Cabinet - Thursday 27 July 2023, 6:30pm - Start video at 0:07:54 - Tunbridge Wells Borough Council Webcasting
Thursday, 27th July 2023 at 6:30pm
Agenda item : Start of webcast
Share this agenda point
Agenda item : 1 Leaders Introduction and Announcements
Share this agenda point
Agenda item : 2 Apologies
Share this agenda point
Agenda item : 3 Declarations of Interest
Share this agenda point
Agenda item : 4 Notification of Visiting Members wishing to speak
Share this agenda point
Agenda item : 5 Minutes of the meeting dated 22 June 2023
Share this agenda point
Agenda item : 6 Questions from Members of the Council
Share this agenda point
Agenda item : 7 Questions from Members of the Public
Share this agenda point
Agenda item : 8 Consideration of the Forward Plan as at 18 July 2023
Share this agenda point
Agenda item : 14 Tenancy Strategy
Share this agenda point
Agenda item : 13 Economic Development Strategy
Agenda item : 9 Property Transaction Report January to June 2023
Share this agenda point
Agenda item : 10 Strategic Risk Register
Share this agenda point
Agenda item : 11 Budget Projection and Strategy 2024/25
Agenda item : 12 Dunorlan Parking - Consultation Response
Agenda item : 15 Cranbrook and Sissinghurst Neighbourhood Development Plan
Agenda item : 16 Paddock Wood Neighbourhood Development Plan
Agenda item : 17 Pembury Neighbourhood Development Plan (PNDP)
Agenda item : 18 Urgent Business
Share this agenda point
Agenda item : 19 Date of Next Meeting
Share this agenda point
Disclaimer: This transcript was automatically generated, so it may contain errors. Please view the webcast to confirm whether the content is accurate.
Seat 3 - 0:00:00Good evening everybody, my name is Councillor Ben Chaplin, I'm the leader of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, and I will be chairing this meeting of the Cabinet on Thursday, the 27th of July 2023. before we start, please could I ask you to give your full attention to the following safety and broadcasting announcement
thank you Chair. In the event of the fire alarm ringing continuously, you must immediately evacuate the building at walking pace officers will escort you via the most direct available route. This is a public meeting, proceedings are being webcast live online recording will also be available for playback on the Council's website shortly afterwards. You should all be aware that any third party is able to record or film Council meetings unless exempt or confidential information is being considered. The Council will not accept liability for any third party recordings it is very important that the outcomes of the meeting are very clear at the end of each agenda item, the Chair will ask whether the matter was agreed in the absence of a clear majority, or if the Chair decides a full vote is desirable. A vote will be taken by a show of hands. Members should raise their hand to indicate their vote when cooled and keep their hand up until the count has been announced. Members requesting a recorded vote must do so before the vote is taken. Members or members of the public who have registered to speak at the meeting will have three minutes to address the Committee. Thank you Chair.
Thank you, Caroline, for the benefit of the recording. The following. Members of the Cabinet are present. Councillor Wendy Fitzsimons, Councillor Christopher Hall, Councillor Elin level, Councillor Hugo Pound Councillor Justin Rutland Councillor Jane Sharratt Councillor Nancy Waun and Councillor Ben Chappelow. In addition, we have the following members of the staff from Thomas Ross Borough Council, William Benson Lee Collier, Claudette vulnerable, Peter Benfield, Hilary Smith, James Reid, Toby Philip John Strachan and Caroline Britt.
for the benefit of any members of the public who may be watching online. I would like to explain a few things. Each report on the agenda today has previously been considered by the relevant Cabinet Advisory Board, and the views expressed by the boards have been taken into consideration by Cabinet. Members of the cabinet have had their agendas for over a week and we've had the opportunity to study the papers and to ask any factual questions of the staff ahead of the meeting. When each agenda item is being considered, the Cabinet Member will provide an overview of the report. Members of staff who have written a report will be available to answer any further questions will then move into Member discussion, and I will first ask for questions before opening the floor to debate. At the end of the debate, I will ask Cabinet Members to confirm that they have fully understood the matter and are content that any proposals and or actions have been fully captured, we will then proceed to the recommendations and vote.
at agenda item 1 are
1 Leaders Introduction and Announcements
announcements from the Leader and the Cabinet, I would just like to say thank you to all the residents who have taken part in our borough wide survey, we've had an astonishing.
amount of responses over 2,500, and that closed on Sunday.
can I ask Wendy Fitzsimons, would you like to make your announcement please, I
would thank you Chair,
we've just had the judges down from Britain in Bloom, who've been round our beautiful Barra, and apparently
they were very, very impressed as I think we all are.
the staff are
and we also the previous two weeks before that we had South and South East in Bloom, and the judges came on a very blustery windy day and I think were equally impressed and I would just like to thank the members of our parks department and the
Tivoli the contractors for
doing a cracking job and I think you'll all agree that the town is looking is pretty spectacular and along with our parks,
thank you, Wendy and she go, you've got an announcement to make.
I have thank you Ben I just want to update Cabinet and anyone listening to the implementation of the software that is used to register for housing on the High Home choice system across the borough the new system called Hume, we've now had 1,038 registrations on the new system, 300 of those applications have already gone live, we have 455, which are pending, not all of which necessarily will be accepted, but they are pending review 102 or at the pre-application stage and have not yet fully applied and we have had 165 that have closed for not qualifying so the Housing Services Team
like a swan across the water, looked calm, but they're paddling furiously to bring us through this change very successfully, and I'm very grateful to the housing services team, thank you.
thank you go,
3 Declarations of Interest
I think there are no other announcements from cabinet members, no, thank you, so I will move on to item number 2, which is apologies for absence, and this will be a quick one, there are none will fully present item number 3, it are declarations of interests and does anybody have any declarations to make Councillor Nancy won?
I had two declarations to make in relation to item 12, I would like to disclose that unrelated to the chairman of the fence of Dunnerholme Park and aware of his views on the introduction of parking charges for its northern park, as were recently published in a Times of Tunbridge Wells article, I am proposing to participate in the debate and vote on this item and will keep an open mind, listened to the debate and make a decision based on the facts and information contained in the report before Cabinet this evening,
in relation to item 15, I have been involved with the making of the cramped consisting Hirst Neighbourhood Development Plan. since 2016, and although I am not, I have not been closely involved for some time, I am technically still chairman of the steering group, I am therefore declaring an interest and will withdraw from the Chamber
when this item is to be discussed, thank you,
thank you very much.
4 Notification of Visiting Members wishing to speak
ITEM 4, notification of visiting persons registered to speak, we have
three registered speakers, we've got Councillor Nick Pope on agenda item 12, we got Councillor Tom Dorling's on agenda item 12, and we've got Mr Robert Banks on Item number 12 as well.
