Agenda and draft minutes

Scrutiny Committee - Tuesday 15 November 2022 7.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber - Civic Centre. View directions

Contact: Email: memberservices@dartford.gov.uk 

Items
No. Item

11.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Ben Moussa, Burrell, Cutler, Garden, Gaskin, Holt, Oakley-Dow and Reynolds.

 

The Chairman welcomed Members, guests and Officers to the proceedings and noted the presence of the Leader of the Council in his role as a Director of Dartford Football Club for agenda item 8 – Princes Park Annual Update report for 2021-22.

12.

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 the Chief Officer and Director of Corporate Services.

Minutes:

Councillor Kite declared an interest as a Director of Dartford Football Club for agenda item 8 and advised that he would participate in the discussion of the item in that role, not as Leader of the Council.

 

There were no other declarations of interest.

13.

Confirmation of the Minutes of the meeting held on 12 July 2022 pdf icon PDF 164 KB

Minutes:

                                    RESOLVED:

 

That the minutes of the Committee’s meeting held on 12 July 2022 be confirmed as an accurate record of those proceedings.

14.

Urgent Items

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

Minutes:

The Chairman announced that there were no urgent items for consideration.

15.

To consider references from other Committees (if any)

Minutes:

There were no references from other committees.

16.

Chairman's Update

Minutes:

The Chairman advised Members that she was continuing to take forward her proposals for new topics for inclusion in the Committee’s current rolling Work Plan with Directors.

17.

Regulation 9 Notice [Forward Plan]

To consider any issues arising from the Regulation 9 Notice for the period 14 October 2022 to 28 February 2023.

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

 

That the contents of the Regulation 9 Notice [Forward Plan] for the period 14 October 2022 to 28 February 2023 be noted.

18.

Princes Park Annual Update 2021-22 pdf icon PDF 75 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The covering report from the Leisure & Communities Officer set out the main elements of the lease between the Council and Dartford Football Club (DFC) for the running of Princes Park, Dartford.

 

Appendix A to the covering report comprised DFC’s annual report for the period June 2021 – May 2022 on the running of Princes Park, as required under the terms of the Service Level Agreement (SLA) between the Council and the Club.

 

Councillor Kite, attending proceedings in his role as a Director of Dartford Football Club [Min. No. 12 refers], summarised the history of the Club and its historic connection with Dartford and the Council, for the particular benefit of new Members.

 

First formed in 1888 the Club had grown steadily throughout the 20th century reaching a performance peak in the 1970’s, including an appearance at the old Wembley stadium in 1974. The Club had originally played at the old Watling Street ground prior to Maidstone FC taking over that venue under an agreement with DFC. Maidstone’s subsequent liquidation, including the loss of the Watling Street ground, had burdened the Club with a proportion of Maidstone’s debt, and forced it to appear at a variety of venues across Kent and Essex in subsequent years. However, the DFC registration had been retained and in 2003, when the present Council Administration took office, plans were made for the Council to provide a new stadium venue for the Club and community facilities for the residents of Dartford. The Princes Park stadium complex had opened in 2006, built to a state of the art eco-friendly design, which had won an award ahead of the new Wembley and Arsenal’s Emirates stadiums that year, at a cost of only £7M. Since then, the Princes Park complex had grown into a substantial community asset, providing football facilities for all age groups and genders, from 7 years old to ‘Walking Football’ for senior citizen. DFC afforded equal priority, investment and funding to both its Men’s and Women’s teams, and the Princes Park complex also boasted a 9 hole golf course managed by a professional golfer, and offered facilities for a running club and other sports groups. Princes Park also operated as a training base for Kent Ambulance Services, in addition to an inoculation centre throughout the Pandemic, and had been used by the Council as a food distribution hub for the vulnerable and those in need throughout the Pandemic and subsequent periods of Government Lock-Down.

 

In concluding his remarks, Cllr. Kite advised that the Princes Park stadium was now beginning to show its age, and was in need of some care and repair, but as a community asset offering a wealth of facilities for all age groups, Princes Park continued to go from strength to strength, as detailed in the Clubs 2021-22 Annual Report [Appendix A to the covering report from the Leisure and Communities Officer].

 

The Chairman thanked Cllr. Kite for his verbal summary and update to the Committee, and supported him in his positive assessment  ...  view the full minutes text for item 18.

19.

Dartford Cricket Club Ltd. 2021-22 Annual Report pdf icon PDF 75 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chairman renewed her welcome to Mr Harry Bright, Chairman, Dartford Cricket Club (DCC) Ltd and invited him to summarise his 2021-22 annual report for Members [Appendix A to the covering report].

 

Mr Bright advised Members that DCC’s cricket history in Dartford stretched back to 1727 and that the Club had played in Hesketh Park since 1904. In 2016 the Club had reshaped its constitution to become a private members not for profit Community Amateur Sports Club (a CASC), which had coincided with the Council’s development of the new cricket pavilion in Hesketh Park as owner of the land and Trustee for Hesketh Park. In 2017 the Club had entered into a 25 year maintenance and repair lease with the Council for the new Pavilion and playing surface, which had greatly enhanced the Club’s standing in the Kent cricketing community. In addition to greatly enhanced changing room facilities, the new Pavilion in Hesketh Park had enabled the Club to expand its non-cricket community activities as listed on page 2 of the report [agenda p.20 refers].

