Agenda and minutes

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

Contact: Mathew Jefferys  Democratic and Electoral Services Manager

Items
No. Item

FC74/17

Chairman of the Meeting

Minutes:

The Deputy Mayor was in the chair as the Mayor, having been taken ill, was absent.

FC75/17

Apologies for absence

To receive any apologies for absence.

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Councillors Jamil, Mrs Soyke, Stewart, Uddin and Woodward.

FC76/17

Declarations of Interest

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.

Minutes:

No declarations of pecuniary or significant other interest were made.

FC77/17

Announcements

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

Minutes:

The Deputy Mayor had no announcements.

 

Councillor Jukes welcomed the Deputy Mayor back following a period of illness. He questioned the accuracy of a number of recent statements promulgated by opposition members in the press.

 

Members of the Cabinet had no announcements.

 

The Chief Executive reminded members of the need to return Related Party Transaction forms, adding that doing so promptly would help the Council maintain its good record on completing the end-of-year accounts.

FC78/17

Minutes of the meeting dated 21 February 2018 pdf icon PDF 234 KB

To approve the minutes of the scheduled meeting held on 21 February 2018 as a correct record. The only issue relating to the minutes that can be discussed is their accuracy.

Minutes:

No amendments were proposed.

 

RESOLVED – That the minutes of the meeting dated 21 February 2018 be approved as a correct record.

 

FC79/17

Minutes of the meeting dated 26 March 2018 pdf icon PDF 175 KB

To approve the minutes of the extraordinary meeting held on 26 March 2018 as a correct record. The only issue relating to the minutes that can be discussed is their accuracy.

Minutes:

Councillor Dr Hall felt that the use of the word ‘politicking’ at minute FC70/17 did not accurately reflect her statement.

 

Councillor Lidstone advised that he had not been present as recorded in the minutes.

 

RESOLVED –

 

1.    That minute FC70/17 be amended to replace “politicking” with “robust politics”;

 

2.    That Councillor Lidstone be removed from the list of those present; and

 

3.    That, subject to the above amendments, the minutes of the meeting dated 26 March 2018 be agreed as an accurate record.

FC80/17

Questions from members of the public

To receive any questions from members of the public, of which due notice has been given pursuant to Council Procedure Rule 8, to be submitted and answered.

Minutes:

The Deputy Mayor advised that there was one question in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 8.

 

1. Question from Dr Robert Banks

 

“The civic centre website describes public concerns about the finance for the civic development and the sale of the existing Town Hall and Assembly Hall as ‘myths’. If these widely held views are so false how is it that they have now been recorded on the Strategic Risk Register as being of a high likelihood of occurrence with resulting severe impact and the Civic Development Project classified as a red risk?”

 

Answer from Councillor Moore

 

“I don’t think that anyone would dispute the fact that there is public concern about the civic development – some of it fuelled by those opposed to the scheme. The website has tried to correct some of the more outlandish claims which I would certainly describe as myths. Clearly there are risks associated with any large project and I would hope that the public would take comfort from the fact that we are recognising and managing those risks. If you have looked at the Strategic Risk Register you will notice a long list of actions to control and manage the risks including a staged approval process, the use of expert advice and prudent financial assumptions.”

 

Supplementary question from Dr Robert Banks

 

Dr Banks sought to clarify whether statements made on the website dismissing certain aspects of the project as myths were actually truths as suggested by their inclusion on the risk register.

 

Response from Councillor Moore

 

Councillor Moore noted that the Civic Development delivery reports, which had been considered by all three Cabinet Advisory Boards and the Audit and Governance Committee before Cabinet and Full Council, contained independent appraisals of the project. Mid Kent Audit gave an assurance rating of ‘Strong’ and stated that the project was underpinned by robust project management arrangements and governance structure. The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy concurred and further stated that the core financial assumptions and financial governance arrangements appeared reasonable and sound.

FC81/17

Questions from members of the Council

To receive any questions from members of the Council, of which due notice has been given pursuant to Council Procedure Rule 10, to be submitted and answered.

Minutes:

The Deputy Mayor advised that there were seven questions in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 10.

