Agenda and draft minutes

Overview & Scrutiny Panel - Tuesday, 21st May, 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

21.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies were received from the following councillors:

 

Councillor Fellows;

Councillor Austin, substituted by Councillor Garner;

Councillor Paul Moore, substituted by Councillor Wright;

Councillor Currie.

22.

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 made at the meeting.

23.

Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 110 KB

To approve the Minutes of the Overview and Scrutiny Panel meeting held on 16 April 2024, copy attached.

Minutes:

Councillor Davis proposed, Councillor Britcher seconded and the Panel agreed the minutes to be a correct record of the meeting held on 16 April 2024.

24.

Cabinet Member Presentation by Cllr Keen -Youth Council and Youth Provisions in Thanet pdf icon PDF 3 MB

Minutes:

During her presentation, Councillor Keen made the following comments:

 

·  The Council was involved in a number of youth projects that included the following:

§  Knife Awareness Programme;

§  Knife Sculpture;

§  Park Life;

§  Ladder of Risk;

§  Ellington Park Youth Café.

 

·  Knife crime awareness was delivered at about nine schools and colleges;

·  It was a successful programme. The programme taught young people what was permissible to carry on them and what was not;

·  A knife amnesty had been successful and it led to the recovery of over a thousand knives in the bins that had been provided through the programme;

·  East Kent College were going to create a knife sculpture which would be mobile and would be carried around the district and displayed at given locations as part of the awareness programme;

·  The Thanet Youth Council was established in November 2022;

·  It met monthly and was the obvious voice of young people in the district;

·  It was youth led. They chair and identify items for the agenda for their meetings. The Council was supported by officers in the Community Team;

·  The membership was constantly moving ads the young people grew older;

·  They hold their meetings at the Thanet District Council offices;

·  They designed their own logo and in that process they had to learn how to work as a team and negotiate within the team and come to an agreement;

·  They Youth Council would like to publicise their work more in order to engage more young people in the district.

 

Park Life Community Hub

§  This was an multi agency outdoor activities initiative for young people who come to interact with various agencies that included the Police;

§  The Youth Council a stall where they talked about their work.

Ellington Pak Youth Cafe

§  This was also a multi-agency initiative with activities similar to the Park Life Community Hub.

Ladder of Risk

§  This project raised awareness about risks to young people;

§  Pickle Ball Court Refurbishment. This would be opened in Summer for young people.

Thanet Games

§  Clubs were coming together to stage games for young people in July.

·  The Youth Council was looking for new members. About half a dozen young people attended its meetings;

·  There were plans for a schools’ event in Broadstairs to encourage the school councils to join the Youth Council;

·  Councilors were encouraged to publicise the Youth Council activities on their social media pages.

 

The full details of the presentation are attached as Annex 1 to the minutes.

 

The Panel asked questions and made comments as follows:

 

·  What was the size of the youth team that was supporting the Youth Council?

·  The Youth Council should be allocated a small budget so that they could learn how to manage budgets;

·  Had the Council surveyed young people like it does when surveys are conducted for local residents in order to find out what they needed?

·  Funding for provisions for young people was an issue which required the Council to work collaboratively with Kent County  ...  view the full minutes text for item 24.

25.

Port of Ramsgate - Maintenance Dredging pdf icon PDF 129 KB

  • View the background to item 25.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Mike Humber, Director of Environment introduced the report and made the following points:

 

·  This report describes the proposed plan for maintenance dredging at the Port of Ramsgate for this financial year;

·  The dredging plan will require a key decision to undertake a single dredging campaign with an estimated value of £362k;

·  This proposal will be recommended to Cabinet on 30 May and if approved, the work will be undertaken via an existing 4+1 years’ maintenance dredging term contract that was awarded to the marine contractor Van Oord in 2021;

·  The total value of the 2024/25 dredging plan is £477k, the budget value is £325k;

·  It will therefore also be recommended on 30 May that Cabinet approves a one-off General Fund revenue budget virement from the Corporate Contingency budget to fund the estimated £152k shortfall;

·  The proposed dredging is via a method known as hydrodynamic dredging which mobilises deposited sediments back into the water column. The suspended sediment then leaves the harbour on a falling tide;

 

·  Hydrodynamic dredging methods have been used at Ramsgate for approx. 12 years and have proven to be more financially efficient than mechanical methods such as grab dredging;

·  Previous hydrodynamic dredging campaigns at Ramsgate have delivered PV productivity rates of approximately £2.00/m3 of sediment removed. By comparison, mechanical dredging can cost much more, in the region of £3.50/m3;

·  The dredging planned this year will focus on the port turning circle, port entrance, harbour entrance and the approach to Berth 4/5.  The council has a contractual obligation to provide vessels with access to Berth 4/5 for the purpose of discharging cargoes to the Brett Aggregates site;

·  The volume of sediment to be removed during this dredging campaign is approximately 124,000m3 which for context is roughly the same in volume as the water held in 50 Olympic size swimming pools;

·  It is important that dredging at the port is undertaken within the next 1-2 months to maintain an acceptable depth of water in the port at all states of the tide.  It also makes sense to plan this work over the summer to avoid the increased bad weather risk associated with winter dredging;

 

·  In order to secure the dredger in June, an order has been placed for a smaller 75,000m3 dredging campaign at an estimated cost of £228k. This will improve vessel access but without the more substantial dredge campaign there is a greater chance that we would need to undertake further work later in the financial year;

·  The approval of the proposed key decision will increase the quantity of dredging undertaken allowing for a greater depth to be achieved across the entire area to be dredged;

·  Environmental monitoring will be undertaken alongside the dredging operation to mitigate the risk of adverse effects on nearby receptors. This is important as the port is in close proximity to multiple designated sites that are rich in biodiversity;

·  The dredging planned for the port in June will take 2-3 weeks to complete. Engagement will take place with stakeholders  ...  view the full minutes text for item 25.

