To receive an oral report at the meeting from the Leader (and Cabinet) on the business of the Executive or on any topic or subject that it is felt should be brought to the attention of the Council.
In accordance with Council Procedure Rule 10 (Leader’s Time):
(a) The Leader (and Cabinet) shall have up to 15 minutes to make within this report any statements that they wish on any topic or subject that they feel should be drawn to the attention of the Council.
(b) The Leader (or their nominee) of the Opposition Group shall be allowed up to 10 minutes to respond.
(c) The Leader of the Council shall be allowed up to 5 minutes to exercise a right of reply (or 25% of the time given to the Opposition Group Leader, whichever is the greatest).
The Leader of the Council, Councillor K E Morris, included the following matters in his report:
(a) To advise that the Cabinet had commissioned a review in respect of East Kent Housing following the report from the Monitoring Officer under Section 5A of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989 and a recovery plan had been put in place to resolve the issue of outstanding gas safety checks. There were currently 2 outstanding gas safety checks for the Dover District which was a significant improvement on the number of outstanding checks reported to Cabinet and the Scrutiny (Policy and Performance) Committee earlier in the month.
(b) To confirm that the Council’s Building Control team had not been involved in the inspections of the properties built by Persimmon that had been identified as having problems with fire safety barriers in cavity walls. Persimmon were permitted to use other Building Control providers and did not have to use the Council’s. The Chief Executive of Persimmon South East had given assurances that all affected properties would be contacted and remedial works undertaken and the Council would not sign the Deed of Variation until it was confident that this was happening.
(c) The sites identified under the Land Allocation call for sites were currently being assessed and assigned Red/Amber/Green status. These would be considered at the October 2019 meetings of the Local Plan PAG and would be published on the Council’s website in due course.
(d) That he had attended the recent Local Government Association Conference in Bournemouth. In addition to attending a number of interesting briefings he had met with Homes England in respect of Betteshanger.
(e) That the Council had changed the way it mowed its grassed areas in order to encourage biodiversity and this included working with pollinators.
(f) That the Homeless Hub, which brought together all the relevant agencies, had held its first meeting. The Leader praised the quality of work being undertaken. The Council in partnership with Porchlight and Folkestone and Hythe District Council had bid for funding to help rough sleepers and assist with homeless people being able to fund deposits in the private rented sector.
(g) To thank Councillor O C de R Richardson for his work in undertaking an inspection of every public convenience in the district. There would be plans developed for the future of these conveniences.
(h) That the Council wanted to undertake large scale improvements in order to raise the standard of facilities at Tides to the same level of those of the new Dover District Leisure Centre. The new leisure centre in the few months that it had been operating had already exceeded expectations.
(i) That the Council was working on a ‘Green Deal’ using business rate pilot funding in a similar way to the scheme to encourage start-up businesses in the High Streets. The Green Deal would pay 50% of the cost of installing environmental impact improvements such as switching to more energy efficient LED lighting.
(j) That a cross-party group was looking at equality and diversity.
The Leader of the Opposition Labour Group, Councillor K Mills, included the following matters in his report:
(a) To welcome the news in respect of the Homeless Hub.
(b) To question if the Local Plan PAG meetings in October 2019 would make it clear how the public could object to proposed development sites.
(c) To welcome the proposed green initiatives.
(d) To state that the East Kent Housing gas safety certificate problems were one of a number of areas of concern and to emphasise the need to survey the housing stock to see if it had deteriorated over the time it had been managed under the ALMO arrangements. Councillor K Mills advised that his preferred approach would be to bring the housing service back in-house.
(e) To express concern that the fire safety barrier issue affecting Persimmon properties in the Dover District were part of a larger systemic nationwide problem and to urge the Council to push for its Building Control service to inspect the remedial works.
(f) To welcome the news that Manston had been sold to River Oak and would be developed as an airport again. However, he questioned what discussions had been held on identifying alternative sites for BREXIT lorry parking.
(g) To express concerns over the future of educational provision at Betteshanger.
(h) To enquire whether there had been an increase in fly tipping following the introduction by Kent County Council of charges for the disposal of top soil and plasterboard waste at its sites.
(i) To express concern that the closure of Admiralty Pier will adversely impact on the 10,000 anglers who come to Dover each year. He urged that assurances be sought from the Dover Harbour Board to ensure that arrangements be put in place not to lose the anglers.
(j) To welcome Kent County Council’s pollinator plans and urge the Council to sign up to it and do what it could to support pollinators.
(k) To congratulate Vista Twisters cheerleading club on qualifying for the World Cheerleading Championships in Orlando, USA in 2020.
(l) To urge the Leader to press the government on the need to dual the A2.
In response the Leader of the Council advised:
(a) That the Portfolio Holder for Planning and Regulatory Services and himself had met with planners today and he had advised that he wanted as much information on the Local Plan in the public domain as possible unless there was a reason for it not to be released.
(b) To welcome the cross-party support on environmental issues.
(c) To advise that his preference was for the East Kent Housing service to return in-house.
(d) That the Council will continue to talk with Persimmon South East.
(e) To advise that the lorry parking arrangements at Manston were only in place until the end of 2019. He would be meeting with the new owners shortly to discuss a range of issues.
(f) The Council continued to monitor residual waste weights following the decision of Kent County Council to introduce charges for the disposal of top soil and plasterboard waste at its sites.
(g) That he would speak with Dover Harbour Board in respect of access for anglers.
(h) To congratulate Vista Twisters on their success.