Agenda and minutes

Full Council - Wednesday, 23rd February, 2022 6.30 pm

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Venue: Council Chamber, Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN1 1RS

Contact: Democratic Services Team 

Media

Items
No. Item

FC68/21

Apologies for absence pdf icon PDF 28 KB

To receive any apologies for absence.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Councillors Funnell and Thomson.

FC69/21

Minutes of the meeting dated 15 December 2021 pdf icon PDF 202 KB

To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 15 December 2021 as a correct record. The only issue relating to the minutes that can be discussed is their accuracy.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Simmons advised that he had moved the amendments to the Constitution, not Councillor Dawlings as stated.

 

RESOLVED –

1.    That FC60/21 be amended to replace Dawlings with Simmons; and

2.    That, subject to the above amendment, the minutes of the meeting dated 15 December 2021 be approved as a correct record.

FC70/21

Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 65 KB

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.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

No declarations of pecuniary or other significant interest were made.

FC71/21

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 announced:

·         The Civic Dinner in support of the Mayor’s Charity was on 22 April 2022.

 

The Leader of the Council:

·         Expressed his gratitude in the excellent work that was carried out by the building service team during storm Eunice.

 

The Portfolio Holder for Economic Development:

·         Provided an update on Tunbridge Wells crime statistics and how they had achieved high ranking status across Kent, and he expressed his thanks to all the hard work gone into achieving this.

 

The Portfolio Holder for Environment, Culture and Leisure announced:

·         The TWBC Climate Action website would go live on 28 February 2022.

·         Tunbridge Wells would host the Subbuteo World Cup in 2024.

FC72/21

Presentation of a Civic Medallion to June Bridgeman pdf icon PDF 70 KB

To present June Bridgeman with a Civic Medallion which was awarded at the meeting of Full Council on 15 December 2021.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Mayor and members of the Council welcomed June Bridgeman, family and friends to the meeting and set out their reasons for granting the well-deserved award.

 

The Chief Executive read the citation and the Mayor presented the award.

 

Upon receiving the medallion, June Bridgeman returned thanks for the award.

FC73/21

Goudhurst Neighbourhood Development Plan pdf icon PDF 150 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 Dr Hall seconded, the recommendation set out in the associated report.

 

Debate included:

·         Neighbourhood plans were developed over many months involving many people.

·         The Plan was supported at referendum, 92% voting Yes and 8% No.

 

The Mayor took a vote on the motion by affirmation.

 

RESOLVED –

1.    That, following a favourable local Referendum result in relation to the use of the Goudhurst Neighbourhood Development Plan to help in the determination of planning applications in the Parish Neighbourhood Area, the Goudhurst Neighbourhood Development Plan be formally ‘made’ (adopted) and become part of the statutory Development Plan for the area with immediate effect;

2.    That the Goudhurst Neighbourhood Development Plan Decision Statement (post-Referendum) shown at Appendix A to the report also be published; and

3.    The Goudhurst Neighbourhood Development Plan SEA Adoption Statement also be drafted and published shortly after the NDP is ‘made’.

FC74/21

Benenden Neighbourhood Development Plan pdf icon PDF 151 KB

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

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Mayor asked the Monitoring Officer to advise members regarding an email which had been circulated by objectors to the Benenden Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP) commenting about an article which had been published in a local magazine.

 

Monitoring Officer advised:

·         Legal input had been sought in relation to the publication of certain statements in a local magazine and their impact on the validity of the Plan.

·         It was felt that under the circumstances the risk of challenge to the Council’s decision was low.

 

Councillor McDermott moved, and Councillor Holden seconded, the recommendations set out in the associated report.

 

The Mayor advised that there were four members of the public registered to speak:

·         Hazel Strouts – Resident of Benenden

·         Nicola Thomas – Chair of Benenden Parish Council

·         Paul Tolhurst – Benenden NDP

·         Andrew Marks – Resident of Benenden

 

Comments by speakers included:

·         Felt the wider community was not consulted on plans.

·         Friends of East End were not consulted until too late in the process.

·         Advised a petition was submitted and signed by 127 people and not 31 as suggested.

·         The community felt they were being silenced and prevented from publishing articles expressing their views.

·         Posters had been published that were confusing and misleading.

·         The facilities of the site at East End were not adequate to accommodate the developments plans.

·         Thanks was expressed to all councillors for their support.

·         Delighted that over 80 per cent voted for the proposal.

·         Congratulated Tunbridge Wells Planning team for openness and support.

