Agenda and draft minutes

Regeneration, Culture and Environment Overview And Scrutiny Committee - Thursday, 15 October 2020 6.30pm

Venue: Virtual Meeting

Contact: Ellen Wright, Democratic Services Officer 

Media

Items
No. Item

342.

Apologies for absence

Minutes:

During this period, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, it was informally agreed between the two political groups to run Medway Council meetings with a reduced number of participants. This was to reduce risk, comply with Government guidance and enable more efficient meetings. Therefore, the apologies given reflects that informal agreement of reduced participants.

 

Apologies for absence were received from the Vice Chairman, Councillor  Bhutia and Councillors Browne, Carr, Hubbard and Tranter.

343.

Record of Meeting pdf icon PDF 97 KB

To approve the Record of the Meeting held on 13 August 2020.

Minutes:

Decision:

 

The record of the meeting held on 13 August 2020 was agreed and signed by the Chairman as a correct record.

344.

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.

345.

Disclosable Pecuniary Interests or Other Significant Interests and Whipping pdf icon PDF 471 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 4.

 

Minutes:

Disclosable pecuniary interests

 

There were none.

 

Other significant interests (OSIs)

 

There were none.

 

Other interests

 

Councillor Andy Stamp referred to Item 7 on the agenda (Attendance by the Portfolio Holder for Front Line Services) and informed the Committee that he worked for the Environment Agency. However, he was not involved in any sites in Medway and therefore he was not precluded from taking part in the debate on this item.

 

346.

Petitions pdf icon PDF 243 KB

This report advises the Committee of a petition received by the Council which falls within the remit of this Committee including a summary of the response sent to the petition organiser by officers.

 

The Committee is also requested to consider the petition referral request.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Discussion:

 

The Committee received a report advising of petitions received by the Council which fell within the remit of this Committee, including a summary of the responses sent to the petition organisers by officers.

 

The Committee noted that one petition had been referred by the lead petitioner for consideration by the Committee relating to the reinstatement of the vehicular access way between 71- 73 Sunnymead Avenue, Gillingham.

 

In line with the Council’s remote meetings protocol, the petition organiser had been invited to either provide a further written representation in support of their petition or to take part in the meeting remotely. The lead petitioner had chosen the first option and their statement had been reproduced at paragraph 4.7 of the report.

 

The Committee discussed the petition and, in the absence of the Ward Councillor who had been involved with this issue, a brief outline of the background to the gating of the vehicular access, and the subsequent petition was explained more fully.

 

The Head of Regulatory Services informed the Committee that the gate to the vehicular access had now been restored to its original specification and consultation was underway with affected residents as to how these gates can fulfil their purpose to the benefit of all residents. The gates were now of a design that when opened, no height barrier remained in place. The Head of Regulatory Services agreed to communicate this to the relevant Ward Councillor.  

 

He also informed the Committee that it was intended that a review be undertaken of all gated alleyways in Medway and that revised governance had been put in place so that, in future, decisions upon gating and changes to gating would involve more than one person.

 

Decision:

 

The Committee:

 

a)         noted the petition response and appropriate officer action set out in paragraph 3 of the report.

 

b)         noted the latest position concerning the gating of the vehicular access between 71 and 73 Sunnymead Avenue and that the Head of Regulatory Services will communicate this to the relevant Ward Councillor.

 

c)         noted that it was intended that a review be undertaken of all gated alleyways in Medway and that revised governance had been put in place so that, in future, decisions upon gating and changes to gating would involve more than one person.

347.

Attendance of the Portfolio Holder for Inward Investment, Strategic Regeneration and Partnerships pdf icon PDF 197 KB

This report sets out progress made within the areas covered by the Portfolio Holder for Inward Investment, Strategic Regeneration and Partnerships Councillor Rodney Chambers, OBE which fall within the remit of this Committee.

Minutes:

Discussion:

 

Members received an overview of progress on the areas of work within the terms of reference of this Committee and covered by the Portfolio Holder for Inward Investment, Strategic Regeneration and Partnerships, Councillor Rodney Chambers, OBE as set out below:

 

·         External funding including local growth fund

·         Heritage Champion

·         Inward Investment

·         Medway the Place

·         Strategic Partnerships

·         Strategic Regeneration and Planning

 

The Portfolio Holder for Inward Investment, Strategic Regeneration and Partnerships, Councillor Rodney Chambers, OBE informed the Committee that, ordinarily, his report would have been presented to the Committee in March 2020. However, this had not been possible due to the cancellation of the March meeting as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown.

