Agenda and draft minutes

Overview & Scrutiny Panel
Thursday, 18th July, 2019 7.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Council Offices, Cecil Street, Margate, Kent. View directions

Contact: Charles Hungwe 

Items
No. Item

174.

Apologies for Absence

175.

Declaration of Interests pdf icon PDF 87 KB

176.

Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 69 KB

177.

Cabinet Member Presentation - The Leader of Council

    The presentation is on ‘the development work going on and the future of the Ramsgate Port.’

    Minutes:

    Mr Steve Coombes spoke under scrutiny procedure rules for public speaking.

     

    Councillor Bayford, Leader of Council then made his presentation and highlighted the following points as part of an update on the developments at the Ramsgate Port:

     

    ·  Cabinet has had some detailed discussion on 24 June with the Corporate Management Team regarding the port including reconsidering the procurement process for and technical aspect the Port. The discussion also focused on studying the current leases as they would have an impact on the future planning for the Port;

    ·  The working party on the port had been re-established and would hold their first meeting week beginning 22 July to consider the following issues:

     

    a.  The consultancy report in respect of Berth 4&5. This report covered:

      i.  a scoping and options study,

      ii.  performance specification, concept drawing for design and building contract and

      iii.  professional advice on obtaining the necessary leases from the marine management organisation;

      iv.  Procurement brief for the wider options report on the Port.

     

    ·  A Members Briefing session had been held to inform Members on the current situation Berth 4&5;

    ·  A Coffee Evening event was held on 16 July 2019, for Members to familiarise themselves with the operations of the Port. Unfortunately the turn out for the event was disappointing;

    ·  Finance Department have also held a Finance Event to further provide information on the Port finances and other council functions;

    ·  Cabinet hoped to report options on the future of the Port by the end of this year.

     

    Responding to the specific questions that had been forwarded to him ahead of the meeting, the Leader of Council gave the following responses:

     

    Question 1

    Are you able to confirm and supply supporting evidence, that Brett Concrete Company is operating lawfully on the site and that all environmental requirements have been met?

     

    Leader’s Response

    There are two separate Brett sites at the Port. Brett Concrete carries out its operations (cement batching) under Part B of the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2016, Schedule 1 and is regulated through an environment permit by TDC. This activity is carried out in a controlled environment and is therefore classed as a low risk installation requiring an annual inspection. During the 2018 annual pollution monitoring inspection carried out, there were no air pollution exceedances found for air quality objectives. All air quality reports were now on the TDC website, which was not the case before.

     

    The second activity is carried out by Bretts Aggregate Limited for the storage of aggregate and this did not require a permit. The annual environmental inspection permit inspection was carried out by the Council’s Environmental Health department on 26 March 2019 for the concrete batching plant, the permit was signed off and no remedial action was required.

     

    Question 2

    The Director of the Service last year stated that TDC and Brett were only in the negotiation stage about any plans they might have to expand. The CEO stated this year that TDC had no knowledge of any plans by Brett to expand  ...  view the full minutes text for item 177.

178.

Adoption of a new Housing Assistance Policy pdf icon PDF 185 KB

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Mr Bob Porter, Head of Housing & Planning introduced the item for debate and made the following points:

     

    • The Council had a duty to provide disabled facilities grants to residents who required assistance with the adaptations to their properties;
    • Councils have a mandatory duty to offer disabled facilities grants, up to £30k to qualifying applicants;
    • Grants are funded by a grant from government;
    • The current policy was put in place at a time when there were significant resource limitations for the demand;
    • However the council no longer has a waiting list;
    • The current funding allows greater flexibility to councils to offer further discretionary assistance;
    • The new policy proposes a new service to assist people to return home from hospital more quickly and an enhanced handyman service;
    • The new policy also proposes a new grant for energy efficiency improvements in certain circumstances and extends the current minor repairs grants;
    • The new policy provides for the cost of administering grants to be met from the DFG funding.

     

    Responding to the presentation Members of the Panel made comments and asked questions as follows:

     

    • What was the proportionality between the grants and loans under this policy?
    • Did the policy assist those under hardship conditions?
    • Did the policy cover council tenants?
    • Had council considered assisting local families to buy the properties they lived in, where appropriate?
    • How easy was it to access these grants?
    • Was the information on these grants readily available to the public?
    • Members welcomed the good news that the council had cleared the backlog for those waiting for assistance under these grants and that the service was expanding;
    • How was the council working with KCC and CCG regarding meeting the threshold required for an individual to get care support?
    • Why were elected Members not involved in the process?
    • In the report, there were indications that KCC had top sliced £405k for use on other projects. Were these funds ring fenced for use for Thanet residents’ needs?
    • Who scrutinised the performance of the service providers under this scheme?
    • Could more clarity be provided about under what circumstances were individuals in receipt of the DFGs required to pay back?

     

    Mr Porter responded as follows:

     

    • Mandatory facilities grants were separate from loans;
    • The policy did allow for hardships;
    • Later in the year, a new policy will be presented to Cabinet and it will also cover providing adaptations to council tenants houses which were as generous as those provided to non council tenants;
    • Council provides loans of up to £20k for households buying an empty property in Cliftonville to refurbish for owner occupation;
    • Professionals working with individuals due for discharge from hospitals or others who required adaptations to their homes would normally advise the individuals about these grants;
    • There can be delays in the completion of occupational therapist assessments and the new policy enables some additional dedicated resources to speed up this process;
    • The funding proposals are profiled over three years, using the resources currently available;
    • Accessing these grants is means tested. However the council would always  ...  view the full minutes text for item 178.

179.

Reviewing the OSP Work Programme for 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 157 KB

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The Panel agreed that Councillor Bailey be an additional member on the Travellers Review Group.

     

    Councillor Albon, Chairman of the Travellers Review Group gave an update on the activities of the review group and said that Members received valuable information from officers on the issue under investigation. He also made the following points:

     

    Members had received valuable information from officers regarding the nature of the problem under review;

     

    ·  In 2018, the district had experienced 46-55 traveller incursions compared to 2-3 in 2016;

    ·  The local communities were concerned mostly with the human waste left behind after such visits;

    ·  The review group was going to receive additional information from officers regarding the legal costs incurred by the council to date in the various attempts to manage the incursions;

    ·  The travelers representatives will be invited to attend the next meeting of the review group;

    ·  The third meeting would be for Members to visit the temporary sites where travellers had set up the unauthorised encampments;

    ·  A written report of the review findings will be presented to the October Panel meeting.

     

    One Member urged the Panel to play a significant role in reviewing the proposed Corporate Statement, before the item went to Full Council for final decision.

     

    Members suggested that for future corporate performance report discussions, lead officers for particular services should be invited to respond to more detailed questions from the Panel.

     

    The Chairman requested Members to submit to him their main questions to be responded by the Leader as part of the presentation of the Corporate Statement for 2019-23.

     

    Councillor Campbell proposed, Councillor Rusiecki seconded and agreed to invite Kent Police to the 22 October meeting to present on Crime Stats in Thanet.

180.

Forward Plan & Exempt Cabinet Report List pdf icon PDF 155 KB