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Agenda and minutes

Venue: Council Chamber, Civic Centre, Home Gardens, Dartford, Kent, DA1 1DR

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No. Item


Prayers: Reverend Richard Arding


The Mayor invited the Reverend Arding to say prayers.


Apologies for Absence

To receive apologies for absence


Apologies for absence were submitted on behalf of Councillors M Bryant, Hawkes, Reynolds and A Wells.


Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest Members may wish to make including the term(s) of the Grant of Dispensation(s) by the Standards Committee (if any)


Councillor L J Bobby declared a personal prejudicial interest in agenda item 16, Reserved Cabinet Minutes, in respect of Cabinet minute 37 which had been reserved for debate and which related to Disabled Facilities Grants, Private Sector Housing Assistance and Empty Homes, as he is an applicant for a Disabled Facilities Grant. 


Councillor P F Coleman declared a personal interest in agenda item 16, Reserved Cabinet Minutes, in respect of Cabinet minute 22 which had been reserved for debate and which related to Acacia Update and Actions, as he knows the proprietor of the Goodman Dance Centre.



Minutes pdf icon PDF 34 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting which took place on 18 July 2011.




That the minutes of the meeting of the General Assembly of the Council held on 18 July 2011 be confirmed as a correct record.


Mayor's Announcements

To receive announcements from the Mayor.


·        Visit to Gravelines


The Mayor advised Members of his recent visit to Gravelines accompanied by the Chairman of the Dartford Town Twinning Association and 7 other members of the Association. During the visit the 20th anniversary of the accord between Dartford and Gravelines was marked by an exchange of gifts between the two Mayors. Dartford presented Gravelines with an engraved silver plate and the Mayor of Gravelines presented Dartford with a commemorative plaque which would be displayed in the Civic Centre. During the visit the Mayor had participated in the annual blessing of the sea along with the Mayors of Biblis, Germany, and Fjardabyggd, Iceland with which Gravelines was also twinned and the Icelandic ambassador. The Mayor of Gravelines and other dignitaries had also enquired about Councillor Coleman following his accident during last years visit and sent their best wishes. The captain of the fishing boat used for the blessing had also asked for a letter that he had written and a picture of the boat to be given to Councillor Coleman, which was duly presented to him at the meeting. 


·        Councillor and Mrs Coleman’s Golden Wedding Anniversary


The Mayor led Members in congratulating Councillor Coleman and his wife on their recent Golden Wedding anniversary and presented Councillor Coleman with a gift and a bouquet of flowers.


·        Charitable Events


The Mayor invited Members to support forthcoming charitable events:



o       8/9 October – Wilmington Model Railway exhibition

o       14 October – Charity Quiz Night – tickets could be purchased from Councillor Mrs Thurlow

o       17 October – Dartford Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society’s  production of Guys and Dolls – the Mayor would be attending this as President of DAOD’s on the 17th and invited Members to support the production which was on for a full week   

o       12 November – 60’s Night


Leader's Announcements

To receive announcements from the Leader of the Council


·        New Vicars for Dartford


The Leader of the Council announced that the Borough had two new vicars. He welcomed the Reverend Nicholas Williams to his appointment at St Margaret of Antioch Church in Darenth and Marcel McCarron to St Edmunds, Temple Hill.


·        Institute of Revenues Rating and Valuation Performance Awards 2011


The Leader of the Council announced that the Council had received the Silver Award for Excellence in Partnership Working at the Institute of Revenues Rating and Valuation Performance Awards 2011. This recognised the excellent work to establish a Joint Revenues and Benefits Service in partnership with Sevenoaks District Council. In presenting the award to Sue Cresswell, Revenue and Benefits Service Manager, the Leader commended her and her team along with the Management Team for their outstanding work in delivering the most effective shared service of its kind so quickly.


·        Orchard Theatre


The Leader also congratulated the staff and volunteers of The Orchard Theatre who had received an award for customer service excellence in 2011. He congratulated the Theatre Manager, Andy Hill, and his team for driving service excellence and raising standards for customers and felt that this supported the Council’s decision to outsource the management of the theatre.


Questions from Political Group Leaders

To consider any questions (from the Political Group Leaders) to the Leader/Cabinet submitted in accordance with Standing Order 14.


The Leader of the Labour Group submitted the following question in accordance with Standing Order 14:


“Can the Leader confirm that KCC are proposing to close the youth facility at the Dartford Bridge Community Campus and can he tell us what steps are being taken to prevent this happening ?”


The Leader of the Council responded that he was surprised to be asked a question that should more appropriately be directed to Kent County Council (KCC). He felt that there was a misconception about KCC’s intention which was not to withdraw a service but to transform and re-shape it. The issue had been whether to continue to provide the existing service through top-slicing or moving the service forward. KCC was intending to establish a service hub in each District/Borough to provide a base for youth service work and to also have a commissioning budget from which services could be commissioned from national and local organisations. KCC had identified the YMCA as the hub for Dartford and that work would be commissioned from The Bridge and other providers. He felt that KCC had got this wrong as the County Council already owned The Bridge Community Centre which would be an excellent choice for the hub and that the YMCA was in a position to provide services on commission. He hoped that as a result of the two month public consultation KCC might change its initial proposal and recognise that it had made a mistake and he suggested that the Shadow Leader should make his views known during the consultation. The Leader had also made his views known to senior managers at KCC that the issue was part of the wider discussion around locality and should be part and parcel of it.


