Full Council - Wednesday 1 March 2023, 6:30pm - Start video at 0:09:21 - Tunbridge Wells Borough Council Webcasting
Wednesday, 1st March 2023 at 6:30pm
Agenda item : Start of webcast
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Agenda item : 1 Apologies for absence
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Agenda item : 2 Minutes of the 1st extraordinary meeting dated 14 December 2022
Agenda item : 3 Minutes of the 2nd extraordinary meeting dated 14 December 2022
Agenda item : 4 Minutes of the ordinary meeting dated 14 December 2022
Agenda item : 5 Declarations of Interest
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Agenda item : 6 Announcements
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Agenda item : 7 Questions from members of the public
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Agenda item : 8 Questions from members of the Council
Agenda item : 9 Tunbridge Wells Borough Council's Plan
Agenda item : 10 Budget 2023/24 and Medium Term Financial Strategy
Agenda item : 11 Council Tax 2023/24
Agenda item : 12 Asset Management Plan 2023/24
Agenda item : 13 Capital Strategy 2023/24
Agenda item : 14 Treasury Management Policy and Strategy 2023/24
Agenda item : 15 Urgent Business
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Agenda item : 16 Common Seal of the Council
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Agenda item : 17 Date of next meeting
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Disclaimer: This transcript was automatically generated, so it may contain errors. Please view the webcast to confirm whether the content is accurate.
and again, good evening, ladies and gentlemen, I'm delaying the start of this meeting in order for us to conduct a short prayer, which will, I shall ask my chaplain the Reverend David Commander, to lead, if anyone would prefer not to observe the prayer,
please take this time for a moment of personal reflection or you may withdraw from the Chamber if you wish.
the meeting will start immediately afterwards.
evening everyone, I just wanted to start by sharing a very simple thought with you, something I picked up back in my school days from ethics and morals.
it's from a German philosopher, it's not Christian, based, it's the just dots theory, it emphasises that the whole of anything is greater than its individual parts.
we have come together as the elected to serve the people of this borough.
and applying the gestalt theory, says we we gather.
to serve people more effectively and achieve far more by working collectively.
and so we pray Lords for one another.
and we pray for the people we are elected to serve.
we ask that we will be guided this evening to achieve something greater by working together.
that we might be guided to work with a spirit of what is possible.
for the good of those we serve and not for self.
we asked this in your name, Lord.
all men and women.
I think we will have a good evening.
please be seated.
officers officers, would you please ask anyone who may have left to return?
Good evening, Members of the Council, members of the public and others who've chosen to join us, both here at the Town Hall and online Bob, a live webcast.
welcome to this meeting of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council on Wednesday, the 1st of March 2023.
before we get underway, I will ask the Chief Executive to set out some important safety and procedural information, but I would ask you to give your full attention to chief executive.
thank you, Mr. Mayor, in the event of the fire alarm, when continuously you must immediately evacuate the building at walking pace.
officers will escort to you via the most direct available route, and no one is to use the LIP.
we will make our way to the fire assembly points by the entrance to the Town Hall Yard, car park, on Munson Way.
once outside, a check will be made to ensure everyone has left safely and no one is to re-enter the building until advised, it is safe to do so.
this is a public meeting and recordings are being webcast live online and a recording will be available for playback on the council's website shortly afterwards, any third party may also record or film council meetings unless exempt or confidential confidential information is being considered, but the council is clearly not liable for any third party recordings, please use your microphones when speaking and turn them off when you finish the red light indicates the microphone is on and when you switch the microphone off the red light is extinguished any comments that are not recorded for the webcast may not be included in the minutes of the meeting.
at the end of each debate, the Mayor will ask whether the matter is agreed in the absence of a clear majority, or if the mayor decides a full vote is desirable or full that a vote will be taken by a show of hands. Members requesting a recorded vote must do so before the vote is taken and tonight's given that that we're discussing both the budget and the council tax and both those items will be subject to recorded votes under legislation. If you have a mobile phone please ensure it's switched off or set to silence. Thank you very much.
before we were poor, we moved to the agenda items, I have a special announcement, this is the first meeting of the Full Council since we learned of the death of our friend and former colleague.
bobcat, on the 23 of December 2022.
when Bob bank has came to Tunbridge Wells in 2005 he was destitute and homeless.
his own hard work.
and the help of his family and friends enabled him to rebuild his life and that life had always revolved around politics.
he began to involve himself in the affairs of the borough, his first active involvement came in 2008, when he helped Alan McDermott and in his mid person, James Ward, he lost.
Bob was undeterred and stood in a by-election for Sherwood in 2010, which he won he loved the people of Sherwood and served them energetically until he lost his seat in May 2022.
he was for many years, chairman of the licence licensing committee.
where his diligence and compassion and him respect, he also served on the Planning Committee for many years where he was briefly chairman.
he has battled ill-health for many years, juggling doctors' appointments with his cancer commitments, but his health worsened over the summer
and he died in Pembury just before Christmas.
past and present colleagues attended his funeral in Soham Cambridgeshire, and later a bank memorial service at some pipes in his beloved Sherwood.
he was a character larger than life in all respect.
he was kind, generous and good company.
he'd seen his share of troubles and made mistakes, but in his service to the people of Sherwood and the borough, I believe he achieved redemption, God bless you, Bob Bank.
please remain seated, but let us observe a minute's silence.
agenda item one is to receive any apologies for absence chief executive.
1 Apologies for absence
thank you, Mr. Mayor, we've received apologies from Councillors, Neville Lewis and Johnson.
2 Minutes of the 1st extraordinary meeting dated 14 December 2022
agenda Item 2 is to agree the minutes of the past extraordinary meeting held on the 14th of December 2022 and which start on page 5 of our agenda.
are you willing to second the motion, I second the motion.
no issues have been brought to my attention in advance, but are there any amendments to these minutes?
the motion is to agree the minutes are we agreed
the motion is carried.
3 Minutes of the 2nd extraordinary meeting dated 14 December 2022
agenda item 3 is to agree the minutes of the second extraordinary meeting held on the 14th of December 2022 and which stars on page 7 of our agenda.
I have been made aware of a proposed correction to minute F C 52, slash 22, which is the middle of page 7 of the minutes.
Councillor Christopher Hall has asked for the polling amendments first, 64% of electorates be replaced with 64% respondent.
second, the statement to 200,000 pounds saving over per year period on all out election be added to the minutes.
having reviewed the recording, I'm happy for this change, I therefore move that the minutes be agreed, subject to that amendment Councillor Patterson, are you happy to second second the motion, thank you, the motion is to agree the minutes are we agreed?
4 Minutes of the ordinary meeting dated 14 December 2022
agenda item 4 minutes of the ordinary meeting dated 14 December 2022.
this is to agree the minutes.
of that meeting, which start on page 8 of our agenda.
no issues have been brought to my attention in advance, but are there any amendments to these minutes?
a motion is to agree the minutes are we agreed?
5 Declarations of Interest
Sandra seemed to have got this out of order.
Councillor Pattison willing to second the motion or second the motion anyway, thank you very much, thank you, are we still agreed?
agenda Item number 5.
this is to receive any declarations of interest in accordance with the Members' Code of conduct.
has any Member any declaration of interest to make in respect of any item on the agenda today?
item 5 on our agenda is to consider the council's budget and to set the Council Tax in respect of both items, I must remind members, but section 1 is 6 of the Local government Finance Act 1992 applies to any meeting where consideration is given to matters relating to or which might affect the calculation of Council Tax.
any member of a local authority who is liable to pay council tax and who has any unpaid council tax an amount overdue for at least two months, even if there is an arrangement to pay off the arrears.
must declare the fact that they are in arrears and must not cast that vote on anything related to the council's budget or council tax.
I ask again, has any Member any declaration of interest to make in respect of any item on the agenda?
agenda Item 6 is to receive announcements.
Leader, do you have any announcements to make?
thank you, Mr. Mayor, as Members will know the 2022 2023 municipal years drawing to its close, and we're turning our attention to the council year for 2023 2024, I would therefore like to propose, at Councillor Nick Pope, as Deputy Mayor elect for 23 24 Nick has always been highly engaged with the community ever since I've known him before he became a Councillor and I look forward to putting Mick's name forward at our next Council meeting in April. Thank you Mr. Mayor.
members of the Cabinet Councillor wall,
thank you, Mr. Mayor, I'd like to give an update on the community support fund if I may 100,000 pounds Community support Fund was created by this Council in response to the cost of living crisis, which is directly impacting many of our most vulnerable residents in the borough.
in order to distribute the fund, charities and similar organisations were invited to apply for grants for specific projects or to expand existing services or for newly identified need.
six applications were received and the cross-party community grants panel met on the 31st of January 2023 to consider applications, I'm pleased to announce that grants from the council's new community community support fund have been awarded to Charlie's Angels kitchen 15,000 pounds nourish 20,000 pounds number one community trust 15,000 pounds Tunbridge Wells, volunteer bureau 10,000 pounds parish larders 15,000 pounds that's two and a half thousand pounds for each larder and West Kent Mind 25,000 pounds.
the funding will be put to various uses across the borough.
Charlie's Angels, kitchen will make you use will use the grant to provide additional hot meals and ingredients for people to make their own meals at home. The volunteer bureau will provide access to online services to elderly and vulnerable people in their own homes. Nourish will now be able to continue to distribute fuel vouchers to those in need of emergency support number 1. Community Trust will increase their offer of subsidised hot meals for children and extend their opening hours to provide a warm space for anyone who needs it. As well as continuing their pre-school provision and family and holiday support Parish, coladas will continue their existing provision during this period of inflation and increased demand for their services.
and West Kent Mind applied to the fund in order to be able to increase their capacity to provide free, fast-track access to counselling services for vulnerable people experiencing domestic abuse who are in or on the edge of a mental health crisis.
the Council will contact these organisations in April to provide are sent to provide information on how they have what they have delivered from these grants.
I would just like to thank all Members who encouraged any groups to submit applications, the members who were set on the the grants panel and also Lee Collier and Jane Fineman and her team for all their hard work and support in administering.
the Community support Fund, thank you, Mr. Ma.
thank God for the one constant pun.
thank you, Mr. Mayor, I have an announcement about the consultations on both SE Water's draft water resources management plan and Southern Water's draft water resources management plan.
to which the Council has now responded, both of these documents set out the water company's long-term plans for ensuring that there are sufficient water supplies for their respective areas over the next 50 years, I would like to thank officers, and particularly Sharon Evans, and Ellen Gilbert for their work in preparing the council's response and for accommodating my amendments and insertions.
whilst the Council acknowledges the challenges faced by both these companies in their document, SE Water is explicit in stating that it would be unable to meet the level of service customers expect unless there is investment in new schemes, an increase of supply and or a reduction of demand possible options are then set out to tackle the issue over the planning period.
I give you three quotes from the council's response to south-east water, the first is that Tunbridge Wells Borough Council is concerned that the document does not adequately address current needs and deficits, as highlighted through the demand and supply issues within the borough in December 2022 in particular within particular within the town of Royal Tunbridge Wells and surrounding areas, the plan highlights that there will be a deficit of water within the Kent region by 2030.
the Council would query whether this is already an issue where it has been evident that demand exceeds supply and there is little resilience within the system to cope under certain circumstances.
later on, the consultation says it is noted on the map on page 1 1 5 of the document that no specific schemes are identified within Tunbridge Wells Borough within the period 2025 to 2035.
Tunbridge Wells Borough Council does not find this lack of schemes appropriate, taking into account the recent situation referred to above in December 2022, and the third quote, it is noted that schemes are identified within the borough during the period from 2035 to 2075. These include water, recycling and water transfers between zones, in particular, to be all reservoir. Tommy Giles borough council would welcome further engagement with SE Water in relation to these projects, so the council will continue to work closely with now things water in developing its water resources management plan and any other relevant plans and strategies that ensure that there is sufficient and resilient water supply and infrastructure for the south-east, particularly within Tunbridge Wells Borough, over this plan period. This is even more pertinent, taking into account of recent supply and infrastructure issues at the end of 2022, as highlighted within our response, the council hopes that this issue will be given due consideration in determining the infrastructure that is identified and planned for within the final water resources management plan, and we will continue to liaise with both SE Water and Southern Water with regard to future water supply and demand issues within the borough
thank you, Mr. Mayor.
thank you, Councillor Pond, Councillor Everett.
thank you, Mr. Mayor, at much shorter announcement from me, I'm pleased to say that we are currently going through the processes to allow this Council to join the UK 100, which is a cross-party local network of those who have pledged to work towards a transition to net 0within local government.
membership of the UK 100 would not only publicly reaffirm our Council's commitment to reducing carbon emissions and pollution.
but also allow us to build upon a wealth of experience and expertise.
the other existing members of the UK, 100, and equally will enable us to contribute, we're working on here, Councillor Chappell odd, and I met representatives from the UK 100 in a productive meeting today and we hope to have our request for membership sector accepted as a possible announcement next week, thank you.
thank you, Councillor Brett, Chief Executive, thank you, Mr. Mayor, I just wanted to place on record that we're very pleased to announce the Dr Phillip Bourne has accepted his Freedom of the Borough award and a ceremony will be held for him in the middle of April and more detail we provided to members once this has been formally arranged.
thank you, Dr Vijay.
7 Questions from members of the public
agenda item 7 is to receive questions from the members members of the public duly received in accordance with Council procedure Rule 8 report questions which is set out in a supplement pack to the agenda.
questions will be taken in the order as stipulated by Council procedure, Rule 8.2
after each question, after each answer the question I may ask a supplementary question, which must arise directly out of the original question or the reply.
this is usually to clarify something from the answer.
the total time allowed for questions and answers is 30 minutes, and any questions that are cannot be covered in the time or receive a written response.
questions from members of the public.
question 1 Mr. Robert Banks, your question please.
the household recycling and waste collections service provider of Bashir resources, councillor to contribute a maximum of 150,000 pounds towards the early lease termination costs associated with a number of the existing fleet in order to lease about 44 vehicle new vehicles on an eight year lease which will extend beyond the end of the existing service contract if this proposal is accepted, what will the council's additional annual financial liability be for the initial four years the subsequent four years after the existing contractors has expired?
an estimated cost of converting vehicles to use biofuel rather than diesel.
Councillor Everett, I believe you are charged with the reply.
thank you, Mr. Mayor, and thank you Dr Banks in response to a question and clarify this is a one off payment, this one-off payment will allow for the re, rounding and re fleecing, which will enable a more efficient use of resources to meet the changing demands of the service.
they reduce travel times, carbon emissions and vehicle downtime, improving the stability of the service.
other Members in this room will greet this news favourably and our residents equally, given that they have expressed their importance they place upon the service in their recent budget response, this payment is one off and therefore there is no additional annual final out liability attached to this proposal.
and animals are happy to say that the 44 vehicles to be leased would require night fever conversion costs to use hpa fuel.
