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

FC33/19

In Memoriam Ronen Basu

Minutes:

The Council observed a minute silence as a mark of respect following the death of former Councillor Dr Ronen Basu. Ronen was Borough Councillor for the Culverden Ward since May 2008, and Mayor of the Borough of Tunbridge Wells 2013-14. He was also a Cabinet member and Portfolio Holder for Sustainability.

FC34/19

Apologies for Absence pdf icon PDF 5 KB

To receive any apologies for absence.

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Councillor Bruneau. Councillors Holden and Willis were not present.

FC35/19

Minutes of the meeting dated 17 July 2019 pdf icon PDF 356 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 17 July 2019 be approved as a correct record.

FC36/19

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 Pope declared an ‘Other Significant Interest’ on the basis that his wife owned a flat in Grove Hill House which was adjacent to, and affected by the Compulsory Purchase Order related to, the Calverley Square development.

 

Councillors Bland and Ms Palmer noted that they were directors of Tunbridge Wells Property Holdings Limited but that as they did not benefit financially from the office this did not constitute a beneficial interest.

FC37/19

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:

There were no announcements.

FC38/19

Motion to Vary the Order of Business

Minutes:

Councillor Pound moved, and Councillor Everitt seconded, a motion without notice, in accordance with Council procedure rule 2.2(ii), to vary the order of business to the effect that the motions on notice at agenda items 12 (Motion on Notice from Councillor Everitt) and 13 (Motion on Notice from Councillor Pound) were heard after agenda item 9 (Licensing Act 2003 Statement of Licensing Policy) and before the report at agenda item 11 (Calverley Square Delivery Stage 5-7). The aforementioned motions on notice were related to Calverley Square and proposed to pause whilst external funding was confirmed and to pause to consider alternatives. Proceeding with Calverley Square first could leave the Council at risk of breaching the Constitution’s rules on external funding if the recommendations were carried and with no alternatives should the recommendations not be carried.

 

The Mayor noted that debate should be on the matter of varying the order of business and not on the business itself.

 

Councillor Pound raised a point of order that a motion under rule 2.2(ii) should be voted on without debate. The Mayor, on the advice of the Monitoring Officer, ruled that as the motion was raised under 2.2 – as opposed to the alternative 12.3 – the motion would be voted on without debate. However, as there may be implications on agenda item 11, the mover of the affected motion (item 11) would be permitted to comment.

 

Councillor Scott noted that delay beyond 28 October 2019 – the date on which the contract to deliver Calverley Square was expected – would likely result in increased costs so as to make the scheme unaffordable and may lead to the withdraw of the main contractor. Furthermore, consideration of the motions first would prevent any debate on the merits of the proposed scheme.

 

Councillor Pound raised a point of order requesting clarification on the procedure rule relied upon to allow the mover of the affected motion to speak. The Mayor, on the advice of the Monitoring Officer, ruled that consideration of the potential implications of decisions to be made was proper.

 

Councillor Chapelard requested a recorded vote on the motion.

 

Members who voted in favour of the motion: Councillors Atkins, Atwood, Chapelard, Ellis, Everitt, Funnell, Hayward, Hickey, Hill, Lewis, Lidstone, Morton, Neve, Poile, Pope, Pound, Rands and Warne. (18)

 

Members who voted against the motion: Councillors Backhouse, Bailey, Barrington-King, Bland, Mrs Cobbold, Dawlings, Fairweather, Hamilton, Horwood, Mackonochie, March, McDermott, Noakes, Scholes, Scott, Mrs Soyke, Thomson, Williams and Woodward. (19)

 

Members who abstained from voting: Councillors Dr Hall, Ms Palmer, Podbury, Reilly, Simmons, Stanyer and Mrs Thomas. (7)

 

MOTION NOT CARRIED

FC39/19

Questions from members of the public pdf icon PDF 159 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:

The Mayor advised that nine questions from members of the public had been received under Council procedure rule 8.

 

1. Question from Mr James Tansley

 

“In February 2017, the Council claimed the Civic Complex would cost £72m (before financing costs). In December 2017, it claimed it would cost £90m (again, before financing costs). Today it says it will cost £108m (before financing costs). How much higher will the bill for this project have to rise before the Council recognises it is not worth proceeding with it?”

