Agenda and minutes

Regeneration, Culture and Environment Overview And Scrutiny Committee
Tuesday, 25 October 2016 6.30pm

Venue: Civic Suite - Level 2, Gun Wharf, Dock Road, Chatham ME4 4TR. View directions

Contact: Alex Saul, Democratic Services Officer 

Items
No. Item

384.

Tribute to Councillor O'Brien

Minutes:

At the commencement of the meeting, at the invitation of the Chairman, the Director of Regeneration, Culture, Environment and Transformation paid tribute to Councillor O’Brien who had sadly passed away since the last meeting of the Committee in August.

 

There followed a minute’s silence in memory of Councillor O’Brien.

385.

Apologies for absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from the Chairman, Councillor Clarke and Councillor Hicks. In the absence of the Chairman, the Vice Chairman, Councillor Bhutia chaired the meeting.

386.

Record of Meeting pdf icon PDF 94 KB

To approve the Record of the Meeting held on 18 August 2016.

Minutes:

The record of the meeting held on 18 August 2016 was approved and signed by the Chairman as a correct record.

387.

Urgent matters by reason of special circumstances

The Chairman will announce any late items which do not appear on the main agenda but which he/she has agreed should be considered by reason of special circumstances to be specified in the report.

Minutes:

There were none.

388.

Declaration of interest and whipping

(A)         Disclosable pecuniary interests and other interests

 

A member need only disclose at any meeting the existence of a disclosable pecuniary interest (DPI) in a matter to be considered at that meeting if that DPI has not been entered on the disclosable pecuniary interests register maintained by the Monitoring Officer.

 

A member disclosing a DPI at a meeting must thereafter notify the Monitoring Officer in writing of that interest within 28 days from the date of disclosure at the meeting.

 

A member may not participate in a discussion of or vote on any matter in which he or she has a DPI (both those already registered and those disclosed at the meeting) and must withdraw from the room during such discussion/vote.

 

Members may choose to voluntarily disclose a DPI at a meeting even if it is registered on the council’s register of disclosable pecuniary interests but there is no legal requirement to do so.

 

Members should also ensure they disclose any other interests which may give rise to a conflict under the council’s code of conduct.

 

In line with the training provided to members by the Monitoring Officer members will also need to consider bias and pre-determination in certain circumstances and whether they have a conflict of interest or should otherwise leave the room for Code reasons.

 

(B)          Whipping

 

The Council’s constitution also requires any Member of the Committee who is subject to a party whip (ie agreeing to vote in line with the majority view of a private party group meeting) to declare the existence of the whip.

 

Minutes:

Disclosable pecuniary interests

 

Councillor Tejan declared a disclosable pecuniary interest in Item 6 (Attendance by the Portfolio Holder for Planning, Economic Growth and Regulation) insofar as he is a Director of a company based at the Innovation Centre. However, under this particular item, there was no discussion on the Innovation Centre and therefore Councillor Tejan was not required to leave the meeting.

 

Other interests

 

There were none.

389.

Petitions pdf icon PDF 2 MB

To advise the Committee of petitions received by the Council which fall within the remit if this Committee including a summary of the responses sent to the lead petitioners by officers.

 

Minutes:

Discussion:

 

The Committee received a report setting out a summary of petitions received by the Council which fell within the remit of this Committee.

 

Paragraph 3.1 of the report set out a summary of responses to petitions that had been accepted by the petition organisers.

 

In accordance with the Council’s petitions scheme, four petitions had been referred for discussion by the Committee and the lead petitioners were in attendance and invited to address the Committee.

 

A summary of the points raised for each petition and the Committee’s discussion is set out as follows:

 

A)           Petition regarding reduced opening hours for the Strand Swimming Pool.

 

Mr Wright on behalf of the Friends of the Strand Pool outlined the basis of both the paper and on-line petitions and the concerns of the petitioners as they related to:

 

·         The reduced opening hours of the pool both in terms of the hours and days when the pool is open to the public.

