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Agenda and draft minutes

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Contact: Email: memberservices@dartford.gov.uk 

Items
No. Item

19.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

The Chairman welcomed Members and attending Officers to the meeting and thanked them for attending the proceedings in the current Covid-19 climate.

 

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors: Ben Moussa, Burrell, Butterfill, Canham, Edie and Jones.

20.

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 Chief Officer and Director of Corporate Services.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

21.

Confirmation of the minutes of the Policy Overview meeting held on 14 September 2021 pdf icon PDF 285 KB

Minutes:

          RESOLVED:

 

That the minutes of the meeting of the Policy Overview Committee held on 14 September 2021 be confirmed as an accurate record of those discussions.

22.

Urgent Items

The Chairman will announce his decision as to whether there are any urgent items and their position on the agenda.

Minutes:

The Chairman confirmed that there were no urgent items for the Committee to consider.

23.

To consider references from other Committees (if any)

There are no references from other Committees for Members to consider at present.

Minutes:

There were no references from other Committees for Members to consider.

24.

Regulation 9 Notice (Forward Plan) pdf icon PDF 203 KB

To consider any issues arising from the Regulation 9 Notice (Forward Plan) for the period 29 November 2021 to 31 March 2022.

Minutes:

                        RESOLVED:

 

1.    That Members note the contents of the Regulation 9 Notice [Forward Plan] for the period 29 November 2021 to 31 March 2022.

25.

Air Quality Update 2021 pdf icon PDF 171 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report from the Council’s Scientific Officer provided Members with information on pollution levels across the Borough and within the four (4) declared Air Quality Management Areas, together with an update on the Council’s Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP). The Council’s Air Quality Annual Status Report was attached at Appendix A to the report, with a Supplementary Air Quality Monitoring Report 2021 attached as Appendix B for Members’ information.

 

The Chairman thanked the Scientific Officer for his report and appendices and proposed that Members accept the documents as tabled and that discussion proceed in a Q&A format with presenting Officers to address any specific questions or points of concern Members might have. He began that process by seeking confirmation of the dates and periods covered in the 2021 update report, including DEFRA’s appraisal of Dartford’s ASR [report p.5 agenda p.33 refers], which did not give a year or quote a period covered. He  suggested 2020 was more appropriate than 2021 and expressed further reservations over the presentation of the data in the table recording ‘Progress on Measurements to Improve Air Quality’ [report para 2.2 agenda pages 35-47 refers], which was too compressed and not overly user-friendly.

 

The Chairman noted in the wider context, that the report had recorded an improvement in Dartford’s air quality during 2020-21, including during the period prior to the first COVID-19 lockdown measures being imposed. Measures that had served to help improve air quality levels in the Borough further, given the reduction in vehicle emission levels as a consequence of the Government’s ‘Work from Home’ policy. In concluding his initial comments he emphasised the high profile nature of the topic, and encouraged all Members to take the opportunity to feed into and contribute to the Council’s Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) going forward.   

 

In response to subsequent questions of detail from the Chairman and individual Members the Scientific Officer confirmed the following points:

 

·       He noted the Chairman’s concerns over data and acknowledged that the majority of the report and appendixes had covered the 2020 calendar year and up to September 2021;

·       The table format in the ASR was a prescribed DEFRA document which read better on-screen than when printed;  

·       There were no readily available figures for the number of electrical vehicle (EV) charging points in the Borough;

·       Planning applications for new build properties had to include EV charging points as evidenced in the Ebbsfleet Green development, with some developers in the Dartford area also agreeing to undertake retrospective installation in some cases;

·       An upscale of EV charging points was planned for the Council’s car parks in the New Year, in conjunction with other Planet Dartford greening measures proposed for the Borough.

 

The Director of Housing and Public Protection supported the Scientific Officer in his responses. He advised Members that recent FOI requests had revealed that the Council did not hold comprehensive records for the number of EV charging points in the Borough. Examination of new planning applications had revealed some data but compiling accurate  ...  view the full minutes text for item 25.

26.

Litter & Environmental Enforcement Update pdf icon PDF 289 KB

Minutes:

The report from the EARS Manager updated Members on the operating effectiveness of the Council’s policies pertaining to environmental crime (fly tipping and litter) offences in the Borough, together with an overview of the systems and processes in place to deliver those policies. Attached as Appendix A to the report was a summary of the Council’s performance for the period April 2018 to October 2021 in combating environmental crime.

