Skip to content

H1 - do not remove

Agenda and minutes

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

Contact: Email: memberservices@dartford.gov.uk 

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

The Chairman welcomed members of the Cabinet to the first Cabinet meeting to be held in-person since the start of the pandemic.

 

He also noted the election of Councillors Maria Kelly and Ellenor Palmer following by-elections on 6 May 2021 and looked forward to working with them.

 

There were no apologies for absence.

2.

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 Chief Officer and Director of Corporate Services.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interests.

3.

Confirmation of the minutes of the meeting of the Cabinet held on 22 April 2021

Minutes:

Members considered the minutes of the meeting of the Cabinet held on 22 April 2021.

 

            RESOLVED:

 

That the minutes of the meeting of the Cabinet held on 22 April 2021 be confirmed as an accurate record.

4.

Urgent Items - Appointment to the Board of Ebbsfleet Garden City Trust and Purchase of Land for Council Housing pdf icon PDF 204 KB

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chairman informed Members that the Council had been invited to appoint a Member to serve on the Board of the Ebbsfleet Garden City Trust. The Trust had been created to provide the necessary legal framework for the ownership of assets and responsibility for resources and to ensure strong management and service delivery on an ongoing basis to local residents. He recommended to Cabinet that Councillor Nicklen should be the Council’s nominee to serve on the ECGT Board.

 

The Chairman informed the Cabinet that an item had been added to the agenda after following the arrangements for special urgency contained in Standing Order 54(7). This concerned giving approval for the Council to bid in the open market to acquire land in Dartford Town Centre for Council social rented housing. The matter was urgent in order that the Council could make a timely bid for the land. The Director of Housing & Public Protection confirmed that the Council would be bidding in the open market and was not a preferential bidder. The land in question already had planning permission for 8x2 bedroom flats and a small commercial premises but if the Council’s bid was successful the Council would seek to redesign the site for residential use only, in consultation with the Planners.

 

The Chairman noted that this item had been discussed by the Cabinet Advisory Panel which had supported the recommendations. He noted comments made about the disposal of public land by the Council and asked for clarification as he was unaware that the Council had made any recent land disposals. The Director of Housing & Public Protection explained that the references to specific sites at the meeting were not very specific but it appeared that land mentioned related to a row of shops in Mead Road, which had been disposed of in 2007 (which was not held for housing purposes), and in Essex Road, which dated back to 2010, which had previously been occupied by Kent County Council. Apart from the sale of the odd garage there had been no significant land disposals from the HRA since 2006.

 

            RESOLVED:

 

1.    That, for the reasons detailed in the body of the report, the Director of Housing & Public Protection be granted delegated authority to bid for land advertised for sale (as described in exempt Appendix A to the report) and at the offer price referred to in exempt Appendix A; and

 

2.    That, in the event the Council’s offer is successful, and subject to budget approval by the General Assembly of the Council, the Director of Housing & Public Protection, be granted delegated authority to enter into a contract for the purchase of the land, for social rented housing.

 

 

5.

To receive the minutes of the meeting of Cabinet Advisory Panel B held on 24 May 2021

Minutes:

The Cabinet received the minutes of the meeting of Cabinet Advisory Panel B held on 24 May 2021 and had regard to the Panel’s views throughout the meeting.

 

            RESOLVED:

 

That the minutes of the meeting of Cabinet Advisory Panel B held on 24 May 2021 be noted.

6.

References from Committees

None at this stage.

Minutes:

There were no references from other committees.

7.

Decarbonisation Works for Public Buildings pdf icon PDF 133 KB

Summary:

 

Following a successful bid to the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy for funding to deliver energy efficiency works to public buildings, the Housing Team now need to procure a contractor to deliver the works within the prescribed timescale for completion. Authority is therefore sought to waive contract standing orders and to appoint a suitable contractor.

 

Recommendation:

 

That for the reasons detailed in para.3.7 of the report, Contract Standing Order 7.5 be waived, and the contract for the energy efficiency works to the Council’s public buildings be awarded to a contractor, pursuant to the Fusion 21 Framework for Energy Efficiency.

Minutes:

The Director of Housing & Public Protection informed the Cabinet that the Council had been awarded £1,300,000 of funding from the Government’s Decarbonisation Scheme to help fund the installation of energy efficient measures to a number of its public buildings, including the Civic Centre, Acacia Gym, the Mansion House, Manor Gate House and the Tree Community Centre. The award of the grant was conditional on preparation for the project having started before the end of March 2021 and that all works would be completed by September 2021. The report explained that preparation and specialist design work had commenced to this timetable and it was now necessary to appoint a contractor to complete the works. In view of the condition that works should be completed by September authority was being sought to waive contract standing orders to allow for the appointment of a contractor without undertaking a full competitive tender process.but pursuant to the Fusion 21 Framework for Energy Efficiency, which was compliant with UK legislation and the Council’s requirements with regard to procurement rules and competitive procurement.

 

The Cabinet Advisory Panel had welcomed the award of the funding and the contribution that the works would make towards delivering the Council’s green agenda.

