Agenda and minutes

Regeneration, Culture and Environment Overview And Scrutiny Committee - Thursday, 2 December 2021 6.30pm

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

Contact: Ellen Wright, Democratic Services Officer 

Items
No. Item

498.

Apologies for absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Clarke, Mahil and Rupert Turpin.

499.

Record of Meeting pdf icon PDF 395 KB

To approve the Record of the Meeting held on 14 October 2021.

Minutes:

A Member sought clarification on a statement in minute 389 – Attendance by the Portfolio Holder for Planning, Economic Growth and Regulation and questioned whether the date recorded in the minute was correct. The Chairman agreed that this matter be checked prior to the minutes being signed as correct.

 

500.

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 has agreed should be considered by reason of special circumstances to be specified in the report.

Minutes:

There were none.

501.

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 Tranter referred to the Annual Scrutiny of the Community Safety Partnership and informed the Committee that as a Council appointed representative on the Kent and Medway Fire and Rescue Authority, whilst he would participate in the debate on this item, he would not take part in any scrutiny of the performance of the Fire Authority.

 

502.

Petitions pdf icon PDF 195 KB

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

 

There is one petition referral to be considered at this Committee requesting effective traffic calming measures along the entirety of Marlborough Road, Gillingham, where they are not already in existence.

Minutes:

Discussion:

 

The Committee received a report setting out petitions received by the Council which fell within the remit of this Committee including a summary of the responses sent to the petition organiser by officers.

 

The Committee was informed that there had been one petition referral for consideration at this meeting as follows:

 

Request to take action in implementing effective traffic calming measures along the entirety of Marlborough Road, Gillingham where they are not already in existence

 

Mr Plumb, petition organiser, accompanied by Ms May, was in attendance and they outlined the basis of the petition and the reasons for the referral request as follows:

 

·         Marlborough Road was located between Brompton Westbrook School and the Great Lines Heritage Park on one side, residential properties on the other side and an entrance to Medway Hospital at one end. It was therefore a very busy road not only for traffic but also heavily used by pedestrians, many of whom were school children who tended to cross the road between parked cars when there were breaks in the traffic.

·         There have been many accidents in Marlborough Road, involving pedestrians and animals and frequent damage to parked vehicles. Therefore residents were requesting that consideration be given to introducing traffic calming measures to reduce the speed of traffic.

·         Damage to residents’ vehicles parked in Marlborough Road has resulted in increased insurance premiums.

 

The Head of Integrated Transport thanked the petitioner for attending the meeting and advised that in response to the petition, investigations were currently being undertaken into road user speeds in Marlborough Road along with the most recently reported road casualty history. This information would assist in informing any potential next steps to be undertaken. As this work had already commenced and was programmed within the current financial year it would be concluded by 31 March 2022. Once completed, the Road Safety Team would contact the lead petitioner to provide a formal update of the outcome of the investigations.

 

The Committee discussed the petition and noted that should any traffic calming measures be introduced in Marlborough Road such as speed restrictions, this would then be the responsibility of the Police for enforcement.

 

The Committee requested to be updated on the outcome of the investigations.

 

Decision:

 

The Committee:

 

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

 

b)            noted the petition referral request and the Director of Place and Deputy Chief Executive’s response set out in paragraph 4 of the report and requested that the Committee be informed of the outcome of the investigation work into the request for traffic calming measures in Marlborough Road Gillingham.

 

503.

Annual Scrutiny of the Community Safety Partnership including an update on the Community Safety Plan 2020 to 2024 pdf icon PDF 185 KB

Community Safety Partnerships (CSPs) are under a duty to produce a Community Safety Plan to formulate and implement a strategy to reduce crime and disorder, combat substance misuse, and reduce re-offending.

 

This report provides information on the operation of the CSP from October 2019, which summarises the findings of the strategic assessment. This report provides information on the Community Safety Plan covering the period from 2020 to 2024.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Discussion:

 

The Chairman welcomed the partners of the Community Safety Partnership (CSP) to the meeting.

 

The Committee discussed the following topics:

 

  • Anti-social behaviour (ASB)

 

-       Increase in ASB - A Member referred to the 59% increase in incidents of ASB between April 2020 and March 2021 and requested the reason for this increase.

 

Superintendent Marsh advised that this reporting period covered the Covid-19 lockdowns and during this period, the Police had received an increased number of calls relating specifically to breaches of Covid rules. He reminded the Committee that one incident of ASB could generate multiple calls.

