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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 15 January 2020 (To follow) as a correct record.


The Minutes of the Meeting (Minute nos. 448 – 456) held on 15 January 2020 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.


Financial Management Report pdf icon PDF 176 KB

The Committee is asked to consider the Financial Management Report Quarter 2 July – September 2019.


The Leader and the Chief Financial Officer will be attending the meeting.


The Chairman welcomed Members and officers to the meeting. 


The Chairman invited the Leader to introduce the report which set out the revenue and capital projected outturn position for 2019/20 as at the end of September 2019 which had been collated from monitoring returns from budget managers. 


The Leader drew attention to the £5k underspend on services at table 1 on page 6 of the report and highlighted the variances, including underspend on waste, overspend on housing and savings in revenues and benefits.  The Leader explained that the expected £250k income from the retail park would become part of the income budget in the future, and he said that he hoped borrowing from the General Fund in future would not be necessary.


The Leader referred to Table 2 on page 10 of the report and highlighted that £758k was committed to Special Projects and that details of the projects were on page 29 of the report.


The Chairman invited the Committee to ask questions, which are summarised below:


Page 5


The Chief Financial Officer referred to the Transfer of Reserves on page 23 of the report and undertook to provide further information to a Member on the underspend of £5k at recommendation 1.


Page 8 paragraph 3.4


In response to clarification from a Member on the Morrisons business rate appeal, the Leader advised that the decision was made by the valuation office.


In response to a Member’s question on the optimistic increase in income for business rates, the Financial Services Manager explained that it was due to: inflation increase in the business rate multiplier; the total rateable value had increased; and from section 31 grants which were received from the Government and included in the budget.


Page 9 paragraph 3.15


In response to a Member’s question on the Housing and Commercial Growth Fund at 3.15 on page 9 of the report, the Leader explained that the Business Rate pool money was Swale Borough Council’s (SBC) share.


A Member sought clarification on whether additional borrowing was expected in the future and why wasn’t this included in the budget?  The Leader explained that income was expected from investing in affordable housing. The Chief Financial Officer explained that whenever a project came through Cabinet, some would have a revenue stream.  In the discussion that followed, a Member referred to the £800k received from the business rate pool, and the decision not to spend on the M2 Junction 5 improvements.  He questioned whether the correct process was followed.  In response, the Leader said that it was absurd for a Local Authority to gift 5-6% of their annual budget to Kent County Council (KCC), who had demanded £800k towards the project.  He said that if a proper formal agreement had been made, it would have been honoured but there was no deal and despite requests to KCC, no such agreement had been provided.  The Leader said he would not apologise, KCC should communicate with district authorities properly and SBC not contributing would have no impact  ...  view the full minutes text for item 474.


Budget 2020/21 and Medium Term Financial Plan pdf icon PDF 229 KB

To review the draft Budget and Medium Term Financial Plan for 2020/21 and to consider making recommendations to Cabinet on 12 February 2020.


Cabinet Members and their Deputies; and the following Officers have been invited to attend the meeting, as have all Members:


Director of Regeneration; Chief Financial Officer; Head of Policy, Communications and Customer Services; Head of Planning Services, Head of Commissioning, Environment and Leisure and Head of Housing, Economy and Community Services.


Tabled paper added 28.1.20

Additional documents:


In introducing the report, the Leader referred to the tabled update and drew Members’ attention to the reduction in the funding gap achieved by Heads of Services and Finance, from £714k to £375k as shown on pages 36 and 38 of the report.  He said that the restraints Local Government faced in a difficult economic climate had to be recognised and the Council would have to be managed differently so that targets could be met.  The Leader detailed Central Government’s funding reduction allocation on page 32 of the report.  He said there would be an increase in Council Tax of £4.95 per annum on a Band D property.


In responding to a question on the £800k allocated from the business rates pool with KCC, the Leader reiterated that the agreement for funding the M2 Junction 5 improvements did not exist in writing and it was not a proper use of the fund.  He said he would discuss with KCC how to use the money in other projects in Swale.  The Chief Financial Officer added that the shared business rates funds required sign off by the Council and KCC.


Page 33 paragraph 2.6


The Leader clarified that the funding received from the Housing and Commercial Growth Reserve could be used on other projects.


Page 34 paragraph 2.13


The Leader said that £10million to support affording housing initiatives might be increased if feasible.


Appendix I, page 38


The Financial Services Manager gave an explanation of how Council Tax Base figures were calculated and agreed to discuss further with a Member.


Appendix II, pages 39 - 55


Cabinet Members then set out the budget variations for their respective areas on Appendix II and answered questions.  A summary of the responses is set out below:


Line  9 - The Cabinet Member for the Environment agreed with a Member that extra resource to assist in addressing climate change would need to be looked at in the future.  The Chief Financial Officer said that this was not reflected in the current budget and would need to be self-financed or funded from a specific reserve.


Line – 25 The Cabinet Member for the Environment explained that the electric vehicles would be used by environmental wardens, dog wardens and the parks and open spaces team.


Line 31 - The Chief Financial Officer confirmed that the income to reinstate free car parking included the Sheppey Leisure Complex.


Line 36 – The Head of Commissioning, Environment and Leisure said that the future growth figure was cautious as not all properties would need garden waste bins.


Line 41 – The Head of Policy, Communications and Customer Services explained that the old customer relationship management database was obsolete and he agreed to provide more information on the basis of the annual charge for the new system.


Line 42 – 45  -The Head of Policy, Communications and Customer Services explained that the role was funded from savings shown elsewhere in the report.  The Chairman considered that the Information Governance Officer role was vital  ...  view the full minutes text for item 475.


Adjournment of Meeting


The meeting was adjourned from 8:38pm to 8:48pm.


Suspension of Standing Orders


At 10pm Members agreed to the suspension of standing orders in order that the Committee could complete its business.


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