Agenda, decisions and minutes

Special Cabinet, Cabinet
Thursday, 21st November, 2013 9.30 am

Venue: Committee Room A, Town Hall, Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN1 1RS. View directions

Contact: Nick Peeters, Democratic Services Officer 

Items
No. Item

CAB78/13

Apologies

Apologies for absence as reported at the meeting.

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Councillor Barrington-King.

CAB79/13

Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest by Members in items on the agenda. For any advice on declarations of interest, please contact the Monitoring Officer.

Minutes:

The Portfolio Holder for Finance & Governance, Councillor Scholes declared a significant interest in item 13 on the agenda arising form his being a Kent County Council Councillor. He advised that he would leave the meeting when the item was due to be considered.

CAB80/13

Notification of Visiting Members wishing to speak

Members should indicate which item(s) they wish to speak on and the nature of their concern/question/request for clarification (in accordance with Cabinet Procedure Rule 5.3).

Minutes:

There were no notifications received form visiting members wishing to speak.

CAB81/13

Questions from Members of the Council

(in accordance with Cabinet Procedure Rule 6).

Minutes:

There were no questions received from members of the Council.

 

CAB82/13

Questions from Members of the Public

(in accordance with Cabinet Procedure Rule 7.1.4)

Minutes:

There were no questions received from members of the public.

CAB83/13

Tunbridge Wells Culture & Learning Hub pdf icon PDF 214 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

RESOLVED:

 

1.That the preparation and submission of a Heritage Lottery Fund round one application be agreed.

 

2.That: the appointment of a consultant, jointly with KCC, to support and advise on the preparation and submission of a Heritage Lottery Fund round one application be agreed; and that authority be delegated to the Director of Change and Communities to negotiate and enter into such an agreement.

 

3.That the sum of up to £50,000 be used from the development programme budget towards the cost of the consultant. (total cost up to £100,000 to be shared equally with KCC)

 

REASON FOR RECOMMENDATIONS

 

To enable the development of the concept of a culture and learning hub in the centre of Royal Tunbridge Wells to progress to the next stage.

 

Minutes:

The Chairman introduced the report which detailed how Tunbridge Wells Borough Council and Kent County Council were currently exploring the opportunities for providing a Culture and Learning Hub which would incorporate a range of related services within the centre of Tunbridge Wells.

 

The Chairman had met with the Kent County Council Cabinet member for Community Services, Mike Hill and following discussions, a financial commitment had been made to undertake discussion with consultants. The Chairman added that there would be a public announcement in the week following the meeting and so far the proposals had been well received. He further added that ‘So create a Difference –Tunbridge Wells’, a community based initiative produced by local architects, was supporting the project also.

 

The Director of Change and Communities, Paul Taylor, advised that the proposals should be viewed within the context of cultural regeneration and of improving economy within the town. Mr Taylor referred to cultural projects at Margate and Canterbury which had provided significant benefits to both areas. He also referred to the recommendations on page 8 of the agenda and confirmed that the next stage would be the preparation and submission of a Heritage Lottery Fund round one application. Mr Taylor added that there was no financial commitment at present, other than £50,000 from the development programme budget toward consultancy costs which would be met by an equal amount from Kent County Council.

 

The Portfolio Holder for Tourism, Leisure and Economic Development, Councillor March, was delighted to see the levels of commitment going into the project and the positive approach from all areas for the initiative. She added that the Culture and Learning Hub needed to be sustainable and be able to pay for itself.

 

RESOLVED:

 

1.That the preparation and submission of a Heritage Lottery Fund round one application be agreed;

 

2.That the appointment of a consultant, jointly with KCC, to support and advise on the preparation and submission of a Heritage Lottery Fund round one application be agreed; and that authority be delegated to the Director of Change and Communities to negotiate and enter into such an agreement; and

 

3.That the sum of up to £50,000 be used from the development programme budget towards the cost of the consultant. (total cost up to £100,000 to be shared equally with KCC)

 

REASON FOR RECOMMENDATIONS

 

To enable the development of the concept of a culture and learning hub in the centre of Royal Tunbridge Wells to progress to the next stage.

CAB84/13

Fees and Charges Setting 2014/15 pdf icon PDF 128 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

RESOLVED:

 

1.       That the fees and charges set out within this report and the attached appendices be agreed; and

 

2.       That the timings for the price increases to be implemented as indicated in the report also be agreed.

 

REASONS FOR RECOMMENDATIONS:

 

To support the achievement of the Medium Term Financial Strategy, create the revenue budget for 2014/15 and support the objectives and priorities of the Council.