 

Answer from Councillor Scott

 

“As explained throughout the reports this is a design and build contract. A contractor has now submitted their final offer to deliver Calverley Square which is a fixed sum and will only change if the Council changes its mind or delays on what it wants.”

 

Supplementary question from Mr James Tansley

 

“In June 2018, the last Leader of the Council, Councillor Jukes, claimed that Mace, the primary contractor for this project, was known for completing construction on time and within budget. He sited the example of The Shard next door to Guy’s Hospital. A little research would have revealed that after the contract was signed in 2007, Mace had to return requesting a 25 per cent increase in the cost and payment to complete the project. It was only on the basis of that 25 per cent uplift after the contract had been signed that the work went ahead. Why should we believe the figure of £108m plus financing costs – which brings it to, according to the Council’s own figures, £140m? Why should we believe that is the final figure given Mace’s record in the past and the record of the Council in not revealing the full picture about costs of the Calverley Square project?”

 

Answer from Councillor Scott

 

“Having had a huge amount of experience in risk management in another major contractor who completed multi-billion pound projects – actually one very close to here, the Channel Tunnel which came in on budget, on time – there are so many different styles of fixed price contracts, depending on a range of contractual terms. Each one has got to be examined quite separately and quite uniquely to those terms. The terms on this one are strong terms, they have been reviewed and will continue to be reviewed during the forthcoming month before signature to make sure that they are legitimate and tied down as required by the Council to minimise any risk to exactly where we are. The offer here is due, as mentioned, because of various economic things that have been happening with Brexit, etc. One of the key advantages of that is the substantial reduction we’ve had in financing costs – as of today it is only 1.8 per cent. These things do balance out, partly because of Brexit, etc. but, in fact, the overall cost remains the same. If costs were substantially higher then, of course, there would be other concerns.”

 

2. Question from Dr Robert Banks  ...  view the full minutes text for item FC39/19

FC40/19

Questions from members of the Council pdf icon PDF 88 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 four questions from members of the Council had been received under Council Procedure Rule 10.

 

1. Question from Councillor Hill

 

“Given previously raised concerns in this council chamber, what actions are being taken to ensure that the outside of the Assembly Hall is fully utilised to publicise future productions, that the frontage is welcoming, and that the theatre actually looks open for business?”

 

Answer from Councillor March

 

“The Theatre has the following in operation:

·         A permanent facia;

·         Two large digital screens;

·         An external poster board, shared with friends at the Trinity Theatre;

·         Over 43 poster sites that are maintained across the Borough;

·         80 per cent of the Theatre’s customer base now engaged online and the business model is delivering to this audience and following the Council’ digital first strategy;

·         Regular newsletters are sent out to the core email database;

·         70k people are sent the Theatre’s digital brochure;

·         Every home in the Borough received local magazine in which the programme is printed and copies are available at the Gateway;

·         Regular social media campaigns are delivered every week;

·         Postcards are sent to targeted audiences in agreement with producers; and

·         The Theatre also operates the Go Card offering low price and even free tickets to families on low incomes.

 

When the Theatre is actually open for business, the following are there in addition:

·         The Theatre front is lit up using LED lights, its not done when the Theatre is not open assisting in energy reduction;

·         The Box Office is open 90 minutes before a performance in addition to being open on a Saturday between 12-5pm; and

·         At Christmas, there is also additional Christmas lighting.

 

The saving created by the relocation of the Box Office to the Gateway has enabled the Theatre Director to establish a creative learning department which has engaged with over 3k residents and school children since it was established.”

 

Supplementary question from Councillor Hill

 

“I wasn’t really asking about the advertising, my concern was would it be lit up especially for the Christmas season for Peter Pan. I think it should be lit up as Christmas season approaches, so it will be lit up for Peter Pan?”

 

Answer from Councillor March

 

“Yes we will have lights there. But, as has been mentioned before in a previous question, we can’t put things actually on the canopy because of health and safety.”

 

2. Question from Councillor Everitt

 

“How long, not including secured funding such as Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England, has additional fundraising been undertaken to reach the current target of £1.2 million for the Amelia Scott?”

