Agenda

Council - Thursday, 21 January 2021 7.00pm

Venue: Virtual Meeting

Contact: Wayne Hemingway, Interim Head of Democratic Services 

Media

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for absence

2.

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.

 

3.

Record of meeting pdf icon PDF 82 KB

To approve the record of the meeting held on 17 December 2020.

4.

Mayor's announcements

5.

Leader's announcements

6.

Petitions

7.

Public questions

7A)

Claire Stollery of Chatham, will ask the Portfolio Holder for Education and Schools, Councillor Potter, the following:

I have a question regarding the full opening of early years settings while schools are only allowing key worker and vulnerable children in. The Sage report from December 2020 clearly states that 2-6 year olds have a high transmission rate and symptoms are often missed as it is usually more mild in children. They are most likely to be the first to get COVID-19 in a household which then transmits to adults including those working in early years settings. We must follow Scotland's lead and only be open to key worker and vulnerable children. It not only protects staff but every other child’s family. Children under 5 do not legally have to be in education so why put them at unnecessary risk?

7B)

Mai Monk of Gillingham, will ask the Portfolio Holder for for Front Line Services, Councillor Filmer, the following:

Has anybody looked at the parking problems in the three roads, First Avenue, Second Avenue and Glebe Road surrounding the new houses? We need small first time buyer houses.

7C)

Mary Smith of Gillingham, will ask the Portfolio Holder for Planning, Economic Growth and Regulation, Councillor Chitty, the following:

Congratulations to Medway Council on its successful bid for funding for the refurbishment of Chatham Town Centre with the award of almost £10 million.

 

At present there is a proposal for 164 apartments in Mountbatten House, with planning applications in for 176 on Globe Lane and 115 on Whiffens Avenue.

 

Would Medway Council please state how they are ensuring that these developments will help achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which have been accepted by 193 countries including the UK? Particularly the following – goal 1 – to eradicate poverty, goal 11 – to provide Sustainable Cities and Communities and goal 13 – to work towards zero carbon emissions.

 

It would also be hoped that these and all other major developments would provide a generous level of social housing and properties that are affordable to local people in order to help achieve goal 1 - to eradicate poverty.

7D)

Bernard Hyde of Rochester, will ask the Portfolio Holder for Planning, Economic Growth and Regulation, Councillor Chitty, the following:

In the Government's recent press release on their change of policy regarding housing development, they are keeping to their target of building 300,000 houses a year, but these are now to be built on brownfield sites, in urban areas and away from the South East, to accord with their 'levelling up vision' for England.

 

Do you agree that Medway Council should now follow the new government policy and protect Medway's rural areas from the inappropriate over-development currently written into the Emerging Local Plan?

7E)

Leigh Ann Smith of Chatham, will ask the Portfolio Holder for Education and Schools, Councillor Potter, the following:

My question is regarding why those year R to year 2 children who are covered by infant free school meals aren't entitled to have a meal at home, only while they are at school, despite the schools being closed! Why are only benefits children being fed, or those covered by the "transitional period", it’s disgraceful.

 

No child should go hungry especially if the only reason you have not to is because their parent/s are taxpayers!

7F)

James Chespy of Gillingham, will ask the Leader of the Council, Councillor Jarrett, the following:

What investment will be brought forward to improve Gillingham High Street?

7G)

Vivienne Parker of Chatham, will ask the Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Housing and Community Services, Councillor Doe, the following:

A few years ago, the Council felled a tree outside 58 Concord Avenue and we were promised a new tree in its place. This has never happened and I should be grateful to know when a replacement tree will be planted?

7H)

Catriona Jamieson of Rochester, will ask the Portfolio Holder for Planning, Economic Growth and Regulation, Councillor Chitty, the following:

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggests that in order to meet the demands of natural population growth over the next 17 years, 17,000 houses need to be built in Medway. The target quoted by Medway previously has been as high as 37,000. 

 

Can the Council reassure the people of Medway that they will in the light of the recent press release from Government “Plan to regenerate England’s Cities with new homes” 16/12/20 revise their housing targets in line with the ONS?

7I)

Marilyn Stone of High Halstow, will ask the Portfolio Holder for Planning, Economic Growth and Regulation, Councillor Chitty, the following:

A recent Government press release “Plan to Regenerate England’s Cities” (16/12/20) from the Housing Minister Robert Jenrick indicates that the Government are shifting the focus of their housing targets to development in the north of the country. The Government will also be launching a new £100m Brownfield Land Release Fund which will be available across the country. Will Medway Council take advantage of both and further concentrate housing development on brownfield sites alongside identifying vacant properties that can be brought back into the housing stock?

