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Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Room B12, Civic Centre, Home Gardens, Dartford, Kent, DA1 1DR

Contact: Email: memberservices@dartford.gov.uk 

Items
No. Item

90.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

There were no apologies for absence.

91.

Declarations of Interest

To receive declarations of interest from Members including the terms(s) of the Grant of Dispensation (if any) by the Audit Board or Managing Director.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interests.

92.

Confirmation of the Minutes of the Cabinet meeting held on 23 January 2020 pdf icon PDF 217 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting of the Cabinet held on 23 January 2020 as an accurate record.

Minutes:

The Cabinet considered the minutes of the meeting held on 23 January 2020.

 

            RESOLVED:

 

That the minutes of the meeting of the Cabinet held on 23 January 2020 be confirmed as an accurate record.

93.

Urgent Items

The Chairman will announce his decision as to whether there are any urgent items and their position on the agenda.

Minutes:

There were no urgent items.

94.

To receive the minutes of the Cabinet Advisory Panel held on 2 March 2020

These minutes are ‘to follow’.

Minutes:

The Cabinet received the minutes of the meeting of Cabinet Advisory Panel B held on 2nd March 2020 and had regard to the Panel’s views throughout the meeting.

95.

Reference from the Policy Overview Committee held on 28 January 2020 - Litter and Recycling Services pdf icon PDF 207 KB

Summary:

 

To consider a reference from the Policy Overview Committee held on 28 January 2020 relating to litter and recycling services.

 

Recommendation:

 

That Cabinet considers the specific requests from the Committee relating to the Council’s litter and recycling services and notes the minutes of the meeting of the Policy Overview Committee held on 28 January 2020.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet considered a reference from the Policy Overview Committee which met on 28 January 2020 relating to litter and recycling services. The Committee had commended the proactive measures carried out by the Council to tackle litter in the borough but asked the Cabinet to consider additional measures including the increase in the provision of dual dog/litter bins, the employment of a further two litter pickers, that litter fines should be itemised for all wards, the identification of litter hot spots and introduction of appropriate action to deter offenders, and an increase of signage across the borough to advertise the location of litter bins and other litter facilities. The Committee had also made recommendations to Cabinet relating to the Waste and Recycling Service. These included consideration by the Cabinet of how it was assured that material sent for recycling was actually recycled, that a performance indicator on recycling should be added to the quarterly performance indicator report to Cabinet, that the information on the Council’s litter portal should be updated to include specific details on what containers and other items could be recycled, and what further measures could be taken to meet the national target of 50% for recycling by local authorities.

 

The Cabinet considered each of the recommendations from the Policy Overview Committee contained in paragraphs 3.3 and 3.4 of the report.

 

The Cabinet was satisfied that the Council properly handled recycling and met existing best practice but the Chairman did admit to concerns over the wider industry-wide principle of exporting material to other countries for disposal. Some countries were accepting huge quantities of waste and there was concern that such materials were being dumped rather than recycled. He felt that the destination of waste was a global rather than national issue and there should be greater emphasis on reducing and reusing. He stressed that the Council was not anti-recycling but was pro-service. He noted that action was already being taken to improve the information on the ‘Litter Portal.’ In terms of achieving the national target for recycling of 50% he said that there may well be a national conversation about recycling and national targets following our departure from the EU. In terms of providing more dual dog/litter bins he knew that officers already considered this demand in appropriate circumstances and Cabinet would want to agree with the Policy Overview Committee that the ‘right bins’ should be placed in the ‘right places’. The demand for two additional litter pickers might not be immediately practical due to the terms of the recent contract with Urbaser but would be kept under review. In terms of providing information on fines according to ward boundaries he agreed that this information could be useful and believed that it had been provided by Kingdom in response to a Scrutiny item. The contractors focussed activity on areas where littering was considered to be particularly problematic.

 

The Cabinet offered a sincere welcome to the views of the Policy Overview Committee and felt that the subject could form  ...  view the full minutes text for item 95.

96.

Update on Essential Maintenance Works required to the Cliff on Land to the Rear of Maritime & Skippers Close, Greenhithe pdf icon PDF 137 KB

Summary:

 

To update Members on essential maintenance works required to the cliff on land to the rear of Maritime & Skippers Close, Greenhithe and seek approval for the procurement aspects to enable the undertaking and completion of the works.

