Agenda and minutes

Venue: Council Chamber, Town Hall, Royal Tunbridge Wells, TN1 1RS. View directions

Contact: Jane Clarke, Local Democracy Officer 

Items
No. Item

FC71/12

Remembrance of Baroness Thatcher

Minutes:

As a mark of respect for Baroness Thatcher, the Mayor said a few words in remembrance of Britain’s first female Prime Minister.  He mentioned that both his father and grandfather were Nottinghamshire coal miners who went on to establish successful businesses under her Government, and he himself was brought up on the principle of working hard to achieve success.  

 

The Mayor considered that under Baroness Thatcher’s strong leadership and determination her Government changed the country and he wanted to record his thanks for her service during her time as Prime Minister.

 

The Mayor then invited the Group Leaders to speak.  Councillor Jukes commented on how the country changed during the 1980’s, under Baroness Thatcher’s leadership.  In his opinion, Baroness Thatcher had saved the economy as well as the country, and transformed British society.

 

Councillor Neve spoke of people’s different opinion of Baroness Thatcher and stated that some of her actions were done with good intentions, although other actions had led some communities to despair.  He concluded that she had driven politics with an iron fist.

 

Councillor Webb stated that his father had also come from a mining family and, although he disagreed with some of Baroness Thatcher’s policies during her time as Prime Minister, he acknowledged that she was a remarkable leader and gave people a confidence that still remained to date.

 

 

FC72/12

Apologies for absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were reported from Councillors G Hall, Mrs Thomas and Rook

FC73/12

Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest by Members in items on the agenda.

 

For any advice on interests, please contact the Monitoring Officer.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest made.

FC74/12

Announcements

To receive announcements from the Mayor, the Leader of the Council, members of the Cabinet and the Chief Executive.

Minutes:

The Mayor made the following announcements:

 

a)    Dennis Smith, a former Councillor and Mayor of the Council, was unwell and currently staying at Burrswood Hospital in Groombridge.  The Mayor was going to visit him on 1 May and would pass on the Council’s good wishes.

b)    The Mayoress had completed the Tunbridge Wells Half Marathon in 2 hours and 15 minutes and raised approximately £1,400 for the Mayor’s charity. 

c)    As this meeting was the Mayor’s last one in this role he took the opportunity to thank his fellow members for their support during the year.  He reminded members of a few more events still to come before his mayoral year came to an end, such as the Charity Spring Ball at Bewl Water on 27 April, the golf day on 2 May, a sky dive that his daughters would be undertaking on his behalf on 27 May, the Variety Show at the Victoria Hall in Southborough on 4 May, as well as the trip to Wembley to watch the final of the FA Vase match to support Tunbridge Wells Football Club.

 

The Chief Executive made the following announcements:

 

a)    Members were reminded to respond to Katie Neve regarding attendance at the Annual Council meeting on 22 May and whether they were bringing a guest.

b)      Members were introduced to the new Head of Legal Partnership, John Scarborough.  The Chief Executive also advised that the IT partnership with Maidstone and Swale Borough Councils was now operational.

FC75/12

The minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 261 KB

The minutes of the previous meeting held on 20 February 2013 to be approved as a correct record.

Minutes:

RESOLVED – That the minutes of the meeting held on 20 February 2013 be approved as a correct record, with the following two amendments:

 

(i)            Councillor McDermott’s name to be added to those members in attendance at the meeting;

(ii)           Councillor Wauchope asked that the following correction be made to minute FC57/12, paragraph 8:

In place of “…..if the basic allowance figure was removed from calculations …..”, insert “…..if the London and unitary authorities figures were removed from the calculations….” 

 

Councillor Chapelard believed that minute FC/53/12 was incorrect, as he recalled Councillor Jukes advising that the asbestos removal at the cinema site would commence in two weeks, not six to eight weeks as stated in the minutes.  He asked that this be amended accordingly.

 

However the Mayor, from his own recollections, and discussions with the Local Democracy Officer, ruled that the minutes should remain unchanged regarding the period of time.  Councillor Chapelard asked that his disagreement on this matter be recorded.  

 

Councillor Chapelard requested that audio recordings of meetings be taken in future to resolve disagreements, as he did not consider that the current system worked satisfactorily.

 

FC76/12

Questions from members of the public

To receive questions from members of the public, of which due notice has been given, pursuant to Council Procedure Rule 21, to be submitted and answered.

Minutes:

There were no questions from members of the public.

FC77/12

Questions from members of the Council

To receive questions from members of the Council, of which due notice has been given, pursuant to Council Procedure Rule 18, to be submitted and answered.

Minutes:

Question 1 from Councillor Chapelard

 

At the last Full Council meeting on 20 February 2013, Councillor Jukes announced that the removal of the asbestos on the derelict cinema site would begin within a fortnight of that date (by 7 March 2013). Please could Councillor Jukes explain why this has not yet happened?