 

It is understood from “Medway’s Housing Target Delivery Action Plan” that it is the Council’s wish to develop greater awareness of the availability of brownfield sites. It is also understood from Medway’s Housing Target Delivery Action Plan that Medway has a higher proportion of vacant properties than other Kent Authorities.

7J)

Marilyn Stone, on behalf of the Medway Green Party, will ask the Portfolio Holder for Planning, Economic Growth and Regulation, Councillor Chitty, the following:

Does the Council agree with Medway Green Party that the advice of housing minister Robert Jenrick’s press release “Plan to regenerate England’s Cities (16/12/20) needs to be heeded and that green spaces need to be protected and that consequently the development plans on the Hoo Peninsula and other rural areas within Medway such as Capstone Valley, Lower Rainham and Darland Banks need to be scrapped immediately?

7K)

Kate Belmonte of Gillingham, will ask the Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Housing and Community Services, Councillor Doe, the following:

Every tree in Medway is vital in our fight against climate chaos. Would you agree with me that Medway Council should protect all trees within Medway awarding a blanket Tree Preservation Order to all healthy trees, stopping the scenes we have witnessed recently in Twydall on the land behind Northbourne Road bordering Eastcourt Lane, or on the Bakersfield et al sites, where rich ecosystems have been destroyed to make way for unaffordable housing?

7L)

John Castle of Chatham, will ask the Portfolio Holder for Adults' Services, Councillor Brake, the following:

The results from Covid-19 mass testing in Medway indicate relatively low numbers of positive results, averaging around 1.8% infection rate.


Does the Council consider this to be effective levels of mass testing, if not could the Council set out the plan in place to bring the infection rate in Medway down quickly?

7M)

Paul O'Neill of Chatham, will ask the Portfolio Holder for Adults' Services, Councillor Brake, the following:

As we are now into our third lockdown, many business have closed their doors and we rely on the essential businesses needed, and many have made their premises Covid-19 secure in line with guidelines in order to provide us with service whilst looking after our safety.

 

And it is welcome that two major supermarkets are to take action in following said guidelines but with rates steadily on the increase in my area it is disappointing to witness a number of these classed essential businesses, namely takeaways, but not limited to, have failed to take adequate steps to make their premises secure, i.e. protective screens; fail even to display signage; wear masks or gloves when serving food and; handling change to the public. 

 

Can you tell me what steps has the Council taken in respect of ensuring businesses that are trading are taking enough action in making their premises Covid-19 secure?

7N)

Bryan Fowler of Chatham, will ask the Leader of the Council, Councillor Jarrett, the following:

Central Government is currently consulting about extending Permitted Development Rights, which may have a further deleterious effect on the Medway towns, including its Conservation Areas. It also seeks to bypass deliberations, usually made by officers or our Planning Committee.

 

What will Medway Council’s response be to the consultation?

7O)

Andrew Millsom of Rochester, will ask the Chairman of the Licensing and Safety Committee, Councillor Mrs Diane Chambers, the following:

The owners of Hop and Rye Micropub in Wainscott appeared at a Medway Council Licensing Hearing Panel on 22nd December 2020 for breaching Lockdown 2 Covid-19 rules. The hearing was told that there had been at least five lock-ins. This is a significant breach of restrictions and yet the only imposition was that the pub lost its licence. The owners have claimed that they have been made scapegoats when interviewed by KM Messenger, but in reality, they have been dealt with very lightly. There has been no individual removal of selling of alcohol licences and there has been no personal or business fines imposed.

 

Why has Medway Council chosen to impose such a lenient “sentence”, is it not a green light for others to break Covid-19 restrictions just as we enter a very difficult period in Lockdown 3?

8.

Leader's report pdf icon PDF 1 MB

9.

Overview and scrutiny activity pdf icon PDF 367 KB

10.

Members' questions

10A)

Councillor Mahil will ask the Portfolio Holder for Frontline Services, Councillor Filmer, the following:

The latter part of 2020 saw numerous road traffic accidents on our roads, with a particularly devastating period in August seeing three fatal road traffic accidents within a two-week period. Only a few years ago I witnessed an incident outside Holcombe Grammar School where a child was seriously injured. Not too far from the same spot there was another accident last month, where a school child was once again injured in a hit and run. Unfortunately, this location has seen numerous similar incidents. Parents in our community are understandably concerned about the safety measures on our roads.