·         The lack of consultation on the reduced opening hours/days.

·         The last entry time of 4pm at the pool precludes people from  using the pool after work.

·         The condition of the pool and the maintenance of the pool filtration equipment which had led to silt in the base of the pool and the formation of algae. This had resulted in negative publicity both in the local press and on social media which had affected numbers of visitors using the pool in 2016.

·         The lack of data recording the number of users of the pool.

·         The inadequate staffing levels at the pool, although it was recognised that the new Manager had had a positive influence at the facility.

·         Queries regarding the Director’s response and the figures quoted as to the salary expenses for staffing the Pool.

·         No separate budget existing for the operation of the Strand Pool.

·         The reduction in opening hours at the Strand Pool is denying people the opportunity to use the pool for outdoor swimming in saltwater which has positive health benefits.

·         Whilst the Friends of Strand Pool commended the Council on allowing under 16’s and over 60’s to swim free of charge, this was only of benefit if the Pool was open for use.

·         The Council should be taking the opportunity to benefit from the national resurgence in the popularity of outdoor swimming by increasing marketing the pool.

·         If the pool is to only open when the outside temperature is 24 degrees, the Council does not have membership information or a user database so is unable to contact people to inform them when the pool is to be open.

·         The Friends of Strand Pool are happy to assist the Council in cleaning and painting the pool before the 2017 season and would like to work with the Council on widening marketing of the pool so that it can be open between the months of May – September.

 

With the agreement of the Chairman, a leaflet produced by the Friends of the Strand Pool was circulated prior to the meeting.

 

In  ...  view the full minutes text for item 389.

390.

Attendance by the Portfolio Holder for Planning, Economic Growth and Regulation pdf icon PDF 342 KB

This report sets out progress made within the areas covered by the Portfolio Holder for Planning, Economic Growth and Regulation which fall within the remit of this Committee.

 

Minutes:

Discussion:

 

Members received an overview of progress made on the areas within the scope of the Portfolio Holder for Planning, Economic Growth and Regulation which fell within the remit of this Committee as set out below:

 

·         Economic Development

·         Local Plan

·         Markets

·         Planning Policy

·         Regulation – Environmental health/Trading Standards/Enforcement and Licensing (executive functions only)

·         Social Regeneration

·         South Thames Gateway Building Control Partnership

 

The Portfolio Holder responded to Members’ questions and comments as follows:

 

·         Rochester Airport  - A Member asked for an update on Rochester Airport. In response, the Portfolio Holder stated that development opportunities at Rochester Airport were a vital element for plans to provide a modern, commercial workspace in Medway supporting Gross Value Added (GVA) jobs.

 

·         Dickens World – A Member referred to the sudden closure of Dickens World and sought information on whether those members of staff who had lost their jobs were receiving support in securing future employment. He also enquired as to whether there were any plans for the future of the building. In response, the Portfolio Holder confirmed that officers were on hand to provide assistance to employees in such circumstances but it was not always possible to ensure participation by a private commercial organisation. She provided an assurance that any former employee of Dickens World would receive support from officers if they requested help. As to the future of the building, the Portfolio Holder advised that she was not aware of any future plans for the building at this stage.

 

·         Operation of the Environmental Protection/Noise Nuisance/Out of Hours Service

 

A Member referred to the current operation of the environmental protection/noise nuisance out of hours service and asked whether it was possible for the service to operate on Thursday/Friday and Saturday evenings as opposed to Friday/Saturday and Sunday. In response, the Portfolio Holder advised that she would have further discussions with officers to assess whether the statistics indicated there was a requirement for the operation of the service to be adjusted.

 

·         Gillingham Market  - A Member advised that a number of market stallholders who paid for their stalls on an annual basis at Gillingham Market had expressed concern that casual stallholders who attended the market on an occasional basis were often allocated pitches located in more favourable locations than those allocated to regular traders. The market traders considered this to be unfair. In response, the Portfolio Holder stated that this was the first time this had been drawn to her attention and she agreed to investigate and respond to the Member direct.

