Agenda and minutes

Overview & Scrutiny Panel - Tuesday, 18th January, 2022 7.00 pm

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

Contact: Charles Hungwe 

Link: This meeting will be live streamed

Media

Items
No. Item

349.

Apologies for Absence

    Minutes:

    Apologies were received from the following Members:

     

    Councillor Huxley, substituted by Councillor Everitt;

    Councillor Pat Moore, substituted by Councillor Yates;

    Councillor Coleman-Cooke.

350.

Declaration of Interests pdf icon PDF 87 KB

    To receive any declarations of interest. Members are advised to consider the advice contained within the Declaration of Interest advice attached to this Agenda. If a Member declares an interest, they should complete the Declaration of Interest Form

    Minutes:

    There were no declarations of interest made at the meeting.

351.

Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 144 KB

    To approve the Minutes of the Overview and Scrutiny Panel meeting held on 23 November 2021, copy attached.

    Minutes:

    Councillor Rattigan proposed, Councillor Austin seconded and Members agreed the minutes as a correct record of the meeting held on 23 November 2021.

352.

Kent Police Presentation - Modern Slavery in Thanet pdf icon PDF 624 KB

    Minutes:

    Temporary Chief Inspector Matthew Smith made a presentation to the Panel and made the following key comments:

     

    In combating crime in the county, Kent Police adopted the Kent Control Strategy. This strategy focuses on four main areas:

    • Exploitation;
    • Serious violence;
    • Abuse;
    • High
    • Counter terrorism.
    • Local cases were investigated by the local CID teams;
    • There was a knowledge hub that officers use;
    • Training was provided to Kent Police Officers on modern slavery;
    • Modern slavery was identifiable through a number of indicators that included:

     

    1.  Domestic Environment

    §  Poor living conditions;

    §  Personal documents withheld;

    §  Poor/low pay;

    §  Working long hours.

     

    2.  Forced Criminality

    §  Children were most vulnerable;

    §  County lines;

    §  Bag snatching;

    §  Pick pocketing;

    §  Cannabis selling.

     

    3.  Labour Exploitation

    §  This was mostly prevalent in agriculture and manufacturing;

    §  The victims had to pay never ending debts.

     

    4.  Organ Harvesting

     

    5.  Sexual Exploitation

     

    6.  Forced Prostitution

     

    • 11% of Kent reported cases took place in Thanet;
    • Kent Police worked through multi agency partnerships to tackle these criminal activities;
    • Different agencies in this arrangement used their respective powers to tackle crime;
    • Police trained staff from other agencies that included the DWP to help detect criminal activities during the course of their everyday work.

     

    More details are included in the attached annex to this minute item.

     

    Members made comments and asked questions as follows:

     

    • Were car washing businesses around the district operating legally?
    • How did the Police work with victims with mental health problems?
    • During lockdown, there was an increase in domestic servitude. How did the Police handle such cases?
    • How can neighbours/witnesses be more aware and help report cases of domestic servitude.

     

    Temp. CI Smith responded to member comments and questions as follows:

     

    • Kent Police were not aware of any current cases of exploitation at car wash business across the district;
    • However car wash business nationally have been known to have exploitation problems;
    • Police would normally refer victims with health problems to social services (adult protection referrals);
    • Domestic servitude were difficult cases to report and were therefore under reported;
    • The national crime agency runs awareness campaigns to advise the public about various forms of domestic violence and servitude and how these cases can be report to the Police;
    • The same awareness campaign material could be refreshed and used for Thanet purposes. C.I. Smith would be taking this idea up with the Press Office
    • Community intelligence helps police tackle modern slavery cases;
    • There was a modern slavery helpline, and a messaging service called “My Community Voice” that the public could call on to report crime, in addition to calling directly to Kent Police or Crime stoppers.

     

    The Chair thanked Temp. Chief Inspector Matthew Smith and Members noted the report.

353.

Budget 2022-23 pdf icon PDF 74 KB

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Councillor David Saunders introduced the report and made the following comments:

     

    • Cabinet had come up with a planned and cautious approach that combined with an efficient savings plan, thereby enabling Cabinet to produce a balanced draft budget. This would ensure that the Council would provide services and care for the most vulnerable members of the local communities;
    • By planning Council finances in this way it meant the Council was on the right track for balancing the budget in the coming years;
    • In coming up with a balanced budget, cabinet had to save jobs;
    • A balanced budget position was supported in-part by the very welcome additional funding that was provided by Government the 2022/23 financial year;
    • However, much of this funding was temporary and therefore careful consideration would be given to its use;
    • Cabinet identified £250,000 savings from vacant posts and a further £400,000 savings efficiencies and income generating opportunities;
    • Cabinet would consider recommendations coming from the Panel.

     

    The following Members spoke under Council Procedure 20.1:

     

    Councillor Bailey;

    Councillor Whitehead;

    Councillor Garner.

     

    They made the following key points:

     

    • The Finance Team have done a great job in drafting a balanced budget;
    • Members appreciated the budget briefing sessions that were conducted by officers;
    • Money should be allocated in the budget for bringing back into use the Viking Bay Lift, as it provides an essential services to residents;
    • An investment of the majority of the New Homes Bonus should be made into the purchase of property to extend our in house temporary accommodation service, on several grounds and all costed within the proposed 2022/23 budget, with no extra expense;
    • At the 13 January meeting proposed ring-fencing of money to pay down non urgent debt as the most fiscally responsible thing to do. However fiscal responsibility is more complicated than simply looking at debt;

     

    • It should be noted that there was currently some significant pressure for temporary accommodation and homelessness in Thanet;
    • It was important for the council to address the district’s needs for temporary housing and homelessness services long term;
    • The £549,000 from the New Homes Bonus was a significant amount that has come in part due to the extraordinary work of Housing. Housing brought 252 Empty Homes back into use;
    • Thanet tops the chart in Kent for empty properties being brought back into usage;
    • It seems only right that the money that Housing have brought into the Council went towards alleviating some of the extraordinary pressure on housing, particularly for supporting the council’s in-house temporary housing accommodation service;
    • This should help reduce the costs of using private providers for our temporary accommodation needs and enable the council to make savings that could then be used to pay off debts;
    • Continued reliance on private providers for temporary accommodation would lead to significant current costs and future costs;

     

    • Members also thanked the Cabinet Member for Finance for working with officers to bring forward a balanced budget;
    • Had the council started any work to come up with a business case for setting up the infrastructure  ...  view the full minutes text for item 353.

354.

HRA Budget 2022-23 pdf icon PDF 73 KB

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Councillor David Saunders introduced the report and made the following comments:

     

    • The budget was underpinned by the 4.1% in rent increase for 2022/23; most of which will cover by increased benefits and the Universal Credit payments;
    • Rent increase being proposed in the HRA budget was required to get a balanced and sustainable financial position for the HRA;
    • The increase was also required to fund HRA activities, particularly the house building programme and housing investment plan;
    • Cabinet would consider any views from the Panel.

     

    There being no further discussion, Members noted the report.

355.

Review of OSP Work Programme for 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 90 KB

356.

Forward Plan & Exempt Cabinet Report List pdf icon PDF 85 KB

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Members noted the report.