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Agenda and draft 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. In particular he welcomed Andrea Wright, Senior Policy Planner to her first meeting of the Panel.

 

The Chairman advised the Panel that item 9 on the agenda, Stone Lodge Rugby Facility, was not available for consideration at the meeting.

2.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Brown, Cutler, Kaini and T A Maddison.

 

Councillor J Jones attended as substitute for Councillor Maddison.

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:

 

10.      Changes to Environmental Health Out of Hours Service

 

11.      Objections to Dartford Borough Council (Off-Street Parking Places) Order 2018

 

12.      Corporate Plan - Key Actions and Performance Indicators Monitoring Report

 

 

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

 

13.      Report of Delegated Action Taken Under Standing Order 38: Response to A2 Bean and Ebbsfleet Junction Improvements Statutory Public Consultation

 

14.      Report of Delegated Action Taken Under Standing Order 38: Howbury Strategic Rail Freight Interchange

 

15.      Minutes of the Policy Overview Meeting held on 20 March 2018

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 other Committees.

SD (ES)

7.

Strategic Issues Consultation for a New Local Plan pdf icon PDF 117 KB

Summary:

 

To undertake a first consultation for a new Local Plan, based on a discussion paper on potential strategic issues.

 

Recommendations:

 

1.         That a first stage public consultation be held for a six week period starting in early June on a Strategic Issues consultation paper.

 

2.         That delegated authority for insertion of hyperlinks and illustrations, for layout,  formatting and table amendments, and for typographic and non-material minor editing refinements, to Appendix A to the report be delegated to the Planning Policy Manager in written consultation with Cllr Hunnisett (Local Plan Members Working Group Chairman) in order to finalise presentation of the Strategic Issues consultation paper.

 

3.         That the Core Strategy Review: Policy Monitoring report, the Local Development Scheme, and 2018 Five Year Housing Land Supply report be approved (Appendices B to D to the report).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

This report asked that a first consultation be undertaken for a new Local Plan, based on a discussion paper on potential strategic issues.

 

  • The Planning Policy Manager explained that this was the first stage public consultation to be held for a six week period starting in early June on a Strategic Issues consultation paper He explained that the government now expected all Local Plans that were more than 5 years old to be reviewed and that Dartford’s Local Plan had been adopted in 2011. He described the changes that had taken place in terms of the planning in recent years, most notably the National Planning Policy Framework, national planning principles and the introduction of wider environmental/building legislation, and explained that there had been a strong uplift in new housebuilding in recent years allied with the creation of new business premises and jobs. At the same time there had been considerable success in prompting the regeneration of sites in the north of the borough whilst protecting the Green Belt. All the major brownfield and development areas had commenced.   There was therefore a need to think ahead and to develop a new Local Plan. The programme for the review was set out in Appendix C to the report.

 

·         The purpose of the consultation was to set out to infrastructure providers, landowners and local authorities Dartford’s current priorities and the likely future needs of the Borough; focussing on long-term development matters relevant to the Local Plan; taking views on the implications of past and future changes to national planning policy; to enable feedback to be given on the Core Strategy and its implementation and to gather comments on priority actions for local planning strategy. This was the first stage of the consultation process and would inform the technical details which would be subject to further consultation.

 

·         A Member welcomed the consultation and said that he felt that the questions were open and broad enough to encourage a range of responses from stakeholders but that he couldn’t see a clear formal mechanism for Members to comment on the form and substance of the responses to the consultation. Whilst community groups and the Parish Forum would be briefed there was no similar opportunity for input from Borough Council members and Parish Councillors would actually have a greater opportunity to input their views. 

 

·         The Chairman reminded Members that although this was the first stage of consultation this matter had already been considered by the Local Plan Members Working Group which would continue to have an input. The Planning Policy Manager confirmed that the outcome of the consultation would be considered by the Member Working Group and that detailed option would be worked up through that Group for presentation to the Cabinet. A Member also commented that he would expect the Development Control Board would also have an input. A Member supported the view that there should be a more formal mechanism for Borough Councillors to have an input to the review as he regarded the Local  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

SD (ES)

8.

Response to Consultation on Powers for Dealing with Unauthorised Development and Encampments pdf icon PDF 71 KB

Summary:

 

1.         This report brings to Members’ attention the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), Home Office and Ministry of Justice consultation regarding powers for dealing with unauthorised development and encampments.

 

2.         This report summarises the draft responses to the consultation questions. MHCLG acknowledge that there have been long-standing concerns about the issue of unauthorised development and encampments. These were most recently voiced during the debate in the House of Commons on 9 October 2017, when the Government heard strong views that, in spite of a range of powers already in place, unauthorised development and encampments remain a significant issue which causes genuine difficulties for communities.

