Agenda and minutes

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

Contact: Mark O'Callaghan  Scrutiny and Engagement Officer

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

Items
No. Item

FC61/19

Apologies for Absence pdf icon PDF 5 KB

To receive any apologies for absence.

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Councillors Horwood and Ms Palmer.

FC62/19

Minutes of the meeting dated 25 September 2019 pdf icon PDF 327 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:

There were no amendments.

 

RESOLVED – That the minutes of the meeting dated 25 September 2019 be approved as a correct record.

FC63/19

Minutes of the meeting dated 08 October 2019 pdf icon PDF 261 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:

There were no amendments.

 

RESOLVED – That the minutes of the meeting dated 08 October 2019 be approved as a correct record.

FC64/19

Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 5 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.

Minutes:

Councillor Scott noted that he owned a property in Cadogan Gardens, Royal Tunbridge Wells which was close to the Town Hall site referred to in the cross-party working group report. As the report proposed no specific decisions affecting the property this did not constitute a prejudicial interest.

FC65/19

Announcements pdf icon PDF 5 KB

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

Minutes:

Details of the Mayor’s activities had been circulated. The Mayor had no further announcements.

 

The Leader of the Council announced:

·         Credit was due to everyone involved in the snap election which was achieved without any significant difficulties.

 

Councillor March announced:

·         On 16 December 2019 the Council had entered into a contract with Willmott Dixon Interiors to construct the Amelia Scott. Work would commence on 13 January 2020 and be due for completion mid-2021. Fit out of the new buildings would take six-months thereafter.

·         40,000 skaters at the Ice Rink were expected this year. As at the end of 13 December 2019, ticket sales were £263,000 which was 17 percent ahead of the same time last year.

·         This year’s pantomime at the Assembly Hall Theatre, Peter Pan, was expecting 20,000 attendances. As at the end of 13 December 2019, ticket sales were £290,000 which was nine per cent lower than the same time last year. A marketing campaign was about to start to help recover the difference.

FC66/19

Questions from members of the public pdf icon PDF 81 KB

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:

There were no questions from members of the public received under Council Procedure Rule 8.

FC67/19

Questions from members of the Council pdf icon PDF 146 KB

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 three question from members of the Council had been received under Council Procedure Rule 10.

 

1. Question from Councillor Ms Palmer (read by Councillor Bland)

 

“Following the issues with the new waste contract and in particular the issues regarding the garden waste, which our residents have paid an additional amount for, and where is some cases the waste was not collected for over a month and indeed where there are still issues with non-collection on the correct day, can the Cabinet confirm that the effected residents will receive a refund?”

 

Answer from Councillor Bailey

 

“Our waste and recycling service has recently undergone the largest reorganisation in more than two decades. The fortnightly collection rounds have been reorganised to make them more balanced and efficient, given that development and population growth has affected some areas far more than others.

 

A new and enhanced recycling service has also been introduced, this would have been difficult - and certainly more expensive - had we still been using the old and inefficient collection rounds. We have also moved from a taxpayer-funded garden waste service, paid for by all residents regardless of whether they even had a garden, to an opt-in service. While this has been a success with over 20,000 subscriptions it has involved further changes to the collection system.

 

There has been some disruption to residents as the contractor, and in particular the collection crews, have familiarised themselves with the new rounds and services. We have therefore been considering a compensation scheme for those subscribing to the garden waste service.

 

I can announce that we will be giving all current subscribers an extra month for free. We are still working through the practicalities and deciding the best way to implement this plan. I can also confirm that the contractor, Urbasser, has agreed to pick up the bill for this compensation, meaning there is no cost to local taxpayers.”

 

Supplementary question from Councillor Bland

 

“What additional compensation can the Council expect given the additional cost it has incurred and the reputational damage it has suffered?”

 

Answer from Councillor Bailey

 

Urbasser have, with prompting from the Council, put in a lot of extra resources into the contract. They have put in extra vehicles and they have brought in extra staff and extra management and they have spent a considerable sum of money to try to get the service up to the required standard. There are defaults in the contract for claiming compensation for individual missed collections but, to date, we have not considered that to be the best route because Urbasser has been putting in additional resources to get the service up to the required standard overall. But that certainly is something in our armory. Urbasser have also been picking up some of the costs incurred by the Council. For example, the tip at North Farm has stayed open longer in the day and Urbasser are picking up the cost for doing so. Urbaser have actually been very  ...  view the full minutes text for item FC67/19

FC68/19

Changes to the Appointments to Committees, December 2019 pdf icon PDF 140 KB

To consider and, if thought fit, to approve the recommendations set out in the associated report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Dawlings moved, and Councillor McDermott seconded, the recommendations set out in the report.