 

Recommendations:

 

1.    That, for the reasons outlined in the report, the Strategic Director (External Services) be authorised to seek tenders for the development of a full and proper methodology of works; and

 

2.    That, following receipt of the methodology of works, the Strategic Director (External Services) be authorised to obtain quotations for various elements of the works.

Minutes:

The Cabinet considered a report which updated Members on essential maintenance works required to the cliff on land to the rear of Maritime & Skippers Close, Greenhithe and sought approval for procurement measures to enable the works to be undertaken. Contractors undertaking routine vegetation works on the cliff in summer 2019 had identified damage to the cliff face due to vegetation and root growth which had started to delaminate the cliff face. Advice was that although it was not expected that the cliff would be subject to large scale collapse it was likely that the cliff would continue to be damaged unless essential maintenance works were undertaken. There were properties at the top and bottom of the cliff within 5 metres of the cliff face which would be affected by the works and the close proximity of these properties made the site very difficult to access with only one access point. Due to the many complexities of the works it was difficult to produce a full working specification for use during a normal tender process. It was therefore proposed that a specialist contractor should be sought through a competitive tender process based on quality and that a full and proper methodology of works should then be agreed with the contractor, in conjunction with an independent cost consultant. Although it was difficult to estimate a cost for the works due to hidden costs a budget had been identified to complete the works. A letter had already been sent to affected residents, who would continue to be informed of progress and any works that might affect their properties directly, and there would also be a single point of contact within the council to deal with residents’ enquiries. Local ward Members would be notified before the works began.

 

The Cabinet had regard to the views expressed by the Cabinet Advisory Panel and noted the comments made by the Housing Maintenance Manager who had confirmed that the cliff face was not the same one that had required remedial works three years ago and that the cliff posed no real threat of large scale collapse but required essential remedial works as large pieces of chalk and flint were coming loose and filling the path at the bottom of the cliff. The Cabinet confirmed that the Council should take the right and responsible steps notwithstanding the complexity and expense of the work.  The Cabinet also noted the steps taken to communicate with residents and ward Members and the need for this to be carried out sensitively. Members were also reassured that, although the proposed tender process would initially be based on quality alone, it would be via a competitive process that would also deliver value. The background to the Council’s ownership of the cliff was discussed and it was noted that although alternatives were unlikely it should nevertheless continue to try to mitigate or share risk with developers in future schemes. Cabinet also noted that it might be necessary to carry out aerial surveys of the cliff,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 96.

97.

Lower Thames Crossing - Supplementary Consultation pdf icon PDF 255 KB

Summary:

 

To consider the Council’s response to a supplementary consultation on the route for the Lower Thames Crossing including any changes to the proposed route and to refine design.

 

Recommendation:

 

That the response to the consultation questions set out in Appendix A to the report be agreed as the Council’s response to the supplementary consultation by Highways England on the Lower Thames Crossing.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet considered the Council’s proposed response to a supplementary consultation being undertaken by Highways England on the route for the Lower Thames Crossing, including any changes to the route and design.  The current consultation related to changes to the scheme undertaken on the basis of responses from the original statutory consultation on the route and design carried out in 2018. There had been 29,000 responses to the 2018 consultation with more than 80% of respondents recognising the need for a new crossing and 70% supporting the proposed location of the crossing to the east of Gravesend (Option C). Highways England had however refined their proposals in the light of the feedback from the original consultation and the principal updates were included in the report including changes to the configuration of the M2/A2 junction with the crossing, a change to the location of the southern tunnel entrance, removal of the rest and service centre at Tilbury, changes to ancillary roads and the proposal to harmonise toll charges for the new crossing with charges at the Dartford Crossing and a local residents’ discount scheme. The supplementary consultation also contained updated traffic modelling to take on board the proposed refinements with traffic flows and benefits being similar to those originally projected.

 

The Council’s response continued to urge Highways England to build the new crossing as soon as possible to address wider traffic problems in the area, to work with relevant authorities and organisations to develop measures for mitigating the temporary and permanent impacts, and to ensure that a flexible charging scheme was adopted to ensure that the long term benefits of the new crossing are realised. The Council was determined that the proposed changes should not delay progress on the main crossing which was currently projected to open in 2027/28. 

