Agenda and draft minutes

General Assembly of the Council - Monday 12 December 2022 7.00 pm

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

Contact: Email: memberservices@dartford.gov.uk 

Items
No. Item

65.

Prayers: Reverend Kenneth Clark

Minutes:

The Mayor’s Chaplain led the Council in prayer.

66.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for Absence were received from Councillors Burrell, Butler-Rhule, Canham, Holt, Hunnisett, Maddison, Mrs Storey and Mrs Thurlow.

67.

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 & Director of Corporate Services.

Minutes:

The Mayor informed Members that the Chief Officer & Director of Corporate Services had exercised her delegated authority, in consultation with the Monitoring Officer, to grant a dispensation to all Parish/Town Councillors to speak and vote on Agenda item 11 (Financial Contributions to Parish and Town Councils 2023/24) because otherwise so many members of the Council would have had a prejudicial interest in the matter that it would impede the transaction of business.

 

There were no other declarations of interests.

 

68.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 336 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting of the General Assembly of the Council held on 10 October 2022.

Minutes:

            RESOLVED:

 

That the minutes of the meeting of the General Assembly of the Council held on 10 October 2022 be confirmed as an accurate record.

69.

Mayor's Announcements

Minutes:

The Mayor informed Members that he had been to a number of recent events that had been very well attended and received by the public. These included the Remembrance Sunday Service, the Festival of Light, Santa’s Tour and the historic fire engine, Santa’s House, the Christmas Lights switch-on, and the launch of the Christmas pantomime at the Orchard Theatre.

 

He also drew Members attention to the recent success of the England Wheelchair Men’s Rugby team who had won the World Cup. One of the key members of the team, Lewis King, was a local man and it was proposed to confer a ‘Dartfordian award’ on him in recognition of his achievement.  

70.

Leader's Announcements

To receive announcements from the Leader of the Council

Minutes:

The Leader of the Council made the following announcements:

 

·         Lewis King

 

The Leader of the Council added his congratulations to Lewis King on his achievement in winning the Wheelchair Rugby World Cup with the England Team. He commented on watching the wheelchair rugby and being impressed by the high standard and entertaining nature of the sport. Lewis King had played a crucial part in securing victory against the French in the final and his score had proved to be the pivotal moment in the match. He confirmed that it was the intention to recognise Mr King’s achievement with a ‘Dartfordian award’ and he had been in touch with Mr King who had been happy to accept.

 

·         Christmas Events

 

The Leader said that he was proud of the great Christmas events programme being delivered by the Council and the importance of ensuring that everyone in society could enjoy the Christmas experience in the current challenging economic and social climate, and at a time when Christmas was becoming more commercialised. Visiting Santa was an integral part of this experience and the events team had done a wonderful job to organise Santa’s Tour and Santa’s House once again.

 

·         Adrian Gowan and Stephen Jefferson

 

The Leader of the Council informed Members of the departure of two long- serving officers of the Council following a recent organisational change. Adrian Gowan, Policy and Corporate Support Manager, had chosen to take retirement after many years working with the council in various roles, working closely with Members.   He wished Mr Gowan a long and happy retirement. Stephen Jefferson, Sports and Communities Officer, had chosen to move on from the Council after many years of working on key leisure projects, including the delivery of Princes Park and the Judo Centre. He sent his thanks and best wishes to Mr Jefferson for his future endeavours.

 

·         Marie Kelly-Stone, Head of Legal Services and Monitoring Officer

 

The Leader of the Council also informed Members of the forthcoming retirement of another long-serving, senior officer of the Council, Marie Kelly-Stone, who would be leaving the Council at the end of March 2023. Ms Kelly-Stone had steered Members ably through many legal challenges throughout her career and ensured that the Council’s procedures and governance arrangements were robust and transparent. He paid tribute to her work on delivering a meaningful and practical Member Code of Conduct and to her work with Members. He said that Ms Kelly-Stone had been an ‘extraordinary force for good’ during her time at the Council and that she would be irreplaceable. He wished her a long and happy retirement in due course.  

 

71.

Questions from Political Group Leaders

To consider any questions (from the Political Group Leaders) to the Leader/Cabinet submitted in accordance with Standing Order 14.

Minutes:

The following questions were submitted by the Shadow Leader of the Council:

Question 1

What was the sign off process for the working households fund becoming policy and who was involved?

Question 2

Further to my question at the last GAC what is the leaders evaluation regarding the success of the councils black history month events?

 

Question 3

 

What assessment has taken place regarding the suitability of Santa's House for children with additional needs?

 

In accordance with Standing Order 14 the questions and answers, including any supplementary questions and answers, are recorded in a book kept for this purpose in the Members’ Area.