 

Superintendent Marsh was confident that the next reporting period would show a decrease in incidents of ASB. Superintendent Marsh gave an assurance that ASB remained a priority for the Police and that work undertaken by the Task Force in Gillingham had successfully reduced levels of ASB in this area of Medway.

 

-       Comparisons with other areas for levels of ASB - A Member sought clarification as to where Medway was ranked when compared to other area for incidents of ASB. Superintendent Marsh advised that Medway ranked the highest for levels of ASB in Kent when compared to other districts but confirmed that Medway was resourced to reflect this. He was satisfied that in the next reporting period, levels of ASB would reduce to levels previously seen prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

Superintendent Marsh also advised that Kent Police was one of the top Police forces in the Country for the way in which crimes were recorded and therefore, this reflected in the crime statistics for the area.

 

-       ASB during the Christmas/New Year Period – In response to a question, Superintendent Marsh advised that it was anticipated that there would be increased numbers of people celebrating during the Christmas/New Year period and, as a result, there would be increased night time patrolling. He informed the Committee that with Covid rule enforcement, the Police took the line of engaging and encouraging compliance and using enforcement as a last resort.

 

  • Youth Crime – In response to a question as to whether the Police should take a more active role in trying to discourage youths who were on the edge of entering a life of crime, Superintendent Marsh advised that Kent Police now had a dedicated Schools Team comprising 4 Police Constables who undertook work in secondary schools with a focus on prevention of crime.

 

Superintendent Marsh advised that it was not always necessary or beneficial to take a young person into custody if alternative interventions were available.

 

He further advised that Kent Police had 2 Safety Officers specifically working on disrupting county lines gangs and grooming, and work was also undertaken in schools by the Youth Offending Co-ordinator and the Task Force.

 

  • Probation recruitment – In response to a question concerning recruitment to the Probation Service, Tracey Kadir advised that there were staffing challenges in the Probation Service but this was not a new issue. Due to Kent being located in close proximity to London,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 503.

504.

Attendance by the Portfolio Holder for Resources pdf icon PDF 502 KB

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

Minutes:

Discussion:

 

The Committee received an overview of progress made on the areas within the scope of the Portfolio Holder for Resources which fell within the remit of this Committee.

 

The Portfolio Holder responded to Members’ questions and comments as

follows:

 

·         Flyover /marketing tool – The Portfolio Holder for Resources introduced a short video produced by Medway Development Company (MDC) to be used as a marketing tool to promote development at Chatham Waterfront. He provided an update on how works were progressing at the Chatham Waterfront site.

 

Concern was expressed that despite the extensive development taking place in Chatham, it had not been possible to include affordable housing provision in all of the various developments and where allocation was to be provided but could not be accommodated within the development site, this was being located elsewhere in Medway.

 

The Portfolio Holder advised that good quality off site provision of affordable housing had been provided in White Road, Chatham and would soon be provided at Britton Farm in Gillingham. He confirmed that all  the current schemes were providing 25% affordable housing provision.

 

The Portfolio Holder informed the Committee that as a Director of MDC and Chair of the Subsidiary Company undertaking development works, MDC was taking on the development of some challenging and difficult sites which were not always attractive to private developers. Therefore, it was not always possible to include provision of 25% affordable housing within all development on viability grounds.

 

·         Strood development – A Member requested an update on potential development of sites in Strood. In response, the Portfolio Holder advised that at the current time, as a small team, MDC was unable to take on the development of sites in Strood due to its other projects at Chatham Waterfront and Britton Farm in Gillingham.

 

·         Medway Development Company(MDC) – The Committee discussed the issue of developments being undertaken in Medway by MDC and in particular the information that MDC is a small company. Concern was expressed as to the risks of a small company taking on large development projects and the Portfolio Holder explained that beneath MDC was another company acting as managing agents for the developments. The Committee requested further information as to the relationship between MDC and the managing agents along with the make-up of MDC’s Board of Directors, and requested a staffing matrix, an oversight of minutes of Board meetings, information on cash flow and forecasts, draw down loans, balance sheets and information on risk analysis. It was noted that this information would be commercially sensitive when circulated. The Portfolio Holder offered for MDC to attend a meeting of the Committee to undertake a presentation on its work but the Committee requested that the information requested be supplied in the first instance.

