Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Monday, 29th March, 2021 6.30 pm

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Venue: Virtual Meeting - Online. View directions

Contact: Mark O'Callaghan  Scrutiny and Engagement Officer


No. Item


Apologies for Absence pdf icon PDF 28 KB

Apologies for absence as reported at the meeting.

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Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Stanyer. Councillor Scholes was not present.


Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 66 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.

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There were no disclosable pecuniary or other significant interests declared at the meeting.


Notification of Persons Registered to Speak pdf icon PDF 30 KB

To note any Visiting Members or members of the public wishing to speak, of which due notice has been given in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 18 or 19, and which item(s) they wish to speak on.

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Councillor Mackonochie, as the relevant Portfolio Holder, was in attendance to present under OSC92/20 and OSC93/20. Councillor Hamilton was registered as a visiting member on items OSC93/20 and OSC95/20.


There were no members of the public registered to speak.


Minutes of the meeting dated 18 January 2021 pdf icon PDF 192 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.

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The item was deferred until next meeting.


Minutes of the meeting dated 12 March 2021 pdf icon PDF 155 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.

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The item was deferred until next meeting.


Items Called-In pdf icon PDF 67 KB

To consider any items ‘Called-In’ under Overview and Scrutiny Procedure Rule 13, details of which will have been circulated to Members under separate cover.

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There were no items which had been called in.


Community Safety Partnership Plan 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 181 KB

To consider the proposals to Full Council set out in the associated report.

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Councillor Mackonochie (Portfolio Holder for Communities and Wellbeing) introduced the report, comments included:

·         Pleased that Tunbridge Wells remained the safest borough in Kent, with data for the reporting period showing a nine per cent reduction in overall crime, building on the six per cent reduction reported last year.

·         Clearly, 2020 was no ordinary year and some of the reductions will have been influenced by the changes and sacrifices made to daily lives. For example, residential burglaries, robberies and shoplifting were all down substantially.

·         Conversely, anti-social behaviour increased by 58 per cent in 2020 largely due to breaches of Covid-19 regulations.

·         Every district in Kent experienced similar patterns.

·         For 2021-22, the Council’s priorities would remain the same and be focused on violent incidents associated with substance and alcohol abuse, particularly in the night-time economy when it reopened.


Terry Hughes (Community Safety Manager) explained the report that sought approval for the 2021/22 Community Safety Partnership Plan, comments included:

·         To note, calendar year data had been used rather than the November to October that was usually used. For this year, it was thought important to capture the most recent data possible.

·         Crime and anti-social behaviour data for the county showed that Tunbridge Wells was well placed being first, second or third in the crime-types typically measured.

·         The two crime types that fell outside the top three were shoplifting and theft of motor vehicles, Tunbridge Wells was fourth for both in this reporting period.

·         Despite an increase in the theft of catalytic convertors, there was an overall reduction in thefts from motor vehicles. A project to address this issue had been initiated and part funded by the Council. The Council may consider further funding in the future.

·         An increase in violent crime moved Tunbridge Wells from second place to third – Tunbridge Wells had 10 more incidents than Tonbridge and Malling last year. Given the current restrictions, the increase was a surprise so further investigation was needed.

·         Nationally, hate crime towards certain groups had increased, in particular, anti-Asian and victims identifying themselves as Chinese.

·         There had been little movement in hate crime in Tunbridge Wells although there were still some isolated incidents. Details of incidents were reported to the Community Liaison Officer and discussed at the monthly Vulnerability Board Meeting.

·         Incidents of domestic abuse in Tunbridge Wells was the lowest in Kent. There was an increase of 94 reports (four per cent increase from the previous year) – half the increase experienced in 2019.

·         Figures from the Domestic Abuse Volunteers and Support Services (DAVSS) showed a repeat rate of between 4-6 per cent in the first three quarters of the 2020 financial year. 

·         Domestic calls to the police did not rise as expected, but calls to DAVSS increased by approximately 400 during the year (this was a West Kent figure that included Tonbridge and Malling and Sevenoaks).

·         The Council provided DAVSS with some additional funding for a survivors programme. The programme quickly became over-subscribed.

·         The new Domestic Abuse Bill currently in Parliament would require  ...  view the full minutes text for item OSC92/20


Portfolio Holder Update - Communities and Wellbeing pdf icon PDF 147 KB

To consider and decide on the recommendations set out in the associated report.

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Councillor Mackonochie (Portfolio Holder for Communities and Wellbeing) introduced the report, comment included:

·         Last year it had not been possible to give an update due to the coronavirus lockdown and the Overview and Scrutiny Committee taking on the role of the Cabinet Advisory Boards.

·         Thanks to those who managed to keep the Committee going during some very difficult times.

·         Housing:

·         The conversion of the Crescent Road properties to temporary accommodation for the homeless was imminent. These were being developed with Green technologies and would have a concierge-style service for residents needing assistance where required.

·         The Housing Strategy was going to be reviewed.

·         The team continued to identify the best use of s106 commuted sums which had been paid to the Council in lieu of affordable housing being built on site.

·         Community Hubs

o   The development of community hubs in Paddock Wood, Cranbrook and TN2 continued as set out in the Five-Year Plan.