Minutes:

The Finance Manager, Jane Fineman, presented the report to the Cabinet which detailed the proposed fees and charges for 2014/15 and sought approval for their implementation 1 April 2014. Mrs Fineman advised that the report excluded parking fees and charges, property rents and government set licensing fees

 

Mrs Fineman said the combined income from 2013/14 was £3,855,737 and the Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) assumed income for 2014/15 to be the 2013/14 budget plus two percent (£3,873,075). The forecast income budget for  2014/15 was in fact £3,873,075 and the surplus of £17,338 would be used to offset part of the projected deficit. She added that these figures should be seen within the context of Retail Price Index and Consumer Price Index for September 2013 being 3.2 and 2.7 percent respectively.

 

Mrs Fineman said the Council was slowly trying to move the public towards making electronic payment for services where possible. She added that, when considered by the Finance & Governance Cabinet Advisory Board at its meeting, the recommendations had been supported.

 

In reference to point 15 on page The Chairman asked what impact the further dispersement of allotments would have on fees and charges. Mrs Fineman advised that it would reduce income, however, this would be offset by the reduced costs for their maintenance.   

 

RESOLVED:

 

1.       That the fees and charges set out within this report and the attached appendices be agreed; and

 

2.       That the timings for the price increases to be implemented as indicated in the report also be agreed.

 

REASONS FOR DECISIONS:

 

To support the achievement of the Medium Term Financial Strategy, create the revenue budget for 2014/15 and support the objectives and priorities of the Council.

CAB85/13

Bereavement Services Business Plan pdf icon PDF 196 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

RESOLVED:

 

That the content of the Business Plan be noted and to ratify its implementation together with a process of subsequent annual operational, and five yearly strategic reviews to be carried out by the Registrar, service staff and Elected Members where appropriate.

           

REASON FOR RECOMMENDATION

 

In general terms the content of Business Plan is focused upon a continued improvement in service provision for the bereaved from within existing budgets where relevant, and the 6 service objectives contained within the plan are anticipated to bring about improvement in quality, choice and accessibility of services and products for the same.

Minutes:

The Chairman introduced the report which provided detail of the development of a five year rolling Business Plan for the Councils Bereavement Service. The Chairman advised that the Crematorium was a successful business that provided revenue. However, in consultation with stakeholders, it was agreed that the service offered to the public needed to be looked at and refreshed.

 

The Registrar, Ken Dry, advised that a great deal of research had gone in to producing the plan, including surveys, member input and mystery shopping exercises of other similar service providers. He added that three strategic considerations had been identified: Increased sustainability; maximisation of income; and marketing of the service. Mr Dry also highlighted the six identified key objectives detailed in point 2.3 on page 154 of the agenda, which, would be part of the five year rolling plan and would be reviewed on an annual basis.

 

The Chairman noted that it was funeral directors who were the Council’s corporate customers. Mr Dry said this was correct as geographical location was a consideration and funeral directors were a key stakeholder. However, there was an increasing trend for people to organise funerals themselves and Mr Dry said the primary interest was the performance of the business.

 

The Portfolio Holder for Finance & Governance, Councillor Scholes, referred to proposals for a new crematorium in Kent and asked what the potential impact would be on Tunbridge Wells crematorium. He further asked whether part of the rational behind the proposals was a lack of overall availability in Kent. He went on to ask whether extending the opening hours of the Tunbridge Wells facility would mitigate this. Mr Dry advised that Sevenoaks District Council was considering a planning application for a new crematorium and anecdotal information on the capacity of Tunbridge Wells crematorium was being used to support the application. Mr Dry had been invited by Sevenoaks Council to provide a more factual representation. Mr Dry further added that extended hours or the availability of a second chapel would increase availability for Tunbridge Wells. Councillor Scholes cautioned on the financial risks associated with increasing the capabilities of a service.

 

The Portfolio Holder for Tourism, Leisure and Economic Development, Councillor March, advised that the catchment area for the proposed Sevenoaks crematorium did touch on Tunbridge Wells but the effect would not be significant and she was not overly concerned that business could be lost. Councillor March had spoken to local funeral directors who had said that the provision of an additional, smaller chapel at Tunbridge Wells would be of benefit. Councillor march added that longer opening hours were being considered, as well slots at lunch-times and on Saturdays.

 

The Chairman agreed that there was scope for providing a second chapel and that the Council should look at whether a bigger crematoria was needed. He also felt other income streams should be considered as well as a 15 year planned maintenance programme.

