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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 P Cutler, B K Kaini, 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:

 

11.       Proposal for Public Spaces Protection Order

 

13.       Draft Local Lettings Plan for Hill View

 

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

 

12.       Dartford Borough Council Code of Corporate Governance 2017

 

14.       Calendar of Meetings of the General Assembly of the Council, Cabinet, Committees and Boards

 

15.       National Non-Domestic Discretionary Rate Relief 2017/18

 

16.       Write-off of National Non-Domestic Rates

 

17.       Housing Benefit Overpayment Write-off

 

18.       Appointment of 4th Independent Member to the Deed, Trust and Obligations Committee

 

19.       Street Naming and Numbering - Northfleet West Sub Station - Phase 1C

5.

Declarations of Interest on Items Reserved 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.

Minutes:

There were no references from Committees.

SD (ES)

7.

Dartford Town Centre Transport and Public Realm Improvements pdf icon PDF 87 KB

Summary:

 

1.         This is a Key Decision as the Council will incur expenditure or savings beyond the threshold agreed by the Council.

 

2.         This report sets out initial steps for carrying out physical improvements to the transport network and public realm in Dartford Town Centre.  Further reports will be brought to Cabinet in due course regarding design of the scheme, public consultation arrangements and a programme of works.

 

3.         The background strategy, funding and policy framework to carry out the improvements around the town, initially focussing on the Market Street area are set out in this report.  It also sets out the proposed procurement route for the required consultancy and principles of agreements to work with Kent County Council to deliver the project.

 

Recommendations:

 

1.         That the Managing Director in consultation with the Leader of the Council be granted delegated authority to agree the final brief for the design commission, in line with the general principles of the Draft Brief, at Appendix A to the report. 

 

2.         That the Managing Director in consultation with the Leader of the Council be granted delegated authority to enter into funding agreements with Kent County Council and the Homes and Communities Agency, on terms to be agreed with the Head of Legal Services.

 

3.         That the Managing Director in consultation with the Leader of the Council be granted delegated authority to enter into a Partnership Agreement with Kent County Council to undertake the project management, financial and technical aspects of the scheme, on terms to be agreed with the Head of Legal Services.

 

4.         That an Officer Project Board be established between Kent County Council and Dartford Borough Council to manage and monitor the design consultancy and agree the financial, project management and technical aspects of the scheme.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

This report set out the initial steps required in order that physical improvements may be made to the transport network and public realm in Dartford Town Centre. The background strategy, funding and policy framework to carry out the improvements around the town, initially focussing on the Market Street area, are described in the report, together with the proposed procurement route for the required consultancy, and principles of agreements to work with Kent County Council to deliver the project.

 

  • The Heritage, Events and Projects Manager advised that £7.7m had already been agreed for the improvement work and said that it was hoped that this would increase to £12m if a bid for additional funding was approved. He said that the work would take 3 to 5 years to complete and that environmental improvements in the Market Street area would take place first, which would tie in with the plans that had been put forward for the Acacia site.

 

  • In response to a question the Heritage, Events and Projects Manager confirmed that consultants would be looking at bus routes as part of their brief and that any changes suggested would be taken into consideration.

 

  • Members welcomed the proposed review of parking controls as it was felt that some of the congestion on the ring-road is caused by those who drive in and park in residential streets. Members then asked why the current ring-road traffic system was remaining unchanged given the congestion that can occur, even when there are no problems at the Dartford Crossing. In response the Heritage, Events and Projects Manager said that although there were no plans to change the current ring-road traffic system the phasing of traffic signals would be reviewed with a view to improving traffic flow, and changes to junction layouts could also be considered as part of the overall brief. He also confirmed that the Joint Transportation Board would be given an opportunity to comment on any proposed traffic/transport related changes.

 

  • Members noted how the recommendation 2.1 delegated responsibility for the agreement of the final brief for the design commission to the Managing Director in consultation with the Leader of the Council and felt that there was a lack of Member oversight and that they should have more involvement in the review and design stage. The Heritage, Events and Projects Manager said that the recommendations in the report would allow the management of the project to be progressed and that there was no intention to remove control from Members. He also noted how it was intended that parts of the overall scheme’s design would be presented to Members as the project progressed with the proposals for Market Street coming first.

