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Agenda and draft minutes

General Assembly of the Council (Budget)
Monday 25 February 2019 7.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Civic Centre, Home Gardens, Dartford, Kent, DA1 1DR

Contact: Email: memberservices@dartford.gov.uk 

Items
Note No. Item

1.

Prayers: Reverend Avery

Minutes:

2.

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.

Minutes:

The Managing Director declared a personal interest on behalf of all Officers present at the meeting in staffing matters referred to in Agenda item 9, Revenue and Capital Budgets 2019/20.

It was noted that the Managing Director in the exercise of his delegated authority, in consultation with the Monitoring Officer, had granted a dispensation to all Councillors to speak and vote on Agenda item 9, Revenue and Capital Budgets 2019/20, in respect of their receipt of Members’ Allowances paid by the Council on the ground that without the dispensation, the number of persons prohibited from participating in the discussion and voting on Members’ Allowances would be so great a proportion of the body transacting the business as to impede the transaction of business (see agenda item 9).

 

Councillor I D Armitt declared a disclosable pecuniary interest in Appendices J(i),(ii) and (iii) of Agenda item 9 as he is an employee of Wilmington Parish Council.

 

Councillor J Burrell declared a prejudicial interest in Agenda item 9 as he is a trustee of the Dartford Citizens Advice Bureau which receives grants/funding from the Council.

 

Councillor R M Currans declared a prejudicial interest in Agenda item 9 as she is a trustee of Home-Start which receives grants/funding from the Council.

 

Councillor P Kelly declared a prejudicial interest in Agenda item 9 as he is a trustee and Chairman of the Unit Management Committee of the Dartford & Crayford Sea Cadets who receive grants/funding from the Council.

 

Councillor J A Kite MBE declared a prejudicial interest in Agenda item 9 as he is a director of Dartford Football Club which receives grant funding from the Council.

 

Councillor R Lees declared a prejudicial interest in Agenda item 9 as he is a trustee of Greenhithe Community Association which is a tenant of the Council and receives grants/funding from the Council.

 

Councillor D J Mote declared a prejudicial interest in Agenda item 9 as he is a trustee of Greenhithe Community Association which is a tenant of the Council and Chairman of Stone (Dartford) Scout Group, both of which receive grants/funding from the Council.

 

Councillor A S Sandhu MBE declared a prejudicial interest in Agenda item 9 as he is a trustee of the Kent People’s Trust and as Vice-President of Dartford Valley Rugby Football Club as they receive grants/funding from the Council.

 

3.

Apologies for Absence

To receive apologies for absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were submitted on behalf of Councillors Garden, T A Maddison, Page, Read, Denzil Reynolds and Shanks.

4.

Mayor's Announcements

Minutes:

5.

Urgent Items

The Mayor will announce his decision as to whether there are any urgent items.

Minutes:

6.

Member Attendance at Meetings - Councillor B E Read pdf icon PDF 47 KB

To consider awarding a dispensation to Councillor Bryan Read who has been unable to attend meetings in recent months due to ill health and may not be able to attend for the remainder of the Municipal Year.

Minutes:

Members were advised that Councillor B E Read had not attended a council meeting since 27 September 2018 due to ill-health and was unlikely to be able to attend meetings before the end of the six-month period required for him to remain a Councillor. The General Assembly of the Council was therefore asked to grant a dispensation to Councillor Read until the end of his current term in office. Members sent their best wishes to Councillor Read.

 

            RESOLVED:

 

That the General Assembly of the Council notes Councillor Read’s current indisposition for medical reasons and that the Councillor’s failure to attend meetings of the Council by reason of that indisposition be approved for the remainder of his current term of office for the reasons detailed in the report.   

7.

Appointment of a new Member to the Independent Remuneration Panel pdf icon PDF 45 KB

To consider the appointment of a new Member to serve on the Independent Remuneration Panel.

Minutes:

The General Assembly of the Council noted the request of the Independent Remuneration Panel for the appointment of an additional member to serve on the Panel to provide greater resilience. Following a recruitment process, including interview by a panel comprising of the Leader of the Council, Deputy Leader of the Council, the Shadow Leader and the Chairman of the Independent Remuneration Panel, the General Assembly of the Council was asked to appoint Miss Claire Metcalf to serve as the fourth member of the Independent Remuneration Panel.