 

·         Gillingham Town Centre - Concern was expressed as to the lack of investment in Gillingham Town Centre in comparison with that being invested in Chatham. Whilst it was acknowledged that attempts were being made to obtain investment from various funding streams, a view was  ...  view the full minutes text for item 504.

505.

Draft Capital and Revenue Budget 2022/23 pdf icon PDF 388 KB

This report presents the Council’s draft capital and revenue budgets for 2022/23. In accordance with the Constitution, Cabinet is required to develop ‘initial budget proposals’ approximately three months before finalising the budget and setting council tax levels at the end of February 2022.

 

The draft budget is based on the principles set out in the Financial Outlook 2022/23 reported to Cabinet on 28 September 2021.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Discussion:

 

The Committee received a report providing an update on progress towards setting the Council’s draft capital and revenue budgets for 2022/23.

 

The report set out the process by which the budget would progress through to Cabinet and Council in February 2022.

 

In response to a question as to whether there was a likelihood of reducing staffing levels to assist in bridging the budget gap, the Head of Finance Strategy reminded the Committee that the Council was a lean establishment insofar as staffing was concerned and that the majority of the budget pressures came from the cost of adult and children’s social care placements. This was therefore an area that was under review to assess the potential for reductions.

 

Decision:

 

The Committee noted that Cabinet has instructed officers to continue to work with Portfolio Holders in formulating robust proposals to balance the budget for 2022/23 and beyond.

506.

Council Plan Performance Monitoring Report and Risk Register Quarter 2 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 327 KB

Medway’s Council Plan 2021/22 sets out the Council’s three priorities. This report and appendices summarise how we performed in Q2 2021/22 on the delivery of the two priorities relevant for this Committee: Place and Growth.

 

This report also presents the Q2 2021/22 review of the Council’s Strategic Risk Register.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Discussion:

 

The Committee noted that this would be the last meeting attended by the Corporate Head of Performance and Business Intelligence as she was due to leave Medway Council to take up a post elsewhere. Members expressed their best wishes and thanked her for supporting the Committee over past years.

 

The Committee received a report setting out performance for Quarter 2 against the Council's two priorities Place and Growth insofar as they fell within the remit of this Committee, along with a review of the Council’s Risk Register.

 

The following issues were discussed:

 

·         Discontinuation of a new shared cycle route connecting Cuxton to Medway Valley Park – A Member sought further information on the discontinuation of a new shared cycle route connecting Cuxton to Medway Valley Park and the Assistant Director Front Line Services offered to meet with the Member concerned to discuss this outside of the meeting.

 

·         Strategic Plans – A Member referred to the number of strategic plans in place across the Council and requested a list of all current plans along with information as to how they connect to each other. In response, the Corporate Head of Performance and Business Intelligence advised that a diagram showing all the various strategies and their relationship to each other had been drawn up a few years ago and she planned to refresh this diagram and publish online. She agreed to circulate a copy to the Committee.

 

·         NI 167 – Average journey time along 5 routes across Medway – A Member sought clarification as to the method by which the average journey times were calculated for this performance indicator. In response the Corporate Head of Performance and Business Intelligence explained that this was calculated using vehicle GPS and that this topic had been the subject a briefing note to the Committee. She agreed to send this to the Member concerned.

 

·         Risk Register – A Member asked whether the risk register was being updated to reflect the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. The Corporate Head of Performance and Business Intelligence confirmed that this was a new risk that had been added to the risk register and would cover all risks relating to Covid-19, including the new variant.

 

·         Street lighting and street cleansing – A Member complimented the provision of LED street lighting in his Ward but referred to issues concerning street cleansing which still needed to be addressed. The Director of Place and Deputy Chief Executive advised that the issue of street cleansing had been discussed in detail by Committee on 14 October 2021 and was being investigated but if there were any new areas of concern these should be drawn to the attention of officers.

 

Decision:

 

The Committee considered and noted the Quarter 2 2021/22 performance against measures used to monitor progress against the Council’s priorities and:

 

a)            noted that the Assistant Director Front Line Services will meet with the Member concerned to discuss the discontinuation of a new shared cycle route connecting Cuxton to Medway Valley Park and that the outcome of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 506.

507.

Work programme pdf icon PDF 191 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 report setting out the current work programme.

 

Decision:

 

The Committee noted the current work programme.