 

Response from Councillor Jukes, Leader of the Council

 

I can confirm to Councillor Chapelard, that I and senior officers are in weekly contact with the cinema site owners in an attempt to keep up the pressure for action.  I last met Ed Bellhouse face to face less than three weeks ago.  He is as anxious as everybody to finally get this proposal under way for obvious commercial reasons. Mr MacDonald and I visited the site yesterday and spoke to the contractors.

 

Bearing in mind the keen interest that Councillor Chapelard is showing in this matter, he will be familiar with the notice, which is displayed at the site itself.  For those members who have not seen it, it is a Health and Safety Executive “Notification of Construction Project”.

 

It states that the project to complete the hoarding at the site boundary and remove the asbestos materials would commence on 18 February 2013 for a period of 14 weeks.  That by my reckoning is the 27 May.

 

The hoarding was completed today, that in turn means the removal of asbestos can now commence.  The Notice also lists details, the names of the various consultants and the principal contractor involved.  Contractors are currently working on site.

 

At the last Council meeting I displayed the Section 80 Notice.  I can now confirm that this Council has issued a Section 81 Notice under the 1984 Building Act (on 25 February) in response to the Section 80 Notice specifying certain works of demolition to be carried out.

 

Members will understand that some of the information provided to the Council in meetings with the developer does need to remain confidential by virtue of its commercial nature.  I can assure all members however, that we are doing everything possible to ensure visible action as soon as possible on this site.

 

Supplementary question from Councillor Chapelard

 

It is good news that the removal of asbestos can now begin.  However, what action would the Council take if the removal of the asbestos did not take place by the contractors because Waitrose no longer wished to enter into an agreement?

 

Response from Councillor Jukes, Leader of the Council

 

Councillor Chapelard obviously has information that senior officers and the Cabinet are not aware of.  However, if the contractors did not remove the asbestos it would be a matter for the Health and Safety Executive.

 

Question 2 from Councillor Chapelard

 

What does Tunbridge Wells Borough Council know about the state of the asbestos on the derelict Tunbridge Wells cinema site, and its potential threat to public health?

 

Response from Councillor Barrington-King, Portfolio Holder for Sustainability

 

The Council has copies of the detailed survey reports that were prepared for the owners  ...  view the full minutes text for item FC77/12

FC78/12

Car Parking Petition pdf icon PDF 115 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Mayor, Councillor Smith, advised that a petition had been submitted to the Council, containing 2,015 signatures (received both on-line and in paper format), which set out an argument for the authority to replace its current ‘pay and display’ car parking policy with a ‘pay on exit’ (commonly known as ‘pay on foot’) system.

 

It was noted that, under the terms of the Council’s Petition Scheme, as over 1,000 signatures had been submitted, a full Council debate was required.

 

The wording of the petition was as follows:

 

“We the undersigned petition the Council to change the current ‘pay & display’ payment system for the town centre car parks to a much fairer ‘pay on exit’ system that does not penalise users – similar to the one at Tunbridge Wells Hospital, Pembury. The ‘pay on exit’ system would offer 30 minutes' free parking, followed by half-hourly and hourly charges at reasonable rates.

 

This will allow drivers to stay as long as they like without fear of being issued with a parking ticket. The accompanying ‘pay on exit’ machines would accept cards as well as cash. They would be situated at the entrance(s) to the car parks and would allow drivers at least 20 minutes after payment to depart through the exit barriers.

 

Further, we petition TWBC to resurrect free parking on Sundays and Bank Holidays. Both these initiatives will encourage more residents, visitors and tourists into Tunbridge Wells town centre. This would have the double benefit of boosting the local economy and making residents’, workers’ and visitors' lives much better.” 

 

The petition organiser

 

The petition organiser, Miss Sarah Bond, was invited to address the Council for a maximum of five minutes, in order to highlight the key points of her argument. She began by thanking the members and officers for preparing a report, set out in the agenda, which sought to address the issues raised by the petition.

 

Miss Bond reiterated the main thrust of the petition, which was to urge the Borough Council to review its car park charging strategy, so that residents, workers and visitors to the town were not deterred from using the car parks but were encouraged to spend more time and money and thereby provide a boost to the local economy. She felt that the current system penalised users by having to pre-determine their length of stay and through Sunday and bank holiday charging. Miss Bond added that the existing ‘pay by phone’ system used by a number of motorists was subject to  technical drawbacks and was not, therefore, a solution.

 

Miss Bond backed up her argument with anecdotal evidence, where residents, workers and shoppers had encountered problems with the current policy, such as visits and appointments having to be cut short, visitors deciding to abandon their shopping trips, etc. She felt that there was an added penalty in that the existing car park machines did not provide change.

 

Miss Bond summarised the benefits of the proposed ‘pay on foot’ scheme and urged the Council to agree  ...  view the full minutes text for item FC78/12

FC79/12

Merger of the Two Area Planning Committees pdf icon PDF 140 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Portfolio Holder for Planning and Transportation, Councillor McDermott, introduced the report and in moving the recommendations he gave reassurance that, although the proposal reduced the number of committee members to 16, there would be no reduction in members from the minority parties.

 

Councillor Elliott seconded the recommendations.

