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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
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Burrell, Edie, Harman,  McLean, Oliver and Perfitt.

 

Councillor Grehan attended the meeting as a substitute for Councillor Edie and Councillor D J Reynolds attended the meeting as a substitute for Councillor Oliver.

2.

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.

3.

Items Reserved for Debate

Minutes:

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

 

Item 11 – Corporate Plan Key Actions and Performance Indicators

 

Item 12 - Minutes of the Strategic Housing Board held on 29 January 2020.

 

Accordingly, Members endorsed the Officer recommendations in respect of the following items from Parts B, C and D of the agenda:

 

9. Dartford Town Centre Project: Update and Next Steps

 

10. Write-off of National Non-Domestic Rates

 

A.   Write-off of National Non-Domestic Rates – Exempt Appendix A.

4.

Declarations of Interests

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 interests on items for discussion or on any items drawn down for debate.

5.

Reference from the Policy Overview Committee held on 28 January 2020 - Litter and Recycling Services pdf icon PDF 207 KB

Summary:

 

To consider a reference from the Policy Overview Committee held on 28 January 2020 relating to litter and recycling services.

 

Recommendation:

 

That Cabinet considers the specific requests from the Committee relating to the Council’s litter and recycling services and notes the minutes of the meeting of the Policy Overview Committee held on 28 January 2020.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Advisory Panel considered a reference to Cabinet from the Policy Overview Committee which met on 28 January 2020 relating to litter and recycling services. The Committee had commended the proactive measures carried out by the Council to tackle litter in the borough but asked the Cabinet to consider additional measures including the increase in the provision of dual dog/litter bins, the employment of a further two litter pickers, that litter fines should be itemised for all wards, the identification of litter hot spots and introduction of appropriate action to deter offenders, and an increase of signage across the borough to advertise the location of litter bins and other litter facilities. The Committee had also made recommendations to Cabinet relating to the Waste and Recycling Service. These included consideration by the Cabinet of how it was assured that material sent for recycling was actually recycled, that a performance indicator on recycling should be added to the quarterly performance indicator report to Cabinet, that the information on the Council’s litter portal should be updated to include specific details on what containers and other items could be recycled, and what further measures could be taken to meet the national target of 50% for recycling by local authorities.

 

A Member welcomed the reference from the Policy Overview Committee and felt that the proposed increase in signage and information across the borough presented an opportunity to change attitudes towards littering and dog fouling. He suggested that one measure that had proved to be effective elsewhere in terms of changing behaviour, and was also cost effective, was the use of stencilled pavement signage.

 

Another Member presented anecdotal evidence that the Council’s contractor, Urbaser, had been mixing recycling with general household waste during collections. The Waste and Recycling Manager said that Urbaser had being doing a very good job since taking over the contract and that most teething problems had been resolved. Where recycling bins had been contaminated by general waste they were being collected and disposed of responsibly. He explained that Urbaser had recently made changes to collection schedules and that this had prompted an increase in requests for glass recycling bins in particular. He explained that where any issues had been identified the Council was working hard to investigate the causes and to resolve them as quickly as possible.    

 

The Cabinet Advisory Panel noted the minutes of the Policy Overview Committee held on 28 January 2020 and the Committee’s recommendations to Cabinet. 

6.

Update on Essential Maintenance Works required to the Cliff on Land to the Rear of Maritime & Skippers Close, Greenhithe pdf icon PDF 137 KB

Summary:

 

To update Members on essential maintenance works required to the cliff on land to the rear of Maritime & Skippers Close, Greenhithe and seek approval for the procurement aspects to enable the undertaking and completion of the works.

 

Recommendations:

 

1.    That, for the reasons outlined in the report, the Strategic Director (External Services) be authorised to seek tenders for the development of a full and proper methodology of works; and

 

2.    That, following receipt of the methodology of works, the Strategic Director (External Services) be authorised to obtain quotations for various elements of the works.

Minutes:

The Cabinet Advisory Panel considered a report which updated Members on essential maintenance works required to the cliff on land to the rear of Maritime & Skippers Close, Greenhithe and sought approval for procurement measures to enable the works to be undertaken. Contractors undertaking routine vegetation works on the cliff in Summer 2019 had identified damage to the cliff face due to vegetation and root growth which had started to delaminate the cliff face and although it was not expected that the cliff would be subject to large scale collapse it was likely that the cliff would continue to be damaged unless essential maintenance works were undertaken. There were properties at the top and bottom of the cliff within 5 metres of the cliff face which would be affected by the works and the close proximity of these properties made the site very difficult to access with only one access point. Due to the many complexities of the works it was difficult to produce a full working specification for use during a normal tender process. It was therefore proposed that a specialist contractor should be sought through a competitive tender process based on quality and that a full and proper methodology of works should then be agreed with the contractor, in conjunction with an independent cost consultant. Although it was difficult to estimate a cost for the works due to hidden costs a budget of £1.5M had been identified to complete the works. A letter had already been sent to affected residents, who would continue to be informed of progress and any works that might affect their properties directly, and there would also be a single point of contact within the council to deal with residents’ enquiries. Local ward Members would be notified before the works began.