 

  • During further discussion there was a general view that Members should have more involvement in the design and review process and that the Joint Transportation Board, or maybe a separate working group, should be asked to consider and review any planned proposals.

 

SD (ES)

8.

Consultation on Ebbsfleet Implementation Framework pdf icon PDF 161 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 is responding to the request by the Ebbsfleet Development Corporation (EDC) to endorse the Ebbsfleet Implementation Framework as compliant with the Council’s policy framework (Local Plan) so that it can be used as a material consideration in EDC planning decisions. The report addresses the key issues that the Council previously raised on the draft Ebbsfleet Implementation Framework and the response from the EDC.

 

Recommendation:

 

That the EDC be advised:

 

1.      That Dartford Council gives its support to the Ebbsfleet Implementation Framework dated November 2016 for providing clarity with regard to the integrated master planning of the whole of the EDC area.

 

2.      That the Council endorses the Ebbsfleet Implementation Framework as guidance for pre-application discussions with developers and a material consideration in determining planning applications but with primacy given to Dartford’s Local Plan and Supplementary Planning Documents where there is a conflict between the documents and as a basis for the comprehensive identification of policy requirements.

 

3.      That the Council considers there are some specific areas of non-compliance between the Ebbsfleet Implementation Framework and the Council’s planning policy framework, as set out in Table 1 and paragraph 3.16 of this report but will seek to assist the EDC in resolving these issues when proposals come forward.

 

4.      That endorsement of the Ebbsfleet Implementation Framework does not imply acceptability of some of the proposals or information shown outside of the EDC area.

Minutes:

This report responded to the request by the Ebbsfleet Development Corporation (EDC) to endorse the Ebbsfleet Implementation Framework (EIF) as compliant with the Council’s policy framework (Local Plan) so that it could be used as a material consideration in EDC planning decisions. The report addressed the key issues that the Council had previously raised on the draft EIF and the response from the EDC.

 

  • The Development Manager advised that the EIF set out a vision for the Garden City and had been written to assist developers when preparing their plans. She noted how it had not been subject to formal assessment/examination and drew Members’ attention to the inconsistencies that had been identified when comparing it to Dartford’s Local Plan. She said that the report recommended endorsement of the EIF but noted that Dartford’s Local Plan and Supplementary Planning Documents took primacy where areas of conflict had been identified.

 

  • Members welcomed the fact that the EIF’s view of parking requirements had been highlighted as it was felt that car ownership restrictions could cause problems for the future.

 

  • Members expressed disappointment at the fact that EDC’s and Dartford’s documents did not align and questioned why there was a need to endorse the Framework document. The Development Manager replied that there were a number of Masterplans for various parts of the overall Garden City and that the EIF attempted to join them in a coherent way so that it may be used as material consideration when future plans are prepared by developers.

 

  • A number of Members referred to the areas of conflict and the impact that the differences might have on residents who already live near to the areas under development. There was concern at the comments that had been made in relation to the supporting road network and parking requirements. They also noted that EDC had not fully addressed the concerns that had been raised when a previous version of the EIF had been reviewed and suggested that further meetings were required to discuss and resolve these differences before the document could be endorsed.

 

  • Other Members noted how the Local Plan and its supporting documentation took primacy when planning applications were being considered, and also noted that a Dartford Borough Councillor sat on the Board which considered Ebbsfleet planning applications and were sure that he would ensure that the Board used Dartford’s Local Plan where conflicts had been identified. The Development Manager noted the caveat that had been included in the recommendation that asks for endorsement of the EIF and said that developers were being made aware of the need to adhere to Dartford’s Local Plan.

 

  • During further discussion it was noted how any decision to deviate from Dartford’s Local Plan would need to be fully justified. The Development Manager also advised that the EIF had already been adopted by EDC in November 2016, and was not aware that it was to undergo any further changes, but again emphasised that officers were satisfied that Dartford’s Local Plan would always be given primacy  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

SD (ES)

9.

Consultation on the Government's Proposal to Create a Social Housing Regulator as an Independent Body pdf icon PDF 50 KB

Summary:

 

1.         This report brings to Members’ attention the Government’s consultation paper on using a legislative reform order to establish the social housing regulator as an independent body.

