Agenda

Council - Thursday, 22 July 2021 7.00pm

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

Contact: Wayne Hemingway, 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.

Records of meeting pdf icon PDF 248 KB

To approve the records of the meetings held on 22 April and 5 May 2021. 

Additional documents:

4.

Mayor's announcements

5.

Leader's announcements

6.

Petitions

7.

Public questions

7A)

Ben Hammond of Chatham asked the Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Housing and Community Services, Councillor Doe, the following:

Firstly I'd like to congratulate the Council for their support of Plantlife's "No Mow May" campaign. After declaring a climate emergency in April 2019, this seems like a sensible thing that can be done as it has allowed a wider range of wild grasses and flowers to thrive, providing a vital food source for bees, hoverflies and butterflies. Letting grass grow can produce enough nectar for ten times as many bees.

 

In recent days we have seen several announcements regarding the future of No Mow May. Starting with Councillor Rupert Turpin’s comments on a local Facebook group that this year has "gone too far" and "it won't happen again" to Councillor Jarrett then stating in an article that No Mow May would not go ahead again, to now rolling that statement back somewhat to say it “will not be scrapped altogether”. The original statement that it would be scrapped included a poll on the Kent Online article (73% in favour of some form of the scheme) and subsequent petition (179 signatures at time of writing) set up, which clearly shows many local residents wish for some form of the initiative to continue albeit with some easy changes made such as ensuring road junctions and roundabouts remain cut.

 

Can you confirm that a review will be in place as to the success of the 2021 initiative with a view to continuing this next year and into further years in a changed format to 2021, with results shared and improved communication to residents as to the reasoning behind the scheme?

 

Climate change is a serious issue we must tackle that is not going away and I think it’s only pertinent that we wait to establish the facts behind the success (or otherwise) of the initiative before making such broad-brush statements as seen on social media and in the local press in future. 

7B)

Terri Pargetor of Chatham asked the Portfolio Holder for Resources, Councillor Gulvin, the following:

The recent stabbing of Julia James and Sarah Everard and of course the Wembley stabbings of Bibaa Henry and her sister Nicole Smallman has shocked us all, especially impacting on us women. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families.

 

Could Medway Council confirm what measures have been taken by this council to make our Medway streets safer for women and girls, including how much of the Medway Share of the 45 million promised by the Government in the Safer Street Fund has been earmarked specifically for extra CCTV and street lighting?

7C)

John Drake of Rochester asked the Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Housing and Community Services, Councillor Doe, the following:

I welcome the Council's Climate Change Action Plan but am confused by the claim that Medway Council is 'only' responsible for 1.4% of Medway's emissions, as I am unable to see any figures relating to public transport, specifically bus usage across Medway, which although operated by a private company is heavily subsidised by Medway’s residents and should really be included as a Council related emission. Arriva’s electric trial bus service is much appreciated but I would like to know what the current emissions generated by the Arriva bus services are across Medway?

7D)

Ben Rist of Chatham asked the Portfolio Holder for Adults' Services, Councillor Brake, the following:

Will Medway Council support mental health non-profit organisations with basic costs due to the pandemic?

7E)

Adam Dyjak of Gillingham asked the Portfolio Holder for for Planning, Economic Growth and Regulation, Councillor Chitty, the following:

At the bottom of Church street next to the Strand there has been a large derelict plot of land for nearly 10 years. Why has no construction taken place and being left as a waste land?

7F)

Vivienne Parker of Chatham asked the Portfolio Holder for Planning, Economic Growth and Regulation, Councillor Chitty, the following:

Given that it is unfair to expect the Council to grant new planning consents for housing when there are so many empty houses in Medway, what is Medway Council going to do about empty new houses like the Hamiltons, Capstone Green and Berengrave Gardens?

7G)

Bryan Fowler of Chatham asked the Portfolio Holder for Front Line Services, Councillor Filmer, the following:

There are regular Saturday morning litter picks organised by a local small business in the Heritage Action Zone, Old High Street Intra at the borders of Rochester and Chatham. Unfortunately, Medway Council has continued to fail to respond to repeated requests since May 2021 (in person, by website and email notifications) from residents and local River Ward Councillors to remove fly-tipped rubbish in Gundulph Road. Why is Medway Council not supportive of removing town-centre fly-tipped rubbish?