 

Debate on the motion included the following comments:

·         The ‘current’ appointments to committees set out in the appendix to the report was the position immediately prior to the proposed changes. Councillor Neve’s removal from the Audit and Governance Committee and Planning and Transportation Cabinet Advisory Board at the instruction of the Liberal Democrat group had previously been applied.

·         The numerical allocation of seats to political groups was for debate. Appointments to seats could be amended at a later date.

 

The Mayor took a vote by affirmation.

 

RESOLVED –

 

1.    That the allocation of seats on committees as set out in paragraph 2.11 of the report be approved; and

 

2.    That the changes to the appointments to committees as set out at Appendix A to the report be noted.

FC69/19

Timetable of Meetings 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 104 KB

To consider and, if thought fit, to approve the recommendations set out in the associated report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Dawlings moved, and Councillor McDermott seconded, the recommendations set out in the report.

 

Debate on the motion included the following comments:

·         Paragraph 3.1 of the report incorrectly refered to the timetable 2019/20, which should say 2020/21.

 

The Mayor took a vote by affirmation.

 

RESOLVED – That the Timetable of Meetings for 2020/21, as at Appendix A to the report, be agreed.

FC70/19

Council Tax Reduction Scheme 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 115 KB

To consider and, if thought fit, to approve the recommendations set out in the associated report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Dawlings moved, and Councillor McDermott seconded, the recommendations set out in the report.

 

Debate on the motion included the following comments:

·         The Labour group opposed the scheme as it extracted wealth from the poorest in the Borough. The Borough had people living in poverty and people reliant on food banks. Full support should be returned to those most in need.

·         There were 5,163 beneficiaries of the Council Tax scheme, 2,235 of whom were pensioners and 2,928 were of working age. 814 persons were in receipt of Universal Credit. The total amount paid out by the Council under the scheme was £5.8m.

 

The Mayor took a vote by affirmation.

 

RESOLVED –

 

1.    That the current Council Tax Reduction Scheme, as at Appendix A to the report, be carried forward un-amended to 2020-21; and

 

2.    That in the absence of any changes, it be noted that no public consultation will be undertaken.

FC71/19

Polling Places Review pdf icon PDF 143 KB

To consider and, if thought fit, to approve the recommendations set out in the associated report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Podbury moved, and Councillor Dawlings seconded, the recommendations set out in the report.

 

The Mayor took a vote by affirmation.

 

RESOLVED –

 

1.    That proposals for ‘no change’ in Appendix A to the report be agreed; and

 

2.    That work should be undertaken to investigate the provision of an additional polling station in Sherwood ward in time for May 2020 local elections.

FC72/19

Civic Complex Cross-Party Working Group pdf icon PDF 105 KB

To consider and, if thought fit, to approve the recommendations set out in the associated report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Scott moved, and Councillor Hickey seconded, the recommendations set out in the report.

 

Mr Adrian Berendt had registered to speak, which included the following comments:

·         Was pleased the working party had developed the ideas of the earlier independent panel and identified a road map for the future.

·         This was a community project with the Council as a key but not only stakeholder.

·         The working group was not in position to provide solutions, this would require significant further work.

·         The integrity of the decision making process was equally as important as the final decision.

·         The Council should take advantage of the present good will in looking to the future.

 

Debate on the motion included the following comments:

·         Members of the working party were thanked for working together in good faith.

·         The report was only interim and work would continue taking account of the wider borough context.

·         The Council had a facilitating role in emerging strategies, it could not do it all in isolation but must work with a wide range of community stakeholders.

·         The work of the working party should continue alongside other work to develop new aspirations, particularly the new Five Year Plan.

 

Councillor Bruneau consulted the Chief Executive concerning the wording of an amendment to the motion.

 

Councillor March objected to members leaving their seats and discussing matters privately.

