Agenda item

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.


The Mayor advised that three questions had been received from a member of the Council duly received under Council Procedure Rule 10.



1 Question from Councillor Bailey


“Given public concern over a perceived lack of impartiality in the recent parking consultation, can I ask what measures Cabinet will put in place to ensure future consultations are fair and transparent in order to restore public faith in the Council's consultation process”?


Answer from Councillor Chapelard


“Thank you for your question Councillor Bailey. Before I can give you an answer please could you clarify what you mean by “a perceived lack of impartiality”?


Further clarification from Councillor Bailey

“The question about whether people agreed with the new parking fees the two alternatives given to the new parking fees were a cut in services, and respondents were asked to list the services they wanted cut or a £10 increase in Council Tax there was no mention of any alternative revenue raising measures or any alternative cost cutting measures and I think a lot of people were unhappy with the way the questions were phrased”.


Answer from Councillor Chapelard

Thank you for you Mr Mayor for allowing that further clarification.

One of the Borough Partnership’s Focus on Five priorities is: Digital access, transparency, and local democracy.

This council works for residents and businesses and strives for the best for the borough. Our administration seeks to proactively engage with residents.

That means that this Council does need to explain to residents the financial context in which we deliver and the difficult choices we face. You will know that this administration has inherited a £944,000 budget deficit for this financial year.

The questions in the parking consultation asked residents to suggest alternative ways to reduce the deficit. There is no such thing as free parking. There is a cost to residents. It is about choices, and we need to explain this to residents and ask them for alternatives way of funding these choices.

The responses to these questions provided us with a number of useful suggestions on how to safeguard the council’s finances which is another one of the Borough Partnership’s Focus on Five priorities. Our administration is grateful for those leads and we are exploring some of them.

Further changes to residents’ consultation and engagement will be part of my Cabinet member plan which will be published in due course




Supplementary Question from Councillor Bailey


“Can I ask whether the new guidelines for consultations will address the problems in this particular consultation that really have reduced public faith in the council, and whether they will follow best practice guidelines as set out by local government association including the principle of integrity”.


Supplementary Answer from Councillor Chapelard


“Thank you Mr Mayor as part of my Cabinet member plan we will complete review the way we do consultations”.




2 Question from Councillor Bailey


“Can I ask why the Minutes of the Cabinet meeting of 20th July did not contain any record of the comments made by the 10 registered speakers who spent over 30 minutes - or a third of the meeting - objecting to the Cabinet's proposed parking fee hikes and ask why these Minutes were approved unanimously by Cabinet despite this obvious omission being pointed out beforehand”.


Answer from Councillor Chapelard

Thank you for your question Councillor Bailey.

“As was explained to you at the Cabinet meeting (and as has been explained to councillors on a number of occasions), Council minutes are not intended to be verbatim transcripts but rather a summary of discussions and a record of decisions taken. As has also been explained, all committee meetings are recorded and available for review on the Council’s website if residents or councillors want to listen to the full contents of Council meetings”.


Supplementary Question from Councillor Bailey


“If the Cabinet is saying that the only true record of Cabinet Meetings is the recording

can I ask first whether there is a policy of maintain the videos in perpetuity on the council’s website and. Secondly can I ask whether a moat can be put into the minutes in a prominent position saying these minutes may not actually be a true and accurate reflection of the meeting and referring them to the video”..



Supplementary Answer from Councillor Chapelard


“As part of our administration focus on five’s Councillor Hayward will be looking at reviewing the governance arrangements of the council, and this may well be part of it.  We can of course put a link to the videos in the minutes that would be something we could do but I obviously can’t guarantee this at this stage as I am sure you can appreciate”.






3 Question from Councillor Bailey


“I recently reported to the Council a large piece of wood that had lain for a week or more on a pavement close to the Town Hall and visible from many Town Hall offices. Does the Borough Partnership have a plan for maintaining Tunbridge Wells town centre that does not rely on borough councillors reporting problems”?



Answer from Councillor Everitt


“Thank you for your question Councillor Bailey and taking the time to report the

piece of wood referenced in your question.


I’ll admit I was rather perturbed when I read your question, you know more than

most that we have a hard-working team of street cleansing employees and a host

of volunteers who pick litter, look after floral displays, and take their time to report

street scene issues. I welcome the reporting of issues by all- residents and

Councillors alike as it helps to focus our resources.


I don’t think it is fair to ignore this collective contribution by alluding to this one

incident and suggest that it relies on any one single contributor. We cannot stop

incidents of littering in their entirety but so many people do their bit to fight it- I don’t

think we rely on solely the efforts of Borough councillors, let alone a single



In regard to TW town centre, there is the Royal Tunbridge Wells Town Centre

plan currently in development that will encompass the public realm with a number

of engagement events scheduled. I recommend your engagement with this



Supplementary Question Councillor Bailey

Last year myself and another former cabinet member pressed for a more proactive approach to maintain the town centres, and were promised an officer’s report on the matter, can I ask the portfolio holder whether he is aware of this report, and whether it has been produced this is this something he share with full council.



Supplementary Answer Councillor Everitt

Thank you, that is interesting, and I will follow it up after this meeting



Supporting documents: