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Agenda and minutes

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

Contact: Email: memberservices@dartford.gov.uk 

Items
Note No. Item

1.

Chairman's Introduction

Minutes:

The Chairman welcomed Members and Officers to the meeting.

2.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors L A Canham, P Cutler, T A Maddison and D J Reynolds.

3.

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.

4.

Items Reserved for Debate

Minutes:

The Chairman advised Members that the following agenda items had been drawn down for debate:

 

6(a).    Traffic Congestion in Dartford: Reference from Joint Transportation Board

 

Accordingly, Members endorsed the Officer recommendations in respect of the following items:

 

6(b).    New Cricket Pavilion in Hesketh Park, Dartford: Reference from the Scrutiny Committee

 

8.         CIL Contribution to the Kent Thameside Strategic Transport Programme

 

9.         Northern Gateway Pedestrian and Cycle Bridge

 

10.      Business Rate Pooling 2017/18

 

11.      Housing Annual Report for Tenants and Leaseholders 2015-2016

 

12.      Revenue Budget Monitoring 2016/17

 

13.      Capital Programme - Monitoring 2016/2017

 

14.      Treasury Management Report 2016/2017

 

15.      Ombudsman - Annual Review of Complaints 2015 - 2016

5.

Declarations of Interest on Items Drawn Down for Debate Only

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 interest.

6.

References from Committees

None at this stage.

SD (IS)

6a

Traffic Congestion in Dartford: Reference from Joint Transportation Board pdf icon PDF 54 KB

Summary:

 

This report presents a reference from the Joint Transportation Board drawing the Cabinet’s attention to the ongoing issue of traffic congestion in the Borough, the implications of this for residents and businesses and asks that pressure is brought to bear on the relevant bodies to alleviate the situation.

 

Recommendation:

 

That the ongoing issue of traffic congestion in the Borough and the associated implications be considered and that Cabinet consider the options available to the Council with a view to ensuring that pressure is brought to bear on the relevant bodies to alleviate the situation.

Minutes:

This report presented a reference from the Joint Transportation Board (JTB) drawing the Cabinet’s attention to the ongoing issue of traffic congestion in the Borough, the implications of this for residents and businesses, and asked that pressure be brought to bear on the relevant bodies to alleviate the situation.

 

  • Members referred to the debate on traffic congestion that had taken place at the last meeting of the General Assembly of the Council and noted the cross party support for action that had been agreed. They also noted the frustration being expressed by those residents living in those areas where they felt locked in by the congestion. They criticised the excessive time that was being taken to agree the major infrastructural changes required to help alleviate the problem and said that there was an immediate need to progress construction of a second crossing and make improvements to the management of traffic flow at the existing crossing. Members also noted the associated impact felt by surrounding rural villages as drivers attempt to find alternative routes to their destinations.

 

  • Members also felt that the police should reconsider their decision not to enforce traffic restrictions and yellow box junctions during periods of congestion and it was suggested that a letter be written to the Police and Crime Commissioner asking for a commitment to make police resources available to enforce traffic regulations during times of serious congestion. It was also noted that one junction, where congestion was particularly common, did not have, and was not considered suitable for, a yellow box.

 

  • Members also felt that other options needed to be explored given that the proposed new crossing would not be completed for many years and suggested that a ferry service could easily be introduced to transport cars and HGVs across the river.

 

  • The role of the JTB, and the sub-committee that had been created to specifically consider traffic congestion, was then raised and the fact that the sub-committee had taken 6 months before holding its first meeting, and had no formal Terms of Reference, was criticised. It was suggested that the reference report should have included more detail on the work and ideas that were being progressed with stakeholders, by the JTB and its sub-committee, to address traffic congestion in Dartford. During further discussion it was felt that the JTB had an important role to play and that it should, together with the Cabinet Member with responsibility for transport related issues, and the MP, continue to put pressure on those with the ability to find and deliver solutions to the congestion problems being experienced.

 

  • The Advisory Panel endorsed the report’s recommendation and asked that pressure continue to be placed on those bodies with the power to make decisions, and take action, to alleviate traffic congestion in Dartford.

SD (IS)

6b

New Cricket Pavilion in Hesketh Park, Dartford: Reference from the Scrutiny Committee pdf icon PDF 63 KB

Summary:

 

At its meeting on 13 September 2016 [Min. No. 8 refers] the Scrutiny Committee resolved to refer to Cabinet for consideration; its concerns over the lack of clear and measurable outcomes in terms of meeting Corporate Plan Objectives, following the decision by Cabinet to invest £1M for the construction of a new cricket pavilion in Hesketh Park, Dartford [Cabinet Report of 12 June 2014 and Cabinet Mins. 7 and 14 [EXEMPT] refer].

