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Agenda and minutes

Scrutiny Committee
Tuesday 17 February 2015 7.00 pm

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

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No. Item


Apologies for Absence


Apologies for absence were submitted on behalf of Councillors: J Burrell, P Cutler, J S Hawkes (Substitute Cllr. Stafford) and E J Lampkin (Substitute Cllr. Armitt).


Apologies were also received from Mr Stuart Shanks, CEO of HQ Theatres & Hospitality, the Strategic Director (Internal Services) and the Financial Services Manager.


The Chairman welcomed Mr Bill Archer, President of Dartford Football Club (DFC) to the meeting together with Mr Steve Irving, DFC’s Co-Chairman and the Orchard Theatre Director, Mr Chris Glover.


The presence of Councillor Jeremy Kite MBE was noted, both in his capacity as a Director of DFC and as Leader of the Council for other agenda items. Councillor Mrs Patsy Thurlow, Cabinet Portfolio holder for Heritage, Attractions and Events was also in attendance.



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.


Councillor J A Kite, MBE declared a personal interest as a Director of Dartford Football Club (DFC) in respect of Item 10 – Princes Park Annual Update.


Confirmation of the Minutes of the meeting held on 25 November 2014 pdf icon PDF 109 KB




That the minutes of the meeting held on 25 November 2014 be confirmed as an accurate record.


Urgent Items

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


The Chairman announced that there were no urgent items for consideration.


To consider references from other Committees (if any)

There are no references from other Committees.


There were no references from other Committees.


Regulation 9 Notice pdf icon PDF 58 KB

To note the contents of the Regulation 9 Notice for the period 27 January 2015 to 31 May 2015.




The contents of the Regulation 9 Notice for the period 27 January 2015 to 31 May 2015 be noted.



No topics have been drawn-down for scrutiny.


The Chairman confirmed that no topics had been drawn-down for scrutiny that evening.


Chairman's Update


The Chairman confirmed that Members had received the updated “dashboard” figures from the Dartford CAB Manager as requested following the Committee’s last meeting on 25 November 2014.


Orchard Theatre Accounts 2013-14 Financial Year pdf icon PDF 1 MB

To note the attached Director’s Report and Financial Statements for the Financial Year ended 31 March 2014, for the Orchard Theatre.




The Chairman renewed his welcome to the Orchard Theatre Director Chris Glover and thanked him for agreeing to attend the proceedings that evening and noted the presence of the Leisure and Communities Officer.


The Chairman congratulated the Director on an excellent set of Accounts for the Orchard Theatre for the financial period ended 31 March 2014 and noted in particular, the increased profit share (double the previous 2012-13 accounting period) that had accrued to HQ Theatres and by extension the Council [agenda page 31].


Chris Glover paid testimony to his team for an exceptional effort in the period under review and advised the Committee that he expected revenues for the current 2014-15 Financial Year to be even better, given the success of the 2014 Christmas Panto and the shows programme for 2014-15 which was currently running at 100% of capacity with no ‘dark’ periods.


The Chairman had 1 query concerning the 2013-14 accounts, noting that the Education & Youth Project accounted for in HQ Theatres Trust [agenda p.31 penultimate line] had made a loss and asked if the 2013 summer project run for Dartford Youth had been a loss making exercise.


The Director explained that the recorded loss was for Education and Youth activities for the entire 2013-14 financial period under review, not just the Dartford summer Youth project and that HQ Theatres had increased the Education & Youth programme in the current 2014-15 fiscal period and was hopeful of a positive outcome in the next accounting period.


The Chairman and Members congratulated the Orchard Theatre Director and his team on an excellent performance in the period under review, noted the successful programme of completed improvements to the fabric of the Theatre and wished the Director and his team continued success in the current and future years.




1.    That the Committee notes the Directors’ Report and Financial Statements for the period ended 31 March 2014 for the Orchard Theatre Dartford Limited;


2.    That the Committee notes the increased profit share accruing to the Council for the period to 31 March 2014, under the terms of the management contract with H Q Theatres Ltd;


3.    That the Committee notes the completion of further improvement works to the fabric of the Orchard Theatre;


4.    That the Committee congratulates the Theatre Director and his team on another outstanding performance in 2014 and continued success in the management of the Orchard Theatre in 2015.   


Princess Park Annual Update pdf icon PDF 78 KB

To note the contents of the attached Princes Park annual update report.


The Chairman renewed his welcome to Bill Archer (President), Steve Irving (Co-Chairman) and Councillor Jeremy Kite (Director) of Dartford Football Club respectively and thanked the Leisure & Communities Officer for attending and submitting his generally encouraging, Princes Park Annual Update report.


The following points were confirmed for the Chairman and members of his Group regarding the report, in subsequent discussion with DFC office holders and the Leisure & Communities Officer:




The DFC Co-Chairman agreed with the Chairman’s comments that the main pitch was showing signs of wear and tear, but advised that regular usage of the principal Princes Park pitch had in fact reduced compared to previous seasons. Regular users were now confined to DFC and Greenwich Borough FC under a ground share agreement and Millwall FC for their U21 fixtures. DFC no longer ran a reserve side and Charlton Ladies and the Darenth Valley Rugby Club no longer used the principal pitch for matches or training.


