Agenda and minutes
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The Chairman explained that the meeting would be conducted in accordance with the Local Authorities and Police and Crime Panel (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority Police and Crime Panel Meetings) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020 No. 392.
The Chairman welcomed all Members, officers and members of the public to the meeting.
Change to Committee Membership
The Chairman advised that Councillor Bill Tatton had replaced Councillor Elliott Jayes on the Committee. This was because Councillor Jayes had been appointed as Deputy Cabinet Member for Community.
The Minutes of the Meeting held on 20 January 2021 (Minute Nos. 404 – 411) 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.
To consider the written update.
The Chairman referred Members to the update on the regeneration of Sittingbourne Town Centre which was attached to the agenda. He invited the Cabinet Member for Economy and Property, who had been invited to attend for agenda item no. 5, to introduce the item.
The Cabinet Member for Economy and Property reported that the cinema and bowling alley were complete and ready for opening, and Nandos were currently fitting-out their unit.
In response to queries from Members, the Cabinet Member for Economy and Property confirmed that Pizza Express would not be coming to the development. The high level meetings referred to in the update with The Spirit of Sittingbourne were to ensure that things progressed.
The Chairman thanked the Cabinet Member for Economy and Property for the update.
(1) That the update be noted.
There will be a powerpoint presentation for this item.
The Cabinet Member for Economy and Property, the Chief Financial Officer and the Head of Property Services have been invited to attend.
Powerpoint presentation published 25 February 2021.
The Chairman welcomed the Cabinet Member for Economy and Property, the Chief Financial Officer and the Head of Property Services to the meeting.
The Cabinet Member for Economy and Property gave a presentation on the refurbishment of Swale House which focused on the following themes: this is our challenge; what have we been doing; funding position; proposed works; and the next steps. The key objections for the project were: to contribute towards the delivery of the Climate and Ecological Emergency Action Plan by creating a low carbon building; to create a modern and efficient working environment for the organisation, and; to support the Council’s Economic Improvement Plan and Recovery Plan by providing opportunities for businesses to locate at Swale House.
The Cabinet Member for Economy and Property said that a report would be considered by Cabinet on 17 March 2021 to agree funding for the first phase of work which it was hoped would be carried out summer 2021.
In the debate that followed, Members asked questions and raised points including:
· Air-conditioning should be considered a priority;
· surprised that air-conditioning was not included given the issues in the council chamber during periods of extreme weather;
· did the £200,000 for internal alterations include security doors?;
· was the intention to let a whole floor of Swale House out?;
· how was the figure of £23m calculated for a new building?:
· the market for office space had changed greatly since the Covid-19 pandemic and it would be better to wait until the full effects of it were known before commencing work;
· Scrutiny Committee would require regular updates and details of costs involved for each phase;
· would like a breakdown of the £23m new build figure;
· needed to consider the ‘bigger picture’ and what was the Council’s vision regarding Swale House and considered it was not in the town centre;
· needed to consider the requirements of the Council;
· should look at providing a smaller building unit outside of the town centre; and
· the Council should explore whether planning mechanisms such as Community Infrastructure Levy payments could help to fund a new building unit;
The Cabinet Member for Economy and Property confirmed that air-conditioning would not be installed and the proposals included replacement double-glazed windows with solar control film added to south facing windows. Officers were also currently looking at insulation and boilers and that would be part of phase II of the refurbishment. The improvements to the wi-fi in the building would enable flexible working for employees of Swale Borough Council and tenants. She confirmed that security doors were included in the internal alterations costing and it was intended to let a whole floor of Swale House.
In response to comments from a Member, the Cabinet Member for Economy and Property explained that officers had considered the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on office based working and the internal changes would be considered as part of Phase II.
The Cabinet Member for Economy and Property said that the proposals helped to make the Council 38% ... view the full minutes text for item 481.
The Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and the Business Support Officer – Policy have been invited to attend for this item.
The Chairman welcomed the Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and Policy and Performance Support Officer to the meeting.
The Leader introduced the report which presented the quarterly performance management report for the third quarter of 2020/2021. The report had been reported to Strategic Management Team and at informal Cabinet on 15 February 2021, set-out at Appendix I to the report.
The Leader said that the Covid-19 pandemic had a major impact on both performance and monitoring. He referred to Table 1 on page 12 of the report, which set-out eight year-to-date red indicators and noted the good performance in relation to bin collections but warned that the indicator would not recover by year end due to the nature of monitoring.
The Leader drew attention to Table 3 on page 15 of the report, which set-out the eight monthly and eight quarterly indicators against previous levels. The Leader noted the number of households living in temporary accommodation had risen from 280 to 283. He was encouraged to note that the number of affordable homes delivered had risen from 99 to 204. The Leader said that the huge fall in visitors to council owned leisure facilities was no surprise given the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions, and he welcomed the good performance of planning services.
The Chairman invited Members to ask questions and make comments.
Comments raised included:
· Impressed and astonished to note that there were no ‘peaks and troughs’ given the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and recent snow;
· recognised the difficult period for the Council; and
· thanked the hard work of the officer in preparing the report.
In response to a comment from a Member, the Leader stated that bin collection was a priority and the Council’s contract officers were working hard with Biffa to reduce the amount of missed bins.
The Chairman thanked the Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and Policy and Performance Support Officer for attending the meeting.
(1) That the report be noted.
The Committee is asked to consider the Forward Plan with a view to identifying possible items for pre-decision scrutiny.
Updated Forward Plan published 4.20pm.
The Democratic Services Officer read-out the updates to the Forward Plan which had also been emailed to Members and published on the website.
A Member requested that the Master’s House, Sheerness – low carbon refurbishment item be considered at their next meeting on 24 March 2021. This was supported by Members.
(1) That the Forward Plan be noted.
Adjournment of Meeting
There was an adjournment from 8.15pm to 8.20pm.