 

Recommendation:

 

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

This report brought to Members’ attention the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), Home Office and Ministry of Justice consultation regarding powers for dealing with unauthorised development and encampments and summarised the draft responses to the consultation questions.

 

  • The Enforcement and Regulatory Services Manager advised Members that dealing with unauthorised encampments had been an increasing challenge in recent years and that, in his opinion, existing powers to deal with this required updating. In spite of the range of powers in place unauthorised encampments and unauthorised development remained a significant issue which caused genuine difficulties for communities.

 

·         He further advised Members that the Council had been ‘on the front foot’ and the Council took the approach that it would not tolerate unauthorised encampments and would follow proper process to effect the removal of unauthorised encampments from Council land. As a result the ‘dwell time’ for unauthorised encampments in Dartford was the shortest of any of the Kent authorities and Dartford Borough Council had been successful in giving out a clear message that it was a ‘hostile environment’ for unauthorised encampments.

 

·         Members welcomed the efforts of the Council and the Enforcement and Regulatory Services Team and the successes in dealing with unauthorised encampments. Some clarification was sought on the offences described in question 2 of the response to the consultation and also to the resulting costs listed. The Enforcement and Regulatory Services Manager explained that the information listed in the table in answer to question 2 of the consultation only related to unauthorised encampments and did not include work arising from cases of unauthorised development. He also confirmed that as soon as someone illegally trespassed or occupied land without the owners’ consent they were committing an offence and often, in his experience, resorted to criminal damage in order to gain access to the land.  The costs described were the costs of clearing the site after the unauthorised visitors had left the site and did not include the cost of officer time incurred in the Enforcement and Regulatory Services team in dealing with the case.

 

·         A Member asked whether it was possible to recoup some of this cost by fines arising from the prosecution of the travellers who had caused the fly tip. The Enforcement and Regulatory Services Manager said that c14,000 had been raised in this way during the past year but admitted that prosecuting the perpetrators of unauthorised encampments was particularly challenging not just for the Council but also for the Police and the Environment Agency.

 

·         Members endorsed the recommendations in the report and congratulated the Enforcement and Regulatory Services Manager and his team on their work in dealing with unauthorised encampments.  

SD (IS)

9.

Stone Lodge Rugby Facility pdf icon PDF 28 KB

To follow

 

Summary:

 

To consider acceptance of tender bids received for the construction of the facility.

Minutes:

This item was not available for consideration at this meeting.

SD (ES)

10.

Changes to Environmental Health Out of Hours Service pdf icon PDF 106 KB

Summary:

 

The report proposes changes to the out of hours’ service provided by Environmental Health that will better target resources whilst also making the service more accessible to residents.

 

Recommendation:

 

That Members endorse the recommendations set out in the report.

Minutes:

The report proposed changes to the out of hours’ service provided by Environmental Health that would better target resources whilst also making the service more accessible to residents. The Out of Hours (OOH) service was currently delivered under a shared service arrangement with Sevenoaks District Council and operated to the hours previously operated by the Sevenoaks OOH service. The OOH Service currently received an average of 180 calls per annum relating to Dartford and the demand for the service varied significantly throughout the year and by the day of the week with the majority of calls being received between May and October between 18.00 and midnight on Friday and Saturday and on Sunday 10.00-12.00. This meant that an average of less than one call per week fell outside of the OOH service hours that Dartford had operated before entering into the shared service arrangement. Many of the calls received were not urgent, did not require immediate action and could be managed the next working day. Following a review of the service and consideration by Sevenoaks District Council Cabinet it was proposed that the OOH service should be targeted at times of peak demand as per the previous Dartford service, but offered throughout the year.  The pattern of demand and the departure of several experienced officers throughout the year also pointed to a need for change. It was also proposed to take the opportunity to deploy new technology to enhance and extend access to the service. The proposed changes to the OOH service would not affect the response to the most serious or emergency public health complaints. 

 

  • A Member sought clarification on how the Council classified a call as not being urgent and was given some examples by the Strategic Director (External Services). Anything that an OOH Service Officer could not deal with at the time of the complaint was likely to be considered as non-urgent and would be dealt with the next day by letter. It was accepted that residents often wanted an immediate resolution but this was often beyond the powers of the officers or impractical.

 

·         A Member asked whether there was a reason for the departure of experienced staff and noted that staff received time off in lieu of payment for working out of hours. He wondered whether paying them instead might improve staff retention. The Strategic Director (External Services) said that one officer had changed role and another was on maternity leave and two officers had left. She explained that participating in the OOH service did take a toll on officer’s personal life as officers were regularly on call for a 7 day period. In terms of payment she considered that this was unlikely to be a major factor and in any event staff were paid a standby fee for being on the OOH rota.