 

Councillor Bruneau moved, and Councillor Pope seconded, an amendment to remove words and add words to the effect that paragraph 2 of the motion read: “That the working Group continues with its work and collaborates with residents, businesses and appropriate professionals borough-wide to further examine and refine the recommendations and to make a further report to Full Council seeking approval of the final recommendations.”

 

Debate on the amendment included the following comments:

·         It was too soon to be making decisions and it needed to be clarified that any affirmative actions should come back to Full Council.

·         The working party was already engaging with relevant parties and the report mentioned engaging with the public therefore the amendment was superfluous.

·         The Audit and Governance Committee had recently commenced an audit of the Calverley Square business case, its findings should be taken into account in the future planning process.

·         The interim report started the future planning process, rather than proposed decisions to be made.

·         The amendment did not add anything substantive.

·         The purpose of the amendment was to clarify that the recommended actions in the interim report where not ready to be acted on.

·         Collaboration with stakeholders was different to engaging with stakeholders.

·         Lessons had been learnt and the future process would be more open.

 

Councillor Hamilton requested a recorded vote on the amendment.

 

Members who voted for the amendment: Councillors Bruneau, Pope, Williams and Willis. (4)

 

Members who votes against the amendment: Councillors Atkins, Backhouse, Bailey, Barrington-King, Bland, Chapelard, Mrs Cobbold, Dawlings, Ellis, Everitt, Fairweather, Funnell, Dr Hall, Hamilton, Hickey, Hill, Holden, Lewis, Lidstone, Mackonochie, March, McDermott, Morton, Neve, Noakes, Podbury, Poile, Pound, Rands, Reilly, Rutland, Scott, Simmons, Mrs Soyke, Stanyer,  ...  view the full minutes text for item FC72/19

FC73/19

Motion on Notice from Councillor Dr Hall pdf icon PDF 57 KB

To consider and, if thought fit, to approve the Motion as set out in the associated notice.

Minutes:

Councillor Dr Hall moved, and Councillor Fairweather seconded, the recommendation set out in the report.

 

Debate on the motion included the following comments:

·         Members welcomed the report.

·         The complexity of the issue and trying to find alternatives to single use plastic that will keep food fresh and avoid waste.

·         A suggestion that if councillors were minded to approve the motion, that they work in conjunction with Kent Resource Partnership who may be able to provide guidance and advise on how to facilitate moving forward.

·         Cross Party Group set up from Overview and Scrutiny Committee had made changes to remove single use plastic within the Council.

·         A recent audit of bins carried out showed an improvement on previous waste amounts.

·         Supermarkets were limited in terms of relying on suppliers who should be contacted.

·         In order to get a weight of opinion of representatives across the County a suggestion of reaching out to work with Kent County Council other Councils in the County was made.

 

Councillor Pound moved, and Councillor Bland seconded a closure motion that the question be now put.

 

The Mayor took a vote on the closure motion by affirmation.

 

RESOLVED – That the question be now put.

 

The Mayor took a vote on the substantive motion by affirmation.

 

RESOLVED – This Council proposes to write to all national supermarkets with stores in the borough to urge them to dispense with all plastic food packaging as soon as possible and preferably within the next year. This should apply not just to single-use plastic bags but to any foodstuffs encased in plastic containers.

FC74/19

Motion on Notice from Councillor Atwood pdf icon PDF 58 KB

To consider and, if thought fit, to approve the Motion as set out in the associated notice.

Minutes:

Councillor Atwood moved, and Councillor Bruneau, seconded the motion set out in the report.

 

Debate on the motion included the following comments:

·         The motion’s primary concern was education not the removal of fireworks as a form of entertainment.

·         The sudden noise was a major issue for the vulnerable including pets and farm animals.

·         The Government recognised that the range of audible sound for a human was between 0-140 decibels with 140 decibels being at the threshold of pain. Fireworks sold for domestic use could be as high as 120 decibels.

·         The RSPCA were pushing for a reduction in level from 120 to 97 decibels to further reduce stress to animals.

·         The 4 main effects of noise were noise induced hearing impairment, speech communication, sleep and environmental noise which could cause an acceleration of the development latent disorders.

·         Safety was also a consideration with domestic fireworks now much larger and more powerful. Compliance of recommended safety distances in residential areas was more difficult.

·         Guidance already existed on safety around fireworks and included measures to ensure animals were kept safe.

