Venue: Council Chamber, Civic Centre, Home Gardens, Dartford, Kent, DA1 1DR
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Prayers: Father Zammitt
Father Zammitt led the Council in prayer. Special mention was made of former Councillor Gerry Burnan and Norman Lane, a long serving ex member of staff, who had both recently passed away.
Declarations of Interest
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.
The Head of Legal Services declared a personal interest on behalf of all Officers present at the meeting in staffing matters referred to in Agenda item 6, Revenue and Capital Budgets 2013/2014. The Head of Legal Services also announced the following declarations on behalf of Members:
Councillor A D Allen declared a prejudicial interest in Appendix B(iv) of Agenda item 6, as she is a trustee of the Dartford Citizens Advice Bureau
Councillor I D Armitt declared a disclosable pecuniary interest in Appendices K(i),(ii) and (iii) of Agenda item 6 as he is an employee of Wilmington Parish Council.
Councillor J Burrell declared a prejudicial interest in Appendix B(iv) of Agenda item 6 as he is a trustee of the Dartford Citizens Advice Bureau.
Councillor J A Kite declared a prejudicial interest in Agenda item 6 as he is a director of Dartford Football Club.
Councillor D J Mote declared a disclosable pecuniary interest in Appendices K(i),(ii) and (iii) of Agenda item 6 as his wife is an employee of Stone Parish Council.
Councillor Mrs J A Rickwood declared a prejudicial interest in Appendix B(iv) of Agenda item 6 as she is a trustee of the Dartford Citizens Advice Bureau.
Councillor Mrs P A Thurlow declared a prejudicial interest in Appendix B(iv) of Agenda item 6, as a trustee of Groundwork Kent and Medway.
The Mayor announced that in view of her declaration she would need to vacate the Chair for consideration of part of recommendation 3.13 and that for this reason that recommendation would be considered in two parts at the end of the meeting to enable this to happen.
Apologies for Absence
To receive apologies for absence
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors M Bryant, Hunnisett and Reynolds.
Members noted that Councillor Hunnisett was absent as he was celebrating his 49th wedding anniversary and congratulated him and his wife on this achievement.
To receive any announcements by the Mayor.
The Mayor announced that she had written to the families of former Councillor Bernan and Norman Lane to express her condolences.
The Mayor also advised Members that she had visited Councillor Hayes’s parents recently on their 70th wedding anniversary and that it had been a very enjoyable occasion.
The Mayor also congratulated Councillor John Muckle on his 80th birthday.
The Leader of the Council and the Shadow Leader expressed their sadness at the loss of ex-Councillor Burnan and their recollections of him as a dedicated Councillor who represented Longfield.
The Mayor will announce her decision as to whether there are any urgent items.
To set the level of expenditure for Dartford Borough Council capital and revenue budgets for 2013/2014, approve the level of rents chargeable for Housing Revenue Account dwellings for 2013/2014, agree the level of Council Tax for Dartford Borough in its parished and unparished areas, to approve the Pay Policy Statement for 2013/2014, and to determine sundry related matters.
The General Assembly of the Council considered a report which set out the Council’s capital and revenue budgets for 2013/2014. The report, which included the revenue and capital estimates, identified the level of precepts for Kent County Council, the Kent Police and Crime Commissioner, Kent Fire and Rescue and the Town and Parish Councils within the Borough.
Members were asked to set the level of expenditure for Dartford Borough Council Capital and Revenue Budgets for 2013/14, to approve the level of rents chargeable for Housing Revenue Account dwellings for 2013/14, to agree the level of Council Tax for Dartford Borough in its parished and unparished areas, and to determine sundry related matters. Members were also asked to approve the Council’s Pay Policy Statement.
In accordance with Standing Order 16(4), a motion was proposed, seconded and carried, to allow extra time for Leaders of the Political Groups to deliver their speeches on the Budget report.
The Leader of the Council, Councillor J A Kite, commended the budget proposals to the Council and spoke at length about the achievements made during the past 10 years. He commented on the success of the coalition arrangements with the Swanscombe and Greenhithe Residents’ Association which had extended beyond the time when this was actually necessary to have a majority. The following achievements were highlighted:
· Salute to Youth
· Switched on Community Fund schemes
· Judo Club
· The transformation of Central Park with new bridges, a new café and a bandstand, a new play area and outdoor gym
· Princes Park Stadium
· Halls Bowls Club
· Town Centre improvements
· Dartford Festival – one of the largest free festivals in the South East
· Elders and Youth Forums
· Transformation of the Housing Service with the involvement of leaseholders and tenants
· The operation of the Orchard Theatre which was thriving under the management agreement with HQ Theatres
The Leader noted that these achievements were being delivered at a time of national austerity and financial pressure. The approach taken in developing the budget recognised the need to do more with less and had to be realistic and focussed on the priorities and needs of local residents. This was delivered by transforming some services, reducing unnecessary bureaucracy and making cuts to services only where this could be justified. It was recognised that this sometimes meant taking difficult decisions and that the changes to central government funding arrangements had introduced new uncertainties and challenges. One area that had been reviewed in light of funding arrangements and the delivery of certain services at different tiers of the local government structure was the level of financial support which the Council could provide to the parishes through s136 funding. It was also noted that whilst this had reduced, Dartford remained one of only a small number of authorities which continued to make any s136 contributions and that this was unsustainable.
The Leader also praised the work of Council staff against this difficult background and recognised the increasing pressure on them to deliver services this was reflected in a proposal ... view the full minutes text for item 6.