 

The Portfolio Holder for Planning & Transportation, Councillor McDermott, asked if, following the installation of two new cremation units,  ...  view the full minutes text for item CAB85/13

CAB86/13

Non Performing Property and Land Assets - Consideration of Proposals (Benenden Parish Council) pdf icon PDF 148 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

RESOLVED:

 

1.      That the future strategy for each asset be noted and decided upon (the individual decisions’ for each site detailed on pages 197-204 of the agenda are listed below)

2.      That the Property and Development Manager be authorised to dispose of the assets in accordance with Cabinet’s decision (see below), in liaison with  the Section 151 Officer, the Leader, and the Portfolio Holder for Finance and Governance.

 

Property

Decision

Three sites at Cherryfields, Benenden

The Cabinet resolved that the freehold title of each three parcels of land be transferred to the Parish Council, subject to the terms stated in the report.

4th Site,

Cherryfields, Benenden

The Cabinet resolved that the freehold title of this site be sold at auction.

 

 

REASON FOR DECISION

To deliver the strategy for disposal of these assets as previously resolved by Cabinet.

Minutes:

Diane Brady, Property Services Manager, presented the report which sought the Cabinet’s decision on the future strategy or disposal method for 4 of the 61 non-performing land sites identified in Appendix 8 of the Asset Management Plan (minute FC61/12 refers), whereby Town and Parish Councils have proposed alternative disposal strategies. Ms Brady advised that the report followed on from recommendations considered by Cabinet at its previous meeting, 24 October 2013 (CAB75/13 refers) and asked members to note that the Leader of the Council, with responsibility for asset management, had agreed that Benenden Parish Council could delay its business case.

 

Ms Brady further advised that the Property Services team had agreed with the recommendations from the parish council for three of the four parcels of land being considered. However, the team’s recommendation for the fourth site, was that it be sold at open auction. Ms Brady confirmed that support for the recommendations had been received from both the Finance & Governance Cabinet Advisory Board and the Development Advisory Panel.

 

The Portfolio Holder for Tourism, Leisure & Economic Development, Councillor March, asked for confirmation that a 100 percent claw-back would be included should the land being passed on to the parish council be developed. Councillor Cunningham also asked, in reference to undertaking by the Council of remedial work prior to transfer, whether concerns over the presence of Japanese knotweed and the considerable expense of removing it, had been taken into account.

 

Ms Brady advised that the level of claw-back was unrestricted. With regard to Japanese knotweed, she added that this was not noted on the register, however, its detection could not be guaranteed.

 

In response to a question from the Chairman, Ms Brady confirmed the boundary description and the layout of the parcels of land. She further added that the Council’s tree officer was not duly concerned about the small number of trees on the area of land to be retained by the Council for auction.

 

The Portfolio Holder for Finance & Governance, Councillor Scholes, expressed concern that the land being handed back to the parish could be developed on and this development may not be sensitive to the surroundings. Ms Brady advised that the land in question was not listed for planning purposes and did not have the potential for development. She added, however, that appropriate restrictions would be placed on the title. She further advised that a covenant to deal with the appropriate level and period of claw-back would also be included.

 

RESOLVED:

 

1.      That the future strategy for each asset be noted and decided upon (the individual decisions’ for each site detailed on pages 197-204 of the agenda are listed below)

2.      That the Property and Development Manager be authorised to dispose of the assets in accordance with Cabinet’s decision (see below), in liaison with  the Section 151 Officer, the Leader, and the Portfolio Holder for Finance and Governance.

 

 

 

Property

Decision

Three sites at Cherryfields, Benenden

The Cabinet resolved that the freehold title of each three parcels of land be  ...  view the full minutes text for item CAB86/13

CAB87/13

Urgent Business

To consider any other items which the Chairman decides are urgent, for the reasons to be stated, in accordance with Section 100B(4) of the Local Government Act 1972.

Minutes:

The Chairman advised the Cabinet that with the prior agreement of the Chairman of the Overview & Scrutiny Committee, Councillor Mrs Mayhew, the following item of business, ICT Capital Funding Request - Replacement of Obsolete Desktop Equipment, could be taken under ‘urgent business’.  

 

The reason for the urgency was to enable the Council to achieve compliance with the government’s Public Services Network (PSN) and continued authorisation to access to the government’s secure network.

CAB88/13

ICT Capital Funding request - replacement of Obsolete Desktop Equipment pdf icon PDF 174 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

RESOLVED

 

That the release of £150k of funds from the ICT Strategy capital fund to procure and install new desktop technology for Tunbridge Wells Borough Council be agreed.

 

 

REASONS FOR RECOMMENDATION

 

The reasons for the recommendation are set out in full in the report.