 

At present, DCC played in the second tier of the Kent cricket pyramid, fielding 5 Saturday and 2 Sunday sides, with players drawn from across the community dynamic, in particular from the resident Asian community. The Club now aspired to play in the top tier of Kent cricket, but required further investment to do so. Since the COVID pandemic and successive periods of Government enforced lock-down, the Club’s expenses in maintaining the Pavilion and the playing surfaces in Hesketh Park had risen dramatically, and it was only just ‘keeping its head above water’ financially. Both the outfield in Hesketh Park and in particular the ‘’cricket square’, had suffered substantially from excessive dog-fouling and unauthorised non-cricket sport’s during COVID as detailed in pages 2 and 3 of his report [agenda pages 20/21 refer]. Those non-cricket activities had continued post-Pandemic with a hard core of dog walkers causing sustained damage to the ‘cricket square’, despite the Club’s interventions. Illegal use of the Pavilion car park and Hesketh Park after dark for drug and alcohol abuse was a continued concern for the Club, who had notified both Kent Police and the Council’s Community Safety Unit (CSU) of their concerns in those areas. The Council had repaired the CCTV facility in the Pavilion car park, but Hesketh Park itself was not subject to CCTV surveillance to discourage illegal activity/provide footage for prosecutions.

 

The Leader of the Council [participating in the debate as a Cabinet Member], the Chairman, Vice-Chairman and several Committee Members, all spoke in support of the Club and the significant community service it was providing both in cricket and non-cricket terms in Hesketh Park. However, it was also noted, that the majority of the land in Hesketh Park was charitable land, bequeathed to the Council (as Trustee) by Everard Hesketh as a public recreation ground and that as such, the public had a right to use for all such purposes, including dog walking and other sporting and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 19.

20.

Corporate Plan Performance Indicators 2022 pdf icon PDF 94 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report from the Community Services Manager (CSM) informed Members of the first quarter returns on the Council’s 2021 – 2023 Corporate Plan Performance Indicators [attached as Appendix A to the report].

 

Members were reminded that the 2021-2023 Corporate Plan set out the vision and priority themes for the Council and the Borough as a whole, and provided a focus for the work of the Council, taking account of its primary role in delivering high quality services to local residents and businesses, and its key role in the regeneration of the area.

 

The Vice-Chairman noted, with regard to Appendix A to the report, that full details for PP1 29, PCS 23 and RBPI 1 had not been included, and requested that the missing data be circulated to Members post-meeting. He also sought figures for the number of electrical charging points in the Borough given the increase in purchase of electrical vehicles, and noted the lack of a target for recorded incidents of domestic abuse [EARPI 5 refers].

 

Members were advised that data for the number of electrical charging points throughout the Borough was not available, but that all new-build properties were required to include one. A target for domestic abuse [DA] was not appropriate. The purpose of the PI was to demonstrate that victims were continuing to come forward and report offences, and that Council Officers [together with Kent Police and other agencies], were keeping records and taking appropriate and effective action to combat DA and help victims. In that context, an increase in the report rate from the previous quarter was the target, and records showed that this was the case.

 

The Director of Growth & Community informed Members that the Council had attained ‘White Ribbon’ accreditation, i.e. an organization that stands against male violence against women and girls, and was in the process of formulating a 3 year Action Plan for Dartford. Members would be notified of the Council’s proposed Pathway and significant Milestones as they were agreed going forward, including marking national ‘White Ribbon Day’ on Friday 25 November.

 

The Vice-Chairman expressed his concern over the low Qtr. 1 status for Rent Collection & Arrears Recovery, and the percentages of both in-year collection of Council Tax and Business Rates [PF 2, PS 3 and PS4 refer], and asked what sums were involved.

 

The Director of Growth & Community advised that the Quarterly PIs [particularly for Q1], only represented a snap-shot of current activity. Collection of all three revenue streams continued throughout the fiscal year against realistic targets until February, when the General Assembly of the Council were asked to approve any write-offs as part of the budget for the ensuing fiscal period.

 

The Chairman welcomed the addition of a new PI to record the level of carbon emission and water usage from the Council’s corporate property portfolio [Appendix A, Section 4 Environment & Sustainability refers], but expressed concern at the level of fly tipping incidents recorded at PI B1 12 [760 to date], and wondered whether the KCC charging regime at  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20.

21.

Committee Work Plan 2022-23 pdf icon PDF 92 KB

To consider an update to the Committee’s current Work Plan.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report from the Committee Co-ordinator attached an updated Work Plan for the remainder of the current 2022-23 municipal year [Appendix A to the report refers].

 

He reminded Members of the Committee’s key role to scrutinise the decisions of Cabinet [as set out in detail in para 3.4 of the report]. The Committee’s rolling Work Plan (WP) was a statutory requirement, and helped Members to schedule the scrutiny of stock annual reports for the Orchard Theatre, Princes Park, Dartford Cricket Club in Hesketh Park, and from 2023 an initial report from Dartford Rugby Club. The WP could be supplemented at each meeting with new items, or have existing items deferred, pending update reports from Officers. The draw-down process [set out in the Committee’s Protocol], enabled Members from all parties represented on the Committee to draw-down additional items for consideration, pending approval from the relevant Director.

 

In response to a specific enquiry from the Chairman, it was confirmed that the Committee’s work was not confined solely to decisions made by Cabinet. Any Council policy or area of operation was open to scrutiny by the Committee provided it affected 2 (two) or more Wards of the Borough and was not already under active consideration by either the Policy Overview or Crime & Disorder (Overview & Scrutiny) Committees.

 

                        RESOLVED:

 

That Members note the report and updated Work Plan [Appendix A to the report].