 

Recommendations:

 

1.         That Scrutiny Committee’s specific recommendations for measurable outcomes to support the Council’s Corporate Plan objectives as detailed in para. 3.4 of the report be considered.

 

2.         That Cabinet’s decision be reported back to the Scrutiny Committee.

Minutes:

Members endorsed the recommendations in the report.

SD (IS)

7.

Local Scheme of Support for Council Tax pdf icon PDF 96 KB

Summary:

 

1.         This is a Key Decision as it is significant in terms of its effects on communities living or working in an area of the Borough comprising two or more wards.

 

2.         This report provides Members with the detailed results from the recent Council Tax Reduction Scheme consultation process and the findings from the revised Customer Access Review, and then presents revisions to the current scheme for Members’ approval, to be effective from 1 April 2017.

 

Recommendation:

 

That Cabinet approve the following resolution to the General Assembly of the Council:

 

1.                        That the Customer Access Review shown at Appendix C to the report be approved.

 

2.            That the following amendments to the current scheme be made, with effect from 1 April 2017:

 

·         The maximum level of support for working age claimants be reduced from 81.5% to 80%;

·         Family Premium be removed for new claimants;

·         Backdating be reduced to one month;

·         Use  a minimum level of income for self-employed earners after two years of self-employment;

·         Reduce the period for which a person can be absent from Great Britain and receive discount to four weeks;

·         Introduce a standard level of non-dependent deduction of £10 for claimants;

·         Restrict the maximum level of discount payable to a Band D charge;

·         Remove Second Adult Reduction;

·         Remove the award of a Work Related Activity Component for all claimants who claim Employment and Support Allowance on or after 1 April 2017;

·         Limit the number of dependent children within the calculation for discount to a maximum of two;

·         Remove the entitlement to discount for a claimant treated as not being habitually resident in Great Britain because they are a European Economic Area (EEA) Jobseeker;

·        Introduce a scheme to help claimants suffering exceptional hardship.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

This report provided Members with the detailed results from the recent Council Tax Reduction Scheme consultation process and the findings from the revised Customer Access Review, and then presented revisions to the current scheme for Members’ approval, to be effective from 1 April 2017.

 

  • The Strategic Director (Internal Services) began by describing how the current scheme had been introduced in April 2013 to replace the Council Tax Benefit scheme and explained how it meant that the maximum entitlement for working age claimants had been reduced by 18.5%. She also noted how pensioners had been protected from the change and advised that, although the number of claimants had reduced since the scheme had been introduced, the associated Central Government funding had also been reducing at a faster rate, which meant that the major preceptors had had to bear more of the cost burden and therefore wanted to see this cost reduced moving forward. She also highlighted the need to provide support and protect those residents considered to be most vulnerable.

 

  • The Strategic Director (Internal Services) then highlighted the current administrative financial support that had been provided by the major precepting authorities during the first three years of the scheme and the fact that it had been extended for an additional year on the understanding that a full review of the scheme would be carried out during 2016/17. She then noted how proposed changes had been considered by Cabinet in June 2016 and described the consultation process that had been followed. She said that letters had been sent to all working age claimants and registered social landlords encouraging them to respond and that 96 responses had been received, which was similar to the number of returns experienced by other Local Authorities.

 

  • Having analysed the responses the Strategic Director (Internal Services) noted that there had been broad agreement to align the scheme to proposed Government changes to the housing benefit scheme and to exclude child benefit and child maintenance from income calculations. She then referred to the response that had been received from major preceptors and their support for an increase in Council Tax liability, an alignment with proposed housing benefit changes, and the exclusion of child benefit and child maintenance from income calculations. She also noted that the major preceptors had advised that continued administrative financial support would only be provided if Council Tax liability was increased from 18.5% to 20%, and the housing benefit related changes (options 2, 3, 5, 12 and 13) were implemented.

 

  • The Strategic Director (Internal Services) then referred to the Scrutiny Committee’s consideration of the proposed changes and the need to ensure that women and disabled claimants are not discriminated against in the proposed amendments. She then noted that, having considered the Scrutiny Committee’s recommendations, the proposed one year start-up period for self-employed claimants had been increased to two years, the proposed reduction in the capital limit from £16,000 to £6000 had been dropped, and an exceptional hardship scheme was to be developed.

 

SD (ES)

8.

CIL Contribution to the Kent Thameside Strategic Transport Programme pdf icon PDF 78 KB

Summary:

 

The report proposes that the Council make a commitment to release a specific proportion of the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) payment arising from proposed development at Bluewater to the Strategic Transport Programme (STP). This proposal forms an interim arrangement in advance of setting formal procedures and future decision taking by Members on the allocation of Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) income to infrastructure projects.

