Agenda and draft minutes

Cabinet Advisory Panel A - Monday 21 February 2022 7.00 pm

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

Contact: Email: memberservices@dartford.gov.uk 

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were submitted on behalf of Councillors R Gosine and D J Reynolds.

2.

Items Drawn Down for Debate

Minutes:

The Chairman advised Members that no items had been drawn down for debate from Parts B, C and D of the agenda.

 

Accordingly Members endorsed the officer recommendations in the following items:

 

12

Extension of the Transitional Relief and Supporting Small Business Rates Relief Scheme 2022/23

13

Council Tax Discounts for Unoccupied and Unfurnished Dwellings and Long Term Empty Premium

14

Write-off of National Non-Domestic Rates

15

Calendar of meetings of the General Assembly of the Council, Committees, Boards and Panels 2022-24

16

Report of Delegated action under Standing Order 38: Decarbonisation Works to Public Buildings

17

Committee minutes

 

  • Policy Overview Committee on 14 December 2021
  • Strategic Housing Board on 28 January 2022.

A

Write-off of National Non-Domestic Rates – Exempt Appendix A

 

3.

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 & Director of Corporate Services.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest in items for discussion.

 

4.

Confirmation of the Minutes of the Meeting of the Cabinet held on 27 January 2022 pdf icon PDF 228 KB

Summary:

 

To consider  the minutes of the meeting of the Cabinet held on 27 January 2022 as an accurate record.

 

Recommendation:

 

That the minutes of the meeting of the Cabinet held on 27 January 2022 be confirmed as an accurate record.

Minutes:

The Cabinet Advisory Panel noted the minutes of the meeting of the Cabinet held on 27 January 2022.

5.

Urgent Items

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

Minutes:

There were no urgent items.

6.

References from Committees

None at this stage.

Minutes:

There were no references from other committees.

7.

Draft Budget 2022/23 and Fees and Charges 2022/23 pdf icon PDF 93 KB

Summary:

 

To consider the Draft Budget for 2022-23. The report:

 

·         proposes and recommends the draft Budget 2022/23 to the General Assembly of the Council for approval;

·         recommends the freezing of rents for Housing Revenue Account properties and the chargeable for pitches at Claywood Lane, Caravan Site, Bean; and

·      recommends approval of Fees and Charges schedules for the General Fund and HRA.

 

Recommendations:

 

1. That, for the reasons detailed in paras. 3.4 and 3.5 of the report, the rents relating to Housing Revenue Account properties and the chargeable for pitches at Claywood Lane, Caravan Site, Bean be frozen from the first rent week in 2022/23;

 

2.  That the draft Budget, including an update on the current financial position, at Appendix A to the report, be proposed and recommended to the General Assembly of the Council for approval;

 

3.  That the Customer Access Review, at Appendix B to the report, be noted; and

 

4.  That the Fees and Charges 2022/23 (at Appendix B(ii) and C(iii) - draft Budget), with effect from 1 April 2022, be approved.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of Finance presented a report on the proposed Revenue and Capital Budgets for 2022-23, including setting the overall level of General Fund and Housing Revenue Account revenue and capital expenditure for Dartford Borough Council for 2022/23,  the level of Council Tax for Dartford Borough in its parished and unparished areas for 2022/23, fees and charges for 2022/23, and  approving the Pay Policy Statement and sundry related matters. The Cabinet was asked to agree certain matters within its remit, including setting fees and charges and the HRA rents, and to recommend the budget to the GAC (Budget) for approval.

 

The Chairman congratulated officers on the preparation of the budget proposals and noted that these reflected the Council’s prudent approach to budgeting over many years which had stood the Council in good stead during recent national challenges. He noted that no increase was proposed for the Dartford Borough Council element of council tax and that rents for Council social housing were also to be frozen.