5 Minutes of the meeting dated 22 June 2023
item number 5 are minutes of the meeting dated the 22 of June 2023
does anybody have any amendments do they wish to make no, we
agreed on the accuracy of those minutes
agreed, thank you very much item number 6 is questions from Members of the Council.
and we have known
6 Questions from Members of the Council
7 Questions from Members of the Public
Item number 7 questions from members of the public, we also have none, so we're going to move on to item 8, which is consideration of a forward
8 Consideration of the Forward Plan as at 18 July 2023
as at the 18th of July 2023.
the any members have any comments on the Forward Plan
I see no known OK, so are we agreed on the forward plan,
agreed very great, thank
you very much.
at this point I'm proposing to change the schedule of the meeting, so I'm going to bring Item 14 forward,
14 Tenancy Strategy
which is the item on tenancy strategy and I'm going to ask Councillor Hugo Pound Cabinet Member for Housing and Planning to introduce the item, please
thank you very much the tenancy strategy that you have had the papers on for this meeting is an overarching strategy which gives guidance and information to registered providers of social housing across the borough.
that strategy that we are developing must set out matters which all registered providers of social housing that operate within the Borough must consider when framing their tenancy policies,
so it's important that we are clearly framing our expectation of our relationship with our providers of social housing,
Toby Phillips is here to explain a little bit more detail those options and, the strategy that has been developed thanks Toby.
thank you. We are seeking approval for the implementation of the new tenancy strategy to align with the Council's current housing objectives of providing genuine, affordable housing in the form of social rent within the bar, and the tough July Cabinet Advisory Board supported the recommendation in the report and this report highlights the key points of the Thomas Ross tenancy strategy, which covers the Council's position towards the type of tenancies and rent structures offered in the general needs housing sector
tenancy strategies, a required duty for all local authorities under the 2011 Localism Act and should be reviewed from time to time, setting out the matters to which the richly providers of social housing force districts ought to have regarding the formulating policies relating to the kind of the tenancy strategy, the grant, the circumstances in which they will grant a tenancy of a particular kind, whereby granted the tenancies for a certain term the length of the time granted and the circumstances in which they will not grant a further tenancy and come to an end up an existing tenancy.
thank you, does anybody have any questions for Toby?
then let's type it out to debate
can guide you on stock.
yeah, thank you.
all I would say I mean, obviously I would seek Cabinet to confirm option 1 in the preferred options and reasons
this strategy hasn't been renewed since 2012 and the world has moved on a little bit in terms of our relationships clearly with both registered providers and the expectations of those who rent social housing,
so I think it's only appropriate that all of this work has been done to create something
a fresh and I hope that it will be supported and then it will be rolled out in dialogue with our registered social social providers, thank you.
thank you, does anybody else wish to?
no, OK, so
cabinet members recommendation re recommending option 1
in the papers, so the recommendations reads. that Cabinet approve the adoption of the tenancy strategy 2023 at Appendix A are we agreed.
13 Economic Development Strategy
Thank you very much. We're moving on to Item 13 or as a slight change to the order, and this is the economic development strategy, and I'm going to ask
Councillor Justin Rutland cabinet member for economic development to introduce the item. Please, thank you,
thank you Chair. I am pleased to introduce this item, the Borough Council's updated draft economic Development Strategy for 2023 to 2026, written by two of our wonderful economic development team who are here tonight, Hilary Smith and James Reid.
Economic development is investment in growing the local economy and enhancing the prosperity and quality of life for all residents. It is about supporting businesses and creating opportunities but this being local government, it is so much more than that it encompasses areas including, but not limited to, transport bidding for and distributing central government funding, culture and participating in the drawing up of the submitted Local Plan.
there is close collaboration with a wide range of partners, including town and parish councils, and the business improvement district West Kent partners, public transport operators, active travel, England visit Kent, and so on.
the finished strategy will be a tool with which the EDI team can engage with businesses tonight, we welcome your comments and suggestions and I hope that you will support the recommendation to publish for consultation lastly, I'd like to explain that we are delaying the launch of the consultation until September in order to avoid the peak summer holiday period, I will know now hand over to Hilary or Eddie manager.
thank you very much, Councillor Rutland.
SBE as has been mentioned, the last economic development strategy was prepared a few years ago now, and there have been significant changes in both the UK and the local economy since then, so as such, we have reviewed the previous strategy and drafted a new version that sets out our key priorities and projects very briefly, the strategy includes sections on the national and local economic context, current activity that the economic development team and its partners are undertaking overarching aims and objectives for the next three years and, importantly an action plan which includes information on projects, partners, timescales and measures of success,
we also wanted to stress that the strategy is aligned to other Council plans and strategies, including the Borough Plan, the submitted Local Plan and the emerging climate change strategy.
projects in the action plan, as set out under the following themes aiming for net 0 creating destinations, encouraging enterprise and employment, supporting rural communities and improving sustainable access and connectivity.
at the communities and economic development Cabinet Advisory Board on the 12th of July.
we were, it was requested that we make and a number of amendments to the document, and we just wanted to confirm that these will be made before publication for consultation and, of course, if councillors this evening have any further amendments we would like you would like us to make and we can do so.
I was just going to hand over to James who's going to briefly tell you a bit about our plans for the consultation.
Over the last year, we've worked hard to improve our levels of engagement with local businesses
and partner organisations.
we're anticipating that this expanded network and the new lines of communications that we've made will assist in the engagement on the strategy,
disengagement includes the use of the Council's engagement platform, talking point
engagement with local businesses and through the Council's monthly business newsletter and our social media channels
and engagement with local business representative organisations including Royal Tunbridge Wells together bid and the paddock ward business associations among others.
wider community engagement through the Council's residents' newsletter will also be undertaken
and engagement with Town and Parish Councils and through the TW BBC
social media, the May TW be see social media channels and will also engage with all partner organisations listed in Appendix B of the strategy,
including meetings as required we are conscious of the need to maximise engagement
and the number of responses we receive
and, as Justine has mentioned we are proposing to push the consultation period to September and October to avoid the holiday period in August.
say just in conclusion.
apologies and, in conclusion, we just wanted to say, though, that we believe that the benefits of preparing the economic development strategy are to set out our economic development priorities so that both businesses and residents understand and support these to align our work programme with other Council departments and key external partners to put the Council in a better position to bid for funding if and when opportunities arise and to guide the work of the economic development team for the next three year period. so this evening we are asking Cabinet to agree to the publication of the draft strategy for consultation, starting in September has been mentioned, and we will then
bring an amended strategy back to Cabinet in December for what we hope will be agreement and adoption.
thank you, Hilary and James, does anybody have any questions for Vo?
okay, does anybody wish to comment on the strategy, Nancy
I just like to say thank you for all the hard work that has gone into producing the draft strategy and also for including the comments that came out of the economic and communities Cabinet Advisory Board, so that's much appreciated and I hope other members of the cabinet will support those going forward and,
also the the consultation looks really comprehensive, so I'll be really interested to see how many people get a chance to respond to that and actually take take that opportunity, so thank you very much.
does anybody else have any comments?
on that note.
yes, thank you, for it always really encouraged that one of the headline objectives was aiming for net 0,
it's nice to see that I'll focus on five, it's got an overarching effect on all our pulses, thank you.
thank you. And lastly from me, can I just thank Hillary your team, but I think specifically James who has organised some visits for the Chief Executive and I and local businesses. It's been a a real eye-opener
to go out and meet a very wide range of local businesses and understand their concerns and their ambitions for where they work and live. So thank you very much for that and looking forward to the next series in the autumn. Thank you
so, on Item 13, the recommendations are that Cabinet recommendation 1 is that Cabinet agrees publication of the draft economic development strategy for the period 2023 2026 for a six week, consultation period from the beginning of September 2023 recommendation 2 following engagement with businesses and partner organisations bring a final version of the strategy back to Cabinet for consideration approval and adoption. Are we agreed
9 Property Transaction Report January to June 2023
thank you very much, we're now going to move on to back in the normal order, so we're going to move to Item 9, which is a property transaction report from January to June 2023 and
Peter Benfield, our senior assess.
yeah yeah, sorry.
you're very welcome to stay with your you're free to please
enjoy your evening thanks for coming
abs, so before I ask Peter to instead talk about the item.
I would like to to note that the item contains an exempt appendix, which is set out in the restricted papers added at agenda item 20 the report may be discussed and decided upon a public session, provided that no exempt information is disclosed and Members are happy to take the exempt information as read alternatively, if members wish to discuss anything which appears in the exempt appendix please indicate during the discussion, the decision will then be held over and discussed in private session later, so I am going to ask Councillor Chris Hall at Cabinet Member for Finance and performance to introduce the item. Over to Chris, thank you,
thank you very much Chair this report, it's essentially for your information cabinet
gives a summary of property transactions in the first half of the year
it went to Cabinet Advisory Board on the 11th of July,
but there were no
comments to report from from the cap.
thank you, Peter.
this is my first appearance at such a forum, so I'm slightly uncertain as to my responsibilities here, but
I think, as I think he will.
sort of read and reviewed the report,
and I am open to any questions if you have any on the matter of the recent property transactions.
thank you, Peter, does anybody have any questions on it
and nobody wishes to go into exempt later on now, OK, so we so will move straight to the recommendation, which is recommendation 1, that the report be noted are we agreed?
