Agenda and minutes

Overview & Scrutiny Panel - Tuesday, 16th April, 2024 7.00 pm

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

Contact: Charles Hungwe 

Link: This meeting will be livestreamed

Media

Items
No. Item

12.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies were received from the following Councillors:

 

Councillor Kup, substituted by Councillor Manners;

Councillor K. Bright;

Councillor Packman.

13.

Declaration of Interests pdf icon PDF 87 KB

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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.

14.

Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 99 KB

To approve the Minutes of the Overview and Scrutiny Panel meeting held on 12 March 2024, copy attached.

Minutes:

Councillor Davis proposed, Councillor Austin seconded and the Panel agreed the minutes to be a correct record of the meeting held on 12 March 2024.

15.

The Annual Community Safety Review pdf icon PDF 313 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair advised Members that the Panel was considering this item seating as a Crime and Disorder Committee. The Chair invited Mr James Hose to speak under public speaking provisions. Mr Hose made the following comments:

 

  • There some concerns that communication and community engage with then police was not as effective as it could be;
  • Community events were now conducted through online meetings. This had affected the number of individuals that could take part in these events;
  • Anti-social behaviour issues should be addressed by all agencies and the communities should be consulted on these issues as they were the ones on the ground and would be the first to know about any such incidents;
  • The Police should be more visible in communities.

 

Penny Button, Head of Neighbourhoods explained that the Thanet Community Safety Partnership was a multi-agency which had an Executive Committee partnership that was Chaired by CI Swallow. 

 

The Chair then invited Chief Inspector Ian Swallow, Kent Police to make his presentation. In his presentation, Chief Inspector Swallow made the following points:

 

  • A number of conversations had been conducted with Mr Hose. Kent Police were in compliance with their statutory obligations that included holding quarterly community engagement events per each ward;
  • There was higher level of engagement in busier wards;
  • Most of the councillors were aware of who their respective ward police officers were;
  • The strategic assessment review report being presented to the Panel was focusing on the key priorities for the Partnership;
  • Serious crime stats reflected that there had been a decrease in the division from 456 in 2022/23 to 423 in 2023/24. The division included Dover, Canterbury, Ashford, Folkestone and Thanet;
  • Thanet was a very vulnerable district in terms of crime and disorder;
  • There had been a drop of 10% in violent crimes against a person, with Thanet contributing to 26% for the division. Margate Central and Cliftonville West contributed the highest cases for the district;
  • 622 sexual offences had been report in the 12 Kent districts with a 7% reduction in Thanet;
  • Margate Central, had the highest cases followed by Eastcliff ward and Cliftonville West;

 

  • Thanet had an increase of 10% in possession of weapons offences;
  • Drugs and county lines offences had increased in the District by 9.9% overall, with 30% being drug offences;
  • Safeguarding cases had increased by 468 in 2023. However, Thanet was no longer the district with the highest number of referrals;
  • Thanet had the second highest number of child safeguarding cases behind Swale with a 13% increase to 2454 cases in 2022/23;
  • There had been an 8.5% reduction in offending and reoffending cases. Thanet had higher number of cases reported than three other districts;
  • Re-offending was higher than the national average;
  • There had been a 13% reduction in violence against women and girls. Thanet had the highest number;
  • Thanet had the highest number of domestic abuse cases but had experienced a 14% reduction;
  • The district had 269 looked after children reported cases in the period under review;
  • Mental health clients increased to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 15.

16.

Sport England Swimming Pool Support Fund (SPSF) Ramsgate Leisure Centre Solar photovoltaics (PV) pdf icon PDF 124 KB

Report to follow

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Bob Porter, Director of Place introduced the report and made the following comments:

 

  • These were proposals to install solar photovoltaic (PVs) solar panels on the Ramsgate Leisure Centre premises;
  • The Panel was being asked to review the proposals, make comments and any appropriate recommendations for consideration by Cabinet;
  • A budget of £674k had been set aside for the project. The Decarbonisation Surveyor had secured external funding for the project;
  • £7,3k per month would be saved in electricity charges as result of PV installations and the project would also create 63 tonne carbon saving per year.

 

The Panel made comments and asked questions as follows:

 

  • The Council should be insisting that upgrading and new buildings should have solar energy system installations;
  • The Panel welcomed the anticipated savings from this proposal;
  • Was the roof at the leisure centre robust enough?
  • Had the Council looked into the possibility of inviting solar companies to partner to provide land for solar energy generation projects?
  • Were there any plans being considered for similar projects for other swimming pools in the district?

 

Bob Porter, Andreea Plan, Head of Property and Chris Blundell, Director of Corporate Services and S151 Officer responded to questions and comments from the Panel as follows:

 

  • The Council did not have enough scope to get into an arrangement for solar energy projects;
  • The funding for swimming pools was oversubscribed and the Council could not get funding for other swimming pools;
  • The Climate Change Officer post in the Transformation Service and Decarbonisation Officer in the Property team would assist with the implementation of the solar system installation projects;
  • Sharing arrangements had been worked out and credit was given to Matt Sanham and his team for renewing and agreeing the new lease;
  • Officers would take the proposal that the Council puts in a condition that all new buildings should have solar photovoltaic (PVs) installations to the officer group for the Local Plan Review.

 

Councillor Davis proposed, Councillor Austin seconded and the Panel recommended to Cabinet that consideration be given by the Cabinet that all new buildings in Thanet should have solar photovoltaics (PVs) installed on them as a planning condition where physically possible."