·         Benenden NDP had to date taken nearly four years with 25 volunteers to get to the position it is in today.

·         Five workshops, three drop-in sessions and two exhibitions with a village plan launch meeting were held to make residents aware of the development.

·         It was stressed that all meetings were well attended except the meeting held in the East End.

·         The Independent examiner held a 5-hour meeting to listed to all concerns, he found robust and sound planning principles.

·         53.6 per cent turn out for the referendum.

·         Residents felt NDP was a done deal.

·         NDP group failed to include residents who would be most affected by development.

·         Brown field site reference is emotive and incorrect as Tunbridge Wells own register does make such reference.

·         Outside of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty where much of hospital intrudes into it for historical reasons.

·         NDP failed to include hospital site in its consultation, and it was only at final planning consultation were residents able to express their concerns.

·         This development lacks any formal infrastructure to accommodate such a sizeable development.

 

Councillor Patterson moved, and councillor Poile seconded, a motion to adjourn the debate under Council Procedure Rule 13.11.4. The Mayor determined that the motion had not reasonably been discussed and debate would continue.

 

Debate included:

·         Concern was expressed over the allegations on how the Plan was conducted, it was felt the Borough Council should defer the vote on this plan until adjudication has taken place.

·         It was reiterated that Legal Services had been consulted and  ...  view the full minutes text for item FC74/21

FC75/21

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 ten questions from members of the public had been received under Council Procedure Rule 10.6.

 

1. Question from Terry Cload

 

“The Pantiles is Royal Tunbridge Wells greatest tourist attraction. The public toilets closed several years ago. When will the replacement facilities be open?”

 

Answer from Councillor Fairweather

 

“Public toilets have been incorporated into the Pump Room as part of the Union House development and they will be open from 09:00 to 17:30 seven days a week.”

 

Supplementary question from Terry Cload

 

“It was asked if a timeframe could be provided.”

 

Supplementary answer from Councillor Fairweather

 

“As the development is a private venture a date is not clear, however it is hoped that it will be opened immediately.”

 

2. Question from Dr Shadi Rogers

 

“Does the Conservative administration believe that the plans for the old cinema site being brought forward for luxury retirement housing with no proportion of genuinely affordable housing represents the best we can do for those Tunbridge Wells residents who are struggling to afford to own or rent a home of their own? What social value does this development really provide for the Borough and its residents?”

 

Answer from Councillor McDermott

 

“The planning policy for the cinema site is provided in the Submission Local Plan and in recognition of the viability issues associated with this site, there is no requirement for affordable housing. The policy was reviewed and agreed by the cross-party Planning Policy Working Group and agreed by Full Council in February 2021 with broad political support, including from the Labour party who voted en bloc to submit the plan, including the policy relating to the Cinema Site.

 

The proposals being discussed with Retirement Villages are for more residences than provided for in the Local Plan and will assessed by the Planning Committee against local and national policy as part of any planning application. It would not be appropriate to prejudge the outcome of that decision. My colleague Councillor Fairweather will set out how the Council is actively working to boost the levels of affordable housing provision in response to the second question you’re asking this evening.”

 

Supplementary question from Dr Shadi Rogers

 

“Do you not agree that this development will do nothing for residents in Sherwood who are in their 20’s and 30’s who still live at home with their parents spiralling private rental and increased house prices which are out of control”

 

Supplementary answer from Councillor McDermott

 

“The previous owners of the site asked for an independent test of the viability report for the cinema site, and it came back it was not viable. It is not appropriate to make judgement on planning applications before it is decided by the planning committee, I therefore suggest it is sent back for further negotiations.”

 

3. Question from James Tansley

 

“At the meeting of full Council on 21 April 2021, the Portfolio holder for Finance and Governance said he was “not aware” of any breaches by Council officials and Councillors of the fifth of  ...  view the full minutes text for item FC75/21

FC76/21

Questions from members of the Council pdf icon PDF 32 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 there were three questions from members of the Council had been received under Council Procedure Rule 10.

 

Councillor Pound sought confirmation that the questions raised were in order and that interjections from the floor were inappropriate. The Mayor agreed.

 

1. Question from Councillor Pound

 

“On Monday 14th February, Cllr Scott posted on social media (Next Door) “AXA investing heavily in the old cinema site” and on Tuesday 15th February he said on NextDoor: “AXA investing in the cinema site” is a “positive thing”.