72.

Motions

To consider the following motions submitted in accordance with Standing Order 10:

 

1. Motion submitted by Councillor K Stealey

 

‘This council deplores the decision of the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to extend the London Ultra Low Emission Zone to outer London boroughs and calls on him to reverse his catastrophic policy.

 

This council believes the decision crudely exploits the benefits and principles of properly targeted measures to reduce emissions and creates little more than a cynical ‘tax-grab’ on Dartford residents who did not, and cannot, elect the Mayor of London.

 

This council supports all reasonable measures to reduce carbon emissions, including the targeted use of emission zones where there are sustainable and more environmentally sensitive travel options available.  To clumsily deploy the London ULEZ to outer London boroughs will have a disastrous effect and impose unjustifiable costs on ordinary households – an effect readily understood by Sadiq Khan’s predecessor when denying calls for its expansion in 2015.

 

In imposing this disastrous expansion of ULEZ, the Mayor of London and his supporters, have ignored the results of the Mayor’s own consultation which revealed that 80% of respondents opposed the policy. Here in Dartford, more than 27,000 people signed a local petition to oppose the proposal and this council notes, with anger, that their voices and fears have been ignored.

 

This council notes, with regret, the support given to the ULEZ expansion by local Labour Party and Green Party GLA elected members and calls on them to reflect on the enormous strain this policy will place on the household budgets of Dartford families, small businesses, students, shoppers and valuable private and public sector workers.  To impose a huge extra burden on ordinary households would be indefensible at any time, but to do it when families and small businesses are already worried about energy costs and bills is particularly cruel.

This council pledges to continue opposing Mr Khan’s unfair and catastrophic policy’.

 

2. Motion submitted by Councillor R J Wells:

 

‘This council notes a proposal to reduce the number of Police Community Support Officers attached to local communities in the county as part of a new Kent Police neighbourhood policing model and asks for reassurance that the service offered to local people and communities will not be diminished. 

 

Whilst it accepts, and applauds, that the number of full time Police Officers has been rising steadily and will rise again by March 2023 to the highest level in the history of the service, this council is concerned that officers with warranted powers are susceptible to being redeployed more frequently and sometimes at short notice away from their home neighbourhoods.

 

The council has had confidence in the valuable work done by PCSOs and neighbourhood officers who provide great reassurance and visible presence to our communities.

 

Whilst It welcomes the new full time resources available to Kent Police and accepts that duties and roles may need to be rebalanced as a result, Members are convinced that the work of PCSOs and other neighbourhood officers contribute  ...  view the full agenda text for item 72.

Minutes:

The Mayor informed Members that two motions had been submitted in accordance with Standing Order 10:

 

1. Motion submitted by Councillor K Stealey

 

Councillor Stealey proposed the following motion:

 

‘This council deplores the decision of the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to extend the London Ultra Low Emission Zone to outer London boroughs and calls on him to reverse his catastrophic policy.

 

This council believes the decision crudely exploits the benefits and principles of properly targeted measures to reduce emissions and creates little more than a cynical ‘tax-grab’ on Dartford residents who did not, and cannot, elect the Mayor of London.

 

This council supports all reasonable measures to reduce carbon emissions, including the targeted use of emission zones where there are sustainable and more environmentally sensitive travel options available.  To clumsily deploy the London ULEZ to outer London boroughs will have a disastrous effect and impose unjustifiable costs on ordinary households – an effect readily understood by Sadiq Khan’s predecessor when denying calls for its expansion in 2015.

 

In imposing this disastrous expansion of ULEZ, the Mayor of London and his supporters, have ignored the results of the Mayor’s own consultation which revealed that 80% of respondents opposed the policy. Here in Dartford, more than 27,000 people signed a local petition to oppose the proposal and this council notes, with anger, that their voices and fears have been ignored.

 

This council notes, with regret, the support given to the ULEZ expansion by local Labour Party and Green Party GLA elected members and calls on them to reflect on the enormous strain this policy will place on the household budgets of Dartford families, small businesses, students, shoppers and valuable private and public sector workers.  To impose a huge extra burden on ordinary households would be indefensible at any time, but to do it when families and small businesses are already worried about energy costs and bills is particularly cruel.

This council pledges to continue opposing Mr Khan’s unfair and catastrophic policy’.

 

Councillor Stealey informed Members that 1 in 7 vehicles were not ULEZ complaint,  that the extension of the ULEZ to outer London boroughs would have an enormous impact on residents of Dartford and that, since the agenda went to print, more than 28,000 residents had now signed the petition opposing this move. 

 

The motion was seconded by Councillor Swinerd, who reserved his right to speak until later in the debate. The motion was opened to debate.

