Agenda and draft minutes

Scrutiny Committee - Tuesday 19 October 2021 7.00 pm

Venue: Room B12, Civic Centre, Home Gardens, Dartford, Kent, DA1 1DR

Contact: Email: 

No. Item


Apologies for Absence


Apologies for absence were submitted on behalf of Councillors S P Butterfill and A S Sandhu MBE.


Declarations of Interest

To receive declarations of interest from Members including the term(s) of any Grants of Dispensation by the Audit Board or Chief Officer and Director of Corporate Services.


The Leader of the Council attending in his Cabinet capacity, declared a personal interest as a Director of Dartford Football Club in respect of agenda item 8 – Princes Park Annual Update 2020-21. He advised the Committee that he would be responding on behalf of the Club for that item, not as a Dartford Borough Councillor.



Confirmation of the Minutes of the meeting held on 13 July 2021 pdf icon PDF 289 KB




That the minutes of the Committee meeting held on 13 July 2021 were confirmed as an accurate account of those proceedings.


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 the Committee to consider.


To consider references from other Committees (if any)

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


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


Chairman's Update


The Chairman had no specific points to bring to the Committee’s attention, but repeated his previous request that Members from all political groups give consideration to additional items to supplement the current 2021-22 Work Plan, or on a draw-down basis as set out in the Committee’s Protocol. He noted in this context that the current Work Plan had no substantive items scheduled for January or April 2022.


Regulation 9 Notice [Forward Plan] pdf icon PDF 84 KB

To consider any issues arising from the Regulation 9 Notice [Forward Plan] for the period 15 September 2021 to 31 January 2022.


At the Chairman’s request, the Committee Clerk reminded Members that the Regulation 9 Notice [Forward Plan] was for the Committee to note, and that forthcoming topics for consideration by Cabinet could be drawn-down by the Committee prior to Cabinet consideration and implementation and subsequently at any time.




That Members note the contents of the Regulation 9 Notice [Forward Plan] for the period 15 September 2021 to 31 January 2022.


Princes Park Annual Update 2020-21 pdf icon PDF 115 KB

Additional documents:


The covering report from the Communities and Leisure Officer enclosed at Appendix A, the 2020-21 Annual Report on Princes Park from Dartford Football Club (DFC).


The Leader of the Council confirmed his earlier declaration [Min. No. 15 refers], that he would respond to any questions in his role as a Director of Dartford Football Club (DFC) not a Councillor, and that Officers would respond to any questions regarding Council areas of responsibility for Princes Park.


The Vice-Chairman commended the DFC 2020-21 Annual Report on Princes Park [Appendix A in the papers] to the Committee for approval. He said that the DFC report was a comprehensive record of all the activities being managed by the Club in the Park on behalf of the Council under the terms of the SLA (Service Level Agreement). He noted in particular the improvements made to the golf facilities in Princes Park [Appendix A second and third paras refer], but proposed that future reports should include comparative data for the previous year, and a forecast of aims and objectives for the ensuing year, to help build a more comprehensive picture of progress.


The Leader of the Council, speaking in his capacity as a Director of Dartford Football Club, thanked the Vice-Chairman for his positive comments and noted his proposals regarding future annual reports from DFC regarding the activities and amenities managed in the Park on behalf of the Council under the terms of the SLA. He advised that the golf facility in particular had improved significantly under the management of Mr Paul Page a golf professional. The course now benefitted from improved drainage and was an excellent facility for both club level players and beginners of which he was one. Lessons were also available from Mr Page under the community outreach programme.


In response to a variety of other questions from individual Members, the Leader of the Council gave the following responses on behalf of DFC:


·       London City Lionesses and Charlton Under 23’s had enjoyed good seasons at Princes Park in the period under review and it was possible that those arrangements would continue;

·       Dartford Ladies team continued to flourish and the Club had made a commitment to support the Ladies team on an equal basis with the Men’s team;

·       DFC had a special relationship with the Leigh Academy given their very close proximity and the inter-linked nature of the Academy and Park sites, which negated any travel costs for Academy pupils

·       All Dartford schools were eligible to benefit from DFC training in Princes Park, but he was aware that travel costs for some schools remained a problem and could be prohibitive;

·       Primary schools were catered for on a Saturday morning, on all playing surfaces, prior to  match days in the afternoon;

·       SCL provided a full-time education and football development programme for 16-18 year olds for 50 students, in addition to the Club’s pre-Academy (7-16 years old’s) and Academy programmes;

·       A visit to Princes Park for the Committee and any other Members to see the various  ...  view the full minutes text for item 21.