 

Recommendation:

 

That 43% (to a maximum of £1.283m index linked) of the net CIL receipts arising from development at Bluewater (DA16/01207/OUT) be directed to the Kent Thameside Strategic Transport Programme to fund highway improvements required to support development in the Borough of Dartford.

Minutes:

Members endorsed the recommendations in the report.

SD (IS)

9.

Northern Gateway Pedestrian and Cycle Bridge pdf icon PDF 77 KB

Summary:

 

A feasibility study has been undertaken to provide a new pedestrian and cycle bridge over the River Darent to link major development sites in the Northern Gateway area. This report sets out the work and conclusions to date, the anticipated next steps and asks for delegated approval to take works forward as and when funding becomes available.

 

Recommendations:

 

1.         That the feasibility study be noted.

 

2.         That the Director of Internal Services be delegated to apply for outline and detailed matters planning consents, obtain quotations for detailed design and tenders for the works in due course.

 

3.         That the Director of Internal Services be authorised to enter into negotiations with land owners, statutory or other bodies, and agree terms for licences or other legal agreements in consultation with the Head of Legal Services.

 

4.         That the Director of Internal Services be authorised to pursue available external sources of funding, where required, to enable implementation of the scheme.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members endorsed the recommendations in the report.

SD (IS)

10.

Business Rate Pooling 2017/18 pdf icon PDF 55 KB

Summary:

 

This report seeks Members’ agreement for the Council to continue with the current business rate pool for 2017/18, providing this would significantly increase the proportion of business rates growth that would be retained by the Council, or to negotiate with Kent County Council and the other Kent districts to form a new pool if any of the existing members wish to withdraw.

 

Recommendations:

 

1.         That Cabinet agrees to continue being a member of a Kent based business rate pool for 2017/18, providing it is financially beneficial to do so and subject to detailed arrangements.

 

2.         That the detailed arrangements be delegated to the Strategic Director (Internal Services) in consultation with the Managing Director.

Minutes:

Members endorsed the recommendations in the report.

SD (ES)

11.

Housing Annual Report for Tenants and Leaseholders 2015-2016 pdf icon PDF 48 KB

Summary:

 

1.         Under the Government’s regulatory framework, the Council is required to complete an annual report to tenants and leaseholders which sets out how the housing service is performing and where improvements can be made.

 

2.         This is the sixth housing annual report developed in consultation with the Dartford Borough Residents’ Forum (DBRF). 

 

3.         Cabinet is asked to consider the contents of this report.

 

Recommendation:

 

That the draft Housing Annual Report 2015-2016 for tenants and leaseholders attached at Appendix A to the report be approved.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members endorsed the recommendations in the report.

SD (IS)

12.

Revenue Budget Monitoring 2016/17 pdf icon PDF 46 KB

Summary:

 

To update Members on financial performance against the 2016/17 budget to date for the General Fund and Housing Revenue Account.

 

Recommendation:

 

That Members note that the overall level of spend and income for the year is expected to be within the parameters of the budget.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members endorsed the recommendations in the report.

SD (IS)

13.

Capital Budget Monitoring 2016/2017 pdf icon PDF 75 KB

Summary:

 

To inform Cabinet of the progress to date on the projects which make up the approved Capital Budget and to report the latest position on capital resources.

 

Recommendations:

 

1.         That Cabinet notes the progress made to date on the 2016/17 Capital Programme.

 

2.         That Cabinet notes the current position on the Capital Prudential Indicators, as shown in Appendix C to the report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members endorsed the recommendations in the report.

SD (IS)

14.

Treasury Management Report 2016/2017 pdf icon PDF 111 KB

Summary:

 

1.         To inform Cabinet of the investment performance of the Council’s internally and externally managed funds to 30 September 2016.

 

2.         To update the Treasury Indicators for the six months to 30 September 2016.

 

Recommendations:

 

1.         That Cabinet notes the investment performance of the Council’s funds.

 

2.         That Cabinet notes the half-year position of the Council’s Treasury Indicators.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members endorsed the recommendations in the report.

SD (IS)

15.

Ombudsman - Annual Review of Complaints 2015 - 2016 pdf icon PDF 50 KB

Summary:

 

To inform Cabinet of the Ombudsman’s Annual Review of Complaints 2015 - 2016.

 

Recommendation:

 

That Cabinet notes the Ombudsman’s Annual Review of Complaints 2015 - 2016 at Appendix A to the report and the corresponding data tables for the Council, at pages 24 and 37 of Appendix A to the report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members endorsed the recommendations in the report.