Agenda

Council
Thursday, 23 January 2020 7.00pm

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

Contact: Julie Keith, Head of Democratic Services 

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for absence

2.

Declarations of Disclosable Pecuniary Interests and Other Significant Interests pdf icon PDF 211 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 2.

 

3.

Record of meeting pdf icon PDF 525 KB

To approve the record of the meeting held on 10 October 2019.

4.

Appointment of Deputy Mayor

Following the resignation of Councillor Steve Iles as Deputy Mayor in November 2019, the Council is asked to appoint a Deputy Mayor for the remainder of the current municipal year.

5.

Mayor's announcements

6.

Leader's announcements

7.

Petitions

8.

Public questions pdf icon PDF 335 KB

This report sets out the public questions received for this meeting. 

9.

Leader's report pdf icon PDF 1 MB

10.

Overview and scrutiny activity pdf icon PDF 694 KB

11.

Members' questions

11A)

Councillor Steve Iles will ask the Portfolio Holder for Front Line Services, Councillor Filmer, the following:

Considering the huge cost of the upkeep of the Medway Tunnel, how much of the revenue from speeding vehicles goes towards the costs?

11B)

Councillor Osborne will ask the Leader of the Council, Councillor Jarrett, the following:

In 2013/14 the Tory-led Council produced a detailed report on Luton Road and surrounding areas, including investment in traffic safety for local residents. 

 

Can the Leader of the Council confirm whether his Council acted on the report, and can he provide an updated timetable on proposals and delivery of traffic calming and management for Luton?

11C)

Councillor Paterson will ask the Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Housing and Community Services, Councillor Doe, the following:

After squandering more than £1.6million of taxpayers' money over a decade of botched delivery of the Castle Concerts, on December 17 Cabinet finally agreed to stop the rot and transfer the financial risk to the private sector. 

 

However Cabinet washing its hands of the problem does not wash away the blame for those unbelievable, sustained losses. Nor does it absolve it of the responsibility to ensure future Castle Concerts benefit our community, instead of simply lining the pockets of promoters and pop stars.

 

The report and recommendations agreed by Cabinet in December speak only of removing the Council "from any future financial risk", but notably make no commitment to clawing back any of the £1.6million this administration poured down the drain while propping up a flawed business model. The report also, in addressing the issue of loss of artistic control over future concerts, merely says that any contract negotiated "can include opportunities within the programme to showcase local talent".

 

Given the ongoing financial pressures on this local authority and our goal of being crowned UK City of Culture 2025, will Cllr Doe commit now to begin recouping those seven-figure losses through any guaranteed income from future concerts and does he promise to turn that vague "can" into a firm "will" when it comes to ensuring local talent is given the chance to shine as part of that contract?

11D)

Councillor Curry will ask the Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Housing and Community Services, Councillor Doe, the following:

The need to stop the use of herbicides on our greenspaces has now been accepted by the Council following the decision at O&S and Cabinet to stop their use in children’s play areas and around trees. This is based upon the understanding that these chemicals are very damaging to biodiversity, the climate, and potentially damaging to domestic pets, wild animals, and public health.

 

However, this Council continues to use herbicides in other public areas and greenspaces which could still have the same outcomes as listed above. In the eyes of many this will be seen as a halfway house policy, will the Portfolio Holder please explain the Council’s policy on the use of herbicides on our greenspaces?

11E)

Councillor Mahil will ask the Portfolio Holder for Business Management, Councillor Turpin, the following:

Community Wardens have always provided an invaluable service across the Medway Towns; from reporting graffiti and fly-tipping, to attending local schools to teach the pupils about good citizenship, these individuals help protect and grow our communities.

 

Can the Portfolio Holder provide data on the number of community wardens and managers in each Medway ward as well as the services offered by these wardens and managers, in both 2010 and 2020?

11F)

Councillor Johnson will ask the Leader of the Council, Councillor Jarrett, the following:

Will the Leader consider stepping down if, after six months, the DfE-appointed Children’s Services Commissioner decides that Medway Council is no longer capable of running its own Children’s Services?

11G)

Councillor Howcroft-Scott will ask the Portfolio Holder for Children's Services (Lead Member), Councillor Mrs Josie Iles, the following:

A recent Ofsted report has judged Medway Secure Training Centre (MSTC) to be ‘Inadequate’, the lowest score awarded by Ofsted.

 

Following a BBC Panorama, a serious case review conducted by Medway Safeguarding Children Partnership found that, under the management of G4S, the centre was putting children at risk of harm.

 

MSTC will close in Spring 2020 and be reopened as the country’s first Secure School, run by Oasis Charitable Trust, an organisation which has no previous experience looking after children in a residential setting.

 

Considering Oasis Charitable Trust’s lack of experience in this area what is the Portfolio Holder prepared to do to ensure that the mistakes made at MSTC are not repeated at the Secure School?

