Agenda and minutes

Venue: Council Chamber, Argyle Road, Sevenoaks

Contact: Democratic Services 01732 227165  Email:

No. Item


To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting of the Council held on 18 July 2023 and Extraordinary Council held on 17 October 2023 pdf icon PDF 68 KB

Additional documents:


Resolved: That the Minutes of the Council held on 18 July 2023 and Extraordinary Council held on 17 October 2023 be approved and signed by the Chairman 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.


Chairman's Announcements.


The Chairman started his announcements by noting that a lot of work had been done around Sevenoaks and the wider area.


Firstly, the historic Mill Pond in Sevenoaks had undergone major repair works and was now, once again, open to the public. Over time, silt from the road and other building projects had built up in the pond, and eventually, lead to a Thames Water culvert saying the pond had suffered contamination. However, Mill Pond was now back to its best, with additional wildlife friendly greenery being planted and replacement of the rotten boardwalk. This was all thanks to the partnership working with Greatness Residents Association, and the funding they secured along with our own £60,000 to make this area feel much loved again.


There had been several free community events organised by the council including, a free healthy cooking on a budget course for low income households, which started on Tuesday 17th October. The annual Silver Sunday events were taking place until December including tea dances and walking groups on offer, and he encouraged Members that if they had not already done so to attend one of these amazing events.  He reminded Members that as the weather was turning colder, warm and safe spaces were available again throughout the district. Details could be found on the Better Together community website.


Furthermore, the Big Community Sing would return next year, giving local singing groups the chance to perform at The Stag, Sevenoaks. Choirs, quartets, schools and other singing groups would be in attendance to showcase their musical talents. Entry for signing groups was free and the deadline to apply was 31 January 2024.


Members were also advised that an application was put in by Officers to the Institute of Economic Development awards and were shortlisted in the equality, inclusion and diversity category. He was pleased to inform everyone that the Council won the award this week and he expressed his congratulations to the Team.


Finally, since he had become Chairman, it had been great to visit and support so many organisations, including celebrating Merchant Navy Day and raising the Red Ensign above the Council offices in honor of the British Merchant Navy on Friday 1st September.  He thanked those who also attended his Charity Event which raised £162.50 for his chosen charities.



To receive any questions from members of the public under paragraph 17 of Part 2 (The Council and District Council Members) of the Constitution. pdf icon PDF 26 KB


One question had been received from a member of the public in accordance with paragraph 17 of Part 2 (The Council and District Council Members) of the Constitution.


Question 1: Leo Manston


Question 1

“Hi, my name is Leo and I’m an 11 year old boy. On 25th June 2019, Gravesham Council declared a climate emergency and I asked them to include children and young people in their climate change plans. Tonight, I’m here to ask Sevenoaks Council to do the same.


Floods, storms, heatwaves and droughts happen every year in the UK and it’s worrying to think about what other things might happen in the future. Our air is dirty, our rivers and seas are polluted and even the nature and wildlife that surrounds us is under threat.


I don’t want to spend my time worrying about things like this. But I’d rather help fix what’s gone wrong and help put things right than ignore it and hope it goes away. It won’t go away. It will just get worse. We need to start taking it seriously and working hard to make things better and to make sure my siblings, my friends and all the children and young people in Sevenoaks - and everywhere - have a healthy and happy environment to grow up in. So I urge you to please show you care for children and young people by voting for this motion and making climate change your top priority.


I also think that your plans would be even better if children and young people were involved in the decision making. We will have to live and work in the District that you are creating so we would like to help shape it.


Will you please consider creating a way for children and young people to take part in all your climate change plans - and all decision making - at Sevenoaks Council?”


Response: Leader of the Council


The Council, as part of its commitment to tackling climate change had already engaged with young people in the District. Most recently, through the idling campaign which all schools were invited to take part in the poster competition to encourage parents to stop idling in cars whilst parked around schools. It was unfortunate that not all schools had engaged with the process but it was a successful campaign and there were new banners being made up for those schools.


The Kent network for air quality had created an interactive pollution resource which could be provided to primary schools if they wanted to know about pollution.