Mr. Banks, do you have a supplementary question?
so I didn't catch show of the amount of changing into biofuel, and also I was under the impression that some of the pressure right we would not be carbon neutral by 2030 and other measures were going to have to be taken.
Councillor, ever and the car for your question about the vehicles out there was, there were no costs and no costs for those new vehicles on the new lease to use 8 fee in relation to reaching our 24 2 commitment to be carbon neutral in the work the Council does we haven't produced a new carbon reduction pathway to 20 30% nearly reaching the 2030 goal was a commitment that I hoped I know.
everyone in the Chamber holds, but to reach that goal, we have to produce a new carbon reduction pathway and that will have to take account of any decisions we make, thank you.
I believe Councillor Pond is done to respond to this.
Mr. Keeling, thank you for reading.
how much will the preparation of the suggested changes to the Local Plan cost could that be itemise by consultant or other third party, and this is against the background that all councils currently appear to be very cash strapped?
thank you Chair, and thank you Mr. Keeling for your question.
there are some specific pieces of work that are being currently undertaken, such as the stage 3 Green Belt study, which is being done by consultants, all you see that will be at a cost to the council of 57,496 pounds there is further work also being undertaken on master planning, transport and flood risk which is evolving and the final cost will depend on the complexity of this work, so no final figure is available at this stage. Nevertheless, the council has prudently set up a local plan reserve which has within it currently 851,000 pounds available to ensure the adoption of a sound local plan and future work associated with it.
thank you, Council and.
bearing in mind that so far, all the local plan has cost Tunbridge Wells Borough Council 1.2 7 million
as I understand from the minute you approve this evening.
to get to a position year yet more of the council's under-pressure budget is being allocated if you'll pardon the expression to flog a dead horse, will the council now removed shrewdly village from the local plan, was clearly preferred by the Inspector, if not, what is the further additional cost?
providing further evidence in pursuing Chudley village.
including a fourth Green Belt study and revisions to the transport modelling, especially in regard to journeys to and from Tonbridge, and the justification for the 5 Oak Green bypass.
I have to admit Mr. Killing, I probably didn't capture all of the points that you were asking about and I will ensure that you get a written reply to that supplementary in full, I would, however.
challenge that the local plan, as it is currently under examination and is in the submission stage, is not flogging a dead horse, it is a plan that everybody in this Chamber, or almost everybody in this Chamber, wishes to see being adopted by the council because it will provide us with housing and infrastructure for the future of the whole borough, but I will provide you with a fuller answer to all of the points that you've made. Thank you
the next question is from Councillor Sarah Hamilton, and I think it's Councillor Hall who will respond to it.
sorry, I'm reading this on behalf of Councillor up, Sarah Hamilton. I'm a KCC member for Tunbridge Wells, rule division, chairman of Heritage Paddock Wood, and a member of Paddock Wood Town Council in line with my letter to Tom Times of Tunbridge Wells and presentation to Cabinet, I guess I express grave concern about the Wesley Centre in Paddock Wood. It is surprising the Wesley centre faces the risk of potential disposal in current times and many are rightly very concerned is protected in the town's Neighbourhood Plan, which the Borough Council has not challenged how it would Town Council supports. The Wesley centre is retained. The Paddock Wood Neighbourhood Plan supports it is retained and so do all four of the borough councillors for Paddock Wood
there is no heritage based facility in the area with a substantial amount of housing, development needs are evolving, the value of green space for emotional health and wellbeing becomes even more important heritage and the arts deliver on that for social value now the Amelia conserve as inspiration and direction will this Council be open to constructive discussions about the potential of this valuable facility, are you willing to remove the Wesley Centre from any risk of disposal at this time or the near future?
using some words from your documents, will you explore, develop and exploit opportunities for collaborative working with bodies such as KCC and partner agencies, to build on existing relationships and and facilitate a viable opportunity to be outgoing and enabling, in line with your own aspirations and the strategic direction of both authorities, thank you Mr. Mayor.
council water concert hall. Thank you, Mr. Mayor, I believe my answer may be somewhat shorter than the question. The Wesley Centre has been deemed a surplus asset for a number of years. I will consider all the comments and representations made to Cabinet on the 9th of February and during the consultation, I believe the 100 or so responses and comments on this particular site, and I would be open to proposals to continue to utilise the site as a community building and for other parties to take it over from Tunbridge Wells Borough Council and would welcome it. Transferring to the local community provided a suitable valuation can be met. However, I would not be willing to remove it from the Asset Management Plan and would prefer instead to maintain our current schedule of assets so that it can be reviewed reviewed on its merits, along with all the other assets owned by the Council, in the best interests of residents.
thank you, Councillor Hall.
the fourth question is again from Robert Banks and will be answered by conflict ever.
how does this Council 1 consulted other councillors who have contracted obesity but house recycling and waste collection services, to ascertain their level of satisfaction with this provider and whether they have received similar request for further funding and to approach other providers of council's refuse services to determine whether any of them could provide a similar or improved service without the comments for this Council to be obligated to provide further funding to assist in assessing new vehicles?
I can just imagine thank you again and for your question this evening, Dr Banks, firstly, just to clarify your question, just to be clear that when, as a Council and obligated in this matters, as the proposal has been put forward to us, I'm going to say that after careful consideration with Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council are partners in this contract, we have collectively agreed to a proposal to put forward.
buyer through a proposal put forward by a service provider to undertake changes to our current food recycling and refuse collection rounds and history is a new fleet of collection vehicles.
having consulted with Tonbridge and Malling, we've pulled our expertise with their offices.
we have excellent knowledge of the refuse, provide a market and what else is practical.
and available in that market.
given this concrete understanding of the current refuse collection market, both partners have agreed this proposal was an opportunity to bring about a number of benefits that all residents should expect, I would add that, in the tune of openness and transparency, the were committed to this decision has gone through various meetings that place this squarely within the public realm, but in a further positive step we have published we will be publishing a leaked notice of voluntary exit say,
transparent transparency notice.
for a form of procurement notice that will do that, given how some of the market is in the waste collection world would never have been for other providers or the details of this proposal.
given that we haven't agreed existing contracts and the nature of local government comment, it would not be best practice to approach other service providers asking them if we can, if they can provide our service, thank you.
is there a supplementary question?
you haven't approached the councils at the moment because of your negotiations have I got that correct?
in terms of approaching other councils, we certainly approached Tommy John warning our partners, but in terms of a formal approach to other councils to discuss this proposal, that's not been part of the process, thank you.
8 Questions from members of the Council
agenda item 8 is to receive questions from members of the Council duly received in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 10 there are three questions pages set out on the supplement back to the agenda.
as before, the questioner may ask a supplementary question to clarify something from the answer.
first question is from Councillor McMillan, and Councillor Pond will answer it.
thank you, Councillor LB, please can an explanation be given that a local plan that was four years in the making?
agreed and permitted the traffic consultants Waco, to submit approximately 40 documents relating to traffic mitigation or keeping his cross to the inspector during his review that any opportunity for residents and parish councils to review or comment is it because the recommendation of narrowing the B 2 1 6 0 to mitigate all the extra traffic from building large estates in Paddock, Wood Horsmonden and Matfield is so clearly flawed that it would mean the local plan has to and should be properly reviewed. Thank you
thank you, Mr. Mayor, thank you, Councillor McMillan, for your question.
the local plan is a project that has been in production, obviously for a number of years, and has evolved during this time, and it was not incomplete at the time of submission to the secretary of State for examination. The vision for the local plan is, in fact I answered earlier. Is to deliver growth in new homes, jobs and supporting infrastructure that will be achieved over the plan period in a manner that respects the distinctive qualities of the entire borough. The examination of the local plan is supported with a wide ranging evidence base, some of which is prepared in an iterative way like transport evidence, which has come forward at different stages of the plan's preparation.
the indicative mitigation scheme for Kippings Cross was brought forward by the council's consultants Serco, following lengthy discussions and agreement with National Highways and Kent County Council as Highways Authority.
the specific Sweco report you make reference to is supplemental to the most recent statement of common ground between Tunbridge Wells Borough Council and National Highways, which was submitted at the same time, it is not unusual for local authorities to progress their local plans in these ways. I'll quote from the submission local plans supporting infrastructure development plan at 2.00.4 4 it says as the work progresses on the Local Plan, further discussions will take place with various infrastructure providers to firm up the requirements timescales, associated costs, etc and will be updated if necessary, alongside the examination of the Local Plan during 2021 2022. For the above reasons, this infrastructure developed delivery plan is termed a live document and, by its nature, it requires to be regularly updated to ensure that it has the most up-to-date information and requirements in it to support the growth proposed in the local plan. So that's one quote, the second quote is at 3.00.8
which states that National Highways has acknowledged the peak hour congestion issues at the 21 be 2 1 6 0 junction at Kippings Cross, and also Flimwell, which impacts back onto the back into the borough beyond its junction, with the B 2 0 7 9, the detail of the Sweco report relating to King's Cross was put forward to the Inspector,
and the council acknowledged that there had not been time to consult on the detail, this is now with the Inspector for review, and he identified at the hearing on the 12th of July 2022 that he would consider how and when to consult the public on the content of the report. However, it is clear from the Kippings Cross report that further detailed work will be required to refine the mitigation scheme as future development comes forward and that options other than the narrowing of the B 2 1 6 owner may well prove more appropriate.
Councillor McMillan, do you have a supplementary question at yesterday?
given the previous take Tory administration responsible for the direction of the Local Plan and the the the previous head of planning Steve Bourne, who's now with a major developer was risk was responsible and for for the production and reporting to the chief executive on that issue, I'm I'm slightly slightly at a loss to understand how,
a 4 million pound plan in four years in development, with traffic and infrastructure, clearly being the key issues for any major developments that we're talking about can have this ongoing issue around traffic now, Councillor LB, you know I have asked your multiple occasions to meet with you and Sweco and the TWC offices so I could understand so I and other councillors could understand how this submission happened.
and why it happens so lights, however, you refuse me that those you've refused on most occasions for us to meet with Waker.
and safe, and therefore I had I went to a follow up to see to advice, sought further advice and help, and I'm going to read back from a letter here from the clock in p.
councillor Wormington, this does not seem to be Councillor McMillan, I'm big about this does not seem to build supplementary questions arising out of the answer given by Councillor Payne. It is because it's stating about the around it about the cake Kippings prompt, would you get them until the until the question itself? I'm trying to get to give some some background context to that plea. Please hasten your journey I I wasted, I waited to hear the answer. Now I would like the opportunity to put some context
the submission contains the because this submission contained a proposal to narrow the BT to 1 6 0 6 junction, the 8 21, at King's Cross to one lane from 2, it was put forward very late to the day at nearly the end of the examination in public in order to mitigate the impact on the 8 21 or traffic arising from proposed new housing development contained in the plan.
to be candid, I am astonished that the Borough Council should have submitted such Melissa McMullan I'm going to have to stop you here, you are making a speech, you are not, I'm not giving you, if I'm sorry, my ruling is that this is not a supplementary question that I was asked lets I will get to the question that the question is when this when, when these were submitted when this was submitted,
these precipitate, can I ask who was the person who authorised the late submission of these documents, was it the cabinet was it Councillor LB, was it Steve Bourne, or was it Mr. Burt, William Benson, or was it any, and all of you?
thank you for that question.
I try and untangle one or two bits, first of all, just to be clear, the direction of the local plan was not solely the responsibility of the previous administration.
the planning policy working group has been working as a cross-party group for many more years and I have been a member and the Local Plan and its adoption has been, or the proposed adoption has been supported by members of all parties, so it is not right to assume that all of the direction of the local plan has resided elsewhere in relation to the previous head of planning and to whom he reported and that relationship that is not for me to comment on if you wish to discuss that you can talk to the Head of Paid Service.
and in relation to the fundamental question about who authorised the submission of the Sweco report, I return to the point which is very clearly stated in the infrastructure development plan, which is that it is a live document and I recognise that there is frustration that as yet that document has not yet been consulted on but the Inspector has recognised that it needs to be so and as a live document it is not unreasonable as part of the development of the Local Plan that documents are regularly updated to ensure that the most up-to-date information is available to the inspector.
and on that basis I think I've tried to answer the question, thank you.
thank you, Councillor Pat.
the next question is from Councillor Wymington, and will be answered by Councillor Hall.
thank you, Mr. Mayor, and before I get into the questionnaire just like to state that there are a couple of very small typos in the in the supplementary council, gonna be deleting a couple of words, but the the meaning of the question is exactly the same.
much of this year's budget is targeted towards addressing the inherited deficit, can you please explain the deficit, its origin and why it's important to tackle it?
thank you for your question, Councillor Wilmington, I'm sure members have drawn their own conclusions from the colliers budget briefings, but this is my own take on it. I believe the the budget deficit has risen because of several factors. Firstly, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The closure of whole sectors of our economy and employees being moved to working from home has so cruelly exposed the council's reliance on parking income and an office workers commuting into Tunbridge Wells to work and shop in the town centre. That in itself created a new structural problem. As a world returned to more hybrid ways of working offices and businesses, business units remained underutilised and unlet and popping and recovered steadily and slowly. Second, this country is over-centralised and at a local level, under-resourced, so that, unlike many other countries in Europe, the government does not delegate the necessary financial means
for local authorities to properly plan and forecast income and expenditure, the revenue support grant was reduced to 0 in 2018 and councils have continued to be denied, either the resources or the scope for raising their spending power to keep up revenue handouts from central government.
that are kept under wraps until they're announced in December on no way to support the financial position of local authorities like ours.
at double-digit inflation to the mix and you have a multilayered problem that we're now needing to confront failure to tackle this issue could lead to grave consequences for this Council.
