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Agenda and draft minutes

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Contact: Email: memberservices@dartford.gov.uk 

Note: This meeting may be viewed on YouTube by highlighting and opening the following link: https://youtu.be/NUJBoBEN0FY 

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were submitted on behalf of Councillors Burrell and Jones.

 

The Chairman noted that Councillor Jones was now out of hospital and recovering from COVID at home. Members sent their best wishes to him for a speedy recovery.

2.

Items for Debate

Minutes:

The Chairman advised that, in addition to the item in part A of the agenda,  the following agenda item had been drawn down for debate:

 

10

Draft Calendar of Meetings 2021/22 and 2022/23

 

 

Accordingly Members endorsed the officer recommendations in respect of the following items:

 

8

National Non-Domestic Rate Relief 2021/22

9

Planning Services Sub-Delegations

11

Delegations under SO38: Street Naming and Numbering

 

 

3.

Declarations of Interest in Items Discussed at the Meeting

To receive declarations of interest from Members including the terms(s) of the Grant of Dispensation (if any) by the Audit Board or Strategic Director (Internal Services).

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interests in items included in Part A of the agenda or in item from the remainder of the agenda which had been drawn down for debate.

4.

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.

5.

References from Committees

None at this stage.

Minutes:

There were no references from other committees.

6.

Draft Rent Arrears Policy pdf icon PDF 146 KB

Summary:

 

To consider a revised draft Rent Arrears Policy to replace the previous version. The draft Policy takes account of various updates because of the introduction of Universal Credit; the provisions in the Pre-Action Protocol for Possession Claims by Social Landlords; and the changes to the possession proceedings’ process during the coronavirus pandemic

 

Recommendations:

 

1.    That the draft Rent Arrears Policy, attached at Appendix A to the report, be approved;  and

 

2.    That the Strategic Director (External Services) be granted delegated authority to make in-year amendments to the approved draft Rent Arrears Policy, as necessitated by changes in legislation or Government guidance.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of Housing introduced a report which presented a revised draft Rent Arrears Policy to replace the previous version, which had last been updated in 2013. Since that time a number of measures had required the Council to adapt its approach to managing rent arrears, in particular, focussing more intensively on prevention work with the aim of avoiding possession proceedings. The revised policy outlined the Council’s approach to preventing and managing rent arrears in Council managed tenancies and the revised draft policy took account of various updates due to the introduction of Universal Credit, the provisions of the Pre-Action Protocol for Possession Claims by Social Landlords and also changes to the possession proceedings process during the coronavirus pandemic. The report also outlined the advice and support available to tenants and the consultation undertaken on the revised policy, which had been supported by tenants. It was intended that the policy would be kept under continuous review and updated as appropriate, and the policy would be refreshed every three years.

 

The Head of Housing reminded Members that rental income paid for all landlord services and that it was important to balance the need to collect rents and the need to help those who were experiencing difficulty with paying. He believed that the proposed policy achieved this balance, was robust but fair and provided the necessary support and advice to tenants. There was a theme throughout the policy of providing additional support and making positive interventions.

 

The Chairman drew attention to the incorrect date on the front of the policy (2020 rather than 2021).

 

Members sought clarification on a number of points contained in the policy, including the calculation of the weekly rental figure, whether this was based on 48 or 52 weeks given the reference to there being ‘some free weeks when no rent [was] due’ in paragraph 6.1 of the report, and whether this meant that in fact some rents were above the level of the local housing allowance.

 

The Head of Housing explained that whilst rent was paid in 48 instalments tenants were still paying rent for 52 weeks. Payment was suspended for two weeks over Easter and Christmas in recognition that these were traditionally more expensive periods for tenants, but they did not constitute ‘free weeks’. All DBC Council rents are below the local housing allowance thresholds but there had been some distortion to the average calculation arising from the Council’s recent acquisition of former ‘right to buy’ properties on the open market. The calculations used by the Government and the treasury to determine rates of rent for these properties had produced levels of rent that were higher for newly acquired properties compared to properties that have been in the long term ownership of the Council. This had resulted in some cases where the tenancy might be unaffordable or potentially unviable for the next qualifying tenant on the housing list. This was being addressed by offering allocation at the next affordable property and steps were being taken to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

National Non-Domestic Rate Relief 2021-22 pdf icon PDF 150 KB

Summary:

 

To consider granting discretionary rate relief to ratepayers who have made applications in respect of 2021/22 or who will have made an application by 1 March 2021.

 

Recommendation:

 

That the maximum level of discretionary rate relief for 2021/22 for the organisations listed in Appendix A to the report be determined in accordance with the detailed recommendations set out in Appendix A

Additional documents:

Minutes:

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

8.

Planning Services Sub-Delegations pdf icon PDF 123 KB

Summary:

 

To seek authority to delegate to Officers, the functions related to Neighbourhood Plans and the deferrals of CIL payment requests, for the reasons outlined in the body of the report.

 

Recommendation:

 

That, authority be delegated to Officers to undertake the Neighbourhood Plan functions and the deferral of CIL payments, as detailed in the Planning Services Sub delegations, at Appendix A to the report

Additional documents:

Minutes:

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

 

9.

Draft Calendar of Meetings 2021/22 and 2022/23 pdf icon PDF 108 KB

Summary:

 

To consider the proposed calendar of meetings for 2021/22 and the provisional calendar of meetings for 2022/23.

 

 

Recommendation:

 

That the proposed calendar of meetings for 2021/22 and the provisional calendar of meetings for 2022/23 be submitted to the Annual Meeting of the Council.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Advisory Panel considered a report which detailed the proposed calendar of meetings for 2021/22 and the provisional calendar for 2022/23 for

recommendation to the General Assembly of the Council. The proposed start times for the meetings were indicative and could be subject to change in the early part of 2021/22, depending on the position with the National coronavirus emergency.

 

A Member explained that she had drawn down this item for debate to see whether it might be possible to avoid arranging meetings during the last week of July as this was a time when schools were on holiday and many parents sought to take family holidays before peak pricing during August.

 

The Democratic Services Manager explained that the reason for issuing a calendar for a two year period was to give Members as much advance notice of the dates of meetings as possible in order to give Members the opportunity to attend. In preparing the calendar every effort was made to avoid holding meetings during school holidays, the peak holiday season and during the main party political conferences. Given the requirements for most meetings to be held quarterly, this left relatively little scope for manoeuvre. However, he  undertook to see whether this might be possible.

 

A Member pointed out that committee chairmen also had some discretion to change the date of scheduled meetings should issues arise which meant that Members might not otherwise be able to attend a particular meeting.

 

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

10.

Delegated Items under Standing Order 38: Street Naming and Numbering pdf icon PDF 114 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 Strategic Director (Internal Services), in consultation with the Cabinet Chairman, relating to the approval of new road names for a development at the rear of 39 Brentfield Road and for the first phase of development in the Western Cross locality of Ebbsfleet Valley.

 

 

Recommendation:

 

That Cabinet note the action taken by the Strategic Director (Internal Services), in consultation with the Cabinet Chairman, under Standing Order 38(2)(a), to approve new road names for a development at the rear of 39 Brentfield Road and for the first phase of development in the Western Cross locality of Ebbsfleet Valley.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

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