Agenda and draft minutes

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No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 75 KB

To approve the Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 9 January 2024, as a correct record.


Resolved: That the Minutes of the meeting held on 9 January 2024, be approved and signed by the Chairman as a correct record.


Declarations of Interest

Any declarations not already registered


There were no additional declarations of interest.


Responses of the Cabinet to reports of the Scrutiny Committee


There were none.


Actions from the Previous Meeting


Members noted that further information had been requested regarding EV charging points.


External Invitee: Everyone Active in attendance

Everyone Active in attendance to answer questions regarding the Leisure Centres in the District.


The Chairman welcomed Everyone Active to the meeting, who gave a presentation. The presentation highlighted the recent successes of Sevenoaks and Edenbridge Leisure Centres and Lullingstone Golf Course since taking on the interim contract in April 2023. This included taking on 80% of staff who had previously worked for Sencio and six internal promotions had been awarded.


Everyone Active had recently undertaken a survey which had been open to the public and users of the sites. Although the data was still being analysed It had highlighted that 39% of users believed that customer services had improved and so had the available facilities.  Members were advised that Everyone Active were actively reaching out the Community by taking part in Apprenticeship Fayres and raising money for Motor Neurone disease through a 24hr spin-a-thon. The committee was shown a video with staff and users of the gym and facilities.


Members took the opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback based on their experiences. Everyone Active representatives advised that they would look into the comments raised regarding membership, reception staff and encouraged feedback on any maintenance issues which users found. There was a maintenance schedule in place, but should there be any issues, these would be fixed as soon as possible. It was also being investigated for a ‘grab and go’ food service at Edenbridge Leisure Centre.


In regards to the Council’s expenditure on getting the leisure centres running again, the Committee was advised that the biggest cost was the utility bills. The buildings were aging and required a lot of energy to keep running. Especially, as an example the plant system for the pool which, due to its age was difficult to get replacement parts for. White Oak leisure Centre cost less than half to run in comparison to the utility costs. Other costs included PR, HR support and asset costs. The contract was on an ‘open book’ accounting and every line was thoroughly looked into by Officers.


In response to questions concerning social media and marketing, more work was being undertaken locally to reach some Facebook groups. Everyone Active had partnered with Sevenoaks Mums to promote the inflatable sessions which were full.


Membership levels were positive, especially when there was no client base when the centres re-opened. Although there were other fitness outlets in the areas these were more focused on particular ages and for gyms. The Leisure Centres provided swimming facilities, exercises classes, and sporting space. The take up for classes was on average around 85% occupancy level.


The Chairman thanked Everyone Active for their attendance.



Performance Report pdf icon PDF 78 KB

Additional documents:


Members considered the report which summarised performance across the Council as at the end of January 2024. Members were asked to consider 6 performance indicators which were performing at 10% or more below their target with a commentary from officers explaining the reasons and detailing any plans to improve performance.


Members discussed the report and asked questions of clarification. In response to waste and recycling the Chief Officer advised this would be taken as an action point and a response would be provided.


Action 1: For Chief Officer Finance and Trading to update Members regarding food waste collection.


Resolved: That the report be noted.



Questions to the Portfolio Holder for People & Places


The Portfolio Holder for People & Places updated the Committee on her areas of responsibility. This included the Community Plan which was a ten year plan brought together by the Local Strategic Partnership, with a three year action plan for how partners can work together with the communities to deliver the priorities. Communities and Community Grants were also within her responsibility and the council supported a number of community sector groups across the District, including the Citizen’s Advice and service level agreements with the Sevenoaks District Arts Council and Sevenoaks District Sports Council.


The Community mobilisation, Better Together scheme had won the Bronze iESE transformation award. The programme built on the ‘hands on’ projects that people created during the pandemic in their own neighbourhoods. It helped provide practical support, skills development, networking and capacity building to individuals and new/existing community groups to enable new initiatives and groups. The online Better Together Community Hub had been launched, which included details of local services, a community toolkit and information on volunteering opportunities, activities and events.


In regards to Community Safety the new Kent Policing model was in action with 12 Beat Officers to provide on the ground cover across the District. A Neighbourhood tasking team had also been established to provide wraparound interventions and crime prevention to address neighbourhood crime as ASB issues. The Strategic assessment and action plan was reviewed annually and business crime was a new priority. The remaining priorities included anti-social behaviour including environmental crime, violence against women and girls, domestic abuse including stalking and harassment. Drugs and county lines and acquisitive crime and crime trends including serious violence and safeguarding. The serious violence duty was introduced in 2023. To share information and target in interventions to prevent and reduce serious violence, for example homicide, knife crime etc.