Thank you very much, thank you
10 Strategic Risk Register
item number 10 is the strategic risk register and I'm going to ask Councillor Chris Hall Cabinet Member for Finance and performance to introduce the item. thank you Chris,
thank you very much Chair,
as cabinet members, you'll be very much aware of the strategic risk register, we have ownership of, or have a number of, if not all, of these risks, as are they've been updated recently, to reflect the new and emerging risks.
related to the Council's delivery of focus on 5
and will be reviewed by the audit wardens audit, not ordnance, audit and governance committee in due course there were no report, there are no comments to report from the camp,
I'll hand over to Lee plus to comment on the report.
thank you, Councillor Hall, at the beginning of each municipal year Cabinet are asked to consider and note the strategic risk register, and then oversight will pass to the European Governance Committee who will consider the rescue at each meeting and also invite selected risk owners to present their risk. This is a live document and Ms Jones can amend the risk of meantime and equally new risks may be added throughout the year and as Councillor Hall said, the reports fully supported the Cabinet Advisory Board happy to take any questions Chairman.
thankfully, does anybody have any questions on the Strategic Risk Register?
I see none does anybody wish to comment on the Strategic Risk Register
thank you. the the only comments I wanted to make, because it's been raised by a number of members to me, is that we ensure that we would continue to focus upon our other towns and villages and and don't only focus all of our economic development and other activities upon Tunbridge Wells, which is the principal town in the borough of course, as I'm glad to see that a risk scenario for which is around towns and villages and the recognition of the risks of their decline has been well represented and I hope that we will continue to focus upon that.
thank you, does anybody else wish to comment?
no, in that case
I'll move to the recommendation recommendation 1 is that Cabinet considers and notes the strategic risk register and the arrangements for managing strategic risk are we agreed,
11 Budget Projection and Strategy 2024/25
thank you very much, we'll move on to Item 11, which is the budget projection and strategy for 2024 25, and I'm going to ask Chris to introduce the item,
thank you very much, Chair beforehand over to Lee this report was presented at finance and governance CAB and it gives a slightly improved situation regarding the financial year 2024 to 25.
since the budget was set in in March this year, a full council,
gap, the budget gap at the moment is now 889,000 pounds to be drawn from reserves,
unless, of course, during the financial year, decisions can be taken to address that gap
and you have before you this evening
the report on charges into Northern,
by introducing parking charges into Northern Park, which would be potentially one decision which would enable us Medea to to change that situation and close that gap towards the end of the financial year, so this is slightly improving situation, but there's still a very serious situation, a widening gap between income and expenditure inflation is continuing to. affect us quite quite seriously.
and for the first time we've also been able to report to the Finance and governance CAB, the emerging savings plan, which I've spoken about at previous Cabinet meetings, so there's quite a bit in the on that handover to lie, and then we can then take any question.
thank you, Councillor Hall. This is the first report in the process of setting the 24 25 budget. The current year's budget has been used as a base and an updated inflation, demand changes and also last year's unaudited outturn. The major assumption changes are as follows. That establishment costs will increase by 5% rather than 3% reflecting current market pay awards. The vacancy factor will now be 500,000 pounds compared with the current budget of 340,000, reflecting the continued difficulties in recruiting and retaining staff. Investment interest is now forecast to be 2 million pound rather than the current budget of 1.5 million pound which reflects higher interest rates. The fair funding view has been assumed to now take place in the year 26 27 these changes result in a forecast budget deficit for next year of 889,000.
the report also includes an emerging savings plan which at this stage include savings of 443,000 which, if all delivered would leave savings to find of 400 and 46,000 pounds which is achievable gaps at this point in time there are still further opportunities throughout the year to take new income decisions and for savings to come forward
the savings plan will be considered, it was considered this week already by the Audit Governance Committee who fully supported the savings plan and it demonstrated that the Council is serious in addressing the improvement recommendations made and the value for money conclusion.
there are some risks associated with the budget assumptions and they are as follows that by not having sufficient staffing in post this places extra pressure on remaining staff to cover those vacancies, there is also a risk that should inflation not fall as projected by the Bank of England, then contract indexation will be far higher than allow for and will we need to make a further adjustment throughout the year? There is also a risk that the level new homes bonus of 768,000, which is in the current budget. We have assumed that we get the same amount of income next year, but we don't necessarily know the details of the scheme, so that's a risk that we carry at this moment in time. The for budget preparation timetable is appended, as well as the medium term budget projections, and these will change throughout the year as the budget setting reports come forward and the timetable was set out in summary, within the report, I'm very happy to take any questions Chairman.
thank you, leader, does anybody have any questions for Lee on this one,
I'm going to dip my
my toe only if I may,
on the medium term
it stops at 28 29, I think you've said to us that 29 30 we're looking at 7.00.2 9 8 million
after for the following year, 29 30
June, can you just explain what you think well, why is it would be the likely cause of that?
was that that projection assumes that the council doesn't make any adjustments to manage that deficit in any of the years prior to that, but a consequence of trying to find that level of savings by half of this Council's net budget requirement will be their accounts will be left pretty much only being able to fund statutory services but there's plenty of time before we get to that stage and it's in all our the responsibility is to try to close that gap, the best we can, but that will involve difficult decisions along the way.
thank you very much, and does anybody have any questions for questions from Lee does anybody wish to comment on the budget strategy?
Chris yeah, I think you know, I agree with everything that you know Lee has just outlined, I think there's. we can't rely on inflation to come down necessarily.
we don't know exactly what the vacancy factor might be in nine months' time.
we don't know exactly how much interest we might we might receive if interest rates go up, you know it's likely that we will gain some further investment income, but really this isn't just about the current financial year and we need, we've got the opportunity to make decisions for the next three years
and if we have the opportunity to make the right decisions now, and I think it's crucial that we do,
make those decisions this financial year, but that will set us on the right path for the next few years.
You know who knows where we will be in three years' time, I imagine the vacancy factor and investment interest may not be
variables that are affecting, as it may very well, be, something else,
but the the crucial thing is to start to get the finances on a stable footing with with decisions you know in the in the coming months, I'm confident we can do it and by the end of the financial year and close that gap.
thank you, does anybody else wish to say anything on that one?
I am really keen not to rely on vacancy factors to get us through every time
imagine running a hospital with 15 members, 15% less staff and you need or a school, I think we'd all be up in arms and it's only thanks to the goodwill of our staff that things keep ticking over
as well as delivering the building a BA better Borough Plan OK so if nobody else has got any comments to make we'll move over to the recommendations recommendation 1 is that officers continue to walk work towards reducing the budget projected budget deficit in line with the budget strategy and report back in October with proposals prior to public consultation on the draft budget in December. one recommendation to Cabinet supports the emerging saving plan, are we agreed,
thank you very much.
k we're moving on to Item 12 entitled Daniel and parking consultation response,
12 Dunorlan Parking - Consultation Response
I'm going to before asked Justin, to introduced the item, we have a 3 registered speakers who each have three minutes to speak at the first person I'd like to invite is Mr Robert Banks.
thank you, Mr. Chairman, at the last finance and governance CIB meeting, Councillor O'Connor highlighted the importance of positively reaction to the result of the public consultation that had rejected the Councils proposal. Surprisingly, there was no direct question on the introduction of parking charges. There was, however, an implicit assumption that they would be introduced as respondents were only asked to select a fee and a charging period. Despite the submission 50% of respondents opted for 0 payment and a further 13% wished it park, parking charges were to be introduced to restrict them to a maximum period of five days a week. Furthermore, only two of the 18 free form responses supported parking charges, although there was a long discussion,
by the previous Committee or the objections about charges revised or ultimately rejected were not sufficient evidence being provided, the Council has a binary solution to financial deficit, levy charges or reduced services, other options, such as efficiency, savings or income generation, were either not considered or rejected.
