Agenda and draft minutes

Scrutiny Committee - Tuesday 15 September 2020 5.50 pm

Venue: Virtual Meetings - This meeting will be held virtually. Details of how to access the meeting on YouTube are contained in the meeting page, along with the agenda and papers.. View directions

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No. Item


Chairman's Welcome


The Chairman welcomed Members and Officers to the second virtual meeting of the Scrutiny Committee in its reduced membership format, to conform to government working guidelines to combat COVID-19, and apologised for the delay in opening the meeting whilst a YouTube connection was secured, to enable the public to observe the proceedings.


He expressed the hope that, following consideration by all Members at the next General Assembly of the Council (GAC) in October, it would be agreed that Council Committees could resume meeting in full going forward, either virtually or even in person.


Apologies for Absence


Apologies for absence were submitted on behalf of Councillors; Butterfill, Nicklen, Oguntope, D J Reynolds and Sandhu. Councillors Mote, Ozog and Swinerd attended as Substitutes.


Declarations of Interest

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


There were no declarations of interest.


Confirmation of the Minutes of the meeting held on 14 July 2020 pdf icon PDF 226 KB




That the Minutes of the meeting held on 14 July 2020 be confirmed as accurate.


Urgent Items

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


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


To consider references from other Committees (if any)

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




Regulation 9 Notice (Forward Plan) pdf icon PDF 78 KB

To consider any issues arising from the Regulation 9 Notice for the period 14 August 2020 to 31 December 2020.




That Members note the contents of the Regulation 9 Notice [Forward Plan] for the period 14 August 2020 to 31 December 2020.


Operation of the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) [Draw-Down] pdf icon PDF 126 KB

To consider a report from the Head of Housing Services.


The report from the Head of Housing Services set out the Council’s arrangements for homeless persons, specifically rough sleepers living on the streets during periods of severe weather, utilising the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) operated by all Kent local authorities.


The Chairman advised Members that he had drawn-down the topic on behalf of his Group as a specific follow-up to the Committee’s wider discussion of Homelessness in the Borough at its previous meeting in July 2020 [Min. No. 31 refers]. He proposed that debate proceed on the basis that Members had read the report, and that the Head of Housing Services respond to any questions or concerns Members had.


The Head of Housing Services advised the Committee that the Council had a positive record in responding to the needs of rough sleepers in the Borough on a year round basis; not just in winter when SWEP was triggered during times of extreme weather conditions; and included an out-of-hours service to help meet all requests with respect and dignity.


The report advised Members that the Protocol had been developed in response to the Government’s 2011 Plan - ‘Vision to End Rough Sleeping: No Second Night Out’, primarily to address the growing number of rough sleepers in London, rough sleeper numbers in Dartford were extremely low in comparison. The Council’s year round measures, deployed together with partner organisations, more than met the need of the small core rough sleeper cohort in the Borough. In addition to the Council’s year round measures, SWEP had been formally activated 9 times in the last 3 year period, to provide emergency accommodation for a total of 6 rough sleepers [report paras 4.1 and 4.2 refer].


In response to specific questions from Members, the Head of Housing Services confirmed the following points:


·       On a reactive basis the Council maintained an emergency accommodation help-line, via a duty officer on a 24/7 basis with calls relayed through the Housing Solutions call centre. The DCWS (Dartford Churches Winter Shelter) and Porchlight, had details of the Council’s out-of-hours arrangements. Housing Services also issued a press release when SWEP was formally activated [following a forecast of 3 consecutive days of severe weather];

·       The Council’s proactive measures included searching out Dartford’s small but entrenched cadre of rough sleepers in times of severe weather. Detailed arrangements for Winter 2020/21 were set out in paragraph 6 of the report, and the Council’s Housing Solutions Team and Private Sector Manager were already in touch with the DCWS team and Porchlight colleagues to pursue all options;

·       The Council had provided financial support to the DCWA scheme for some 5 years including Winter 2019, but the impact of COVID-19 and the subsequent Government distancing regulations, meant that the DCWA scheme would not operate in Winter 2020. New measures to accommodate rough sleepers were being pursued, with the possibility of financial support from a Government scheme announced in June 2020. The Council had submitted a funding bid to Government, including an element for Porchlight to support rough sleepers,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 44.


Work Plan Update pdf icon PDF 118 KB

To consider the updated Work Plan and comment accordingly.

Additional documents:




That Members note the updated Work Plan for the remainder of the 2020-21 municipal cycle, attached as Appendix A to the report.