 

The Housing Maintenance Manager confirmed that the cliff face was not the same one that had required remedial works three years ago and that the cliff posed no real threat of large scale collapse. However large pieces of chalk and flint were coming loose and filling the path at the bottom of the cliff. In response to questions he explained, that whilst the recent bad weather was not helping this situation, the cause of the damage was root growth associated with the vegetation and that this would need to be addressed, possibly including the use of netting.

 

A Member noted that the proposed works represented essential maintenance and that care should be taken to ensure that this was correctly represented in any communications to ensure that there was no unnecessary alarm for residents.

 

The Cabinet Advisory Panel endorsed the recommendations contained in the report.

7.

Lower Thames Crossing - Supplementary Consultation pdf icon PDF 255 KB

Summary:

 

To consider the Council’s response to a supplementary consultation on the route for the Lower Thames Crossing including any changes to the proposed route and to refine design.

 

Recommendation:

 

That the response to the consultation questions set out in Appendix A to the report be agreed as the Council’s response to the supplementary consultation by Highways England on the Lower Thames Crossing.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Advisory Panel considered the Council’s proposed response to a supplementary consultation being undertaken by Highways England on the route for the Lower Thames Crossing, including any changes to the route and design.  The current consultation had been undertaken on the basis of responses from the original statutory consultation on the route and design carried out in 2018. There had been 29,000 responses to the 2018 consultation with more than 80% of respondents recognising the need for a new crossing and 70% supporting the proposed location of the crossing to the east of Gravesend (Option C). Highways England had however refined their proposals in the light of the feedback from the original consultation and the principal updates were included in the report including changes to the configuration of the M2/A2 junction with the crossing, a change to the location of the southern tunnel entrance, removal of the rest and service centre at Tilbury, changes to ancilliary roads and the proposal to harmonise toll charges for the new crossing with charges at the Dartford Crossing and a local residents’ discount scheme.

The supplementary consultation also contained updated traffic modelling to take on board the proposed refinements with traffic flows and benefits being similar to those originally projected.

 

The Council’s response continued to urge Highways England to build the new crossing as soon as possible to address wider traffic problems in the area, to work with relevant authorities and organisations to develop measures for mitigating the temporary and permanent impacts, and to ensure that a flexible charging scheme was adopted to ensure that the long term benefits of the new crossing are realised. The Council was determined that the proposed changes should not delay progress on the main crossing which was currently projected to open in 2027/28. 

 

The Principal Transport Planner drew attention to the main aspects of the Council’s response including concerns about the lack of a link from the new crossing onto the A13, reducing the connectivity between Kent and Essex, the need for measures to mitigate impacts on surrounding road networks, concern over the removal of the rest and service area in Essex from the proposals and a desire for a flexible differential charging system between the new crossing and the Dartford crossing in order to encourage maximum use of the new crossing, particularly for freight. The Council also welcomed Highway’s England’s commitment to produce a Construction Code of Practice in conjunction with local authorities and statutory bodies to minimise the impacts on strategic and local roads and to inform the construction process.

 

A Member expressed concern over the removal of the rest and service area and said that this would have a detrimental effect on local residential roads, which would continue to be used by lorry drivers to rest overnight if these facilities were not available, with the associated problems of lorries being parked in unsuitable locations.     

 

The Chairman encouraged Members to respond to the consultation directly and voiced his opinion that there should be no charges  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Dartford Town Centre Project: Update and Next Steps pdf icon PDF 337 KB

Summary:

 

To provide an update on progress on the first phase of the Dartford Town Centre Project in Market Street and outline the next phases of the project. The report describes the design for the proposed High Street scheme, which forms Phase 1(a) of the project, and seeks approval to engage in a competitive tender process in order to appoint a contractor for the construction phase.

