Agenda and minutes

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

Contact: Mathew Jefferys  Democratic and Electoral Services Manager

Note: Please note that the public proceedings of the meeting will be recorded and made available for playback on the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council website 

Items
No. Item

FC47/18

In Memoriam Alf Baker

Minutes:

The Council observed a minute silence as a mark of respect following the death of former Mayor Alfred (Alf) Baker. Alf was a Borough Councillor for St James’ ward from 1984 to 1992, for St John’s Ward from 1996 to 2006 and was Mayor during 1998/99.

FC48/18

Apologies for absence

To receive any apologies for absence.

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Councillors Scott, Lewis and Uddin. Councillors Noakes and Stewart were not present.

FC49/18

Minutes of the meeting dated 12 December 2018 pdf icon PDF 246 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.

Minutes:

RESOLVED – That the minutes of the meeting dated 12 December 2018 be approved as a correct record.

FC50/18

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 disclosable pecuniary or other significant interests were made.

FC51/18

Announcements

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

Minutes:

The Mayor advised members that a written summary of his engagements since December 2018 had been provided.

 

Councillor Jukes announced:

·         Councillor Podbury would be nominated for Deputy Mayor in 2019/20 after it was discovered that the Deputy Mayor could not also be a member of the executive. Councillor McDermott, who had previously been nominated, would continue in his post on the Cabinet.

 

Councillor Moore announced:

·         28,000 copies of Your Town magazine at a cost of 13p per copy had been distributed to town centre wards. The magazine was a cost effective method of contacting those most affected by town centre development.

·         The Scale-Up event with West Kent Partnership had been opened to provide mentoring and assistance for businesses over the next 12 months.

·         Also with the West Kent Partnership, the Enterprise Advisor Network matches schools with business mentors.

·         West Kent Jobs and Training Fair was on 21 March 2019.

·         West Kent Business Conference was on 22 March 2019.

·         The new independent Farmers’ Market would be hosted in Market Square on Camden Road.

 

Councillor March announced:

·         The ice rink attracted nearly 38,000 skaters last year, the best results yet.

·         Ricky Gervais had sold out two nights at the Assembly Hall within one hour of the tickets going on sale.

·         The Assembly Hall were introducing new all-inclusive tickets and eliminating separate booking fees.

FC52/18

Presentation of a Civic Medallion to Jason Dormon

To present Jason Dormon with a Civic Medallion which was awarded at the meeting of Full Council on 12 December 2018.

Minutes:

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

 

The Chief Executive read the citation.

 

Upon receiving the medallion, Jason Dormon returned thanks for the award.

FC53/18

Questions from members of the public

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.

Minutes:

The Mayor advised that no questions from members of the public had been received under Council Procedure Rule 8.

FC54/18

Questions from members of the Council

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.

Minutes:

The Mayor advised that there were three questions from members of the Council pursuant to Council Procedure Rule 10.

 

1. Question from Councillor Chapelard

 

“Does Tunbridge Wells Borough Council value the contribution of councillors who have full-time jobs?”

 

Answer from Councillor Jukes

 

“I’m sure it does. From a personal aspect, I very much prefer that the working members make an addition to this Council and I know you have a couple on your team and I do enjoy constructive opposition, and I think two of your members are quite aware of that from comments I have made in the past. We have working Members on our side and probably one of the best debaters in this Chamber is a full-time worker - Councillor Hastie and I will be sorry to see him go in actual fact. We value everybody for the contribution they make. When I came on this Council I was working full-time. It cost me a lot of time, it cost me a lot of money and a lot of loss of family, which I regret for the time I spent. On the other hand, it’s quite fulfilling and I trust that you will get the same fulfilment out of it that everybody else does.”

 

Supplementary question from Councillor Chapelard

 

“Thank you for your answer Councillor Jukes. What practical steps would you like to see for the Council to take to make having a full time job and being a borough councillor more efficient in our way of working.”

 

Answer from Councillor Jukes

 

“We’ve had no complaints about the efficiency of the Council and the way it works. We have tried to accommodate one of your previous ideas which was to have Cabinet meetings in the evening so that members of the public could attend. In the year that we held those meetings I think that there were three members of the public that attended. It also puts a lot of pressure on our officers to stay late and officiate at the Cabinet meetings. Most of our meetings take place in the evening – the only one that doesn’t I think is planning and planning is a full day job. You can’t have a meeting that starts at half past six for planning and do site visits, particularly in the winter. I don’t see any reason why we need to change what we have already got. There is an old saying – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

 

2. Question from Councillor Lidstone

 

“Has Tunbridge Wells Borough Council received a response from the South East Local Enterprise Partnership to our £5m funding bid for the proposed Civic Development?”

 

Answer from Councillor Moore

 

“Thank you Councillor Lidstone for your question. The bid is still under active consideration.”

 

Supplementary question from Councillor Lidstone

 

“I have in front of me a technical assessment report from the South East Local Enterprise Partnership that classes the Calverley Square scheme as ‘sifted out’. Basically this assessment report has sifted out our application. So,  ...  view the full minutes text for item FC54/18

FC55/18

Asset Management Plan 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 125 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Reilly moved, and Councillor Jukes seconded, the recommendation set out in the report.

