ModernGov

Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Council Chamber - Civic Centre Folkestone. View directions

Contact: Jemma West 

Items
No. Item

39.

Declarations of Interest

Members of the Council should declare any discloseable pecuniary interest or any other significant interests in any item/s on this agenda.

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

Councillors Gane, Rolfe and Mullard declared DPI’s in respect of the agenda items relating to the General Fund Medium Term Capital Programme, and the Medium Term Financial Strategy, as they were Directors of Oportunitas, but had received a dispensation.   Councillor Rolfe also declared a personal interest in the agenda items in respect of her role as a member of New Romney Town Council.

 

Councillors Shoob and Mrs Hollingsbee declared DPI’s in respect of the agenda items relating to the General Fund Medium Term Capital Programme, and the Medium Term Financial Strategy, as they were Directors of Otterpool LLP.

40.

Minutes

To receive the minutes of the meeting of the council held on 29 September 2021 and to authorise the Chairman of the Council to sign them as a correct record.

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

A Member raised concerns about the factual correctness of the supplementary response to Councillor question one, shown in Schedule 2, appended to the minutes of the meeting held on 29 September 2021.

 

It was agreed that the matter be considered further, and reported back at the next ordinary meeting of the Council.

41.

Chairman's Communications

Minutes:

The Chairman gave the following communications:

 

“Since our previous Council meeting on 29 September, I have continued to visit local businesses to see how they are progressing.

 

Events I have attended on behalf of the council included:

 

·         7 October – Eagle Heights wildlife foundation to support Sevenoaks District Council.

·         8 October – Rochester Cathedral I attended the Annual Justices Service for the county of Kent.

·         12 October – visit to Italia in Tenterden.

·         13 October – Sevenoaks Charity Event.

·         22 October – Big Cats Sanctuary visit on invitation from Sevenoaks District Council, where I was able to feed a big cat by hand.

·         30 October – Civic Wardens Turkish Night in support of Folkestone Town Mayor’s charities.

·         4 November – Visited the Bricklayers, Chipstead to support Sevenoaks District Council.

·         5 November – Annual Civic Service at All Saints Church, Maidstone.

·         11 November – Machine Gun Corps Memorial Service at the Military Cemetery in Cheriton Road, Folkestone.

·         14 November – Folkestone’s Annual Remembrance Sunday march and Memorial Service.

·         23 November – Maidstone distillery visit courtesy of Maidstone Mayor.

42.

Petitions

A petition asking for the council to withdraw its recently published regeneration proposal for East Cliff and instead work with the community to improve the existing play area and support the bowls club and existing sports facilities has been received and has 950 signatures. As per the petitions scheme, set out in part 4 of the constitution, petitions which receive more than 250 signatures can be presented to a meeting of Full Council.

 

The petition organiser will be given five minutes to present the petition at the meeting.

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

The Lead Petitioner, Bridie Hill presented her Petition, which asked the council to withdraw its recently published regeneration proposal for East Cliff and instead work with the community to improve the existing play area and support the bowls club and existing sports facilities.

 

Proposed by Councillor Keutenius,

Seconded by Councillor Keen;

 

That the petition be referred to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee for their observations.

 

(Voting figures: 12 for, 15 against, 0 abstentions).

 

The motion was therefore LOST.

 

Proposed by Councillor Collier,

Seconded by Councillor Monk; and

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the petition be referred to the Cabinet, as Trustees of the Folkestone Parks and Pleasure Grounds Charity, after the conclusion of the public consultation, for their consideration.

 

(Voting figures: 15 for, 8 against, 4 abstentions).

43.

Questions from the Public

The following questions have been received:

 

1.       From Mr Brophy to Councillor Monk, Leader of the Council

 

Can the Leader guarantee the people of Hythe that the plans for Prince's Parade will not be altered to accommodate more than the 150 dwellings that have been suggested and also confirm that at least 50% of the space on Prince's Parade will be planted, open green space accessible to all?

 

2.       From Mrs H St Clair to Councillor Monk, Leader of the Council

 

Due to the hazardous and toxic nature of the waste contained on Princes Parade and the ensuing increased traffic levels in the area if this development goes ahead, how are you going to protect the children of Seabrook Primary School and local residents - are you going to issue us all with the same protective equipment that is advised for the workers on site?

 

3.       From Ms C Farrell to Councillor Monk, Leader of the Council

 

The three Green Councillors who represent Hythe were voted onto FHDC by the largest majorities in the district, on a mandate to save Prince’s Parade. Meanwhile you clung onto your seat in Folkestone by the smallest majority in the district – 19 votes. You have publicly referred to Prince's Parade as a ‘blasted heath and the biggest dog’s toilet in the south east of England’. Even though the result of the public inquiry is the decision of the Secretary of State for Transport and not you, work has continued on the site as if the result is a foregone conclusion. If the Public Inquiry finds in favour of the people who have voted democratically to save Prince’s Parade, who you have consistently undermined, will you resign?