The Shadow Leader thanked the Leader of the Council for his response and asked the Leader to remind KCC that the Bridge Community Centre had partly been intended to replace facilities that were lost when the Highfield Centre had been closed. He asked whether the Leader of the Council had engaged with all of Dartford’s County Council Members to oppose the closure of the youth facility at The Bridge. In response the Leader of the Council confirmed that he had made his views known to his County colleagues and he hoped that KCC would change its proposals once the outcome of the consultation was known.    





To consider any Motions submitted in accordance with Standing Order 10.


No motions were submitted in accordance with Standing Order 10.


Urgent Items

The Mayor will announce his decision as to whether there are any urgent items.


There were no urgent items


Council in Committee


It was moved by Councillor J A Kite and seconded by Councillor A R Martin and:




That in accordance with Standing Order 11(3) the General Assembly of the Council go into Committee and the Rules of Procedures do apply.




References from other Committees (if any)


There were no references from other committees.


Adoption of Core Strategy pdf icon PDF 68 KB

To consider the adoption of the Core Strategy contained in Appendix A to the report, circulated with the agenda as a separate document.



Additional documents:


Members considered the Council’s Core Strategy which had been agreed by the GAC in January 2011 and subjected to an examination in public by the Planning Inspector in May 2011. District Council’s  were required to prepare Local Development Frameworks (LDF’s) to set out land use policies and proposals for their area and the Core Strategy was the main LDF document.  The Core Strategy set out a long-term strategy for development, including how much development of each type would take place; where and when it was proposed and what infrastructure was needed to support it.  As such, it would have a crucial role in setting the context for future development of the District. The Localism Bill envisaged that Core Strategies will also provide the statutory planning framework for future neighbourhood plans as well as providing the foundation for other more detailed planning documents, such as the Development Management Document and a Supplementary Planning Document on parking standards which must be consistent with it. Once adopted, the Core Strategy would form part of the Development Plan for the purposes of considering planning applications and decisions would have to be made in accordance with the Development Plan unless material considerations indicated otherwise. The Core Strategy would replace most of the policies in Dartford’s adopted Local Plan (1995).  The remaining saved policies would be replaced by the Development Management document, which was being prepared.  This document would contain more detailed policies setting quality standards and criteria for development.

The Regeneration Director advised Members that the Planning Inspector had concluded that the Core Strategy was sound. The Inspector had recommended a limited number of changes to meet statutory requirements which had been picked up during the public examination and the proposal before the Council was to adopt the Core Strategy with these amendments.

The Leader of the Council congratulated the Regeneration Director, his team and the many officers from across the Council who had played a part in developing the Core Strategy. He welcomed the Inspector’s endorsement and felt that the Council’s responsive approach during the public examination had been well received by the Inspector.

Members welcomed the Core Strategy which was felt to be a vast improvement on the existing policies dating back to 1995 and the greater protection this afforded the Council in dealing with planning matters generally and in dealing with developers. In response to a comment about the length of time taken to develop the Core Strategy Members recognised that the planning goalposts had moved during development of the Core Strategy and that work had had to effectively begin again. Members also felt that it was important that developers should not be able to renege on obligations to provide affordable housing or infrastructure. A Member raised concern that the Council’s requirements for infrastructure to be provided might deter potential developers from undertaking projects, however it was felt important to make these requirements as otherwise it could take many years to get appropriate infrastructure in place. The Core Strategy  ...  view the full minutes text for item 54.


Draft Homelessness Strategy 2011/14 pdf icon PDF 23 KB

To consider the Draft Homelessness Strategy 2011-14 for adoption.

Additional documents:


The Strategic Director introduced the draft Homelessness Strategy 2011-2014 which had been produced to meet the statutory requirement of the Homelessness Act 2002 for housing authorities to carry out a review of homelessness in their district at least every five years. In Dartford it had been decided to carry out a review every three years and this was the 4th Strategy to be produced. The latest review and the resultant draft Strategy had been endorsed by the Policy Overview Committee on 5 July and the Cabinet had approved the draft document for wider consultation. Following consultation changes to the Strategy had been made in light of comments received and Members were asked to adopt the final Strategy.


Members welcomed the draft Homelessness Strategy and commended the work of the Homelessness Team in seeking to mitigate homelessness.




That the Homelessness Strategy 2011-14 contained in Appendix B to the report be adopted.  


Review of Polling Districts and Polling Places 2011 - Recommendations of the Electoral Provisions Sub-Committee pdf icon PDF 64 KB

To consider the recommendations of the Electoral Provisions Sub-Committee arising from the Review of Polling Districts and Polling Places 2011.


