Agenda and minutes

Council - Thursday, 19 October 2023 7.15pm

Venue: St George's Centre, Pembroke Road, Chatham Maritime, Chatham ME4 4UH

Contact: Wayne Hemingway, Head of Democratic Services 

Link: Audio recording of the meeting

Media

Items
No. Item

318.

Apologies for absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Browne, Shokar and Wildey.

319.

Declarations of Disclosable Pecuniary Interests and Other Significant Interests pdf icon PDF 371 KB

Members are invited to disclose any Disclosable Pecuniary Interests or Other Significant Interests in accordance with the Member Code of Conduct. Guidance on this is set out in agenda item 2.

Minutes:

Disclosable pecuniary interests

 

There were none.

 

Other significant interests (OSIs)

 

Councillor Perfect declared an interest in relation to agenda item no. 12 (Annual Review of the School Place Planning Strategy 2022-27) as he is a member of the Beyond Schools Trust and the Inspire Partnership Academy Trust. Councillor Perfect left the room during discussion and determination of the item.

Councillor Lawrence declared an interest in relation to agenda item no. 12 (Annual Review of the School Place Planning Strategy 2022-27) as he is the Chair of Trustees of the Inspire Partnership Academy Trust. Councillor Lawrence left the room during discussion and determination of the item.

Councillor Cook declared an interest in relation to agenda item no. 12 (Annual Review of the School Place Planning Strategy 2022-27) as she works with a number of schools mentioned in the report. Councillor Cook left the room during discussion and determination of the item.

Other interests

 

There were none.

320.

Record of meeting pdf icon PDF 598 KB

To approve the record of the meeting held on 20 July 2023.

Minutes:

The record of the meeting held on 20 July 2023 was approved and signed by the Worshipful Mayor as correct.

321.

Mayor's announcements

Minutes:

The Worshipful The Mayor of Medway announced that Michael Bailey, a former Rochester-Upon-Medway Councillor from 1991 to 1995 had passed away and that both Councillor Anang and Councillor Maple had lost their fathers recently. On behalf of the Council, the Mayor offered her condolences to the families.

 

The Mayor expressed her shock at the desecration of Chatham Memorial Synagogue cemetery in August and the events currently taking place in the Middle East.

 

A Minute’s silence was held.

 

The Mayor congratulated everyone involved in achieving the Ofsted ‘Good’ rating for Medway’s Children’s Services. She also thanked Gillingham Football Club for supporting the Children’s Services celebration event and thanked everyone who had helped make the Medway Pride event a success.

 

The Mayor announced forthcoming Mayoral events, including a charity quiz due to be held at Medway Rugby Club on 3 November and an evening of Nepalese Culture and Cuisine at Gurkha Brothers in Chatham on 18 November.

 

The recent Mayor’s charity “Call the Midwife” tour had raised over £600 for the Mayoral charities.

 

The Mayor reminded all Members to conduct themselves during the meeting in a manner befitting public office.

322.

Leader's announcements

Minutes:

The Leader said he was pleased to hear that Medway Interfaith Action would be sending out a message to the local community within the next 24 hours regarding the situation in the Middle East and that he would share it when published.

323.

Petitions

Minutes:

Public:

 

A petition was submitted on behalf of Medway Liberal Democrats that called on the Council to ensure it recognised different genders on all equality monitoring forms.

 

Member:

 

Councillor Brake submitted a petition on behalf of members of the public living in the vicinity of Bullrush Close and the Chester Avenue green space. This called on the Council to look at the security and wellbeing of the public with regards to the nuisance caused by motorcycles and quad bikes being ridden on the green space.

 

Councillor Spalding submitted a petition on behalf of members of the public that called upon the Council to introduce traffic calming measures along the Ratcliffe Highway through the village of St Mary Hoo.

324.