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

The questions asked, including supplementary questions (if any), and the answers given are set out in Schedule 1, appended to these minutes.

44.

Questions from Councillors

(Questions can be found on www.folkestone-hythe.gov.uk from noon 2 days before the meeting, on Modern.gov, under the agenda for this meeting).

 

Up to 45 minutes is allowed for questions from councillors.

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

The questions asked, including supplementary questions (if any), and the answers given are set out in Schedule 2, appended to these minutes.

45.

Announcements of the Leader of the Council

To receive a report from the Leader of the Council on the business of the cabinet and on matters that the leader considers should be drawn to the council’s attention. The leader shall have 10 minutes to make his announcements.

 

The opposition group will have an opportunity to reply to the leader’s remarks.  The opposition group leader shall have 5 minutes to respond after which the Leader of the Council will have a right of reply.  Any right of reply will be for a maximum duration of 5 minutes.

Minutes:

The Leader gave the following announcements:

 

“Thank you Chairman, good evening to you all.

 

In survey after survey, the people of this district select the appearance of the district as one of their top priorities.  As you know, our grounds maintenance team does a wonderful job in satisfying that priority and once again they have had recognition of this as Kingsnorth Gardens has been awarded a Green Flag, which is our fourth, Radnor Park, the Lower Leas Park, and Hythe Canal being the other three. Congratulations to them all.

 

Councillor Mrs Jenny Hollingsbee has been out and about, she and two of our officers have been holding equality and diversity sessions at the Turner Free School and the Folkestone academy. She also went to the Honorary Artillery HQ to receive on behalf of the council the Armed Forces Covenant “Gold” award, and here is the certificate to prove it (the Leader held up the certificate).  We are very proud to have achieved the level of commitment to the Covenant that this award recognises. Well done.

 

Oportunitas has had a great boost taking possession of 18 apartments at RVH site earlier this month. They are built to an extremely high standard as those of you who took the tour of them will know. I am pleased to report that fifteen of the eighteen have already been let.

 

As this is the last Full Council meeting before Christmas, I wish all of you and our officers a very Happy Christmas and a healthy New Year”.

 

Councillor Keutenius, on behalf of the opposition, thanked the Leader for his announcements, and stated that she would like to start by wishing all staff, officers and Councillors a safe and Happy Christmas and New Year. A time we can take stock of how lucky we are in our country, and take a moment to think of those across the world less fortunate.

 

She also welcomed yet another award, for the tireless work of our grounds maintenance staff and teams.  She also recognised the work of the many local young people from the Beacon School and Folkestone College, who have played a part in the transformation of Kingsnorth Gardens. The students are continuing the project by creating a Japanese style space for relaxation and reflection. She asked Members to visit Kingsnorth Gardens to see it progressing.

 

She stated that while the district has 4 of these green flag parks, (5 if you count the KCC run Brockhill Country Park) there is more to do. The KPI for this objective has been met, but she was hopeful this would increase in the next review, perhaps to extend to Romney Marsh, where there are none of this standard.

 

She commended the work of Councillor Mrs Hollingsbee and the team promoting such an important subject, and stated that she hoped this work continues, not just in the community but in our own houses, of our officers and Councillors, to value and recognise equality and diversity in all our people, so  ...  view the full minutes text for item 45.

46.

Opposition Business

The Labour Group has raised the following matter:

 

Council Notes:

 

Currently an Airbnb property or similar self-contained holiday let is not licenced in the same way as a traditional BnB or hotel. The district is seeing rental costs soar, forcing out local low wage families from the area.

 

Folkestone came out second on the list with an average asking rent price of £1,144 per calendar month in June 2021. Rewind a year, and that figure was just £902 back in June 2020, meaning a 26. 26.7 per cent annual change.

 

https://www.kentlive.news/news/property/folkestone-sevenoaks-two-kent-towns-5751075

 

Councils, including Brighton and Hove and Liverpool have made representations to the government regarding the lack of regulation within the sector.

 

Council believes:

 

·       That the council is losing income due to the current nature of Air Bnb and other self-contained holiday lets, due to the fact that these properties are entitled to business rate relief.

 

·       That the increasing level of these properties within the district has become disproportionate and takes away from much needed housing stock for local families.

 

·       That more is need from central government to ensure a level playing field between these types of properties and more traditional holiday accommodation venues.