 

Answer from Councillor March

 

“In order to raise funds for The Amelia at The Amelia Scott, on the advice from our consultants, we have chosen to enable the set up of a fundraising trust which will be independent from the Council with its own Board. This will allow them to access funds from donor trusts and foundations that the Council aren’t able to approach. The whole process of fundraising  ...  view the full minutes text for item FC40/19

FC41/19

Petition: Enquiry into the impact of the Public Realm Phase 2 scheme pdf icon PDF 117 KB

To receive a petition from the public, a summary of which is set out in the report, and to decide a response.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council received a petition containing 1,132 signatures which stated: “We the undersigned disapprove of the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council’s Public Realm Improvement involving Mount Pleasant Road, Monson Road and Church Road. Far from improving the town, we feel this will have a seriously negative impact for economic, businesses, residents and visitors to the town. We demand an enquiry into the true impact of this scheme.”

 

Ms Sue Luck and Ms Clare Waller were in attendance to present the petition which included the following comments:

·         The town centre was struggling and further signatures had been received since submitting the petition.

·         Whilst shopping was still a popular activity, trade in Tunbridge Wells was being supressed by expensive parking, closed shops and dirty streets.

·         The Council’s resources could be better utilised to encourage economic growth. Businesses could be helped by a Business Fund, cheaper parking and better information.

·         The new road layout was dangerous and likely to lead to an increase in accidents.

·         There had been insufficient consultation, better and earlier consultation could have helped avoid the flaws in the scheme.

·         There was an ongoing lack of information.

·         An enquiry was needed now, not in 12 months.

·         Christmas trade started in October and, in many cases, supported the business through leaner times of the year.

·         Businesses were reporting a drop in trade – one in particular reported a 42 per cent drop – this was unsustainable and some businesses could have been lost in 12 months time.

·         Suggestions that the problem was with businesses needing to change were arrogant, also problems were not due to Brexit or the internet but a lack of engagement.

 

Councillor McDermott moved, and Councillor March seconded, the motion: “This Council welcomes the petition, recognises the challenges that retailers are facing and undertakes to review the scheme after it is completed. It notes that the Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee have recently formed a Task and Finish Group to look at how the Council communicates and engages with the public and businesses and would welcome any suggestions to improved the Council’s approach.”

 

Debate on the motion included the following points:

·         Additional traffic through Carr’s Corner would make a congested area worse.

·         Resources could have been better spent.

·         Traffic restrictions should not be implemented until the new year.

·         Proper consultation was lacking.

·         York Road and Dudley Road could become rat-runs.

·         Newton Road already had problems with poorly maintained infrastructure, oversized delivery vehicles and too much traffic.

·         Businesses needed Rate relief or some form of compensation.

·         Towns needed through traffic and independent traders to flourish.

·         There was an existing Rate relief scheme which eligible businesses could access through the Valuation Office Agency.

·         Traffic would be closely monitored after completion of the works and further changes could be made to tackle rat-running and excessive traffic.

·         Pedestrian friendly areas increased footfall if done well.

·         Fiveways and the Farmer’s Market were good examples of what could be done to increase footfall.

·         Businesses and the Council should work together to improve the economy. The  ...  view the full minutes text for item FC41/19

FC42/19

Independent Person and Independent Members Appointment to the Audit and Governance Committee pdf icon PDF 108 KB

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

Minutes:

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

 

Debate on the motion included the following comments:

·         The Audit and Governance Committee, including the independent members, played an integral part in the governance of the Council.

·         The proposed independent members were knowledgeable, committed and endorsed by the Committee.

 

The Mayor took a vote on the motion by affirmation.

 

RESOLVED –

 

1.    That Mr Michael O’Higgins be appointed as the Independent Person for a further four year term with effect from 14 October 2019; and

 

2.    That Mr Gary Shiels be appointed as Independent Member of the Audit and Governance Committee for a further four year term with effect from 14 October 2019.

FC43/19

Licensing Act 2003 - Statement of Licensing Policy pdf icon PDF 176 KB

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

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

 

Debate on the motion included the following comments:

·         The report set out details of a new section on outdoor events to be added to the Council’s licensing policy following a public consultation.