Running our reserves down to lower and lower levels means more severe cuts to services further down the road, our capital assets beginning to fall, apart with insufficient funds to maintain them.
and pushing the council into a stall quashing our capacity for growth and development, failure to meet a clean bill of health with our auditors would be bad enough, but the worst case scenario would mean spending on all, but essential services would have to cease, that is, of course the very worst case scenario which I'm sure every Member of the Council would be keen to avoid at any cost.
gone to Wormington, do you have a supplementary question, no, that's very clear, thank you.
third question from Councillor McMillan again to be answered by Councillor Cameron, thank you, Greg Clark MP had it would Town Council and Benchley Matfield, pound Parish Council Horsemen, den Parish, Council pembrey wrapped round Brook and many others have all commented that Waco's recommendation is unworkable. KCC Highways have no solution and National Highways have stated it is not their problem. Can. The council now commit to reviewing all planning applications, taking clear note that there is no plan for traffic mitigation?
thank you, Mr. Mayor, thank you, Councillor McMillan, for your question, as has been made public, I think we all are now aware the Council is undertaking a review of evidence supporting the local plan to respond to the Inspector's initial findings letter. This review will look at the matters raised by him, including, amongst other things, highway mitigation delivery across the road network associated with these strategic housing sites. The Local Plan is supported by a high level evidence base and then, as development comes forward, more refined work on mitigations is undertaken in a much more detailed way at the application stage. Transport assessments are necessary, which look at impact or more precise mitigation planning law requires that applications for planning permission be determined in accordance with the development plan, unless material considerations indicate otherwise, planning applications are considered having regard to relevant material planning considerations, including the highways impact from a scheme. This is how officers make recommendations to the Planning Committee of which I have over, which I have no influence, and they will continue to do so.
councillor Macmillan, on supplementary, thank you.
as as we've seen with the LA recently from the Local Plan that the Right Now developers are seeing that the local plan is in some sort of.
to travel, I believe, travel, and they're starting to independently put through their new that their applications without waiting for the local plan. Given that Greg Clark has asked national highways to undertake no further work, to implement the this proposal and has written to the Planning Inspector asking him to disregard this risk but does risk up this regard, the proposed from Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, which has avoided democratic scrutiny, he's also written to the secretary of state to ask him to disregard any recommendation from the inspector if it continues to rely on this proposal from Tunbridge Wells Borough Council. I struggled to understand how Councillor McMillan, I'm sure I struggled to question the question I struggled to my question and lawful speech, I struggled and moved to the question. I struggled to understand how we as a council cannot restart to review in a more dynamic, more dynamic way the local plan, taking into account these issues around traffic
Christopher John Sloper.
I'm unsure that there was a question and I certainly am not in a position to respond on behalf of all local MP, Greg Clark.
9 Tunbridge Wells Borough Council's Plan
we move to agenda item 9.
we treat as detailed on page 35.
we have no members of the public registered to speak on this item.
so I move straight to Councillor Chamberlain.
to introduce and move the recommendations, Councillor Chappell.
thank you Mr. Mr. Ra and I'd like to move the motion and I'll introduce it after the second, thank you and your seconder.
councillor warm, thank you Councillor Wall, will you second the motion, I will second the motion, Mr. Mayor, and I would reserve my right to speak, thank you, thank you.
Councillor Chappell, thank you, Mr. Mayor, the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council plan building a better borough, looks like this one, and we asked to the recommendation this evening should actually read the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council Plan be adopted rather than refer to Full Council apologies for the mistake on there.
it basically sets out the priorities for this Council for the period 2022 to 2024, based on the focus on five priorities these are areas where we feel that as a council, we can make the biggest difference and add the most value to our borough, whether those are residents or businesses for the period for 2022 to 2024, as members know, it has gone through to Overview and Scrutiny one or three cabinet advisory boards and,
myself and members of cabinet are grateful for the feedback that we received, the two main issues that we have addressed were.
a more appropriate name, I think that was very much a fair comment we have therefore called it.
the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council Plan and the second one was to have more details and more details.
that feed into this 16 page document will be available via the website once it goes out to consultation it, this will then feed into a strategic plan for this Council, which will take us to the end of this current decade, thank you, Mr. Mayor.
thank you, Councillor Chaplin, the matter is now open for debate, as anybody wish to make a contribution.
council held on
thank you very much, Mr. Mayor, I think this document actually holds nothing of substance, it's not a council plan, it's a political pamphlet, it was even presented in the name initially of a political grouping called the borough partnership, with a political title as the Borough Partnership Plan.
it's both among actions supposedly completed of having reduced the previous administration's 2022 23 deficit, this is another example of the repeated misrepresentation of finances we've heard again during questions from Councillor Hall is projecting his own, as he liked to call it black hole of 943,000 pounds.
but how was that deficit reduction achieved, the council did not put up council car park prices until December, first, the 200,000 pounds has come in additional fees, with dimmer was well before that and had nothing to do with this administration, the deficit was closed by cash from 1.1 million pound increase in business rates and the million pound growth in interest on our investments.
put in place by the previous administration, none of that had anything to do with this administration, but follows the financial management of the previous administration are far from safe the finances, in fact, the coalition blocked the chance to save 200,000 pounds by moving to one election every four years instead of three every four years for party political reasons. As members of the coalition openly said in debate, I'm pretty sure residents to won't regard doubling the size of the cabinet and handing out well-paid, publicly funded post to coalition allies as safeguarding finances, the future actions heading under the list of safeguarding the finances, sharing this Town Hall with business to bring in an income that is not an action of this administration, it's one of the previous Conservative administration and claiming membership of a cross party working group doesn't change that fact.
the second focus, vibrant and safer towns and villages mostly consists of a list of applications for money from other organisations and it looks like the coalition is dropping the safe, a bit of safer towns and villages because, apart from putting some cameras in three car parks in Tunbridge Wells, there's no mention of public safety in this and it certainly doesn't mention our very good community safety partnership at any point.
what a put up as completed actions are merely applications to other bodies for money, basically some forms of being filled in for the government's shared prosperity fund and the rural England fund for KCC and the government's active travel fund.
the plan seeks reflected glory by associating itself with Kent county council's very successful Kent and Medway Medway business fund, which has been supporting county businesses for years, businesses which apply for grants directly to it and for whom Tunbridge Wells Borough Council has no agency, future actions reported in this report include a parish chair convention,
I think that might be a bit of a political bloodbath after the administration dismissed the representations of 11 of them on the matter of elections every four years and ignored a formal agreement to consult Paddock Wood and Southborough Town Councils on cutting their free parking.
the third focus, Mr. Mayor, is carbon reduction and here the Salix cash more than a million pounds which was got by the previous administration for the Weald Sports Centre is not credited to the previous administration and is now made to look like something the coalition did in affordable housing and social renting there is a proposal to develop an empty property strategy when KCC already has an award-winning strategy called no use empty, it's not clear if the council intends to engage with that or to duplicate other people's efforts to start its own strategy.
lastly, comes a focus on digital access, transparency and local democracy, and that does sound hollow, Mr. Mayor, when they failed to consult on car park charges until huge protest, with thousands of people signing five different petitions force them to issue a consultation late in the day, and it was only after Conservatives called a special Council meeting on a conservative motion that the council consulted on all-out elections after the baroque boundary commission report on ward boundaries. When it came back with this to the council committed to this Council committed to openness and democracy and consultation with 64% of surveyed residents, more than a thousand of them saying we should have election for every four years. You said no
19 if you said no, mostly Liberal Democrats, and that wasn't a majority of this Council, it ignored 11 parish councils and it had spoken against and ignored the revered residents. How can anyone believe the commitment to transparency and local democracy in this so-called plan? This plan, for the borough, is nothing of the sort? It's a political document, as I said, it contains no proposals of substance. Its supposed successes are the achievements and programmes of others, and it offers our residents nothing more than another year of coalition, non delivery by the one that we've had since they came to office in May. Thank you, Mr. Mayor,
thank you, Councillor Holden.
Councillor Dr Hall,
thank you very much, Mr. Mayor, yes, I'm I'm rather sadly disappointed at a gaping black hole in the five priorities for Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, let me add that this is not the first time that I have raised this issue as I recall having to raise it with Councillor Scott a couple of years ago there is no recognition, not even in a footnote. to the heritage that is found everywhere in the borough we are richly endowed, much more so than in other council areas that I have lived in hitherto. The plan refers to vibrant towns and villages and recognises vibrancy equates with flourishing businesses, but the most vital part of the appeal of Royal Tunbridge Wells and Cranbrook and the rural areas is that they have innumerable listed buildings, many Grade 1 listed, as well as protected landscapes. Indeed, in Royal Tunbridge Wells itself, we have a world heritage site, known as the Pantiles
I gathered the boroughs population is about a hundred thousand, I assume, half of that amount, I may be wrong, but I assume that about half of that amount our children and babies and of the 50,000 left, as many as at least 80 18,000 are members of the National Trust.
it is clear from this that our residents
are really committed to heritage and practise what they preach.
I think the plan ought to show our residents that we share their recognition, that heritage is what determines the character of the borough.
so please find a place to mention this wonderful legacy that we have inherited and wish to pass on intact, and that needs it needs to be recognised, conserved and enhanced, thank you.
thank you, Councillor Dr Hall.
thank you, Councillor Ellis becomes mayor in response to Councillor Holland jibe and connections opposed wasteful, rapid elections, I think it's time to remind members of profit scheme, the previous administration, how, without the election, thirds, is very likely borrowed in special measures by now,
on less than council, 2018 pass this due to the previous administration's projects and the new town hall of theatre against local opposition, the capital's northern voice residents, despite spiralling costs.
in all aspects, residents were not put, there'll be no possibility of them, stopping the plans and, judging by the massive overspends or the m, got the borough being well over 100 billion debt. By now, as it is, the cost of exhortations and plans, will over 10 billion pounds would have funded well over 200 years of elections in thirds. So Councillor Holden Unit Conservative, no position to lecture anyone about wasting money. The borough partnership has had to make some tough decisions in order to correct previous errors made. We prepared to face up to reality as a pitiful state finances left with a stepped administration, and we were prepared to focus on the Council's effort to sit residents and are suffering from the current cost of living crisis. Some feel remind you. There would not need to do GPs spending 600,000 pounds per annum, subsidising theatre production
councillor pound, thank you Mr. Mayor, I just wanted to respond really to Councillor Dr Hall's comments about heritage and just to assure her and others, both here and listening.
that heritage is absolutely baked into each of the neighborhood development plans, which are both extant currently and emerging across the borough, it is truly at the centre of the Royal Tunbridge Wells town centre development plan, and, in fact I sense the way in which that plan is developing is that heritage really is the pivotal point upon which everything else is then,
emerging, it's greatly respected in our conservation are area assessments, and it also was within the submission local plan, I think what is lacking, perhaps is that sort of sense of a central place where heritage is being defended.
and I do recognise that there is a sort of a piecemeal approach to it, but it is covered and it is respected, and it is recognised across the borough
thank you, Councillor Parker.
thank you, Mr. Mayor, and the document Building a better thorough contained in the the future events where the wants to install CCTV into the car parks and electric vehicle charging points, however, it seems to be in conflict with the Asset Management Plan where you are planning to install these electric vehicle charging points and the CCTV's lease car parks are listed for in the Asset Manager Planning 23 24 there is now a possible conflict that obviously we're trying to save taxpayers' money, and we should be spending these installations going forward in the borough plan should actually be listed here, considering that it's possible that you may well be disposing of them going forward.
thank you, Councillor Roberts.
speaking that it's back to warm then Chapel.
councillor Councillor Chris Hall, thank you Mr. Mayor, I just wanted to pick over the point earlier made by Councillor Holden around the
closing of the deficit.
it's certainly true that we have an excellent finance team and, with some superb treasury management, they have managed to close some of that deficit with the work that they've done, but it wouldn't be true to say that's the only reason and since the in-year budgetary review was implemented on the 1st of December in only two months we've seen an uplift of 140,000 pounds in car parking revenue in only just two months, so I would argue that it is not as simple as that and that the actions we have taken an early on to address the deficit are being effective and are starting to deliver results.
if there are no other speakers, I shall move to the seconder Councillor, warm to now use up a reserve right.
thank you, Mr. Mayor, OK, so this town or Tunbridge Wells. Our plan is or is, or is a medium term short to medium term document. Now what we look for as a cabinet when we presented it and to overview and scrutiny committee to the various cabinet advisory boards would be some positive feedback, some some constructive criticism, criticism that we could use to improve the plan. Unfortunately, what we got from Councillor Holden is a list of diatribe political attacks all on the plan itself. So there's not a lot of that. That's actually really useful, because you're just tearing holes in it, unlike Councillor Dr Hall, who's made some very positive comments about heritage and how important it is and central to our borough if that had come to us a bit sooner, we could have incorporated it in the plan
what I'd like to say is that this is just a short term plan. We, we recognise that it may be lacking some detail and we have to work on that, but also the when what we need is a long term corporate plan for the council and for the borough a strategic plan for longer term than one or two years. So we are starting that process this summer by organising a councillor convention, the last of which was held in 2019 by the previous administration. Unfortunately, that work to do to develop a new corporate plan, a five-year plan for the borough, was never progressed, so now we are without a plan, so we've had to do the short term medium interim plan before we can progress a new Corporate Plan for the borough, so I would like to commit this
Tunbridge Wells Borough Council plan to the council and ask for your support in in adopting it for this year until 2024, thank you, Mr. Mayor, thank you, Councillor Ball.
constant trouble on, thank you, Mr. Mayor, and thank you for the comments this evening and for the Borough Partnership Councillor Holden has been in administration at Tunbridge Wells Borough Council for 200 and 81 days today we cannot in that plan produce a corporate plan in that timeframe, this, as I said earlier, is key projects that we think while we develop the corporate plan which will take us to the next the end of this decade.
what will will keep us going while we produce that plan will be informed on on on data so that we can build a better borough, so it is a work we can progress, I'm proud that, as my predecessor Councillor Dorling's has previously said, I'm Plan proud that the Town Hall is being repurposed and had cross-party support and I think it was a great success, it is a great success and I can tell you from meeting various organisations across the town.
with a chief executive that people are very excited about the possibilities that that will bring, so this administration is very committed to making sure that project is delivered.
we have completed a lot of actions in the last 281 days, but these things, as you know, take time, as yourself have been a member on three different councils, things do not.
happen overnight and the empty homes strategy, of course we want, we will look at that, Councillor Rogers, your point about CCTV, and EV charging points, and car parks. I noted that Cabinet Advisory Board I can reassure you that we will look at that very carefully and Councillor Hall heritage.
I think it's summed up in towns and villages we are proud of, and that means that we have to celebrate and champion the architecture and its heritage, thank you, Mr. Mayor.
thank you, Councillor Chaplin.
Councillor Holden has requested a recorded vote.
the motion before us is to adopt the Tunbridge Wells Borough councils' plan, and I would ask the Chief Executive to proceed with the reported that thank you, Mr. Mayor, so the recommendation is to adopt the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council plan as set out at Appendix A
when I call your name, can you please indicate whether you are for that recommendation against that recommendation or whether you wish to abstain, Councillor Hayward for Councillor Everett's?
for Councillor pounds for Councillor Hall or Councillor Chappell for Councillor Waun or Councillor Fitzsimons for Councillor Rutland.
councillor Barris for Councillor Brice.
for Councillor Ellis for Councillor, Funnell, 4, Councillor Page 4, Councillor Lidstone for Councillor Morton.
4 Councillor Poyle 4 Councillor Wormington, 4, Councillor Knight 4, Councillor McMillan or Councillor Pope 4, Councillor Sankey 4, Councillor Wakeman, 4, Councillor Willis, Councillor Bridger, Alan or Councillor Hill
councillor Moon for Councillor Rogers for Councillor Dr Hall, Councillor Rankin Councillor.
