ModernGov

Agenda and minutes

Venue: Council Chamber - Civic Centre Folkestone

Contact: Jemma West 

Items
No. Item

58.

Declarations of Interest

Members of the Council should declare any interests which fall under the following categories. Please see the end of the agenda for definitions*:

 

a)    disclosable pecuniary interests (DPI);

b)    other significant interests (OSI);

c)    voluntary announcements of other interests.

Minutes:

Councillor Mrs Jenny Hollingsbee made a voluntary announcement in that she owns two properties within the area of search for Otterpool Park. She remained present at the meeting during discussions.

59.

Minutes

To consider and approve, as a correct record, the minutes of the meeting held on Tuesday 7 and Wednesday 22 February 2017.

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

With regard to the minutes of the meeting held on 7 February 2017, a Member requested the following amendments to Minute number 54:

 

·         In the main minute text, second paragraph, remove the word “commencing”, and replace with the words “proceeding (subject to Cabinet’s authority to do so)”.

 

·         In point 4 of the resolution, to delete the word “commencing”, and insert the words “proceeding, subject to Cabinet’s authority to do so”.   

 

Subject to this amendment, the minutes were approved.

 

The minutes of the meeting held on 22 February 2017 were submitted, approved and signed by the Chairman.

60.

East Kent Project Business Case

Report C/16/107 presents the business case commissioned by the East Kent District Councils (as approved by each Council in July 2016). Local Partnerships and the Local Government Association (LGA) were commissioned to prepare the Business Case. Based on the emerging findings, Ashford Borough Council decided it no longer intends to be involved in the creation of a single council, however, the merits of the case for the remaining four districts were clear and a four way business case was subsequently prepared. 

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

Report C/16/107 presented the business case commissioned by the East Kent District Councils (as approved by each Council in July 2016). Local Partnerships and the Local Government Association (LGA) were commissioned to prepare the Business Case. Based on the emerging findings, Ashford Borough Council decided it no longer intended to be involved in the creation of a single council, however, the merits of the case for the remaining four districts were clear and a four way business case was subsequently prepared. 

 

It was proposed by Councillor Dearden, and

Seconded by Councillor Godfrey;

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the following be recommended to Full Council:

 

1.        To receive and note report No C/16/107

 

2.        That having considered the business case, Cabinet authorises Council to explore further the abolition of the local government district areas of Canterbury, Dover, Shepway and Thanet and the constitution of a new local government district area of East Kent comprising the areas of those districts.

 

3.      That the unspent balance of the £20,000 previously agreed by the Council to fund the preparation of the business case be made available to fund a public consultation and engagement exercise.

 

4.      That the Cabinet be requested to ensure an appropriate public consultation and engagement exercise is undertaken to ascertain views on the proposal set out in 2 above.

 

5.      That a further report be submitted to the Council prior to the making of any submission to the Secretary of State, whilst Cabinet has the authority to proceed if so desired.

 

That Cabinet resolves:

 

6.         To request that Canterbury City Council undertake a public and stakeholder consultation and engagement exercise to ascertain views on the proposal set out in 1 above that can be taken into account by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government in deciding to make regulations under the Cities and Local Government Devolution Act 2016.

 

7.         To agree the Council will contribute to Canterbury City Council one quarter of the cost of undertaking the consultation and engagement referred to in 3 above and as set out in Appendix 2 (if Council agree to proceed).

 

8.         That the Leader be requested, to establish the proposed governance structure for the project, as set out in Section 5 (Management Case) in the business case.

 

(Voting: For 7, Against 0, Abstentions 3).

 

61.

Exclusion of the Public

To exclude the public from the following items of business, on the grounds

that it is likely to disclose exempt information, as defined in paragraph 3 of

Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972: ‘Information

relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person

(including the authority holding that information).’ ‘Financial or business

affairs includes contemplated as well as current activities.

 

Minutes:

Councillor Monk, Leader of the Council reported that there had been several objections received to the exclusion of the public in relation to Otterpool Park.  He asked Members to consider the objections which had been circulated to them.  He added that there had not been any objections in relation to the item relating to Oportunitas. 

 

The meeting was adjourned for a short period to allow the Cabinet Members to consider the objections received.  Upon the resumption of the meeting, the Chief Executive provided clarification on some of the issues raised within the objections. He made the following statement:

 

“There are several strands to the objections.  Firstly, that the information cannot be exempt if it related to proposed development for which the local planning authority may grant itself planning permission pursuant to regulation 3 of the Town and Country Planning General Regulations 1992.  This is correct.  However, in my view, nothing in the report relates to a proposed development for which the council can give itself planning permission.  The Cabinet could not, based on the contents of the report authorise the making of a planning application, there is simply not the information there that a local planning authority could accept as the basis of an application.  Also, Cabinet is not the Local Planning Authority and will not be determining planning matters.  Any decisions relating to Planning will be heard before the Planning and Licensing Committee.