from comparison with hasten a HMO park, disbelieved, any loss of income from the café will not be significant or can be compensated, however, neither park as a boat business, the parking charges are lower and they were not introduced during a period of significant inflation.
while 76% of respondents said that they travelled to the park by car, the comment that this is a choice as they do have access to local green spaces that they can walk to is disingenuous, they have made the choice, presumably because they prefer to visit this park can enjoy its beauty and facilities a decision to be applauded and not used as a reason to disadvantage them. it has been acknowledged that the displacement of parked vehicles cannot be predicted, however, no details are given to support the assertion that any required changes will be made in a timely and cost-effective manner. the consultation is flawed because the fundamental question was not asked of the three options considered, the first was to leave car parks free of charge, this was rejected because it does not support either the Council's principles have used to pay, or the Bus Partnership First party safeguarding the Council's finances. however, this principle was not mentioned in the consultation document and by now invoking it has negated the views of over 50% of the respondents. The outcome of this consultation has been predetermined, as the implicit assumption that changes are to be introduced has been now realised. Furthermore, not at the other options reflect the majority view of the respondents option. A was supported by 12.4% and option B by 33.8%. This Council has repeated
stated its wish to foster public engagement. However, though, the outcome of this consultation is not binding, the non evidence-based rejection of the results and
asks you to sum up, please, Mr
Bangor, the non just actually summing up the, though the report is not binding, the non evidence-based rejection of the results of this consultation is non democratic and contravened some of the gun imprint principles that formed the basis of the local government guidelines.
Like thank you, thank you very much. Thanks our next speakers, Councillor Nick Pope, from Park Ward
and thank you, Chair, as you probably know and have just said it, Dunholme Park is a jewel in my ward.
now I don't like the idea of introducing parking charges at the northern park, but because of the financial situation the council is facing, like many other councils, I fully understand the options are running out,
everyone needs to be aware that the Council currently has a budget gap of just overwhelming of just under 1 million pounds which is forecast to grow to nearly 6 million in the next five years.
I have a number of concerns and points that I want to raise. If charging is to be approved first displacement, there will be some people who will seek to park for free, either in surrounding public roads or in private roads and driveways. This may make it more difficult for resonant residents of these roads to park or block people's access to their property.
A few years ago there was a problem with people parking in one of the private roads near Dunnell and Park because there was a brown sign for Donal and Park immediately opposite the road. The satellite sign has now been removed, but the problem is likely to return.
More people are likely to park along the wholesale road, narrowing the dangerous lane used by a large number of vehicles, often travelling too fast and increasing the risk of accidents.
people may decide to park on Pembury Road near the car park using the grass verge, potentially impeding traffic flow and damaging and churning up the verge this used to happen regularly many years ago I asked Cabinet to ensure there are plans in place to monitor and quickly respond to any displacement that causes problems
second, businesses and volunteers, as mentioned in 3.8 in the report, it is important to support the businesses and the volunteers who work in the park, I asked Cabinet to give these users some free parking when they're working in the park.
third, pricing structure.
parks are important for people's mental and physical health. There are places to replenish the soul if we want to allow people to switch off and recharge, they should not have a niggle in the back of their head, warning them about the parking costs going up as they reach the end of the first hour.
I would suggest that the first two hours as a minimum are charged at a flat rate of 1 pound higher charges beyond four hours need to be set higher to deter commuters from using the car parks. As currently set out in the report,
I would like Cabinet to respond to these three items above
in addition to these,
I I have a few comments about user pays in this situation, I don't think it is, this is a user pays.
strategy for charging people to park the majority of people who visit the park arrive on foot, although of course the majority of people who responded to console consultation with people who drive because it was of interest to them.
and this last one is on public consultation,
or offering the option of free parking is one of the responses, which is an obvious response,
kind of excuse, the results, and I think it's really important that that the public consultation questions are carefully thought out, especially having once worked with evaluation experts in central government.
saying something, that's it,
thank you very much,
and the next speaker is Councillor Tom Dorling's from Benenden and Cranbrook ward, thank you.
thank you Chair,
the report to the Cabinet Advisory Board identified that 50% of those responding to the consultation were opposed to parking charges in Danwon.
I understand that the friends of DeLorean, who do a great deal to help the park, are also wholly opposed,
the responses given in the free text field indicate that a majority favouring.
retaining a majority favoured retaining free parking.
there was, however, no option to maintain the status quo of free parking in the recommendations and, despite many requests at the CAB, members were denied the opportunity to vote on continuing with free parking.
a supporter of introducing free parking charges at that meeting suggested that the 50% of respondents who are opposed to the charge should be ignored because, of course, people would prefer not to pay.
if that is what you think, then I suggest you have not pursued a very effective consultation.
Tunbridge Wells is a town with wonderful green spaces which everyone can enjoy
the parks contribute to the health and wellbeing of everyone living here.
all households, through paying Council Tax, contribute to the cost of maintaining the parks, and that is as it should be, facilities open to all.
The report to the Cabinet buys that parking charges needed to be introduced in Dunne Oregon to contribute to the cost of maintaining the park. It was claimed this was consistent with the principle of user pays.
I disagree strongly. You're proposing to introduce a charge on an apartheid basis that would be paid only by those who don't live or can't afford to live in the centre of Tunbridge Wells.
the report to the CAB introduced the argument that revenue from parking charges was needed to contribute to reducing the council's budget deficit,
I certainly understand the effect that inflation is having on the Council's financial position, with costs increasing at a higher rate than income, but financial decisions should be taken when considering all fees and charges and not when assessing just one potential source of income.
the Council has a well rehearsed process for reviewing VA reviewing fees and charges in the course of preparing its budget.
it was suggested at the CAB, there may be an issue with cars being parked in the lot and done or in whilst people are at work or visiting other places in town,
the parking area is only meant for the use of those visiting the park and if pays, if spaces have been taken by people who are not visiting the park, then that needs to be managed. I can envisage a case for introducing a fee for parking management purposes to stop all day parking, but that was not an option in the report presented to the CAB
the CAB was left in no doubt if your intention to introduce parking charges in Dorian
if that remains your intention, I think there would be a very disappointing outcome.
I would have appeal for exemption from any parking charges for volunteers who help with the maintenance of the park at 3.00 minutes' time, there may be others perhaps associated with the businesses in the park, who I hope you might consider exempting, thank you.
OK, I'm now going to ask.