 

NOTE: The Cabinet noted the reason why the item was urgent, which was the need to purchase the IT equipment and comply with the Code of Compliance as soon as possible. It was also noted that permission had been obtained from the Chairman of the Overview & Scrutiny Committee to allow the item to be brought forward on the Notice of Intent to Make Key Decisions.

 

Minutes:

The Portfolio Holder for Finance & Governance, Councillor Scholes, introduced the report which provided detail of an urgent request to refresh IT desktop equipment. He added that the new equipment would be of a standard that met with business need, user expectations and complied with the Government’s Public Services Network (PSN).  Councillor Scholes advised that it was an unavoidable expenditure and the Cabinet was aware of the urgency of the request. He further advised that no adverse comments or alternative suggestions had been received and the expenditure had previously been approved within the ICT Capital Expenditure Budget.

 

The Chairman reiterated the point that, there was not a choice for the Council when making the decision, due to the necessity of complying with government guidelines. 

 

RESOLVED

 

That the release of £150k of funds from the ICT Strategy capital fund to procure and install new desktop technology for Tunbridge Wells Borough Council be agreed.

 

REASONS FOR DECISION

 

The reasons for the recommendation were set out in full in the report.

 

NOTE: The Cabinet noted the reason why the item was urgent, which was the need to purchase the IT equipment and comply with the Code of Compliance as soon as possible. It was also noted that permission had been obtained from the Chairman of the Overview & Scrutiny Committee to allow the item to be brought forward on the Notice of Intent to Make Key Decisions.

 

CAB89/13

Acquisition of KCC Land at North Farm Lane

Exempt under paragraph 3: Information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information).

Decision:

RESOLVED

 

That the former gypsy site be purchased on the principal terms detailed and that  authority be delegated to the Property and Development Manager, with the consent of the Section 151 Officer,  the Leader, and the deputy chairman of the  Finance and Governance Cabinet Advisory Board, to undertake all work necessary to carry out the decision, subject to the production of a business plan which would assess the potential risks set out in the report.

 

REASON FOR RECOMMENDATION

To develop a vacant site to provide employment opportunities and growth.

Minutes:

Prior to the introduction of the item, the Portfolio Holder for Finance & Governance, Councillor Scholes, left the room following a declaration at the start of the meeting of a significant  interest. It was then agreed by the Cabinet that it was not necessary to enter into an exempt session to consider the item and it would be dealt with in the open part of the meeting.

 

The Chairman introduced the report which presented the terms negotiated for the purchase of the freehold title of the Former Gypsy Site, Tunbridge Wells, from Kent County Council to create employment opportunities. The Chairman advised the Cabinet that the Council already owned access to the site over the bridge, as shown on the site plan, appendix B to the report. He added that once purchased, some clearance would be needed, but when completed, it would provide an attractive environment. He further added that, the proposals included the provision of a number of start-up units for small businesses, as well as workshops for students and units that would provide metal and wood-work facilities for trainees or apprenticeships . The Chairman confirmed that the site would be renamed and he suggested it be called the ‘Kevin Lyons Industrial Park’ after the former County Councillor.

 

The Portfolio Holder for Tourism, Leisure & Economic Development, Councillor March, was pleased to see the opportunity for up-skilling that would be made available. She asked also, that thought be given to providing a retail academy, which would then allow large retail companies to find a source of workers in the area.

 

The Portfolio Holder for Housing, Health, Wellbeing & Rural Communities, Councillor Cunningham, asked if there was potential for some of the site to be developed as an eco park. The Chairman advised that the site would be open to the public and if funds allowed it would be beneficial to produce an environmentally attractive retail park.

 

The Chief Executive, William Benson, asked the Cabinet to note the risks associated with the proposals as detailed in the report. The Head of Finance & Governance (Section 151 Officer), Lee Colyer, also asked the Cabinet to note an amendment to the recommendation which, under delegated authority, would allow the Property and Development Manager to consult with the Vice Chairman of the Finance & Governance Cabinet Advisory Board, as well as the Section 151 Officer, to undertake all work necessary to carry out the decision.

 

Councillor March asked if the preparation of a business plan would include the costs of work by Southern Water. The Property Services Manager, Diane Brady, advised that Southern Water could apply any charge they saw fit, however, if in relation to a ransom strip, it generally equated to one third of the increased value of the site. Ms Brady added that the Council would work towards as low a charge as possible. Ms Brady also confirmed that the issue of potential land contamination would be dealt with as part of the appraisal.

 

RESOLVED

 

That the former gypsy site be purchased on the  ...  view the full minutes text for item CAB89/13

 

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