 

·         Employment statistics and employment in rural areas – A Member sought information on the trend in employment in Medway and in particular how this was affecting the rural areas. In response, the Portfolio Holder advised that overall there had been a steady rise in employment in Medway and she referred in particular to the success of the Employ Medway Service.

 

The Portfolio Holder stated that she wished to see continued employment and sustainability in rural areas but stressed that it was important  ...  view the full minutes text for item 390.

391.

Member's item - relocation of the disability mobility service at the Pentagon Centre, Chatham pdf icon PDF 427 KB

This report sets out the basis of an issue raised by Cllr Osbourne.

Minutes:

Discussion:

 

Councillor Osborne outlined the background to his Member’s item.

 

He expressed concern that there was no advance warning given to service users that the disability mobility service would be relocated to a new site in the Pentagon Centre, nor was any consultation undertaken before the service was relocated, despite the Council having contact details for those registered to use the service. He pointed out that service users now had to travel further to use the service at its new location.

 

At the request of Councillor Osborne and, with the agreement of the Committee, Sue Groves MBE addressed the Committee and expressed concern regarding the way in which the change to the service had been handled. She advised that there were 146 registered users of the mobility scheme who were reliant on the service and to receive less than one weeks notice of the change of location for the pick up of a mobility scooter or wheelchair was unacceptable.

 

She advised that this service had previously been located in close proximity to the area of the car park where blue badge parking was located but that the new location for the facility was on the other side of the shopping centre. Many of the service users were unable to use public transport.

 

The Acting Assistant Director Front Line Services fully accepted that the service had failed to adequately consult on the relocation of the disability mobility service and he apologised for the distress that may have been caused to service users.

 

Attention was drawn to the contents of the written report which set out the reasons why the service had been relocated and the benefits that had resulted from the change to the way in which the service was delivered as follows:

 

·         Additional operating hours – 9.00am – 5.00pm Monday to Saturday

·         No closure during the lunch period

·         No advance booking required

·         The availability of holiday hire of scooters

·         Other disability services available that may be of interest to the service user.

 

The Director of Regeneration, Culture, Environment and Transformation stated that whilst it was accepted that the consultation on the relocation of the disability mobility service could have been better handled, this would be addressed by undertaking consultation on the new location for the service once the service had had an opportunity to bed in. He stated that lessons had been learnt from this and reassured the Committee that officers would always seek to improve and learn from any mistakes.

 

Sue Groves MBE also drew attention to a correction on the Diversity Impact Assessment attached at Appendix 1 to the report in that the legislation quoted should be the Equalities Act  2010. The Director of Regeneration, Culture, Environment and Transformation confirmed that this had been noted.

 

Decision:

 

The Committee:

 

a)            thanked Sue Groves MBE for attending the meeting and representing service users on this item.

b)            noted that after the consultation has been undertaken on the relocation of the disability mobility service, the outcome of the consultation will be  ...  view the full minutes text for item 391.

392.

Annual Action Plan reviewing the progress of the Local Flood Risk Management Strategy pdf icon PDF 690 KB

This report sets out progress on the Local Flood Risk Management Strategy, adopted and published in autumn 2014 and presents an Annual Action Plan for 2016/17 for its continued implementation.

 

This report also includes progress of the setup of the North Kent Marshes Internal Drainage Board which the Council are administering.

 

Minutes:

Discussion:

 

The Committee received a report setting out progress on the Local Flood Risk Management Strategy adopted and published in Autumn 2014 and presenting an Annual Action Plan for 2016/17 for its continued implementation.

 

The Committee was also advised of the progress in the setting up of the North Kent Marshes Internal Drainage Board which was being administered by Medway Council.

 

Decision:

 

The Committee noted the progress of the Local Flood Risk Management Strategy and the 2016/17 Annual Action Plan and the progress in the setting up of the North Kent Marshes Internal Drainage Board.