 

The Shadow Leader of the Council said that she was surprised that the issue had been raised at the Council because the Leader of the Council had previously expressed a desire to focus on local, not national, issues. She said that she had serious concerns about air quality in Dartford, which was the second worst in Kent, and the limitations of the Council’s Air Quality Plan, and wanted to reduce pollution and improve public transport. She recognised the economic impact that the extension of ULEZ would have on local residents. Using public transport was  ...  view the full minutes text for item 72.

73.

Urgent Items

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

Minutes:

There were no urgent items.

74.

Council in Committee

Minutes:

It was moved by Councillor P Cutler, seconded by Councillor J A Kite and

 

RESOLVED:

 

That in accordance with Standing Order 11(13) the General Assembly of the Council go into Committee and the rules of Procedures for Committees do apply.

 

THE LEADER OF THE COUNCIL, COUNCILLOR J A KITE MBE, IN THE

CHAIR

 

75.

Reference from the Audit Board - Audit Board Chairman's Annual Report 2021/22 on the Discharge by the Board of its Ethical Governance Functions pdf icon PDF 73 KB

To consider the Audit Board Chairman’s Annual Report for 2021/22.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

  The Terms of Reference for the Audit Board provide for a report of its activities to be submitted to the General Assembly of the Council on an annual basis. The Board considered its Annual Report on 19 October and resolved that it should be submitted to the General Assembly of the Council for endorsement. Accordingly Members were asked to consider and endorse the Audit Board Annual Report 2021/22. In addition the Chairman of the Audit Board had prepared his report to demonstrate how the Board’s functions were discharged during the year 2021/22, as required by Section 56B of the Local Government Act 2000 (as amended).

 

              RESOLVED:

 

 1. That, as recommended by the Audit Board, its Annual Report for 2021/22 be endorsed; and

 

2. That the Board’s Section 56B Report 2021/22, submitted by the Chairman of the Audit Board, be noted.          

 

 

76.

Setting of the Council Tax Base for the Borough 2023/24 pdf icon PDF 79 KB

To determine the tax base for the whole area of Dartford Borough and for those parts relating to Parishes in accordance with section 35 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992.

 

This report is ‘to follow’.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council was asked to determine the tax base for the Borough for

2023/24, including those parts relating to Parishes, in accordance with section

35 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992.

 

            RESOLVED:

 

That, subject to the matters contained in the report, and in accordance with the Local Authorities (Calculation of Tax Base) Regulations 2012, and on the basis of the detailed calculations in Appendix A to the report, the amount calculated by Dartford Borough Council as its tax base for the year 2023/24 be:                                                                            

                                                                                                                                    £                                                                                                                                 

For the whole of Dartford Borough:

 

40,288.37

For parts of Dartford Borough:

 

 

 

Bean Parish

 

547.17

Darenth Parish

 

1,293.63

Longfield and New Barn Parish

 

2,494.93

Southfleet Parish

 

649.94

Stone Parish

 

4,255.88

Sutton-at-Hone and Hawley Parish

 

1,468.06

Swanscombe and Greenhithe Town

 

4,581.23

 Wilmington Parish

 

3,022.21

 

 

77.

Financial Contributions to Parish and Town Councils 2023/24 pdf icon PDF 83 KB

To agree the level of financial contributions to be paid to Parish and Town Councils in 2023/24.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The General Assembly of the Council considered a report which detailed the

proposed financial contributions to be made by the Council to Parish and

Town Councils in 2023/24. The report informed Members that the Cabinet had also considered, and agreed, the financial contributions to be made to the Parish and Town Councils on 8 December 2022, for recommendation to the General Assembly of the Council.

 

The Leader of the Council reminded Members that Dartford was one of the few authorities that continued to provide this financial support to its parish councils and that this was a hang-over from when Borough Council’s used to receive money from the Government to be passed on to parishes for concurrent functions. The amount of the contributions had been reducing in recent years to the point where, moving forward, the contribution to each parish would probably be capped to address the disparities on the amounts paid to some parishes.  

 

            RESOLVED:

 

That the General Assembly of the Council notes that the proposed contributions to Parish/Town Councils for the year 2023/24, as set out in Appendix A to the report, will form part of the overall budget to be submitted to the General Assembly of the Council (Budget) meeting on 27 February 2023.

78.

Local Scheme of Support for Council Tax 2023-24 pdf icon PDF 91 KB

To consider the Local Scheme of Support for Council Tax 2023-24.

Minutes:

The General Assembly of the Council considered a report which proposed that the current Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme should roll forward to 2023/24. The report reminded Members that a major review of the Scheme had been undertaken in 2019/20 when the original means- tested scheme had been replaced by a simple income grid model and that since then the scheme had been rolled-forward on an annual basis. The Cabinet considered this matter at its meeting on 8 December 2022 and had recommended that the existing scheme should continue to roll forward.