 

2.         This report summarises the proposals in the consultation paper and sets out the Council’s suggested response to the consultation. 

 

Recommendation:

 

That Cabinet approves the proposed response to the consultation, as set out in Appendix A to the report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

This report drew Members’ attention to the Government’s consultation paper on using a legislative reform order to establish the social housing regulator as an independent body. It summarised the proposals in the consultation paper and set out the Council’s suggested response to the consultation. 

 

  • The Head of Housing referred to the proposed Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) role change, which would transfer responsibility for social housing regulation to an independent body, and said that it had followed a review which had highlighted a conflict of interest relating to the allocation of funding to registered providers. He noted that the proposed change would have little impact on the Council’s Housing Service but did affect residents and said that as it seemed to be a sensible proposal the proposed response echoed that view.

 

  • The Advisory Panel endorsed the report’s recommendations.

SD (ES)

10.

Funding for Supported Housing - Consultation pdf icon PDF 50 KB

Summary:

 

This report draws to Members’ attention the Government’s consultation paper on the funding of supported housing and summarises the proposals in the consultation paper and sets out the Council’s suggested response to the consultation. 

 

Recommendations:

 

1.         That Cabinet approves the proposed response to the consultation, as set out in Appendix A to the report.

 

2.         That Cabinet agree to the sharing of the approved response with other Kent Authorities to provide a joint response to Government. 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

This report drew Members’ attention to the Government’s consultation paper on the funding of supported housing, summarised the proposals in the consultation paper, and set out the Council’s suggested response to the consultation. 

 

  • The Head of Housing said that as welfare reform changed the benefits system it was important that support was provided to those in the community considered to be most vulnerable. He noted how other client groups apart from the elderly benefited from the specialist support services that are being provided but noted how the Council’s response focused mainly on the impact that the change would have on those residents who are housed in the Council’s 14 supported housing units. He referred to the complicated way that funding was allocated and stressed the importance of ensuring that funding opportunities were not missed. He said that details of the proposed changes were still being defined and noted that the Council was participating in the task and finish groups that had been formed to review the proposals. He referred to the concerns that had been expressed in relation to the levels of funding, the fact that the funding should reflect the needs of the individual, and the accountancy system changes. He also emphasised the importance of devolving responsibility for funding to second tier authorities so that there is local control over the delivery of essential local services.

 

  • Members welcomed the well-structured response and the concerns that had been raised in relation to the complicated funding model.

 

  • The Advisory Panel endorsed the report’s recommendations.

SD (ES)

11.

Proposal for Public Spaces Protection Order pdf icon PDF 79 KB

Summary:

 

1.         This report sets out a proposal to implement Part 4, Section 59 of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 to make a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO), to supress the growing incidents of crime and anti-social behaviour occurring principally during the night – time economy hours in Dartford Town Centre.

 

2.         This report also proposes that the existing Town Centre Designated Public Place Order is replaced by the PSPO. There no other relevant orders within the proposed area.

 

Recommendations:

 

1.         That on being satisfied that the anti-social behaviour activities detailed in paras.3.15 and 3.16 of the report are having, or be likely to have, a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the locality, are persistent or continuing nature and unreasonable, the Strategic Director (External Services) be authorised to commence the statutory consultation to enable the Council to make a Public Spaces Protection Order prohibiting anti-social behaviour associated with the consumption of alcohol, misuse of substances and associated vehicle nuisance on terms set out in Appendix A to the report to apply to specific areas of Dartford Town Centre as shown on the Map at Appendix B.

 

2.         That, should recommendation 2.1 be approved, a second report be presented to Cabinet which takes into account the outcome of the consultation process with a view to seeking authority for the Head of Legal Services to make the Public Spaces Protection Order for a period of three years.

 

3.         That it be noted that the extant Designated Public Place Protection Order will expire on the making of the Public Spaces Protection Order.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

This report set out a proposal to implement Part 4, Section 59 of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 to make a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO), to supress the growing incidents of crime and anti-social behaviour occurring, principally during the night – time economy hours in Dartford Town Centre. It also proposed that the existing Town Centre Designated Public Place Order be incorporated within the PSPO.