 

            RESOLVED:

 

That Miss Claire Metcalf be appointed to membership of the Independent Remuneration Panel.    

8.

Council Tax Discounts for Empty and Uninhabitable Dwellings and Empty Premium pdf icon PDF 64 KB

To consider the level of Council Tax discounts for empty and uninhabitable buildings and the empty property premium.

Minutes:

The General Assembly of the Council considered a report which proposed reducing the level of Council Tax discount for unoccupied and unfurnished dwellings and for dwellings undergoing or requiring major structural repair from 1 April 2019. It was proposed to reduce the level of Council Tax discount for unoccupied and unfurnished dwellings from 100% for three months to 100% for one month and the discount for unoccupied dwellings undergoing or requiring major structural repair from 100% for 12 months to 0% for 12 months. It was also proposed to increase the additional charge for dwellings that were unoccupied and unfurnished for 2 years or more from 50% to 100%. The existing discounts had had the effect of providing a cushion to owners of these dwellings and acted as a disincentive for bringing the properties into occupation more quickly. The reduction of the discount would help to counter this and support the Council’s empty homes strategy. Kent County Council also supported reducing empty property discounts and had committed to give those authorities who had done so an incentive of 25% of the County’s share of additional Council Tax proceeds in 2019/20 (subject to review in future years).

 

 

            RESOLVED:

 

1.  That the Council Tax discount for unoccupied and unfurnished dwellings be reduced from 100% for three months to 100% for one month;

 

2.  That the Council Tax discount for unoccupied dwellings undergoing or requiring major structural repair be reduced from 100% for 12 months to 0% for 12 months; and

 

3.  That the Cabinet recommends to the General Assembly of the Council that the additional charge for dwellings that are unoccupied and unfurnished for 2 years or more be increased from 50% to 100%.

MD

9.

Revenue and Capital Budgets 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 179 KB

To set the overall level of General Fund and Housing Revenue Account revenue and capital expenditure for Dartford Borough Council for 2019/20, to agree the level of Council Tax for Dartford Borough in its parished and unparished areas for 2019/20, to approve the Pay Policy Statement for 2019/20 and to determine sundry related matters.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The General Assembly of the Council considered a report which set out the Council’s capital and revenue budgets for 2019/20. 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 2019/20, to approve the level of rents chargeable for Housing Revenue Account dwellings for 2019/20, 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.

 

The Leader of the Council introduced the budget report which he said set the overall framework of the resources available to the Council for the forthcoming year. He said that when Labour had last been in charge of the Council they had put up Council tax by 9.98% in a single year and that had Council Tax been put up by 9% per year in the intervening years the average Band D Council tax for 2019/20 would be around £550 in contrast to the actual rate of £177. Although the Government had capped Council Tax increases Dartford’s Council tax had remained below the cap and had been frozen for seven years and that, although it had been necessary to increase Council Tax the benefit of the earlier freeze on Council Tax was still being felt by residents in having a lower base rate of Council Tax. At the same time the Council had not cut services but instead had continued to invest and improve which was reflected in the provision of family facilities, the retention of weekly bin collections and a wide array of events and festivals. There were financial pressures on services but the Council had been honest with residents and explained that an increase in Council tax of £5 per annum would allow the Council to continue to invest and grow services and he felt that residents understood this approach. It was the intention to return to a freeze in Council tax in the future and this was included in the Council’s Medium Term Financial Plan.

 

The Leader turned to capital expenditure and said that since 2003 the Council had invested heavily in providing facilities such as Princes Park, which delivered a wide range of community programmes, the Dartford Dojo, a new pavilion for Dartford Cricket Club, a new café in Central Park, an outdoor gym and new Bandstand, and the refurbishment of the Fairfield Leisure Centre. The proposed budget included funding to complete the renovation of Central Park and works at Acacia Hall and for major improvements to the Town Centre to deliver quality public space for local residents. 

 

The Leader then outlined some of the community facilities provided by the Council since 2003. He highlighted the construction of the new community club and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.