Agenda and minutes

Regeneration, Culture and Environment Overview And Scrutiny Committee
Thursday, 17 October 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

373.

Apologies for absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Carr and Sylvia Griffin.

374.

Record of Meeting pdf icon PDF 352 KB

To approve the Record of the Meeting held on 15 August 2019.

Minutes:

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

375.

Chairman's announcements

Minutes:

The Chairman informed the Committee that he intended to change the order of the agenda and item 8 (Member’s item – Speeding Restrictions for Luton Road, Chatham) would be considered prior to item 7.

376.

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.

377.

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

 

There were none.

378.

Attendance of the Portfolio Holder for Planning, Economic Growth and Regulation pdf icon PDF 429 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 Councillor Chitty, Portfolio Holder for Planning, Economic Growth and Regulation which fell within the remit of this Committee as set out below:

 

·         Economic Development

·         Employment

·         High Streets

·         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:

 

·         Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) bid – A Member requested an update on the Council’s HIF bid and in response, the Portfolio Holder advised that the outcome of the HIF bid was currently awaited. She advised that if the Council’s bid was unsuccessful, this would have implications for the delivery of the Local Plan.

 

She advised that the Local Plan was not solely concerned with the provision of housing but also covered other factors including employment, transport and health and leisure facilities. However, the success of the HIF bid would be essential to provide the infrastructure to support the Government’s declared level of housing provision required in Medway in future years.

 

·         Apprenticeship awards – The Portfolio Holder noted the Committee’s appreciation for the Consumer Challenge Quiz hosted by Bradfields Academy and the two trophies named after Andy McGrath and Councillor Mike O’Brien.

 

·         Vacancy rates in town centres and the future closure of Debenhams – A Member referred to vacant premises in town centres and, in particular, the closure of Debenhams store in Chatham and he sought information as to action taken by the Portfolio Holder and the Council to prevent the store from closure.

 

The Portfolio Holder confirmed that discussions had been ongoing with both Debenhams and their agent concerning the retention of the Chatham store. During discussions, it had been made clear that the Council was willing to take action within its powers to prevent the store from closure but unfortunately Debenhams had made an economic decision to close stores in Chatham, Canterbury, Ashford and Folkestone.

 

The Portfolio Holder stated that all department stores were currently  facing a difficult financial climate as they were often located in large rented premises and retail shopping was increasingly moving online. This was having a detrimental effect upon the future of traditional shopping centres and High Streets.

 

She acknowledged the need for the Council to re-assess its aspirations for Chatham High Street and, if necessary, to encourage a reduction in the length of the retail element of the High Street. In addition, she reminded the Committee that the Council had invested in the future of the Pentagon Centre.

 

The Portfolio Holder referred to the Chatham Town Centre Forum and advised that the Forum was very positive about future opportunities and would be actively involved in influencing future investment.

 

In addition, the publication of Medway 1 promoting Chatham City Centre would encourage businesses to consider the opportunities that exist for investment.

 

·         South Thames Gateway Building Control Partnership (STG) – In response to a question as to the risk of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 378.

379.

Medway Commercial Group Ltd Further Scrutiny pdf icon PDF 134 KB

This report outlines plans for further scrutiny of Medway Commercial Group Ltd.

Minutes:

Discussion:

 

The Committee received a report outlining plans for further scrutiny of Medway Commercial Group Ltd.

 

The Chairman welcomed Chris White, Interim Chief Executive of MCG to the meeting to answer any outstanding questions.

 

The Committee discussed the following:

 

·         The level of funding paid to MCG Ltd by the Council – A Member sought clarification as to why the level of funding paid to MCG by the Council had remained the same in 2019/20, despite the significant reduction in the number of CCTV cameras provided across Medway following a review of the service over the past year.

 

The Interim Chief Executive of MCG advised that funding received from the Council met the cost of staffing the CCTV monitoring service. This included CCTV cameras located at other Council sites in addition to street cameras and involved approximately 400 cameras in total. Therefore, although there had been a reduction in the number of street CCTV cameras across Medway, this had not been sufficient to result in a reduction in the number of operatives monitoring the service.

 

The Member then referred to the acquisition of new cameras in the past year and suggested that as this new stock would likely require less maintenance the level of funding from the Council should have been reduced.

 

·         Other partners within the CCTV partnership – A Member asked for information as to who was involved in the CCTV partnership. The Interim Chief Executive advised that Medway Council was the lead partner in the CCTV partnership along with Gravesham, Swale and Maidstone Councils. MCG provided the camera monitoring service to the Partnership.

 

He advised that both Swale and Maidstone Councils would be leaving the Partnership on 31 March 2020 to set up their own CCTV operations and the loss of these partners and their income would be challenging for the Council and for MCG.