Public questions pdf icon PDF 92 KB

This report sets out the public questions received for this meeting. 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Question A – Sandra Fowler, of Chatham, asked the Portfolio Holder for Heritage, Culture and Leisure, Councillor Mahil, the following:

“Some Councillors, particularly those who are football fans, will have visited last year’s well received exhibition at the Guildhall Museum, which celebrated the life and achievements of Strood-born Isaac Newell. There is a growing national and international campaign to erect a statue of Newell in his birthplace.

Will Medway Council offer support to this worthy campaign and in doing so will it help find a site in Strood for this statue?”

Councillor Mahil thanked Mrs Fowler for the question. He said that he was proud of Medway’s association with Isaac Newell and delighted that his historical importance in the development of football in Argentina had been recognised.

The exhibition held at the Guildhall Museum in 2022 had been well received and the Council had continued to promote the importance of Isaac by the setting up of a permanent exhibition at Strood Sports Centre and inducting him into the Medway Hall of Fame at the December 2022 Sports Awards.

Councillor Mahil said the Council would be happy to engage with any organisation interested in further promoting the story of Isaac and he would be happy to discuss options with Mrs Fowler.

Question B – Jessica McCann, of Hoo, submitted the following to the Portfolio Holder for Climate Change and Strategic Regeneration, Councillor Curry:

“I am concerned at the lack of rail links in Hoo. Our nearest station is 5 miles away and we are forced to drive. Yet money is spent on cycling lanes. In an area where there are no shops or infrastructure for the locals, cycle lanes will not help transport in Hoo. We need better bus routes in the morning. It takes someone 35 minutes on the bus to get to the nearest station.

If you think this is acceptable, please explain why?”

Note: As Jessica McCann was not present, the Mayor stated that they would receive a written response to their question in accordance with Council Rule 8.6.

Question C – Lindsey Burke, of Rochester, submitted the following to thePortfolio Holder for Children’s Services, Councillor Price:

“As Medway Council has now entered a SEND Safety Valve Agreement with the Conservative Government, I hope they can reassure parents of SEND children in Medway how they are making sure they are fully compliant with their legal obligations to children and young people with SEND over the five-year safety valve agreement. 

Will they explain what this arrangement is in more detail to help us understand better what the safety valve intervention programme means for children and young people’s Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCPs) unlike the current Government’s smoke screen?”

Note: As Lindsey Burke was not present, the Mayor stated that they would receive a written response to their question in accordance with Council Rule 8.6.

Question D – Peter Harrison, of Rainham, submitted the following to the Portfolio Holder for Climate Change and Strategic Regeneration, Councillor Curry:

“‘Have  ...  view the full minutes text for item 324.

325.

Leader's report pdf icon PDF 90 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Discussion:

 

Members received the Leader’s report. The following issues were discussed:

 

·       The team work to secure a good Ofsted rating for Medway Children’s Services, the importance of the scrutiny function and Corporate Parenting and the Child Friendly Medway agenda.

·       The need to address recruitment and retention challenges in key Council services.

·       Financial challenges continuing to affect households across Medway and the importance of the Household Support Fund, which it was hoped would be retained.

·       The Council’s budgetary situation, including the need to take difficult decisions to address a £17million funding shortfall and the 91% reduction in the Council’s government grant, although it was suggested that this had been partially mitigated by Business Rates retention.

·       Development of Medway’s new Local Plan, the importance of having a robust evidence base and Regulation 18 consultation.

·       The development of the One Medway Charter and the determination to work together to deliver high quality services.

·       Development of the Docking Station project and the wider development of high value jobs.

·       Engagement with the business community and the Federation of Small Business Local Leadership pledge.

·       Medway being one of nine areas in the country to be designated a Heritage Place.

·       Funding for Christmas lights.

·       Planned development of Red Routes and the Call-In of the Cabinet decision.

·       Four Elms Hill works including concern about disruption caused.

·       The future of sites such as Hoo Library and Deangate Ridge and a request that they not be sold.

 

Decision:

 

The Council noted the report.

326.

