Venue: Council Chamber, Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN1 1RS
Contact: Mathew Jefferys Democratic and Electoral Services Manager
Note: Please note that the public proceedings of the meeting will be recorded and made available for playback on the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council website
Apologies for absence
To receive any apologies for absence.
Apologies were received from Councillors Gooda, Neve and Mrs Thomas.
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 before the meeting.
Councillor Pope declared that his wife owned a flat in Grove Hill House which was adjacent to the Calverley Square development which was subject to a question.
To receive announcements from the Mayor, the Leader of the Council, members of the Cabinet and the Chief Executive.
Councillor Jukes announced:-
· The Government had not published the Local Government Finance Settlement as promised by 6 December 2018 and no timescale had been given as to when it was expected.
· The Nominee for Mayor for the year 2021 would be Councillor McDermott.
Councillor March announced:-
· Jazz in The Pantiles had been awarded Silver in the Beautiful South Tourism Awards and the Tourism event/festival category . This is the first award in the twenty seven year history of the event.
· Friends of Tunbridge Wells Museum, Library & Art Gallery had committed to a restoration project of an 18th Century gown – considered to be the jewel in the crown of the collection – that may have been worn at the court of King George the Third. The Friends were seeking grant funding from various bodies and their own fundraising to raise the £15,000 to conserve this wonderful example.
· Calverley Adventure Playground has won its second national award. The Ground Control Team won the Principal Award in Education and Schools category at the British Association of Landscaping Industries awards.
Councillor Moore announced:-
· Royal Tunbridge Wells Together secured a ‘yes’ vote for a Business Improvement District (BID), with a massive 73% voting in favour. The BID will see over £2.3million being invested into the town of Royal Tunbridge Wells over the next five years.
· Following a number of meetings with developers; they were unanimous in their view that the next few years would be very exciting for Royal Tunbridge Wells with hundreds of millions of pounds being invested in the town. They were also unanimous in their support for the Council's leadership and approach to cultural led regeneration.
· Tunbridge Wells was runner up in the Great British High Street. The Town was ranked seventeenth healthiest high street in the country and the Borough was voted ninth happiest place to live in the country.
Councillor Weatherly announced:-
· The annual figure for rough sleepers in Tunbridge Wells this year was seven. Last year it was twenty.
To approve the minutes of a previous meeting as a correct record. The only issue relating to the minutes that can be discussed is their accuracy.
Councillor Bulman’s name was incorrectly spelt at minute FC27/18.
1. That minute FC27/18 be amended to correct Councillor Bulman’s name; and
2. That, subject to the above amendment, the minutes of the meeting dated 26 September 2018 be approved as a correct record.
Questions from members of the public
To receive any questions from members of the public, of which due notice has been given in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 8, to be submitted and answered.
The Mayor advised that no questions from members of the public had been received under Council Procedure Rule 8.
Questions from members of the Council
To receive any questions from members of the Council, of which due notice has been given in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 10, to be submitted and answered.
The Mayor advised that there were eight questions pursuant to Council Procedure Rule 10.
1. Question from Councillor Stanyer
“Our newspapers are full of stories of 'horrors on the High Street' and speculating as to who will be next. Is the cabinet member able to give us a more positive insight as to why we should harbour no such fears here in Tunbridge Wells?”
Answer from Councillor Moore
“I agree that our newspapers are full of such horror stories but I agree with the likes of Mary Portas and Bill Grimsey who have concluded that high streets are not dead, just changing and that retail is not dead, boring retail is dead.
When we heard from British Land they explained that physical stores play a vital role in retail – holding stock, allowing for click and collect and returns as well as offering a chance to browse. 89 per cent of UK retail sales touch a physical store.
Put simply, our challenge – as outlined by the Portas and Grimsey reviews is to do what Amazon can’t – to provide a rich mix of cultural and leisure opportunities that encourage people to visit the town and to lengthen dwell times and to make it a great place for businesses to base themselves and for residents to live.
British Land also described the phenomenon of ‘polarisation’ – namely the concept that not all town centres will be able to remain ‘destination towns’. Many towns will be relegated to convenience towns. This is something that we are keen to avoid. Standing still is not an option when towns around us are investing in their cultural and leisure offer.
We have the advantage of already being one of the top 100 retail destinations and of having a great brand. Royal Tunbridge Wells is strengthened by its unique offer including the presence of large percentage of independent retailers, some examples include The High Street, Chapel Place and The Pantiles as well as in Camden Road.
Although we have seen some of the big name multiples close down we are aware that many retailers in the town centre continue to trade well and in addition there has been a steady number of new starters. Building on the success of the town centre partnership becoming a Business Improvement District that will be funded by local businesses to implement their priorities on the themes of marketing and promotion events, business support, access and parking.