 

A Member said that whilst it was proposed to increase staff salaries by 2% this did not appear to be reflected in the budget for staffing for Planning & Development Control which seemed broadly the same for 2022/23 as in the current year, and wondered whether this meant that there had been some reduction in actual staffing. He also wondered why there had been no increase in Planning fees and charges. The Head of Finance explained that the overall figures for staffing across the entire budget were composed of many elements. In the specific example mentioned there were other factors such as some staff being funded by a Crossrail grant in the current year and the use of agency/contracted staff but that these could not necessarily be included in core budgets. The Chairman provided clarification on Planning fees which he said were largely set by the Government.

 

A Member also noted that the charge for bulky waste collection was being increased from £30 to £35 and was concerned  that this could be a dis-incentive to responsible behaviour and could result in more fly-tipping. The Head of Finance explained that it was important for the Council to cover the costs of its services, that the charge was in line with charges made by neighbouring authorities and that Dartford had a good track record of addressing fly-tipping. Another Member also noted that KCC had researched this issue and found that a small increase in charges was unlikely to result in an increase in fly-tipping.

 

A Member noted that the Council was receiving over £3M in New Homes Bonus and said that c2M of this was being transferred to reserves but asked what the remaining £1M would be used for. The Head of Finance explained that, basically, all of the Council’s New Homes Bonus, £2.17M, was being placed into reserves but that the Council also received Lower Tier Service Grant which was also making a contribution to reserves.

 

A Member welcomed the decision not to increase  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Proposals for Public Spaces Protection Order The Dartford Borough Council Public Spaces Protection Order 2022 - Nuisance Vehicles - Borough of Dartford pdf icon PDF 264 KB

Summary:

 

To consider a proposal to implement Part 4, Section 59 of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 to make a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO), to supress the growing incidents of traffic offences and associated anti-social behaviour occurring principally due to nuisance vehicles across the Borough. The Cabinet is also asked to keep the existing Public Spaces Protection Order in Town Ward in place.

Recommendations:

1. That on being satisfied that the anti-social behaviour activities detailed in paras.3.91 and 3.92 of the report are having, or are likely to have, a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the locality, are persistent or continuing nature and unreasonable, the Director of Housing and Public Protection be authorised to commence the statutory consultation to enable the Council to make a Public Spaces Protection Order prohibiting anti-social behaviour associated with the gathering displaying and racing of motor vehicles as well as driving on land other than a road on terms set out in Appendix A to the report, to apply to the whole of the Council’s administrative area, as identified on the Order Map, at Appendix B to the report;

 

2.That, should recommendation 2.1 be approved, a second report be presented to Cabinet which takes into account the outcome of the consultation process with a view to seeking authority for the Head of Legal Services to make The Dartford Borough Council Public Spaces Protection Order 2022 – Nuisance Vehicles – Borough of Dartford, for a period of three years; and

 

3. That the Public Spaces Protection Order for Dartford Town Centre remains in place.

 

 

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Community Safety Officer presented a report which set out a proposal to implement Part 4, Section 59 of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 to make a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO), to supress the growing incidents of traffic offences and associated anti-social behaviour occurring principally due to nuisance vehicles across the Borough. The report described the nuisance caused by the gathering of motor cars in car parks and other public places which were then driven along the arterial road system in such a manner and volume to cause significant alarm, harassment and distress to other road users, most notably in the area around Crossways Boulevard, and the use of vehicles and motorcycles on private land without the landlord’s permission driven in a manner causing alarm, harassment and distress to residents, often by people under the age of 18. The report outlined the existing enforcement powers available and how they were applied, and detailed the advantages that introducing a Public Spaces Protection Order could offer to deter and control these activities. The report detailed the next steps, including consultation with the Police, the Police & Crime Commissioner, other relevant authorities, including Kent County Council and Parish Councils, and community stakeholders. Despite the significant challenge of implementing such a scheme, it was felt that the level of community upset demonstrated within the data justified the making of a Public Spaces Protection Order, which would prohibit a range of behaviours evidenced over the past 12 months within the Borough. The aim would be to exert greater control on anti-social behaviour related to certain vehicle gatherings, the manner of driving and riding on land other than roads, in circumstances which were both unnecessary and damaging to the quality of life of many residents.

