Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Monday, 16th January, 2023 6.30 pm

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

Contact: Louise Kellam  Democratic Services Officer


No. Item


Apologies for Absence pdf icon PDF 28 KB

To receive any apologies for absence.

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Apologies were received from Councillors Ellis, Palmer and Johnson.


Councillor Le Page was not present at the start of the meeting, but arrived at 6.45PM.


Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 67 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.

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There were no disclosable pecuniary or other significant interests declared at

the meeting.



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.

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



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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Councillors Chapelard and Pound were in attendance as the responsible Cabinet

Members on item OSC61/22. There were no members of the public or Visiting Members registered to speak.



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.



Further Update on Digital pdf icon PDF 28 KB

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Ian Hirst, Head of Digital Services and Communications, and Andy Sturtivant, Digital Services Team Leader, provided a presentation and live demonstration of myTWBC and the ongoing digital strategy.


Questions and Discussion from Members included the following:

-       The Contact Centre team were consulted extensively about myTWBC, especially during the development of The Amelia, where the Customer Service Hub was used.

-       The Contact Centre team were able to recommend myTWBC accounts to customers who contacted them but were under no obligation to do so while they got used to the system themselves.

-       Data was stored at the Maidstone Server Centre as well as with the relevant software company. Data was backed up overnight.

-       Election results were unlikely to be made available on myTWBC as they were already readily available on the Council’s website.

-       Notification on bin delays etc. were already available to those subscribed to the weekly Council newsletter and adding this feature to myTWBC was being explored, but required different levels of consent.  

-       There were approximately 1600 myTWBC accounts, with  approximately 500 linked to Council Tax accounts. There nearly 15,000 subscribers to the weekly newsletter.

-       It was not currently possible for a resident to reverse their Single Person Allowance on their own account but it was something that could be considered.

-       Information from external organisations was kept up-to-date online by means of Application Programming Interfaces (API) which created connections between 2 different websites e.g. the British Heart Foundation website for defibrillator locations.

-       The webchat function to be included onthe website was planned to be live chat but with initial ‘canned’ questions to filter answers. This webchat function was to be only available in certain areas of the website, and not across the entirety of it.

-       It would be possible to extract data that would show the breakdown of hits on the website for each Ward.  This would allow Councillors to see how many of their constituents were accessing the site and details of the issues raised.

-       The Election page on the Council website received approximately 81,000 views on election day.

-       The ongoing Community Wi-Fi scheme was funded by KCC who had been assessing deprived areas of Tunbridge Wells. The costs of the scheme were very high and while KCC covered installation and initial costs, TWBC or its partners (such as Town and Country Housing) would have to fund ongoing maintenance.

-       The myTWBC project was started in July 2022.


Borough Partnership Plan: Building a Better Borough pdf icon PDF 208 KB

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Councillor Ben Chapelard, Leader of the Council, presented the Borough Partnership Plan as set out in the agenda.


Answers to questions to Councillor Chapelard and Councillor Hugo Pound, Cabinet Member for Housing and Planning along with other discussion included:

-       In relation to the £100,000 Community Support Fund, the application window had closed on Wednesday 11th January. Those applications were in the process of being reviewed before going to the Community Grants Panel.

-       In response to comments regarding the perceived lack of detail and the vagueness of the plan, as well as a lack of clarity regarding actions undertaken by the Borough Partnership and not as a continuation of the previous Administration’s work.

-       It was pointed out that Parking fee increases were not enacted until December ’22 but the Plan showed a £200,000 reduction in the deficit prior to then which could be due to the previous administration’s work. Cllr Chapelard responded that in May 2022 when he was elected Council Leader there had been a forecast deficit of £944,000, and by the end of Q2 of this financial year they predicted that the deficit was to reduce to £820,000, which included action which the Partnership had had to take within the in-year budget review. He also claimed that the forecast deficit for the budget year 2023/24 had been drastically reduced through the actions of the in-year budget review. Cllr Chapelard agreed that inflation was running high, especially in relation to waste and recycling, which added £620,000 to bin collection on last April’s costs. 

-       It was noted that the reduction in deficit was due to officers taking advantage of raised interest rates on assets accrued by previous administrations.

-       A total of 3 active transport schemes had been put forward for funding: A Cycle lane between Rusthall and Pembury; a low traffic area in St John’s; and, a low traffic area in St James’. When asked why none of the schemes were in rural areas, Cllr Chapelard stated that there had been no political will at Kent County Council to deliver broader schemes, but that he hoped that in the future the active travel network would branch out to the rural areas.

-       A point raised that social housing targets were vague and lacked detail was explained by the responsible Cabinet Member Councillor Pound as being due to there being no Local Plan in place, it had been difficult to hold developers to account to provide social and affordable housing in both town and rural areas. Once the Local Plan had been approved, social housing numbers would be propelled.

-       Approx. 24 units of social housing on 2 separate sites were to be delivered before May 2024, but had not been included in the Plan to avoid being overly specific and running the risk of the projects not being delivered. These 24 units equalled  two thirds of the social housing units the previous administration had delivered in 5 years.

-       Developers were noted to have been  ...  view the full minutes text for item OSC61/22


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 97 KB

To consider the Committee’s future work programme.

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The Work Programme was presented for information.


No topics were identified or discussed.



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 ???day ?? Month 20??.

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The next meeting was scheduled for Monday 13th March 2023.