Following my question surrounding road traffic accidents to the October Full Council meeting, could the Portfolio Holder update the Council on the progress in reducing casualties on our road network, including the use of 20mph speed limits, a crossing as well as other tools or arrangements, with particular reference to the Holcombe Grammar school area?

10B)

Councillor Paterson will ask the Leader of the Council, Councillor Jarrett, the following:

Given the catastrophically high COVID-19 infection rates in Medway, with the consequent tragic rise in the deaths of Medway residents and the intolerable pressure on Medway Maritime Hospital and its dedicated staff, which has seen Medway cases moved as far away as Plymouth and the West Midlands, what does the Leader wish he had done differently?

10C)

Councillor Johnson will ask the Portfolio Holder for Education and Schools, Councillor Potter, the following:

What measures has the Portfolio Holder taken to ensure that the additional financial pressures on already stretched school budgets caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, including additional staffing costs and protective measures, have been fully compensated?

10D)

Councillor Maple will ask the Leader of the Council, Councillor Jarrett, the following:

Does he stand by his comments that calls to close Medway schools in November, at a time when our community consistently had the highest coronavirus infection rates in the country, were ‘incessant politicking’, or does he agree with the Prime Minister that schools act as significant ‘vectors for transmission’ for the virus?

10E)

Councillor Khan will ask the Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Housing and Community Services, Councillor Doe, the following:

In the absence of the ‘Everybody In’ scheme implemented in the first lockdown to provide homeless and rough sleepers with temporary accommodation, which has not been continued by Government, can the Portfolio Holder detail what work is being undertaken to house rough sleepers during the pandemic, including the number currently rough sleeping in Medway, who do not have shelter?

10F)

Councillor Adeoye will ask the Portfolio Holder for Education and Schools, Councillor Potter, the following:

Can the Portfolio Holder guarantee that all Medway children without their own access to digital equipment and internet access have been provided with appropriate equipment and access through the Government funded scheme?

10G)

Councillor Curry will ask the Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Housing and Community Services, Councillor Doe, the following:

The value that our greenspaces have for both mental and physical wellbeing is now well understood. Over the period of the Covid-19 crisis we have seen a huge increase in the numbers of people using these spaces. We have also seen a significant increase in the numbers of volunteers wanting to help with the care of their local greenspaces. The pressure that this brings upon the maintenance of these invaluable areas has increased proportionately.

What is the Portfolio Holder doing to ensure that country parks and greenspaces are not detrimentally impacted by high visitor numbers given their increased usage throughout the pandemic?

10H)

Councillor Stamp will ask the Portfolio Holder for Planning, Economic Growth and Regulation, Councillor Chitty, the following:

We know that the health of our community is linked directly to the levels of air pollution caused by excessive traffic levels. Levels of air pollution in Medway have reduced significantly during the periods of lockdown.

 

What measures are the Council taking to build on the benefits of this improvement to the quality of the air we breathe?

10I)

Councillor Browne will ask the Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Housing and Community Services, Councillor Doe, the following:

The Council has declared a climate emergency and is asking all developers to take into consideration the impact of their projects on the environment; both locally and globally.

 

We have our own extensive capital programme which will inevitably have an impact upon the environment. What efforts are being made to measure the impact of our own capital programme on the environment and what we are doing to minimise and offset this impact?

10J)

Councillor Murray will ask the Portfolio Holder for Adults' Services, Councillor Brake, the following:

Given the Council’s welcome U-turn on mental health services at 147 Nelson Road, what more is the Council doing to support the mental wellbeing of individuals throughout the pandemic?

10K)

Councillor Howcroft-Scott will ask the Portfolio Holder for Children's Services, Councillor Mrs Josie Iles, the following:

Following the numerous examples of woefully inadequate food parcels sent to children who qualify for free school meals, by private companies such as Chartwells, part of the multi-billion revenue food service giant Compass Group, does the Portfolio Holder agree with me that more must be done to ensure that all children requiring term-time free school meals receive nutritious parcels or vouchers as opposed to financially benefiting large corporations?

10L)

Councillor Pendergast will ask the Portfolio Holder for Front Line Services, Councillor Filmer, the following:

“Flooding has a devastating impact on people and communities” was one of the opening lines in Councillor Filmer’s introduction to the July 2014 Local Flood Risk Management Strategy.

 

The Medway Strategic Flood Risk Assessment is dated 2006 and clearly now out of date, as are the Flood Risk Management Strategy and Surface Water Management Plan.

 

Recently, many areas of Medway were subjected to flooding, but once again rural villages were particularly hardest hit with Stoke village virtually afloat and Hoo suffering from the continued policy of building houses regardless.