 

The Cabinet had regard to the views of the Cabinet Advisory Panel and in particular the concerns over the removal of the rest and service area and the detrimental effect this could have on local residential roads, which would continue to be used by lorry drivers to rest overnight if these facilities were not available with lorries being parked in unsuitable locations. The Cabinet noted that Members of the Cabinet Advisory Panel had been encouraged to make their own responses directly to the consultation and that the Panel had endorsed the recommendations contained in the report.   

 

The Cabinet welcomed the consultation as evidence that progress was being made and noted the assumptions underpinning it and the choice of route for the crossing east of Gravesend. The Council strongly supported the choice of route and felt that there should be no delay in moving ahead with the proposals. The Cabinet suggested some revised wording to the response to consultation question 4 to remind Highways England of the additional cost to the environment around the Dartford Crossing should there be any delay with the project. The Head of Regeneration undertook to amend the consultation response accordingly. 

 

            RESOLVED:

 

That the response to the consultation questions,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 97.

98.

Dartford Town Centre Project: Update and Next Steps pdf icon PDF 337 KB

Summary:

 

To provide an update on progress on the first phase of the Dartford Town Centre Project in Market Street and outline the next phases of the project. The report describes the design for the proposed High Street scheme, which forms Phase 1(a) of the project, and seeks approval to engage in a competitive tender process in order to appoint a contractor for the construction phase.

 

Recommendations:

 

1.    That the issues impacting on the progress of works in Market Street and mitigations sought to speed up delivery of the scheme, as set out in section 4 of the report, be noted;

 

2.    That the updated Phasing Plan, set out in Appendix A to the report, be agreed;

 

3.    That the revised delivery programme, set out in Appendix B to the report, be agreed;

 

4.    That the design of the High Street scheme, shown in Appendix C to the report and described in section 6 of the report, be noted;

 

5.    That competitive tenders be sought for the High Street works; and

 

6.    That the procurement for the consultancy to design Phase 4 of the project be progressed.  

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet received an update on progress on the first phase of the Dartford Town Centre project in Market Street and an outline of the next phases of the project. Whilst there had been some delays to the first phase of the project, notably a 4 week delay attributable to Thames Water plant, progress on site had been generally acceptable with delays being managed and mitigated where possible. Robust monitoring was in place to ensure that the pace and quality of the work was maintained. There had been strong communication with existing town centre traders with whom liaison had been a priority throughout the project. This approach had resulted in several variations to work proposals and the resolution of issues. The Council fully recognised commercial sensitivities during the construction period and had recently announced a rent rebate for market traders and a strong promotional campaign to market and assist businesses in the town centre. Weekend town centre road closures were being managed and lessons had been learnt from the initial weekend closure. The report outlined the current timetable and content of the five phases of the project and that phase 3 of the project, works to re-pave and improve Hythe Street, would be deferred to the end of the project in order to ensure the co-ordination and integration of the work with the proposed Westgate development. It was noted that the design solutions and materials used throughout were to a very high standard and that the project would deliver enormous benefits for the town centre, for pedestrians, for public transport and better traffic flows throughout the town through junction improvements and the use of intelligent traffic management technology.

 

The Chairman explained that whilst there had been some initial concerns from residents and traders these had largely been alleviated by good communication, understanding and a willingness to make adaptations where these made sense. There had been some initial opposition to the changes to the routing of TfL buses through the town but there was a clearly defined rationale behind it which now meant that travel from east-west and west-east across the borough would use the same departure points which was the norm elsewhere. He explained the measures being put in place to mitigate the impact on local businesses, including a partial rent rebate for market traders and money for promoting other businesses in the town centre. He commented on the need for the town centre to adapt to meet current and future needs, which included more housing in the town centre itself and the expectations that this brought with it. 

 

            RESOLVED:

 

1.    That the issues impacting on the progress of works in Market Street and mitigations sought to speed up delivery of the scheme, as set out in section 4 of the report, be noted;

 

2.    That the updated Phasing Plan, set out in Appendix A to the report, be agreed;

 

3.    That the revised delivery programme, set out in Appendix B to the report, be agreed;

 

4.    That the design  ...  view the full minutes text for item 98.

99.