Dartford Cricket Club in Hesketh Park Annual Update 2020-21 pdf icon PDF 114 KB

Additional documents:


The report from the Communities and Leisure Officer updated the Committee regarding community use of the Dartford Cricket Club Ltd.’s pavilion in Hesketh Park for the year ending October 2021. Details of that use in the period under reviews were set out in the Club’s Community Use Information – October 2021 leaflet, attached as Appendix A to the report.


The Chairman welcomed Mr Harry Bright, Chairman of Dartford Cricket Club Ltd (DCC) to the proceedings, and invited Members to pose questions on the report and attached appendix.


The Vice-Chairman expressed his concern at the lack of detail in the DCC leaflet. In particular a lack of comparative data from the previous 2020 season, and an absence of any stated aims or targets for the forthcoming 2022 season.


The Leisure and Communities Officer reminded Members that the DCC paid the Council rent for the use of the Pavilion building in Hesketh Park under a 25 year lease agreement [report para 3.1 refers]. An SLA was not appropriate to a rental agreement and the DCC were not obliged to identify specific annual aims and objections as part of their tenancy arrangements with the Council. However, as the operator of a facility that had benefitted from significant Council investment, DCC were invited to submit a short annual review for publication which summarised their activities and links with the community [report 3.2 and 3.3 and Cabinet Min. No. 59 of 2016 refer], as set out in Appendix A to the report.


Mr Bright, DCC Chairman, advised Members that due to the Pandemic, DCC had been in almost continuous lock-down in the period under review, a situation which had inevitably impacted on the Club’s performance. The Government’s Furlough scheme had helped the Club to retain staff and more games had now been played in the 2021 reporting period than in 2019. The Junior cricket team continued to flourish and the Senior team had been promoted to the higher Division. The Club continued to attract a good social, gender and ethnic mix to its activities, and had continued to be a point of reference for St. John’s Ambulance training for S.E. England. But the Club’s finances were limited and the Pandemic had imposed a considerable fiscal strain on its activities in the period under review.


He advised Members that the Club’s requirement to maintain the Outfield playing surface in Hesketh Park under the terms of its rental agreement with the Council had been a major financial burden during the Pandemic. The Outfield had been devastated during the successive periods of COVID-19 lock-down, when Hesketh Park had been subjected to vastly increased levels of foot-fall as the public sought respite from lock-down and undertook  a wide selection of recreational activities in the park, including impromptu games of football.


Hesketh Park as a whole had also suffered from an infestation of Leather Jacket beetles which had further damaged the turf in the Outfield. Fox and domestic pet activity had exacerbated that damage to the Outfield resulting in deep  ...  view the full minutes text for item 22.


Review 2021-22 Work Plan pdf icon PDF 117 KB

Additional documents:


The report from the Committee Co-ordinator attached at Appendix A the current 2021-22 Work Plan for the Committee and sough Members views on the addition of further items or the re-scheduling of existing items.


The Chairman noted the absence of any substantive items in the Work Plan for the Committee’s meetings due to be held in January and April 2022, notwithstanding the addition of any subsequent items through the draw-down process prior to each meeting.


In subsequent discussion Members identified a report from Dartford Valley Rugby Club, and scrutiny of the Council’s Local Impact Report (LIR) on the London Resort Development Consent Order [due to be presented to Cabinet on 27 January 2022], as two topics to be added to the current 2021-22 Work Plan, with timings to be confirmed by Officers in due course.




1.     That Members note the contents of the Committee’s current Work Plan as set out in Appendix A to the report;


2.     That Members agree the additions to the Work Plan detailed above, subject to specific timing proposals from Officers.


Post Meeting Note


Subsequent discussions by Officers with Dartford Valley Rugby Club, indicate that an initial report from the Club to the Committee would be most appropriate in April 2022, following completion of the current 2021-22 financial year and playing season.


The Head of Planning Services subsequently advised that her LIR report to Cabinet was unlikely to go to Cabinet before been moved back to March 2022 at the earliest [separate email to all Committee Members refers], which again indicates scrutiny of this topic by the Committee in April 2022.