 

1. Question from Councillor Munn

 

“The poor state of our roads is a major concern of our residents and the current efforts of Kent County Council are abysmal. Spending £10 million when there is an admitted backlog of £500million is clearly inadequate.

 

Although this Council has no direct responsibility for these road repairs, what action is it taking to put pressure on Kent County Council to step up its efforts to deal with the thousands of potholes that are causing damage to vehicles and are posing danger to people’s lives?”

 

Answer from Councillor McDermott

 

“Tunbridge Wells is a successful and economically busy part of the county with heavy road usage and we expect roads to be kept in a good state of repair. You also quite rightly raise the issue of public safety from poorly maintained roads.

 

On the 19 March I chaired a joint member briefing between the Cabinets of this Council and Kent County Council. This was to build awareness of current and future challenges within Tunbridge Wells and to facilitate a discussion on how we could work more effectively together and ultimately agree shared priorities. We also used this briefing as an opportune time to raise our concerns regarding the unacceptable condition of some parts of the roads following the spate of bad weather.

 

The KCC Director of Highways gave assurances that they were working hard to make repairs as a matter of urgency. Some repairs can only be made temporarily until timetabling of other considerations and the giving of sufficient notice has occurred.

 

Residents and businesses should continue to report problems directly to the KCC website and to track the progress of repairs.”

 

Supplementary question from Councillor Munn

 

Councillor Munn asked whether KCC had provided any indications as to the amount or value of repair work being undertaken in Tunbridge Wells. He added that road safety was one of the priorities under the Community Safety Partnership Plan.

 

Response from Councillor McDermott

 

Councillor McDermott advised that he had received a comprehensive schedule of works which he would make available to members.

 

2. Question from Councillor Hill

 

“One of the Council’s aims in the Five Year Plan is to ‘support the development of Community Centres in the borough’. One of these centres is the Southborough Community Hub which is jointly managed by a Project Board representing three equal partners: Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, Kent County Council, and Southborough Town Council. Nearly two years after signing a Collaboration Agreement what are the best current estimates of: 1) when the project will be completed; 2) the overall cost of the project; 3) the cost of the building housing the theatre/community hall, council offices, library, and medical centre; 4) the cost of the football pavilion; and 5) the contribution being made in cash or kind by each of the three partners?”

 

Answer from Councillor Jukes

 

“We anticipate the project being completed at the end of  ...  view the full minutes text for item FC81/17

FC82/17

Notice of Use of Urgency Procedures

To note the use of: (a) the Call-in and Urgency procedure in accordance with Overview and Scrutiny Procedure Rule 14; and (b) the Special Urgency procedure in accordance with Access to Information Procedure Rule 16, both in respect of Cabinet decision CAB170/17 (Strategic Land Acquisition).

Minutes:

The Chief Executive, William Benson, advised members that the purpose of the item was to note the use of the urgency procedures, as set out in the agenda pack, in respect of Cabinet decision CAB170/17, namely: Strategic Land Acquisition, on 12 April 2018.

 

Mr Benson explained that the details of the decision and the reasons why the procedures were used were available to all members at the time. The procedures also required that their use be reported to the next available Council meeting.

 

The Deputy Mayor advised that, as a procedural matter, the item was not open for discussion and that members were asked to note the use of the procedure rules.

 

RESOLVED – That the use of the Call-in and Urgency procedure, in accordance with Overview and Scrutiny Procedure Rule 14, and the Special Urgency procedure, in accordance with Access to Information Procedure Rule 16, both in respect of Cabinet decision CAB170/17, be noted.

FC83/17

Ashdown Forest Air Quality Impact Assessment and Revised Habitat Regulation Assessment Practice Note pdf icon PDF 192 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor McDermott introduced the report and noted a correction on page 102 of the agenda pack, where paragraph 6.8 referred to a meeting held on 7 February 2017 which should state 2018. He added that since the publication of the report Wealden District Council had sent correspondence which stated that, “[Wealden District Council] would not, as a matter of course, challenge individual planning applications submitted to neighbouring councils simply on the basis that they would result in additional trips across Ashdown Forest. It was not the function of Wealden District Council to oversee the decisions of neighbouring competent authorities and it would be impractical to do so.” He commended the report and noted that it had been supported by the Planning and Transportation Cabinet Advisory Board. He moved the recommendations set out in the report.