 

Council Resolves:

 

·       That the Overview and Scrutiny Committee review the current situation with regards to self-contained holiday lets (advertised on Airbnb and other such websites) This review should contain but is not limited to:

 

·       The current numbers of entire properties that are registered as businesses for the purpose of holiday lets within the district

 

·       The affect that these houses being used in this purpose has on the need for housing by local residents

 

·       If the rising rental market within the district is being partially affected by the existence of these self-contained holiday lets.

 

·       The details of grants awarded to these businesses in terms of Covid business relief.

 

·       The financial burden on the council created by these businesses in terms of council services, waste collection etc.

 

·       What methods the council has in its power to regulate these properties: Change of use within planning, business registration, licensing etc.

 

Debates on opposition business shall be limited to 30 minutes.  If the time limit is reached or the debate concludes earlier, the leader of the group raising the item shall have a right of reply.

 

The Council shall:

 

a)         Note the issue raised and take no further action;

b)         Refer the issue to the cabinet or relevant overview and scrutiny committee, as the case may be for their observations before deciding whether to make a decision on the issue;

c)         Agree to examine the matter as part of a future scrutiny programme;

d)         Adopt the issue raised by opposition business provided that the decision so made is within the policy framework and budget.

Minutes:

The Deputy Leader of the Labour Group, Councillor Keutenius, set out the Opposition Business which related to the lack of regulation around Airbnb and self-contained holiday lets, and rising rental costs.

 

Proposed by Councillor Keutenius,

Seconded by Councillor J Martin; and

 

RESOLVED:

 

That Option (b) (refer the issue to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, for their observations before deciding whether to make a decision on the issue) be agreed for the business below:

 

·       That the Overview and Scrutiny Committee review the current situation with regards to self-contained holiday lets (advertised on Airbnb and other such websites) This review should contain but is not limited to:

o      The current numbers of entire properties that are registered as businesses for the purpose of holiday lets within the district.

o      The affect that these houses being used in this purpose has on the need for housing by local residents.

o      If the rising rental market within the district is being partially affected by the existence of these self-contained holiday lets.

o      The details of grants awarded to these businesses in terms of Covid business relief.

o      The financial burden on the council created by these businesses in terms of council services, waste collection etc.

o      What methods the council has in its power to regulate these properties: Change of use within planning, business registration, licensing etc.

 

 (Voting figures: *26 for, 0 against, 0 abstentions).

 

*A member was not present in the chamber at the point this vote was taken.

47.

Motions on Notice

The following motions have been placed on the agenda in the order received; up to 60 minutes shall be allowed for debates on motions on notice:

 

1.       From Councillor Treloar, Green Group

 

          Allow members to attend council meetings remotely.

 

The council notes that whilst it is preferable for members to attend meetings in person, there are a number of significant reasons why the option for remote attendance is vital for an inclusive local democracy:

 

a)       Some members may be particularly vulnerable to coronavirus or caring for vulnerable people; they should be given the option to avoid the risk of exposure in prolonged indoor meetings.

b)       Some members may have caring duties that make it disproportionately more difficult to attend meetings compared to other members.

c)       In keeping with the council’s carbon emission reduction goals, members should have the option to avoid having to travel to the council chamber if sustainable transport isn’t available.

 

Northern Ireland recently agreed in its parliament to allow councils to meet and vote remotely, Wales and Scotland already allow this. England is being left behind.

 

This Council mandates the Leader to write to the Secretary of State to call for parity across the UK and enable Councillors in England to meet and vote online as they see fit.

 

Should the legal framework provide for remote meetings, this Council moves to investigate the feasibility of hosting hybrid meetings in one room, such as the Council Chamber.

 

Minutes:

The Leader of the Green group, Councillor Treloar, introduced her motion, which related to allow members to attend council meetings remotely.

 

A debate took place, and with the agreement of the proposer and seconder, the motion was expanded to include officers, and the word “mandate” was amended to “ask”.  Councillor Treloar was then invited to sum up the motion.

 

Proposed by Councillor Treloar,

Seconded by Councillor Wade; and

 

RESOLVED:

·       That this Council asks the Leader to write to the Secretary of State to call for parity across the UK and enable Councillors and officers in England to meet and vote online as they see fit.

·       That should the legal framework provide for remote meetings, this Council moves to investigate the feasibility of hosting hybrid meetings in one room, such as the Council Chamber.

 

(Voting figures: 27 for, 0 against, 0 abstention).

48.

Refresh of the Council's Children, Young People and Vulnerable Adults Safeguarding Policy

The District Council is part of the statutory safeguarding role within the wider public sector, with responsibilities to children, young people and vulnerable adults. The children, young people and vulnerable adults safeguarding policy has been updated and is attached at Appendix 1. Council are advised that the safeguarding policy is refreshed every two years and that the changes made to the 2019 policy include new legislation and changes to practice that are incorporated in the 2021 policy.

