Agenda and draft minutes

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Items
No. Item

317.

Minutes

To approve the Minutes of the Meeting held on 21 July 2021 (Minute Nos. 166 - 171) as a correct record.

 

Minutes:

The Minutes of the Meeting held on 21 July 2021 (Minute Nos. 166 – 171) were taken as read, approved and signed by the Chairman as a correct record.

318.

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.

 

Minutes:

No interests were declared.

319.

Planning Support - Erroneous Planning Decisions pdf icon PDF 92 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chairman explained that, in order not to prejudice the outcome of the current investigation, there would be no discussion on the report, and it was for information and noting only.

 

The Chief Executive introduced the report and gave an update on action being taken to ensure lessons were learnt and processes improved to safeguard against any future incidents.

 

The Chairman advised that the matter would be discussed in full at a future Scrutiny Committee meeting, once the investigation was complete.

 

Members noted the report.

320.

Financial Management Report pdf icon PDF 377 KB

The Committee is asked to consider the Financial Management Report Quarter 1 2021/22.

Minutes:

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 June 2021, and collated from monitoring returns from budget managers. The report had been considered by Cabinet the previous evening.

 

The Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance drew attention to the projected overspend of £392,000 in Table 1 on page 33 of the report and highlighted the loss of income and increase in provision for homelessness during the Covid-19 Pandemic.   He referred to the £1.043million put aside from the Covid Recovery Fund, £170k grant from Government awarded for the reduction in income from fees and charges, and considered that Swale Borough Council (SBC) remained in a comfortable position.  Referring to paragraph 3.10 on page 35, the Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance advised that the balance on the General Fund was £2.86million, above the £1.5mllion agreed minimum.  He said that a review of the Council’s reserves would be carried out to ensure its robustness.

 

The Chairman went through Appendix I, with Members.

 

Table 5

 

In response to a Member’s question of how the loss of income from the Leisure Centre would be offset, the Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance advised that the budget would be adapted and would be financed from ordinary reserves.

 

A Member sought clarification on the accuracy of the round figures for consultancy advice in Planning at £50k.  The Head of Finance and Procurement said the figures were estimates, not actuals and were the expected costs.

 

There was a discussion on salary underspends on page 44 of the report.  The Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance explained the difficulties faced by local authorities and other organisations in recruiting and acknowledged the considerable impact and stress unfilled vacancies had on existing staff.  Several other members joined in the praise of staff.

 

A Member drew attention that the figures in Table 6 should be in £’s, not £’0000.  The Head of Finance and Procurement agreed to rectify this. 

 

Members noted the report.

 

The Chairman thanked the Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and the Head of Finance and Procurement.

321.

Performance Monitoring Report pdf icon PDF 389 KB

The Committee is asked to consider the Performance Monitoring Report Quarter 1.

Minutes:

The Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance introduced the report which presented the year-to-date quarterly performance management report for the first quarter of 2021/2022 (April – June 20201) as previously reported to the Strategic Management Team and Informal Cabinet. He drew attention to the corporate indicators charts on page 55 and 56 of the report, and highlighted the improvements made in meeting targets on the previous year. He spoke of the staff resource issues in Planning Enforcement.

 

A Member asked questions on whether the introduction of stickers on waste bins had helped to meet the residual waste target and how the app was developing.  The Policy and Performance Support Officer agreed to find out and update all Members.

 

In response to a Member’s question on whether the Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance was happy with the 21 day response target figures in Planning Enforcement, the Leader stated that the figures were not satisfactory and a new enforcement strategy had been agreed

 

A Member sought comparisons on the numbers and types of calls received during the Covid-19 Pandemic.  The Policy and Performance Support Officer agreed to provide this.

 

Members noted the report.

 

The Chairman thanked the Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and the Policy and Performance Support Officer for their attendance at the meeting.

322.

Cabinet Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 192 KB

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

Minutes:

The Senior Democratic Services Officer updated Members with additions to the Forward Plan since the Agenda had been published, and said these had been emailed to all Members for information.

 

The Senior Democratic Services Officer agreed to coordinate a response to questions a Member had on the Planning Enforcement Strategy and the Community Asset Transfer – The Walled Garden, Faversham.

 

The Chairman asked why Master’s House, Sheerness had been removed from the Forward Plan.  The Senior Democratic Services Officer agreed to find out and report back.

 

Members noted the Forward Plan.

323.

Update on Invitations to Scrutiny Committee by the Utility Companies and Commissioning Group (CCG)

Minutes:

The Chairman advised that communications with external organisations to attend a future Scrutiny Committee meeting was ongoing.  He asked that any Member with contacts with the external organisations discussed should contact the Senior Democratic Services Officer.