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Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Virtual Meetings - This meeting will be held virtually. Details of how to access the meeting on YouTube are contained in the meeting page, along with the agenda and papers.. View directions

Contact: Email: memberservices@dartford.gov.uk 

Note: This meeting may be viewed on YouTube from 5.00pm by highlighting the following link: https://youtu.be/CmkZWRfG31s 

Items
No. Item

81.

Mr Graham Harris

Minutes:

The Mayor welcomed Members and everyone viewing the meeting on YouTube to the first virtual meeting of the full Council.

 

He also announced that this was the first Council meeting since the death of the Managing Director, Graham Harris, and took the opportunity to send the Council’s condolences and sympathy to Mr Harris’ family and friends. He reminded Members that a Book of Condolence was being collated and encouraged them to submit any tributes that they might wish to be included.

 

The Council observed a minutes’ silence. 

82.

Apologies for Absence

To receive apologies for absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were submitted on behalf of Councillors Armitt, Brown, Mote and D J Reynolds.

83.

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 Strategic Director (Internal Services).

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interests.

84.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 316 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the following meetings:

 

General Assembly of the Council on 13 January 2020;

 

Special meeting of the General Assembly of the Council on 17 February 2020;

 

General Assembly of the Council (Budget) on 24 February 2020.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

            RESOLVED:

 

That the minutes of the meetings of the General Assembly of the Council held on 13th January, 17th February and 24th February 2020 be confirmed as accurate records.

85.

Appointment of the Deputy Shadow Leader of the Council

To note the appointment of Councillor K J Grehan as the Deputy Leader of the Labour Group and Deputy Shadow leader of the Council in place of Councillor L H K Edie.

Minutes:

The General Assembly of the Council noted the appointment of Councillor Kelly Grehan as the new Deputy Leader of the Labour Group and Deputy Shadow Leader of the Council.

86.

Questions from Political Group Leaders

To consider any questions (from the Political Group Leaders) to the Leader/Cabinet.

Minutes:

The Shadow Leader of the Council submitted the following questions in accordance with Standing Order 14:

 

Question 1

71% of nurseries are projected to run at a loss over the coming months with 14000 providers already lost since 2015. How many nurseries have received grants from DBC and does the council have any other plans to mitigate this crisis should a nursery not qualify for the grant?

Question 2

Given the changes in the town centre, the ageing population to those with physical disabilities. Will the council set up an audit of disabled spaces and provision in Dartford and a working group tasked with investigating the needs of this group, considering the new ruling on Changing Places?

 

Question 3

I’m sure we are all in agreement when I say our local NHS staff and care workers have been outstanding. Given the removal of free parking for NHS staff will the council magnanimously fill that void and provide free parking in their carparks for NHS and care workers in Dartford?

 

In accordance with Standing Order 14 the questions and answers, including

any supplementary questions and answers, are recorded in a book kept for

this purpose in the Members’ Area.

87.

Urgent Items

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

Minutes:

There were no urgent items.

88.

Council in Committee

Minutes:

It was moved by Councillor R S L Perfitt, seconded by Councillor J A Kite and

 

RESOLVED:

 

That in accordance with Standing Order 11(13) the General Assembly of the

Council go into Committee and the rules of Procedures for Committees do

apply.

 

THE LEADER OF THE COUNCIL, COUNCILLOR J A KITE MBE, IN THE

CHAIR

 

89.

References from other Committees (if any)

Minutes:

There were no references from other committees.

90.

Electoral Registration Officer, Deputy Electoral Registration Officer and Returning Officer Appointments pdf icon PDF 119 KB

To appoint the Electoral Registration Officer, Deputy Electoral Registration Officer and Returning Officer.

Minutes:

The General Assembly of the Council was informed that following the death of the Managing Director, Mr Graham Harris, it was necessary to make alternative arrangements for the appointments to the posts of Electoral Registration Officer, Deputy Electoral Registration Officer and the Returning Officer.

 

Members endorsed the proposed appointments and commended the work carried out by the Electoral Services Manager and her team in support of the Council’s response to the coronavirus emergency. 

 

            RESOLVED:

 

1.  That, Sarah Martin, Strategic Director (Internal Services), be appointed Electoral Registration Officer;

 

2.  That Jeanette Pegler, Electoral Services Manager, be appointed Deputy Electoral Registration Officer ; and

 

3.  That Sarah Martin, Strategic Director (Internal Services), be appointed Returning Officer.

91.

The Dartford Borough Council (46-56 Lowfield Street) Compulsory Purchase Order 2020 pdf icon PDF 494 KB

To consider the proposed use of compulsory purchase powers by the Council to enable land at 46-56 Lowfield Street to be developed comprehensively.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The General Assembly of the Council considered a report detailing the proposed use of compulsory purchase powers by the Council to enable land at 46-56 Lowfield Street to be developed comprehensively as part of the Lowfield Street Opportunity Site identified in the Core Strategy. The Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) was necessary in order to achieve the full benefits identified for this site and to help achieve the wider regeneration objectives for Dartford town centre, as set out in the Core Strategy. The report set out the background to the proposed use of compulsory purchase powers, the legal and planning justifications, and a description of the land involved.  The Council needed to assemble the land interests so that the land could be developed in a suitable way to best complement the adjacent Mixed Use development to deliver the planning and economic benefits envisaged in the Core Strategy and this would only be possible if the Proposed Land Order was brought under the control of the Council and subsequently the developer.