 

As part of the response, Flood Drainage Officer, Priscilla Haselhurst, has been outstanding with her hands-on approach and willingness to try and find a solution to the problems.

 

Can the Portfolio Holder confirm that as part of finding a solution to this problem, these plans and assessments will now be urgently updated, with the added bonus that updated and accurate flood maps may cause some developers to abandon plans to build in and around Hoo and other rural locations such as Cliffe and Cliffe Woods?

11.

Council Tax Reduction Scheme pdf icon PDF 228 KB

This report seeks Members’ approval of the re-adoption of the existing local council tax reduction scheme for 2021/22.

Additional documents:

12.

Speak up Policy (Whistleblowing) pdf icon PDF 254 KB

The current Whistleblowing Policy has recently been reviewed, updated, and rebranded as the Speak Up Policy and the proposed revisions have been consulted upon. This report sets out the outcome of consultation, together with the comments of the Audit Committee and the Employment Matters Committee and seeks Council approval to the Speak Up Policy.

Additional documents:

13.

Medway Children's Assessment Unit - Addition to the Capital Programme pdf icon PDF 649 KB

The Outline Sufficiency Report issued in October 2020 set out the challenges and trends affecting our children in and leaving care (CIC and CL). As at end of October 2020, there were 459 children in care (age 0-25). The current rate of children in care is the highest that Medway has seen (73.5 per 10,000 0-17 year olds).

 

This report seeks Council approval to make an addition to the Capital Programme in support of the proposals agreed by the Cabinet on 12 January 2021 following initial consideration by the Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 7 January 2021.

Additional documents:

14.

Contract Letting - Exceptional Circumstances pdf icon PDF 308 KB

This report details contracts awarded in accordance with the provisions of the current Contract Procedure Rule 1.8.2.

 

Exemptions to Contract Procedure Rules, to deal with the letting of contracts in exceptional circumstances where it is considered to be in the best interests of the Council to do so, can be approved by the Monitoring Officer, provided that the exemption does not breach any EU or UK Directive, Statute or Regulation.

15.

Duration of Council Meetings pdf icon PDF 165 KB

This report suggests amendments to the Constitution to limit the duration of Council meetings.

 

This item of business was included on the agenda for the Council meeting held on 8 October 2020. At that meeting the Portfolio Holder for Business Management, Councillor Turpin, supported by the Leader of the Council, Councillor Jarrett, proposed the recommendations set out in the report.  As the proposals recommend changes to the Council Rules relating to the duration of Council meetings, the matter was taken forward without discussion for debate at this Council meeting, in accordance with Council Rule 16.2.

Additional documents:

16.

Schedule of Meetings 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 114 KB

This report asks the Council to consider a provisional programme of meetings for the 2021/22 municipal year, as set out in Appendix 1, for recommendation to the Annual Meeting of the Council on 19 May 2021.

Additional documents:

17.

Use of Urgency Provisions pdf icon PDF 174 KB

This report provides details of recent usage of urgency provisions contained within the Constitution.

Additional documents:

18.

Motions

18A)

Councillor Curry has submitted the following:

This Council notes that the Community Wealth Fund Alliance (CWFA) is a group of organisations calling for the establishment of a Community Wealth Fund to invest in the most ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods. These neighbourhoods are classed as the most deprived in the country and include areas of Medway.

 

This Council further notes that the CWFA is being led by Local Trust which was established in 2012 to deliver Big Local, a National Lottery Community Fund-funded programme which committed at least £1m each to 150 neighbourhoods across England. The £217m originally provided by The National Lottery Community Fund to support this programme is the largest single-purpose Lottery-funded endowment ever made, and the biggest ever investment by a non-state funder in place-based, resident-led change. This programme includes our own Big Lottery Project, Arches Local, which has been such a huge success in the centre of Chatham over the last few years led by the community and working positively with partners.

 

There is an urgent need for funding to improve social infrastructure including transport and digital connectivity in neighbourhoods across Medway in order to improve their prospects. A Community Wealth Fund would provide this.

 

The Community Wealth Fund Alliance now has the support of over 340 organisations including more than 20 Local Authorities, including Thanet District Council and Cambridgeshire County Council, and is calling on Government to dedicate £4bn from the next wave of dormant assets coming on stream from bonds, stocks, shares and insurance policies to establish the Community Wealth Fund.

 

The Fund would be a new independent endowment with distribution guided by the following principles:

 

·         provision of long-term funding (10 -15 years)

·         investment at the hyper-local level (directly to communities of c.3,000 – 10,000 residents)

·         community-led decision making

·         appropriate support provided to build community confidence and capacity.

