Agenda and draft minutes

Full Council - Wednesday, 16th December, 2020 6.30 pm

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Contact: Mark O'Callaghan  Scrutiny and Engagement Officer

Media

Items
No. Item

FC29/20

Apologies for absence pdf icon PDF 28 KB

To receive any apologies for absence.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no apologies.

FC30/20

Minutes of the meeting dated 23 September 2020 pdf icon PDF 196 KB

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.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED – That the minutes of the meeting dated 23 September 2020 were approved as a correct record.

 

FC31/20

Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 66 KB

To receive any declarations of interest by members in items on the agenda in accordance with the Members’ Code of Conduct. For any advice on declarations of interest, please contact the Monitoring Officer before the meeting.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

No declarations of pecuniary or significant other interest were made.

FC32/20

Announcements pdf icon PDF 28 KB

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Mayor advised members that details of her engagements had been provided.

 

Councillor McDermott announced:

·         At the beginning of December, when infection rates were considerably lower than the national average, the Council had argued strongly that Tunbridge Wells should be moved from Tier 3 to Tier 2. However, rates in Tunbridge Wells had increased and were now higher than the national average. It was therefore unlikely that there would be a change.

·         The Council would continue to distribute Grants from Government. The Council would continue to lobby Government regarding the higher costs of doing business in Tunbridge Wells.

·         There would be a continued need to work collectively to ensure the infection rate reduced, to keep everyone safe and to minimise the pressures on essential services and to give the best chance of emerging from the current level of restrictions.

 

Councillor March announced:

·         Arts Council England had confirmed a Capital Grant of £291,638 to the Amelia Scott project. The money was part of the Cultural Recovery Fund.

·         The Council wanted to thank CounterCulture for their help in securing this funding.

·         The Amelia Scott Cultural Trust secured £250k from the Garfield Weston Foundation.

·         As the Council was now in Tier 3, the pop up Panto at the Assembly Hall Theatre would not be going ahead.

·         The ice rink was now open and would stay open until 17 January 2021.

 

Councillor Bailey announced:

·         The renovation of several council owned properties on Crescent Road had now been approved. Once renovated, they would provide accommodation for rough sleepers. The properties would also include a number of measures to make them carbon neutral.

·         The proposed updated Five Year Plan also set out how the Council planned to become carbon neutral by 2030. It included aims to improve biodiversity, encourage Active Travel, reduce car emissions and make the Borough ready for Hydrogen technology.

·         The Council was also pushing ahead with the roll out of EV charging points. Charging points had now been installed in the Great Hall, Crescent Road and Yew Tree Road car parks.

·         Kent County Council were responsible for on street charging points and the Council were ready to work with them to identify suitable sites.

·         A dual point rapid charger was about to be installed on Mount Pleasant Road, near the taxi rank. One space would be allocated to taxi’s, the other for general use. This work was due to start on 4 January 2021.

·         The private sector would play a key role on the provision of electric chargers going forward.

·         Government had announced the sale of new petrol and diesel cars would be banned from 2030, 10 years earlier than originally planned. 

·         Government also announced a 10 point plan for the green industrial revolution which included measures to produce large amounts of offshore wind power, alongside plans for hydrogen, green transport and carbon capture technology.

FC33/20

Questions from members of the public pdf icon PDF 31 KB

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.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Mayor advised that eleven questions from members of the public had been received under Council Procedure Rule 8.

 

1. Question from Mrs Shadi Rogers:

 

“As a junior doctor who travels from High Brooms to a busy London hospital for my job as an anaesthetist and as a young mother, I am concerned about the mental health and well-being of people in my area, Sherwood. At a time when community engagement and support are so important, can you tell me why the charges for hiring rooms and the sports hall at the TN2 Community Centre, very local to me, are being increased this year when no other Community Centre’s charges seem to be?”

 

Answer from Councillor Mackonochie:

 

“The Council’s fees and charges have been set for 2021/22 and the TN2 Community Centre has had a small increase each year, equating to an average of a 3% increase, that’s 36p an hour. We are very mindful of the impact of Covid on Community Groups and continue to provide a reduced community rate for local people to enable those living locally to use the centre.”