 

The Head of Legal Services confirmed that it was rare for the Council to use compulsory purchase powers as these were seen as a last resort to remove the barriers to development in the public interest and were complex and costly to undertake. The Council had requested a financial indemnity from the developer. The Council was being asked to take an in-principle decision at this stage and once in receipt of the indemnity, a further report would be presented to the Council seeking approval for the making of the CPO and in the absence of acquisition of the Order land by agreement.

 

A Member expressed his reservations regarding the use of compulsory purchasing powers in respect of the church operating from the first floor of 46 Lowfield Street and said that he was uncomfortable at dispossessing worshipers who were using the church as a place of prayer and were not interested in making economic gain. 

 

The Leader of the Council informed Members that this was not a case of the Council dispossessing the church. In fact the use of the premises as a place of worship was unlawful. Although a temporary planning permission had been granted to the church on appeal the owner had failed to comply with a number of the conditions required and the temporary permission was no longer extant. The Chairman of the Development Control Board confirmed that the church had submitted a fresh application for a change of use for the first floor from a night club to a place of worship but that the Development Control Board had refused the application as it was considered to be incompatible with the regeneration aims for the town centre and to be contrary to planning policy. 

 

Another Member asked who had owned 46 Lowfield Street before the church had moved in and why the developer had not been able to buy it. The Head of Legal Services said that she did not know the previous owner but that the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 91.

92.

Capital Programme including Prudential Indicators - Outturn 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 247 KB

To note the Capital Programme report to Cabinet on 25 June 2020 and to agree the capital budget carried forward into 2020/21.  

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The General Assembly of the Council received a report, which provided details of the final pre-audit figures for the 2019/20 Capital Programme, the capital resources that were used to fund it and those resources that remain available to fund future investment. This report had already been considered by the Cabinet at its meeting on 25 June 2020, which had agreed the recommendations made to it, and the General Assembly of the Council was being asked to agree the capital budget to be carried forward into 2020/21.

 

The Leader of the Council asked whether the carry forward was largely due to slippage in capital projects due to COVID-19. The Strategic Director (Internal Services) said that the slippage had occurred in 2019/20 and was therefore more general slippage.

 

A Member asked about the projected underspend of £683,000 on new housebuilding arising from delays in acquiring the land identified by the Council for development and whether there was a danger of the Council having to surrender unspent 1-4-1 match funds to the Government. He wondered whether this was something that could be monitored by the Strategic Housing Board as it would be a pity if opportunities to build new housing were lost as a result of having to surrender unspent monies. The Leader of the Council said that he understood that, in view of the current national circumstances, the Government had relaxed some of the rules applied to funding. The Strategic Director (Internal Services) confirmed that the Government had provided a 3 month extension to the timeframe by which the money had to be spent.

 

A Member asked about the projected underspend of £169,000 on Disabled Facilities Grant and asked whether ways could be found to encourage the take up of the grant. The Leader of the Council explained that as the grants were demand led it was very difficult to estimate and budget for. The cases were often complex and involved multiple agencies and assessments of need which could delay progress to completion and that COVID-19 would also have had an impact. The Council was keen to see the grants taken up and he was not aware that people were not applying. He noted that the Lead Member for Equalities, Cohesion & Society had been asked to undertake a comprehensive review of equalities across the Borough and felt that this could be included in that review. 

 

            RESOLVED:

 

That the capital budget carried forward into the 2020/21 financial year be as set out in Appendix C to the report, thereby increasing the total capital budget to £31.036M.

 

93.

Member Attendance at Meetings pdf icon PDF 116 KB

To grant a dispensation to any Member who is unable to attend council meetings during a six month period arising from arrangements associated with the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic as outlined in the report.

Minutes:

The General Assembly of the Council considered a report which proposed that a grant of dispensation should be given to any Member who was unable to attend meetings of the Council arising from the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, social distancing requirements and the revised arrangements for meetings put in place during the pandemic. The Leader of the Council explained that this was simply a prudent measure to ensure that no Member would face disqualification through a failure to attend meetings for a six month period given the cancellation of some meetings during the early stages of the pandemic and the alternate meeting arrangements put in place which had included the reduction in the size of memberships for some committees and meetings taking place remotely during working hours.

 

Whilst it was appreciated that some Members were finding the remote meeting arrangements convenient and broadcasting meetings on YouTube provided new opportunities for the public to see the work of the Council it was also clear that other Members found it difficult to attend remote meetings during working hours and there was less scope for political debate and physical public attendance that changed the dynamic of the meetings. The arrangements would be kept under review and it was anticipated that arrangements would revert back to evening start times and full committee memberships once the social distancing rules were relaxed.  The Leader of the Council said that it was however unlikely that there would be a full return to the meeting arrangements that were in place prior to the pandemic and that improved technology had opened up opportunities for exploration and it was possible that hybrid meetings could be held in future. He felt that there needed to be an intelligent conversation about future meeting arrangements going forward.

 

            RESOLVED:

 

That the General Assembly of the Council grants a dispensation to any Member who is unable to attend meetings of the Council arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing requirements and the revised arrangements for meetings put in place during the pandemic for the reasons detailed in the report. Such dispensation to last until the expiration of a six month period from the date of the lifting of Government coronavirus restrictions applicable to Dartford that impacts on Members’ attendance at meetings.