 

The Portfolio Holder drew attention to the Government’s Getting Building Fund, created specifically in response to the Covid pandemic aimed at kickstarting delayed schemes and providing opportunities to involve skills training and employability. Medway’s bid to the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) for £1.99m under this scheme for the development of Britton Farm Mall, referred to in paragraph 2.9 of the report, had been successful and the project was required to be delivered by March 2022.

 

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

 

  • Locate in Kent – The Committee discussed the proposed extension of the inward investment contract with Locate in Kent at a cost of £70,000 per annum and discussed how this contract benefited Medway. In particular, reference was made to the need to encourage and attract those businesses which, due to the changes in the way services were delivered during the Covid lockdown, may now be considering possible relocation outside of London whilst adapting to increased use of technology and the ability of staff to work from home.

 

The Portfolio Holder confirmed that due to its proximity to London, Medway was always an attractive alternative for businesses interested in relocating away from the City and enquiries were already being received. He suggested that the Committee may wish to invite Locate in Kent to undertake a presentation to a future meeting to enable the Committee to gain a better understanding of the work that Locate in Kent undertake on Medway’s behalf.

 

  • Staffing capacity to oversee regeneration projects – Concern was expressed as to whether the Council had sufficient capacity in its Regeneration team to oversee and deliver the number of regeneration projects being undertaken in Medway, whilst ensuring value for money.

 

The Portfolio Holder confirmed that he was satisfied that existing regeneration projects in Medway would be completed on time and meet the deadlines for utilising grant funding. A number of schemes had been granted a 6 month extension on completion and delivery due to the Covid pandemic.

 

The Director of Place and Deputy Chief Executive informed the Committee that there had recently been a restructure within his Directorate in response to the successful bid for funding through the Housing Infrastructure Fund which had generated £170m funding.

 

In response to a question concerning the preference for use of consultants as opposed  ...  view the full minutes text for item 347.

348.

Attendance by the Portfolio Holder for Front Line Services pdf icon PDF 566 KB

This report sets out progress made within the areas covered by the Portfolio Holder for Front Line Services which fall within the remit of this Committee.

Minutes:

Discussion:

 

Members received an overview of progress on the areas of work within the terms of reference of this Committee and covered by the Portfolio Holder for Frontline Services as set out below:

 

           Highways

           Street Lighting

           Parking

           Public Transport

           Traffic Management

           Transport Strategy

           Travel Safety

           Waste collection/Recycling/Waste Disposal and Street Cleaning

 

The Portfolio Holder for Front Line Services, Councillor Filmer responded to Members questions and comments as follows: 

 

           Highway Infrastructure Contract Performance – Reference was made to the one year contract extension granted to Volker Highways after it achieved good performance targets when judged against Key Performance Indicators for the Highways Contract. Concern was expressed that this extension had been granted despite the company not having attended a meeting of this Committee for scrutiny. The Portfolio Holder explained that this was the usual way Highways Contracts operated.

 

           Medway Tunnel – In response to questions concerning the maintenance and future funding of Medway Tunnel, the Portfolio Holder advised that Volker Highways was now the principal contractor responsible for maintenance of the Tunnel. He agreed to ask officers to obtain information as to the annual payment to Volker for maintenance of the Tunnel and supply this outside of the meeting.

 

He also advised that in March 2020, £4.972m funding had been awarded from the Department for Transport’s Challenge Fund Tranche 3a for the Medway Tunnel, associated roads and assets linked to it, along with match-funding from the Council. He confirmed that the Tunnel was a major element of Medway’s highway infrastructure and investigations were also being undertaken as to whether further funding could be obtained through Section 106 payments. Concern was expressed about the potential use of Section 106 developer contributions to help fund the ongoing maintenance of the Medway Tunnel.

 

           Waste and Recycling Collections – The Committee expressed its appreciation to Medway Norse for the successful fulfilment of the waste and recycling collection contract not only over the 2019/20 festive period but also during the Covid-19 lockdown.

 

Reference was made to the slight decrease in kerbside recycling and it was noted that this was a nationwide trend. The Portfolio Holder stated that officers, along with Norse, were currently considering alternative methods of collecting with a view to increasing recycling.

 

Concern was expressed that when some residents left empty recycling sacks out on the street this encouraged others to do the same and the

Portfolio Holder suggested that if the Member concerned advised him which roads were affected, he would ask officers for this to be investigated.

 

           Plastic Free Medway – In response to the suggestion that Medway Norse and Volker Highways sign up as business champions for the Plastic Free Medway Campaign, the Portfolio Holder agreed to discuss this with both companies.