Further initiatives for next summer included ‘walk to school’ and working with schools who had either had eco clubs and or other climate change projects. 

The Council was working with the climate change youth forum which involved students from local secondary schools. However, due to a lack of engagement from the schools and low numbers had resulted in the past two meetings being cancelled. 


A particular area where the Council was directly facilitating a climate  ...  view the full minutes text for item 33.


To receive any petitions submitted by members of the public under paragraph 18 of Part 2 (The Council and District Council Members) of the Constitution.


No petitions had been received.


Matters considered by the Cabinet and/or Scrutiny Committee: pdf icon PDF 27 KB

Additional documents:


a)     Council Plan


Cllr. Thornton moved and Cllr. Perry Cole seconded the recommendation from Cabinet. The report sought adoption of the Council Plan, subject to final design and associated amendments.


Cllr. Thornton spoke to the motion stating that the plan set out the Council’s priorities for the coming years, building on the promises already made and setting out what would be delivered for the communities and businesses of the district.  Once adopted the plan would direct the work and resources of the Council and its commitments and so far as possible, other strategies, policies and initiatives were aligned to ensure the priorities were at forefront of policy making and budget setting. The plan had five clear priorities, the economy, environment, housing and managing the council efficiently and responsibly. Each Cabinet Member set out what their portfolio priorities were to meet these commitments. To ensure that the plan would remain relevant it would be reviewed annually via the Improvement and Innovation Advisory Committee ensure the priorities remained relevant to the residents and business’ needs. The plan remained ambitious to retain the long held reputation of being financially stable and working to ensure strength for the economy, local communities and working to secure the environment’s future.


Members debated the motion, with some Members noting the plan did not provide enough detail and measures as to how the promises would be kept.


At the end of debate, the Leader responded to the points made stating that that the document was a statement of the intentions, clearly identifying the five priorities as the basis of work that will take place. Individual plans and policies will come forward with more detail as they go through the committee system. It was important not to lose sight of previous promises as it was fundamental to continue the work already started.


Resolved: That, subject to final design and associated amendments, the Council Plan be adopted.



To consider the following reports from the Chief Executive or other Chief Officers on matters requiring the attention of Council: pdf icon PDF 66 KB

Additional documents:


a)     Draft Calendar of Meetings 2024/25


Cllr. Thornton moved and Cllr. Perry Cole seconded the recommendation for the approval of the draft calendar of meetings 2024/25, which would need formal agreement at Annual Council in May 2024.


Resolved: That the draft calendar of meetings for 2024/25 be approved, subject to formal adoption at the Annual Meeting of Council on 14 May 2024.


b)     Appointments to Other Organisations 2023/24 – Non executive


Cllr. Thornton moved and Cllr. Perry Cole seconded the recommendation for appointments to outside organisations, following the initial appointments made in May 2024.


Resolved: That


a)     Cllr. Cathy Morgan be appointed as the Council’s representative on the Outside Organisation – The Council for the Voluntary Service North West Kent for the municipal year 2023/24; and


b)     Cllr. Hogarth be appointed as the Council’s representative on the Outside Organisation – Sevenoaks Town Neighbourhood Plan Monitoring and Action Group.





To consider any questions by Members under paragraph 19.3 of Part 2 (The Council and District Council Members) of the Constitution, notice of which have been duly given. pdf icon PDF 26 KB


Two questions had been received from Members in accordance with paragraph 19.3 of Part 2 (The Council and District Council Members) of the Constitution.


Question 1: Cllr Jim Morgan


“The current IT spend is over £1m. In particular nearly £400k is spent with Capita for Revenues and Benefits. What annual review process is in place to ensure that SDC gets value for money out of all its IT services?”


Response: Leader of the Council


The Leader of the Council advised that the overall contract with Capita was £382k per year to provide a system that was used by both Sevenoaks and Dartford Councils of part of the Revenues and Benefits Partnership.  The cost was therefore split between the two authorities with the actual cost to Sevenoaks Council being £191k per year.  She was pleased that the system was mentioned as in particular it was responsible for supporting the collection of £145m, in Council Tax and Business Rates annually, of which £15m, was retained by the Council. It was also key to the council being able to deliver over £75m of much needed business support funding throughout the recent pandemic, in many cases more quickly than many other local authorities.