Overview and scrutiny activity pdf icon PDF 169 KB

Minutes:

Discussion:

 

Members received a report on overview and scrutiny activity and raised the following issues during debate:

 

·       Concern about the financial challenges faced by the Council, including the difficulties faced by councils nationally in funding their statutory services.

·       Importance of the scrutiny function in supporting the Council to address challenges.

·       The Oftsed inspection of Medway Children’s services, the significant improvements and the need to ensure sustained improvement in children’s services.

·       The Time to Shine Children in Care event.

·       The forthcoming Ofsted inspection of Medway’s Youth Justice service.

·       Concern about some mental health services moving out of Medway and about the emergency transfer of Medway and Swale Transient-Ischaemic Attack Service.

·       Planned development of Red Routes, the Call-In of the Cabinet decision, the concerns raised by businesses in Rainham and whether creation of Red Routes would improve air quality.

·       The need for Medway’s new Local Plan to be considered by all four overview and scrutiny committees.

·       The need to improve public transport and traffic flows in Medway.

·       Closure and subsequent reopening of some children’s homes in Medway.

 

Decision:

 

The Council noted the report.

327.

Members' questions pdf icon PDF 93 KB

This report sets out the Members’ questions received for this meeting.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Question A – Councillor Doe asked thePortfolio Holder for Housing and Property, Councillor Khan, the following:

 

“Several local residents have called me to express their concern about the sudden invasion of the Wigmore Coach Park by a large group of travellers, without any prior consultation with the local Councillors.

 

I have since been informed that this occupation will last no more than three months while the Council deals with necessary legal duties.

 

I am deeply concerned that the travellers were moved there without any consultation with residents or local Members.

 

Accordingly, can the Portfolio Holder, Councillor Khan, assure me that this site will not be used for this purpose in the future and in doing so, that no permanent traveller site will be permitted at this location?”

 

Councillor Khan thanked Councillor Doe for the question. She said that when the current administration had taken office, there had been no agreed policy in place with reference to traveller and gypsy communities. The site had been agreed for a period of three months, this had now expired and officers would be pursuing a process to take back possession of the site.

 

The Council was reviewing its approach to Gypsies and Travellers utilising guidance, best practice and specialist advice. A briefing meeting for Members had taken place in the last month, which outlined these options in more detail. This revised approach may seek to strike a balance between enforcement and a more tolerated approach in locations that were appropriate. Details of this would be brought forwards as and when more information was developed.

 

Identifying suitable permanent traveller provision was an important part of delivering the Local Plan. Consideration would need to be given to how this would be achieved across a range of sites. No decision had been taken in respect of the site in Wigmore.

 

Question B – Councillor Spring asked the Portfolio Holder for Climate Change and Strategic Regeneration, Councillor Curry, the following:

 

“"Red routes are nothing more than money making schemes", a comment made by a constituent during a surgery. The route proposed in Rainham North has been plagued by street-works which are causing utter chaos across our town. As was highlighted by multiple comments on the issue, a serious review of the roads should be undertaken by your administration, not imposing anti-motorist measures which will make no impact on air quality. It is idling and poor road layouts that cause delays and poor air quality, not people stopping on the A2.

 

What is very interesting is the apparent lack of comprehension of the view set out by the Labour Party in their publication 'A New Britain'. It is stated quite proudly that:

 

"Our starting point is a modern system of decision making that does not start from the top – but starts from the people and is grounded in new ways of consulting, participating, and deciding."

 

You consulted. 

The public participated.

You decided. You decided to ignore the objections and views of 64% of the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 327.

328.

Public Space Protection Order - Nuisance Vehicles pdf icon PDF 158 KB

This report sets out the outcomes of the public consultations carried out seeking views on the introduction of a Medway wide Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) to address antisocial behaviour (ASB) from vehicles by introducing a Medway wide order. The Council is asked to agree the establishment of a PSPO.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Background:

The report set out outcomes of a public consultation carried out seeking views on the introduction of a Medway wide Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) to address anti-social behaviour from vehicles. The orders were created in relation to areas within the local authority’s jurisdiction, where activities were taking place that were, or were likely to be, detrimental to the local community’s quality of life. PSPOs imposed conditions or restrictions on people within that area. A breach of a PSPO was an offence punishable by a fixed penalty notice and/or prosecution in the Magistrates Court.