Councillor Atkins for Councillor Bailey, abstain
councillor Hickey, for Councillor Allen, against Councillor Attwood,
again, Councillor Barrington, King.
against Councillor Dowling, against Councillor fairweather, against Councillor good ship
against Councillor Holden against Councillor March against Councillor Palmer again.
Councillor Roberts against Councillor White, against Councillor Patterson, for Councillor Bland against
thank you, Mr. Mayor, the votes cast were as follows 32 votes for 12 votes against and one abstention, so the motion is carried.
thank you, Chief Executive.
10 Budget 2023/24 and Medium Term Financial Strategy
agenda Item 10.
his budget and medium term financial strategy 2023 2024 the report begins on page 52 of our agenda.
I am proposing that we agree the seven recommendations on block set out on pages 52 to 53.
speeches are normally limited to 10 minutes, however, on the budget I will exercise my discretion under Council Procedure Rule 13 11 4, to allow the leader of each political party more than 10 minutes if they so need.
any vote on the budget must be a recorded vote.
we have one public speaker on this item who will be invited to speak once the motion is moved and seconded.
I am going to ask Councillor Hall to move the item and then Councillor Hayward as I understand it to second it.
thank you, Mr. Mayor, I'm happy to move the agenda item on the budget and Councillor Hayward second.
thank you, my yes, I'm happy to second and I reserve my right to speak, thank you, thank you.
Mr. Robert Banks.
thank you, Mr. Mayor, Councillors.
excuse me, the draft budget consultation was presented to the finance and governance CIB earlier this year. Mr. Connor gave a verbal summary of the results. The 11 160 replies, he said that they were statistically significant, which presumably means that the respondent's views accurately reflected those of the other borough residents. There is, however, no record in the minutes of any discussion relating to this consultation. The results were formally presented at subsequent Cabinet meeting, the three main areas where the respondents wish to reduce the budget. So the 11 listed discretionary services
the band D were contrary to those proposed by the council, the Amelia Scott property and development and the Assembly, the respondents made reductions in the budgets of all but two of the other eight areas, and reallocate them to increase in the funding for recreation and climate and climate change initiatives.
as other respondents were thanked for their contribution, the following statement was subsequently posted on the council's website, the insights gathered from this consultation were included in the budget report considered by Cabinet and would go forward for approval to the full Council, although not requested to comment on the proposed budgets for the statutory services response Rasta ranked the three most important, not surprisingly rubbish and recycling as First Street cleaning was third, however, the reasons for these choices were not requested.
it is now proposed to increase the budget and the contracts for these two services.
and although the management of contracts and contractors is rated as prior to severe on the strategic risk register, it appears that today no other service providers have been approached, the executive summary for this agenda item is the same as those for the previously discussed meetings and states that the views of the public should be used to informed the significant changes to the range of services that can be afforded, furthermore, one of the recommendations given to all three meetings,
namely that the Committees consider the response since to the budget consultation to date, these have been noted, but none of the results obtained from the consultation have been discussed or have resulted in any changes to the proposed budget, the finding in allegations of the allocation of the budget for the discretionary services provided by the residents was significantly different to the one proposed by Cabinet must surely warrant serious consideration.
it seems perverse to have excluded the residents from the discussion about the proposal, rubbish and recycling, as the new service proposal will have implications for at least eight years, not to banks.
your three minutes have elapsed, I have.
two more sentences.
speak very quickly, while Mankley, having received a record-breaking number of responses, this Council has an obligation to carefully consider the views expressed by over 11 100. Burgh residents not to do this will reinforce the view that this was merely a tick-box exercise rather than a genuine attempt to engage with the BOA residents. Thank you for your attention.
Councillor Hall, can I ask you to introduce the item?
thank you, Mr. Mayor, and thank you to Mr. Banks for your comments and your feedback on the budget consultation, which I can assure you I do indeed take very seriously, hopefully my statement to come will answer some, if not all, of your questions and comments so.
before I touch on the details of the budget for 2023 to 24, I just like to thank Lee Collier, Jane Fineman, David Candlin and Ian Hurst and the staff for all their efforts during the budget setting cycle this year.
each brings new challenges and they've brought all their years of experience and wisdom to bear on what has been a very difficult 12 months for the country since we last met here to debate the 22 23 budget, I would also like to thank the council leader Ben Shepherd, members of cabinet and councillors for their support and guidance on the budget as well as members of the public who completed our budget survey in January.
finally, I would like to acknowledge my predecessor, Councillor Hickey, whose analysis of prior budgets laid the groundwork for the in year budget review and was the starting point for the budget I am putting before the council this evening, so now, on to the item in question, the budget for 2023 to 24 has been set during a turbulent time for local government finance.
we find ourselves at a crossroads where previous assumptions about the economy, income and expenditure are no longer so safe and predictable.
and where new ways of managing our finances have had to be called upon during this current financial year, local authorities throughout Kent have been forced to fight face ever widening gap between income and expenditure in the short to medium term external forces have created a hugely uncertain environment in which to run council services the war in Ukraine and the immediate impact on energy costs, rampant inflation of over 10% labour market shortages and erratic and unpredictable revenue support from central government.
have made the task of running business as usual, incredibly challenging, it has also required new thinking and new approaches.
upon taking control of the council in May, the BHA partnership immediately set to work on reducing the budget deficit set by the previous administration for the financial year 22 23, as a reminder that budget called upon 944,000 pounds from reserves to bridge the funding gap.
much has been made of the deficit set by the previous administration, which I won't spend too much time on here, but it's important for context around some of the decisions taken since it was presented against the backdrop of another year of crisis set during the years of the coronavirus pandemic, the approach set by the previous administration was to draw from reserves and wait and see if parking revenue and the recovery of the local economy
would balance the budget or response to that budget at the time, was to point out the risks of this approach. As members of the then opposition, we saw the immediate risks to the Council of leaving a structural deficit in the finances and managed, to quote Councillor Hickey at full Council in last year's budget debate. The predicted losses in the mid-term financial strategy are concerning and appear to have no viable associated mitigation plan.
the exact same words he gave at the 2021 budget debate the year before.
it is, for that reason, the new BHA partnership made safeguarding the council's finances, one of our focus in five priorities we chose not to wait and see prior to taking up the post my predecessor, Councillor Hickey and Cabinet met with our chief financial officer to take a bold step of holding an in year budget review to tackle the inherited deficit, the 22 23 and address the following year's budget for 23 24 raising fees and charges including car parking fees which had not been uplifted since 2070 was a necessary first measure to address the deficit and protect council services.
the in-year budget review was implemented on the 1st of December and is projected to uplift revenues by 600,000 pounds in the next financial year as part of that projected uplift, the Council has delivered a Community support Fund of 100,000 pounds of grants to help the neediest in our communities all delivered in time for winter.
the setting of the budget for 23 24 has benefited from this and the recovery of car parking income to near pre pandemic levels. The full picture of the 23 24 will not be available until the publication of the Q4 performance report, but volumes of tickets sold do not appear to have been impacted by the increase in charges. As a result, the inherited deficit of 944,000 is expected to be reduced. Further public in the budget consultation support this approach, preferring to raise fees and charges if necessary, to protect services. They also embrace the approach of all previous administrations that the user should pay
the additional revenues from car parking charges will raise more revenue in the coming financial year and this Council will continue to explore additional income streams from which to fund essential services.
the Council's other fees and charges for services over which we have control Rob lifted by an average of 5.9% in November, this was more than in previous years to mitigate some of the effects of inflation, no increase can ever realistically be expected to keep up with inflation of 10%, but we have set the new fees with an eye on covering costs rather than increasing income, as we are aware of pricing sensitivity of some of our services to members members of the public especially when incomes are being squeezed so hard.
by quarter two after some excellent treasury, management by our finance team are expected, return on the Council's investments led to an additional 750,000 pounds in income.
the recurring impact of fixing investments during the financial turmoil caused by the government's mini budget and the decision of the Bank of England to raise interest rates has also led to a further 985,000 pounds of income than originally forecast.
however, we can't rely on the Conservative party to produce a kamikaze prime minister every year.
although I have to say that doing the damned best.
despite this, the impact of inflation in the economy has wiped out most of these gains with energy costs of the council doubling over the financial year to 300,000 pounds costs. The council of contract indexation and additional payments to maintain statutory services driven by inflation have equated to 1.2 9 million pounds revenue. Support from central government remains sporadic and certain and overly centralised the local government finance announcements in December gave no further core funding support to Tunbridge Wells than previous years. The future of the new homes bonus is still unclear, our contribution was significantly reduced but then uplifted by a one-off minimum support grant to ensure every council has at least a 3% increase in spending power. Our request for councils to be able to raise more revenue through council tax also fell on deaf ears, with only a 1% increase in the cap from 2 to 3%
councils are being forced to fight inflation with their hands tied behind their backs, it looks very much like a deliberate strategy by Westminster to starve local government by stealth so that any cuts to services will fall and local councils will be forced to take the decisions that this government dare not take, therefore the proposal for council tax to increase by 2.95% from the 1st of April is necessary to combat the inflation,
is having on our budget just over 50% of the public in the consultation support this approach and believe this Council delivers good value for money.
on taking over the position from my predecessor in August, my priorities have been threefold to address the structural deficit and protect our council services by one, exploring new revenue streams and raising extra revenues where possible.
to by finding efficiencies within the budget and delivering a savings plan.
3, by extracting more value from assets and rationalising those that are no longer in the interest of the public or the council to maintain.
the first of those priorities has been achieved and will continue to be worked on into the next financial year.
second, concerning savings is something that Cabinet has been actively working on since the autumn of last year, which I'm confident will be ready to finalise and communicate later in the summer, this is not a quick fix, as the council already operates from a very lean position.
however, we are taking firm action to address the revenue gap and I am confident we will have a credible savings plan to present to our auditors in due course, and thirdly, after no capital receipts in the last two years, I've got the property asset oversight panel moving once again to review the assets on the Asset Management Plan proposed to members this evening.
the car parking strategy will also be delivered by the council to inform those decisions, having been commissioned by my Cabinet colleague Councillor Rutland, to identify the most cost-effective way to manage the Council's key capital assets and significant expenditure to maintain them over the next 10 years.
May I remind Members that on taking control of the council in May, the projected budget deficit for 23 24 stood at 2.00.6 4 million pounds was down to 1.4 million in December and now stands at 943,000 pounds to be drawn from reserves. We have also reduced the deficit inherited from the last administration from 944,000 to 700 and 2000, and hope to see this for further safeguarding the Council's Féin's finances is on track but given the situation the BHA partnership inherited, it was always going to take more than one year in the budget setting cycle we have raised revenues while supporting the most vulnerable in our communities.
protected services during a cost of living crisis delivered a 100,000 pound community support fund, and if residents give the bar partnership a second year, we will implement the savings plan, make good on our asset management plan in the interests of the taxpayer, implement a local plan laying the foundations for expanding our tax base and providing genuinely affordable homes and the infrastructure for people from all backgrounds and incomes to live and work here continue to inspire confidence that Tunbridge Wells and its surrounding areas are a great place to live, to work and to do business.
continue to leverage the benefits of the digital revolution through our residents' account and a digital first strategy, we are on the right path.
and I urge members to back the budget and endorse the positive trajectory this Council is now taking, thank you.
thank you, Councillor Hall.
Councillor Dorling's, would you like to speak now, thank you, Mr. Mayor.
I will open by agreeing with them most of the comments made by Chris Hall about local authority financing in the UK it is a difficult place to be.
the answers are Rob Washington's question how much of this year's budget is targeted towards addressing the inherited deficit is now because there is no inherited deficit, this is made clear in the report on quarter 3 prepared for next week's finance and governance Cabinet Advisory Board, which shows that the increased revenue generated in the current year from car park usage and determine an additional investment income and underspending significantly on staff costs or more than fund the 944 budget deficit indeed the report to the Finance and Gavin Cab forecast a surplus of 350,000 pounds to transfer to reserves.
drawing from reserves to balance revenue expenditure is a last resort and this has not been necessary for Tunbridge Wells Borough Council in the nine years I've been on this Council, including during the Covid lockdowns, when the council was running monthly, not annual deficits of approaching a million pounds.
for much of the current financial year, some members of the coalition groups seem to have enjoyed describing the council's financial positions as a shambles and a financial black hole.
that has never been true, and nor do I think it has been helpful to the Council's excellent finance department who manage the Council's finances so well.
that is evidenced by 13 consecutive years of unqualified audits, but I am grateful to Lee Collier and Jayne Feynman for their leadership of the council's finance department.
all local authorities are struggling financially, but Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, the government only compensated, as for around 70% of the income lost during the pandemic pandemic.
but we are nevertheless in a stronger financial position than most other authorities for the 31st of March 2022, the council had assets of 132 million usable reserves are 24 million and no borrowings.
the current year has seen an increase in investment income to 1.150 million pounds and that certainly does not come from a black hole.
in February 2022.
I presented what I considered to be a prudent budget, intending to see how the Council's income recovered from the Covid pandemic and at what level income might plateau before considering what action needed to be taken.
that budget was prepared at a time when there was every possibility of a further Covid lockdown from the Omicron variant and when there were suggestions of having negative interest rates.
we should all be thankful that things have worked out rather better than was prudently forecast in February 2022.
the difference between the deficit in the revenue budget for 2022 23 of 944,000 pounds and the deficit in the budget this year for 943,000 pounds is not just a thousand pounds.
in the current financial year, there has been a strong recovery in income from car parking that is increase usage, not to be confused with the fee increases, which only took place from December, but it is still not back to pre pandemic levels.
in April 2022, the Amelia Scott was opened, with the expectation this would increase footfall at the top end of Royal Tunbridge Wells, it has, by attracting an average of around 900 visitors a day.
we now know that we can't part revenue exceeding the budget forecast with increased investment income resulting from interest rates returning to more normal levels.
and staff costs savings there will not be a deficit, but a surplus this year of around 350,000 pounds.
the coalition's contribution to this has been to increase fees to residents for council services during it cost of living crisis, normal practice would be to review fees and charges in the autumn, consult on introducing this from the 1st of April.
the coalition raised car park fees, my group did not support increasing cop-out fees.
the coalition also increased the cost of the cabinet by 33,000 pounds and put 100,000 into a one-off community support fund.
the 943,000 pounds shortfall being budgeted for 23 24 stems fro expenditure rising more sharply than income.
energy costs have doubled, staff costs arising contracting flatus are ratcheting up and of course there is the continuing increased cost of the expanded cabinet.
several will wait and see budget last year, the council now has a more structural deficit and the co coalition has yet to formulate any any plans on how to address that.
the shortfall becomes even more apparent in the outline years when the Council's major contracts are due for renewal, there is nothing new in looking ahead at the major issues and seeing how these impact on the council's finances in the outline years in the last decade we have had to plan for the stepped reduction from 5 million to 0 in the revenue support grant which the Council used to receive from government.
we're now in a time of increasing cost, and the renewal of major contracts will cause the shortfall to grow in the outline years that was all identified in the budget presented last year.
what is new is the coalition do not seem to have progressed any ideas of what to do about it.
this time last year, the co-working plans for the Town Hall are being agreed, we developed these plans with cross cross-party working and unanimous full council support, with income from the co-working partner and the sharing of the running costs of the Town Hall, these plans would have included improve the council's financial position by half a million pounds a year.
but you are now months behind the timetable working to, so the direct net benefit to the council has been delayed, also delayed or will be the wider economic benefits from the town resulting from the increased number of people working from the town hall that is disappointing, the co-working arrangements with our chosen partner Town Square should have been given every priority.
seemingly, you have also not developed any further plans for boosting income from growing the economy, indeed the reverse increasing carpet fees is effectively a tax on people coming to World Tunbridge Wells.
and businesses and the high street need footfall to prosper, to prosper in Paddock, Wood and Southborough the coalition does not consider it necessary to to consult the town councils about the impact of their proposals for car parking fee increases.
and how this might impact on businesses there.
with a council permit permitted to retain 50% of new business rates, a focus on businesses and the wider economy is really important.
in the current year, not mentioned by Chris Hall, 1.1 million from new business rates will have been generated, which the council can use to help finance capital projects, measures to help grow the local economy need to be continually considered.
and the budget deficit, the any idea the coalition seems to have to address this is to sell property assets, similarly, without considering alternative uses for car parks if these are underused.