Members thanked the Community Safety Officer for his comprehensive presentation.

A Member asked whether land at Dartford Heath and Joydens Wood would be covered by the PSPO and it was confirmed that it would be covered.

A Member also asked whether the police would support enforcement activities under the PSPO and was advised that, whilst not seeking to pre-empt their response to the consultation, the local police had been very supportive during the development of the proposals. The Community Safety Officer made it clear however that there were some aspects of law enforcement, such as speeding on local roads, that would not be enforced by council officers and would more appropriately be a matter for the police.

A Member asked whether powers under the PSPO might be applicable to large radio-controlled vehicles which were becoming an increasing nuisance on public land. The Community Safety Officer explained that the definition used in the PSPO for off-road vehicles included ‘mechanically propelled vehicles’ and might therefore be applicable.

The Chairman asked whether the PSPO might also assist with dealing with ASB around schools.

The Enforcement & Regulatory Services Manager reminded Members of the success of the Council’s ground-breaking ASB activity around 4 schools in the borough, in addition to mobile CCTV activity,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Climate Change Impact Assessment pdf icon PDF 122 KB

Summary:

 

The Council recognises the serious impact of climate change andis committed to playing its part in pursuing measures that address environmental decline.

 

As part of this commitment this report sets out a new approach that will ensure that climate change impact assessments are undertaken as part of the service design and report formulation process for all future Committee reports. This will put a clear focus on the impact of Council’s actions on climate change at the heart of all future decision making

 

Recommendation:

 

That for the reasons set out in the report, a climate change impact assessment is undertaken as part of all future reports, and for the outcome to be reported as a mandatory requirement, ensuring that formal decisions are made having considered the potential impact on climate change.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Director of Housing & Public Protection presented a report which proposed the introduction of a requirement for climate change impact assessments to be carried out as part of the service design and report formulation process for all future committee reports. This would put a clear focus on the impact of the Council’s actions on climate change at the heart of all future decision making and make it a ‘golden thread’ in the decision making process. It was intended to ensure that potential climate change implications were recognised in every area of Council policy. In future officers would be required to carry out a mandatory climate impact assessment and to detail this in the risk assessment section of each report. The assessment would include positive as well as negative impacts, and would identify potential mitigations and would be a step towards the introduction of a Climate Change hub. This would also be embedded in the Council’s risk management processes.

 

A Member welcomed the actions already being taken by the Council to address climate change and the fact that these would now be consolidated into the Council’s decision making processes. She welcomed the Action plan which would grow and develop over time but constituted a good start.

 

In response to a question, the Director of Housing & Public Protection informed Members that the council was carrying out a comprehensive tree planting programme and that he would supply details to the Member concerned.

 

The Cabinet Advisory Panel endorsed the recommendations contained in the report.

 

10.

Risk Management Strategy Review 2021 pdf icon PDF 69 KB

Summary:

 

To consider the revised Risk Management Strategy and associated guidance following consideration by the Audit Board on 26 January 2022.

 

Recommendation:

 

That the Risk Management Strategy, at Appendix A to the report, be approved.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chief Officer & Director of Corporate Services presented a report which sought Cabinet approval for a new risk Management Strategy and associated Risk Management Guidance. The Strategy had last been reviewed in 2015 and a thorough review had now been carried out to produce the new Strategy which set out the Council’s approach to risk management and the practices that it would adopt to ensure effective governance of the risk management process to assist with achieving the Council’s strategic and operational objectives, and also set out the approach where matters might be outside the Council’s ‘risk appetite’. It had also been recognised that the Council’s existing risk register was too complex and also needed to be reviewed. This would be done once the new Strategy and Guidance had been agreed. The new Strategy and Guidance had been endorsed by the Audit Board on 26 January 2022.