 

           Active Travel Fund – The Portfolio Holder agreed to ask officers to investigate the possible inclusion of Horsted Valley into schemes to benefit from the Department of Transport’s Active Travel Fund if Medway’s bid is successful.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 348.

349.

Council Plan Performance Monitoring and Risk Register Review Quarter 1 2020/2021 pdf icon PDF 337 KB

Medway’s Council Plan 2016/21 sets out the Council’s three priorities. This report and appendices summarise how we performed in Quarter 1 (Q1) of 2020/21 on the delivery of the two priorities relevant for this Committee: Place and Growth.

 

During Q1 of 2020/21, as the Council has moved from the Response to Recovery phase of the Emergency Planning procedures, the Strategic Risk Management Group (SRMG) has resumed monitoring of strategic risks. Therefore, this report also presents the Q1 2020/21 review of the Council’s Strategic Risk Register.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Discussion:

 

The Committee received a report setting out performance for Quarter 1 against the Council's two priorities Place and Growth insofar as they fell within the remit of this Committee.

 

In addition, it was reported that during Quarter 1, as the Council had moved from the response to recovery phase of the emergency planning procedures, the Strategic Risk Management Group (SRMG) had resumed monitoring of strategic risks. Therefore, the report included the Quarter 1 2020/21 review of the Council's Strategic Risk Register.

 

The Committee discussed the following:

 

  • LRCC4a – Number of jobs created and safeguarded – The Committee acknowledged that due to the Covid pandemic it was only to be expected that this performance measure would be below target in Quarter 1. The Committee asked whether this was likely to show an improvement by the end of the year and what action was being taken to encourage and attract businesses to relocate or set up in Medway.

 

In response, the Committee was informed that several groups had been formed under the umbrella of the Kent Resilience Forum, specifically to address the future for businesses post the Covid pandemic and officers were actively involved in these groups.

The Assistant Director – Regeneration advised that as Vice Chairman of the Kent Resilience Forum Covid -19 Recovery Group, she worked closely with Kent County Council and a wide range of external partners on this issue. She confirmed that Medway’s Economy and Infrastructure Cell had undertaken an Impact Assessment and produced an Action Plan which was due to be adopted shortly. As the pandemic was continuing, at the current time it was difficult to predict the likely impact on businesses post-Covid but it was anticipated that there would be a further increase in unemployment rates when the Government’s furlough scheme ceased at the end of October.

 

Medway was currently identifying its strengths and how it could build upon these to attract businesses and she confirmed that Innovation Park Medway was continuing to attract interest.

 

  • NI117 (16-17) – The percentage of 16 – 17 year olds who are not in education, employment or training (NEET) – Although this performance indicator fell within the remit of the Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee, in response to a question, the Director of Place and Deputy Chief Executive confirmed that the work of the Officer Skills Board and the Member Skills Board enabled a corporate response.

 

  • Corporate Risk: SR32 – Data and Information – The Committee discussed the benefits of sharing information between different sections of the Council so as to alleviate the need for an individual to send information on several occasions to different services. The Head of Business Intelligence confirmed that this issue was listed for review as part of the Council’s Transformation Programme and she advised that the Council had already signed up to the ‘Tell Us Once’ Service through its Registration Service.

 

350.

Work programme pdf icon PDF 233 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. 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Discussion:

 

The Committee received a copy of its current work programme and was informed of items discussed at the pre agenda meeting on 17 September 2020.

 

Decision:

 

The Committee:

 

a)            agreed that in line with the discussion earlier in the meeting, Locate in Kent be invited to undertake a presentation to a future meeting.

 

b)            agreed that a report be submitted to a future meeting providing an update on the partial cessation of use of herbicides in 2020 along with plans for 2021.

 

c)            noted that the report on the work of Volker Highways due to be presented to Committee in January 2021, will include key performance indicators.

 

d)            agreed that a report on Placing Objects on the Highway be retained on the Committee’s work programme as ‘date to be determined’.

 

e)            agreed that the Annual Review of Waste Contracts be programmed to be submitted to this Committee in January 2021.

 

f)             noted that the Members briefing by the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) is due to take place on 29 October 2020 and agreed that SELEP be invited to a meeting of this Committee for scrutiny when the relevant Portfolio Holder is next held to account in 2021/22.

 

g)            requested that an update report on progress on the future development on the Peninsula be reported to this Committee in March 2021 and every six months thereafter.

 

h)            noted that the pre-agenda meeting considered that sufficient briefings and updates on the Council's response to COVID-19 pandemic are supplied to Members through regular Cabinet reports and therefore additional reports are not currently considered necessary for this Committee.