Agenda and minutes

Regeneration, Culture and Environment Overview And Scrutiny Committee - Thursday, 13 January 2022 6.30pm

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

Contact: Ellen Wright, Democratic Services Officer 

Items
No. Item

599.

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. Therefore, the apologies given reflects that informal agreement of reduced participants.

 

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Carr, Clarke, Hubbard, Mahil, Thompson, Rupert Turpin and Williams, with Councillor Sylvia Griffin substituting.

600.

Record of Meeting pdf icon PDF 419 KB

To approve the Record of the Meetings held on 14 October 2021 and 2 December 2021.

 

The Committee is reminded that at the meeting on 2 December 2021, the Chairman did not sign the minutes of 14 October 2021 as correct pending clarification on a statement in the minutes. It has since been confirmed that the information in the minutes is a correct record of the statement made at the meeting.  

Additional documents:

Minutes:

A Member asked when additional information requested at the 2 December 2021 meeting of the Committee in relation to Medway Development Company would be provided to Members. The Director of Place and Deputy Chief Executive said that there were some sensitivities relating to this information and that it would be provided once this had been resolved.

 

The records of the meetings held on 14 October 2021 and 2 December 2021 were agreed and signed by the Chairman as a correct record.

601.

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.

602.

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 Curry declared an other interest in agenda item number 4 (Attendance of the Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Housing and Community Services) as he is the Chair of Medway Urban Greenspaces Forum. Councillor Curry remained in the room during discussion and consideration of the item.

603.

Attendance of the Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Housing and Community Services pdf icon PDF 428 KB

This report sets out progress made within the areas covered by the Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Housing and Community Services, Councillor Doe 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 Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Housing and Community Services, Councillor Doe, as set out below:

 

·      Archives

·      Armed Forces Covenant

·      Events and Festivals

·      Greenspaces

·      Heritage

·      Leisure Services

·      Sporting Legacy

·      Theatres and Arts

·      Tourism

 

The Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Housing and Community Services, Councillor Doe responded to Members’ questions and comments as follows:

 

  • Great Lines Heritage Park It was questioned what improvements could be expected at Great Lines Heritage Park in view of the investment in it, how this would be funded going forward and how the park would be used for events. The Portfolio Holder said that significant work had been undertaken to achieve Green Flag standards. It was anticipated that the park would be used for further events in the future, although the needs of neighbouring residents would need to be recognised.

 

  • Splashes Sports Centre – Assurance was sought that the redevelopment of Splashes Sports Centre would not be funded by S106 contributions from developments that were not within the areas in the Splashes user catchment areas. A Member expressed concern that the Splashes redevelopment was not progressing to the timetable previously set out. Splashes had closed in Summer 2020 and should have opened again in January 2022 had work progressed to timetable. In July 2021, it had been stated that Splashes would reopen at the end of 2022 or in early 2023. The Member questioned why the report said work was progressing to timetable when this did not appear to be the case and said that the condition that Splashes had been found to be in raised questions about the condition of other Council owned leisure facilities.

 

The Portfolio Holder confirmed that the Splashes redevelopment would predominantly be funded from capital expenditure, but that should other suitable sources of funding become available, they would be welcome. The Council was committed to the redevelopment. Available S106 contributions could be used to fund developments that would benefit the residents of a particular area. For Splashes, the user catchment area would be quite large. Architects had been commissioned who would ensure that the best value possible could be achieved from the investment.

 

In relation to the timescale for the redevelopment of Splashes, the Portfolio Holder said that it was difficult to be specific and that it was important to ensure that developments were of high quality and represented value for money. Consideration had been given as to whether the existing Splashes Leisure Centre could have been renovated but it had been concluded that this was not viable.

 

The Portfolio Holder advised that the Portfolio Holder for Resources reviewed condition surveys undertaken in relation to Council owned property and that no concerns had been identified in relation to other Council owned facilities. The expected lifespan of the former Splashes Leisure Centre had been 30 years.

 

The redevelopment was broadly proceeding to timetable. However, the timetable  ...  view the full minutes text for item 603.

604.

Highway Infrastructure Contract - Annual Review pdf icon PDF 245 KB

This report is the second annual review to be reported to Overview and Scrutiny of the Highway Infrastructure Contract between Medway Council and VolkerHighways. This report and the supporting appendix provide an annual review for Year 4 of the Contract Term, covering the period 1 August 2020 to 31 July 2021.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Discussion:

 

This report presented the annual review of the Highway Infrastructure Contract between Medway Council and VolkerHighways. This covered the period from August 2020 to July 2021. The contract had commenced in 2017 for a period of five years, with the possibility of five single year extensions, depending on performance. VolkerHighways had achieved the level required for a third year extension which meant that the contract was currently scheduled to end on 31 July 2024.

 

It was noted that the maintenance of the highway and its assets was a statutory duty and that the current value of the highways assets was just over £2 billion with the land being valued at just under £3 billion. The intention was for the next annual update to be reported to the Committee in January 2023.