Write-off of National Non-Domestic Rates pdf icon PDF 138 KB

Summary:

 

To consider writing-off National Non-Domestic Rate debts where it has not been possible to obtain payment because of insolvency, because the ratepayer cannot be traced or where the debt is otherwise irrecoverable.

 

Recommendation:

 

That the sums shown in Exempt Appendix A to the report, amounting to £156,089.06, be written off as uncollectable.  

Minutes:

The Cabinet considered a report which proposed writing-off National Non-

Domestic Rates debts where it had not been possible to obtain payment

because of insolvency, or where the ratepayer could not be traced or the debt

was otherwise irrecoverable.

 

The Cabinet noted the comments made by the Chairman of Cabinet Advisory Panel B relating to case 3 in the report and briefly discussed the case in general terms and questioned why arrears had been allowed to accumulate since 2012. The Strategic Director (Internal Services) said that she was currently looking into the background of the case and would convey the Cabinet’s views to the Revenues Manager as part of this process.  

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the sums shown in the revised Exempt Appendix A to the report,

amounting to £156,089.06, be written-off as irrecoverable.

100.

Corporate Plan Key Actions and Performance Indicators pdf icon PDF 205 KB

Summary:

 

To report progress on the latest set of Corporate Plan key actions and performance indicators for quarter 3 of 2019/20.

 

Recommendation:

 

That the contents of the key action and performance indicator monitoring reports attached at Appendices A and B to the report be noted.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet considered a report which provided details of the latest set of

Corporate Plan key actions and performance indicators for the third quarter

of 2019/20.

 

The Cabinet noted the questions raised at the Cabinet Advisory Panel and the detailed written response that had subsequently been circulated to all Members.

 

The Chairman reminded Members that the Cabinet Advisory Panels were a means by which non-executive Members could provide advice to the Cabinet rather than a vehicle for individual Members to raise detailed questions which could more appropriately have been answered by contacting officers at anytime. He noted that the Chairman of CAP B had made this point at the CAP meeting and that all Members should respect the rationale for which the Panel’s had been established.  

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the contents of the key action and performance indicator monitoring

reports attached at Appendices A and B to the report be noted.

101.

Minutes of the meeting of the Strategic Housing Board held on 29 January 2020 pdf icon PDF 132 KB

Summary:

 

To consider the minutes of the meeting of the Strategic Housing Board held on 29 January 2020.

 

Recommendation:

 

That the minutes be noted.

Minutes:

The Cabinet considered the minutes of the Strategic Housing Board held on 29 January 2020.

 

The Chairman of the Strategic Housing Board explained the work being undertaken by the Board and that this focussed on strategic housing issues rather than seeking solutions to individual housing cases. He explained that this work was holistic and went far beyond the more narrow focusses of homelessness and homelessness prevention. This included developing a mosaic which would assist in providing information and points of contact for people considering relocating to the borough and the differing housing options across all sections of the housing market including ownership, shared ownership, leasehold and rental. The Council’s web site had contained a lot of good information but this had not always been easy to find. The mosaic was designed to improve signposting to this information and pointing people in the right direction. The Strategic Housing Board was also looking at opportunities for developing surplus land, although it recognised that these were limited, and to influence developers to provide the mix of housing that the Borough needed.

 

The Cabinet noted the comments made at the Cabinet Advisory Panel and the observations given by the Chairman of the Strategic Housing Board relating to the Council’s response to Kent County Council.

 

The Chairman welcomed the work being carried out by the Strategic Housing Board and reiterated that this was not just about the provision of housing for those in need and the prevention of homelessness but also about meeting the needs of people who were not in ‘housing-crisis’ but who still needed information and advice.

 

            RESOLVED:

 

That the minutes of the meeting of the Strategic Housing Board held on 29 January 2020 be noted.

102.

Write-off of National Non-Domestic Rates - Exempt Appendix A (Exempt Category SO 46(1)(b) Annex 1 Paragraph 3)

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

 

That, following discussion of the main report (minute 99), Exempt

Appendix A to the report be noted.