Agenda and minutes
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Resolved: That the Minutes of the meeting of the Council held on 19 November 2019 be approved, and signed as a correct record.
To receive any declarations of interest not included in the register of interest from Members in respect of items of business included on the agenda for this meeting.
No additional declarations of interest were received.
The Chairman reported the sad news that the former Liberal Democrat Councillor and member for Eysnford from 1973 to 1995, Eric Syddique; and former conservative Councillor, past Chairman and Leader of the Council Alison Cook, had both passed away. The current ward Councillor and Leader of the Council spoke of Alison Cooke, her work and their memories of her.
Members held a moment’s silence in their memory.
The Chairman reported that over the Christmas period he had enjoyed visiting patients in Sevenoaks Hospital, spending time in the CCTV room and having lunch with Age UK at Hollybush with elderly residents who would otherwise have been on their own.
He had recently hosted an enjoyable event at Hollybush Bowls Club, with figures indicating a figure in excess of £400 raised for his charity, and he would be sending out invitations shortly to his Civic Service on Saturday 18 April at St Bartholmew’s Church in Otford.
On behalf of Members he bid farewell to Lesley Bowles who was leaving after over 20 years of invaluable service to the Council. The Leader of the Council thanked her and Members expressed their appreciation.
To receive any questions from members of the public under paragraph 17 of Part 2 (The Council and District Council Members) of the Constitution.
No questions had been received.
The Sevenoaks Society had submitted a petition with 1463 signatures in the following terms:
“We the undersigned petition the council to make a Compulsory Purchase Order to enable the District Council to acquire the site of the former Farmers public house opposite the Sevenoaks Railway Station on London Road so as to bring it into productive use at an early date with a residential development which includes affordable housing.
Permission was first given in 2005 on appeal for the demolition of the Farmers, a much loved local pub, and the construction of 23 flats and maisonettes. In 2015 a second permission was given, again on appeal, for a revised scheme, the construction of 39 flats together with retail units on the ground floor. During all that time the site has lain as it remains today, unused and unkempt, an eyesore surrounded by scruffy hoardings contributing no rates or Council Tax.
It is time for the Council to follow up what they have said in the Local Plan about getting vacant sites into development and act to put an end to this eyesore. In collaboration with the right development partner or housing association much needed homes could be provided on this site including an element of affordable housing.”
David Green, the Chairman of the Sevenoaks Society, addressed the Council in support of the petition.
The Leader stated that he shared the frustration but often what seemed like simple solutions were far from that, and briefly outlined the planning history of the site and explained the issues faced and the financial risk of any Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO).
He moved the following motion, seconded by Councillor Dickins:
‘That the council seeks a definitive statement from the owner of their timelines to dispose of the site or to fully implement the planning permission. I also move that the council pursues the owner for the full CIL payment due.’
Speaking to the motion he advised that his preferred course of action remained finding another developer interested in taking over the site and developing it with a more sympathetic scheme than the one which was approved on appeal, as it was a real landmark site and deserved the very best architectural solution. He would not want to proceed with the current scheme which he believed was seriously deficient in terms of design, and so would need a masterplan, a consultation, a planning application followed by a CPO resolution, a possible Inquiry and negotiation on a price. A conservative timeline would be around 3 years but could be more. So whilst a CPO might look appealing it was not a course of action he could recommend at the current time.
Councillor Purves queried how much longer the town had to wait and that a fair price could be agreed at the lands tribunal. It was a scruffy site with a detrimental impact on the town when it could have much need affordable housing on it with joint partnerships with local housing associations.
In response it was ... view the full minutes text for item 41.
a) Calculation of Council Tax Base and other tax setting issues
Councillor Fleming proposed and Councillor Dickins seconded, the recommendation from Cabinet. The report sought approval the calculation of the District’s tax base for Council tax setting purposes.
a) the report of the Chief Officer Finance & Trading for the calculation of the Council’s tax base for the year 2020/21 be approved;
b) pursuant to the report of the Chief Officer Finance & Trading and in accordance with the Local Authorities (Calculation of Council Tax Base) Regulations 1992 (as amended) the amount calculated by the Sevenoaks District Council as its Council tax base for the whole area for the year 2020/21 shall be 51,207.88;
c) pursuant to the report of the Chief Officer Finance & Trading and in accordance with the Local Authorities (Calculation of Council Tax Base) Regulations 1992 (as amended) the amount calculated by the Sevenoaks District Council as the Council tax base for 2020/21 for the calculation of local precepts shall be:
d) any expenses incurred by the Council in performing in part of its area a function performed elsewhere in its area by a parish or community Council or the chairman of a parish meeting shall not be treated as special expenses for the purposes of section 35 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992.
b) Treasury Management Strategy 2020/21
Councillor Fleming proposed and Councillor Dickins seconded, the recommendation from Cabinet. The report sought adoption of Treasury Management Strategy 2020/21.
Resolved: That the Treasury Management Strategy for 2020/21 be approved.
c) Capital Strategy 2020/21
Councillor Fleming proposed and Councillor Dickins seconded, the recommendation from Cabinet. The report sought approval of the Capital Strategy report 2020/21.