·         A Safety Advisory Group existed that looked at displays taking place on public land. The Council also had a guide which was available on the website that gave guidance on how to organise and manage public events. There was a legal duty for organisers to ensure the event did not constitute a nuisance to residents in the immediate vicinity. 

·         Silent fireworks were an option for the future.

·         Enforcement of measures to control the decibel level would be difficult.

·         Consideration should be given to limit the amount of time allowed to sell fireworks.

·         A petition signed by 500k people existed that sought to get the rules about the use of fireworks changed.

 

The Mayor took a vote by a show of hands. There were 32 votes for, 3 against and 6 abstentions.

 

RESOLVED –

 

1.      This Council notes the potential impact of firework displays on animals and vulnerable people.  It urges all suppliers of fireworks to stock quieter fireworks and for those organising displays to show consideration to neighbouring properties;

 

2.      The Council further requests that the advisory conditions are included for public displays requiring advance warning and that this should be a condition for any displays taking place on Council-owned land; and

 

3.      Finally, the Council will actively promote a public awareness campaign about the impact of fireworks on animal welfare and vulnerable people – including the precautions that can be taken to mitigate risks.

FC75/19

Motion on Notice from Councillor Reilly pdf icon PDF 62 KB

To consider and, if thought fit, to approve the Motion as set out in the associated notice.

Minutes:

Councillor Reilly moved, and Councillor Barrington-King seconded, the recommendations set out in the report.

 

Debate on the motion included the following comments:

·         At the bi-monthly meeting of the Audit and Governance Committee, the Monitoring Officer was required to provide an update on the complaints received under the Members Code of Conduct.

·         An increase in the number of complaints received which related to alleged bullying and harassment had been reported in recent meetings in September and November and the purpose of the motion was to raise Member awareness.

·         Bullying could take many forms but all caused harm regardless of physical, verbal or through social media.

·         Notwithstanding the Council absolute commitment against bullying, the Localism Act had limited the Council’s ability to admonish poor public behaviour from councillors.

·         Bullying and harassing behaviour has been witnessed during Council meetings.

·         Members were required when they took up office to comply with the provisions of the local Code of Conduct and in turn expected to conduct themselves in an appropriate manner in public.

·         If a complaint was raised, the Monitoring officer could investigate the alleged complaint which may result in a hearing or seek informal resolution, the latter being the route preferred and over relied on.

·         The Localism Act provided a lack of robust sanctions to deal with more serious complaints.

·         The Committee of Standards in Public Life issued new guidance and recommends the power of suspension of Members for serious breaches of Code of Conduct.

·         The Constitution Review Working Party would look into seeking improvements to constitution and the Audit and Governance Committee will monitor progress.

·         It was acknowledged there was a problem, but concerns were made regarding attacks on freedom of speech.

·         Solid party majority had previously stifled debate.

·         Constructive conflict and robust challenge should be seen as a good thing however some Members do not see it that way.

·         Comments posted on social media about one Member, since proven to be wrong made by a portfolio holder were considered unacceptable.

·         The motion was welcomed after a Member being a victim of fake news which persisted and was detrimental to the Members health. 

·         Group leaders needed to take action and lead by example, ignoring problems condoned behaviour.

·         No way to challenge behaviour of members of the public.

 

The Mayor took a vote on the motion by affirmation.

 

RESOLVED – There are growing concerns about the impact an increasing level of public intimidation and toxicity of debate is having on our country’s democratic processes, particularly at a local level.

 

Whilst debate and having different views is all part of a healthy democracy; abuse, public intimidation and threats are designed to undermine democratic decision making by generating fear in those who represent it. Equally, if we are to expect decent standards of behaviour from members of the public when they engage with councillors, then good standards of behaviour need to be modelled within the Council.

 

We welcome the report from the Committee on Standards in Public Life and the work being undertaken by the LGA  ...  view the full minutes text for item FC75/19

FC76/19

Urgent Business pdf icon PDF 5 KB

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.

FC77/19

Common Seal of the Council pdf icon PDF 5 KB

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.

FC78/19

Date of next meeting pdf icon PDF 5 KB

To note that the date of the next meeting is Wednesday 26 February 2019.

Minutes:

The next scheduled meeting was Wednesday 26 February 2020.

 

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