11H)

Councillor Khan will ask the Portfolio Holder for Resources, Councillor Gulvin, the following:

An employment tribunal recently ordered Medway Council to pay a former employee £15,000 on grounds of unfair dismissal. Combined with court fees, this outcome will cost Medway taxpayers tens of thousands of pounds.

 

What lessons will the Council learn from this case to ensure that, in future, residents do not have to pay for the Council’s mistakes?

11I)

Councillor Hubbard will ask the Portfolio Holder for Children's Services (Lead Member), Councillor Mrs Josie Iles, the following:

Can the Portfolio Holder please advise on the following regarding staffing in Children’s Services:

 

·         The number of staff who are agency staff or on interim contracts and the proportion of the total staff that figure represents;

·         The number of senior staff at Head of Service or above on interim contracts and the proportion of senior staff that figure represents.

11J)

Councillor Murray will ask the Portfolio Holder for Children's Services (Lead Member), Councillor Mrs Josie Iles, the following:

Thomas Aveling School, a popular and successful school favoured by many families who live close by in my Ward, has recently commenced a public consultation on changing their admission criteria to prioritise primary schools within their Trust one of which is outside of their normal catchment area. Recently the Thinking Skills Academy Trust (TSAT) successfully changed their admission arrangements to do this too. This action undermines Medway’s admission criteria which currently prioritises the nearest appropriate school and potentially places additional pressure on the Council’s finances because applications for school transport assistance could increase.

 

Is the Portfolio Holder aware that the DFE overruled Medway’s objection to the TSAT change and is she prepared to support the Labour Group by writing a joint letter to the Secretary of State asking what he is prepared to do to prevent local authority admission policies being undermined by Academy Trusts?

11K)

Councillor Cooper will ask the Leader of the Council, Councillor Jarrett, the following:

Given the vital importance of robust challenge and scrutiny to the rapid and sustainable improvement of Medway's Children's Services, as emphasised by the Commissioner, what assurances can he provide to backbench members of his own group that they will be encouraged to be robust in Overview and Scrutiny Committee meetings and that they will not face disciplinary or other action for challenges to the administration?

11L)

Councillor McDonald will ask the Portfolio Holder for Adults' Services, Councillor Brake, the following:

According to NHS Data, Medway CCG has a total of 2,917 patients per FTE fully-qualified GP - the highest number of patients per GP in the country. What are the reasons for this and how is the Council addressing them?

12.

Council Tax Reduction Scheme pdf icon PDF 253 KB

This report seeks approval of the re-adoption of the existing local Council Tax Reduction Scheme by for 2020/21.

Additional documents:

13.

Amendments to the Revenue Budget and Capital Programme pdf icon PDF 132 KB

This report requests Full Council approval for a number of amendments to the Revenue Budget and Capital Programme.

Additional documents:

14.

Changes to the Corporate Management Team Structure pdf icon PDF 332 KB

This report proposes changes to the corporate management team structure, seeking approval by Council, following consideration by Cabinet on 14 January 2020.

Additional documents:

15.

Contract Letting - Exceptional Circumstances pdf icon PDF 295 KB

This report details contracts awarded in accordance with the provisions of the current Contract Procedure Rule 1.8.2.

16.

Update on a Review of Local Government Ethical Standards pdf icon PDF 297 KB

This report seeks approval to some changes to the Members’ Code of Conduct following a report from the Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL) on ethical standards in local government, which was published in January 2019.

 

This report sets out the response from the Councillor Conduct Committee to the best practice recommendations for Local Authorities made by the CSPL and also proposes a minor amendment to the Code as a consequence of the Civil Partnership (Opposite-sex Couples) Regulations 2019. 

Additional documents:

17.

Proposal to Include the Seven Principles of Public Life in the Employee Code of Conduct pdf icon PDF 228 KB

This report provides details of a recommendation from the Employment Matters Committee that the Seven Principles of Public Life be included in the current Employee Code of Conduct policy, following an Internal Audit report on ethics.

Additional documents:

18.

Schedule of Meetings 2020/2021 pdf icon PDF 196 KB

This report asks the Council to consider a provisional programme of meetings for the 2020/2021 municipal year, as set out in Appendix 1, for recommendation to the Annual Meeting of the Council on 20 May 2020.

Additional documents:

19.

Motions

19A)

The Portfolio Holder for Business Management, Councillor Turpin, has submitted the following:

Adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Anti-Semitism

 

This Council recognises the invaluable role local authorities have to play in tackling all forms of hate crime, working in partnership with local police forces.

 

Council deplores all incidents of religiously motivated hatred, and notes the worrying trend reflected in the Home Office official statistics from October 2019 which show that 18% of religiously motivated hatred is targeted at Jewish people – up from 12% in 2018 – and that, per capita, Jewish people were most likely to report experiencing hatred.