Councillor Justin Rutland Cabinet Member for
economic development, and then Councillor Chris Hall for Finance and performance to introduce the item, thank you.
thank you Chair. This report considers the responses to the denial in park car parking consultation and proposes options for introducing charges. I would like to thank Jane John and the parking and cans teams for the hard work that has gone into this report and consultation. It is a fair and comprehensive report that explains the reasons and the financial context that has brought us to consider introducing car parking charges in this much loved park. It responds to the concerns raised by the consultation and the informal engagement made by Councillors over the past months. Thank you to our speakers becoming along this evening and we will endeavour to respond to your points in the questions and debate. I will now hand over to Chris Cabinet Member for Finance and performance
thank you very much.
yes, for my part, I really just want to comment on the report at finance and governance CAB
on the 11th of July
we gave this item a considerable amount of time for questions and debate from members we had two speakers. Councillor
O'Connell, representing Park Ward, and who is against introducing car parking charges and Councillor Brice, who is in favour each each Member was to was able to express and debate the pros and cons, and we we spent quite considerable time
looking at the report in the end.
there was a a majority of four to three to introduce either option A or option B.
and and that was the basis of the recommendation as that is coming to us this evening, so that's probably all I want to say for them on the matter at the moment until we go into debate, but then I'll introduce a lead to discuss the report
thank you Chris I'm gonna pass over to
John psychologist Jill Manager to
give a little bit more detail on the item, thank you.
officers were originally asked to look at the principle of introducing charges at the northern part last year as part of the Cabinet's in-year budget review
details were set out within the sales fees and charges report, which was approved by Cabinet in July 2022 when it was decided that the Norland charges would be subject to a separate public consultation.
informal public consultations took place in November and December to gauge views on charging the findings of these are summarised within the report and in Appendices A and B.
the recommendations to Cabinet from the finance and governance Cabinet Advisory Board held on the 11th of July 2023 are
consultation, responses and mitigation should be noted.
agreement that charges be introduced and Cabinet decides on option either A or B.
agreement to start date of the 16th of October 2023 with blue badge parking remaining free.
and portfolio holders for finance and performance and economic Development, in conjunction with the Head of Finance procurement and parking, be given authority to make minor amendments.
cabinet is asked to consider and decide on the Advisory Board recommendations and I am happy to answer any questions on the report.
thank you, John, does anybody have any questions for John on the report yeah?
hello, John, thank you for coming for our benefit, the Councillor Pope and people watching online, could you tell us, please, about the displacement of vehicles, how it can be addressed both on the public roads such as wholesale word mentioned and the private roads nearby and how long it might take
to address this? Thank you.
officers have considered the implication of displacement, there are already restrictions on Walsall Road,
these restrictions could be reviewed and extended to deal with any displacement on that road.
in addition, restrictions could be placed into Pembury Road,
in my experience, both roads have an element of self enforcement in terms of it's not quite an attractive place to park. because of the constraints of each of the roads once quite wide and busy, and the other is quite narrow and busy, so
if there was to be displacement is something we could do with on those two roads
relatively easy, easily and not not a great expense
because of modern restrictions that can be put in place.
in terms of private roads, we don't have any control over those bat mitigation could be put in place, for example, additional signing.
geographical changes at the entrances to the roads and
the use of private enforcement companies.
thank you. just see nothing had a second
question if I did have another question.
John so we've had the informal consultation and I wondered if you could explain a bit more about the next stage, should we decide to go ahead, which would be a statutory consultation and how that works in the kinds of people that would be
able to comment, thank you.
so within the process of making a
parking would run on the car park to introduce charges,
there was a statutory consultation process that lasts for 21 days.
and that's advertised locally, by erecting notices in the area. it's advertised in local press
a copy of the draft parking order is kept at the Town Hall for inspection,
there will be
a notice placed on our website
and, in actual fact, the website may form a portal for it for receiving consultation responses.
and we would publish in social media.
and I or anyone, can partake in the in the consultation,
thank you, does anybody else have any questions for John and Nancy?
just thinking about that consultation,
a formal one, are there any statutory consultees that we need to consult
just thinking about if we were to put in place where it was, if we monitored that there was an issue with displacement parking,
and we need might need to put signs up, for instance,
would that be something that we would have to liaise with Kent County Council Highways on, or is that something that we could just do it if it was deemed necessary?
thank you, Councillor Lyons' helpful question actually.
so Kent County Council are responsible for making any orders on the highway
we do make orders on their behalf, but they are still sent to Kent County Council would be sealed and we certainly couldn't put in a restriction without the agreement of the County Council so we have already written to them to tell them this process is taking place that we're looking at putting in parking charges. in the car park and we might have to look at displacement, and that's something we'd liaise with Kent County Council on, but it's something we could undertake internally ourselves.
there are other statutory consultees, one being Kent police, but Kent County Council are a statutory consultee in any way, in any case, so we would have to write to them formally to tell them this is, this is what we intended doing.
thank you any other questions Councillor Jane Sharratt.
thank you, you mentioned that the parking could remain free for blue badge holders, I just wondered, can it also
have exemptions for cafe, for workers at their businesses and
and perhaps the volunteers, there as well, and how would that work?
thank you Councillor, there's the the, the report does mention volunteers and it's this decision for Members if they give a dispensation to volunteers, and that's very easy to for us to do when we run, I think with a white list with their registration numbers on it
and we can easily identify them and just make sure they don't fall foul of our enforcement operations with regard to the cafe, the report mentions people using the café and and and the boat's business,
but it doesn't mention them in in, in terms of dispensation, I believe it says that we would look at the financial arrangements and the rents that they pay, so that that's something that could be looked into.
thank you, does anybody else have any more cannot yet, Nancy Jeffrey?
amongst the speakers there was a fair amount of criticism about the consultation, the informal consultation itself and the way some of the work
questions were worded.
and emissions they felt.
Do you feel that there is any way that we could have
improved on on questions we dealt in the consultation or done it in a different way,
I've been involved in many consultations on parking matters over the years, and I think there's there are elements of wanting to maximise the data that you get from parking, consultations or any consultation. so if you're talking about doing nothing in a consultation, it's sort of a it's inviting a sort of non-response in a way, although I can see that by the public perception, it could be that we're trying to avoid the subject.
but it was a fact-finding mission, I think, and just finding out what the public foul and there was, there were strong views in it in either direction, and particularly in one direction, of course, because
nobody likes to pay for something then they get in for free. currently get it for free, but I think the outcomes from the consultation were
constructive and they they formed great talking points, and that said
we've got the statutory consultation, so everyone has the opportunity to make any points that they want through that and that will be free text it's not constrained in any way there's no questions in there, it's just you know tell us what you think.
the difficulty with that when you start filtering the data is it it is there's a lot of heavy lifting involved because you actually have to go through each of the free text responses,
but that it's a worthy exercise, but it's much harder than the informal consultations where we'd be needed to channel the information in a way and as ring fenced.
so it is quite interesting, just you know how you take those views and actually kind of form, any
kind of message from them, and is it that you you find patterns in them or similarities, or just I'm just kind of interested in the process of how how that works really,
very interesting thing for me with people's habits. when they went there and and what they did and how they got there
and then, of course their views on on on charges
so I just think it is very,
very productive in terms of what I know it's criticised, but
I think it's very productive in the information it gave us on on different viewpoints.
OK, thank you,
so does anybody else have any questions?
sir John, can I ask a question about?
My understanding is, if you introduce a charge, what you get as a higher turnover vehicles in the car park, rather than people parking there all day, which might might actually alleviate some of the consensus with displacement because people are coming for a set amount of hours and then turns round and there is availability was, I think some bear some feedback in the consultation which says that people can never get a space that would that be a fair comment or,
but it's an interesting question, Councillor.
it can encourage people to to to what we culture and in town centres we own short stay car parks where you have a more expensive charge.
the longer you stay, so it's not linear, we were, apart from the free free period, we've be suggesting a linear charge. that once we introduced that linear charge, we will get masses of data on absolutely every person that comes to the car park and how long they stay,
and then what we can do is we can then change behaviours, so if you've got that people staying all day for 5 pounds for example, then that can be increased but keep the keep the first day of the second day of the third hour.
cheap, so we, you know, we, we can adjust the charges, it's not set in stone,
and that's something which will be informed after I say a period of a year operating those charges, but certainly charging for parking does encourage people to move.
the staff are definitely a factor.
thank you any other questions for John Biff, no, OK, so can we now move to the debate of the on the item
thank you Ben.