 

The Chairman thanked the EARS Manager for an excellent report and comprehensive appendix recording locations, investigations and outcomes for environmental crime (EC) committed in the Borough. He noted that most incidents of EC had been reported (Appendix A p.114 refers) and praised the pro-active efforts of Council and LA Support (Kingdom) officers to combat offences at known hot spots. He also welcomed the increased breakdown of data for fines issued, which would help Members to identify and relate to action being taken against offences being committed in their Wards. He had personally walked through known hot spots in Joydens Wood, the adjacent Golf Course area and viewed the impressive new high tech CCTV camera installation at Birchwood Road and asked how it had been financed.

 

The EARS Manager thanked the Chairman for his kind comments and, before referring points of operational detail to the Enforcement Manager for response, took the opportunity to set the Council’s performance in a Kent and country-wide context.

 

He reminded Members that the investigation and prosecution of EC offences remained a discretionary local authority service in Dartford. The Council had been a trail-blazer in the field of combating EC both in the Kent county and wider national context, and had been the 1st local authority to implement fixed penalty notices (FPNs) for low level fly tipping offences, including ‘Duty of Care’ FPNs for the use of illegal or unlicensed refuse carriers, and the imposition of waste contract arrangements on local businesses. The Enforcement Manager, Richard Cherry, with only 2 Council Enforcement Officers at his disposal, ran a tight and increasingly diverse and effective operation to combat EC together with the Council’s contractual partner, LA Support (Kingdom).

 

The Enforcement Manager advised Members that the combined running costs for the two new high tech CCTV cameras at the Birchwood Road and New Barn re-cycling facilities amounted to a total of £690 per week. This was mainly due to a lack of electrical power-sockets for the moveable installations (to be remedied in the future) which were presently gas powered. However, the present running costs were more than off-set by savings accrued from reduced clean-up and disposal costs previously experienced at both sites. Those savings were augmented by significant revenue from the single justice court system, with £205 accruing to the Council for each proven offence. Ultimate success was defined as a significant reduction in offences at both sites which had already been achieved, with increased signage and the enormous camera capacity, acting as significant deterrents to potential offenders. The Council had also benefitted in reputational terms with local residents  ...  view the full minutes text for item 26.

27.

Food Security Policy pdf icon PDF 158 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report from the Community Services Manager (CSM) presented for Member comment and approval, the Council’s Food Security Action Plan 2022-2025 document (attached as Appendix A to the report).

 

In general discussion Members noted the very low take-up rate in the Dartford community for Healthy Start Vouchers [only 54%], and agreed the need to better publicise their availability going forward, in a renewed outreach programme in the community to include:

 

·       Leaflet drops at GP Surgeries;

·       Verbal promotion by Councillors in their Wards;

·       The Council’s Healthy Living  Co-ordinator to target new Groups and Walk-In programmes;

·       Leafletting Churches and Food Banks;

·       Advertising at the Sikh Temple Ladies Group (Wednesdays in the New Year) and the regular Sunday ‘Feed the Homeless’ Sikh Temple event;

·       Consideration of a Parish Council Leader’s Initiative programme.

 

The Community Services Manager advised Members that he and the Lead Member held regular meetings every 2 months with the voluntary sector, the DWP and Food Banks, to help formulate an overall Food Policy for the Borough. Engagement with these sectors and potential partners had been poor to date but would continue to be pursued, together with an increased publicity drive to advertise Healthy Start Vouchers as proposed by the Committee.

 

                    RESOLVED:

 

1.     That Members note the report;

 

2.     That the Lead Member and the Community Services Manager take forward an enhanced publicity  campaign to improve the present take-up rate of Healthy Start Vouchers.

28.

2021-22 Work Plan Update pdf icon PDF 127 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report from the Committee Co-ordinator enclosed an updated Work Plan for the remainder of the 2021-22 municipal cycle.

 

The Chairman advised Members that he intended to call for update reports on Adult Social Care and new GP provision across the Borough at the next meeting of the Committee in March 2022 which, by tradition, considered the various health services provided to Dartford residents by NHS bodies and their partners.

 

                    RESOLVED:

 

1.     That Members note the contents of the report and Appendix.