·         Health:

o   The team continued to support people through the recovery from the pandemic by providing a range of health initiatives.

·         Community Safety:

o   Aimed to deliver the new priorities of the Community Safety Partnership plan.


Councillor Hamilton had registered to speak as a visiting member, comments included:

·         The site of the community centre in Paddock Wood was a contentious issue. The public did not want it situated on the Memorial Field, but the Town Council insist that it was. This was a much-loved area which included a green field and cricket playing area which had been in situ since the 1950s. The public responded via numerous polls. There was a live planning application associated with it.

·         The Portfolio Holder was asked to support the residents and their concerns.


Discussion and responses to Members’ questions included the following:

·         The borough council had no responsibility for ensuring whether another authority had made a ‘good’ decision.

·         The Cabinet were supporting the duly made decision of Paddock Wood Town Council.

·         Regarding the number of rough sleepers which had been found temporary accommodation, the most recent figures report that 140 single people and couples (in addition to those who would have normally been helped under the Council’s usual criteria) would have been assisted through the “Everyone In” initiative. Of these, 21 people were still in emergency housing and 119 had moved on.

·         A rewrite of Housing Strategy was in draft form at the moment and in addition the Government had added a strategy on ending rough sleeping.  A consultation would follow and the Committee would be able to see this when it was ready subject to the decision making timetable.

·         TN2 was going to remain as a community hub. Provision for a doctor’s surgery had been looked at. The Local Plan set it out as a medical centre and hub and there had been some initial discussions but nothing further was known at this stage.

·         In parished areas, community hubs were often run by charities or the local council. The last two Five-Year Plans included engaging with parishes where they have established  ...  view the full minutes text for item OSC93/20


Poverty Task and Finish Group: Update pdf icon PDF 28 KB

To receive a verbal update.

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Councillor Pound (Chairman of the Task and Finish Group) presented a verbal update, comments included:

·         The Task and Finish Group, in line with the original resolution of Full Council, had focused on the bottom ten Lower Super Output Areas (LSOAs) across the borough as measured against the Indices of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) which was a government assessment across the whole country published every year.

·         The seven IMD were: income, employment, health deprivation and disability, education skills and training, crime, barriers to housing and services and living environment.

·         None of the bottom ten LSOAs were in the first decile of deprivation but all were at the fourth decile or below and they were compounded by the recognised additional dimension that many of those LSOAs were in close proximity to LSOAs at the eight to tenth deciles – in other words, the poorest in the boroughs were often living adjacent to the wealthiest.

·         The IMD were agreed as the basis of the Task and Finish Group’s analysis. In the Group’s view, finance measures would be taken after housing costs have been allowed for considering the particularly high cost of owning and renting in Tunbridge Wells.

·         The scope of the Group was to seek to:

1)    Identify actions and measures by the Council and also take into account what other organisations and agencies were doing to address the IMD;

2)    Understand the Council’s role in coordination.

3)    Develop recommendations around a quality public consultation to determine if there are further roles that the Council can undertake.

·         The Task and Finish Group comprised of Councillors Woodward, Funnell, Thompson, Atwood and Pound supported by Mark O’Callaghan (Scrutiny and Engagement Officer) and Jane Clarke (Head of Policy and Governance).

·         Since the new year five meetings had been held with a range of guests and the Group was grateful for the views of:

o   Sheila Coburn (Head of Revenues and Benefits) and Jane Lang (Housing Services Manager);

o   Liz de Villiers (Chief Executive of Tunbridge Wells Citizens Advice);

o   Zena Cooke (Corporate Director of Finance at KCC);

o   Jackie Sumner (Town and Country Housing); and

o   Councillor Mackonochie (Portfolio Holder for Communities and Wellbeing) and Paul Taylor (Director of Change and Communities).

·         Quite early on the Group agreed to limit investigations to three key principle contributors to deprivation in Tunbridge Wells:

o   Income;

o   Education and training; and

o   Access to housing and services.

·         These were not to deny other important elements of the IMD but it had provided a focus – that each invited guests concurred with – that income, either from the state or employment, education and training, to increase the chances of good quality and secure employment, and access to housing and services, recognising the unusually higher housing costs which burden many families and signposting to help residents find the right support, are the key constituents that are likely to have the greatest impact on deprivation in the lowest LSOAs.

·         The Group had been impressed with the rapidly improving coordination, information and sharing responsiveness  ...  view the full minutes text for item OSC94/20


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 43 KB

To consider the Committee’s future work programme.

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Members were invited to send thoughts about the Work Programme to the Scrutiny and Engagement Officer to be considered by the new committee when formed in May.


Councillor Hamilton had registered to speak as a visiting member, comments included:

·         A potential topic could relate to the provision of expert advice in project planning and whether it was value for money. Also  whether the Council should test the market to a greater extent to determine what was wanted and needed.

·         There needed to be more consistency in the approach to the employment of experts and projects.


Urgent Business pdf icon PDF 28 KB

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.

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There was no urgent business for consideration.


Date of the next meeting pdf icon PDF 28 KB

To note that the next scheduled meeting is Monday 14 June 2021.

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The next meeting was scheduled for Monday 14 June 2021.