 

Distribution along these lines would support the development of economic and social capital in the “left behind neighbourhoods” at a time when funds like this are most needed. At the same time giving power back to these communities.

 

This Council agrees to support in principle the establishment of a Community Wealth Fund by joining the Community Wealth Fund Alliance.”

18B)

Councillor Murray has submitted the following:

“This Council notes:

 

Next April the Government plans to cut the benefit level for millions of claimants by ending the time limited increase to the basic rate of Universal Credit (and the tax credit equivalent) announced by the Chancellor on 20th March as part of his pandemic response package.

 

The £20 a week boost reflected the reality that the level of benefits were not adequate to protect the swiftly increasing number of households relying on them as the crisis hit. Exactly because that increase was a very significant and welcome move to bolster low- and middle-income families' living standards, its removal will be a huge loss.

 

Pressing ahead would see the level of unemployment support fall to its lowest real-terms level since 1990-91, and its lowest ever relative to average earnings. Indeed, the basic level of out-of-work support prior to the March boost was – at £73 a week (£3,800 a year) – less than half the absolute poverty line.

 

The increase in benefits has had a positive effect on the lives of thousands of local claimants who are better able to pay for life’s essentials such as food, clothing and utilities.

 

The local economy has also benefited from the increase in benefit levels as claimants spend their money locally thereby supporting local businesses and jobs.

 

Given that the number of households claiming Universal Credit in Medway almost doubled from January to August 2020, this is a policy which directly impacts over 20,000 households in our community.

 

This Council resolves to:

 

Write to the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak and to the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson demanding that the £20 increase to Universal Credit is made permanent and extended to claimants on legacy benefits.

 

Work with other local government organisations to form a coalition to pressure the government to make the £20 increase to Universal Credit permanent.”

18C)

Councillor Johnson has submitted the following:

“Following the Government’s decision to keep Early Years settings open, risking the health of staff and children, as well as risking community transmission of Covid 19, while other education settings are closed except for the children of critical workers and vulnerable children, this Council agrees to write to the Secretary of State for Education to call for the closure of Early Years settings.

 

This closure, with provision for key groups as for schools, should be for the length of the current lockdown, and should include appropriate financial compensation, including compensation for the current period where settings have not been closed but have suffered a financial impact due to parents’ and carers’ concerns about their children attending.”

18D)

Councillor Maple has submitted the following:

“Charter for Families Bereaved through Public Tragedy

 

Council welcomes Kent Fire and Rescue Service committing to the Charter for Families Bereaved through Public Tragedy.

 

In adopting this Charter an organisation commits to ensuring that it learns the lessons of the Hillsborough disaster and its aftermath, so that the perspective of the bereaved families is not lost.

 

Council commits to Medway Council becoming an organisation which strives to:

 

1.    In the event of a public tragedy, activate its emergency plan and deploy its resources to rescue victims, to support the bereaved and to protect the vulnerable.

2.    Place the public interest above our own reputation.

3.    Approach forms of public scrutiny – including public inquiries and inquests – with candour, in an open, honest and transparent way, making full disclosure of relevant documents, material and facts. Our objective is to assist the search for the truth. We accept that we should learn from the findings of external scrutiny and from past mistakes.

4.    Avoid seeking to defend the indefensible or to dismiss or disparage those who may have suffered where we have fallen short.

5.    Ensure all members of staff treat members of the public and each other with mutual respect and with courtesy. Where we fall short, we should apologise straightforwardly and genuinely.

6.    Recognise that we are accountable and open to challenge. We will ensure that processes are in place to allow the public to hold us to account for the work we do and for the way in which we do it. We do not knowingly mislead the public or the media.

 

Council agrees to adopt the Charter for Families Bereaved through Public Tragedy.”

18E)

Councillor Pendergast has submitted the following:

“This Council welcomes the news of approval by the Government of the vaccines against Coronavirus.

 

The Council also notes, that despite the most excellent and forthright efforts of Kelly Tolhurst MP and Tracey Crouch MP, the current plans for vaccination centres mean many residents from Luton, Central Chatham, Rochester, Strood and Wainscott, rural areas including Cliffe, Cliffe Woods, Hoo and other areas including the forgotten part of Medway such as Allhallows, Grain, High Halstow and Stoke, face a considerable journey of many miles for these life saving inoculations.

 

This Council considers this unacceptable and calls on the Kent and Medway NHS Clinical Commissioning Group to ensure a wide spread of vaccination centres so all residents of Medway have easy access to vaccination centres regardless of where they live.”