I I just want to start really by responding to a Dr Banks, comment that the his his sense was that this outcome was prieto predetermined, and I can absolutely assure him and others that it has not been there has been a real struggle, and I think others will probably confirm that in their contributions to over the last few months in relation to this
the Labour Group of Councillors, whom Jane and I represent have really struggled over it and we remain divided, and I think that that should be recognised, the Labour party nationally and locally has fought many times to ensure that we have green spaces in our towns and cities and recognised long ago that residents' mental and physical wellbeing are impacted negatively by lack of outside green space a point I think that Councillor Dorling's alluded to
a more contemporary value is that our planet is in crisis and that people's health is being impacted negatively by carbon emissions. all those two two values are not impossible to reconcile, but to do so requires a change of thinking and action on all our parts. Many in the Labour Group feel that we should not be charging for access to green spaces. We already pay for them in our Council Tax again, a point made earlier
as a counterbalance to that. Some feel that we are not charging for access to green space but rather charging for those who drive there for the privilege or the benefit of doing so. One of our Members raised the point that, as a non-car owner with health issues, why was she required to pay Council Tax to subsidise others' ability to drive and park at the northern
we pay for provision of our leisure centres through council tax, but they use are still pays for using them, similarly, we provide for the parks at considerable cost to the local taxpayer, but those who drive should pay for the car park, which also has to be maintained.
there was also a strongly supported view that just addressing the car parking schedule in Dunholme without addressing a larger car parking strategy for the whole of the borough is unreasonable and thinking in isolation.
I feel that the car parking strategy when it eventually emerges will be a high level assessment of our future car parking needs, particularly in our large towns into car parks and can be dissociated from this initiative.
Similarly, some Members feel that developing charging schedules, particularly for car parks near green spaces should be undertaken only after there are agreed arrangements on the public transport network.
The dearth of good quality and timely bus services around the Borough does undeniably inhibit some residents from accessing all kinds of services and opportunities, and I do have sympathy with this view. but I feel that if we wait for a resolution to our public transport provision, we will never do anything
what has been poorly explained, I think both by asking Cabinet owned by the Council more generally is the cost of maintaining the northern part to the standard, which so many people enjoy, currently, the annual cost of maintenance of the park and its car parks is over 170,000 pounds a year. a contribution to that cost by those who drive and use those car parks does not seem to me unreasonable,
in my view, providing one hour's free parking which has been discussed is a lose lose, we will still be allowing people to drive to the park, polluting atmosphere and contributing to ever increasing emissions whilst also not raising even enough for charges from charges to cover the costs of installation and the maintenance of the systems required to monitor it. I now feel, and I admit that I have moved from my original decision or position the 1 hours free parking is a mistake.
the Labour Group, however, is effectively split down the middle and while all of us respect each other's views and positions on access to green space, balanced by the approach of the user pays, both of its cabinet members are supportive of the charging schedule, but with the commitment to clearly explained the divisions within our group which I have tried to do,
thank you for that on this proceed before I bring Wendy, can I just ask John a question.
the parking strategy, how big picture stuff and then can I come back to Lee and ask him about what where he thinks the maintenance cost will be next year
given index indexation on the contract?
Jonathan you OK to talk about park,
yes, actually yes.
so we are, we have a draft parking strategy,
we just fine tuning it, we met yesterday with members from the planning team.
because they are working on the local plan, they are also working on town centre plan, and we won't want to understand how they will integrate all the three plans that are running in parallel, there is also a transport strategy.
in the wings,
so we developed it, I'd probably say we're about 80 to 90% there with with the strategy,
and then the plan would be to.
presented to share it with members will probably share internally with officers first and then share it with members, and then perhaps go out to consultation on that,
but then that should be achievable. certainly within this year.
thank you, and then, if I can ask the lie about
maintenance costs of Donal LondonIn indexation, please
thank you, Councillor Chappell are, as on Councillor Parnham said, the phenomenon park net cost is 174,000 pounds and contract indexation is currently running around 10%, so it tends to run higher than inflation from accuser cinema price index, and the Council does have to bear that additional cost because we're contractually committed to meeting it.
thank you, so that's 17,000 pounds or more due in 24 25, and currently according to my GCSE maths.
thank you, Wendy you, you want to speak,
I do thank you Chair.
first of all, I'd just like to correct Councillor Dorling's,
he said the friends were wholly opposed
introducing car parking fees they weren't wholly opposed, I was at the meeting, I saw the vote and it was not a unanimous vote, it was.
approximately 50 50, I think people realise that we have got a very valuable asset there and we can't just,
but we can't keep the luxury of that park without.
addressing some of our underlying problems with finances.
I'd also like to say
to Dr Banks.
the efficiency savings we've taken efficiency savings
when we extended the contract with Tivoli,
I personally walk round with members of our parks team to try and reduce the spec on maintenance of the park to try and save money.
we looked at and we are actually implementing a reduced mowing scheme.
we were looking at some hedges, only being cut once a year, but rewilded bits of our parks and.
some of the the planting in our parks has now gone to a stuff that is more appropriate to our changing climate and be
that also include that reduces
the need for.
so I hope that.
satisfies him on that.
I would also like to say on the
just to to be absolutely sure, so when we, when we renew this contract extended it,
we had already taken substantial savings, and then Tivoli were able to give us a price on that. but but come December, we will be the indexation is on the RPI, and I think we've got to just all remember that.
it isn't as if we're the next thing.
people will be accused of is
charging for entry to the park,
we're very lucky in this town that we have
an enormous amount of green space which is free for all, we're just asking those that drive to it to pay a small amount
for the privilege of driving there,
thank you, thank you, thank you when they can, I just ask you whether you're in favour of option A or option B.
I'm very very much in favour of option A thank you.
thank you, does anybody else wish to speak, Nancy?
is really just to echo what Councillor Pound has said, but from the perspective of our alliance members, because we too have been very split in our number, I haven't prepared eloquent summation of that, but just to to highlight I mean Councillor O'Connell came to the CA Cabinet Advisory Board meeting and Councillor Pope has spoken tonight for both
Councillors for Park Ward
and are very concerned of the impact on their residents.
and also concerns about the status, if you like, of the consultation and what that actually means and the weight that we put to the responses, hence why I was asking John, sending the questions about the consultation and the purpose purpose of consultation
and how we respond to those responses.
maybe there's a there's a perception that consultation responses are some kind of direction to us as decision makers to do that or whether that's
actually those responses should help us inform our decision and also that this decision that we're making now isn't kind of the end
of the process but it
and it's also part of a wider contextual process about
revenue deficits under control.
and actually, and in response to something Mr Banks had said that we we, we only look at binary solutions,
I think, sort of in the context of this that may seem so, but actually there's a whole lot more going on in terms of as Wendy as Councillor Fitzsimons has alluded to efficiency savings and also income generation that isn't part of this report so I would just like to sort of counter that.
going back to the differences of opinion, there is concern, as has been expressed again, on displacement parking, so I would be very keen that we would could address that.
there was also.
concern as as a councillor pounds group, the Labour Group has expressed about.
this not being seen as part of the wider parking
strategy, and I might just call in Lee on that point as to what the car parking strategy addresses, does it address particular parking charges, or is it of a wider strategy across the
across the councils?
is it's just to kind of get a better understanding of of why we aren't doing this in a in the round, if you like, in the all, looking all of car parking at once, thank you.
yeah, so just be clear that parking structures are very high level document, it won't go into the detail of individual charges when the huge car parks it's there to help support the local plan and the policies being developed in local plan to make sure they are all coherent and we have a sound parking strategy to support growth identification and also land use within the Local Plan policy.
thank you, that's useful.
and also because you know the the users of the pot, the volunteers in the park
and the businesses, so if we can find a way
if we could de utilise the White listing,
mechanisms to to enable those users to still be able to come and help in the park, because we, you know, we are reliant on their goodwill.
to to help with keeping the pot looking so
so so lovely
on the whole, though, I
kind of reject this notion of free parking, I don't think there is anything such as free parking because.