 

The following was discussed:

 

  • Highways Funding – A Committee Member expressed concern that highways funding provided by the Department for Transport was reducing year on year and that there was a shortfall in Medway. The Acting Head of Highways responded that there was reduced funding available nationally. Covid-19 had been a factor and it was not yet clear how funding would recover. She advised that there had been no reduction in the revenue or capital budget available until the current year. The maintenance of infrastructure would be a challenge in view of the funding constraints. Funding was prioritised to ensure highways were kept in a safe condition, which was a statutory duty. Remaining funding would be targeted to achieve the best outcomes possible. Over the last few years, investment had been targeted at the unclassified network. This had ensured that the national average had been met for classification. Although 17% of unclassified roads still needed maintenance, improvements had been made by using available resources effectively. The amount of funding required nationally was so large it was not clear how it would be resolved in the long term. The funding deficit for maintenance had reduced from around £41 million to £32 million.

 

  • Designated design life – It was confirmed that there was not a list of designated design life for every carriageway and it was not known when every carriageway had been built. A rolling programme of condition surveys was undertaken for the full road network and the structural condition of every road was monitored. There was awareness of the maintenance backlog but securing the funding required was challenging.

 

  • Electric Vehicle Fleet – A Member asked when 100% of the vehicle fleet would be electric. The Acting Head of Highways said that there were currently three electric vehicles in the fleet and that alternative fuel sources were being considered. The VolkerHighways representative added that battery technology and vehicle range was not yet good enough for use in larger vehicles. Vehicles were being trialled on an ongoing basis.

 

  • Medway Tunnel – In relation to the Medway Tunnel and Road Infrastructure Scheme, it was asked how the £4.9 million of funding was broken down. The Acting Head of Highways said  ...  view the full minutes text for item 604.

605.

Medway 2037 Strategy Refresh pdf icon PDF 263 KB

The Council is undertaking an intensive programme of strategy refresh and development spanning regeneration, economic development and employability and skills.

 

This report, and the SQW presentation to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, will provide an update on the progress made to date, direction of travel and a programme for the completion of this work.

Minutes:

Discussion:

 

A presentation was given to the Committee by representatives from SQW Consultants in relation to the Medway 2037 Strategy refresh. The key points of the presentation were as follows:

 

  • SQW Consultants had been engaged in the Strategy refresh since October 2021 and had undertaken an initial analysis. The Strategy development was about refreshing the existing core Medway 2035 Strategy rather than starting again.
  • Key elements of Medway 2037 would include the Skills and Employability Action Plan, the Innovation Strategy, the Town Centre Strategy and the River Strategy, the latter of which would be a new strategy.
  • The Strategy would aim to provide space for projects to evolve whilst providing a framework for the Council to work with partner organisations.
  • The aim would be to create a comprehensive suite of strategy documents that were aligned with each other and to co-ordinate action plans. The refresh would be used as an opportunity to embed key themes.
  • Climate change would be an important element of the new Strategy with the previous 2018 version having made little reference to the aspiration for net zero carbon emissions.
  • Other key themes would include Levelling Up, understanding how Medway can position itself to secure further funding, addressing the impacts of Covid and raising the profile of Medway.
  • It was proposed that innovation be removed as a standalone priority as this was a cross-cutting theme that did not sit in isolation.
  • In relation to skills and employability, consideration needed to be given in relation to what had worked for Medway in recent years.
  • There was a need to look at how to foster innovation and how the Council could work as both a direct deliverer and as a facilitator, including the fostering of relationships with businesses looking to move to Medway and how to help businesses to tap into local expertise, such as the Medway universities.
  • Officer teams across the Council were being engaged and feedback would be welcome over the next four to six weeks.

 

Following the presentation, Committee Members were invited to give their initial views on the development of Medway 2037. The following points were raised:

 

River access – Noting that there was not currently a single public access slipway to the river within Medway, a Committee Member asked how this would be addressed. The SQW Consultants noted the suggestion and said that the current process was about listening to ideas rather than making specific commitments.

 

Outcome and Strategy Development – A Committee Member said that it was important to get the message across about the important of the Strategy and to be clear about the outcomes that would be achieved and what issues there were that needed to be overcome. It was suggested that it would be helpful for an update report to be presented to the Committee every six months. The Member also noted that the importance of Chatham Docks and of clearing up pollution.

 

Uniqueness of Medway – A Member said that the Strategy needed to be clear about the uniqueness  ...  view the full minutes text for item 605.

606.

Work programme pdf icon PDF 215 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:

 

a)      Noted the current work programme.

 

b)      Agreed the recommendations of the pre-agenda meeting set out at paragraph 3.3 to the report.

 

c)      Noted that a report in relation to Declaration of Four Elms Hill Air Quality Management Area – Action Plan would be considered by the Committee at its June 2022 meeting.