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.
The Leader gave the following announcements:
“Thank you Chairman, and good evening to you all.
I would like to start by highlighting the tremendously good service this council delivers to its customers.
As you know, to assess our interaction with our customers and partners, we engaged the Centre for Assessment to assess our performance in these areas under the ‘Customer Service Excellence’ certification scheme.
From the start, we were found to be compliant on all 250 of the basic parameters and year on year have continued to win Compliance Plus awards. These awards are given for exceptional and innovative delivery with strong emphasis on engagement inside and outside of the council.
I am very pleased to announce that after the recent follow up assessment we have gained another two awards, bringing our total to a magnificent 17.
What is particularly gratifying is that we have done this despite the COVID 19 pandemic. Indeed, the assessor remarked that unlike a lot of other councils that he assesses, we have not allowed it to majorly disrupt our service delivery and had this to say:
“Given the times we are in, I think this is remarkable that you have been able, not only to sustain what you have been doing, but to improve on it, and I think the whole staff team should be really proud of this”. A sentiment which I whole heartedly echo.
To keep the Compliance Plus awards require us to continue to raise the bar and next year we will be reassessed so you can see that the scheme is a strong driver for continuous improvement.
When I say the council, I am talking about both members as well as officers because without the cooperation across the whole piece, we would not win these awards.
Finally I would like to praise Karen Everett who flawlessly arranges for the assessor to see the evidence of our performance, to meet our partners and get an oversight of our projects. Thank you Karen.
On to other matters, I have been contemplating what simple things I can do to help combat climate change. Which led me to reflect that when I was young, before the days of central heating, if I was feeling cold at home, I would put on another jumper or cardigan. Well I have now started to do that again, the result being that so far this year, I have not had to put any form of heating on and if I continue to do so will not need to turn the thermostat up as high as I have been doing. I have read that if we were all to do the same it would save around 300kg of CO2 being produced for every degree we turn the thermostat down as well as saving money on the fuel bill. There ends my public service announcement.
To finish on another piece of good news, you should have all received an email this afternoon informing you that we are in advanced talks with the NHS Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group about commissioning a new health centre in a section of Folca. The Cabinet has agreed to a 150 year lease, the next step is for approval of a business case and then for planning permission to be sought. If all goes well, the first patients should be seen in the new facility in late 2024, or early 2025”.
Councillor McConville, on behalf of the opposition, thanked the Leader for his announcements, and he also commended the work of officers in customer services, and the officers who helped facilitate this. It was nice to receive accolades and awards, however, delivering the best service for residents should always been the main driver. He stated that he looked forward to the council receiving the awards next year. He then stated that while he could live in a house without heating, not many people shared his resilience against the cold. Sadly, some families in the district would not have such a choice on the level of heating they could have, and would have to choose between buying food, paying the rent, or having the heating on. It was important to appreciate that some people struggled, and the council should do everything in its power to promote the greener options and address fuel poverty, using both council resources and petitioning central government to do more for residents. He stated that there was no doubt that a new health centre was needed, and he was pleased to see this progressing. He added that he hoped a normal access to GPs would be resumed, as many people were struggling with this at the moment. He looked forward to the business case coming forward, and hoped world class facilities could be delivered for residents.
The Leader then replied that the business case would be considered by the commissioning group, in order for them to release the funds for the building to take place.
Proposed by Councillor Monk,
Seconded by Councillor Mrs Hollingsbee; and
That the announcements of the Leader be noted.
(Voting figures: 26 for, 0 against, 0 abstentions).