So there are threats and opportunities facing our town and we mustn't be complacent but our strategy has been universally welcomed amongst the hundreds of businesses I have engaged with and was consistently mentioned as a reason why developers are putting close to £500million worth of investment into our town.”
2. Question from Councillor Chapelard
“Could the Portfolio Holder confirm that the costs for the Civic Complex are £94.1m?
The breakdown for this figure is as follows: £90m as set out to Full Council in December 2017; £3.25m for Crescent Rd carpark extension; ... view the full minutes text for item FC40/18
Consideration of the report is subject to approval by Cabinet on 6 December 2018.
Councillor March moved, and Councillor Hill seconded, the recommendation set out in the report.
The discussion included consideration of the following matters:
· The recommendation had cross party support.
· The individual had given meritorious service to the borough over many years.
· The individual had inspired young people in the arts, had made it a mission to give opportunities to physically and mentally challenged people and believed in national and international recognition for the arts in Tunbridge Wells.
RESOLVED –That a Civic Medallion be awarded to the individual set out at Exempt Appendix A to the report.
Councillor Jukes moved, and Councillor McDermott seconded, the recommendation set out in the report.
Councillor Hannam thanked officers and apologised to them for any inconvenience caused by his dispute with the leadership of the Conservative Group.
1. That the allocation of seats on committees as set out in paragraph 2.3 of the report be approved; and
2. That there be no changes to the appointments to committees be noted.
To consider one Motion on Notice, in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 11, submitted by Councillor Elliott.
Councillor Elliott moved, and Councillor Oakford seconded, the motion as set out in the agenda.
The following points were raised in Councillor Elliott’s moving of the motion:
· Southborough Town Council had been working towards revitalising the centre of Southborough for nearly 12 years.
· The Southborough Hub would transform the centre of Southborough, once it was built.
· The proper planning procedures had been followed.
· It would be a tragedy for Southborough if the funding already allocated for the project was lost.
The discussion included consideration of the following additional matters:
· Residents had genuine concerns about the project.
· People in Southborough and High Brooms felt ignored by the Hub project board.
· The biggest risk to the success of this project was a lack of buy in and support from local people or local authorities not seen as sufficiently engaging with local people and considering local opinion.
· Southborough Hub was enormously important for the community of Southborough and the motion demonstrated a contempt for legitimate protest and opposition.
· The project would create a vibrant and exciting town centre for Southborough to take them into the next century.
· Every single member of Southborough Town Council had seen the financial details.
· In it’s last year, The Royal Victoria Hall’s subsidy from Southborough Town Council was £66,000.
· All the stakeholder engagement material was on the Southborough Town Council website.
· Southborough Town Council had secured multi-million pounds worth of funds from the NHS to pay for a state of the art medical centre over two floors in the development.
· The Football Association had given a grant of £500,000 to build a football pavilion to keep 400 young people playing football in Southborough.
· The grants were time limited and they had to be realised in this financial year.
· The project delivered a multi-functional building that would pay for itself.
Councillor Chapelard requested a recorded vote.
Members who voted in favour of the motion: Councillors Backhouse, Barrington-King, Dr Basu, Bland, Bulman, Mrs Cobbold, Dawlings, Elliott, Dr Hall, Hastie, Heasman, Holden, Huggett, Jukes, Lewis-Grey, Mackonochie, March, McDermott, Moore, Noakes, Nuttall, Oakford, Ms Palmer, Reilly, Scott, Simmons, Mrs Soyke, Stanyer, Stewart, Thomson, Uddin, Weatherly, Williams and Woodward. (34)
Members who voted against the motion: Councillors Chapelard, Ellis, Hill, Lewis, Lidstone and Pope. (6)
Members who abstained from voting: The Mayor Councillor Horwood, The Deputy Mayor Councillor Scholes, Councillors Hamilton, Hannam and Podbury. (5)
RESOLVED – That this Council regrets moves by some groups to undermine the Southborough Hub project which is being led by Southborough Town Council with support from Tunbridge Wells Borough Council and Kent County Council to provide much needed facilities for the community and which has been an ambition for over 20 years and which has never been closer to being delivered.
To consider any other items which the Mayor decides are urgent, for the reasons to be stated, in accordance with Section 100B(4) of the Local Government Act 1972.
The Mayor confirmed there was no urgent business to consider within the provisions of Council Meetings Procedure 2.1.12.
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.
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.
Date of next meeting
To note that the date of the next meeting is Wednesday 20 February 2018.
It was noted that the next meeting would take place on Wednesday 27 February 2019 at 6.30pm.