 

·         A Member noted that this matter had already been considered by the Sevenoaks Cabinet and asked what would happen if Dartford’s Cabinet took a different view on the changes to the OOH  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.

SD (ES)

11.

Objections to Dartford Borough Council (Off-Street Parking Places) Order 2018 pdf icon PDF 69 KB

Summary:

 

1.         New hours of operation for some of the Council’s car parks and the introduction of parking management in two facilities, one new (The Grove, Swanscombe) and one existing (Highfield Road (South)), were proposed and the applicable fees and charges approved as part of the Council’s GAC (Budget) on 26th February 2018. However, objections were received for the introduction of parking management in the Council’s ‘Highfield Road (South) Car Park’ during the Order making process.

 

2.         This report summarises the results of the statutory traffic regulation order consultation undertaken from 15th March to 5th April 2018.

 

Recommendation:

 

That Cabinet consider objections received to the Dartford Borough Council (Off-street Parking Places) Order 2018 and determine how to proceed.

Minutes:

New hours of operation for some of the Council’s car parks and the introduction of parking management in two facilities, one new (The Grove, Swanscombe) and one existing (Highfield Road (South)), were proposed and the applicable fees and charges approved as part of the Council’s GAC (Budget) on 26th February 2018. However, objections had been received for the introduction of parking management in the Council’s ‘Highfield Road (South) Car Park’ during the Order making process. This report summarised the results of the statutory traffic regulation order consultation undertaken from 15th March to 5th April 2018.

 

  • The Principal Transport Planner informed Members that the new hours of operation for some of the Council’s car parks and the introduction of parking management arrangements at The Grove, Swanscombe (at the request of Swanscombe and Greenhithe Town Council) and Highfield Road (South) had arisen as part of a management review of parking due to the loss of parking provision in the town centre due to development. The change from an unmanaged (free) car park in Highfield Road (South) had been included in the fees and charges included in the report to the GAC (Budget) meeting in February 2018. A statutory consultation had been carried out for the Dartford Borough Council (Off-street Parking Places) Order 2018 and 4 objections had been received against the management of the Highfield Road (South) Car Park. One was from a local resident, one from a local commuter and two from local councillors who submitted a joint response.

 

·         A Member asked why there had not been a consultation on the proposals before the decision on fees was taken at the GAC (Budget) meeting rather than after the order had been made and also questioned why there had been a need for a parking review given the excess parking capacity at Acacia Hall. The Principal Transport Planner explained that this had been looked at as part of a wider management review of parking in the town centre which had focussed on ‘factors on the ground’. The Highfield Road (South) car park was only used by around 50 people and there had only been 2 objections from users. A Member said that just because there had been a low response rate to the consultation this did not mean that the proposal was supported and in fact he felt that the consultation had not been widely known about in the locality and that the signs that were on display were easy to miss. He asked whether there had been any modelling carried out to look at the likely displacement of parking from the car park to local roads. The Principal Transport Planner said that consideration had been given to the impact on local roads but parking on the Tree Estate was primarily by residents rather than by commuters and there was unlikely to be displacement as a result. This was disputed by a Member who said that there was in fact use by commuters and also that he did not  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.

SD (IS)

12.

Corporate Plan - Key Actions and Performance Indicators Monitoring Report pdf icon PDF 54 KB

Summary:

 

This report provides the progress with the latest set of Corporate Plan key actions and performance indicators for quarter 4 of 2017-18.

 

Recommendation:

 

That Members note the contents of the key action and performance indicator monitoring reports attached at Appendices A and B. to the report 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

This report described the progress being made with latest set of Corporate Plan key actions and performance indicators for quarter 4 of 2017-18.

 

  • A Member said that he had drawn down the report for discussion as he had been concerned to see the apparent increase in the number of fly tipping incidents which seemed to have risen from 159 cases in 2016/17 to 2,560 incidents in 2017/18.

 

·         The Enforcement and Regulatory Services Manager said that this was due to a change in what was being reported. Prior to April 2017 only significant/major instances of fly tipping were reported but since that time all instances, however minor, were being reported in the performance indicator as this was felt to give a better reflection of the extent of the issue and cost. The Strategic Director (External Services) said that the total number of instances of fly tipping in 2015/16 had been 2,488, the total in 2016/17 was 2,594 and the total in 2017/18 was 2,560 so the totals were broadly the same. She also questioned whether it was practical to have a target for fly tipping as this was beyond the Council’s control.

 

·         A Member said that whilst he appreciated that position he was concerned that a number of performance indicators no longer contained targets and he felt that there might be a need to revisit the optics of the performance indicator report so that Members had a clear view of the direction of travel. He also suggested that the Cabinet might consider splitting the current performance indicator for fly tipping into two indicators, one for all instances of fly tipping and the other confined to only those significant/major cases.