7H)

Stuart Bourne of Rainham asked the Leader of the Council, Councillor Jarrett, the following:

Homophobic attacks are happening across the country and right here in Medway. Only last month there was a story of a couple from Chatham being tormented for 2 years for being gay. Considering how an important role the Council has in promoting and protecting the LGBT+ community in Medway, it is shocking that during Pride month there were only two social media posts, it was not mentioned at all in Medway Matters, and no flag raised in support both physically or on social media.

 

Why is that?

7I)

Kate Belmonte of Gillingham asked the Leader of the Council, Councillor Jarrett, the following:

I am writing this question on behalf of myself, as a disabled member of your community, and all those from within our community who are also disabled.

 

I have over the years missed out on more meetings and events than I can count. This all changed in 2020 when all of a sudden, meetings I had previously been unable to attend were finally fully accessible, not because of an understanding, acceptance or appreciation of all those with disabilities, but because Covid meant that “normal” people were unable to attend physical meetings.

 

Our democracy, our institutions, our centres of learning opened their doors to all. So when Luke Hall MP wrote to Medway Council in March advising them that they no longer needed to provide remote meeting access, what he did was publicly slam a door in the faces of millions of individuals up and down this country who cannot physically attend council meetings, including those with young children, shift workers and those without transport or the funds to use our over-priced privately owned ‘public’ transport. I expressed my concerns with MP Rehman Chishti and he has forwarded the response he received from the Council, which does not set the standard for Medway, so I would like to ask the Leader of the Council:

 

Will you pledge to livestreaming all future publicly accessible Council meetings thus ensuring that all members of our community can easily and freely access our Council’s democratic decision-making process something, which is of the greatest importance to our community?

7J)

Chris Spalding of Gillingham asked the Leader of the Council, Councillor Jarrett, the following:

The Leader of the Council labelled the 'No Mow May' scheme 'poorly thought out and poorly implemented' yet Medway Council went ahead with it to the detriment of residents when it came to road safety because Medway Norse, despite assurances to the contrary, did not fulfil its obligations.

 

The Medway Tunnel was purchased for £1 without anybody thinking about the long term costs.

 

No prior thought was apparently given to the number of lorries from Amazon that would use the London Medway commercial site yet Medway Council went ahead with it to the detriment of residents in Hoo and other Villages.

 

A lack of thought and foresight has seen residents in rural villages plagued by mosquitoes this year.

 

Areas of Medway suffer from flooding because of a lack of forward thinking.

 

People throughout Medway suffer from poor planning when it comes to road closures for works with those in Hoo being the latest to suffer.

 

Medway Norse was given the waste collection contract and then it was discovered a depot for the vehicles was required landing council tax payers with a £9 million cost for a new site.

 

When will Medway Council become proactive instead of reactive?

7K)

Marilyn Stone of Rochester, asked the Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Housing and Community Services, Councillor Doe, the following:

Within your recently adopted Climate Change Action Plan and in the recent edition of Medway Matters you state that Medway Council is 'only' responsible for 1.4% of Medway's emissions. I cannot see any inclusion of the emissions being generated by Waste Disposal, which although subcontracted out should really be included as a council related emission as it's a direct service provided to residents. I note that 49% of our waste is currently being disposed of via 'waste recovery' i.e by incineration. What is the carbon footprint of the entire waste disposal process?

8.

Leader's Report pdf icon PDF 129 KB

Additional documents:

9.

Report on Overview and scrutiny activity pdf icon PDF 195 KB

10.

Members' questions

10A)

Councillor Pendergast asked the Leader of the Council, Councillor Jarrett, the following:

Funds that provide new infrastructure are definitely welcome.

 

However, the way people work and travel has changed dramatically since the HIF funds were announced.

 

The rail scenario is unworkable sending people to Gravesend rather than providing benefits to the shops and businesses in Strood.

 

The current road plan is flawed and will lead to more traffic coming off the Peninsula and congestion particularly in Strood.

 

Does the Leader of the Council agree that given the significant changes to day-to-day and future living that have happened due to the pandemic, the time is right for a complete rethink on the entire HIF project even to the point where the rail option is removed and that money added to the road funding?