 

Can you confirm that AXA has, through its subsidiary Retirement Homes Ltd. only placed an option to buy the site, subject to approval of a planning application yet to be put to the Council and that it has not yet, therefore, invested in the cinema site?”

 

Answer from Councillor Scott

 

“Valuing and Assessing options is a key part of my regulations training for UK and USA financial services authorities. Retirement homes have placed an option to buy, the contractual and financial terms where an option was placed are confidential to them, and different elements will have financial implications.

 

The option will create an obligation for public engagement and development and is evident in all preplanning work done to date, until preplanning is agreed and can be expensive and without knowledge of what outcome will be they will continue their investment in the process.”

 

Supplementary question from Councillor Pound

 

“Would you agree that value and assessing option or preplanning or investment in the development process in the cinema site carry with it clear connotation of investment in the site which is simply untrue, and you are again misleading the public and this needs to be corrected”.

 

Supplementary answer from Councillor Scott

 

“Councillor Pound, whenever you are investing in a property you are leasing or an option on the property and identifying each of these things are related directly to the site and do not see any scope for misinterpretation.”

 

2. Question from Councillor Everitt

 

“Since the prohibition of the letting of properties with energy performance certificates F and G by private landlords from 1 April 2020, what steps has the Council taken to inform private renters of the responsibility of their landlord and equally inform private landlords of their responsibility?”

 

Answer from Councillor Dawlings

 

“We provide information on our website for both landlords and private tenants setting out Responsibilities for landlords and a guide to finding accommodation, including details of the EPC requirements.

 

We also participate in the West Kent Landlords’ Forum hosted, by the National Residential Landlords’ Association, where landlords are made aware of their responsibilities. The next Forum will focus on Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards.

 

Our Housing Option Advisors request copies of all required certificates, including the EPC when assisting someone into or offering private rental accommodation. As part of our response to any service request from a private sector tenant about property conditions we check the EPC rating. Where poor energy insulation is identified, landlords are required to carry out  ...  view the full minutes text for item FC76/21

FC77/21

Budget 2022/23 and Medium Term Financial Strategy Update pdf icon PDF 660 KB

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Mayor exercised his discretion under Council Procedures Rule 13.4.4 to allow leaders of each political party more than 10 minutes to speak.

 

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

 

Debate included:

·         The pandemic had caused significant pressure on the council. However, it was felt with good financial management the Council had delivered well.

·         The Council was only able to collect two per cent of the generated £85m in revenue from Council Tax, which equated to £8m and the balance was shared between Kent County Council, Kent Fire and Rescue, Kent Police and Crime Commissioner and Parish and Town Councils.

·         For Business Rates, the Council only retained four per cent and the balance was paid to the government.

·         £21m of the revenue generated from fees and charges set by the government did not cover all costs.

·         £5m had been generated from new Business Rates which was credited into the Council’s reserves.

·         Kent was part of a pilot scheme where it retained 100 per cent of the Business Rates growth, this had now been reduced to 50 per cent in 2021.

·         Lockdowns effected the Council’s revenue stream, where a shortfall of £1m was forecast in Q1 per month, which was reduced to £500k in Q2.

·         The government encouraged councils not to withdraw services and all shortfalls would be covered by government.

·         Councils were to cover the first five per cent of losses and the government would cover 75 per cent of the remainder.

·         Due to government funding, reserves and payments received, the Council did not have to draw on its reserves.

·         Deficit was previously thought to be £1.5m however due to careful management, this was reduced to <£960k.

·         The Council administered payments of over £54m in grants to local businesses this process was administered in house which reduced processing costs.

·         An increase in New Homes Bonus had resulted in the Council receiving >£1m.

·         87 per cent of residents were in support of Councils approach.

·         The Council had taken action to address surplus office space in the Town Hall. A co-working partnership had been agreed which would offer the Council a revenue stream.

·         New office changes would bring new business to the town along with increased footfall.

·         Other property assets would be reviewed.

·         Car Park spaces would be reviewed, and consideration would be given to new revenue generation schemes or alternative use.

·         Investment had been made in housing and rough sleeper projects along with hardship funds being made available. 80 per cent Council Tax Relief was available for those in need.

·         £20.6m has been invested in the town to bring two listed buildings back into good repair, the Amelia Scott (including Library) along with Adult Education had been jointly funded by £9.5m from partners Kent County Council, National Lottery Heritage Fund and the government’s Let’s Get Building fund.

·         The Council’s deficit position came from a lack of planning and strategic direction.