 

            RESOLVED:

 

That, for the reasons detailed in paragraph 3.7 of the report, Contract Standing Order 7.5 be waived and the contract for the energy efficiency works to the Council’s public buildings be awarded to a contractor, pursuant to the Fusion 21 Framework for Energy Efficiency.

 

8.

Submission Draft Stone Neighbourhood Plan Consultation pdf icon PDF 225 KB

Summary:

 

To consider the Council’s response to the Draft Stone Neighbourhood Plan, attached at Appendix A to the report, that has been submitted by Stone Parish Council.  This is currently subject to consultation and the Borough Council’s proposed response to the consultation is set out in Appendix B to the report.

 

Recommendation:

 

That the response set out in Appendix B to the report forms the Borough Council’s response to the Draft Stone Neighbourhood Plan.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of Planning Services presented the Council’s proposed response to the consultation on the draft Stone Neighbourhood Plan submitted by Stone Parish Council. She explained that the process for consideration of the plan involved the Council carrying out administration of the process on behalf of the Parish Council but also involved the Council as a consultee. The report explained that Stone Parish Council had been developing the Plan for several years and there had been a number of previous consultations which resulted in the publication of a Consultation Draft Plan in early 2020. The Parish Council had considered the comments arising from this and had now formally submitted the Draft Stone Neighbourhood Plan. The Borough Council was now running a consultation for six weeks from mid-May until late June 2021, and would then appoint an examiner to carry out an independent examination of the plan, which would then be published. The Council would then take a decision in the light of the examiner’s report and, if the examiner recommended that the plan should be submitted to a referendum and the Council was satisfied with the Neighbourhood Plan, a local referendum would have to be held within 8 weeks of the publication of the decision.  It was likely that this would be held in winter 2021/22 and, if there was a majority in favour, the Council would make the Neighbourhood Plan as soon as reasonably practicable thereafter. The report outlined the implications in terms of providing a higher percentage of Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) receipts to Stone Parish Council to support the development of the Parish by funding infrastructure and supporting works if the Neighbourhood Plan was made.

 

The Head of Planning Services explained that the Borough Council’s proposed response to the current consultation supported the objectives and most of the policies in the Draft Neighbourhood Plan. However the Council was proposing limited amendments to policy H2, relating to the provision of affordable housing, to ensure that it aligned with the Council’s Housing Allocations Policy, and an objection to policy GS4 which sought to designate land at St Clements Way/Steele Avenue as open space/green buffer as the Council considered the this area to be developed (brownfield) land. Stone Parish Council were aware of the Council’s position on these issues.

 

The Cabinet Advisory Panel had discussed this item and had supported the proposed consultation response and the objection to policy GS4.

 

            RESOLVED:

 

That the response set out in Appendix B to the report forms Dartford Borough Council’s response to the Draft Stone Neighbourhood Plan.

9.

Minor Parking Schemes Consultation: Various Locations and Wards pdf icon PDF 375 KB

Summary:

 

To consider the results of the formal consultation for minor parking schemes at various locations in the Borough undertaken in February/March 2021 and recommended actions for approval.

 

Recommendation:

 

That, for the reasons set out in paragraphs 3.4 to 3.6 of the report, the Traffic Regulation Orders for Mill Road (Hawley), St Vincents Avenue (Dartford) and Castle Street/Castle Road (Dartford) be progressed, to enable implementation of the measures identified in  Appendices B, C and D to the report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet considered a report which detailed the results of formal consultation on three minor parking schemes (Mill Road, Hawley; St Vincents Avenue, Dartford; and Castle Street/Castle Road, Dartford) carried out in February/March 2021, where objections had been received. The report detailed the objections, the subsequent discussions with the objectors and recommended actions for approval. The Cabinet noted that there were two errors contained in Appendix A to the report and that location 1, Kent  Road, Longfield ,on page 49 of the agenda, was in Longfield, New Barn & Southfleet ward rather than Town ward, and that location 5, Castle Street/Castle Road, on page 50, was in Swanscombe ward rather than Stone Castle ward.

 

 

          RESOLVED:

 

That, for the reasons set out in paragraphs 3.4 to 3.6 of the report, the Traffic Regulation Orders for Mill Road (Hawley), St Vincents Avenue (Dartford), and Castle Street/Castle Road (Dartford) be progressed, to enable implementation of the measures identified in Appendices B, C and D to the report.

10.

Local Authority Remote Meetings - Council's Response to Call for Evidence and Ancilliary Matters pdf icon PDF 315 KB

Summary:

 

To agree the Council’s response to the Government’s call for evidence on the pros and cons of making permanent, arrangements for local authorities to meet remotely, including in hybrid format and to consider matters ancillary thereto.

 

Recommendations:

 

1.    That, for the reasons outlined in para. 3.7 of the report, the Council confirms an on-going appetite for making permanent, the continuation of remote meetings and hybrid meetings, where some individuals attend in person and others remotely;

 

2.    That, subject to Member input, the response to the Government’s call for evidence as set out in Appendix A to the report, be endorsed as the Council’s formal response. 

