Agenda and minutes

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

Contact: Mark O'Callaghan  Democratic Services 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

FC11/19

Apologies for Absence

To receive any apologies for absence.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Dr Basu, Barrington-King and Reilly.

FC12/19

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:

Councillor Pope declared an ‘Other Significant Interest’ and recused himself from items FC13/19, FC14/19, FC15/19 and FC16/19 on the basis that: his wife owned a flat in Grove Hill House which is adjacent to, and affected by the Compulsory Purchase Order related to, the Calverley Square development; he lived on Mountfield Road which, whilst not in view of the development site, was near Calverley Grounds; and he was a trustee, and former Chairman, of Friends of Calverley Grounds whose objectives were to preserve, promote, support and improve Calverley Grounds.

 

Councillor Ms Palmer noted that she was a director of Tunbridge Wells Property Holdings Limited but that as she did not benefit financially from the office this did not constitute a beneficial interest.

FC13/19

Motion 1

Proposer: Councillor David Hayward

Seconder: Councillor Christian Atwood

 

“Cabinet be requested to terminate the Calverley Square project with immediate effect and will not enter into any further commitments other than to manage an orderly termination of these projects.”

Minutes:

Councillor Atwood moved, and Councillor Hayward  seconded, the motion:

“Cabinet be requested to terminate the Calverley Square project with immediate effect and will not enter into any further commitments other than to manage an orderly termination of these projects.”

 

The following points were made in moving the motion:

·         The recent election results showed a clear lack of support for the project and the Council should respect the vote.

·         Expert advice was based on restricted and biased briefs.

·         There was no purpose is waiting for the RIBA Stage 4 report as this would not address the fundamental problems.

·         There was no evidence that a new theatre was the only way to grow the economy and protect services. The cost of £2.3m would be covered by cuts to services and increasing charges.

·         The Council had an obligation to make evidence based decisions but the evidence relied upon was flawed.

·         Whilst the wording of the motion was in the form of a request due to technical reasons it was expected that the view of Full Council would be respected.

 

Dr Robert Chris had registered to speak, which included the following comments:

·         The previous administration had become complacent and this was an opportunity to put right past mistakes.

·         Evidence in support of the project had been cherry-picked and/or misrepresented.

·         Evidence presented at public enquiry demonstrated that the public had been treated shoddily.

 

Robert Atwood had registered to speak, which included the following comments:

·         The debate was likely to include detailed and conflicting views but the public objection was clear.

·         The project was not the only way to grow the economy.

·         Businesses owners may support the project but as they did not pay Council Tax they were not responsible for the cost.

·         It was not the job of opponents to provide alternatives.

·         There was no silent majority in favour of the project and failure to stop would be reflected in future election results.

 

Peter Dunlop had registered to speak, which included the following comments:

·         Rural areas needed a vibrant town for economic viability.

·         There had been a lack of investment in the town.

·         A new theatre in town would be preferable to having to travel into London.

 

Kim Freeman had registered to speak, which included the following comments:

·         The town centre was not vibrant and needed investment. Plans for major investment had been reassuring.

·         A theatre would both grow the economy and add to the cultural wellbeing of the town and surrounding areas.

·         Tunbridge Wells was a ‘destination town’ but was at risk of losing that status.

·         The current theatre was not able to meet the demands of audiences or producers. Reconfiguring the theatre could not fix its fundamental limitations.

·         The decision to proceed with the project had been made following years of evidence gathering and public debate.

·         It was easy to stir up opposition but fear of change and a vocal minority should not be allowed to derail plans.

 

Councillor Scott moved, and Councillor McDermott seconded, an amendment to add and remove words so  ...  view the full minutes text for item FC13/19

FC14/19

Motion 2

Proposer: Councillor Ben Chapelard

Seconder: Councillor Mark Ellis

 

“The Cabinet is requested to stop all spending on the Calverley Square project with immediate effect except for items required to produce the RIBA stage 4 report.”

Minutes:

Motion 2 was not moved.

FC15/19

Motion 3

Proposer: Councillor Peter Lidstone

Seconder: TBC

 

“The Cabinet is requested to require Full Council to decide whether it wishes to proceed to RIBA stage 5 (the construction stage of Calverley Square).”

Minutes:

Councillor Lidstone moved, and Councillor Morton seconded, the motion:

“The Cabinet is requested to require Full Council to decide whether it wishes to proceed to RIBA stage 5 (the construction stage of Calverley Square).”

 

The following points were made in moving the motion:

·         Previous decision of this nature had been make by Full Council.

·         Such an important decision must be made by all members.

 

Dr Philip Whitborne had registered to speak, which included the following comments:

·         The Cabinet could ignore the request, Full Council should instruct the Cabinet.

 

Brian Bissell had registered to speak, which included the following comments:

·         Motion 1 as amended involves working collaboratively, this should continue and Full Council should take the final decision.

·         Investment was needed but closing the theatre would be detrimental.

 

The debate on the motion included consideration of the following additional matters:

·         Full Council was the voice of the people in the absence of a referendum.

·         The Local Government Act 2000 gave considerable powers to the executive.