 

The debate included consideration of the following matters:

·         References in the report to ‘the Amelia Scott’ should read just ‘the Amelia’.

·         The Council’s asset portfolio of over £101m included operational, non-operational and investment properties. There was a clear distinction of investment property which did not form part of the Calverley Square project and conflating the two was misleading.

·         Proposals to fund a centralised sports hub through disposal of outlying areas was not supported by Councillor Lidstone.

·         Two responses had been received to the public consultation. Firstly that the document “was perfect” and secondly that it was “an informative document”.

 

RESOLVED – That the Asset Management Plan 2019/20 be agreed.

FC56/18

Council Tax Long Term Empty Premium pdf icon PDF 135 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Reilly moved, and Councillor Jukes seconded, the recommendations set out in the report.

 

The debate included consideration of the following matters:

·         Increasing pressures on housing stocks was a national problem, the proposals would help return empty properties to use.

 

RESOLVED –

 

1.    That the revised Council Tax Long Term Empty Premium be implemented for the financial years beginning on 1 April 2019, 1 April 2020 and 1 April 2021; and

 

2.    That the amendments to the Council Tax Empty Property Policy be noted to reflect the revised Council Tax Long Term Empty Premium.

FC57/18

Business Rates Retail Relief pdf icon PDF 114 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Reilly moved, and Councillor Jukes seconded, the recommendation set out in the report.

 

The debate included consideration of the following matters:

·         The measures would be welcomed by many business who were struggling with high rates.

·         Whilst the short term assistance was welcome, the Government’s restrictive definition of ‘retail’ was disappointing. Such decisions should have a degree of local discretion.

·         The Council and Royal Tunbridge Wells Together were hosting a Business Rates event on 28 March which would include a rare visit by officers of the Valuation Office Agency.

 

RESOLVED – That the Policy for the award of Business Rates Retail Relief, as set out at Appendix B to the report, be agreed in line with the guidance provided by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

FC58/18

Budget 2019/20 and Medium Term Financial Strategy Update pdf icon PDF 593 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Reilly moved, and Councillor Jukes seconded, the recommendations set out in the report.

 

The debate included consideration of the following matters:

·         Following the financial crisis in 2008 and the resulting austerity, the impact on local government had been disproportionately high.

·         The Council had a good record on financial prudency.

·         Greater local tax raising powers and a reduced dependency on property taxes would be welcome.

·         Proposals for charging for green waste collection were not supported.

·         The Government’s programme of austerity was too harsh. Taxes and charges were increasing faster than wages and affected the most vulnerable the hardest.

·         The Council should have higher priorities than the Calverley Square project.

·         Greater detail beyond directorate headings was wanted.

·         Claims that there were no reductions in front line services were disingenuous. Charges for green waste was seen as a reduction in a service which was currently free. Such charges were the equivalent of a 29 per cent increase in council tax and would largely go to fund the Calverley Square project.

·         This was the fourth report in the process of setting the budget and there had been little meaningful contributions in previous stages.

·         The new waste contract included new recycling services for free. Not everyone had a garden so it was right that only those who use the service should pay.

·         Council Tax accounted for 12 per cent of the Council’s budget. Investment in other income sources was vital.

·         Business Rate retention had facilitated investment in social services such as Dowding House.

·         The Council was addressing the concerns of residents and providing services above the statutory minimums, despite increasing costs, but this was only possible by investing.

·         Calverley Square was the wrong priority at this time and would not provide an income.

·         The public consultation on the Budget was poorly designed.

·         Austerity had been a necessary consequence of the circumstances and the overall level of direct taxation had reduced since the coalition government.

·         An increase in Council tax of three per cent was above inflation as measured by the Consumer Prices Index.

·         Calverley Square project was not included in the risk register and there was no assessment of the impact on the Budget if the expected take up of garden waste charge did not materialise.

·         There had to be fairness in the debate, one could not complain of grandstanding whilst doing the same. Similarly members should not complain that others did not attend briefings when earlier in the meeting the efforts of those who worked were appreciated.

·         Tunbridge Wells had the third lowest Council Tax in Kent.

·         The Council was delivering services despite low spending power compared to other authorities in Kent.

·         The garden waste charge was not a tax as it was optional. Only people who use the service would have to pay.

·         Claims that there were no major cuts to services were worrying as it depended in the individual’s definition of ‘major’.

·         Complaints that the Council was selling off assets were misleading because it was also buying assets to provide an  ...  view the full minutes text for item FC58/18

FC59/18

Council Tax 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 125 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Reilly moved, and Councillor Jukes seconded, the recommendations set out in the report.

 

The report was taken as read.

 

The Mayor took a recorded vote.