 

Supplementary Question from Mrs Shadi Rogers:

 

“Can you answer why no other Community Centre charges have been raised?”

 

Supplementary Answer from Councillor Mackonochie:

 

A written response was provided after the meeting as follows:

 

“The two community centres already charge different rates, with the Camden Centre charging a higher rate for both Commercial hire (£40.95) and Community Hire (£27.30) compared to the TN2 Community Centre which charges Commercial Hire (£29.83) and Community Hire (£25). The small increase this year is to try and bring the two centres closer in hire rates but over a longer period of time than one increase, and therefore this year there has been no increase in the Camden Centre hire rates.”

 

2.  Question from Mr Bjorn Simpole:

 

“Many Local Authorities have responded the Covid-19 pandemic by undertaking a comprehensive review of their key strategic policies to ensure they are fit for purpose. How has the Council responded to the economic impact of Covid-19 and the toll it has taken in terms of rising unemployment, increased poverty and demand for emergency food and welfare assistance amongst local residents.”

 

Answer from Councillor Mackonochie:

 

“The Council has initiated an Economic Recovery Plan as a short to medium term strategy which forms an addendum to the current Economic Development Strategy 2018/2021.  The Economic Development Strategy will be fully reviewed in 2021 once the impact of Brexit on our businesses from January 2021 is clarified.  Since lockdown in March 2020, the Council has mobilised its resources to support businesses in the Borough, specifically:

·         distributed the retail, leisure and hospitality small business and discretionary grant schemes, subsequently distributing grants under the national restrictions and local restrictions support grants.

·         Funding the Kent and Medway Growth Hub Covid-19 Support Website and phone line, the fourth highest demand for the service across the county.

·         Co-ordinating with the Local Plan for the re-purposing of Town Centres and employment spaces demand in response to  ...  view the full minutes text for item FC33/20

FC34/20

Questions from members of the Council pdf icon PDF 31 KB

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.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Mayor advised that five questions from members of the Council had been received under Council Procedure Rule 10.

 

1.  Question from Councillor Pound:

 

The Conservative Chairman of the Local Government Association has stated “investment in our local, public services is critical to our national recovery next year and beyond. Only with the right funding and freedom can councils lead local efforts to tackle the inequalities the pandemic has exposed and ensure an economic recovery that benefits everyone”.

 

So, can the Leader of this Council advise all members and the public what he has done, is doing and will be doing personally, in his position as Council Leader, to respond to the challenges highlighted by the Chairman of the LGA and to represent the Borough’s mounting anxiety that TWBC will be forced to make severe cuts in 2021 to balance its books?”

 

Councillor Bailey raised a Point of Order that under Council Procedure Rule 10.2 Members must ask questions, not statements. The Mayor confirmed that no questions had been rejected, the question was therefore appropriate.

 

Answer from Councillor McDermott:

 

“I think the Chairman of the LGA was referring to the need for central Government to ensure that Local Government is adequately funded. The UK is, as you will be aware, one of the most centralised nations on earth. I would absolutely echo and endorse those sentiments and have written both to our local MP and to the Secretary of State and to the Chancellor of the Exchequer both personally and together with Kent County Leaders to press this case.”

 

Supplementary Question from Councillor Pound:

 

“If the Leader has written to our local MP, Secretary of State and the Chancellor, why is this evening the first time I have heard that information and does he not feel it should be made more publically known that he is batting for us because his visibility is noticeably absent?”

 

Supplementary Answer from Councillor McDermott:

 

“I don’t know whether to answer this, but can I just say, the danger with all of his comments is that he wants us desperately to spend money which unfortunately we haven’t got. I don’t want to end up like the Labour Borough Council in Croydon which has run to the Government to claim s.114 so I think it is probably wisest to do things with care.”

 

Councillor Pound raised a Point of Order that the question had not been answered. The Mayor confirmed the Leader had given his answer.

 

2. Question from Councillor Lidstone:

 

“In December 2019, Tunbridge Wells, Borough Council advised Parish Councils that properties with communal bins had not been provided with food waste caddies, but that they would be surveyed in 2020 to see what mixture of bins was needed. Has this survey happened?”