·         There have been too many years of overreach and underfunding. Failure to grow had  ...  view the full minutes text for item FC77/21

FC78/21

Council Tax 2022/23 pdf icon PDF 144 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 Scott seconded, the recommendations set out in the report.

 

The report was taken as read.

 

The Mayor took a recorded vote on the motion in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 15.7.

 

Members who voted for the motion: Councillors Allen, Atkins, Atwood, Backhouse, Bailey, Barrington-King, Bland, Britcher-Allan, Chapelard, Dawlings, Ellis, Everitt, Fairweather, Fitzsimmons, Goodship, C. Hall, Dr Hall, Hamilton, Hayward, Hickey, Hill, Holden, Knight, Lewis, Lidstone, March, McDermott, Morton, Ms Palmer, Patterson, Poile, Pope, Pound, Rands, Roberts, Rutland, Sankey, Scholes, Scott, Simmons, Warne, White, Woodward and Wormington. (44)

 

Members who voted against the motion: None

 

Members who abstained from voting: Councillor Willis. (1)

 

RESOLVED – That the Council Tax for 2022/23 as set out at Appendix A to the report be approved.

FC79/21

Asset Management Plan 2022-23 pdf icon PDF 130 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 Scott seconded, the recommendations set out in the report.

 

The report was taken as read.

 

The Mayor took a vote on the motion by affirmation.

 

RESOLVED – That the Asset Management Plan 2022/23, as set out at Appendix A to the report, be adopted.

FC80/21

Treasury Management Policy and Strategy 2022/23 pdf icon PDF 148 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 Scott seconded, the recommendations set out in the report.

 

The report was taken as read.

 

The Mayor took a vote on the motion by affirmation.

 

RESOLVED – That the Treasury Management Policy and Strategy 2022/23, as set out at Appendix A to the report, be adopted

FC81/21

Capital Strategy 2022/23 pdf icon PDF 147 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 Scott seconded, the recommendations set out in the report.

 

The report was taken as read.

 

The Mayor took a vote on the motion by affirmation.

 

RESOLVED – That the Capital Strategy 2022/23, as set out at Appendix A to the report, be adopted.

FC82/21

Changes to Appointment to Committees (February 2022) pdf icon PDF 168 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 Scott seconded, the recommendations set out in the report.

 

Debate included:

·         There was a lack of female councillors sitting in leadership positions within the committee groups.

·         It was noted and agreed remedial action would be taken.

 

The Mayor took a vote on the motion by affirmation.

 

RESOLVED –

1.    That the allocation of seats to Committees (political balance), as set out at paragraph 3.7 of the report, be approved; and

2.    That the appointments to Committees, nominated by Group Leaders, including the Chairmanships and Vice-Chairmanships of the Committees as set out at Appendix A to the report, be approved.

FC83/21

Motion on notice from Councillor Sankey pdf icon PDF 68 KB

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Sankey moved, and Councillor Pope seconded, the motion set out in the associated notice.

 

Debate included:

·         To address future development plans and approach developers for Meanwhile Use It was felt this was more effective way of preventing land just sitting idle awaiting development.

·         Concern was expressed around private development and how this motion would relate.

·         Concern was expressed on the effectiveness of the policy and how it would be applied.

 

Councillor Pope requested a recorded vote.

 

Members who voted for the motion: Councillors Allen, Atkins, Atwood, Barrington-King, Bland, Britcher-Allan, Chapelard, Dawlings, Ellis, Everitt, Fairweather, Fitzsimmons, Goodship, C. Hall, Hamilton, Hayward, Hickey, Hill, Knight, Lewis, Lidstone, Ms Palmer, Patterson, Poile, Pope, Pound, Rands, Rutland, Sankey, Scholes, Scott, Simmons, Warne, Willis, White, Woodward and Wormington. (37)

 

Members who voted against the motion: None

 

Members who abstained from voting: Councillors Backhouse, Bailey, Dr Hall, Holden, March, McDermott, Morton, Roberts. (8)

 

RESOLVED – That this Council considers the preparation of a robust “Meanwhile Use” planning policy for major developments in the Local Plan and Royal Tunbridge Wells Town Centre Plan. This consideration will occur through the Planning Policy Working Group and Royal Town Centre Plan Working Group and through formal engagement and consultation with businesses, residents and statutory consultees.

FC84/21

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:

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.

FC85/21

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.

FC86/21

Date of next meeting pdf icon PDF 28 KB

To note that the date of the next meeting is Wednesday 27 April 2022.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The next scheduled meeting was Wednesday 27 April 2022.