Resolved: That the Capital Strategy for 2020/21 be approved.
d) Budget and Council Tax Setting 2020/21
Councillor Fleming proposed and Councillor Dickins seconded, the recommendation from Cabinet. The report sought approval of the proposed budget and required level of Council Tax for 2020/21. The net expenditure budget for 2020/21 would be £15.6m with the District’s Council Tax increasing by 2.3% resulting in Band D Council Tax being £219.96, an increase of £4.95. Provision had also been made for setting up the Net Zero Transition Fund.
The Leader spoke to the motion stating that Members had before them another balanced 10 year budget, 10 years on from the first, an achievement that remained unique within Local Government and had laid the foundation for the bold budget in front of them tonight. He could guarantee, with absolute certainty that the budget would be unique across local government in the positivity ... view the full minutes text for item 42.
a) Licensing Act 2003 – Statement of Licensing Policy
Councillor Clack moved and Councillor Abraham seconded the recommendation from Licensing Committee, which sought approval of the revised Statement of Licensing Policy for adoption from 1 April 2020.
Resolved: That the ‘Statement of Licensing Principles 2020-2025’ be adopted as revised Policy from 1 April 2020, subject to the corrections identified at Licensing Committee.
b) Sexual Establishments – Statement of Licensing
Councillor Clack moved and Councillor Abraham seconded the recommendation from Licensing Committee, which sought approval of the revised Sexual Establishments Statement of Licensing Policy for adoption from 1 April 2020.
Resolved: That the Sexual Establishments Statement of Licensing Policy 2020-2023 be adopted as revised Policy from 1 April 2020.
c) Statement of Hackney Carriage & Private Hire Policy
Councillor Clack moved and Councillor Abraham seconded the recommendation from Licensing Committee, which sought approval of the revised Statement of Hackney Carriage & Private Hire Policy for adoption from 1 April 2020.
Resolved: That the Statement of Hackney Carriage & Private Hire Policy 2020/23 be adopted as revised Policy from 1 April 2020.
d) Monitoring Officer’s Annual Report
Councillor Ball moved and Councillor Raikes seconded the recommendation from Standards Committee, noting the annual Monitoring Officer’s report.
Resolved: That the Monitoring Officer’s Annual report be noted.
(a) Pay Policy Statement
Councillor Fleming proposed and Councillor Dickins seconded the report which set out the elements of senior officer pay that enabled the Council to attract high quality officers whilst protecting value for money to the community. Approval by Council and publication on the Council website improved transparency and accountability whilst ensuring adherence to the Localism Act 2011.
Resolved: That the Pay Policy Statement be adopted and published on the Council’s website.
One question had been received from a Member in accordance with paragraph 19.3 of Part 2 (The Council and District Council Members) of the Constitution.
Question 1: Cllr Dr Canet
‘Portfolio Holder Decision number 13 (2018/19) committed to expend £12,840 (+VAT) from the Section 106 affordable housing planning gains to commission a housing stock and needs analysis for older people.
This was approved on the grounds that ‘With a growing older population, it is proposed to undertake an additional and more detailed study to map older people’s accommodation across the District by size/type/tenure and to assess accommodation needs at ward level going forward in to the future…to better plan for older people’s accommodation needs into the future.’
Portfolio Holder decision signed by Cllrs Lowe and Piper on 28 December 2018.
Could the Council advise
a) Whether this analysis has yet taken place
b) If it was not proceeded with why, and was this decision reported back to the Councillors?
c) Was the earmarked money expended on another project?
d) How do the Council intend to accurately assess and provide the older population’s housing accommodation needs?
Response of the Leader of the Council:
Thank you Cllr Dr Canet, in response to your question the analysis has not yet taken place, although there is already a considerable amount of information available on these requirements.
He understood that the Portfolio Holder at the time was made aware of the delay which was due to a number of national and local changes. This included the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), which was subsequently updated in 2019, and then several changes at national Government level and also a planned Social Housing White Paper, which had been delayed several times, but officers thought was key to understanding before going ahead with commissioning a survey. This white paper was now due later in 2020. The District Council had also just taken part in the County Council’s Affordable Housing Select Committee and would be of likely value to also await the outcome of that work before finalising the project brief for such a study. As it was a one-off pot of funding secured to undertake a study with no future such funding available, officers had wanted to make sure that when the money was spent it gained the most useful information possible and all of these changes had to be thought through properly to make sure the work was done. Updates were not typically given, but he could request that Officers send out update emails. He understood that the Housing Policy Manager had given previous assurances that Councillor Dr Canet would be invited to participate in the project, once it commenced, both in her role as a District Councillor and with the added input of the Sevenoaks Seniors’ Action Forum.
Which, he responded, answered the next query that no, the money had not been spent elsewhere and was still set aside for this study with the prospective consultants still on board.
Finally ... view the full minutes text for item 45.
To consider any motions by Members under paragraph 20 of Part 2 (The Council and District Council Members) of the Constitution, notice of which have been duly given.
No motions had been received.
The Leader of the Council reported on the work that he and the Cabinet had undertaken in the period 4 November 2019 to 7 February 2020.