 

Answer from Councillor Bailey:

 

“Due to the pressures of the global pandemic and the severe strains this has placed both on the Council and on our waste contractor, this survey has not yet been undertaken. The Council hopes to undertake this  ...  view the full minutes text for item FC34/20

FC35/20

Use of Urgency Procedures pdf icon PDF 111 KB

To consider and, if thought fit, to approve the recommendations set out in the associated report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Podbury moved, and Councillor Woodward seconded, the recommendations set out in the notice on the agenda.

 

The Mayor took a vote on the motion by affirmation.

 

RESOLVED –

 

1.    That the use of a) the Urgent Decision Outside the Budget Or Policy Framework procedure and b) the Call-in and Urgency procedure both in respect of Portfolio Holder Decision dated 05 October 2020, titled Discretionary Test and Trace Support Scheme, be noted;

 

2.    That the use of a) the Urgent Decision Outside the Budget Or Policy Framework procedure and b) the Call-In and Urgency procedure, both in respect of Portfolio Holder Decision dated 17 November 2020, titled National Restrictions Business Grants Scheme, be noted; and

 

3.    That the use of the Call-In and Urgency procedure in respect of Cabinet Decision dated 3 December 2020, titled Renovation of three properties on Crescent Road for affordable housing, be noted.

FC36/20

Timetable of Meetings 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 112 KB

To consider and, if thought fit, to approve the recommendations set out in the associated report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor McDermott moved, and Councillor March seconded, the recommendation set out in the report.

 

Debate on the motion included the following comments:

·         Were there any plans to resume meetings in the Council Chamber? 

·         The Chamber had capacity for 48 Members but was now considered not Covid safe. There was disagreement that the Chamber continued to be not Covid safe when there were some Committees with far fewer numbers e.g. with 6 to 10 Members. A shop in Monson Road (Lakeland) allowed 27 people in at one time. Given this why was the Council deemed not Covid safe?

·         The Council had taken advice from Public Health regarding being Covid safe. In addition there was also the Covid Regulations in relation to remote meetings which still applied. The situation was subject to those Regulations and would be kept under review.

 

The Mayor took a vote on the motion by affirmation.

 

RESOLVED – That the Timetable of meetings for 2021/22, as at Appendix A to the report be agreed.

FC37/20

Council Tax Reduction Scheme 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 214 KB

To consider and, if thought fit, to approve the recommendations set out in the associated report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Dawlings moved, and Councillor Mackonochie seconded, the recommendations set out in the report.

 

Debate on the motion included the following comments:

·         Increasing and providing adequate support was a key feature of this pandemic.

·         Statistics showed that low income families had been hit hardest by the consequences of the pandemic.

·         It was suggested, the proposed Council Tax Reduction Scheme was not fit for purpose as it did not provide for the level of strain of some of the Borough’s more vulnerable residents. The current circumstances suggested that the scheme should be urgently reviewed.

·         The issue of poverty was as much a local issue as it was a national issue.

·         The Labour Group opposed the reduction of support and would therefore not support the recommendations included in the report.

·         The new proposed scheme was much easier for the user to work out their entitlements.  The scheme also benefited those with a disability.

·         In addition to the Council Tax Reduction Scheme a hardship scheme was also available.

 

The Mayor took a recorded vote on the motion.

 

Members who voted in favour of the motion: The Mayor Councillor Podbury, The Deputy Mayor Councillor Woodward, Councillors Atkins, Atwood, Backhouse, Bailey, Barrington-King, Bland, Bruneau, Chapelard, Dawlings, Ellis, Fairweather, Dr Hall, Hamilton, Haywood, Hickey, Holden, Lidstone, Mackonochie, March, McDermott, Noakes, Palmer, Poile, Pope, Rands, Reilly, Rutland, Scholes, Scott, Simmons, Mrs Soyke, Stanyer, Thomson, Warne and Williams (37).

 

Members who voted against the motion: Councillors Everitt, Hill, Lewis, Neve and Pound (5).

 

Members who abstained from voting: Councillors Funnell and Morton (2).