Councillor Kite addressed the Committee in his role as DFC Director. He advised that the main pitch was an issue in terms of water retention, and a possible design fault was suspected. The pitch was water-logged at present with the next fixture in doubt and the Millwall contract increasingly in jeopardy. The Football Association (F.A.) was keen to extend the use of all-weather pitches as a national policy and this might be a future consideration for Princes Park and DFC should the F.A. take the policy forward to the implementation stage. A replacement all weather pitch at Princes Park had the potential to increase revenue streams in the future, through increased community use of a new all-weather pitch facility.


Stadium Roof


Councillor Kite confirmed that the contractor who had installed the Princes Park stadium roof had now accepted liability for the construction fault and the costs of the necessary remedial work. Details of the final legal agreement and timescales for the work were awaited. He explained that the stadium and roof construction works had been undertaken under the terms of a ‘design and build’ contract. As such, once the contract was let, the Council had become a ‘virtual partner’ in terms of input into the design and installation of the Princes Park stadium roof; the contractor was wholly responsible for design, build and repair once the contract had been let. 


Councillor Kite reminded Members of the 360 degree green nature of the stadium roof. He advised that during the construction phase it now appeared that the ‘green’ carpet had not been fixed to the roof effectively and that over time, the carpet had moved, causing ‘gaps’ and consequent leaks. Leaks in the spectator areas were negligible, but much more serious and inconvenient in the hospitality areas, where the Club was seeking to attract increased revenue streams through private function hire. However, the contractor had now accepted full liability and scheduled remedial work would begin once the final legal agreement had been signed, with the work being undertaken in the coming ‘close’ season.


Mini Pitches  ...  view the full minutes text for item 46.


Dartford Marshes pdf icon PDF 60 KB

To receive an update from the Council’s Waste and Parks Manager following the report to Cabinet in December 2014 [attached].




The Chairman renewed his welcome to Councillor Mrs Patsy Thurlow, Cabinet Portfolio holder for Heritage (Events and Attractions) and the Council’s Waste and Parks Manager.


He reminded Members that the topic of Dartford Marshes had been on the Committee’s Work Plan for some time. Unfortunately, due to a variety of timing issues, it had not proved possible for the Committee to consider the subject prior to the recent sad loss of Councillor John Muckle, a great advocate of the recreational benefits and beauties of Dartford Marshes over the years who, had he been still able to attend, would have greatly enhanced the Member debate that evening.


The Committee were considering the report on Dartford Marshes presented to Cabinet on 4 December 2014 [agenda pages 39-41]. The Chairman asked the Waste and Parks Manager to update Members on the current position regarding fly tipping, littering and unauthorised motorbike and quad-bike usage in the Marshes.


The Waste and Parks Manager advised the Committee that the Council’s overall policy was to support and increase the legitimate and authorised uses being made of the Marshes e.g. by the Gun Club; whilst also limiting the unauthorised activities still being undertaken. Kent Police and Enforcement Officers from Dartford CSU undertook a pattern of irregular visits to the Marshes in an attempt to identify offenders and bring prosecutions where possible and appropriate. Identifying fly-tippers was particularly difficult in the absence of CCTV in the rural setting, particularly around the large area of Joyce Green Farm which suffered from a general lack of management and care. Recent positive developments included individual projects to restore the cobbled pathway to the Thames, the removal of scrub and the return of some of the Marsh land to grazing. An increasing number of walkers were now using the Marshes, bolstered by residents from the Bridge development and Temple Hill. However, more management of Dartford Marshes as a whole was still required, as recommended in the recently completed study into the Marshes by Martin Hall (former Director of Greening the Gateway Kent and Medway) commissioned by the Council in 2013.


The Chairman asked if copies of Mr Hall’s study report could be made available to Committee Members following the meeting and sought clarification on a number of points in the Cabinet report which alluded to Mr Hall’s recently completed study of the Marshes.


The Waste and Parks Manager clarified the following points of detail for the Committee drawing on the Cabinet report and the Council commissioned study by Mr Martin Hall to revisit the recent history of Dartford Marshes, evaluate its current condition and develop deliverable land management options going forward:


·         Other Landowners and Interested Parties: Dartford Marshes had a number of land owners with the Council owning the largest area stretching from Binnie Road to the Thames. Council owned Marshes land was split into two distinct areas; the south part being dry rough grassland (formerly occupied by Joyce Green Hospital) with Council land to the north and east being wet and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 47.


Scrutiny Committee Work Programme 2015-16 pdf icon PDF 55 KB

To consider the Committee’s draft Work Plan for 2015-16 as attached at Appendix A to the report, together with any further topics for inclusion and to set timeframes accordingly.


Additional documents:


The contents of the Committee’s Work Plan for 2015-16 as submitted in Appendix A to the report were noted. Members had no additions to propose at this stage.





1.    That the Committee notes the contents of the report and the Work Plan for 2015-16, as presently set out in Appendix A to the report.