 

3.    That, for the reasons outlined in para. 3.10 of the report, the use of webcasting facilities to raise the Council’s e-democracy and activities’ profile be considered and if agreed, that the Chief Officer and Director of Corporate Services, be authorised:

 

(a)  in consultation with the Leader of the Council, to agree the specification; and

 

(b)  to seek quotations in accordance with Contract Standing Orders and award the contract.

 

Minutes:

The Cabinet was informed that the ability of local authorities to hold Member meetings remotely, or in hybrid formats, via virtual platforms, had ended when the emergency Regulations introduced in 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic had expired on 7 May 2021. Despite many authorities wishing to continue to hold meetings remotely, a test legal case had resulted in a High Court decision which made it clear that virtual meetings could not continue to be held under existing legislation and that local authority meetings required Members to attend a geographical location, in person, and that such meetings should be open to the public ‘in person’. The Government had not extended the emergency regulations and cited insufficient time to introduce primary legislation to change the law. However the Government had recognised the appetite for change and had launched a ‘Call for Evidence’ on the operation of the remote meeting arrangements during the pandemic and sought views on the pros and cons of allowing local authorities to hold remote meetings in future. The report outlined the Council’s proposed response to the Call for Evidence which highlighted increased democratic participation, opportunities for inclusivity and engagement, and improved transparency, whilst also noting the change in the dynamics of meetings held remotely and some of the practical and technical challenges. Members were asked to consider whether they wished to use webcasting facilities to raise the Council’s e-democracy and activities profile which would involve a complete re-evaluation of the Council’s current technology, which could be adapted to accommodate remote and hybrid meetings should these be permitted in future, and the cost of introducing and running the technology.

 

The Chairman said that there were two issues; the Council’s response to the call-for evidence and the direction that the Council wished to go in terms of meeting arrangements. The Chief Officer & Director of Corporate Services confirmed that if the Council had an appetite for progressing the e-democracy opportunities outlined in the report and the possibility of holding hybrid meetings this would require the acquisition of new technology and that there was also a lead time for this to be procured and installed.

 

In response to a question, the Democratic Services Manager explained that Sevenoaks District Council were installing cameras and new technology and many other authorities were keen to have the option to broadcast their meetings or to meet remotely or in hybrid meetings moving forward. The Chairman explained the arrangements that Kent County Council used to broadcast its meetings and the low viewing figures this generated.

 

The Portfolio Holder for Finance drew upon his extensive experience of holding virtual meetings across a number of years and said that there was a place for such meetings. They worked well for quick meetings with colleagues, ‘tell-meetings’ for communicating information or Departmental meetings.  However they did not work well for debate and were difficult to chair. The dynamic of the meeting was completely different as it took such aspects as body language and intimacy out of the equation and it was  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.

11.

Housing Ombudsman Complaint Handling Code - Self-Assessment pdf icon PDF 233 KB

Summary:

 

The Housing Ombudsman published a new Complaint Handling Code in July 2020 which requires social landlords to meet their approach to complaints handling. As a social landlord the Council is required to self-assess against the Code, to publish the results and to take appropriate steps to make sure that landlord/tenant related complaints handling is in line with the Code. Cabinet is asked to consider the results of the Council’s first self-assessment.

 

Recommendation:

 

That the self-assessment completed in accordance with the Housing Ombudsman’s Complaint Handling Code, attached at Appendix A to the report be noted.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Director of Housing & Public Protection presented a report which informed Members that the Housing Ombudsman had published a new Complaint Handling Code in July 2020 which set out the requirements for social landlords to meet in dealing with complaints. One of the requirements was that social landlords should undertake and publish an annual self-assessment of their complaints handling against the Code and take appropriate steps to ensure compliance with the Code. The Council had carried out its first annual self-assessment and found that the Council had a clear and comprehensive complaints process in place that met most aspects of the Code and had also identified some actions to ensure continuous learning and improvement in dealing with housing landlord related complaints. The report also outlined proposals in the Government White paper ‘The Charter for Social Housing’ to further support improved complaint handling by landlords and ways to hold them to account through stronger action by the Housing Ombudsman.

 

The Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Finance noted that there had been bad publicity recently about the condition of housing stock in Croydon and asked about the condition of Dartford’s Housing stock. The Director of Housing & Public Protection confirmed that he was confident that the condition of the housing stock was good and that problems with quality were predominantly associated with private rented stock. The Private Sector Housing Team worked with landlords to address this through discussion whenever possible or through taking enforcement action if necessary. 

 

          RESOLVED:

 

That the self-assessment completed in accordance with the Housing Ombudsman’s Complaint Handling Code, attached at Appendix A to the report, be noted.

12.

Minutes of the Strategic Housing Board held on 7 April 2021 pdf icon PDF 201 KB

Summary:

 

To receive the minutes of the meeting of the Strategic Housing Board held on 7 April 2021.

 

Recommendation:

 

That the minutes of the meeting of the Strategic Housing Board held on 7 April 2021 be noted.

Minutes:

The Cabinet received the minutes of the meeting of the Strategic Housing Board held on 7 April 2021. The Chairman commented on the good progress being made by the Strategic Housing Board and its evolving body of work.

 

          RESOLVED:

 

That the minutes of the meeting of the Strategic Housing board held on 7 April 2021 be noted.