The council had established a West Kent domestic abuse forum bringing in local authority neighbours and Kent police to address violence against women and girls and there was an action plan in place following a consultation exercise. Community Safety briefings took place daily.


A Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) had been agreed and implemented at the Vine, Sevenoaks in February 2024. There had been one report of ADB since its implementation by the Town Council directly to SDC. There had been no reports to Police or the Community Safety Unit. The police regularly patrolled the area. A second PSPO had been agreed for the M25 spur road in Halstead who were experience nuisance car meets and this would be implemented in May 2024.


In regards to other areas within her Portfolio, this also included Towns and Tourism and work was being undertaken with Visit Kent to continue to promote the district. A number of leaflet stands were in place with many needing to be refreshed. A successful event by the West Kent Partnership had been held. Safeguarding continued to be a high priority and there was a new system for logging concerns in Kent.


Leisure was a key area within her Portfolio,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 40.


Questions to the Portfolio Holder for Housing & Health


The Portfolio Holder for Housing and Health Updated the Committee on his area of responsibility, highlighted key areas of interest and successes. Members were advised that the Council’s Housing Strategy was adopted in 2022 with its first year review in 2023. Rural areas were a particular area which had viability and affordability issues and the Council would be meeting with Parish Council to discuss the Rural Housing Needs Survey and discuss steps for taking it forward. Local Lettings Plans were being looked into with West Kent Housing with those who had a local connection to Swanley, with a mixed scheme.


In regards to Private Rented accommodation, it was brought to Members’ attention that the Private Sector Housing Team could inspect private rented accommodation if there were concerns regarding the condition of a home.  Work was also being under taken to bring empty homes back into use. Refurbishment of three vacant pitches in  Romani Way, Hever Road had taken place and it was hoped that all 16 pitches would be occupied by the end of the year. Disabled Facility Grants also fell within the Housing and Health Portfolio and these were for adaptations to meet the needs of a disabled person.


There were a number of policies including the Housing Assistance Policy and Allocation Policy which would be reviewed this year. Homelessness continued to be a challenge, with the cost of living, rising rents and eviction in the private rented sector. There were a number of people presenting themselves to the Council as homeless and therefore a number were in temporary and emergency accommodation. A number of hosts for the Homes for Ukraine Scheme were ending their placements with guests and this was also seeing an increase for assistance with their housing situations. The Portfolio Holder detailed how the council would help prevent homelessness through negotiations with Landlords and utilising properties delivered through Quercus Housing, and temporary accommodation with West Kent Housing and Moat. There was though, a lack of new social housing being built.


He highlighted the work of Quercus Housing and its importance to provide affordable accommodation in the District. To date 42 new homes had been delivered and there were more in the pipeline. Quercus Housing had secured an additional £1.3m of Local Authority Housing Fund funding which would be allocated and spent over the next two years to deliver three temporary accommodation units and three units for affordable rent.


The HERO Service provided outreach support and advice services with residents across the District at Community Cafe, Community Halls, Foodbanks and Job Hubs. The Council’s HERO team was working with KCC to utilise the Xantura One View system, which would identify potential homelessness at the earliest stages using Housing, Benefits, Debt and Social Services data as part of an early intervention initiative to support customers, prevent homelessness and reduce the budget pressure on the Council.


Work was ongoing with the Home Upgrade Grant (HUG) to install energy efficiencies in mobile homes. Phase 2 was starting for another 8  ...  view the full minutes text for item 41.


Interim In-depth Scrutiny report


The Chairman of the Working Group advised that he had met with the Chief Officer, Customer & Resources and that he would now look at setting up a meeting in April for the group.


Work Plan pdf icon PDF 41 KB


The work plan was noted with the following additions:


Summer 2024

Portfolio Holder for Improvement & Innovation;

Portfolio Holder for Development & Conservation


Autumn 2024

Portfolio Holder for Cleaner & Greener

Portfolio Holder for Finance & Investment


Winter 2024

West Kent Housing (including maintenance and new housing)

Portfolio Holder for Housing & Health

Portfolio Holder for People & Places


Spring 2025

Kent Police


Summer 2025

KCC - Education and Special Educational Needs


Autumn 2025

Visit Kent/Visit Sevenoaks


Following discussions, the Chairman advised that written reports could be provided for reference from the Portfolio Holders, following the meetings.  


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