 

            RESOLVED:

 

That the Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme 2022/23 be rolled forward to 2023/24, with effect from 1 April 2023.

 

79.

Special Severence Payments and Pay Policy Statement 2022-23 Amendment pdf icon PDF 120 KB

To note the ’Statutory guidance on the making and disclosure of Special Severance Payments by local authorities in England ’ and to consider an amendment to the Pay Policy Statement 2022-23, to provide for an approval process for the payment of special severance payments

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members were invited to note the ’Statutory guidance on the making and disclosure of Special Severance Payments by local authorities in England ’ and to consider an amendment to the Pay Policy Statement 2022-23, to provide for an approval process for the payment of special severance payments, in accordance with the guidance. The Council was required to have an approval process in place that enabled it to consider the relevant criteria highlighted by the guidance, to ensure that a special severance payment has to be approved at the correct level and to ensure that appropriate records are created and kept in order that it can demonstrate compliance with the expectations and best value duties placed upon it.

 

            RESOLVED:

 

1. That the ‘Statutory guidance on the making and disclosure of Special Severance Payments by local authorities in England’, as summarised in para. 3.2 of the report, be noted; and

 

2. That section 5.1.7 of the Pay Policy Statement 2022-23 be amended, in the manner detailed in red script at Appendix A to the report, to provide for an approval process for special severance payments, in accordance with the ‘Statutory guidance on the making and disclosure of Special Severance Payments by local authorities in England’.

 

 

 

80.

Report of Delegated Action taken under Standing Order 38: Pay Policy Statement 2022/23 Amendment - Payment of Supplement on the Basic Pay of the Posts of Head of Legal Services and Head of Finance to Remunerate the Postholders for the Statutory Officer Duties Undertaken by Them pdf icon PDF 92 KB

To report an action taken under Standing Order 38.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The General Assembly of the Council considered a report, in accordance with the requirements of Standing Order 38(1)(c), which detailed the delegated action taken under Standing Order 38(1)(a) by the Chief Officer & Director of Corporate Services, in consultation with the Mayor, to amend the Pay Policy Statement 2022-23 to provide for the payment of a supplement on the basic pay of the posts of Head of Legal Services and Head of Finance, to remunerate the postholders for the Statutory Officer duties undertaken by them. This action was necessary in advance of the meeting of the General Assembly of the Council in order to finalise the remuneration package on offer for the post of Head of Legal Services and Monitoring Officer, which was currently undergoing recruitment following the decision of the existing postholder to retire.

 

            RESOLVED:

 

That the General Assembly of the Council note the action taken by the Chief Officer & Director of Corporate Services, in consultation with the Mayor, under Standing Order 38(1)(a), to amend the Pay Policy Statement 2022-23 to provide for the payment of a supplement on the basic pay of the posts of Head of Legal Services and Head of Finance, to remunerate the postholders for the Statutory Officer duties undertaken by them, as detailed in Appendix A to the report.

81.

Appointment of Head of Legal Services and Monitoring Officer

To consider the appointment of a new Monitoring Officer and Head of Legal Services following a meeting of the Statutory Officer Advisory Panel.

 

This item is ‘to follow’.

Minutes:

The Director of Housing & Public Protection provided an update on progress on the recruitment of a new Head of Legal Services and Monitoring Officer, following the decision of the existing postholder to retire. He explained that, despite a robust recruitment process, it had not been possible to identify a suitable candidate to recommend to Members for appointment to this pivotal post. It was intended to look at other recruitment options and re-advertise in the New Year, but he confirmed that the current postholder would remain in post until the end of March 2023. It was hoped that the Council would be able to recruit within this timeframe, whilst also examining other contingencies.

 

            RESOLVED:

 

That the update on the recruitment of a new Head of Legal Services and Monitoring Officer be noted.

82.

Re-convening of the General Assembly of the Council

Minutes:

It was moved by Councillor J A Kite, seconded by Councillor C J Shippam and

 

RESOLVED:

 

That in accordance with Standing Order 11(14) the General Assembly of the Council now re-convene.

 

THE MAYOR, COUNCILLOR P CUTLER, IN THE CHAIR

 

83.

Reserved Minutes pdf icon PDF 351 KB

To consider any of the minutes of the following Cabinet meetings reserved in accordance with Standing Order 16:

 

(a)       for full debate by Political Groups on the Council;

(b)       by Ward Members.

 

Cabinet

 

22 September 2022

27 October 2022

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Mayor advised Members that no Cabinet minutes had been reserved for debate.