The report stated that over the past 18 months there had been an increase in complaints related to nuisance vehicles, on road and off road. This had precipitated consideration of the powers currently available to police and the Council to address the issues that these vehicles caused. Public consultation had been undertaken on the proposal, details of which were set out in Appendix 2.

The report had previously been considered by the Cabinet on 26 September 2023, the decisions of which were set out at section 6 of the report.

The Portfolio Holder for Community Safety and Enforcement, Councillor Osborne, supported by Councillor Peake, proposed the recommendations set out in the report.

 

Decision:

 

a)    The Council noted the responses to the consultation to introduce a Medway wide PSPO, as detailed in section 8 and at Appendix 2 of the report.

 

b)    The Council approved the introduction of a Medway wide PSPO to tackle nuisance vehicles.

329.

Annual Review of the School Place Planning Strategy 2022-27 pdf icon PDF 841 KB

This annual summary report provides an update on the progress made during the lifetime of the 2022-27 School Place Planning Strategy. It identifies areas of demand and makes recommendations to ensure that appropriate levels of good quality school places are available through to 2027.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Background:

This report provided an update on the progress made against the School Place Planning Strategy 2022 - 2027, highlighting areas of demand for school places and made recommendations to ensure that sufficient good quality school places would be available through to 2027. The report set out options to fund the proposals.

This annual review report and the recommendations in it were based upon the annual round of forecasting undertaken in April 2023, using the latest available data.

The report had previously been considered by the Cabinet on 26 September 2023, the decisions of which were set out at section 14 of the report.

The Portfolio Holder for Education, Councillor Coombs, supported by the Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services, Councillor Price, proposed the recommendations set out in the report.

Decisions:

a)    The Council approved the addition to the Capital Programme of a project to provide additional dining capacity at Leigh Academy Rainham, as set out in paragraph 10.7 of the report.

b)    The Council noted the overspend on Wayfield Primary School, as set out in paragraph 18.9 of the report and approved the addition of £39,806 onto this project within the capital programme, to be funded from the Basic Need Grant.

c)    The Council noted the retention payment for Sir Joseph Williamson’s Mathematical School, as set out in paragraph 18.10 of the report and approved the addition of £5,734.64 to the capital programme, to be funded from the Basic Need Grant.

d)    The Council noted the overspend on Maundene Primary School, as set out in paragraph 18.11 of the report and approved the addition of £14,377.49 spending onto this project within the capital programme, to be funded from available s106 funds.

e)    The Council noted the increasing costs at Maritime Academy due to building control and fire risk assessment works, as set out in paragraph 18.12 of the report and approved the addition of £140,000 onto this project within the capital programme, to be funded from available s106 receipts.

f)      Due to escalating construction costs and resultant insufficient funding being available to complete all SEND projects previously approved, the Council noted that the Cabinet had approved the withdrawal of the resourced provision at the Howard School [Decision No. 161/2023 refers] and agreed the virement of £1.2m of funding to the Rivermead expansion onto the former Stoke Primary School site, as set out in paragraph 12.2 of the report.

g)    The Council approved the removal of the remaining budget of £1,533,208.69, funded by prudential borrowing, from the SEND New Places Scheme and agreed that £1,533,208.69 of SEND grant for the Strood Academy SEND scheme be converted to prudential borrowing.

330.

Adoption of Outdoor Events Fees and Charges pdf icon PDF 184 KB

The report sets out a new Outdoor Events Policy and proposes new standardised fees and charges to provide a singular clear framework for professional and community event organisers.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Background:

The report proposed the adoption of a new Outdoor Events Policy and proposed new standardised fees and charges.