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

The District Council is part of the statutory safeguarding role within the wider public sector, with responsibilities to children, young people and vulnerable adults. The children, young people and vulnerable adults safeguarding policy has been updated and is attached at Appendix 1. Council are advised that the safeguarding policy is refreshed every two years and that the changes made to the 2019 policy include new legislation and changes to practice that are incorporated in the 2021 policy.

 

Proposed by Councillor Mrs Hollingsbee,

Seconded by Councillor Monk; and

 

RESOLVED:

1.         That report A/21/17 be received and noted

2.         That the refreshed Folkestone & Hythe District Council Children, Young People and Vulnerable Adults Safeguarding Policy and recommend to Full Council be endorsed for approval.

 

(Voting: *26 for; 0 against; 0 abstentions)

 

* A Member was not present in the chamber at the time of the vote.

 

49.

Licensing Policy Statement 2021-2026

The Licensing Authority is required to review and publish a Licensing Policy Statement for every successive five year period. A new draft policy statement was prepared following a detailed process of review and consultation and reported to Planning & Licensing Committee on 11 November 2021. The committee have agreed for the new draft policy to be presented to Full Council for approval. 

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

The Licensing Authority is required to review and publish a Licensing Policy Statement for every successive five year period. A new draft policy statement was prepared following a detailed process of review and consultation and reported to Planning & Licensing Committee on 11 November 2021. The committee have agreed for the new draft policy to be presented to Full Council for approval.

 

Proposed by Councillor Peall;

Seconded by Councillor Wimble; and

 

RESOLVED:

1.       That report A/21/21 be received and noted.

2.       That the final draft Licensing Policy Statement for the period 2021 to 2026 be approved.

 

(Voting: * 26 for; 0 against; 0 abstentions).

 

* A Member was not present in the chamber at the time of the vote.

50.

Update to the General Fund Medium Term Capital Programme

This report seeks approval to update the budget for the General Fund Medium Term Capital Programme for decisions due to be taken by Cabinet earlier today regarding the District Owned Street Lighting and Biggins Wood Development schemes. The report also updates the General Fund Medium Term Capital Programme for works to the Connect 38 building in Ashford which were originally agreed by Cabinet on 26 May 2021.

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

The report sought approval to update the budget for the General Fund Medium Term Capital Programme for decisions due to be taken by Cabinet earlier today regarding the District Owned Street Lighting and Biggins Wood Development schemes. The report also updates the General Fund Medium Term Capital Programme for works to the Connect 38 building in Ashford which were originally agreed by Cabinet on 26 May 2021.

 

A Member proposed an amendment to the recommendations, which was accepted by the proposer and seconder, and is reflected below.

 

Proposed by Councillor Monk,

Seconded by Councillor Mrs Hollingsbee; and

 

RESOLVED:

1.             That report A/21/19 be received and noted.

 

(Voting figures: 27 for, 0 against, 0 abstentions).

 

2.             That the General Fund Medium Term Capital Programme be updated for the Cat A works to the Connect 38 building.

 

(Voting figures: 23 for, 4 against, 0 abstentions).

 

3.             That the overall budget for the Biggins Wood Development be increased by £158,000 and to provide a further contingency budget of £250k to meet any further costs associated with remediating and servicing the site from the Business Rates Growth Fund held in the Economic Development Reserve.

 

(Voting figures: 21 for, 1 against, 5 abstentions).

 

4.             That a capital budget of £745,000 be approved to be included in the MTCP for the works to council owned street lighting assets to enable them to be transferred to Kent County Council. This is to be funded from the Climate Change Reserve (£408,335) and the Capital Receipts Reserve (£336,665).

 

(Voting figures: 27 for, 0 against, 0 abstentions).

51.

Medium Term Financial Strategy 2022/23 to 2025/26

The Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) is the Council’s key financial planning document.  It puts the financial perspective on the council’s Corporate Plan priorities, expressing the aims and objectives of various plans and strategies in financial terms over the four year period ending 31st March 2026.  It covers both revenue and capital for the General Fund.  Also included are the Council’s reserves policies.  The MTFS is a key element of sound corporate governance and financial management.

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

The Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) is the Council’s key financial planning document. It puts the financial perspective on the council’s Corporate Plan priorities, expressing the aims and objectives of various plans and strategies in financial terms over the four year period ending 31st March 2026. It covers both revenue and capital for the General Fund. Also included are the Council’s reserves policies. The MTFS is a key element of sound corporate governance and financial management.

 

Proposed by Councillor Monk,

Seconded by Councillor Mrs Hollingsbee; and

 

RESOLVED:

1.       That Report C/21/20 be received and noted.

2.       That the Medium Term Financial Strategy, as appended to the report, be adopted by Full Council.

 

(Voting: 22 for; 1 against; 4 abstentions).