26.

Approval for the following TLS policies: Reviewed compliance policy pdf icon PDF 81 KB

  • View the background to item 26.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Sally O’Sullivan, Head of Tenant and Lease Holder Services introduced the report and made the following comments:

 

·  When the service transitioned in October 2020, the Council adopted new landlord compliance policies. These policies were drafted by a consultant and they were very robust due to the position that the Council was in regarding being under notice by the Regulator for Social Housing;

·  Policies need to be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure they are still working in the way that they were intended and are kept up to date with current legislation or regulations. The polices for that have been reviewed are:

 

§  Gas Safety

§  Electrical Safety

§  Passenger Lifts

§  Water Hygiene

§  Asbestos

 

·  The fire safety policy was reviewed and adopted in June 23, following the introduction of the Building Safety Act 2022 and strengthening of fire safety regulations. The changes made to the 5 policies are: 

 

§  Removal of repetition, thus shortening the policies;

§  Ensuring the policies reflect current legislation, regulation and best practice;

§  Removal of reference to other council departments; 

§  Complete review of reporting regime.

 

·  The Tenant and Leaseholder Services (TLS) team provided reports to enable the Council to monitor its programmes, taking appropriate action where necessary and giving assurance. At the point of transition, it was important that the services provided robust reporting with early warning systems in place;

·  The team had looked to reducing the reporting through these new policies as the compliance workstreams were now operating as business as usual, rather than recovery. This meant that much of the reporting was now redundant;

·  The service could still provide assurance with a high level overview of the compliance position with commentary that would explain any fluctuations in statistics;

·  Any cause for concern would be escalated at the time and dealt with immediately and this would be reflected through performance reports with an explanation in the commentary.

 

The Panel asked questions and made comments as follows:

 

·  How often were these policies reviewed?

·  Did tenants groups make any recommendations for consideration by the Council?

·  Should these policies not be reviewed annual as part of best practice?

·  The Panel thanked the tenant and leaseholder services team and said that officers had worked hard to correct some of the problems that tenants experienced during the time when council housing stock was under East Kent Services;

·  Ward Councillors were now fewer referrals from residents.

 

Sally O’Sullivan responded to the Panel’s questions and comments as follows:

 

·  Policies were reviewed every two to three years;

·  Tenants group did not forward any recommendations for the reviewing policies;

·  In 2020 one of the reasons for bringing the service in-house was the issue of compliance;

·  The health and safety statutory including gas safety compliance were the main issues of concern;

·  Thanet District Council self-referred itself to the Regulator for Social Housing Landlords. The Council took part in monthly meetings with the Regulator as part of progress monitoring;

·  The Council worked through this process to the satisfaction of the Regulator  ...  view the full minutes text for item 26.

27.

Establish the Overview & Scrutiny Panel Work Programme for 2024-25 pdf icon PDF 80 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Green, Chairing the Panel meeting proposed and the Panel agreed that Councillor Edwards and Councillor Will Scobie be added to the External Grant Funding Review Working Party membership.

 

When asked how the working party chairs were selected, Nick Hughes, Committee Services Manager said that this was done at the Panel meeting when the sub group was set up. He further said that there was an agreement not to consider political balance for this membership. Members would volunteer to be on such groups during the Panel meeting. The working party could also agree its Chair if none was appointed by the Panel.

 

Councillor Davis reported to the Panel that the External Grant Funding Review Working Party met on 13 May and reviewed their terms of reference and recommended that these should be changed to address the question “How can we maximise grant funding coming into Thanet?” Councillor Davis said that the working party agreed to forward the draft terms of reference to the Panel:

 

·  Report to focus on smaller grants (say up to £250k);

·  Focus primarily on smaller voluntary sector bidders &amp and how we can support them;

·  Ask them what information & skills they have and identify where the gaps are;

·  Ask town & parish councils, infrastructure bodies & funders re their experience of working with Thanet organisations & what might help improve success rates;

·  Outline what’s worked, what hasn’t and how we might tailor our support in future for greater impact without overburdening officers/ creating significant extra costs.

 

Councillor Farooki proposed Councillor Wing seconded and the Panel agreed that the draft terms of reference and work programmer of the External Grant Funding Review Working Party be brought back to the 18 June Panel meeting.

 

The Chair reminded the Panel that officers had been asked to bring regular project update reports for the regeneration projects being implemented in the district. The Chair said that they had not received these reports.

 

Bob Porter, Director of Place made the following comments:

 

·  Two reports had been presented to the Panel with one detailed report having been considered by the Panel towards the end of 2023;

·  Officers would be bringing back detailed reports of any projects that the Council was working on. Officers were working on a new project management system;

·  This would provide a better way for sharing progress on project implementation with councillors. The reporting mechanism to be adopted would alert councillors on progress as delivery occurred on key projects. Officers would not be able to provide regular project updates on everything;

·  A size assessment tool for assessing the impact of the projects by each manager. This would trigger some projects to be reported to the Overview & Scrutiny Panel and Cabinet;

·  This assessment tool would also be used to ascertain risks that projects would bring to the Council and how such risks could be mitigated. This approach would assist identify those projects that needed to be reported to the Panel and Cabinet.

 

The Chair was satisfied with the detailed response provided  ...  view the full minutes text for item 27.