 

RESOLVED –

 

1.     That the outcome of the public consultation, as set out at Appendix A to the report, be noted;

2.     That the Council Tax Reduction Scheme 2021/22, as set out at Appendix G to the report, be adopted; and

3.     That the impacts highlighted in the Policy in Practice analysis, and EqIA be noted and authority be delegated to the Head of Revenues and Benefits, in consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Finance and Governance, to consider mitigations to those impacts and make any changes deemed necessary within the Exceptional Hardship Policy.


 

FC38/20

Discretionary Housing Payments Policy pdf icon PDF 115 KB

To consider and, if thought fit, to approve the recommendations set out in the associated report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Dawlings moved, and Councillor Mackonochie seconded, the recommendations set out in the report.

 

The Mayor took a vote on the motion by affirmation.

 

RESOLVED – That the updated Discretionary Housing Payments Policy, as set out at Appendix A to the report be adopted.

FC39/20

Statement of Licensing Policy 2021-2026 pdf icon PDF 114 KB

To consider and, if thought fit, to approve the recommendations set out in the associated report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Backhouse moved, and Councillor Noakes seconded, the recommendations set out in the report.

 

The Mayor took a vote on the motion by affirmation.

 

RESOLVED – That the revised Statement of Licensing Policy 2021-2026 as set out at Appendix A to the report be agreed.

FC40/20

Tunbridge Wells Agreement pdf icon PDF 108 KB

To consider and, if thought fit, to approve the recommendations set out in the associated report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Dawlings moved, and Councillor Mackonochie seconded, the recommendations set out in the report.

 

The Mayor took a vote on the motion by affirmation.

 

RESOLVED –

 

1.    That paragraph 4.7c be amended to add the words ‘before determination’ at the end; and

 

2.    That, subject to the above amendment, the Tunbridge Wells Agreement as set out at Appendix A to the report be adopted.

FC41/20

Motions on Notice from Councillor Dr Hall pdf icon PDF 79 KB

To consider and, if thought fit, to approve the Motion as set out in the associated notice.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Dr Hall withdrew her motion. The motion was no longer necessary as the Leader had written that day to lobby the Secretary of State to be included in the Levelling Up agenda in respect of Broadband speeds particularly in rural areas.

FC42/20

Motion on Notice from Councillor Everitt pdf icon PDF 69 KB

To consider and, if thought fit, to approve the Motion as set out in the associated notice.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Everitt spoke to move the motion.

 

Councillor Holden raised a Point of Order that a motion must be moved and seconded before debate. The Mayor confirmed that the mover of a motion may speak to explain the motion whilst moving it. (CPR 13.1)

 

Councillor Everitt moved, and Councillor Warne seconded, the motion set out in the notice.

 

Councillor Holden raised a Point of Order that all decisions of the Council should be made in accordance with professional advice in accordance with Article 7.2 of the Constitution. The matter had legal and financial implications and would require engagement with a number of other organisations, this was rightly a matter for the Cabinet.

 

Councillor Holden moved, and Councillor Hamilton seconded, a procedural motion under Council Procedure Rule 11.4 to refer this matter to Cabinet.

 

Councillor Everitt raised a Point of Order that Councillor Holden’s procedural motion was out of order as the original motion only sought to explore the issues. The Mayor, on the advice of the Monitoring Officer, determined that the procedural motion was in order as the original motion did have financial and legal implications which would fall within the remit of the Cabinet.

 

Councillor Pound raised a Point of Order that Councillor Holden’s procedural motion had been moved and seconded and should be referred without discussion. The Mayor confirmed that only Points of Order were being considered.

 

The Mayor took a vote on the procedural motion by roll call.

 

RESOLVED – That the matter be referred to Cabinet for consideration and report.

FC43/20

Urgent Business pdf icon PDF 28 KB

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.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There was no urgent business.

FC44/20

Common Seal of the Council pdf icon PDF 28 KB

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.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Podbury moved, and Councillor Woodward seconded, the recommendation set out in the notice on the agenda.

 

The Mayor took a vote on the motion by affirmation.

 

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.

FC45/20

Date of next meeting pdf icon PDF 28 KB

To note that the next scheduled meeting is Wednesday 3 February 2021.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday 3 February 2021 which is an extraordinary meeting to discuss the Local Plan.

 

The next ordinary meeting is scheduled for Wednesday 24 February 2021.