The report explained that outdoor events in Medway were currently managed by the services responsible for the various areas of land across Medway e.g. Norse Greenspaces, Heritage Team and the Town Centre Management Team. Each service had its own set of criteria for allowing an event to happen. Fees, charges, and processes could vary significantly and the support that event organisers would receive differed depending on the skills and experience of officers in each team.

This new policy brought all outdoor events under a single standardised framework for professional and community event organisers that would support the coordinated growth of outdoor events across Medway. This new policy also recognised the changes required as a result of Martyn’s Law and also encompassed the RSPCA Pets for Prizes recommendations.

The report had previously been considered by the Cabinet on 8 August 2023, the decisions of which were set out at section 6 of the report.

A Diversity Impact Assessment had been undertaken in relation to the Policy, details of which were set out in Appendix 4 to the report.

The Portfolio Holder for Heritage, Culture and Leisure, Councillor Mahil, supported by Councillor Hamandishe, proposed the recommendations set out in the report.

 

Decision:

 

The Council approved the Medway Outdoor Events fees and charges, as set out in Appendix 2 to the report.

331.

Contactless Payment Facilities in Taxis pdf icon PDF 131 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Background:

The report set out the results from the consultation on amending the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Policy to include a mandatory condition for all licensed Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicles to have a functioning cashless payment facility available for fare paying passengers.

The report had previously been considered by the Licensing and Safety Committee on 23 August 2023, which recommended the policy change to Full Council for approval.

The minutes of the discussion at Licensing and Safety Committee were set out at section 7 of the report.

Councillor McDonald, supported by Councillor Fearn, proposed the recommendations set out in the report.

 

Decision:

 

The Council approved the inclusion of the following requirement in the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Policy:

“Card Payment Machines

All licensed Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Drivers must provide a card payment facility in accordance with the Guidance for Electronic Payment Devices.”

332.

Amendments to the Capital Programme pdf icon PDF 155 KB

This report requests Council approval for amendments to the Capital Programme as recommended by Cabinet on 8 August 2023.

Minutes:

Background:

The report requested Council approval for amendments to the Capital Programme as recommended by Cabinet on 8 August 2023.

The Leader of the Council, Councillor Maple, supported by the Portfolio Holder for Housing and Property, Councillor Khan, proposed the recommendations set out in the report.

Decisions:

a)      The Council agreed to remove the unallocated balance of £49.751million from the MDC programme.

b)      The Council agreed to remove the completed Platters Farm Panels (£7) and Rainham Signage (£190) schemes, and the unallocated balance of £262,000 from the Members Priorities capital programme.

333.

Legal Services Structural Review and Budget Addition pdf icon PDF 191 KB

This report presents the findings of the MedPay review, sets out a proposes reorganization of the legal services to better aid retention, succession planning, training and consistent quality of advice, and the challenges presented to meet the resource gap due to a significant increase in demand by Children’s Services.

 

This would require an addition to the revenue budget for Legal Services of £656,887, however this would represent a reduction on the projected cost to Medway of operating the service in the current model in 2023/24 which is forecasting an overspend in excess of £1 million.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Background:

The report set out the findings of a review of MedPay, the Council’s staff appraisal scheme. It proposed a reorganisation of legal services to better aid retention, succession planning, training and consistent quality of advice, and the challenges presented to meet the resource gap due to a significant increase in demand by Children’s Services.

 

This report stated that this would require an addition to the revenue budget for Legal Services of £656,887, however, this would represent a reduction on the projected cost to Medway of operating the service in the current model in 2023/24, which was forecasting an overspend in excess of £1 million.

 

The report had previously been considered by the Cabinet on 8 August 2023, the decisions of which were set out at section 9 of the report.

 

The Portfolio Holder for Business Management, Councillor Van Dyke, supported by Councillor Hamilton, proposed the recommendations set out in the report.

 

Decision:

 

The Council agreed the changes to the Legal Services’ 2024/25 revenue budget, as set out in paragraph 14.4 of the report.

334.

Review of the Constitution pdf icon PDF 132 KB

This report sets out a review of the Council Rules, which form part of the Council’s Constitution.