The General Assembly of the Council (GAC) considered the outcome of the Review of Polling Districts and Polling Places 2011 and the recommendations of the Electoral Provisions Sub-committee. The review was conducted in accordance with the requirements of the Electoral Administration Act 2006 which required a full review of polling districts and polling places to be carried out every four years with the latest due for completion by 31 December 2011.The report detailed the requirements of the review and the review process, including the arrangements for consulting the Returning Officer and formulating proposals for public consultation. These proposals had been subject to public consultation during August which had been considered by the Electoral Provisions Sub-committee on 12 September 2011 which had formulated the recommendations contained in the report for approval by the GAC.




(1) That the completion of the review of Polling Places and Polling Districts 2011 be noted;


(2) That the recommendations of the Electoral Provisions Sub-committee contained in section 7 of the report be agreed; and


(3) The proposed polling districts and polling places for the Dartford electoral area listed in Appendix A to the report be adopted and used for the revised Register of Electors for 2012, to be published on 1 December 2011.




Scrutiny Committee Annual Report 2010/11 pdf icon PDF 14 KB

To receive the Scrutiny Committee Annual Report for 2010/11.

Additional documents:


The General Assembly received the Scrutiny Committee’s annual report for 2010-11 which detailed the work carried by the committee against its Work Plan for the year and other scrutiny work undertaken by the Committee.  The Chairman of the Scrutiny Committee commended the report to the General Assembly of the Council




That the Annual Report of the Scrutiny Committee for 2010-11 be noted.


Member Attendance at Meetings - Councillor S East pdf icon PDF 15 KB

To consider a grant of dispensation to Councillor S East.


The Council considered a report which sought a dispensation for Councillor S East’s non-attendance of meetings of the Council due to her current indisposition on medical grounds. Otherwise she would be disqualified from Council membership at the end of six months from the date of taking office in May 2011 on grounds of non-attendance. Members agreed to grant the dispensation without time-limit and sent their best wishes to Councillor East for her recovery.




That the General Assembly of the Council note Councillor S East’s current indisposition for medical reasons and that the Councillor’s failure to attend meetings of the Council by reason of that indisposition be approved without time limit for the reasons detailed in the report.  


Reconvening of the General Assembly of the Council


It was moved by Councillor J A Kite, seconded by Councillor A R Martin, and:




That the General Assembly of the Council be reconvened for the remaining item of business.




Reserved Minutes pdf icon PDF 42 KB

To consider any of the minutes of the following Cabinet meetings reserved in accordance with Standing Order 16;


(a)       for full debate by Political Groups on the Council;

(b)       by Ward Members.




30 June 2011

28 July 2011

Additional documents:


The Mayor announced that two Cabinet minutes had been reserved for debate in accordance with Standing Order 16(14)(1)(a).


  • Minute 22 – Acacia Update and Actions (Cabinet – 30 June 2011)


The Shadow Leader explained that he had reserved this minute for debate in order to receive an update on the progress of proposals for the Acacia site. In particular he asked whether the lease on the Acacia Ballroom had been finalised and signed and if so, on what terms. The Labour Group also had concerns about the loss of the Ball Room for use for major events in the Borough and by local community groups and wondered whether there was any provision for these groups to continue to use the Ball Room on a limited basis.


The Leader of the Council explained that the lease was being prepared but that there was little point in it being signed until the Goodman’s Dance Academy was ready to move in. This allowed the Ball Room to be kept open for events and use by local groups for a little longer. He confirmed that pre-existing bookings, including weddings, would be honoured. He also reminded Members that whilst the facility might be lost for local events once the lease had been signed it would not have been sustainable to keep the building running at a loss which would have required its closure in the longer term which would have had the same result in terms of its unavailability for use. Instead the future of the building would be secured and Dartford would benefit from having a major dance academy in the Borough. There were alternative venues that could be used by local groups and work was underway to find alternative venues for the major events.


  • Minute 37 – Disabled Facilities Grants, Private Sector Housing Assistance and Empty Homes (Cabinet – 28 July 2011)


Councillor L J Bobby left the meeting as he had declared a personal prejudicial interest in this item.


The Shadow Leader explained that he had welcomed the Cabinet report and the recommendation for funding a full-time Empty Properties Officer which had been proposed by his Group. He noted that in future this post would be funded from base budget. He expressed concern that funding from the Regional Housing Fund to finance essential maintenance work for people on low incomes was coming to an end and that properties could fall into disrepair and even result in homelessness unless these works continued to be carried out. The Shadow Leader asked what provision would be made to reserve funds from Council budgets to carry out these works and protect vulnerable people.


The Shadow Leader was reminded that the appointment of a full time Empty Properties Officer was subject to a review demonstrating the value of the post and had been introduced by the Administration when the timing had been right to do so. The Leader of the Council reminded Members of the poor state of the housing service when the Administration had come to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 60.