 

Recommendations:

 

1.    That the issues impacting on the progress of works in Market Street and mitigations sought to speed up delivery of the scheme, as set out in section 4 of the report, be noted;

 

2.    That the updated Phasing Plan, set out in Appendix A to the report, be agreed;

 

3.    That the revised delivery programme, set out in Appendix B to the report, be agreed;

 

4.    That the design of the High Street scheme, shown in Appendix C to the report and described in section 6 of the report, be noted;

 

5.    That competitive tenders be sought for the High Street works; and

 

6.    That the procurement for the consultancy to design Phase 4 of the project be progressed.   

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Advisory Panel endorsed the recommendations contained in the report.

 

9.

Write-off of National Non-Domestic Rates pdf icon PDF 138 KB

Summary:

 

To consider writing-off National 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 in Exempt Appendix A to the report, amounting to £156,089.06, be written off as uncollectable.  

Minutes:

Although this item was not drawn down for debate the Chairman asked that the attention of the Cabinet should be drawn to his concern about the lack of enforcement action over case 3 listed in the report which had resulted in the accumulation of significant rate arrears. A Member commented that enforcement action had not been taken as the Council would incur cost without receiving any financial benefit but that this might not be the case moving forward given proposals for authorities to retain an element of business rates in future. 

 

The Cabinet Advisory Panel endorsed the recommendations contained in the report.

 

10.

Corporate Plan Key Actions and Performance Indicators pdf icon PDF 205 KB

Summary:

 

To report progress on the latest set of Corporate Plan key actions and performance indicators for quarter 3 of 2019/20.

 

Recommendation:

 

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

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Advisory Panel considered the Corporate Plan key actions and performance indicators for the third quarter of 2019/20.

 

A Member asked a number of detailed questions as follows:

 

Appendix A 

 

Page 33 & 36: The Member raised a question regarding progress on the Westgate scheme.

 

Page 35 There has been very poor take up of the Healthy Workplaces initiative by local businesses. Has there been any feedback as to why?

 

Page 36 Regarding the Dartford Festival are there any proposals for a financing model review, to reduce losses?

 

Page 37 Food Hygiene. In view of the new phenomenon of people advertising home cooked food on Facebook, how can such food be monitored for food hygiene and safety standards?

 

Page 38 & 49 Air Quality, the statistics given are the average values. Can Members be advised of the hotspots, and what is being done to tackle air quality at these locations. Are there reduction targets?

 

Page 51 refers to "another year of strong house delivery across the borough ". yet on page 50 it is stated that the number of families on the housing register as well as  in Temporary accommodation remains static. What is the reason?

Are there targets for reducing this? 

 

The Member stated that whilst she welcomed Council initiatives to tackle homelessness and homelessness prevention her question related to the 1,350 people on the Council waiting list, many of whom were families and young people, facing a two year wait for housing and what was being done to address this.

 

The Strategic Director (Internal Services) said that the questions raised covered a wide number of services and that it was not possible for officers to deal with these in detail at the meeting. However a detailed response would be circulated to Members and submitted to the Cabinet.

 

The Chairman welcomed improvements to air quality but expressed some surprise at the reduction in the percentage attendance at the Orchard theatre in 2019/20 from the previous year.

 

The Chairman of the Strategic Housing Board outlined the work that the Council was undertaking to tackle homelessness and to reduce housing waiting lists and cited the success of initiatives supported by the Council such as the Winter Shelter which had seen a significant reduction in rough sleeping. Another Member outlined the success of a scheme operated by the Sikh community to feed the homeless and needy. Members commended the efforts of the Council’s Housing Team to deal with these issues.

 

11.

Minutes of the meeting of the Strategic Housing Board held on 29 January 2020 pdf icon PDF 132 KB

Summary:

 

To consider the minutes of the meeting of the Strategic Housing Board held on 29 January 2020.

 

Recommendation:

 

That the minutes be noted.

Minutes:

The Cabinet Advisory Panel considered the minutes of the Strategic Housing Board on 29 January 2020.

 

A Member commented on the response to the Kent County Council (KCC) Select Committee’s call for evidence on affordable housing and asked whether there had been any progress on the acquisition of more land for building Council Housing and how robust was the Council being in lobbying KCC to release surplus land. The Chairman of the Strategic Housing Board explained that KCC had contacted local authorities to ask how it could assist with the provision of affordable housing, despite this not being a KCC function. The Council had responded to this consultation by suggesting that KCC needed to change its approach to this issue and also that KCC could assist by giving District/Borough  Council’s first refusal on the disposal of any surplus KCC land and by dropping the requirement for this to be at market price. It also stressed that where KCC did release land there should be no diminution of its obligations to provide infrastructure to support the resulting development.   

 

The Cabinet Advisory Panel noted the minutes of the Strategic Housing Board held on 29 January 2020.

 

12.

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

Minutes:

The Cabinet Advisory Panel endorsed the recommendations contained in the report.