 

Council further notes with concern that The Community Security Trust (CST)’s report on anti-Semitic incidents in the first six months of 2019 showed the highest total on record over a six-month period, and an increase of 10% on the same period in 2018, with over 100 incidents per month for the third year running.

 

The IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, as adopted by the Government in December 2016, is as follows: ‘Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.’

 

Council recognises the above definition as an invaluable tool for public bodies to understand how anti-Semitism manifests itself in the 21st century.

 

Council therefore agrees to formally adopt the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, in order to demonstrate this Council’s commitment to engaging with the experiences of Jewish communities, to support them against the contemporary challenges they face, and to send a clear message that anti-Semitic behaviour will not be tolerated in Medway.

19B)

The Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Housing and Community Services, Councillor Doe, has submitted the following:

In January 2018, this Council passed a motion to become a single use plastic free Council by phasing out the use of unnecessary single use plastic products in all Council buildings and at all Council events, and encouraging our facilities’ users, local businesses, stakeholders and other local public agencies to do the same, by championing alternatives. In April 2019, this Council passed a motion to declare a Climate Emergency.

 

It is therefore clear that Medway Council recognises the global severity of climate change and are committed to working with partners and local communities to tackle the impact of climate change on the local area. Council notes the steps that have been taken to ensure that the above commitments have been upheld, and thanks partners for the vital role they are playing in encouraging and supporting Medway’s plastic-free journey.

 

This Council wishes to place on record its support and thanks to all voluntary groups across Medway making valuable contributions towards reducing the amount of single use plastics being used.

 

To further demonstrate this support the Council agrees that the Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Housing and Community Services, Councillor Doe, as Lead Member for climate change, should represent the Local Authority on the Plastic Free Community steering group, established by the Towards Plastic Free Medway group - which is seeking to achieve Plastic Free Community status for Medway by encouraging local businesses, stakeholders and other local public agencies to phase out the use of unnecessary single use plastic.

19C)

Councillor Mahil has submitted the following:

As an employer, Medway Council recognises more can be done to prevent discrimination and unconscious bias during each stage of recruitment.

 

One proven method for preventing employment discrimination in the early stages of recruitment is to adopt a “name-blind” application process, wherein the names of applicants are not disclosed.

This Council notes that:

 

-          Name blind recruitment is a positive step to reduce discrimination in employment;

-          Name blind recruitment assists in reducing both gender and racial bias in initial recruitment stages;

-          Name blind recruitment helps reduce legal risks to employers;

-          Name blind recruitment has been effectively implemented in numerous organisations, including the UK Civil Service and UCAS.


This Council resolves:

 

-          To adopt a name-blind recruitment policy in order to reduce unconscious bias during the recruitment process.

19D)

Councillor Stamp has submitted the following:

Chatham Docks is under threat of closure from landlords Peel L&P, who have claimed that the site is no longer financially viable, despite having used their ownership of the land to demonstrate their commitment to employment when applying for residential planning permission on an adjacent site. 

 

The Docks have been designated for ‘mixed use – housing & employment’ in the current version of the Local Plan.

 

This Council notes that:

 

-          Chatham Docks is a thriving commercial port which provides over 800 skilled local jobs and 16 apprenticeships, and the vast majority of Chatham Docks employees live in Medway

 

-          The closure of Chatham Docks would have a negative impact on the employees and their families because they would either lose their jobs or have to relocate; some of the businesses at Chatham Docks are physically unable to relocate due to the nature of their operation

 

-          Chatham Docks makes a positive contribution to Medway’s economy and uses environmentally sustainable methods to ship goods which would otherwise be transported by road

 

-          Medway’s Local Plan has not yet been approved, and previous iterations have been criticised for failing to designate sufficient numbers of sites for employment use.

 

This Council resolves to ask the relevant officers to consider to:

 

-          Remove ‘mixed use – housing & employment’ designation for Chatham Docks

 

-          Safeguard employment, skills, and the local economy by re-designating Chatham Docks as solely for employment use before the Local Plan is submitted for approval.

 

19E)

Councillor Browne has submitted the following:

Fireworks are used by people throughout the year to mark different events. While they can bring much enjoyment to some people, they can cause significant problems and fear for other people and animals.

 

This Council resolves:

 

-          To ask officers to explore how all public firework displays within the local authority boundaries could be advertised in advance of the event, allowing residents to take precautions for their animals and vulnerable people

 

-          To actively promote a public awareness campaign about the impact of fireworks on animal welfare and vulnerable people – including the precautions that can be taken to mitigate risks

 

-          To write to the UK Government urging them to introduce legislation to limit the maximum noise level of fireworks to 90dB for those sold to the public for private displays

 

-          To encourage local suppliers of fireworks to stock ‘quieter’ fireworks for public display.