 

Councillor Jukes seconded the motion and commented that he had been involved in negotiations with neighbouring councils and the Secretary of State. He was pleased that Wealden District Council had backed down from its previous position.

 

Councillor Holden welcomed Wealden’s change of position. He added that a considerable amount of paper had been used for what was now a non-issue. He added that this was an example of why the Council should aim to be paper-less.

 

Councillor Neve concurred and sought confirmation that Ashdown Forest had no underground springs which would impact on Tunbridge Wells being a spa town.

 

Councillor Heasman was pleased to note that oxides of nitrogen (NOx) levels would actually be lower by 2033, which may have been a contributory factor in Wealden’s decision to step back.

 

Councillor Dr Hall commented that this was not a non-issue and pollution remained a significant problem. She wished Tunbridge Wells Borough Council to adopt a robust position similar to that adopted by Wealden District Council.

 

Councillor Backhouse noted that members needed to be mindful of the Council’s ability to deliver a five-year housing supply.

 

The mover of the motion, Councillor McDermott, had nothing further to add.

 

The Deputy Mayor took a vote.

 

RESOLVED –

 

1.    That the contents and conclusions of the detailed technical report entitled Ashdown Forest Air Quality Impact Assessment 2018, set out at Appendix A to the report, be noted;

 

2.    That the discussions and conclusions with regards to the Council’s approach to Ashdown Forest and objections received from Wealden District Council in relation to planning applications within the Borough and the Council’s current Practice Note in relation to possible adverse effects on Ashdown Forest in the report entitled Ashdown Forest – Discussions on Air Quality dated 29 March 2018, set out at Appendix B to the report, be noted; and

 

3.    That the revised Practice Note to inform development management decisions in relation to the application of the Habitat Regulations with regards possible adverse effects on Ashdown Forest, set out at Appendix C to the report, be adopted.

FC84/17

Community Safety Partnership Plan 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 124 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Weatherly introduced the report and noted that the Plan set out how the Council and its partners would tackle local priorities to reduce crime and disorder in the Borough. The Plan was reviewed and approved on an annual basis.

 

Councillor March seconded the motion and reserved her right to speak.

 

Councillor Munn welcomed the continued focus on domestic abuse and noted that the Mayor’s charity was Domestic Abuse Volunteers Support Services (DAVSS). He was pleased by the establishment of a one-stop-shop and was grateful for the inter-agency effort made in tackling such a difficult issue, particularly considering the reduction of support in factors such as benefits, legal aid and social services. He referred to the Community Domestic Abuse Programme, which worked with male perpetrators, and questioned why there had been no referrals from Tunbridge Wells.

 

Councillor Heasman commended the report and thanked all the many organisations who contributed to the partnership or delivered services in the Borough. He was concerned that the number of hospital admissions due to the effects of alcohol continued to rise and called for further action.

 

Councillor Barrington-King recalled his past experience as Portfolio Holder with responsibility for the Community Safety Partnership and noted that it remained an effective group in keeping Tunbridge Wells the safest district in Kent. He believed that the local priorities were correct.

 

The mover of the motion, Councillor Weatherly, had nothing further to add.

 

The Deputy Mayor took a vote.

 

RESOLVED – That the Community Safety Partnership Plan 2018/19 be approved.

FC85/17

Public Spaces Protection Order Implementation pdf icon PDF 211 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Weatherly introduced the report and moved the recommendations set out in the report. She noted that the purpose was to tackle quality of life issues and anti-social behaviour. The concerns relating to the proposals for rough sleeping and begging were acknowledged and she drew members’ attention to measures to ensure discretion in the enforcement of the order, furthermore any enforcement action would be closely monitored by the monthly Rough Sleepers Professionals meetings.

 

Councillor March seconded the motion and reserved her right to speak.