 

393.

Council Plan Monitoring 2016/17 - Quarter 1 pdf icon PDF 734 KB

This report summarises the performance of the Council’s Key Measures of Success in Quarter 1 for 2016/17.

Minutes:

Discussion:

 

The Committee received a report setting out the performance summary for Quarter 1 2016/17 against the Council’s priorities for the Committee:

 

·         Medway: A place to be proud of.

·         Maximising regeneration and economic growth.

 

The Committee raised the following issues:

 

·         Standards at Shawsted Tip and Riverside Country Park  - A Member commented that following recent visits to Shawstead Tip and Riverside Country Park, she was dissatisfied with the standards at both sites. In particular, she referred to the level of dog excrement at Riverside Country Park. The Director for Regeneration, Culture, Environment and Transformation commented that customer satisfaction levels were usually very high at both sites and gave an assurance that these comments would be taken on board for both sites and action would be taken to reinforce the message at Riverside Country Park that dog walkers should observe regulations requiring them to remove their dogs excrement and dispose of it in the bins provided.

·         Performance Indicator NI 195a – Improved street and environment cleanliness: Litter – A Member sought clarification as to whether the 96% satisfaction target was intended to be public opinion or the opinion of contract monitoring teams. In response, the Performance Manager clarified that the target was not a satisfaction level but related to the contract monitoring teams carrying out regular street cleansing inspections across Medway to ensure that the contractor was meeting their contractual obligations.

·         Public realm and street scene – A Member referred to issues in River Ward where private landlords were not providing adequate refuse facilities in buildings and he asked whether any action could be taken to remedy this. The Acting Assistant Director Front Line Services agreed to investigate this and respond to the Member direct.

·         Performance indicator NI 167 – Average journey time along 5 routes across Medway – A Member sought further information as to the systems used to measure average journey times along the 5 identified routes in Medway. The Performance Manager confirmed that the Head of Integrated Transport had investigated alternative options for obtaining this data having regard to the systems used by other local authorities and it was hoped that data would be available by the end of Quarter 3. The new system could be used to obtain a large range of date including journey times for any date or time period.

·         Performance Indicator GH6 CP – Satisfaction with parks and open spaces  - A Member referred to Gillingham Park and sought clarification as to whether there was an appeal process for this Park to regain Green Flag status and she sought information as to whether action was being undertaken to encourage volunteers to help at this particular park. The Acting Assistant Director Front Line Services confirmed that unfortunately the appeal for Green Flag status for Gillingham Park had been unsuccessful and he agreed to share the  Green Flag Judging Report for Gillingham Park. He advised that there had been a Friends Group for Gillingham Park but this was no longer operational. However, he was happy to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 393.

394.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 346 KB

This item advises Members of the current work programme and allows the Committee to adjust it in the light of latest priorities, issues and circumstances. It gives Members the opportunity to shape and direct the Committee’s activities over the year. 

 

Minutes:

Discussion:

 

The Committee discussed its work programme and noted the suggestion that the Annual Review of Waste Contracts currently scheduled for report in January 2017 be rescheduled to March 2017.

 

Attention was also drawn to the publication of a new Forward Plan on 24 October 2016 and those new items relevant to the work of this Committee.

 

In response to discussion on the possible expansion of the scope of the report on the 20splenty scheme to include roads in school zones, it was suggested that the Committee receive a report based on the original brief and any possible expansion to include roads in school zones be considered at a later date.

 

Decision:

 

The Committee:

 

a)            noted the work programme and agreed that the Annual Review of Waste Contracts currently scheduled for January 2017 be rescheduled for March 2017.

b)            noted that the request for the report on the 20splenty scheme on residential roads will be brought forward to committee.

c)            noted that a report will be submitted to the Committee at a future date on the outcome of the consultation of the relocation of the shop mobility service at Chatham Pentagon Centre.