 

Members who voted in favour of the motion: The Mayor Councillor Horwood, The Deputy Mayor Councillor Scholes, Councillors Backhouse, Barrington-King, Dr Basu, Bland, Bulman, Mrs Cobbold, Dawlings, Elliott, Gooda, Dr Hall, Hamilton, Hannam, Hastie, Heasman, Holden, Huggett, Jukes, Lewis-Grey, Mackonochie, March, McDermott, Moore, Nuttall, Oakford, Mrs Palmer, Podbury, Reilly, Simmons, Soyke, Stanyer, Mrs Thomas, Thomson, Weatherly, Williams and Woodward. (37)

 

Members who voted against the motion: Councillors Chapelard, Ellis and Lidstone. (3)

 

Members who abstained from voting: Councillors Hill, Neve, Pope. (3)

 

RESOLVED – That the Council Tax for 2019/20 be approved as set out at Appendix A to the report.

FC60/18

Treasury Management Policy and Strategy 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 109 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Reilly moved, and Councillor Jukes seconded, the recommendation set out in the report.

 

The report was taken as read.

 

RESOLVED – That the Treasury Management Policy and Strategy 2019/20, as set out at Appendix A to the report, be adopted.

FC61/18

Capital Strategy 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 109 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Reilly moved, and Councillor Jukes seconded, the recommendation set out in the report.

 

The report was taken as read.

 

Councillor Chapelard recorded his abstention from the vote.

 

RESOLVED – That the Capital Strategy 2019/20, as set out at Appendix A to the report, be adopted.

FC62/18

Revised Statement of Licensing Principles for Gambling Policy pdf icon PDF 123 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Backhouse moved, and Councillor Woodward seconded, the recommendations set out in the report.

 

The report was taken as read.

 

RESOLVED –

 

1.    That the six-week consultation responses on the proposed Statement of Licensing Principles for Gambling Policy, as set out at Appendix B to the report, be noted; and

 

2.    That the Revised Statement of Licensing Principles for Gambling Policy, drafted in accordance with the Gambling Commissions 5th edition Guidance and set out at Appendix A to the report, be adopted.

FC63/18

Motions on Notice pdf icon PDF 59 KB

To consider two Motions on Notice, in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 11, submitted by Councillors Podbury and Ellis.

Minutes:

Motion 1

 

Councillor Podbury moved, and Councillor Dawlings seconded, the motion: “This Council, in all its business both commercial and public, will promote the elimination of single-use plastics across the borough and support the Government’s proposals with this aim.”

 

The following points were raised by Councillor Podbury in moving the motion:

·         The motion followed work by the Reduction of Single Use Plastic Working Group of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee which enjoyed cross-party support.

·         The Working Group suggested a number of actions to reduce plastic use within the Town Hall and town centre.

·         More needed to be done, particularly with communication and education on the key message of reduce, reuse and recycle.

·         Financial and environmental savings could be significant.

 

The debate included consideration of the following matters:

·         Grateful for the leadership on this issue.

·         Bin surveys had demonstrated a lack of understanding with what could be recycled.

·         Public awareness of the issues was high following the David Attenborough programme Blue Planet.

·         The Council should also go paperless with its agenda and reports.

·         Efforts should be extended through the Council’s procurement.

·         The Government was introducing a deposit and return scheme where consumers could get a refund on returned reusable packaging. New taxes were proposed on excess packaging.

·         Developers were encouraged to provide drinking water fountains in new developments.

·         Horsmonden Parish Council had a sustainability policy which other Parishes and Towns were encouraged to emulate.

·         Food packaging was an area which needed urgent attention.

·         The motion should be the first step of a process leading to tackling ‘microfibres’ which were particularly harmful.

·         Members could take personal action by using flasks and reusable cups.

·         Should increase fines for littering.

·         Many local business provide services for more sustainable living which should be supported.

 

RESOLVED – That this Council, in all its business both commercial and public, will promote the elimination of single-use plastics across the borough and support the Government’s proposals with this aim.”

 

Motion 2

 

Councillor Ellis moved, and Councillor Chapelard seconded, the motion: “Tunbridge Wells Borough Council should set up a new Cabinet Advisory Board for Economic Development.”

 

The following points were raised by Councillor Ellis in moving the motion:

·         The motion was not intended on party political ground but in response to the growing need to focus on economic development.

·         Economic development was key to the future success of the Borough.

·         The Council had an Economic Development portfolio but the scrutiny of this function was split amongst several other bodies including the Communities Cabinet Advisory Board. However, few items had been considered by this Board.

·         Economic development considerations may be different or specialised from those affecting communities generally.

·         A development working party would be welcomed but this alone would not provide the necessary scrutiny of specific proposals to be considered by Cabinet.

·         A working party would function at the discretion of Cabinet whereas a Cabinet Advisory Board would be mandated by Full Council.

 

Councillor Moore moved, and Councillor March seconded, an amendment so that the motion reads: “Tunbridge Wells  ...  view the full minutes text for item FC63/18

FC64/18

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:

There was no urgent business.

FC65/18

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.

FC66/18

Date of next meeting

To note that the date of the next meeting is Wednesday 24 April 2019.

Minutes:

It was noted that the next meeting was scheduled for Wednesday 24 April 2019 at 6.30pm.

 

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