carry out audits was checked by the Audit Committee.


Table 10, page 14


The Business Improvement Officer agreed to find out why the project in table 10  ...  view the full minutes text for item 452.


Other Review Progress Reports pdf icon PDF 117 KB

The Committee is asked to consider updates on other reviews:


Regeneration Schemes (other than Sittingbourne Town Centre).


Sittingbourne Town Centre


The Vice-Chairman-in-the-chair referred Members to the tabled update.  The Chairman reminded Members that Officers would be in attendance at the Scrutiny Committee scheduled for 27 February 2020 and questions could be submitted in advance.


Members discussed the tabled update and made points including:


·         Why had the extra earth levels at the Bourne Place development not been predicted earlier?;

·         poor signage at Dover Street meant that lorries were continuing to drive towards the low railway bridge – could a temporary height barrier be installed and the signage be made pictorial?; and

·         sporadic work with no notice was taking up spaces in the car parks.


Councillor Elliot Jayes proposed and Councillor Lloyd Bowen seconded that the progress letter sent to local residents and businesses on 10 January 2020 be circulated to all Members. 


Infrastructure in Swale


The Policy and Performance Officer explained that representatives from SGN, UK Power Networks and South East Water had all confirmed they would attend a future Scrutiny Committee meeting.  A response from Southern Water was still awaited.


Regeneration (other than Sittingbourne Town Centre)


It was agreed at the previous meeting to pause any further work until after the 2019 General Election and holiday period.  Work on the review would resume shortly.




(1)  That the tabled update report be noted.

(2)  That the progress letter sent to residents and business on 10 January 2020 be circulated to all Members.


Cabinet Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 74 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 updated Members of changes to the Forward Plan since publication of the Scrutiny Agenda and advised that the Environmental Health Enforcement Policy 2020 and the Constitutional Review: Area Committees would be considered at the Cabinet meeting on 12 February 2020, and the Corporate Plan would be considered by Cabinet in May 2020.


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 42 KB

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


The Vice-Chairman-in-the-chair went through the work programme.


The Chairman reminded Members of the Budget Scrutiny Committee meeting on 22 January 2020.


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