Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Wednesday, 27th July, 2022 6.30 pm

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

Contact: Mark O'Callaghan  Scrutiny and Engagement Officer

Media

Items
No. Item

OSC14/22

Apologies for Absence pdf icon PDF 28 KB

To receive any apologies for absence.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Ellis, Goodship, Johnson and McMillan.

OSC15/22

Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 65 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:

Councillor Atkins declared an Other Significant Interest in item OSC19/22 – Items Called-In. Specifically that he had helped organise the Paddock Wood petition related to parking charges which were the subject of the Call-In.

 

No disclosable pecuniary or further other significant interests declared at the meeting.

OSC16/22

Declarations of a Party Whip pdf icon PDF 28 KB

To receive any declarations by members of instruction given by or on behalf of a political group as to how that member should speak or vote on any items on the agenda. For any advice on declarations of a party whip, please contact the Monitoring Officer before the meeting.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no declarations that any member was subject to a party whip.

OSC17/22

Notification of Persons Registered to Speak pdf icon PDF 31 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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Minutes:

Councillors Hayward, Pound and Rutland were in attendance to present the response to the Call-In on behalf of the Cabinet in respect of item OSC19/22.

 

The following members of the public were registered to speak in respect of OSC19/22 – Items Called-In:

·         County Councillor Hamilton (Kent County Council, Tunbridge Wells Rural Division),

·         Parish Councillor Flashman (Paddock Wood Town Council)

·         Mr Richard Barsley (Paddock Wood resident and chair of the business association)

 

The following Visiting Members were registered to speak in respect of OSC19/22 – Items Called-in:

·         Councillor Bailey

·         Councillor Barrass

·         Councillor Wormington

·         Councillor Hill

OSC18/22

Minutes of the meeting dated 27 June 2022 pdf icon PDF 181 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:

No amendments were proposed.

 

RESOLVED – That the minutes of the meeting dated 27 June 2022 be approved as a correct record.

OSC19/22

Items Called- In pdf icon PDF 191 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.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chairman explained the Call-In process.

 

Councillor Atkins, having earlier made a declaration of interest, left the room.

 

Councillor Holden presented the Call-In. Comments included:

·         The Cabinet had failed to live up to its own pledge to be open and transparent having failed to consult with affected people before getting to the point of making the decision.

·         The late consultation, as added to the process after the fact, did not address the full range of cost increases, green waste and cemetery charges for example.

·         Presenting a consultation after the intent had been made evident would be biased and be perceived as a fait accompli.

·         The changes appeared motivated solely in the interest of the council’s finances and there was no indication of consideration of the effect on the interests of residents or the wider economy.

·         There was no analysis on the potential impact on footfall in the town centres affecting businesses facing recession or on residents facing a cost-of-living crisis.

·         Cabinet should restart the process with a genuine and qualitative consultation considering the impact on others before formulating its proposals.

 

In answer to questions to Councillor Holden, comments included:

·         The consultation announced by the Cabinet was inadequate as it would produce different results to those that might be received at the start of a genuine process, so the Cabinet should be asked to restart the whole process.

·         Consultation should be standard practice when increasing costs on residents.

 

Councillors Rutland, Pound and Hayward presented the response to the Call-In from the Cabinet. Comments included:

·         The Cabinet recognised the strength of feeling surrounding this matter and had launched a four-week public consultation. Public meetings would also be held in Southborough and Paddock Wood.

·         A full report on the results of the consultation would be considered by the Finance and Governance Cabinet Advisory Board ahead of Cabinet.

·         The Cabinet were listening to residents.

·         The proposed charges were in accordance with the Partnership’s agreed priority to safeguard the finances which was in the best interests of the public.

·         There was no legal obligation for the Cabinet to consult. The Cabinet’s deficit reduction plan worked within the parameters of what had already been agreed by Full Council. Nevertheless, the Cabinet had chosen to consult.

·         The Partnership had inherited a budget deficit of £944k in year 2022/23 and £2.6m in year 2023/24. The Council could no longer absorb the inflationary pressure it was under.

·         The longer the delay in tackling the deficit the worse the problem became.

·         The Council’s auditors had noted that the deficit accumulated over five years would amount to £20.7m if left unmanaged.

·         Protecting the Council’s finances was essential to protect vital public services.

·         Cabinet would carefully consider the results of the consultation and welcome any alternative savings or sources of income.

·         Cabinet would endeavour to better engage and communicate in future.

·         No consultation was undertaken when car park fees were last raised in 2017.

·         Appendix H to the Cabinet report showed comprehensive research of comparable charges throughout Kent. The charges proposed in  ...  view the full minutes text for item OSC19/22

OSC20/22

Follow-up on actions from the review of the Community Safety Partnership Plan 2022/23 pdf icon PDF 185 KB

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Terry Hughes, Community Safety Manager, introduced the report set out in the agenda.

 

Answers to questions included:

·         Environmental Visual Audits were important to generate additional safety measures (including cutting back of foliage and clear space around lighting) which could be put in place.

·         Mapping of incident sites was not particularly accurate using the Home Office reporting tool but report should give enough indicators to highlight areas where a visual audit could take place.

·         Plans for a local reporting tool for incidents of violence against women and girls where now part of the Community Safety Action Plan to be assessed by the quarterly Board meeting – a local tool had been put off to allow the Home Office tool and the Kent Police tool to receive a fair trial.

·         A separate report on foliage cutting and street lighting clearing might not be as straight forward as it might seem, an incident report might refer to several factors which would need to be assessed. The most effective response would be a commitment for an officer to review each of the reports to produce a prioritised list where interventions would make the greatest effect.

·         The current Safer Streets tool was created by the Home Office and can be accessed on the Kent Police website. It was expected that the tool would remain available for several years but it was not open to amendment.

 

Comments in debate included:

·         It would be useful to have a further update in six months reporting on progress towards a local version of the Safe Streets app.

·         The Community Safety Partnership Plan on which this report was based was agreed at the committee’s meeting in April 2022 subject only to the queries now answered.

·         The Partnership Plan was reviewed annually.

·         This report resolved all outstanding matters.

 

RESOLVED – That the report be noted.

OSC21/22

Contracts Task and Finish Group Update pdf icon PDF 143 KB

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Mark O’Callaghan, Scrutiny and Engagement Officer, introduced the report set out in the agenda.

 

The report was taken as read.

 

RESOLVED –

 

1.    That the membership of the Contracts Task and Finish Group be: Councillors Ellis (Chair), Holden, Le Page, McMillan, Morton.

 

2.    That the report be noted.

OSC22/22

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 97 KB

To consider the Committee’s future work programme.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Work Programme was presented for information.

 

Comments included:

·         The new Head of Planning would be in post by the time of the next meeting and was expected to attend for the item on Planning Enforcement.

·         The item on Planning Enforcement should proceed with urgency regardless of the attendance of the Head of Planning.

OSC23/22

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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Minutes:

There was no urgent business for consideration.

OSC24/22

Date of the next meeting pdf icon PDF 28 KB

To note that the next scheduled meeting is Monday 26 September 2022.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The next meeting was scheduled for Monday 26 September 2022.