Agenda and minutes

Regeneration, Culture and Environment Overview And Scrutiny Committee - Thursday, 5 December 2019 6.30pm

Venue: Meeting Room 9 - Level 3, Gun Wharf, Dock Road, Chatham ME4 4TR

Contact: Ellen Wright, Democratic Services Officer 

Items
No. Item

483.

Apologies for absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from the Chairman, Councillor Etheridge and Councillors Browne, Paterson, Andy Stamp, Thompson and Williams.

484.

Record of Meeting pdf icon PDF 363 KB

To approve the Record of the Meeting held on 17 October 2019.

Minutes:

The record of the meeting held on 17 October 2019 was agreed and signed by the Chairman as a correct record.

 

The following correction was noted:

 

Minute 374 – the date of the minutes signed required correction to 15 August 2019.

 

The following addition was agreed:

 

Minute 378 – Attendance of the Portfolio Holder for Planning, Economic Growth and Regulation sub heading Heritage Action Zone Programme – The following words were added to paragraph 2 “and is dependent on matched funding” after the words ‘”bidding process”.

485.

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.

486.

Disclosable Pecuniary Interests or Other Significant Interests and Whipping pdf icon PDF 212 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 and Vice Chairman of 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.

 

Councillor Thorne 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.

487.

Annual Scrutiny of the Community Safety Partnership, Including an Update on the Community Safety Plan 2016 to 2020 pdf icon PDF 233 KB

This report provides information on the operation of the Community Safety Partnership from October 2018, which summarises the findings of the strategic assessment. This report also provides information on the proposed plan to cover 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 Chairman of the CSP drew attention to a correction on page 22 of the Strategic Assessment (page 48 of the agenda) in that under the column ‘reducing vulnerability’ the topic of ‘domestic abuse’ had been omitted.

 

The Committee discussed the following topics:

 

·         Police and Crime Commissioner links to the CSP – In response to a question, the Chairman of the CSP explained that the aims and objectives of the Community Safety Plan were aligned with priorities identified by the Police and Crime Commissioner. He further confirmed that the Police and Crime Commissioner provided the CSP with funding each year to tackle crime, disorder, drugs and re-offending.

 

·         Rough sleepers – A Member praised the CSP on the work undertaken to reduce the number of rough sleepers in Medway but acknowledged that a small number of rough sleepers were causing anti-social harm to traders and the public through aggressive begging. He also referred to the potential fire risk of unattended bedding.

 

In response, Chief Inspector Dyball reported upon the partnership approach to dealing with rough sleepers and the work of the Blue Light Project. He confirmed that the Police were able to use powers through Community Protection Orders or Civil Orders to remove rough sleepers where it was appropriate to do so. He advised that through funding received from the Police and Crime Commissioner, 10 dedicated Town Centre Officers had been designated and 8 were already in post and another 2 were soon to take up post.  

 

The Chairman of the CSP informed the Committee that the Council’s Anti-Social Behaviour Team worked closely with the Police and that in the past year 100 rough sleepers had been re-housed off the street. However, he acknowledged that there remained a challenging cohort of individual rough sleepers with alcohol and drug addictions.

 

He praised the work of the Council’s Housing Team for the work that they had undertaken to help re-house rough sleepers and he referred to the Housing First Initiative which was available to provide wrap-around support and provide a programme to give rough sleepers the help and assistance that they required.

 

Concerning the issue of unattended bedding, Chief Inspector Dyball advised upon the powers of both the Police and the Local Authority to remove bedding but reminded the Committee that what appeared to some people to be an unsightly pile of bedding was often the sole possessions belonging to an individual.

 

·         Achievements – In response to a Member’s request for information as to the greatest achievements of the CSP in the past year and those which had not been successful in the past year, the Chairman of the CSP outlined a number of initiatives which he considered had been very successful, ranging from the re-housing of rough sleepers, the taskforce, work on the CCTV programme, dealing with traveller incursions and work with young people. He considered that there was more work to be undertaken in engagement with  ...  view the full minutes text for item 487.

488.

Attendance of the Portfolio Holder for Resources pdf icon PDF 208 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:

 

Members 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:

 

·         Greenspaces – A Member referred to community engagement and in particular, the growth of Friends Groups for greenspaces across Medway and suggested that reference be made to this in future reports.

 

The Portfolio Holder referred to community engagement events and advised that the last few events had been specifically aimed at young people. However, there was a desire to invite a wide range of individuals to these events and in particular those that undertake voluntary work. 