 

The Panel noted the report.

17.

Purchase of Section 106 Affordable Housing Units pdf icon PDF 159 KB

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Report to follow

Minutes:

Bob Porter introduced the report and made the following comments:

 

  • The proposals in the report were going to contribute to the housing development programme for Thanet;
  • The total number of homes secured as part of this programme now exceeds 200, with the first tranche of homes already completed.
  • Nearly all of the projects that the Council had implemented had shown an initial deficit but they were projected to go into surplus over time. These surplus would be re-invested into more housing development for the district;
  • £300k had been set aside in the reserves to cover for the deficit;
  • A Councillor Briefing session would be held in May to provide an update on acquisitions and new builds.

 

Members asked questions and made comments as follows:

 

  • Was the Council installing solar PVs as well on new buildings and if so how was this being funded?
  • How was the stamp duty calculated?
  • This was one of the most expensive periods for borrowing money. The Council should be building its own properties in order to provide its own temporary accommodation stock;
  • Was the Council providing deposits upfront for the acquisitions and was that money protected if the developer failed to deliver?
  • Would the quality of the builds be the same as other properties on the estate?

 

Bob Porter and Chris Blundell responded to Panel comments and questions as follows:

 

  • The Council now factored in solar energy system installations on all its new builds. However, it has less control over properties it would have purchased from developers;
  • During the presentation of the Spring Budget, the Government changed legislation on stamp duty land tax. Those are the changes that were used to calculate the duty tax liabilities. The thresholds were aggregated together to get the 15% duty. The Council wanted to comply with its obligations;
  • Council was building its own accommodation and had budgeted £2.5million annually for temporary accommodation. The Council’s building programme was more expensive per square metre than acquisitions;
  • The borrowing would be by drawdown arrangements and would only be when needed;
  • There were two forms of S106 agreement. One was buying the property when it was fully developed and the other was paying in stages

 

Councillor Manners proposed, Councillor Paul Moore seconded and the Panel agreed to recommend to Cabinet that Cabinet further explore the liabilities for stamp duty land tax (SDLT) to ensure that the correct liability is assessed.”

 

The Panel noted the report.

18.

Tourism Review Working Party Report pdf icon PDF 101 KB

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Report to follow

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Britcher, Chair of the Tourism Review Working Party introduced the report and thanked officers who supported the work of the working party. Councillor Britcher also thanked members of the sub group and non-members for their contribution to the findings and recommendations contained in the review report.

 

In welcoming the report, the Chair said that he hoped that Cabinet would adopt and action the recommendations. Panel members made further comments as follows:

 

  • Could the report include a recommendation on the private business provision of toilets to the public;
  • This could be done through placing a condition when renewing leases on Council properties being leased to private businesses;
  • In order to expect businesses to supplement toilet provisions in the local area, the Council had to maximise its own portfolio by refurbishing all the toilets that fall under its property portfolio;
  • AirBnB needed regulation so that they contribute to the upkeep of the local public spaces.

 

Councillor Manners proposed, Councillor Davis seconded and the Panel agreed the following recommendation that:

 

Thanet District Council should consider when renewing or agreeing leases on properties they own where such properties have toilet facilities attached; that those toilets be made available for public use where possible.

 

Councillor Britcher proposed, Councillor Fellows seconded and the Panel agreed to recommend to that Cabinet considers the tourism review report and adopts the recommendations that are detailed in the report and summarised below as follows, to:

 

1.  Improve beach management in peak season through measures highlighted in para 3.1 of the report;

 

2.  Improve the provision of public toilets, particularly those most used by visitors;

 

3.  Work to maintain cleanliness, manage waste effectively, improve recycling rates and minimise costs of managing additional waste at peak periods;

 

4.  Proactively manage traffic and parking issues during peak season by measures highlighted in para 3.4;

 

5.  Actively investigate opportunities to maximise income to the Council from the visitor economy to help balance its costs to the Council;

 

6.  TDC should consider when renewing or agreeing leases on properties they own where such properties have toilet facilities attached; that those toilets be made available for public use where possible.

19.

Review of Overview and Scrutiny Work Programme for 2023/24 pdf icon PDF 75 KB

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Additional documents:

Minutes:

One Member suggested that of the remaining scrutiny review topics, the Panel should refer the planning enforcement topic to the Planning Department and get an officer report that comments. The Member further suggested that the Panel should ask the Planning Department on how the Council would incorporate the 10% biodiversity net gain that was recently passed into law) into the Council’s planning decisions. They also suggested that the topic on the Review of Protocols and Procedures for Emergency Decisions should be referred to the Governance and Audit Committee, whilst the one on the Parking Income should be reviewed through the current parking strategy review. The Panel could receive regular updates for the topic on externally funded regeneration projects rather than conduct a review.

 

The Chair said that the Panel should be given the opportunity to review the Section 104 Agreement to ascertain how these agreements were being managed. The Panel should also review the performance of on-street parking. The chair further said that the Panel had received an officer report on the Planning Enforcement Review.

 

Bob Porter said that reports on regeneration projects update would be coming through to the Panel and Cabinet meetings in the coming months.

 

The Chair confirmed and the Panel agreed the following as members on the External Grant Funding Review Working Party:

 

Councillor Austin (Chair)

Councillor Pope;

Councillor Davis;

Councillor Fellows;

Councillor Manners (co-opted).

20.

Forward Plan and Exempt Cabinet Report List pdf icon PDF 74 KB

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Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Panel noted the report.