 

The other argument being put forward is that a distinction needs to be drawn between “commercial” and “financial” information.  Some objectors have suggested that a distinction should be drawn and that financial matters should be open to the public. I do not agree with this interpretation.  There is no definition of “financial” in the legislation, and I consider that this can encompass “commercial” matters. In any event, the description of the exempt information is the “financial or business affairs of any particular person”.  “Business Affairs” certainly encompasses commercial issues. You will see that the report concerns both.

 

Finally, the view is expressed that for the sake of transparency, the item should be discussed in public.  As Councillors when considering whether to exclude the press and public you need to be satisfied that the report does contain “financial or business affairs of any particular person”, but you must also be satisfied that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.

 

You must weigh up where the public interest lies. Members of the public are obviously going to be interested in the proposals for Otterpool Park, so the argument for transparency should be considered.  On the other hand, the council is entering into an agreement on a commercial basis.  Disclosure of this will leave the council and its development partners in a weaker position.  In addition the council must be able to retain the confidence of this and future partners that where matters are confidential, they will be kept confidential.  Finally the council does publish information about the proposals and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 61.

62.

Oportunitas - Progress Report and Business Plan 2017/18

Report C/16/108 provides an update from the Board of Oportunitas Ltd (“the company”) covering activities undertaken in 2016/17 which includes a financial statement in-line with the requirement contained in the Shareholder’s Agreement between the company and the Council. It also proposes an approach to business planning for the period 2017/18.

Minutes:

 (Prior to the consideration of this item, Councillor Miss Carey made a voluntary announcement in that she had contributed to the gardening income of the organisation.  During consideration of the item, Councillor Ewart-James also made a voluntary announcement in that he had been approached by the organisation offering their gardening services.  Both Members remained present during discussions).

 

Report C/16/108 provided an update from the Board of Oportunitas Ltd (“the company”) covering activities undertaken in 2016/17 which included a financial statement in-line with the requirement contained in the Shareholder’s Agreement between the company and the Council. It also proposed an approach to business planning for the period 2017/18.

 

Proposed by Councillor Dearden, and

Seconded by Councillor Mrs Hollingsbee;

 

RESOLVED -

 

1.    To receive and note report C/16/108;

2.    To extend the current Business Plan for Oportunitas from April 2017 to end March 2018 while a review of the sustainability of the financing model underpinning the company is undertaken by its shareholder; and

3.    To extend the current working capital facility and loan facility until 31 March 2018 while the financial review concludes.

 

(Voting: For 10, Against 0, Abstentions 0).

 

63.

Otterpool Park

Report C/16/106 updates Cabinet on the significant level of activities undertaken by the Council as joint landowner/promoter for Otterpool Park since the last detailed Cabinet report of 8th June 2016.  This report includes updates on the Planning Collaboration Agreement, Development Agreement, land assembly, masterplanning, financial position, previous and future community engagement events and ongoing member engagement.

Minutes:

Report C/16/106 updated Cabinet on the significant level of activities undertaken by the Council as joint landowner/promoter for Otterpool Park since the last detailed Cabinet report of 8th June 2016.  The report included updates on the Planning Collaboration Agreement, Development Agreement, land assembly, masterplanning, financial position, previous and future community engagement events and ongoing member engagement.

 

Proposed by Councillor Monk,

Seconded by Councillor Mrs Hollingsbee;

 

RESOLVED:

 

1.    To receive and note report C/16/106.

2.    To reaffirm the Council’s commitment to deliver the Expression of Interest for Otterpool Park.

3.    To note the draft Arcadis Stage 1 Feasibility and Capacity Study report, in particular:

 

“That the conclusion of the technical studies undertaken is that there are no significant barriers to development of a garden settlement identified at this stage which would preclude delivering the aspirations defined by the vision, aims and principles.”

 

4.    To note that, once approved by the Collaboration Board, the Arcadis Stage 1 Feasibility and Capacity Study will be published on the Otterpool Park website.

5.    To note that, once approved by the Collaboration Board, the Kevin Murray Associates Stage 1 Community Engagement report will be published on the Otterpool Park website.

6.    To authorise the Chief Executive, in consultation with the Leader of Council, to take all necessary land assembly steps required to deliver the aspirations identified in the Expression of Interest for Otterpool Park.

7.    To note the current budget position as detailed in Section 6 of the report.  

 

(Voting: For 10, Against 0, Abstentions 0).