 

  • The Community Safety Manager advised that the powers had not been used by Dartford before and that they would be used to deal with problems in nuisance areas. He said that they can be used to prohibit someone from behaving, or compel them to behave, in a particular way and that breaches of the order would be dealt with by way of a Fixed Penalty Notice. He said that the report was seeking approval to carry out a consultation to see if the proposed introduction of this Order had public support and that, if supported, would be returned to Cabinet for their final approval prior to its implementation.

 

  • Members referred to the consultation process and asked that Cabinet consider sending the consultation document to all residents within the defined boundary to ensure that they are all aware of the proposals and are given an opportunity to respond.

 

  • Members referred to the current Community Safety Plan, and the levels of anti-social behaviour currently being experienced, and asked how this new Order would fit in. The Community Safety Manager replied that a reassessment of the current Plan was currently being carried out and that, as particular problems are identified, proposals are put forward to tackle them in the most effective way. He noted how there were known problems in the Town Centre and this Order was being proposed as a way of addressing those problems.

 

  • Members then discussed enforcement and referred to the types of offence that needed to be addressed and, having referred to associated concerns that had been expressed by residents, questioned whether there were enough resources to enable the Order to be used effectively. The Community Safety Manager agreed that this was a key issue. He then described how creative strategies would be used to enable the Order to be enforced, such as the capturing of car registration numbers on CCTV for later follow up. He also referred to other existing legislation that can be used in conjunction with this new Order to address crime and anti-social behaviour. In response to further discussion related to resourcing and the number of incidents that were known to currently occur the Strategic Director (External Services) confirmed that there were no current plans to increase resourcing levels.

 

  • It was also suggested that vandalism be included in the list of ‘other forms of anti-social behaviour’ as a specific area that should be covered by the Order.

 

  • In response to questions relating to the consultation process the Community Safety Manager confirmed that the police would be a consultee for the Order. The Strategic Director (External Services)  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.

SD (IS)

12.

Dartford Borough Council Code of Corporate Governance 2017 pdf icon PDF 51 KB

Summary:

 

To agree an updated Code of Corporate Governance and the arrangements for the preparation and approval of the Annual Governance Statement.

 

Recommendation:

 

That the Code of Corporate Governance 2017, attached as Appendix A to the report, be approved.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members endorsed the recommendations in the report.

SD (ES)

13.

Draft Local Lettings Plan for Hill View pdf icon PDF 50 KB

Summary:

 

This report seeks approval for a local lettings plan to be implemented for the Council’s new build housing  development at Hill View, Temple Hill.

 

Recommendation:

 

That the draft Local Lettings Plan attached at Appendix A to the report be approved.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

This report sought approval for a local lettings plan to be implemented for the Council’s new build housing  development at Hill View, Temple Hill.

 

  • The Head of Housing noted how the new Lettings Plan included responsibilities that were already largely contained in tenancy agreements and explained how they had been included so that the Council’s expectations, in terms of behaviour, could be reinforced by setting them out in a clear and transparent way. He also noted the requirement for tenants to be registered on the electoral roll if eligible, and anticipated that the first tenants would move in at the end of March or early April.

 

  • Members referred to the existing Allocations Policy and asked why this could not be used, or modified to include the criteria outlined in the Lettings Plan. The Head of Housing replied that the new Plan would enable different priorities to be considered when allocating properties on particular sites. He said that, in this case, priority would be given to those existing tenants who were looking to downsize or transfer and explained how this would allow better use to be made of the properties vacated by these two client groups to house those currently on the waiting list or in temporary accommodation. He also noted the length of time that a review, and associated statutory consultation, of changes to existing policies would take and said that legislation allowed for a Local Lettings Plan to be quickly created.

 

  • The Head of Housing invited Members to attend when the official opening takes place to see the quality of the accommodation being offered. He also re-emphasised that the properties would be advertised in the normal way on Kent Homechoice so that existing tenants would be able to bid for them, which would then create movement in the social housing market behind those moves.

 

  • In response to a question the Head of Housing confirmed that consideration would be given to applying a similar approach to building conversions, and the other new build projects that are in the pipeline, and said that this Lettings Plan could be used as a template with the target client group changed if considered appropriate. He also emphasised the need to follow statutory legislation and said that each Plan would look to maximise the benefits that can be delivered to those with a housing need.