At an operational level the service budget for IT services was monitored on a monthly basis and all contracts were reviewed on a rolling basis to ensure best value was in place and efficiencies were achieved where possible through appropriate procurement routes.


Through our constant strive to ensure this best value, whether through procurement or IT enabled efficiency, we have been able to deliver over £4m, in cumulative savings through our 10 year budget approach in this area alone as well as driving future efficiencies enabled by the use of technology.


In response to Cllr Jim Morgan’s supplementary question surrounding procurement, the Leader advised that she would be happy to provide a written response to his supplementary questions, if he could clarify in writing his exact questions.


In accordance with the constitution, no further discussion was allowed.


Question 2: Cllr. Gustard


“At a recent meeting with Sports representatives within Sevenoaks it was highlighted that the explosion in girls’ sports has placed huge pressure on resources.  There simply aren't enough cricket pitches, hockey pitches and football fields etc. to cater for the additional demand.  The problem is not funding but space.  Are there mechanisms in the local plan process to identify sites not just for development into housing but to provide sports facilities?”


Response: Portfolio Holder for Development & Conservation


The Portfolio Holder for Development & Conservation advised that although housing was understandably a large part of the emerging local plan, the plan also recognised the important role that high quality sporting facilities play in the health and wellbeing of our communities, and the Council were committed to enabling increased participation in sport. With this in mind and acknowledging that the existing strategies were somewhat out of date, in July 2023 specialist consultants Knight Kavanagh and Page (KKP) were commissioned to update our  ...  view the full minutes text for item 37.


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. pdf icon PDF 72 KB


Cllr. Skinner proposed the following motion, which was seconded by Cllr Leaman.


“This Council notes:

·      The need for increased affordable housing that has been identified in the Housing Strategy: and

·      The consistent failure of the Council to meet that need over a number of years, including repeated failure to utilise the Council's own land to meet this need.


The Council therefore resolves:

·      To make an urgent step change in its commitment to the supply of affordable housing in order to sustain a vibrant and prosperous community in Sevenoaks District, particularly in light of cost of living crisis facing many local families: and

·      To set a positive example to all developers, by using its own land for the development of affordable housing”


Speaking to the motion, Cllr. Skinner stated that the issue was important and complicated and he accepted that there were no easy solutions to the problems faced. He hoped to work together with Officers and all Members to ensure progress would be made. He clarified why it was important to have affordable housing in the district so that young people would be able to live here, those that were born here would not need to move away, and people would want to live her. The community was getting older and if there was no affordable housing then those required to do important jobs, teachers, drivers, shops assistants etc, and this would have an impact on the cost of delivering services. Communities would become less environmentally sound and would require travel to district which would add to carbon emissions.


He further stated that for Sevenoaks to be a special place to live, work and enjoy it would require housing that would bring social economic and environmental benefits to sustain a vibrant community. There were complexities across the country regarding affordable housing especially where there was high percentage of Green Belt land in the District and it was important to safeguard land and finances. However by using district council land for this development this would show leadership, the land would be benefited by economic, social or environmental reasons and therefore disposal of the land at less than market value would meet those three tests for building affordable housing. 


Members debated the motion noting the need for affordable housing and the policies and legislation which would allow for council owned land to be disposed of at lower than market value. Discussion continued with further points raised on the construction industry challenges, the district being 93% green belt, Conservation areas, and a number Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The council was committed to affordable housing as it had been demonstrated through the Local Plan and Quercus Housing. There were however, competing priorities and financial challenges.


An amendment to the motion was moved by Cllr. Horwood and duly seconded as:

“This Council notes:

·     The need for increased affordable housing that has been identified in the Housing Strategy.


The Council therefore resolves:

·      To reaffirm its commitment to the supply of affordable housing in order  ...  view the full minutes text for item 38.


To receive the report of the Leader of the Council on the work of the Cabinet since the last Council meeting. pdf icon PDF 52 KB


The Leader of the Council reported on the work that she and the Cabinet had undertaken since July.




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