I just think it's extraordinary that you should identify car parks as being surplus before developing a revised car park strategy.
on reducing carbon emissions, the works on the Town Hall roof windows to improve the energy efficiency of the building were almost complete before the change of leadership at the Council.
SALIX funding had also been secured for works to improve the efficiency of the Weald Sports Centre and the Dépôt, these projects are still not underway and except for the car park club, I've yet to learn about further carbon reduction plans.
you're presenting a deficit budget but have outlined no plans to address the deficit for 23 24 financial year or the outline years as I've outlined some matters underway last May seem to have been allowed to get stuck in the slow lane.
and it seems a month since last May have been wasted.
in the absence of plans to address the budget shortfall for 23 24 and the outline years, the Conservative Group will not be supporting the budget.
thank you, Councillor Dunn.
we will say goodbye to Councillor home.
Councillor Pond, would you like to speak on behalf of your?
thank you, Mr. Mayor.
I am certainly not going to use 10 minutes or anything like it, you'll be be glad to hear, I think all I wanted to say and I've only written notes as Councillor Dorling's was speaking, it's interesting, I think, to note that there is no denying that we are financially challenged as a council and that has been recognised both by the current portfolio holder for finance and by the previous Leader of this administration.
but I have to say that when he says that the Conservative group will not support this budget as members of the Conservative Group on this Council, as I presume that you support the government's determination to starve local government of inadequate funding, you are part of the same group, you are part of the same party that is denying this Council the opportunity.
to adequately provide services to its residents by starving it of funding, if you don't have support your government, then I think that what you should be doing is, rather than criticising and just running off a litany of things that we seemingly have failed to do would be to contribute a little bit more positively.
and with the administration on how we are going to deliver services to this borough, that is not what Councillor Dorling's has suggested this evening.
I wrote down here, you know you say that we have no ideas, what are yours, every opposition group has the opportunity to provide an alternative budget, we've heard nothing, I literally haven't had a single suggestions evening from the Conservative Group about how they could work positively with this administration to provide services to our residents and I think that that is an absolute travesty.
I joined the council three years ago or, for nearly four years ago, now feels much longer.
and I arrived with what I perceived to be a strategic deficit. It wasn't a structural deficit, although we now recognise that that is the case, there was a strategic deficit. When I arrived, there were no meaningful new sources of income. The we'd spent 10.8 million pounds on the Calverley Square project on RIBA stage 1 to 4, that project had been proposed, a shift from 77 million to 90 million to 108 million. Let's imagine what it might be now in 2023, if we'd gone ahead, there was an overspend in that time on the Amelia, there were no increases in charges in line with inflation. Therefore, we were not able to claw back some of the money that we rightly should have done. There was no local plan, there's no corporate plan
and there was a million pounds of structural deficit.
and yet the remaining rump of that administration, the 12 of you who now sit sit in this Council.
do you want to challenge the budget which you're trying to do you want to slow down and what we're trying to do, slow down the draw on reserves? We're trying to generate new sources of income. We're actually trying to do the right thing for residents by providing them with a community support fund which even this evening you've criticised it, is you haven't provided anything positive, all you're doing is sitting on the sidelines complaining that we're not doing it right. I think that this Council should behave differently, and I think that what you've said this evening is an absolute nonsense
thank you, Councillor Pat.
Councillor Councillor Hayward and I have nothing to add as I'm seconding the motion, thank you, sir.
the matter is now open for debate.
thank you, Mr. Mayor, as an independent councillor, I tend to leave this thing at Mr. McCann I can I complain about behaviour of certain councillors to my who, I think one of them extraordinarily, is going to be our mayor and a couple of years' time people really should keep quiet while other people are speaking if I could make that point.
what I was going to say, though, is as an Independent Councillor, trying to make up my own mind about budgets and not just following the party line, I have to say it's very frustrating the
enormous changes that we see in the forecast budget deficit.
the forecast budget deficit, even in the in the January Finance Cabinet Advisory Board for this year, was almost a million pounds.
parking charges in my own ward have been pushed up by up to 75% in December because of the financial crisis that the council supposedly was in, we've had bickering about the financial crisis, probably for about nine or 10 months, which I'm sure has been extra extremely tedious for local residents.
and yet, with with the paperwork for the Finance Cabinet Advisory Board, I think it's next week, all of a sudden, we've got a surplus for this year of 350,000 pounds.
within the space of two or three weeks, we seem to have found 1.3 million pounds.
so it really is very difficult to make any decisions about whether to support budgets if there really isn't any any credibility in our financial forecasts, I thought I'd make that point, thank you.
thank you, Councillor Bailey.
thank you ma am.
I would intend to make a speech here, but, listening to Councillor Gordon's response, it sounds like you're defying gravity here.
I looked back at the budget 22 23 and I just read out a few things here, major budget variances budget gap to funded from reserves 944,000 pounds we then look at the strategy movement of longer term.
and looking at the reserves.
20 31st March 2022 18 18.505 million next year, 13.970 million then 11 1,000,000,100 2000 then 10,000,300 46,000 then 9.615 million.
there is a disproportionate problem with local government finance and until we bit that, and it's also central government's fault largely to do this, we can't resolve these problems and would love to actually hear some support and deserves the side in order to transport this budget, so that's one thing to say thank you.
thank you, Councillor Ellis.
if there are no other speakers.
thank you, Mr. Mayor, I've got a confession for full Council, Mr. Mayor, in the last 281 days, I've developed a kind of affinity with Margaret Thatcher.
in terms of my sleeping habits, I'm told that the Iron Lady spent for five hours a night sleeping when I can assure you that over the last 200 and 81 days, the council's finances have given me some pretty sleepless nights, and if you go into the leader's office the one thing that is on the board on the whiteboard on the office web,
or is the deficit projections that we inherited as an administration on the 25th of May last year and there was a deficit last for this current financial year 22 23 of 940,000 pounds, which was to be plugged by reserves that is the situation my latest understanding is that will be reduced by to 700 and 2000 as Chris's haul as mentioned in his speech.
and the budget for the 23 24 financial year on the board in the leader's office stood at 2.00.6 4 9 million pounds I know the figures off by heart.
Mr. Mayor, it is now projected to be 943,000 pounds. Lots of things have happened, but I'm proud that this administration hasn't waited and see we are not deficit deniers, there is a problem with council finances. This administration, with Councillor Hickey's Christmas, acknowledge with Chris as cabinet member for performance and Finance is taking urgent and decisive action over the deficit. The deficit for the current coming year is 943,000 pounds down from 2.6 for 9 million pounds. We are doing our things in terms of criticising the administration for not having a savings plan
we've been in control after 24 years of Conservative rule in power for 281 days, it would be utterly irresponsible to come in with a slash and burn approach and show that we're macho making big changes for the sake of it and sacrifice public services that residents come to count on rely on, tell us they value in the budget consultation.
as I said in my acceptance speech in May.
we will be considered, we will approach it methodology qly and we will try our best to balance the books, but we will take our time and, as Chris said in his speech, it does take more than one year, I would like to see a more constructive approach from the opposition and I would welcome some thoughts going forward about how we solve this.
but we are doing our best and I urge all Councillors to support Chris's budget tonight, let's safeguard the finances so we can deliver the other focus on five for the good of our borough, thank you, Mr. Mayor, thank you.
Councillor Sankey, thank you, Mr. Mayor, I think I said this last year, but the slightly different way.
before, almost as long as I can remember, our chief executive has been coming to business lunches and networking events and presenting a and outlook of the financials here at the council saying lately we spend more money than we get in.
and finally, we now have a budget, that's an administration that is addressing that, and I'm very grateful to Councillor Hall and Councillor Key for instigating that and I support this budget and I thank you.
thank you, Council, thank you.
Councillor Liz Ashton.
correct correct, Mr. Mayor.
I'm not a financial expert, so this is my an interpretation of Councillor Dorling's comments around there actually being a surplus to the council this financial year as a result of unexpected additional income investment income.
that he referred to.
I and by which you know I take the the, he is claiming a balanced budget.
that was handed over to this administration.
I'd just like to make the point that you can't include an anticipated income without including an anticipated expenditure, and I've just had a look at the financing cabinet and advisory board agenda and is just in energy costs alone 820,000.
excuse me if I've miscalculated that, but across two quarters an additional 820,000 to the council in expenditure on energy, so just to make a point, you can't include unanticipated income without including an anticipated expenditure, and the reality is that we aren't in a healthy financial position this financial thank you.
thank you constantly.
I encourage other Members to contribute before we we move to the back to the proposer and seconder.
let us move to the seconder of the motion.
right to Buy reserved by Councillor Hayward that I think that you, thank you, Mr. Mayor, I think most of the points I was going to to make have been said just responding to Dr Banks, the observations about the budget consultation it was a much greater response than the council has ever had before in any of these things and in fact,
Mr. Collier points out that the
that statistically, it could be considered significant, and I can assure you that the results of that survey are considered significant by us and are certainly not going to be ignored or make that point, so it's a big advance in transparency that the residents are now willing to engage, and I think that that was very positive. Obviously we've had the fantasy deficit denying
car park fees hadn't risen since 2017, so in terms of inflation and Councillor Bale is absolutely right might have gone up by all massive numbers, but I think it had stayed very.
it inordinately low for many years, there's an obsession with the numbers in the cabinet, I would just suggest that having the lowest number in cabinet.
didn't help with saving 12 million odd, so I don't think we'll be taking any lessons in cabinet numbers from the previous administration also add.
or more seriously, the point was made that property the property assets are going to be sold now, this is a figment of somebody's imagination in this room and and this misinformation has gone virally public.
there is absolutely no way that car parks are going to be sold without a strategy without the plan which we got in in motion at the moment, so there is a car park strategy we're working on at no point has anybody decided to sell a car park so all this stuff that's going round social media is is absolute nonsense, you see headlines like sell off that fantastic clickbait lovely I mean the local press love clickbait it's not true, it's just not true, nothing is being sold without proper.
consultation and assure you that.
to define financial points, I've got absolutely nothing to add to what's already been said, that the I think the point that has been made is that the previous administration, like us we couldn't possibly be sure, and I think it was Councillor Lidstone that said you can't tell what's coming and what's not coming.
so it's a very difficult thing, but I think the point was made very early on that wait and see wasn't the right way to go forward and we haven't looked at it as a wait and see and so yes we've had surprise income, we've also had some surprise costs so that side of things I'm afraid it's the way the world crumbles, so I think we've got the right approach if we're not waiting and seeing what's happening we're getting on with it and I would ask you all to support this budget. Thank you.
thank you, Councillor Hayward and now Councillor Hall, if you would like to run up.
finish us off.
I have nothing further to add, Mr. Mas I'd like to move to a vocally.
this is bound to be a recorded vote.
the motion before us is to
adopt the budget and medium term financial strategy.
I will ask the Chief Executive to conduct the recorded that please, thank you, Mr. Mayor, so just to be clear, we're voting on all seven of the recommendations set out on pages 52 and 53, and when I can call out your name, if you could please indicate whether you are for those recommendations against or whether you wish to abstain, Councillor Hayward,
for Councillor Everett for Councillor pound for Councillor Hall, 4, Councillor Shabalala, for Councillor Waun.
for Councillor Fitzsimmons for Councillor Rutland, Councillor Barris for Councillor Brice, 4 Councillor Ellis 4, Councillor Funnell, 4, Councillor Page for Councillor Lidstone, 4, Councillor Morton, 4, Councillor Poyle 4 Councillor Wellington for Councillor Knight, 4, Councillor McMillan, 4 Councillor Pope
for Councillor Sankey for Councillor Wakeman,
Councillor Willis, Councillor Bridger, Alan for Councillor Hill Councillor Moon, for Councillor Rogers for Councillor Atkins, 4 Councillor Dr hall for Councillor Bailey, abstain Councillor Rance for
councillor Hickey for Councillor Alan against Councillor Edwards again, Councillor Barrington, King against Councillor Dorling's against Councillor fairweather, against Councillor good ship against Councillor March against Councillor Palmer, again, Councillor Roberts against Councillor White against Councillor Patterson, for Councillor Bland against
thank you, Mr. Mayor, the votes recorded are as follows 32 votes for 11 against, with 1 abstention, so the recommendations are carried.
thank you, Chief Executive.
11 Council Tax 2023/24
agenda Item 11.
is CouncilTax 2023 24, the report begins on page 99 of our agenda with the recommended nations detailed in Appendix A
I am proposing that we agree the recommendation on block.
as mentioned before, any vote on council tax must be a recorded vote.
we have no public speakers on this item.
I am going to ask Councillor Hall to introduce this item and to move the recommendations.
thank you very much, Mr. Mayor, I'm happy to move this.
notion Councillor Shepherd, will second.
councillors have lodged, will you confirm that, yes, I'd like to second and reserve my right to speak, please, Mr. Murphy?
councillor Councillor Hall, thank you Mr. Mayor, having just agreed the Bar Council budget, this report discharges the council's statutory responsibility as the billing authority to officially set the level of council tax across the borough on behalf of KCC, the police and fire authorities and the town and parish councils.
