Corporate Plan 2020-2023
- Meeting of Policy Development and Review Committee, Tuesday, 24 September 2019 7.00 pm, NEW (Item 239.)
The Committee is asked to consider an initial draft of new strategic priorities, providing input and challenge.
The Chairman welcomed the Leader to the meeting and invited him to introduce the report.
The Leader explained that following the election in May 2019, there had been a radical change in direction, with different priorities. A new corporate plan was needed to reflect these priorities and acknowledge and develop the changes over the next four years. The Leader outlined the background to the corporate plan and explained that it was an overarching statement, not a manifesto, and was a plan for the administration up-to 2023. He stressed the need to avoid silo working within the organisation, and that everyone within the Council understood the overall direction of travel, with Cabinet Members and officers working together.
The Leader outlined the four priorities within the corporate plan, as set out in Appendix I of the report. He highlighted the following themes within the priorities:
Priority 1: Building the right homes in the right places and supporting quality jobs for all
Housing needed to be amenable to the local area, with more affordable and social housing. An economic improvement strategy was needed to expand opportunities and improve salaries throughout the borough.
Priority 2: Investing in our environment and responding positively to global challenges
There needed to be stronger emphasis on the environment, especially climate change. There was the opportunity to improve parks and public spaces with a special projects fund, and air pollution needed to be tackled and the borough kept clean.
Priority 3: Tackling deprivation and creating equal opportunities for everyone
The Leader stated there was too much inequality in Swale. He wanted the Council to work more with the local community, e.g. with foodbanks, and to work with the voluntary sector.
Priority 4: Renewing local democracy and making the council fit for the future
The Leader said there would be a 4-year programme of making the council more responsive and to enhance the role of individual members. He added that the introduction of area committees and the return to the committee system in the future would enable decision-making to be broader, and not limited to just a few members.
Members were invited to ask questions and make comments.
A Member referred to paragraph 1.6 of the report and asked whether other areas within the borough, not solely Sittingbourne, could be included when considering an appropriate range of tenure options on brownfield sites for development. The Leader was happy to make that amendment and to include the whole borough.
In response to a Member’s questions, the Leader explained that the new CCTV system was in the process of being commissioned, and CCTVs would be located where there was a history of anti-social behaviour and/or criminal activity.
A Member asked whether the Council would initiate any affordable housing itself. The Leader said that this had not been ruled out, but there were more immediate steps that could be taken, by being more robust with developers at Planning Committee. There was also the option to work in partnership with housing associations.
A Member asked whether the Government housing targets were reflected in the corporate plan? The Leader acknowledged that the borough was not meeting Government targets, and this reflected the true market. He added that if there was more housing in Swale, it needed to meet local needs.
A Member asked how the Leader was going to set about reducing health inequality? The Leader explained that a new health officer had been appointed, and there was a Cabinet Member and Deputy Cabinet Member for Health. He added that there would be cross-cutting work with other aspects of inequality, such as lack of education, and life expectancy differences. He hoped to report on further progress in six months time.
In response to comments about reliance on funds for infrastructure coming from housing growth, the Deputy Leader acknowledged the issue and emphasised the need to ensure that as much infrastructure as possible was realised at the planning application stage.
A Member suggested that mention of young people in paragraph 3.4 be moved to a separate paragraph on its own. The Leader was happy with this. There was some discussion on the word ‘more’ in paragraph 3.3, and the Leader was happy to remove ‘more’, so that the paragraph read ‘develop a communitarian approach…..’.
The Head of Policy, Communications and Customer Services outlined the next steps and explained that there would be a public consultation in late December 2019, with further consultation in the new year with cabinet members, group leaders and officers. The new corporate plan would be adopted in May 2020.
(1) That the comments and amendments included in the above minute be noted.