10B)

Councillor Andy Stamp asked the Leader of the Council, Councillor Jarrett, the following:

In last week's Medway messenger Councillor Jarrett said he had not seen the guidelines from Plantlife (the national wildlife charity) about managing No Mow May and he didn't know whether Norse had used them either.

 

Can the Leader explain why he sanctioned a new initiative intended to improve biodiversity without bothering to find out how it should be implemented in order to properly protect both residents and wildlife?

10C)

Councillor Khan asked the Portfolio Holder for Planning, Economic Growth and Regulation, Councillor Chitty, the following:

At the last meeting of Rural Liaison Committee, Members were told that the Council had not lodged a formal challenge or objection to the current government targets to build 30,000 new homes in Medway. Given the concerns many residents have expressed over the lack of proper social and transport infrastructure to support new homes, can the Portfolio Holder explain why no attempt to challenge the targets has been made?

10D)

Councillor Johnson asked the Leader of the Council, Councillor Jarrett, the following:

Has the Leader met the Vice-Chancellor of the University for the Creative Arts to explore options for the retention of the UCA Rochester campus and, if he hasn’t, could he explain why not?

10E)

Councillor Adeoye asked the Portfolio Holder for Inward Investment, Strategic Regeneration and Partnerships, Councillor Rodney Chambers OBE, the following:

Has Councillor Chambers met the Vice-Chancellor of the University for the Creative Arts to explore options for the retention of the UCA Rochester campus and, if he hasn’t, could he explain why not?

10F)

Councillor Chrissy Stamp asked the Portfolio Holder for Planning, Economic Growth and Regulation, Councillor Chitty, the following:

What economic impact will the potential closure of the Medway campus of the University for the Creative Arts have on Medway and what action has the Portfolio Holder taken to mitigate that impact?

10G)

Councillor Hubbard asked the Portfolio Holder for Planning, Economic Growth and Regulation, Councillor Chitty, the following:

The cost of air pollution to the country is well documented, and current estimates put this at around £16 billion a year! The cost to individual lives is perhaps less well publicised, but we have seen the effects in the number of people with compromised lungs suffering in the ongoing COVID crisis.

 

The Council’s 2020 Air Quality Annual Status Report from June last year states that:

 

“An AQAP for Four Elms AQMA is currently being produced, however this has been delayed with permission by Defra to coincide with the release of the new Medway Local Plan. A draft plan is expected to be available for consultation late 2020.”

 

This draft plan is not now expected until late 2021. The proposals in the Hoo Development Framework will lead to significant increases in the number of cars using the Four Elms Hill. This coupled with the loss of the rail link into Strood from Sharnal Street and the lack of any proper plans for sustainable transport in relation to the new developments at Hoo is inevitably going to lead to even worse air pollution issues in this part of Medway. 

 

Can the Portfolio Holder please let us know what the Council plans are for reducing air pollution in this and other areas of our community?

10H)

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

As the vaccine programme continues to demand resources and staffing, patients from many areas in Medway are struggling to obtain GP appointments in a timely way and experiencing unacceptably long waits for the phone to be answered at their local surgery. Primary care services are now under huge pressure in the aftermath of Covid and an already fragile, under resourced system is in danger of collapse.

 

Will the Portfolio Holder join me in writing to the Secretary of State for Health and Care asking that he makes resourcing for primary care an urgent priority?

10I)

Councillor Maple asked the Leader of the Council, Councillor Jarrett, the following:

Plantlife, which led the No Mow May campaign, produced a Good Verge Guide with clear advice on maintaining road safety while allowing the grass to grow. It says:

 

“When implemented, the practical steps outlined in this guide will help to maximise flowering plant diversity on our verges and the subsequent benefits for invertebrates and other wildlife. These guidelines recognise that roads must kept safe for all users, and that cutting safety cuts, sightlines and junctions are a priority and must be carried out to ensure safety.”

 

The public reaction to the campaign has been overwhelmingly positive, as the people of Medway really do care about our collective environment and tackling the climate emergency.

 

In response to my question at Business Support O & S on improving the communication around No Mow May and ensuring the work in June and July is dealt with adequately you said The concept is deeply flawed, and it will not happen again next year as far as I’m concerned, as far as this administration is concerned. It was poorly thought through, the consequences weren’t thought through and it was a rush to a biodiversity wheeze.”