I think someone somewhere is paying either directly through their council tax, and that includes taxpayers across the whole borough,
the majority of whom
are not users of the park
and have actually other green spaces that are preferable for them to go to and easier to get to they don't have to drive to
or indirectly has been alluded to by the increase in air pollution emitted by, buy more cars on our roads.
so I think, on the whole right for me, I think this notion of freedom that we have individuals have of the liberty to do, whatever we like driver, we like part where we like, as if it's our fundamental right, forgetting the fact but no we actually are part of a wider
wider communities and indeed society.
and that we do consider different perspectives, but we do need to be working collectively for the public good.
and I think we need to be encouraging to exercise choices in ways which have a less negative impact on our society and on our planet.
and we makes us consider and act.
in ways that we can make quite small adjustments in our lives for the benefit of others, so for that reason I will be voting for option 1 because originally I was looking at option 2, but I think, having considered it, I think that it's not going to bring the benefits that,
we really really need, considering all the other
factors in play, so I will be voting for
for option 1.
OK, thank you now, so very eloquently put, does anybody else wished him to speak joint?
I will be supporting option A in the car parking charges, but this has not been an easy decision. At first, it seemed clear, but a measure that will make car use less convenient was something I had to support as the portfolio holder for carbon reduction, but it isn't straightforward. I have listened to my Labour colleagues, speakers tonight. Consultation, responses and other feedback, saying that parks and green spaces should be free for all to enjoy for health and wellbeing. They are right. I know that when people spend time in nature, they are more likely to want to protect it, and while the park itself is still free and there are many other parks accessible across the borough, I don't take lightly the thought that these parking charges may be a barrier to some accessing one of our green spaces at best, parking charges as a deterrent to driving would only be used alongside positive measures like improved cycling routes, a great public transport system and help for those on the lowest incomes. I acknowledge we aren't there yet and more needs to be done. there is another significant factor, however, and that is the responsibility I have as a member of the Cabinet to stabilise our finances, not just this year but for years to come, so that we can safeguard the money we spend on our beautiful parks and other commitments like community safety and the investment that will be needed to reach our goal of 0 carbon by 2030 and protect future residents of the borough from the worst impacts of climate change. I'm conscious that if we don't make this choice, we will have to look to even less palatable cuts or charges elsewhere. It is because of the financial imperative, alongside the fact that, although far from perfect, this measure will reduce some carbon emissions that I have decided to support charges.
thank you, Jane, does anybody else wish to speak, Christine?
thank you, I just wanted to say a few words about the consultation. we were seeking information on views about car parking charges, but we also wanted to understand more about how people use the park, how long they stay, where they live and how they travelled to the park, but regarding the criticism of the wording, I think we can go away and have a think about that and review it next time
so coming out of the consultation where issues of displacement,
which have been looked at carefully and the possible impacts on the businesses and the volunteers, the report does explain mitigations for displacement, and we have been assured of swift action which would be in place well before summer of next year, the mitigations for businesses how are explained also. many people raised the issue of volunteers and we've from talking to the friends, we know that they do not all drive to the park, but those who do we can wait list. there were also concerns in the free form responses that charges wouldn't raise a significant sum
again now. The report outlines the set-up costs so that we can see that, although income figures are provision, of course it is worthwhile, although I note the business case is far stronger for option A and B. There were also some other income generating ideas in those responses that I think we should look at.
We've also had feedback from participants of Parkrun, which indicate that most people come from within a few miles of Donal and Park, and they are also used to paying for park runs at nearby parks, including Tunbridge and Bedgebury.
There was also a feeling expressed that money raised should support the park, as seen at point 3.5 of the report, it will help mitigate against the 174,000 pounds per annum cost of maintaining the park and the unfunded increases in the grounds maintenance costs expected due to inflation.
we appreciate that for visitors to the park who drive this will be an unwelcome and possibly baffling decision to that end, we have discussed and we would like to display notices at the two car parks explaining our decision making, and I wish to provide for the maintenance of the park in the future.
the Lib Dem Group has tussled with this decision over the past few months and there has been a lot of discussion and challenge regarding the social, financial and environmental implications.
of course, we take no pleasure in introducing charging if it is the decision taken this evening, but it is a sensible thing to do to generate some income as part of a package of measures to address the budget deficit and help safeguard the future of the Council's finances, which includes looking after its parks.
thank you, sir, does anybody else wish to speak, Chris,
thank you Chair, I think.
from a finance point of view, I think
firstly, when we considered the options in the cab
to charge and in even not to charge, I don't think not charging. it is a realistic option.
I think you know, we wouldn't want to do this, ideally I do when we wouldn't want to introduce car parking charges, but we do need to be resourceful and find ways to fund our parks to the standard that we've all been used to and that cost is only going to escalate.
and although 90,000 pounds a year isn't going to pay, for the part it will be a significant contribution to the overall budget that goes to fund
the maintenance of those parks, so I think.
you know, I was persuaded that we needed to charge, I think, on the on the night, I think there are a couple of points, I think that were very persuasive, I think one was
Mr to allow the first hour to be free of charge.
whilst it might sound appealing, just wouldn't raise enough revenue really to make it worthwhile introducing a car parking
fee structure and, as a Councillor Rutland has already said that the business case for that option doesn't really
make it worth doing so it really only leaves us with option A sorry which is the charging from the first hour so option B I'm you know I think we have to rule that one out because the numbers just don't really add up option A
I think if we can,
help mitigate the risk of displacement.
I am encouraged by what I've heard from John Strachan this evening, if we can act on that quickly,
if that happens.
then I think we need to to.
to address the concerns of local residents in Park, I think that's really important,
I think there was there was another persuasive argument on the evening, which was around the fact that there is a precedent for this, and I think Councillor Ellis brought it out in terms of Tonbridge and Malling had introduced a car parking, the structure for Haysden Park
which has been in place for a while now and in their experience it hadn't affected visitor numbers it hadn't discouraged people from enjoying green spaces in the area so,
I feel I feel reassured and satisfied if we can address some of the points that have been raised. I think it's the right thing to do. It's not a short term decision this to to just try and address a short term budget gap. This is something that will have
yeah we we've done with a long term view in mind to benefit the finances for a number of years to come and support
parks and other services that we want to
protect. So that's what I have to say, is it I I favour option A.
and did you want to say anything no okay, so I'm I'm hearing people loud and clear, I just wanna say.
my my biggest fears are.
as the finances public finances in our country continue to deteriorate, we left in the kind of desert and as a race to the bottom, and I think it would be a tragedy if we didn't have well maintained public spaces, museums, libraries
and all of these facilities in it and it really worries me that there doesn't seem to be. a conversation nationally about the value of everything that the public sector does for the country, and I think we have a as custodians of these wonderful places and that my strong belief that Tunbridge Wells Borough Council is a force for good. We need to give it the resources to carry on with that mission to make the borough a better place for our residents. So I really want to support option A as well. I have thought about it, I've thought about it for the last 13 months, probably,
but one thing I think we mustn't do, which was one of the suggestions in the consultation, would be to use those funds that will be raised through the park parking charges to expand the car park which was respondent 8 in there, and also I for going back to what Jane said earlier, I think you know the weather in Europe at the moment, sadly not in the UK, is suggesting that we are in the middle of a climate change crisis and we need to, as I said in my acceptance speech lead on that so I have got concerns that respondent 1 drives
the same distance, it takes me to walk round this building, to go to the photocopier print, something of and bring it back, which is less than 300 yards to go to the park, and that's that's of concern to me that that car journey is not necessary and a third of park residents who responded to the consultation actually said that they drove. which is quite a big proportion.
so if we can encourage people to walk and cycle and run to the park, we're all going to gain and, as Nancy said. we're all paying for that CO2 pollution somewhere, so we've all got to gain from it.
thank you very much. I'm sensing we're going with option A, so I'm going to put that in the recommendation unless anybody objects or wants to say anything else, OK, so you are happy for me to present the recommendations. Thank you recommendations for this item that are three of them. Recommendation 1, that Cabinet considers the responses from the consultation held in November 2022 and note some mitigations in the report recommendation 2 that Cabinet agrees, parking charges should be introduced in the Donal and Park car parks and charging option A will be adopted, as agreed at this meeting recommendation 3. That Cabinet agrees for charges to be implemented on the 16th of October 2023, with the exception of blue badge holders parked in disabled spaces which will be free of charge. Any apologies to the support
dropped on account
recommendation 4 aisle is dropped off my notes I will bring up.
thank you dancing, that Cabinet gives authority to the portfolio holders for finance and performance and economic development in conjunction with the Head of Finance, procurement and parking, to make minor amendments to the proposal resulting from the comments received during the formal consultation process required to create the parking places order or further operational issues that may arise.
those are the full recommendations are we agreed,
thank you very much, we get to move on to
Item number 15, which is a Cranbrook and sitting hers
Neighbourhood Development Plan, and just for the record, Nancy.