 

·         In response to a comment the Enforcement and Regulatory Services Manager informed Members that the Council had been very active in using its powers in relation to fly tipping and was investigating 350-400 cases per annum which had resulted in 227 successful prosecutions in the past year. These were reported in the monthly performance indicators considered by officers. However he felt that there was also a wider need to educate the public as there was evidence of unscrupulous private Waste Disposal operatives preying on naïve customers to dispose of their waste which often came to light during investigations and confirmed that this had been fed back to DEFRA within the context of a previous consultation. Members agreed that there was a need for a degree of public education in this respect but also felt that the current rules on what waste could be taken to Waste Recycling and Disposal Centre by the public encouraged fly tipping.

 

·         The Strategic Director (External Services) advised Members that a report on the ‘Fly Tipping and Bulky Waste Collection Service Review’ would be considered by the Policy Overview Committee at its meeting on 12 June.    

 

·         The Advisory Panel endorsed the recommendations in the report.

SD (ES)

13.

Report of Delegated Action Taken Under Standing Order 38: Response to A2 Bean and Ebbsfleet Junction Improvements Statutory Public Consultation pdf icon PDF 48 KB

Summary:

 

To report to Cabinet, in accordance with the requirements of Standing Order 38(2)(b), the delegated action taken under Standing Order 38(2)(a) by the Managing Director, in consultation with the Cabinet Chairman, in relation to the Council’s response to the Highways England statutory public consultation on proposed improvements to the A2 Bean and Ebbsfleet junction.

 

Recommendation:

 

That Cabinet note the action taken by the Managing Director, in consultation with the Cabinet Chairman, under Standing Order 38(2)(a), in relation to the Council’s response to the Highways England statutory public consultation on proposed improvements to the A2 Bean and Ebbsfleet junction.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

This report advised Cabinet, in accordance with the requirements of Standing Order 38(2)(b), of the delegated action taken under Standing Order 38(2)(a) by the Managing Director, in consultation with the Cabinet Chairman, in relation to the Council’s response to the Highways England statutory public consultation on proposed improvements to the A2 Bean and Ebbsfleet junction.

 

  • Members endorsed the recommendation in the report.

SD (ES)

14.

Report of Delegated Action Taken Under Standing Order 38: Howbury Strategic Rail Freight Interchange pdf icon PDF 50 KB

Summary:

 

To report to Cabinet, in accordance with the requirements of Standing Order 38(2)(b), the delegated action taken under Standing Order 38(2)(a) by the Managing Director, in consultation with the Cabinet Chairman, in relation to the staff resource implications and related costs of defending the Council’s refusal of the planning application for the Howbury Strategic Rail Freight Interchange at Public Inquiry.

 

Recommendation:

 

That Cabinet note the action taken by the Managing Director, in consultation with the Cabinet Chairman, under Standing Order 38(2)(a), in relation to the staff resource implications and related costs of defending the Council’s refusal of the planning application for the Howbury Strategic Rail Freight Interchange at Public Inquiry.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

This report advised Cabinet, in accordance with the requirements of Standing Order 38(2)(b), of the delegated action taken under Standing Order 38(2)(a) by the Managing Director, in consultation with the Cabinet Chairman, in relation to the staff resource implications and related costs of defending the Council’s refusal of the planning application for the Howbury Strategic Rail Freight Interchange at Public Inquiry.

 

·         Members endorsed the recommendation in the report.

SD (IS)

15.

Minutes of the Policy Overview Meeting held on 20 March 2018 pdf icon PDF 42 KB

 

Summary:

 

To present to Cabinet the minutes of the meeting of the Policy Overview Committee held on 20 March 2018.

 

Recommendation:

 

That the minutes of the meeting of the Policy Overview Committee held on 20 March 2018, be considered and noted.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

This report presented to Cabinet the minutes of the meeting of the Policy Overview Committee held on 20 March 2018.

 

·         Members noted the minutes of the Policy Overview Committee held on 20 March 2018.

SD (IS)

16.

Stone Lodge Rugby Facility - Exempt Appendix A
(Exempt Category SO 46 (1) (b) Annex 1 Paragraph 3)

To follow

Minutes:

This item was not available for consideration at this meeting.

SD (ES)

17.

Report of Delegated Action Taken Under Standing Order 38: Howbury Strategic Rail Freight Interchange - Exempt Appendix A
(Exempt Category SO 46 (1) (b) Annex 1 Paragraph 3)

Minutes:

Members noted the content of this Appendix.

18.

Alan Stoneham

Minutes:

The Advisory Panel recorded its thanks to Alan Stoneham who had diligently and accurately serviced Cabinet and Cabinet Advisory Panel meetings during the last 14 years and who was due to retire from the Council’s service on 4th June. Members expressed their thanks to Alan and sent their best wishes for a long and happy retirement.