 

Do you still plan to scrap No Mow May next year?

10J)

Councillor McDonald asked the Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Housing and Community Services, Councillor Doe, the following:

The Labour and Co-operative Group have been consulting on ideas for the new Splashes. These include extensive local community facilities, a health and wellbeing centre, and new facilities for Cozenton Park, linking the indoor with the outdoor.

 

Now that plans for the redevelopment of the Splashes Leisure Centre are being drawn up can the Portfolio Holder reassure us that there will be full consultation across both parties and most especially with the local community?

10K)

Councillor Prenter asked the Leader of the Council, Councillor Jarrett, the following:

Following the Freedom of Information request to the University for the Creative Arts, which states that Medway Council officers and at least one Councillor were made aware of the challenges faced by the Rochester campus as early as 2018, why did Medway Council not take immediate action to safeguard the long-term benefits of retaining it?

10L)

Councillor Mahil asked the Portfolio Holder for Education and Schools, Councillor Potter, the following:

The proposed closure of the Medway campus of the University for the Creative Arts will have a major impact on education and skills in Medway, particularly the loss of 280 FE students. 

 

What action is the Portfolio Holder taking to mitigate the loss of that provision, which is notable for its diversity, creativity and its capacity to raise aspirations?

10M)

Councillor Osborne asked the Leader of the Council, Councillor Jarrett, the following:

In light of the cross-party consensus behind the initial bid for City of Culture status, and the revelation that Lancashire County Council has withdrawn its bid due to a £22m underwriting commitment, can the Leader confirm the total figure Medway Council has underwritten for the Medway bid and whether this might represent an operational risk to our future financial position?

10N)

Councillor Cooper asked the Portfolio Holder for Front Line Services, Councillor Filmer, the following:

I have noticed that there seem to be a lot more use of e-scooters recently in Medway, especially in pedestrian areas. I have had residents tell me that they have become a nuisance. Some of these riders do not wear helmets and are uninsured. They have complete disregard for pedestrians, and the number of accidents involving pedestrians has increased. Sadly, we have even seen the tragic news of fatalities as a result of collisions with motor vehicles.

 

How is the Portfolio Holder ensuring that Medway residents are fully aware of the laws concerning e-scooters, what authority is there with regards to enforcement of the current laws and what provision is the Council putting into place to make sure that residents are safe, as well as fully aware of the laws, and their consequences?

10O)

Councillor Paterson asked the Portfolio Holder for Planning, Economic Growth and Regulation, Councillor Chitty, the following:

In April 2018 Lloyds Bank closed its Rochester High Street branch. This impacted on businesses and individuals across Rochester. To then see Lloyds Bank then using the image of Rochester High Street to promote the recovery is embarrassing.

 

Does the Portfolio Holder agree with me that if Lloyds truly wants to help the recovery of Rochester High Street they should install a free to use ATM in the High Street?

 

10P)

Councillor Howcroft-Scott asked the Chairman of the Health and Adult Social Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Councillor Wildey, the following:

I am increasingly supporting constituents who are in a telephone queue for nearly 2 hours trying to speak to their doctor’s surgery. In many instances, residents are being cut off from the queue as it is too long. When questioned about this the practice management have blamed telephony errors but these have still to be rectified. While we appreciate that there is a high volume of calls due to the pandemic the waiting time is often in excess of an hour.

 

Alternatives have been suggested including using internet services such as ‘idoctor but these services are inaccessible to many of my residents, especially the elderly who we should not expect to be technologically literate in order to get a doctor’s appointment. How does the Chairman of the Health and Adult Social Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee feel about this and what steps can be taken to ensure that all residents have decent GP access?

10Q)

Councillor Curry asked the Leader of the Council, Councillor Jarrett, the following:

The Labour and Co-operative Group fully support the Council’s bid for the City of Culture in 2025 and City Status bid.

 

Does the Leader continue to share the concerns raised at the recent overview and scrutiny committee about Medway potentially losing out due to the Government’s levelling-up agenda?