 

·         Blue Light Project – In response to a question, the Portfolio Holder confirmed that the 13 individuals on the Blue Light Project list were those who faced severe and multiple disadvantages with substance misuse, homelessness or involvement with the criminal justice system. However, this number had fallen considerably in the past 12 months in part due to the Rough Sleepers Initiative Project having outreach workers identifying individuals and providing earlier solutions to complex issues.

 

·         Community clean-ups  - A Member commended the work of the Community Wardens in organising 35 Community Clean-ups across Medway.

 

The Portfolio Holder advised that police cadets were due to undertake a clean-up in Luton to which Ward Councillors would receive an invitation.

 

Another Member commended the work of McDonalds’ management and staff in helping with litter picking.  

 

·         Public Space Protection Orders – In response to a question, the Portfolio Holder confirmed that PSPOs in Chatham, Gillingham, Rochester and Strood would remain in place and would be reviewed and if necessary extended prior to their current expiry date of 20 October 2020.

 

He advised that any Member who wished to identify an area for consideration for a PSPO, should refer this either via the monthly Police Surgery or via the Community Safety Partnership Manager.

 

·         Community Payback Project charge – A Member questioned why his Parish Council had been charged £300 for a Community Payback Project undertaken in his Parish.

 

The Portfolio Holder advised that he was unaware that there was a fee for this service and he agreed to ask officers to investigate and report back to Members via a Briefing Note.

 

·         CCTV – A Member referred to the positive work that had been undertaken in the past 12 months on the provision of CCTV across Medway.

 

In response, the Portfolio Holder referred to the recent acquisition of rapid deployment cameras and the introduction of 4 additional cameras with thermal imaging to specifically cover the waterfront.

  

·         Environmental enforcement – In response to a question about environmental enforcement prosecutions, the Portfolio Holder confirmed that the environmental enforcement team undertook detailed examination of flytipped rubbish with a view to establishing, where possible, where it originated and successful prosecutions were actively publicised.

 

A Member also sought information as to the number of seized vehicles that had been crushed as a result of environmental enforcement.

 

The  ...  view the full minutes text for item 488.

489.

Member's Item - Use of Herbicides on Green Space Assets pdf icon PDF 269 KB

This report reviews the use of herbicides on green space assets and alternatives that are available.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Discussion:

 

The Committee received a report reviewing the use of herbicides on green space assets and alternatives that were available, in response to consideration of a Member’s Item on 15 August 2019.

 

With the agreement of the Committee, Ms Rachael Noxon, who had previously spoken at the Committee in August, addressed the Committee again in support of the cessation of the use of glyphosate. She referred to the fact that the Council had recently declared a climate emergency and stated that should the Council cease the use of glyphosate to control weed growth this would go some way towards helping climate and biodiversity concerns.

 

The Operations Manager – Grounds – Medway Norse referred to the report and drew attention to the various options set out in paragraph 3, along with the costs set out in paragraph 6. These had been drawn up in line with the request of the Committee following discussions on 15 August.

 

In response to questions, she provided an assurance that only small quantities of glyphosate were used in a diluted form for weed control and that all liquids were mixed before employees left site to undertake spraying. All staff were fully trained in the use of the chemicals and were required to obtain the National Proficiency Test Council’s PA1 and PA6a licence before they were permitted to spray chemicals. Protective clothing, gloves and masks were required to be worn.

 

Since this issue had originally been raised on 15 August 2019, officers had undertaken indepth research into the use of glyphosate, had discussed concerns with industry professionals and had investigated outcomes at other local authorities where spraying had either ceased or partially ceased. Full information on this research was appended to the report on pages 101 – 114 of the agenda.

 

Although considered a safe method of chemical weed control, the Operations Manager – Grounds – Medway Norse suggested that if the Council wished to provide a level of reassurance to the public, subject to Cabinet approval, it was possible to cease the use of glyphosate in children’s play areas at an estimated cost of £3,800 per annum.

 

The Committee discussed the report and acknowledged the work that had been undertaken through liaison between officers and Councillor Curry who had originally raised this issue as a Member’s item in August 2019. However, concern was expressed that the proposed recommendations were not sufficient and did not fully take account of the Council’s declared climate emergency, current data, and the impact upon wild flowers, insects and wildlife, including amphibians. In addition, it was reported that at least 40 other local authorities across the country had stopped using glyphosate to control weed growth.

 

Additional action was proposed to supplement the proposal to cease the use of glyphosate in children’s play areas, including the cessation of use of herbicides in all greenspaces with the methods for control of vegetation being kept under review year by year or that the use of herbicides cease for one year in all greenspaces and be  ...  view the full minutes text for item 489.

490.