I urge Members to support this item, thank you.
the matter is now open to Councillor Dowling.
this is a statutory responsibility of the council and of course, the Conservative Group will support.
thank you, Councillor darlings.
anybody wish to contribute.
during the debate on this item, no.
councillor District Council.
then I was asked Councillor Chappell to Leisure, secondly, I've got nothing to administer my thank you, compare and Councillor Hall, would you?
I think it's really to the vote please, Mr. Mayor, that's OK very well.
I will ask the Chief Executive to take the recorded vote on the motion before us is to adopt the Council Tax 2023 24 page 99 of our agenda as detailed in Appendix A
thank you, Mr. Mayor, so we were voting, as you say, for the recommendation set out in Appendix A when I call your name, can you please say whether you are for those recommendations against or whether you wish to abstain, Councillor Hayward for Councillor Everett's for Councillor Pound or Councillor Hall for Councillor Chappell are for Councillor Waun for Councillor Fitzsimons for Councillor Rutland, Councillor Barrass for Councillor Brice, 4 Councillor Ellis 4, Councillor Funnell or Councillor Page 4, Councillor Lidstone for Councillor Morton,
4 Councillor Poyle 4 Councillor Wellington, 4 Councillor Knight 4, Councillor McMillan, 4 Councillor Pope 4, Councillor Sankey, 4, Councillor Wakeman, 4 Councillor Willis
Councillor Brigid, Allen for Councillor Hill Borough, Councillor Moon for Councillor Rogers for Councillor Atkins or Councillor Dr Hall.
Councillor Bailey for Councillor ram's fourth Councillor Hickey, for Councillor Allen, for Councillor Edwards, for Councillor barrington, King, Councillor Dorling's for Councillor fairweather or Councillor good ship for Councillor March.
councillor Mrs. Palmer, for Councillor Roberts for Councillor White for Councillor Patterson, for Councillor bland bore.
thank you, Mr. Mayor, there were 43 votes for no votes against and one abstention, so the recommendations are carried, thank you.
12 Asset Management Plan 2023/24
we proceed to agenda item 12, which is the Asset Management Plan 20.
Councillor Mowat, thank you, Mr. Mayor.
can you hear me, yeah yeah, sorry?
in relation to the statement by Councillor Hall from a member of the public, he personally stated that he will not remove the Waseley Centre from the present, I am not the 23 only Councillor Moon, is this a point of order or procedure will it be noted is Mr. J
Mayor probably is a point of order, so Councillor minutes, a point of order you're going to have to direct us to which part of the Council's constitution you think has been breached, all says in relation to pre determination.
that that that's not, or that's not a point of order.
well, can you tell me where it is then, Mr. Mayor, can I explain the point while I wish to bring up?
but pre determination is an issue in, for example, planning committees, but it is not an issue in full council, but the only reason with respect, Mr. Mayor, the only reason I bring this up because Catterall stated he will not remove the weights he sent from Council when slow now. We're gonna debate that now Councillor Moon and I'll stop you there. This is not a procedural matter, this is not a point of order. Please turn your microphone off and we will proceed to the next item on the agenda. OK, Mr. Mayor, I accept what you're saying, but I feel I'm being prevented put a point across. Thank you
where an agenda item 12, the Asset Management Plan, 2023 24 report, beginning on page 112 of our agenda, where there is one recommendation we have one public speaker on this item, I'm going to ask.
Councillor Hall, to move the item and Councillor Chamberlain to second it, and then we will turn to the member of the public who wishes to make a contribution, Councillor Hall.
thank you, Mr. Mayor, I'll move this item and Councillor Shepherd will second.
Councillor Chaplin, can you just confirm for the record?
but Mr. Maliki to second, and I would like to resign my right to speak, please thank indeed.
we have a contribution from.
a member of the public, if that Speaker Jeremy Thompson could come to the microphone and
Good evening, Mr. Mayor, Chief Executive and Councillors.
I represent heritage palate word, and I wish to speak about this item on the agenda.
I previously addressed your Cabinet on 9th February 2023 and asked why the Wesley Centre is appearing on your list as a surplus asset when clearly it is not we wish to preserve and protect the Wesley Centre and its garden in line with the wishes of Paddock Wood Town Council are for borough councillors and our county councillor who are unanimous that the Wesley Centre is not a surplus asset.
it should be noted that the Wesley Centre is afforded protection through the Paddock Wood Neighbourhood Plan and the Local Plan.
as you will be aware, there is yet another large scale housing application proposed for Paddock Wood, this makes considering disposal of the Wesley Centre even more ridiculous.
I understand your recent consultation resulted in over 100 responses being received, all comments being in favour of retaining the Wesley Centre.
and none suggesting that it should be disposed of,
I hope, Leader, that your you or the cabinet member will please explain and state the justification for the Wesley Centre being deemed as a surplus asset.
Will you amend the document accordingly, and will you commit the Council to working with Heritage palette word, the town council, with the wishes of the community, as reflected in the recent consultation which I should point out, are not being completed before the Cabinet meeting held on 21 in February 2023?
I thank you for listening to me.
Councillor Hall, would you like to extend your moving the motion, yes, please, Mr. Mayor, I would say thank you and thank you to our speaker on this item.
I appreciate your comments, first of all, I'd like to thank David Kendall and his team for the considerable work that goes into preparing the asset management plan, the plan includes a schedule of council assets that have been identified for review.
I recognise the number of responses to the consultation on the Asset Management Plan and, in particular, on individual assets for review. This does not mean that a decision has been taken on the future of these assets, nor does it indicate that the assets named in the report will all be scheduled for disposal. Cabinet has ensured that this has been clarified in the current version of the Asset Management Plan. Decisions taken on individual assets are subject to meetings of the property asset oversight panel made up of cabinet and senior officers and will be open for members to scrutinise before coming before Cabinet for final approval. The council has a duty to be able to fund its assets and raise the necessary capital receipts projected expenditure. It also has a duty to taxpayers to identify assets that are surplus and which no longer deliver value for money.
I am satisfied that the Asset Management Plan achieves these aims and I'm happy to move to recommend the plan for the coming year, thank you.
the matter is now open for debate.
thank you, Mr. Mayor, first of all would like to thank Mr. Thompson who spoke tonight in support of the Wesley Centre and Paddock Wood, the Westby Centre is an important part of Paddock Woods heritage and is still used extensively by various community groups, it is one of only two community spaces run by TWB C in the town the other being the day centre, a small building that could comfortably fit within this Council Chamber.
given this already modest provision and given the planned growth of the town, we were surprised to see the Wesley Centre on to WBC's list of assets deemed surplus to requirements and identified for potential sale in 23 24, this has caused concern and despair the town, a fact reflected by the high number of responses to which I hope the Cabinet will listen.
while they may not be alone in this feeling, the residents of Paddock Wood already feel they get a rough deal from Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, the town is taking a large proportion of the Boris new housing quota, causing a loss of green space noise and inconvenience during the construction process and putting new strains on the town's already creaking infrastructure if this administration feels any gratitude or sympathy towards the people of Paddock Wood, it has a funny way of showing it.
since last May, we've seen an unsuccessful attempt to remove the one hour free parking concession in the to Paddock Wood, car parks, inflation-busting rises of up to 75% in other parking charges, and all of the town council's bids for levelling up funds turned down by this cabinet.
now we have a proposal to declare the Wisley centre surplus to requirements and identified for potential sale, this, in the view of myself and others, is an attempt to take advantage of the new community centre currently being built in Paddock Wood however, the new community centre was built and funded by the town council to make up for the current shortage in local facilities and for various reasons to WBC did not make any financial contribution.
so this administration should not try to use a new facility paid for by others as an excuse to cut back on its own meagre facilities in the town as a representative of Paddock Wood, my main concern tonight is the Wesley Centre.
however, I also have grave reservations about the sale of other assets on the list declaring five town centre car parks, a surplus is an unprecedented and drastic move at a time when parking demand, as confirmed by Councillor Hall, is continuing to recover from the pandemic.
the asset management plan says decisions will be made in tandem with a car parking strategy, but we've we've, but this car parking strategy is not included in the report and I think it's been confirmed tonight that it's still a work in progress,
it seems basic common sense to me for the parking strategy to be to be produced first before declaring any car parks as surplus.
councillors should not be complacent about the future of the assets identified a surplus in this report, declaring an asset as surplus is not unlikely and is the first step in the council's process of disposal in last year's Asset Management Plan, only the Gateway building was identified as surplus and that building is now for sale.
while further reviews will take place, the criteria set out for these reviews on page 140 only looks at the feasibility of sale, including legal and planning matters, but also says parish or town councils will be informed of rather than consulted on any decisions.
so councillors should be under no illusion that approving this report tonight, in its current form, will give the green light for up to 11 assets to be sold, the final decision on whether some most or all of these 11 assets will be out of our hands.
so for these reasons I cannot support a plan that contains the list of assets deemed surplus on page 1 40 and one for one.
full Council needs to see details of the parking strategy and we need to see details of the short and long-term financial implications of any proposed asset sales, only then will will we be able to properly decide what, if any assets should be declared surplus and moved on to the next phase of the disposal process.
Mr. Mayor, I would like to give this Council the chance to move ahead with a majority of this plan, but to first remove the list of surplus assets contained in Appendix A. This will enable further work to be done and for some very important information to be put in front of this Council before we decide what, if anything, should be potentially sold. I would therefore like to propose an amendment to the recommendation as set out on page 112. It currently reads that Full Council approves and adopts the Asset Management Plan for 23 24. I propose that we amend that recommendation to read as follows that Full Council approves and adopts the Asset Management Plan for 23 24, excluding the list of assets deemed surplus in Appendix A thank you, Mr. Mayor,
thank you, Councillor Beverley.
is there a seconder for that motion?
I second the motion, my right to speak.
so we've got a an amendment proposed, so we're moving to debate the amendment, so we have a motion proposed by Councillor Baillie seconded by Councillor good ship to
so when you certify the detail, of course, so the amendment was to amend the recommendation on page 112 of your agenda so as to read the text as set out in recommendation 1 that Full Council approves and adopts the Asset Management Plan.
for 23 24, excluding the list of assets this deemed surplus at Appendix 4.
Councillor May sorry, I did just just to be clear, I think the Appendix A is actually the Asset Management Plan, I think I think it's appendix 4 isn't of the Asset Management Plan.
OK, so if if you're happy with that amendment, it just makes it more consequential to the amendment of any surprise décor.
Councillor Moon, thank you, Mr. Mayor, can you just clarify this for me, I wish to speak in the debate reference to the Waseley Centre and not necessarily the other listed assets to be included in that contribution, I wish to make it clear and you confirm the after this amendment is carried or lost I would still be able to speak in support of the Westy Centre.
so, Mr. Mayor, the we are currently debating the amendment moved by Councillor Baillie, seconded by Councillor Good Chair Councillor Moon, is at quite quite at liberty to speak. You know due to that amendments and or if he wishes, he can wait for it to be debated, neither rejected and return to the any good. Then speaking the substantive motion or approved in which case it becomes a stranded motion, he'd be able to speak then, so it's entirely Councillor means choice. Thank you to it's a job, I think, are referred prefer to come back to the original debate and discuss the Wesley Centre, Bury Road Councillor Mowat, thank you Councillor.
Councillor Pond, I think.
I thank you, Mr. Mayor, I wish to speak against this amendment for a number of reasons which I'll try and briefly summarise, I think that I mean actually, I have to say that I think that Councillor Bailey's
amendment is a little bit of a possible election posturing.
he mentioned the word sale or that assets would be sold three times, I think, possibly four, but certainly three times in his in his speech and then amendment. The whole point of the asset management plan is that we identify assets and that the where the benefits of those assets and the benefits that they accrue from their utilisation need to outweigh the ongoing insignificant costs of maintaining them, particularly or they are just no longer useful to the council in the provision of its services. It does not necessarily mean that they are being sold, it means that they are being disposed of by the Council, and if there are alternative methods of those disposals, then they will be explored. Putting an asset on the asset management plan basically means that officers have the opportunity to work through a process to identify whether assets are still of value to the Council or not. That process has been going on every year. As Councillor Baillie said last year, there was one item on the on the agenda on the asset disposal and land assets strategy list, but when he was a cabinet member in 2019,
at July 2022 July 2 and 2019, there was one asset list which included the current life project, it says in the minute of that meeting of July 2019, out of which he was a member, the current live projects in the development programme include Warwick Park Gun Club site which is still on the list and we're discussing.
Wesley Centre West station coach park Ben Hill Mill can Dépôt still being discussed. Sports facilities still being discussed and modern ways of working nearly completed. So he, as an ex cabinet member and all of his colleagues sitting on the conservative side over there, they all understand the process. The process is that every year the council looks at assets that it believes may be appropriate to dispose of. It does not mean that they are being sold. It does not mean that we will be selling five car parks. It does not necessarily mean that we will be selling the Wesley Centre. There are other options for the council to dispose of those matters, so I think that actually he's playing a little bit loose with the truth about the process that he must understand and does appreciate. He also talked about the Paddock Wood has a 75% increase, that is in one period of parking throughout the whole of the schedule that was produced earlier last year and last year. It simply isn't true to say that all parking in Paddock Wood is being increased by 75%, so everything that has been said so far doesn't add up to the value of allowing officers to make professional judgments about the assets that we have, whether we still need them, whether they might be better disposed of whether we ought to retain them, as has been the case with a number in the past. But for Councillor Baillie to suggest that we throw out every single one on that list and don't look at any of them is absolutely irresponsible, and I would strongly advise people to vote against the amendment. Thank you.
thank you, Councillor, Pat Councillor Sankey, thank you, Mr. Mayor.
I've got to say I am pretty stunned by how some of the Councillors of behave in regard to this register. A report that is compiled yearly by our officers to identify which of the council's assets might not be performing as they should or once did and deserve an examination by the administration. As Councillor Pound has just summarised, it's been claimed that this is a new policy and you know what you're probably right. The practice of being open and transparent by listing a specific assets that may have made this list is new. Previously previously, this information was seemingly held behind some kind of cabinet paywall, a look into the archives. There shows that this isn't the first time the Wesley Centre has been put up for discussion and in fact everyone's favourite Tory cabinet member even vote sorry format. Former Tory cabinet member even voted for it to be included on this register, not in 19
Councillor pound actually isn't 21.
funny things happen, though in the run-up to an election with people's memories,
as Councillor Hall said, we welcome the discussion on the Wesley Centre and all other assets on this list, there are some great minds in this room and I know that Cabinet and the rest of this administration would love to hear the views from all of them, indeed most of us this morning earlier today heard before this meeting or tonight how we are greater together.
now political games are one thing that there's a real danger, that something more sinister is afoot, and we all know Council matters can provoke some very strong emotions, and this recent game of misleading the public and whipping them into a frenzy smells pretty bad, I know of one at least one member who has decided to remove their personal details from the council's website and a member of our local media who has decided to block some people in order to protect themselves from motion. I will rephrase radicals,
so some people in this room have been for a long time and they know better, and perhaps they should remind themselves of the seven principles of public life that we all promised to honour upon accepting the role as Member of this Council.
when Councillor Baillie, I think Councillor Letts, I think you wish to speak to you, Mr. Mayor, I just want to correct.