 

  • Members questioned whether this approach might be seen as unfair but in response the Head of Housing said that he did not agree as the homes that are being vacated as part of this process (as transfer and downsize cases are moved into the new units) will go to those in most need who are on the waiting list or are in temporary accommodation, so there is no net loss. He also reconfirmed that the accommodation would go to Dartford residents and not to those from outside of the Borough.

 

SD (IS)

14.

Calendar of Meetings of the General Assembly of the Council, Cabinet, Committees and Boards pdf icon PDF 52 KB

Summary

 

To seek Members’ views on the proposed calendar of meetings for 2017/18 and the provisional calendar for 2018/19.

 

Recommendation:

 

That the proposed calendar of meetings for 2017/18 and the provisional calendar of meetings for 2018/19 be submitted to the Annual Meeting of the Council.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members endorsed the recommendations in the report.

SD (IS)

15.

National Non-Domestic Discretionary Rate Relief 2017/18 pdf icon PDF 72 KB

Summary:

 

To consider granting discretionary rate relief to ratepayers who have made applications in respect of 2017/18.

 

Recommendations:

 

1.         That the level of discretionary rate relief for 2017/18 for the organisations listed in Appendix A to the report be determined in accordance with the detailed recommendations set out in that Appendix.

 

2.         That the amendments (as prescribed by legislation) to the Small Business Rate Relief scheme at Appendix B to the report, be effective from 1 April 2017.

 

3.         That the changes to the criteria for granting discretionary rural rate relief as outlined in paragraphs 3.7 to 3.9 of this report and as detailed in Appendix C to the report, be approved.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members endorsed the recommendations in the report.

SD (IS)

16.

Write-off of National Non-Domestic Rates pdf icon PDF 61 KB

Summary:

 

To consider writing-off Non Domestic Rate debts where it has not been possible to obtain payment because of insolvency, because the ratepayer cannot be traced or where the debt is otherwise irrecoverable.

 

Recommendation:

 

That the sums shown on Appendix A in the confidential part of the report, amounting to £123,044.38, be written off as uncollectible.

Minutes:

Members endorsed the recommendations in the report.

SD (IS)

17.

Housing Benefit Overpayment Write-off pdf icon PDF 55 KB

Summary:

 

To consider the write-off of a Housing Benefit overpayment where recovery is prohibited, is not considered appropriate or where the customer has absconded.

 

Recommendation:

 

That the sum of £17,864.60, shown in Appendix A to the report on the closed part of the agenda, be written off as irrecoverable.

Minutes:

Members endorsed the recommendations in the report.

SD (IS)

18.

Appointment of 4th Independent Member to the Deed, Trust and Obligations Committee pdf icon PDF 50 KB

Summary:

 

To inform the Cabinet of the outcome of the interviews for the appointment of a 4th Independent Member to the Deed, Trust and Obligations Committee to replace Mrs Elissia Evans, and to seek approval to the appointment of Mr A. R. Martin as detailed in the report.

 

Recommendation:

 

That the appointment of a 4th Independent Member (voting co-optee) to the Deed, Trust and Obligations Committee recommended by the interview panel held on 4 January 2017, be approved, for an initial period of one year and subsequently confirmed annually at the Annual Meeting.

Minutes:

Members endorsed the recommendations in the report.

SD (IS)

19.

Street Naming and Numbering - Northfleet West Sub Station - Phase 1C pdf icon PDF 49 KB

Summary:

 

To approve two new road names for Phase 1C of the development at the former Northfleet West Sub Station site.

 

Recommendation:

 

That the two new road names of Mortimer and Talbot be approved for Phase 1C of the Northfleet West Sub Station site.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members endorsed the recommendations in the report.

SD (IS)

20.

Write-off of National Non-Domestic Rates - Exempt Appendix A
(Exempt Category SO 46 (1) (b) Annex 1 Paragraph 3)

Minutes:

Member noted the contents of this Appendix.

SD (IS)

21.

Housing Benefit Overpayment Write-off - Exempt Appendix A
(Exempt Category SO 46 (1) (b) Annex 1 Paragraphs 1 & 3)

Minutes:

Member noted the contents of this Appendix.