10R)

Councillor Sands asked the Leader of the Council, Councillor Jarrett, the following:

I’ve read with great interest the comments of your fellow ward Councillor in Kent online on 17th June with reference to his concerns about possible 650 houses planned for the Gibraltar Farm area. His worries about whether there would be enough GPs to meet the demands of those house building numbers and of the impact on pre-existing health infrastructure and about our hospital bursting at the seams, stating every person that moves to our area is a potential Medway Hospital patient, I’m sure you agree with your ward colleague.

 

As these are the same concerns of the residents of the Hoo Peninsula where the plan is for 12,000 houses which would, should it happen, will completely overwhelm our local health services and overrun Medway Hospital.

 

With this in mind, can you ensure the people of the Peninsula, that they can count on both of your support when it comes to objecting to such unsustainable housing numbers on the Peninsula?

11.

Youth Justice Plan - Refresh 2021- 22 pdf icon PDF 271 KB

This report requests Council approval of the Medway Youth Justice Partnership Strategic Plan 2020 – 2023. The Plan has been refreshed from  2020 and co-produced with the Youth Justice Partnership (YJP) and influenced by national research and evidence of effective practice and has taken examples from across National Partnerships.

Additional documents:

12.

School Organisation Proposals 2021 pdf icon PDF 221 KB

The report seeks Council approval to make an addition to the Capital Programme in support of the proposals that were agreed by the Cabinet on 13 July 2021.

13.

Re:Fit Programme Public Works Loan Board (PWLB) pdf icon PDF 189 KB

This report provides details of the Re:fit programme; a building retrofit and energy generation programme which will provide considerable revenue savings and deliver on the Council’s Climate Emergency Declaration. The Council is asked to agree the addition of up to £8.5 million to the Council’s Capital Programme.

Additional documents:

14.

Community Governance Review - Review of Parish Electoral Arrangements pdf icon PDF 215 KB

This report sets out matters for consideration regarding the conduct of a Community Governance Review and seeks Council approval of the terms of reference and other administrative matters associated with the review.

Additional documents:

15.

Findings from the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman pdf icon PDF 264 KB

This report sets out the findings of a recent investigation undertaken by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman that relates to both Housing and Children’s Services. The Cabinet considered the report at a meeting on 4 May 2021, the Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee considered it at a meeting on 9 June 2021 and the Business Support Overview and Scrutiny Committee considered it at a meeting held on 1 July 2021.

Additional documents:

16.

Use of Urgency Provisions and a Constitutional Matter pdf icon PDF 177 KB

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

Additional documents:

17.

Motions

17A)

Councillor Johnson submitted the following:

University for the Creative Arts

 

This Council notes with concern the proposal by the University for the Creative Arts to close its campus in Medway and to cease Further Education (FE) provision across all its campuses, including its FE provision in Medway. This move will result in the loss of approximately 150 highly-skilled and well-paid jobs, the loss of 280 FE students and the loss of 1,000 HE students in Medway. 

 

This Council:

 

·       Recognises the central role played by the UCA and its predecessors in the economic, cultural and educational life of the Medway area since the nineteenth century.

 

·       Recognises the key role played by the creative sector in the Medway economy and in Medway’s cultural life.

 

·       Appreciates the vital contribution of the UCA to Medway’s bid for City of Culture.

 

·       Understands the importance of education in the creative arts to raising the aspirations of Medway residents, particularly our young residents, and to enhancing skill levels.

 

Council acknowledges that the loss of the UCA in Medway will have an unacceptable impact on our future and therefore resolves to undertake all possible measures to ensure that there is a continued and significant presence of the UCA within Medway, including:

 

·       Urgently identifying appropriate accommodation and facilitating its use by the UCA.

 

·       Vigorously pursuing options, including investment options, for partnerships with Medway Council and others that will ensure that the UCA remains in Medway.

 

·       Urgently engage with MPs and government to identify a resolution that safeguards the UCA’s vital contribution to Medway’s economy, educational provision and the diversity and creativity of our cultural life.

17B)

Councillor Chitty, supported by Councillor Potter, submitted the following:

Local Involvement in Planning Decisions

 

This Council believes planning works best when developers and the local community work together to shape local areas and deliver necessary new homes; and therefore calls on the Government to protect the right of communities to object to individual planning applications.