·         The recommendation was endorsed by the Licensing Committee.

 

The Mayor took a vote on the motion by affirmation.

 

RESOLVED – That the proposed amendment to the Statement of Licensing Policy (which will expire 6 January 2021) to include a new section on outdoor events, as set out at Appendix A to the report, be agreed.

FC44/19

Motion to Suspend and Replace Council Procedure Rule 19.2.1 pdf icon PDF 64 KB

To consider and, if thought fit, to approve the Motion on Notice as set out in the report.

Minutes:

Councillor Scholes moved, and Councillor Podbury seconded, the recommendation set out in the report.

 

Councillor Neve asked whether there was a time limit on the meeting. The Mayor noted that the Council could resolve to continue past the usual four hour limit.

 

The Mayor took a vote on the motion by affirmation.

 

RESOLVED – That, during the consideration of item 11 on the agenda (Calverley Square Delivery Stages 5-7), Council Procedure Rule 19.2.1 be suspended and replaced as follows: The total time limit allocated to members of the public for speaking on an item on the agenda is 12 minutes for supporters of the proposals plus 12 minutes for objectors of the proposals.

 

The Mayor adjourned the meeting for a 10 minute comfort break.

FC45/19

Motion to Adjourn the Debate

Minutes:

Councillor Atkins moved, and Councillor Pound seconded, a motion without notice, in accordance with Council procedure rule 12.11, to adjourn the debate on agenda items 11 (Calverley Square Delivery Stage 5-7), 12 (Motion on Notice from Councillor Everitt), 13 (Motion on Notice from Councillor Pound) and 14 (Motion on Notice from Councillor Ellis). The intention was to call an Extraordinary Meeting where full attention to these matters could be given.

 

The Chief Executive noted that a number of procedural questions had been raised during the comfort break immediately prior to this motion. The following advice was offered:

·         The Council could resolve to extend the meeting beyond the 4 hour limit, in accordance with Council procedure Rule 13.10.7, an action the Council had taken on many occasions in the past.

·         Council procedure rule 13.11.4 provided that if a motion to adjourn the debate was moved and seconded and the Mayor thinks that the item has not been sufficiently discussed and cannot reasonably be so discussed, the motion will be put to the vote without the mover of the original motion the right of reply.

·         Members could not stipulate that matters be adjourned to an Extraordinary Meeting. The meeting to which mattered would be deferred would be handled under separate procedures.

·         The Council had statutory officers whose duty it was to ensure that the Council discharged its legal obligations and members should be aware of the implications of their decisions. The consequences of delaying a decision were set out in Exempt Appendix D to the report on Calverley Square.

 

The Mayor, wishing to establish the likelihood of the meeting agreeing to extend the meeting beyond the four hour limit, took an indicative vote. A majority were against extending the meeting.

 

Debate on the motion included the following comments:

·         There was insufficient time to consider the matters being adjourned.

·         Members of the public who had registered to speak should be allowed to speak before the items were adjourned.

·         There had been full debate on earlier matters and later matters deserved similar attention.

·         Public attendance at the meeting was waning and the debate should take place under full scrutiny.

·         Members should take the advice on the cost of delay under advisement.

·         An Extraordinary Meeting could be called in no less than 5 clear working days.

 

The Mayor took a vote on the motion by show of hands.

 

RESOLVED – That debate on items 11, 12, 13 and 14 on the agenda be adjourned.

FC46/19

Motion to Call For an Extraordinary Meeting

Minutes:

Councillor Chapelard moved, and Councillor Poile seconded, a motion without notice, in accordance with Council procedure rule 3.1.1, to call for an Extraordinary Meeting of the Council to consider the items previously adjourned.

 

The Mayor took a vote on the motion by affirmation.

 

RESOLVED – That the Chief Executive be requested to call an Extraordinary Meeting of the Council to consider item 11, 12, 13 and 14 on the agenda.

FC47/19

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.

FC48/19

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.

 

FC49/19

Date of next meeting pdf icon PDF 5 KB

To note that the date of the next meeting is Wednesday 18 December 2019.

Minutes:

The next scheduled meeting was Wednesday 18 December 2019.

 

A - Z of council services