Councillor Bailey's memory about particular issue, the issue about the Paddock Wood TownCouncil funds in the community centre.
I refer to the meeting on the
12 March 2020, which I think you are actually a member of at Cabinet as well, where actually states that a petition of 400,000 pounds by tomorrow's Borough Council be granted Paddock Wood council to enable the delivery of a new community centre and that them thus back to,
more recent decision to release Freeman's 61,485 pounds or 46 pence of section 1 is its money to funding the Paddock Wood town centres centre, so I just wanted to correct the memory on that thanks very much.
Councillor Rutland. Thank you Chair. I would like to provide some further reassurances regarding the car parks in the town of temperature Wells. There are five car parks highlighted in the Asset Management Plan and they will all be reviewed. This is a process that all sensible councils undertake regularly. We do not yet know the outcome of this know what the new Car Parking Strategy will recommend. It may be that not one car park is sold, it may be the one assault. It may be that what is redeveloped with parking as part of the new development, along with perhaps affordable, housing, leisure, healthcare or educational facilities. However, it is not possible to conceive that the recommendation would be that all five car packs will be sold, and I do request respectfully that anybody saying otherwise should cease and desist. Thank you
when Councillor Rotherham
Councillor Daunt Councillor Rowlings.
I have been involved with the Asset Management Plan before, but never to the extent of listing a whole series of car parks a surplus, when quite clearly, from what Justin has just explained, you know, perhaps one or maybe two.
yeah May may be surplus to requirements, I just feel that we ought to have a car park strategy in place
before we start thinking about which car park is surplus or whether more than one is surplus, I just think that this is putting the cart before the horse and I I I I therefore will support this motion
you're supporting amendment, I think Councillor Doran.
the amended motion yeah
Councillor Dr Hall, thank you very much, Mr. Mayor, yes, I'm I'm rather concerned at the presence of nine to 10 Calverley Terrace Tunbridge Wells, I know the word development doesn't necessarily mean demolition and rebuilding or whatever, but I'm sure you know and I'm sure Councillor Pound knows that the Decimus Burton Society would like to acquire it as a Decimus Burton Museum and I would endorse that I think it would be a wonderful draw for the public because Decimus Burton is known work the world over not just in Tunbridge Wells,
and so I am disturbed by its presence here, so I can't, and so I will support this amendment,
there's no one else to replace Councillor, could Councillor Gooch, can we go to you to your seconding sorry, Mr. Marathons?
Councillor Capella, sorry, Mr. My may, I speak on the amendment, please.
yeah, thank you and.
it's unfortunate, there has been a lot of
deliberately misinformed information being put out there by certain people, can I first of all reassure you, Councillor Hall, that I spoke with Paul Avis on Sunday, as he showed me around the exhibition in the Royal Victoria Place shopping centre.
the council and the Councillor darlings gave the Civic Society a one year window to come up with a business plan that business plan comes that one year comes to the end of its time in April, at which point the civic society will be presenting to the Committee civic complex working group and the property asset overview panel
the business case for that for that for those two properties 9 and 10 Calverley Terrace, so I hope that reassures you we will then take that information away and review it and make a decision on that in terms of.
the car parking strategy. I think is it's incorrect to say that they will not be a car parking strategy before those car parks are looked at. Of course, the car parking strategy will determine the number of car parks that we need in Tunbridge Wells and, based on those results, we will then proceed at looking whether those are the best use for for the town and our assets. It would be irresponsible to not review our assets annually. So step one will be the car parking strategy that will take time to deliver and look at, and then we will look at those car parks based on the outcomes of that car parking strategy. To say otherwise has been misleading the public and has caused alarm to the residents of being in touch with me and fellow Cabinet Members about this. Those are not factually accurate statements to put out in the public domain. Thank you, Mr. Mayor,
thank you, Councillor Chaplin.
thank you, Mr. Mayor, I mean listen to the debate and I don't prolong coming back to enable me to speak on the Wesley Centre, so I choose to speak on it now.
it is with great regret I am forced to defend the existence of the Wesley Centre in Paddock Wood.
after being identified as a Acid in the management plan, has been declared surplus and identified potential disposal, so matter, whatever the debate is going on, is what it says at the top of the asset list now listen very carefully while re the sale.
the following assets have been declared surplus and identified for potential disposal in 2 0 23 24, so where in that, does it say that the Waseley Centre would not be sold off?
if you continue on that in Appendix I.
site to be reviewed for development and sale also under Appendix I, it says, that to the right under status.
it states that the aim should be read in conjunction with the Council's focus on 5 and associated plans and strategies.
whose mission is to encourage investment and sustainable growth,
and to enhance the quality of life for all it contains continues in the AM now again, I'll say, listen very carefully due to time I will only say this once when you look at the local context item it states and bear with me while I read this out but it is relevant this strategy accounts for issues identified through the community planning process and through regular consultation and surveys with residents.
in property terms, the asset management plan is a strategy that delivers improvements in all areas and services services for the purpose of meeting I state this quite strongly local community needs.
the main aim, at the end, is for council assets to be recognised as a principal resource, thereby ensuring continuous strengthening in the organisational arrangements set out above the that's a cross with our focus on five, having read that from the I am 23 24, that the inclusion of the Wesley Centre is not clearly justified, viable and should be removed and possibly reviewed into 24 25, and that was the point I was trying to make with a member from the public earlier on from Councillor Appleton.
it was stated by Councillor Hall that he would at that point not remove the asset from that list, now that to me is previous determination of the deep bay that we're having now the decision has already been made.
as far as I saw it at that point,
the AMP is an annual assessment and each year is on its merit and that that time it should not be an ongoing assessment each year should be based on the criteria within the report, which is clear, including what I've just read out.
the WSC Centre is used by various groups and organisations and is clearly a working at it to Paddock Wood residents and the borough.
the two main uses include, and I've already mentioned it before Cabinet, but I'll repeat it again for those who were not there, one, the community storehouse, which is a part, would food bank usage at 2.00 days a week, and in fact that is increasing due to the demand unfortunately for the cost of living crisis.
and our economic increasing utility bills.
the Paddock Wood Children's Centre used it two days a week.
many other organisations use the WSC Centre, clearly again, not a surplus asset, and I don't make excuses for saying this, the selling of the WSC centre would see the closure of the Paddock Wood Children's Centre when already in the borough KCC has already given notice to free other children's centres to close that is wrong to assume that with the new Paddock Wood Community Centre it would render the
we sent a surplus at it.
each group that uses the WSC centre will make its own decision where to locate and that may not be the new centre in Paddock Wood, it's wrong, therefore, to include the WSC centre in us as a surplus asset in 20 per new ball, that's the role of the ANC in 24 25, possibly re consultation with the residents and how it would Town Council it's logical, I accept that if the new community centre comes into play then some other organisations in the west the centre might transfer, but that's not a given.
each group as its own criteria, and it makes its own decision the recent consultation at over 100.
proposals defending the waste he Centre as a functional community asset that is a massive amount of response for any consultation.
the ADP has only a small mention of this in the report.
once again, this is a case of we listen, we consult, and then we ignore the focus on five clearly states that residents matter.
but the whole process of the AGM is top down and clearly, contrary to the five, any inclusion in the AGM should be based on those that live in Paddock Wood and use of Waseley Community Centre it is clearly not and the process should be reviewed, it's wrong actually to have all that list and it's my dilemma.
that to make a decision on all of them within that list, because they all should have been reviewed individually anyway, so they should be separate decisions made, hence why I'm speaking now in the Wesley Centre.
there is an element of we need to build trust and transparency in the field in the future.
by including the Waseley Center that certainly doesn't enhance that impact of wood.
the role of our residents is not just for election ballot fodder, they are responsible citizens and care about their communities, eds, Mr. Jeremy Thompson tonight.
making these comments, their assumption is that this is recognised by the borough, treat the Macedo's and they will be able, like adults, not schoolchildren in the playground, and I've seen some of that tonight across each side of this Chamber.
I ask Full Council to step back, listen to the rural residents in Paddock Wood and remove the Wesley Centre from the I MP 23 24 that make sense it sends the right message, now is the time to really listen, be truthful.
open and honest and transparent and say not clear message, we care about kind of wood.
and recognise the ways the sector is not a surplus asset in the community, thank you.
going through Councillor Murray, Councillor Harwood, thank you very much, Mr. Mayor, sir, thank you very much for that intervention, Councillor Moon, I think you, along with many in this room, and I include actually Mr. Thompson the Speaker are under the illusion.
that the Wesley Centre is going to be sold, and I'll quote from a leaflet that's been distributed in Paddock Wood by Councillor Baillie.
help save the Wesley Centre.
the political administration of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council has announced that the Wesley Centre is a surplus asset and will be sold off in capital letters where, where Councillor Moon the generally.
I think you have a slight misunderstanding of the process of the asset management plan.
the EU's talk about transparency, you know this.
I am afraid that the misinformation purposely got out there, this is, this is a plea, I'm going to save the Wesley Centre, it's not, where does it say you said, although it doesn't say in the report, that it's not going to be sold, where does it say it's will let's use some Council language, where does it say it's is earmarked for disposal it doesn't.
earmarked for disposal potential surplus to that doesn't mean it's been at Councillor Baillie has been in the cabinet, and in committee meetings, where this very this very hall, he's agreed to discuss for disposal in your view, it's the same thing, this is all misinformation. This is absolutely are. I wonder whether this is actually actionable.
because it's completely untrue
the Wesley Centre is a surplus assets and will be sold off, it's not going to be sold off in the context of this leaflet, this is where I'm sure Mr. Thompson genuinely believes that is going to be sold.
I think you do, and I'll tell you what's happened here is Councillor Bale is being very clever, he's gone to save patent would in the world the problem is that in his methodology, what he's done is he's held, you Rodney and Suzanne as hostages to fortune because if you don't say all I want to save the Wesley Centre you're finished he's got you got you.
that's all I've got to say.
councillor March, thank you Mr. Mayor, I think Councillor Hayward may well have forgotten to read page one for one.
at the very top it says the following assets have been declared surplus, OK, it does say potential disposal, but then further down as Councillor Moon has said, they will be reviewed for development and sale, so if you've declared something for as surplus already declared surplus and then yes saying sale, that is where the an,
where there is a potential problem and Councillor Moon is right, there is a lack of trust, I think, and this is what people are saying, I'm sorry it says it there and you can't what ever you say about 0, it's doesn't say it, it's there in black and white, thank you Mr. Mayor,
I refer to gonorrhoea infections, I'm actually struggling to read the black and white right now, but I have heard some of it, there's one piece of land on the the on this list that I'm particularly interested in, which is the shooting club, who will all surprise you noting that disposal does not necessarily mean sale and acknowledging that quickly, I would just remind everyone that we did vote here.
the to remind ourselves of the commitments we have and the National Planning Policy Framework to rehouse active sporting clubs, which are unhoused, and we further more undertook to use all reasonable methods to ensure that they had a place to go to before the club close down, I would hope that we would stay true to that and I see Councillor Hall nodding so on.
very much an issue reassured by that.
I would ask also that we just consider a sensible assessment of what the cost of rehousing is as part of the process of I'm fairly sure that will be part anyway and consider that disposal not necessarily meaning sale if the administrative burden outweighs all the financial burden outweighs the benefits received from owning that property and there is little chance of selling at a profit when we take into consideration the cost of rehousing, the perhaps the way to dispose of the freehold is to actually give it to the sporting club themselves within the bounds of the law clearly,
thank you, Councillor, that consoled Wellington that thank you, Mr. Mayor, I'll keep this very brief on at the top of page one for one.
right towards the end of that sentence, it very clearly says the word potential, anybody who has a grasp of the English language knows the potential means may or may not, it is the very definition of a grey term, thank you.
Councillor Pope. Very briefly, before we go to, I will be very brief and I hate it, I find that that that one line and a bit just above that table, it's, I just think it's very clumsily written. This is an annual process that everything assets go through every year and I think the wording is clumsy and it has misled people and I think really that were the wording should have been different and it should have been about review
that these are the properties shortlisted for review.
thank you, Council, I'm not intending to Councillor good ship to complete his seconding of this amendment.
thank you, I have nothing further to add to the statements made by Councillors March dwellings, meaning barely thank you.
Councillor Hall, to close, I didn't want to make a point in the I don't know, council was the move for, so this is this I didn't want to make a point during the debate.
yeah yeah, so I think from what I've heard this evening, I think I'll just be repeating some of the points that have already been made by do acknowledge what Councillor Pope has said about the the wording and maybe the some lessons learned that we can take forward for the next time. The asset management plan comes before Full Council. I'll take that on board, but really we just. I think some people perhaps are unnecessarily worried at this stage about what the Asset Management Plan entails. It is about reviewing all of these assets that are listed, not selling them, so they will come before the
property asset oversight panel cabinet senior officers will review them, and we may very well decide this one is not going to be disposed of, or this one we need to find another solution to it other than perhaps cutting it to market, perhaps or perhaps as a different solution. We can find here perhaps to protect the gun club as as Councillor rounds, the said in order to try to move the asset on or keep it or find a solution, not not simply selling it, but actually looking at how we utilise that asset and how we, how we
dispose of it in the future, but it doesn't mean that we will necessarily several of these. You'll come for review, we may well decide listening to the feedback, listening to what the community says that we're, we're going to not progress it, so I think I don't know if that reassures you at all, but it's just for review. At this stage I appreciate you may not want it to review the top. That's totally understandable, but I really can't support this amendment. I think it would be deeply irresponsible to simply take off all of these assets when we have such a significant amount of capital expenditure to fund over the next 10 years. We've got to maintain some very costly assets to simply take them all off with. This amendment would be completely irresponsible and the wrong thing to do. Thank you
thank you, Councillor Hall.
the amendment before the committee, which we will now proceed to vote on my correct chief executive, and thank you Mr. Mayor, so the amendment is sorry ma, request, a recorded vote on the amendment, please.
you may just.
so, Mr. Megis, to be clear, we're voting on Councillor Bailey's amendment, which was seconded by Councillor good ship, the amendment is to add, after the words on page 1 1, to the additional words excluding the list of assets deemed surplus at Appendix 4, so when I call your name can you please tell me whether you are for that amendment against that amendment or whether you wish to abstain? Councillor Hayward,
against Councillor Everett's.
against Councillor pounds against Councillor Hall, against Councillor Chappelow, against Councillor Waun, against Councillor Fitzsimons, against Councillor Rutland, against Councillor Barris, against Councillor Brice, against Councillor Ellis, against Councillor Funnell, going to Councillor Page against Councillor Lidstone against Councillor Morton against Councillor warming, sorry Councillor Poyle again,
Councillor Wilmington, against Councillor Knights, against Councillor McMillan, against Councillor Pope against Councillor Sankey, against Councillor Wakeman, for Councillor Willis.
councillor Richard Alan against Councillor Hill, against Councillor Moon, for Councillor Rogers,
against Councillor Hopkins.
for Councillor Dr Hall, 4.