 

MCG provided a range of services other than CCTV such as Telecare, education services etc. MCG’s Business Plan would be considered by its Board in the near future and this would then be reported to the Council’s Business Support O&S Committee and subsequently Cabinet in November. MCG also had a number of smaller CCTV contracts with a school, a healthy living centre, Rochester Riverside Development, civic amenity sites and the Innovation Park Medway.

 

·         Consultation with Ward Councillors on the removal of CCTV cameras – A Member sought an assurance that Ward Councillors would be consulted upon proposals to remove CCTV cameras in their Wards in the future.

 

The Interim Chief Executive explained that under its contract, MCG fulfilled instructions from the Council as to the locations of specific cameras.

 

The Head of Regulatory Services informed the Committee that the placement and removal of CCTV cameras would be determined by the Community Safety Partnership (CSP) as being a multi-agency partnership, best placed to determine suitable locations for CCTV cameras.

 

He also confirmed that those areas where cameras were removed would continue to be monitored and 2 new rapid deployment cameras had been acquired which  ...  view the full minutes text for item 379.

380.

Council Plan Performance Monitoring Report and Risk Register Review Quarter 1 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 358 KB

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

 

This report and appendices summarises how the Council performed during Q1 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 Q1 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 first 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 1, reviewing the strategic risks pertaining to this Committee.

 

The Head of RCET Business Intelligence Hub informed the Committee that the paragraph referring to ‘Project – Encourage the delivery of homes to meet our targets – Rochester Riverside’ on pages 67 – 68 of the agenda should not have been greyed out as it was relevant to the work of this Committee.

 

The following was discussed:

 

·         NI 154 Net additional homes provided – A Member referred to the pending outcome of the Council’s Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) bid and sought information as to contingency plans should the bid be unsuccessful.

 

The Director of Regeneration, Culture, Environment and Transformation and Deputy Chief Executive advised that HIF funding was required to be spent within a 4 year period. He reminded the Committee that the Council had recently approved funding of £850,000 from reserves to be allocated to complete the planned Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) works within the programme to continue to meet the 2024 spend deadline.

 

He was in weekly contact with the National Lead for HIF but information was not yet available as to the outcome of the Council’s bid. It was hoped that this could be available in early November. It was also confirmed that the Leader of the Council and Medway’s MPs were also actively pursuing this.

 

In the event that the Council’s HIF bid was unsuccessful, this would have significant implications for the Medway Local Plan.

 

·         NI 195a Improved street and environmental cleanliness: Litter – A Member referred to the accuracy of the assessment of cleanliness via a visual inspection of a 50m stretch of a street.

 

He expressed concern that the statement in Quarter 1, that 96% of streets (288/300) surveyed were free from litter at the time of inspection did not appear to correlate with the statistics reported on environmental street enforcement in the Portfolio Holder’s report earlier on the agenda.

 

The Head of RCET Business Intelligence Hub advised that NI195a was an indicator that followed guidance from DEFRA and a briefing note had previously been circulated on how streets were selected for inspection. 

 

·         Cultural Programme – A Member referred to move of exhibits from the Guildhall Museum to Eastgate House and expressed disappointment that an entry fee was required for this attraction. Whilst he appreciated that there was an income target, he suggested that consideration be given to introducing free entry to the facility. The Committee discussed this and the following options were suggested:

 

-       A trial free entry period

-       Free entry on periodic late night openings or on specific days

-       Free entry for under 12s

-       Free entry for Medway residents.

 

In response, the Director of Regeneration, Culture, Environment and Transformation and Deputy Chief Executive outlined a number of exciting projects programmed for  ...  view the full minutes text for item 380.

381.

Member's item - Speeding Restrictions for Luton Road, Chatham pdf icon PDF 157 KB

This report sets out a response to an issue, raised by Councillor Osborne concerning speed restrictions for Luton Road, Chatham

Minutes:

Discussion:

 

The Committee received a report setting out a response to an issue raised by Councillor Osborne concerning speed restrictions for Luton Road, Chatham.

 

A Member expressed concern as to the number of vehicles parked on double yellow lines in Luton Road and suggested that officers investigate the possibility of increasing enforcement in this area. 

 

Decision:

 

The Committee:

 

a)            noted the detailed investigation proposed in section 3 of the report and the aspiration to improve road safety at this location.

 

b)            requested that officers investigate the possibility of increasing enforcement to prevent parking on double yellow lines in Luton Road.  

382.

Petitions pdf icon PDF 130 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.

 

Decision:

 

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

383.

Work programme pdf icon PDF 88 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.