 

The Chairman asked whether there would be additional burdens on local event organisers in terms of requirements to carry out risk assessments but was advised that the Strategy and Guidance only applied to Council risk management.

 

The Cabinet Advisory Panel endorsed the recommendations contained in the report.

11.

Proposed Response to the Consultation on the Introduction of Tenant Satisfaction Measures by the Regulator of Social Housing pdf icon PDF 105 KB

Summary:

 

The Regulator of Social Housing is seeking views on its proposals for tenant satisfaction measures which are part of implementing changes to consumer regulation set out in the Government’s ‘The Charter for Social Housing Residents: Social Housing White Paper. The report sets out the Council’s proposed response to the consultation.

 

Recommendation:

 

That the Council’s proposed response, at Appendix A to the report, be approved for submission to the Regulator of Social Housing.

 

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of Housing presented a report which detailed a consultation being carried out by the Regulator of Social Housing seeking views on its proposals to introduce tenant satisfaction measures (TMS’s) as part of implementing changes to consumer regulation set out in the Government’s ‘The Charter for Social Housing Residents: Social Housing White Paper. The Social Housing White Paper set out what every social housing resident should be able to expect from their landlord under seven broad themes and  also set out a requirement for social housing landlords to report on a set of tenant satisfaction measures to the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH). The measures would provide data about social housing landlords’ performance and the quality of their services to help tenants hold their landlord to account and help the RSH in its future consumer regulation role. On 9 December 2021, the RSH published its consultation on the proposed set of tenant satisfaction measures (TSMs), which were intended to come into effect in 2023. Currently there were 22 TSMs which reflected the themes in the White Paper, made up of 12 measures generated from tenant perception surveys, and 10 measures generated from management information held by the landlord which would be reported annually.

 

Registered providers would be required to collect information specified by the Regulator relating to their performance against the tenant satisfaction measures and to publish their performance against the tenant satisfaction measures each year. They would also need to submit information specified by the Regulator relating to their performance against those measures and to ensure that information was accurate and submitted in accordance with the Regulator’s requirements. The Council’s proposed response to the consultation, which was due by 3 March 2022, was submitted for consideration.

 

The Chairman asked whether the Housing Department would need additional resources to deal with the new requirements. The Head of Housing said that this was uncertain as the detail of what might be involved was still not known, but was likely to focus on performance, and that an additional officer had already been put in place.

 

A Member raised some concern about the obligations placed on an aging tenant community to maintain properties to the expected standard and felt that more empathy with tenants might be needed on occasion according to their circumstances.

 

The Director of Housing & Public Protection stressed that the Council was already an empathetic and supportive landlord but that there would always need to be a balance between the responsibilities of the tenant and the landlord. Staff were well resourced and the Estates Team had been strengthened to provide support to tenants where needed. He stressed, however, that the Council was reliant upon information provided by tenants. The Council had also introduced measures such as ‘Contractor Concern cards,’ whereby contractors could flag any issues, to improve the availability of information to the Council. Officers would also act on any referrals made by Members and there were other channels of communication such as the Advocacy service.

 

The Head of Housing  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.

12.

Extension of the Transitional Relief and Supporting Small Business Rates Relief Scheme 2022/23 pdf icon PDF 72 KB

Summary:

 

To consider the proposed approach to delivering the Government’s extension to Transitional Relief and Supporting Small Business Rates Relief.

 

Recommendations:

 

1. That, the Government’s announcement to extend the current transitional relief and supporting small business rates relief for small and medium properties, for one year to the end of the current revaluation cycle, be noted; and

 

2. That the Extension to the Transitional Relief and Supporting Small Business Rates Relief Scheme (2022/23), as set out in Appendix A to the report, be approved.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Advisory Panel endorsed the recommendations contained in the report.

13.