Castle Concerts Analysis and Future Options pdf icon PDF 396 KB

This report seeks to provide insight into the Castle Concerts recent financial challenges and provide a viable option to ensure the Council removes the financial risks associated with delivering a commercial music concert series. 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Discussion:

 

The Committee received a comprehensive report providing an insight into the recent financial challenges of providing the Castle Concerts and suggesting a viable option to ensure that the Council removes the financial risks associated with the delivery of a commercial music concert series.

 

The Committee discussed the report noting the history of the Castle Concerts and the way in which they had been adapted over years to respond to the changing commercial music environment.

 

The Committee acknowledged the importance of the Castle Concerts in supporting the Council’s cultural offer and in particular referred to the introduction of ‘Under Siege’ in 2009 providing a celebration of young musicians and helping to raise the ambitions of young people by giving them an opportunity to perform on a large scale festival stage.

 

The report set out a full financial analysis of providing the Castle Concerts over the past 11 years having regard to the number of tickets sold, ticket prices, cost of performances and total expenditure, including marketing of the event.

 

Whilst the ability for the public to bring alcohol into the concerts had been stopped in 2018 following advice for most of the events after issues of anti-social behaviour both inside and outside of the castle grounds, and this decision had not proved popular with some local people, this had not proved a deterrent to ticket sales for big named artists in 2019.

 

The Committee was advised that there were now an increasing number of similar festivals in direct competition with the Castle Concerts at other venues in Kent but that a number both in Kent and across the UK were struggling and had been cancelled in 2019 due to poor ticket sales.

 

It was also noted that the limited capacity of 4,500 in the Castle Gardens and ticket price ceiling limited the income that the Council could generate via ticket sales.

 

The Committee noted the various options set out in paragraph 4 of the report and noted that soft market testing had proven that there was scope for new commercial music concerts in Rochester Castle Gardens and Great Lines Heritage Park. For this reason, Option 3 was being recommended as a way forward which would result in the Council withdrawing from the direct delivery of the Rochester Castle Concerts and working with a third party to deliver a commercial music concert series in Medway thus removing the Council from future financial risk.

 

In response to questions, the Director of Regeneration, Culture, Environment and Transformation and Deputy Chief Executive reminded the Committee that any recommendation from this Committee would need to be referred to Cabinet for consideration and he informed the Committee that as the Castle Concerts currently had a £50,000 income target in the budget, should Option 3 be selected as the way forward, this £50,000 would need to be addressed through the 2020/2021 budget process.

 

Referring to the potential of a future music festival on the Great Lines Heritage Park, a Member drew attention to the need for an  ...  view the full minutes text for item 490.

491.

Council Plan Performance Monitoring Report and Risk Register Review Quarter 2 2019/2020 pdf icon PDF 212 KB

Medway’s Council Plan 2016/21 sets out the Council’s three priorities.

 

This report and appendices summarises how the Council performed during Q2 2019/20 on the delivery of the two priorities relevant for this Committee:

 

‘Medway: a place to be proud of’ and ‘Maximising regeneration and economic growth’.

 

In accordance with the Council’s Risk Management Strategy, this report also presents the Q2 2019/20 review of the strategic risks pertaining to this Committee.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Discussion:

 

The Committee received a report setting out performance for the second quarter against the Council’s three priorities insofar as they fell within the remit of this Committee. The report also included the Council’s Risk Management Strategy for Quarter 2, reviewing the strategic risks pertaining to this Committee.

 

Decision:

 

The Committee:

 

a)            noted the Quarter 2 2019/20 performance against the measures used to monitor progress against the Council’s priorities.

 

b)            noted the amended Strategic Risk Register as set out at Appendix 3.

492.

Draft Capital and Revenue Budget 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 760 KB

This report provides an update on progress towards setting the Council’s draft capital and revenue budgets for 2020/21. 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 2020.

 

The draft budget is based on the principles contained in the Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) 2019-2024 approved by Cabinet in September and reflects the latest formula grant assumptions.

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 2020/21.

 

The report set out the process by which the budget would progress through to Cabinet and Council in February 2020.

 

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 2020/21 and beyond.

 

493.

Petitions pdf icon PDF 218 KB

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

Minutes:

Discussion:

 

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

 

The Committee noted that at the agenda planning meeting held on 5 November 2019, so as to ensure the effective management of the Committee’s workload, one referred petition would be considered at the meeting scheduled on 21 January 2020.

 

Decision:

 

The Committee noted the petition response set out in paragraph 3  and 4.2 of the report.

 

494.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 130 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 work programme.

 

Decision:

 

The Committee:

 

a)            noted the current work programme;

 

b)            agreed the suggestion of the pre-agenda meeting set out at paragraph 3.3 in the report.