Councillor Bailey for Councillor rams against Councillor Hecky, against Councillor Alan,
for Councillor Edwards for Councillor barrington King or Councillor Dorling's for Councillor fairweather or Councillor good ship for Councillor March, for Councillor Ms Palmer, for Councillor Roberts, for Councillor White for Councillor Pattison, against Councillor Bland for
thanks Mr. My apologies so there were 16 votes for 27 against, so the amendment falls and we revert to debating the substantive motion.
the original motion sorry.
thank you, Mr. Mayor, I'll speak to shoulder some of the speech had been quite long tonight, I can't support the asset management plan as it contains the the Wesley Centre in it, I think what the council should be doing is looking to generate more income from the heart of the hall and from the building and,
while I would like to move from the planning for that that failed, thank you.
thank you, Councillor Moon, thank you, Mr. Mayor.
our judges are just a bit confused and a bit disappointed, which some of the comments by Councillor Hayward
I have no association with Councillor Baillie, politically or whatever, as the the Reverend said at the beginning, this is common ground common aims, we buses, all members, we have a common aim to represent our residents, not just for the rural areas, all the urban areas, it's overall,
so when you're looking at the Asset Management Plan, that's here we should be looking at it and I have no association with the leaflet that was was put up by a Councillor Hayward I've had no association with that and Councillor Bailey would would agree with that as well, this is not about party politics, there was an attempt there to undermine my contribution, which is not welcome, not welcome from the pan partnership is not part of the focus in five and it's not actually part of the context and the text in the asset management plan.
so, as I've always said before, is answer saying they say there should be an element of review, there should be an element of going back for each individual asset, and this is a community centre we're talking about here, it's not a car park not other elements within that list, it clearly says the Waseley Centre and I really wonder how many here round this room this Chamber know what groups actually use the Wesley Centre.
that includes Girl guides, scales, other organisations.
and that's where the issue lies, should it be surplus, and this assumption you know that it's not there, so don't worry about it, it's not going to happen.
I've seen it so many times as a town councillor, it does happen.
once it's on that table, once it's on there to be looked at, it makes it harder to challenge that's why I'm challenging it now and not, and I am disappointed that personal attacks were made to me in restaurants, to my contribution and other Councillors in Paddock Wood saying we've been duped by another accounts or whatever that is totally unacceptable indeed by pointing a finger is an acceptable in debate.
so I ask again stand back and reflect how this is being conducted this evening and other debates during the course of the agenda, thank you.
thank you, Councillor Gruen.
there's no one else.
I have already spoken on this even when he spoke to move the amendment in the Lords.
Councillor Morton and Councillor Doreen,
thank you, Mr. Mayor, I'd like to speak to Appendix 6 of the 10 year property magnate maintenance plan.
so in formulating our focus on the five, we also said on and under Appendix 1 that 10 year maintenance budget projection based on the maintenance of assets for current use and required standards, to inform the focus on five.
and, accordingly, current condition surveys of for 2023 to 30 2033, that's a 10 year period, averages at 7 million pounds per annum you can find that on page one for three so.
so on page one, for three, you'll see that the required annual plan maintenance for 2014 to 2020 should have been 900,000 pounds, but the actual spend was only 400,000 pounds.
resulting in a backlog of maintenance issues, industry costs have have continued to rise at 15% per annum, so what I want to say about this is that the previous administration's neglect of maintenance in the years to 2020 are not evidence of good stewardship of the Council's assets during this time in office.
and I fail to see how they can claim to balance the budget when they could only do so by postponing urgent works
since then, we have had double-digit inflation, which only.
which only increases the cost of maintenance going forward, so the old adage of a stitch in time saves nine is very relevant under the circumstances.
that's all I want to say thank you, thank you.
thank you, Mr. Mayor, as I mentioned when commenting on the budget, I find it extraordinary for car parks to be declared surplus in advance of developing a revised car parking strategy.
I have also listened to the discussion this evening on the Wesley Centre.
the Wesley Centre may be surplus as far as Tunbridge Wells Borough Council is concerned, but that view is clearly not shared by Councillors for panic word and panic with Town Council the opportunity was given for four people in Paddock Wood to investigate alternative usage for the web for the Wesley Centre when I was in the cabinet and I continue to support that when leader,
with increasing development around Paddock Wood, I think it would be appropriate to let those investigations continue to be pursued.
but I think my real concern this evening is the
suggestion that the property assets oversight panel, which was planned to provide cross-party member oversight when considering the council's major property assets.
should now just be a.
are represented by members of the cabinet.
I mean the the formation of member oversight panels.
was a key recommendation in two reports after the Calverley Square project was abandoned, both emphasising the need to maintain both public and cross-party support for major projects, and I think the
the decision that they should now just provide.
should don't just comprise members of the cabinet is a very bad call.
thank you Councillor Dowling, Councillor Pond, I think thank you very much, Mr. Matt.
I just wanted to respond to one or two of the comments that had been being made of the last in relation to the substantive motion, not not the amendment.
Councillor Moon says that you know, I think he thinks that it's only right that every individual asset should be reviewed, individual asset should be reviewed and I agree with him, and I think that that is part of the the plan that will be undertaken is that each individual asset will be reviewed, that is the process that the officers go through in determining whether assets,
might be judged to be surplus to the requirements of the council, that's the first thing.
second thing is it does fit with our focus on 5, because one of the focus on fives that this Council is trying to address is to safeguard the finances. We, as Councillor Hall, has already said. We therefore have to look at assets in a reasonable way and make judgments about whether we think that they are valuable to the community valuable to the Council, provide a service or provide a facility that is going to be used appropriately and as Councillor Dowling said, sometimes that review is undertaken and the answer comes back that actually no, we still do need it or the community believes that it has value, and presumably that is the explanation for why the Wesley Centre has been on the asset disposal list before and has not yet been disposed. It is the responsibility of people within the community to argue that it has value and that it should be retained, but it is not right to throw out the Asset Management Plan or even some of the items within it, because that is the whole process that we're meant to be going through. My last point is that Councillor Atkins was quoted in the press as saying or suggesting that the best use of that could be an asset of community value, in other words, that the town council could pick it up as an Asset of Community value from the council and therefore retain it in its current use presumably and and utilise it as it sees fit because the council may judge that it doesn't need it any longer.
now, apparently, that idea of the Wesley Centre, being an asset of community value, has sat with Paddock Wood town council for over five years and no one has ever come forward and said that's something that we need to take control of because we're in danger of it being disposed by the council it has been on the list, there is an opportunity for people to have dialogue, about how it might best be managed, and that is the process that this review will undertake. It will be an individual review of each asset and everybody in this room and outside it will have an opportunity to express a view about why it should be retained or perhaps why why we as a Council are right to consider it for disposal.
thank you, Councillor Pond, may I make a may oral suggestion, please, I been disturbed by some of the bizarre monson, hurt that's been evidenced in some of the contributions made.
I have a suggestion.
that instead of declaring the asset surplus and potentially disposal.
but you rewrite it to say these assets have been declared potentially surplus.
that would remove the what some people think is the misapprehension about I put the carparks or the the Wesley Centre.
my contribution has has no weight, but it's intended to be helpful and I would like it to be picked on, thank you.
Councillor Dowling, who've already spoken, I wanted to speak not in the context of that motion, but in responses in response to what you have just said.
often he gave a council of chaplain justice, etc
the seconder of the substantive motion.
sorry, can I ask a monitoring officer if that's possible, so just to be clear, I don't think the mayor was moving an emotion emotion, I think he was just offering suggestions for future iterations of the Asset Management Plan FuturePlus absolute.
councillors grappler, seconding the motion, yes, thank you, Mr. Mayor.
reviewing our assets is a responsible thing to do if you look at this building when it was first built, this would be teeming with members of staff members of the public could come in and see any member of staff to deal with the matters we now if in effect downsizing for the for the digital age and when the council staff are now occupying a third of a building in the new wing every year there has been a
Asset Management Plan, and I think the administration of thank the methods is input where we've probably been guilty is we've been guilty of being too transparent, so if I take you back to last year's asset management plan, the 2022 23 sites to be reviewed, says quote, the council will identify sites appropriate for disposal full stop and quotation. Nothing more. What we've done is we've listed them, and people have seen that, and I take the point about the the. The language perhaps needs to reflect the transparency of that, but can I reassure Members that this administration will talk to pilot with council, will talk to Jeremy's heritage and it would
and all of those bodies to look at the Wesley Centre, but it is, as it says, on page, one for one, it is potential disposal because it is surplus to Tunbridge Wells Borough Council's requirements to deliver its services, not necessarily surplus to community needs, and it just needs to be reconfigured a different way that that's what surplus means in this context and,
I hear those comments, but also I would urge you, no panic would Town, Council and heritage palette would to get in touch.
my predecessors, predecessors, predecessor Councillor Jukes, asked heritage Paddock Wood 10 years ago for a business plan for the Wesley Centre, were willing to talk and listen and take that on board, and we will of course take that forward. The other thing is parking. There are five part car parks use of car parks has changed since the pandemic. It is a responsible thing to do and the Councillor Rutland 8 comprises a comprehensive review of those five multi-storey car parks. Nothing will be sold until we have reviewed those five multi-storey car parks, and we have a clear picture of what the needs are for the town. Then we will review those individual car parks and
go forward with them or not, but that is the factual position of the process that they did, this administration will do anything else, is factually incorrect and potentially deliberately misleading for residents, thank you, Mr. Mayor.
thank you, Councillor Kaplan, and I think Councillor Hall will round up.
thank you, Mr. Mayor, and I think Councillor Shepherd is summarise pretty much everything that I wanted to say anyway, so I don't have anything to add, thank you.
sorry, I should have concluded by asking for a recorded vote, please,
just made it.
chiefly the motion before us.
is to adopt the Asset Management Plan 2023 ready for report, beginning on page 112.
I came members so, as the mayor said, this is the the the motion as set out in recommendation as set out on your agenda papers, and I call out your name, can you please indicate whether you're for or against, or whether you wish to abstain, Councillor Hayward for Councillor Everett's for Councillor Pound or Councillor Hall or Councillor Chappel are for Councillor Waun or Councillor Fitzsimons, Councillor Rutland?
councillor Barrass for Councillor Brice or Councillor Ellis for Councillor Funnell for Councillor Page for Councillor Lidstone or Councillor Morton, 4, Councillor Poyle 4, Councillor Wymington or Councillor Knight 4, Councillor Macmillan, 4 Councillor Pope 4, Councillor Sankey 4, Councillor Wakeman against Councillor Willis, Councillor Bridger, Alan
councillor Hill Councillor Moon against Councillor Rogers, for Councillor Atkins, against Councillor Dr Hall, against Councillor Bailey, against Councillor Graham for Councillor Hickey, for Councillor Allen, abstain Councillor ATS would abstain.
councillor barrington, King Councillor Dorling's abstain, Councillor Fairweather against.
Councillor good ship against.
Councillor Marc against Councillor Palmer against Councillor Roberts against Councillor White against Councillor Pattison for Councillor Bland, abstain.
thanks Mr. Mayor, there were 28 votes for 11 against 5 abstentions, so the recommendations are carried.
thank you, Chief exec.
13 Capital Strategy 2023/24
agenda item 13 is capital strategy 2023 24
the report begins on page 169 of our agenda where you will find one recommendation.
we are no public speakers on this item.
I'm going to ask Councillor Hall to introduce the item.
Councillor Hall, thank you Mr. Mayor, I'll move this item and Councillor Shannon will second.
to confirm Councillor Chappell, I can confirm and reserve my right to speak, if I may, thank you.
does anybody wish to speak on this council just wants to introduce it, yes, thank you, Mr. Mayor.
this report gives an overview of the capital strategy over the next financial year, the report sets out guidance on the Council's capital programme and the use of its capital resources, it was supported by finance governance Cabinet Advisory Board and approved by Cabinet I'm happy to move the item for full Council to adopt, thank you Mr.
thank you, Councillor Hall.
does anybody wish to contribute to a debate on this item?
and seemingly not.
in that case, Councillor Chappell, would you have nothing to say?
let's put it to a vote, if we need to or can we can we ask counsel if they agree?
I declare the motion carried.
family, they were all like that.
14 Treasury Management Policy and Strategy 2023/24
I withdraw that remark.
agenda item 14 is treasury management policy and strategy 2023 24 report begins on page 196 of our agenda where you will find one recommendation.
and no public speakers on this item, I'm going to ask Councillor Hall to introduce the item and move the recommendation.
thank you, Mr. Mayor, and you may be pleased to know this might be the last time you you hear from me this evening, but.
I move the item and Councillor Shepherd will second Councillor Chappell.
I confirm and reserve my right to speak, if I may.
and calls for lots of interviews, so I'll Councillor Hall, we would like to introduce this, thank you, Mr. Mayor, or the Treasury Management and Treasury Management Strategy forms part of the Council's overall financial management of investments and borrowing.
taken to help support the council's finances, as I mentioned in my earlier speech on budget, we're indebted to the excellent work of the finance team and the officers who have helped the Council raise more revenues than originally forecast, this report was supported by finance and governance Cabinet Advisory Board and approved by Cabinet I'm happy to move the motion.
does anybody wish to contribute to a debate on this item?
no Councillor Chappell.
nothing further to add, Mr. Maher, thank you.
thank you, Mr. Mayor, may we ask Members again for their agreement?
all those in favour say I I against.
I declare the motion carried.
15 Urgent Business
16 Common Seal of the Council
agenda item 15 is for urgent business, but I can confirm that is now urgent business for the Council to consider receiving agenda item 16 is to authorise the common seal as set out on page 227 of the agenda, I so move Councillor Patterson,
are you willing to second, I second the motion yet?
the motion is to authorise the Common Seal of the Council to be affixed to any contract minute, notice or other document arising out of the minutes or pursuant to any delegation, authority or power conferred by the Council, or we agree.
I declare the motion carried.
17 Date of next meeting
agenda Item 17, the date of the next meeting is Wednesday that 5th of April 2023 thank you for your attendance, the time is now 9 48, thank you for your attendance.