Council Tax Discounts for Unoccupied and Unfurnished Dwellings and Long Term Empty Premium pdf icon PDF 106 KB

Summary:

 

To consider the level of Council Tax discount for unoccupied and unfurnished dwellings and to consider increasing the premium on dwellings that are long term empty (unoccupied and unfurnished for more than 2 years).

 

Recommendations:

 

1. That Cabinet recommend to the General Assembly of the Council that the Council Tax discount for unoccupied and unfurnished dwellings, be changed from 100% for one month to 0%; and

 

2. That Cabinet recommend to the General Assembly of the Council that the additional charge for dwellings that are unoccupied and unfurnished for 5 years to one day less than 10 years, be increased from 100% to 200% and dwellings that are unoccupied and unfurnished for 10 years or more, be increased to 300%.

Minutes:

The Cabinet Advisory Panel endorsed the recommendations contained in the report.

14.

Write-off of National Non-Domestic Rates pdf icon PDF 99 KB

Summary:

 

To consider writing-off Non Domestic Rate debts where it has not been possible to obtain payment because of insolvency, because the ratepayer cannot be traced or where the debt is otherwise irrecoverable.

 

Recommendation:

 

That the sums shown at Appendix A, in the confidential part of the report, amounting to £252,367.72, be written off as uncollectible.

 

Minutes:

The Cabinet Advisory Panel endorsed the recommendations contained in the report.

15.

Calendar of meetings of the General Assembly of the Council, Committees, Boards and Panels 2022-24 pdf icon PDF 58 KB

Summary:

 

To seek Members’ views on the proposed calendar of meetings for the Municipal Year 2022/23 and the provisional calendar for 2023/24.

 

Recommendation:

 

That the proposed calendar of meetings for the Municipal Year 2022/23 and the provisional calendar of meetings for 2023/24 be submitted to the Annual Meeting of the Council.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Advisory Panel endorsed the recommendations contained in the report.

16.

Delegated Action taken under Standing Order 38: Decarbonisation Works to Public Buildings pdf icon PDF 77 KB

Summary:

 

To report to Cabinet, in accordance with the requirements of Standing Order 38(2)(b), the delegated action taken under Standing Order 38(2)(a) by the Director of Housing & Public Protection, in consultation with the Cabinet Chairman, relating to a revised scheme for decarbonisation works to public buildings, utilising funding from the Government and additional Council funding, and to place orders to ensure that the works can be completed by the end of June 2022 as stipulated in the conditions of the funding agreement.

 

Recommendation:

 

That Cabinet notes the action taken by the Director of Housing & Public Protection, in consultation with the Cabinet Chairman, under Standing Order 38(2)(a), to implement a revised scheme for decarbonisation works to public buildings, utilising funding from the Government and additional Council funding, and to place orders to ensure that the works can be completed by the end of June 2022 as stipulated in the conditions of the funding agreement with the Government.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Advisory Panel endorsed the recommendations contained in the report.

17.

Committee Minutes pdf icon PDF 398 KB

Summary:

 

To consider the minutes of the following meetings:

 

(a) Policy Overview Committee held on 14 December 2021; and

 

(b) Strategic Housing Board held on 28 January 2022.

 

Recommendation:

 

That the minutes of the Policy Overview Committee held on 14 December 2021 and of the Strategic Housing Board held on 28 January 2022 be noted.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Advisory Panel endorsed the recommendations contained in the report.

18.

Write-off of National Non-Domestic Rates - Exempt Appendix A (Exempt Category SO 46(1)(b) Annex 1 Paragraph 3)

Summary:

 

To consider Exempt Appendix A to the main report providing details of cases where the Cabinet is being asked to write-off Non Domestic Rate debts where it has not been possible to obtain payment because of insolvency, because the ratepayer cannot be traced or where the debt is otherwise irrecoverable.

 

Recommendation:

 

That the sums shown at Exempt Appendix A to the main report, amounting to £252,367.72, be written off as uncollectible.

 

 

Minutes:

The Cabinet Advisory Panel endorsed the recommendations contained in the report.