 

This item was included on the agenda for the Council meeting held on 20 July 2023 at the request of the Leader of the Council. At that meeting, Leader of the Council, Councillor Maple, supported by the Deputy Leader of the Council, Councillor Murray, proposed the recommendations set out in section 1 of the report. As these proposals recommend changes to the Council Rules, these matters were taken forward without discussion for debate at this Council meeting.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Background:

The report set out a review of the Council Rules, which formed part of the Council’s Constitution.

This item had been included on the agenda for the Council meeting held on 20 July 2023 at the request of the Leader of the Council, Councillor Maple. At that meeting, the Leader, supported by the Deputy Leader of the Council, Councillor Murray, proposed the recommendations set out in section 1 of the report. As these proposals recommended changes to the Council Rules, these matters had been taken forward without discussion for debate at this Council meeting.

The Leader of the Council, Councillor Maple, supported by the Deputy Leader of the Council, Councillor Murray, proposed the recommendations set out in the report.

Decision:

The Council approved the changes to the Council Rules as set out in Appendix A to the report in respect of changes to arrangements for the nomination of the Mayor and Deputy Mayor and supplementary questions, in relation to public questions.

335.

Motions pdf icon PDF 88 KB

 This report sets out motions received for this meeting. 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Motion A – proposed by Councillor Gulvin and supported by Councillor Lammas:

Background:

  1. Voluntary groups in Medway are responsible for a significant proportion of the cleanliness of Medway’s environment. Voluntary groups more generally contribute greatly to the upkeep of our parks and other open spaces which are enjoyed by our residents.
  2. The hours worked by Medway’s volunteers are a significant and underappreciated resource. At a time when budgets are tight, their contribution is worth more than ever to us all.
  3. In Lordswood and Walderslade, the local litter picking group over the last two and a half years have made a huge contribution to making the area clean and tidy. It is a great shame that they are no longer able to provide this service to our community.

Full Council resolves to:

  1. Thank voluntary groups for the work they do here in Medway.
  2. Request the Portfolio Holder for Climate Change and Strategic Regeneration to engage with the Lordswood and Walderslade litter picking group to resolve the present situation which has halted their operations.”

Councillor Curry supported by Councillor Jones proposed the following amendment:

 

“Background:

  1. Voluntary groups in Medway are responsible for a significant proportion of the cleanliness of Medway’s environment. Voluntary groups more generally contribute greatly to the upkeep of our parks and other open spaces which are enjoyed by our residents.
  2. The hours worked by Medway’s volunteers are a significant and underappreciated appreciated resource. At a time when budgets are tight, their contribution is worth more than ever to us all.
  3. In Lordswood and Walderslade, the local litter picking group over the last two and a half years have made a huge contribution to making the area clean and tidy. It is a great shame that they are no longer able to provide this service to our community.

Full Council resolves to:

1.      Thank voluntary groups for the work they do here in Medway.

2.      Request the Portfolio Holder for Climate Change and Strategic Regeneration to continue to engage with the Lordswood and Walderslade litter picking group to resolve the present situation. which has halted their operations.

Amended Motion reads:

 

“Background:

1.      Voluntary groups in Medway are responsible for a significant proportion of the cleanliness of Medway’s environment. Voluntary groups more generally contribute greatly to the upkeep of our parks and other open spaces which are enjoyed by our residents.

 

2.      The hours worked by Medway’s volunteers are a significant and appreciated resource. At a time when budgets are tight, their contribution is worth more than ever to us all.

 

3.      In Lordswood and Walderslade, the local litter picking group over the last two and a half years have made a huge contribution to making the area clean and tidy.

Full Council resolves to:

1.      Thank voluntary groups for the work they do here in Medway.

 

2.      Request the Portfolio Holder for Climate Change and Strategic Regeneration to continue to engage with the Lordswood and Walderslade litter picking group to resolve the present situation.”

On being put to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 335.

Audio recording of the meeting MP3 492 MB