·         The functions of the executive was set out in legislation and this decision could only be made by the Cabinet.

·         Previous decisions of this nature which may have been made by Council would have had elements which would have been within the remit of Council.

·         The Council as a whole needed to demonstrate openness and transparency to restore trust.

·         The costs of stopping the project needed to be fully explored.

·         The Council had invested in a number of properties and was acting as a private landlord, the Full Council should debate this policy.

·         There remained unanswered questions from the recent Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting.

·         No decision should be made by Cabinet until Council had given its view.

·         The amendment to motion 1 on the agenda had intended to bring transparency.

·         The decision making process to date had been open with plenty of opportunities to ask questions and it was right that new members should have the opportunity to influence future decisions. The Council had to do something to invest, economically and culturally and the Cabinet had set out a process to facilitate consideration of alternatives in a structured way.

·         There were mixed messages from members of the Cabinet who should give assurances that the will of Council will not be ignored.

·         The public had given a clear message that they did not want to continue with the Calverley Square project.

·         There needed to be consideration of alternatives in order to achieve the economic and cultural aspirations of the Cultural Strategy and such a decision should be taken by the Council as a whole.

 

Councillor Chapelard requested a recorded vote.

 

Members who voted in favour of the motion: Atkins, Atwood, Bruneau, Chapelard, Ellis, Everitt, Fairweather, Funnell, Dr Hall, Hayward, Hickey, Hill, Holden, Lewis, Lidstone, Morton, Neve, Ms Palmer, Podbury, Poile, Pound, Rands, Scholes, Simmons, Mrs Soyke, Stanyer, Thomson, Warne, Williams and Willis. (30)

 

Members who voted against the motion: Backhouse, Bailey, Bland, Mrs Cobbold, Dawlings, Hamilton, Horwood, Mackonochie, March, McDermott, Noakes, Scott, Mrs  ...  view the full minutes text for item FC15/19

FC16/19

Motion 4

Proposer: Councillor Becki Bruneau

Seconder: Councillor Nancy Warne

 

“Tunbridge Wells Borough Council will create a borough-wide panel of experts and community stakeholders to generate alternative proposals to identify and address the requirements for new or refurbished office accommodation for both the Council and commercial use, and the realisation of the Cultural Strategy for consideration by the Council. No prior conditions will be set that might limit the range of options considered.”

 

Background papers:

TWBC Cultural Strategy 2014-24

http://democracy.tunbridgewells.gov.uk/meetings/documents/s14915/Cultural%20Strategy%20appendix%20B.pdf

Minutes:

Councillor Bruneau sought leave to table an alternative motion to that which was set out in the agenda. The Chief Executive advised that the alternative motion was not in order. Therefore, the motion as set out in the agenda was proposed.

 

Councillor Bruneau moved, and Councillor Willis seconded, the motion:

“Tunbridge Wells Borough Council will create a borough-wide panel of experts and community stakeholders to generate alternative proposals to identify and address the requirements for new or refurbished office accommodation for both the Council and commercial use, and the realisation of the Cultural Strategy for consideration by the Council. No prior conditions will be set that might limit the range of options considered.”

 

Dr Robert Banks had registered to speak, which included the following comments:

·         The public had clearly shown its opposition to the current scheme.

·         Conciliatory comments by members of the Cabinet were welcome but previous suggestions that there had been opportunities for public involvements were not fully realised. The Council needed to ensure the public were genuinely involved in any future decisions.

·         Approval of the motion may go some way to restoring trust and it should not me ignored.

 

Robert Atwood had registered to speak, which included the following comments:

·         It would be outrageous for Cabinet to ignore the will of the Council.

·         There was precedence for a panel of the type suggested in the motion and there was a wide choice of appropriate people from which to populate such a panel.

·         The report of the previous Tunbridge Wells Town Plan Advisory Board in 2012 may still be useful.

·         Joined up thinking was needed and could be facilitated by such a panel.

 

Dr Philip Whitbourne had registered to speak, which included the following comments:

·         The challenge was now, how to meet the economic and cultural aspirations in a way that enjoys the support of the public.

·         At the top of the list of possible alternatives should be the refurbishment of the current Town Hall and suggestions that it was too big for current needs should help a phased development without the need to move out.

·         A creative redevelopment would set an example to other owners of historic buildings.

 

Parish Councillor Antony Harris of Goudhurst Parish Council had registered to speak, which included the following comments:

·         This was an opportunity to find a bi-partisan consensus.

·         Despite the similarity between the amended motion 1 and motion 4 it appeared that members were voting along party lines.

·         Tunbridge Wells had to move forward, otherwise its town centre and culture would die. A bi-partisan group which included parishes, residents and businesses would offer a good way forward for the whole Borough.

 

The debate on the motion included consideration of the following additional matters:

·         Most Conservative members and all opposition members had supported calls for Full Council to take the decision on any future plans so to subsequently give control to an unelected body seemed counterintuitive.

·         The motion wording was not specific enough.

·         Any ideas generated by the proposed advisory board would be  ...  view the full minutes text for item FC16/19

FC17/19

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.

FC18/19

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.

 

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