 

Councillor Lidstone welcomed the actions taken to mitigate concerns relating to rough sleepers and begging but was unable to support a proposal that had the potential to issue fines in such circumstances. Paragraph 1.12 of the report set out that enforcement could be carried out by “Street Scene Enforcement Officers, contract enforcement staff and authorised Council officers.” He was not confident that the contract staff could be trusted to exercise the level of discretion that might be expected of Council officers. He also questioned how enforceable any fines could be and added that genuinely homeless people would be unable to pay and opportunist beggars could leave and the fines would not be recoverable. Councillor Lidstone moved an amendment to omit the restrictions relating to rough sleeping and begging, specifically to insert the words “except paragraphs 4.4.7 and 4.4.8” in recommendations 1 after “Section 4.4” and before “of the report be approved”.

 

Councillor Chapelard seconded the amendment and reserved his right to speak.

 

Councillor Holden commented that the enforceability of any such fine was something which needed to be looked into further.

 

Councillor Neve commented that many people who were rough sleeping may have underlying mental health issues and they may not be able to seek help. He added that people also had the right to choose how to live and it was unfair to penalise such people.

 

Councillor Munn commented that some people may live on the streets because they had genuine mental health issues which made it difficult to be around people or accept help from authorities. To put pressure on such people could have the effect of driving them into more dangerous situations.

 

Councillor March commented that the Portfolio Holder had worked extensively with those who support people living on the street and many people had been helped back on the road to recovery. She added that the Council were not seeking to penalise anyone but would do all it could to help people and the proposals could encourage people to accept help.

 

Councillor Moore urged members to note the wording of the restriction which prohibited begging or rough sleeping where there was anti-social behaviour or the person was not engaging with support services. She felt the original proposals struck the right balance between supporting those who had fallen on hard times and tackling anti-social behaviour.

 

Councillor Jukes commented that the Council was often accused of not listening to residents and he questioned why proposals that were supported by the public through a clear  ...  view the full minutes text for item FC85/17

FC86/17

Appointment of Deputy Mayor 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 99 KB

Minutes:

Councillor Jukes moved the motion set out in the agenda and recalled that his reasons for the nomination were included in his statement to Full Council on 21 February 2018. He added that Councillor Scholes was both an Alderman of the County of Kent and an Honorary Freeman of the City of London.

 

Councillor McDermott seconded the motion and reserved his right to speak.

 

The Deputy Mayor took a vote on the motion.

 

RESOLVED – That Councillor Scholes be appointed as Deputy Mayor for the municipal year 2018/19.

FC87/17

To Record the Council's Appreciation for the Mayor

To record the Borough Council’s appreciation for the valuable services rendered by the Mayor and the assistance given to her by the Mayor’s Escort during her period of office.

Minutes:

Councillor Jukes congratulated the Mayor on a successful year under sometimes difficult circumstances, including one of the longest meetings in memory. Councillor Mrs Soyke had taken the duties in her stride and it was fitting that such a strong female Mayor should occupy the office during the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage. He added that Councillor Mrs Soyke was also a busy and successful bed and breakfast owner, farmer and horse breeder, ably assisted by the Mayor’s Escort, Mr Peter Soyke.

 

Councillor Hill thanked the Mayor on behalf of the Labour Group for an excellent year and she hoped the example would be an inspiration to other women to join the Council. She was grateful in particular for the Mayor’s support of the Domestic Abuse Volunteer Support Service through the Mayor’s charity.

 

Councillor Lidstone thanked the Mayor on behalf of the Liberal Democrat group and echoed the grateful support for the Mayor’s charity.

 

On behalf of the Mayor, Councillor Horwood commented that he was sure that Councillor Mrs Soyke would have said that she had enjoyed every minute of her term of office and sent best wishes to those up for election in May.

 

RESOLVED – That the Borough Council formally records its appreciation of the valuable services rendered by the Mayor and the assistance given to her by the Mayor’s Escort during her period of office.

FC88/17

Urgent Business

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.

Minutes:

The Deputy Mayor confirmed there was no urgent business to consider within the provisions of Council Meetings Procedure 2.1.12.

FC89/17

Common Seal of the Council

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.

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.

FC90/17

Date of next meeting

To note that the next meeting will be the Annual Meeting, to be held on Wednesday 23 May at 10am.

Minutes:

It was noted that the next meeting of the Full Council would be the Annual Meeting, taking place on Wednesday 23 May 2018 at 10am.

 

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