 

Councillor Webb considered that the proposal would not significantly reduce costs.  He stated that committee members would have to travel further distances to visit sites and site visits would take longer – possibly being spread over several days.  He felt that local knowledge would be lost and urban members would not be so aware of rural issues.

 

Councillor Dr Hall advised members that she had spoken against the proposal at the Audit and Governance Committee meeting on 5 March 2013 and remained unsupportive of the merger of the two area planning committees. She felt that the increase in members on the committee would lengthen the meetings and therefore the concentration of members could deteriorate, as well as the quality of the decision making.  In addition some members would not stay for the length of the meeting if it continued until late.  She reminded members that the Government supported Localism, and yet she believed that the proposed merger promoted centralisation and did not consider the public interest.  Councillor Dr Hall considered that the proposed savings would be minimal and referred to Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council which operated three planning committees.

 

Councillor Cunningham advised that the majority of parish/town council chairmen had supported the proposal with the proviso that there would be a review of its effectiveness after twelve months.

 

In response to the comments made by Councillor Webb, Councillor March reminded members that the current Western Area Planning Committee did include rural areas such as Speldhurst, Ashurst and Langton Green and that many planning considerations were relevant to both rural and urban areas.  She added that one of the reasons for the merger was to prevent problems with being quorate when members left meetings before they had finished.  She suggested that recommendation 1) a. in the report be amended to increase the quorum from 4 to 5 members.  This amendment was agreed by both the mover and the seconder of the motion.

 

AMENDMENT CARRIED

 

Councillor Rusbridge felt that the proposal, although having some savings, crystallised the planning process and ensured consistency of decision making.  He argued that it was incorrect to identify rural and urban planning councillors, and referred to a time when the Western Area contained large areas of rural land, such as Capel and parts of Paddock Wood.  He acknowledged that local knowledge was valuable, but reassured that the new committee would include a wide range of councillors drawn from across the Borough.

 

Councillor Rusbridge then spoke about the meeting start time.  He considered that the proposed 6pm start time was not very convenient and should not be changed significantly from the current start time.  He suggested a start time of 5pm and this was seconded by Councillor Bothwell.  ...  view the full minutes text for item FC79/12

FC80/12

Re-Appointment to Audit and Governance Committee pdf icon PDF 104 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Horwood introduced the report, which requested members’ approval to re-appoint Mr James Hedges as an Independent Member of the Audit and Governance Committee for a further four year period.  He moved the recommendation, which Councillor Jukes then seconded.

 

There was no further debate on this item and the Mayor put the recommendation to a vote.

 

RESOLVED – That the Independent Member, Mr James Hedges, be re-appointed to the Audit and Governance Committee for a further four year period, ending on 19 February 2017.

FC81/12

Urgent Business

Minutes:

There was no urgent business to consider.

FC82/12

To record the Council's appreciation for the Mayor

To record the Borough Council’s appreciation of the valuable services rendered by the Mayor and the assistance given to him by the Mayoress during his period of office.

Minutes:

As was the tradition, the Deputy Mayor took over the chair for this item and invited  Councillor Jukes to speak.

 

Councillor Jukes congratulated the Mayor on a very successful year.  He spoke of Councillor Smith’s ability to combine his year in office as Mayor with his everyday role as a Managing Director.  He also acknowledged the Mayoress’s support and the fact that she had been a tremendous mayoral ambassador in her own right.  He referred to some of the many events that had occurred during the mayoral year, such as the Royal visit, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and cricket week.

 

On behalf of the members he thanked the Mayor and Mayoress for a remarkable year and formally recorded the Council’s appreciation of the valuable services rendered by them during the year.

 

Councillor Barrington-King joined the Leader of the Council in congratulating the Mayor and Mayoress and spoke about the credit both had brought upon the Borough as a result of their mayoral year.

 

Councillor Neve added that Councillor Smith had been an excellent Mayor, controlling Council meetings fairly.  Councillor Webb agreed that he was a thoroughly decent fellow. Councillor Ms Hill stated that the Mayor and Mayoress had been a wonderful asset to the Borough and she wished them all the best for the future.  Councillor Weeden concluded that the Deputy Mayor had a difficult act to follow, but he was certain that Councillor Basu would do this admirably.

 

Councillor Basu then added his own thanks and gratitude to Councillor Smith for the wonderful work he had carried out during the past year, and congratulated him for being such a popular, inspirational and successful Mayor.

 

The Mayor responded by thanking members and officers for their whole-hearted support during his mayoral year.  He also thanked the Mayoress and his chaplain for their support and assistance. 

 

RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY – That the Borough Council formally records its appreciation of the valuable services rendered by the Mayor and the assistance given to him by the Mayoress during his period of office.

 

FC83/12

Common Seal of the Council

 

To authorise the Common Seal of the Council to be affixed to any contract, minute, notice or other document arising out of the minutes, or pursuant to any delegation, authority or power conferred by the Council.

Minutes:

RESOLVED - That the Common Seal of the Council be affixed to any contract, minute, notice or other document arising out of the minutes or pursuant to any delegation, authority or power conferred by the Council.

 

 

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