I'll I'll do I'll be 15 now so just for the benefit of the recording Councillor Nancy Warner, having declared an interest, is leaving the room, so I'm going to ask Councillor Hugo pounds to introduce the item Cabinet Member for Housing and Planning thank you.
15 Cranbrook and Sissinghurst Neighbourhood Development Plan
thank you very much,
actually it's rather, unfortunately we should have spoken before the meeting if we'd done Cranbrook, insisting has last, I could have done a general introduction to all three and then that he could have left but I'll repeat it upon her return,
what I'd like to do is introduce, if I may, a general comment about all three of the neighborhood development plans that are before you tonight
and then we will take each of them in turn to see if there's any questions or debate and and, a vote on the recommendations, but in very broad terms,
what we have before us tonight are the Cranbrook and Susan Hirst, Paddock Wood and Pembury, Neighbourhood Development plans.
and the process that they have gone through and will go through is extremely similar,
first of all, the it's not that funny, first of all.
first of all, the various Parish Council working groups have worked, as we heard from Councillor Warren earlier, for a long time in cow crumble, consulting houses cases since 2016, developing a Neighbourhood Development Plan that then gets sent to an external examiner in each of these cases both at Cranbrook and sitting Hassan Paddock Wood and Pembury they have gone through the external examiners inspection and report the examiner then produces a table of modifications to the draft plan which is at Appendix B. In each case, the
the Parish Council then puts together a draft HRA referendum version, which includes all of the modifications from the Examiner, which is at Appendix C in your papers, in each case,
and then the Council confirms, through a formal decision statement, that it wishes that new draft version of a referendum report to go to a public vote of those who are eligible to vote within the area under discussion
and in each of these three cases that referendum is planned to take place on the 14th of September 2023 and if more than 50% of those who are eligible to vote approve it then it is made as a Neighbourhood Development Plan and then, as a neighborhood development plan, it is obviously considered or recognised as having material consideration in planning matters in relation to anything that happens within that area,
so that is the process that has gone through in each of these three at the Cabinet Advisory Board of planning and transportation which I chaired and a couple of weeks ago there were some questions raised which again apply to all three of those that are before you this evening.
which were that?
the modifications made by the Examiner, essentially,
sorry, the modifications that have been made by the Examiner have been already adopted and approved by the parish, but they have been made so that they fit in with the emerging Local Plan. If the Local Plan, in a form changes over the next few months or years,
they will do or questions about would. Therefore, the Neighbourhood Development Plan also changed to accommodate the changes in the Local Plan, and it was confirmed that they would, so I hope that both Cabinet and other people listening will recognise that there is some fluidity within these plans that accommodates any changes that might be developed over the next few months,
there was also comment about traffic and road systems and infrastructure being recognised within Neighbourhood Development plans, particularly in Paddock Wood, and there were comments around the the amount of funnelling of traffic through Paddock Wood, the layout of roads and which are within the control of the Neighbourhood Development Plan but can be communicated by that Parish Council to KCC and Highways.
and the final comment, which I liked and underlined and and acknowledged at the time, is that all three of these plans very clearly are about
promoting how homes and communities not just dwellings, and I think that is right, and that is what we're trying to embrace by supporting them wholeheartedly all three are very robust and well put together, the examiners have been extremely positive about what's been developed and I would like to I recommend that we accept the recommendations in each of the three cases at a pen or items 15 16 and 17 will takes 15 first because Councillor Warren isn't here and then we can get her back in for 16 and 17.
thank you, Hugo very succinct on the process, does anybody have any questions for Hugo on those
no, I see none does anybody wish to comment?
no OK, so we'll move to the first set of recommendations tonight, so the four recommendations on Item 15 read as follows recommendation 1 that the independent examiner's report on the Cranbrook, insisting her Neighbourhood Development Plan, C, S N D P at Appendix A be noted and published recommendation 2 that the CTS MDP be modified in part as set out in Appendix B 3 that Cabinet decides the progress to progress a Cs MDP as set out in Appendix C to referendum and agrees the publication of the decision Statement at Appendix D
recommendation 4 that Cabinet recommends that if the referendum result on the Cs MDP is positive, the Council formally makes a Cs MDP as set out in Appendix D which will be subsequently considered at the next Full Council meeting post referendum. Are we agreed?
Thank you very much, I'm going to ask a Councillor once you want to come back into the room as we move to Item 14, which is the Paddock Wood Neighbourhood Development Plan.
and just for the benefit we're recording Nancy is back.
so I'm going to hand it back to Hugo.
16 Paddock Wood Neighbourhood Development Plan
thank you very much. in your absence, Nancy, I explained the process that I suspect that you are fully familiar with of the examiner's report, modifications,
referendum submission plan and the date of that referendum, which will be the 14th of September.
and Cranbrook, insisting her statements are supported by the Cabinet. Obviously so the same for Paddick would exactly the same process. I will take any questions if there are any otherwise. I would like to propose that we accept the recommendations at page 3 9 6 in your papers. Thank you.
Thank you. I see no questions
and I see no comments,
OK, so we'll move straight to the recommendations, which is. There are four of them which are identical to the previous one, apart from the change of name, so please bear with me. Recommendation 1 that the independent examiner's report on the paddock wooden neighborhood development plan PW, MDP, at Appendix A be noted and published to the PW MDP be modified in part as set out in Appendix B.
Recommendation 3, that Cabinet decides to progress the PW LDP as set out at Appendix C to referendum and agrees the publication of the decision Statement at Appendix D
recommendation 4. That Cabinet recommends that if the referendum result on the PW MDP as positive, the Council formally makes a PW MDP as set out in Appendix C, which will be subsequently considered at the next Full Council post referendum. Are we agreed?
17 Pembury Neighbourhood Development Plan (PNDP)
Thank you very much hand over straight to item 14, which is a Pennbury Neighbourhood Development Plan and backed Hugo
thank you agenda item 17,
sorry, 17th, that's fine,
but guess what I'm going to say?
so this is the same process, the same four recommendations,
it is a great report and it made good reading
and I would commend its recommendations to Cabinet, thank you,
thank you, I see no questions for Hugo,
no, nobody wishes to comment, so we'll move straight to.
the recommendations for item 17 of Pembury Neighbourhood Development Plan, which sounds a bit like Groundhog Day, but its change of
initially recommendation 1 that the independent examiner's report on the Pembury Neighbourhood Development Plan P N D P at Appendix A be noted and published recommendation 2, that the PDP be modified in part, as set out on Appendix B 3, that Cabinet agrees to progress the P N D P as set out in Appendix C to referendum and agrees that the publication of the decision statement at Appendix D. 4, The Cabinet recommends that if the HRA referendum result on, the P, N D P is positive, the Council formally makes the P MDP as set out in Appendix C, which will be subsequently considered at the next Full Council meeting post referendum. Are we agreed,
18 Urgent Business
thank you very much, item 18 is urgent business and I can confirm that we have had none.
19 Date of Next Meeting
item 19, which is the date of the next meeting, to take place on Thursday, the 21 of September 2023 at 6.30
thank you very much at the meeting is now closed, thanks for.