Agenda item

Questions from Members

Up to 60 minutes is allowed for this part of the meeting unless extended by the Chairman of Council on a motion moved, duly seconded and approved by the Council.  Members may ask one supplementary question in addition to their original question.


Members may ask one supplementary question in addition to their original question.


The questions received are set out in the agenda papers.



In accordance with Rule 12(1) of the Council Procedure Rules, Members of the Cabinet responded to the following questions:


(1)  Councillor M Bates asked the Portfolio for Housing and Health, Councillor D P Murphy:


“This week will mark the end of the Dover Outreach Winter Night Shelter project which opened its doors on 1st December and will close on 28th February. This project continues to provide much needed support to some of the most needy and continues to generate a large pool of people from within our community who are willing to give up their time to help out. At the time of submitting this question the project has involved a total of 115 trained volunteers who have worked three shifts per day providing evening meals, comfort and support during the night and a breakfast in the morning. During the course of the programme the available beds, evening meals and breakfasts were provided on 434 occasions with the volunteers working a total of 3972 hours. Since September 2016 Dover Outreach has find sustainable for 151 rough sleepers, place 41 into work and repatriated 14. I would therefore like to welcome the news that both Folkestone and Dover District Councils have received joint funding of £469,000 for continuing support and to ask how this will be used for them in the forthcoming year?”


In response Councillor D P Murphy stated that the funding from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) would fund the following interventions for 2020/21 in the Dover and Folkestone & Hythe council areas.


The funding provided for 2 navigators (one specialized in dealing with substance misuse and the other in dealing with vulnerable women), a rough sleeping co-ordinator, floating support (3 full-time and 1 part-time officer), an outreach worker, a mental health worker, night support service (two outreach workers) and a longer term accommodation budget of £25,200.


The rough sleeping coordinator was responsible for the overall strategic management of rough sleeping services across the two districts. They acted as the liaison between all the agencies providing rough sleeping services and worked to ensure that a consistent approach was developed in respect of policies and procedures.


The navigators undertook street assessments of rough sleepers and the street population and across the temporary accommodation pathway. Their primary focus was intense interventions for the group of entrenched rough sleepers across their cohort.


The floating support service worked with Porchlight across both districts. They assumed responsibility for the caseload for those placed into emergency or private rented accommodation by the outreach worker.


The outreach worker was responsible for identifying new rough sleepers and helping them move from the streets into accommodation. They will conduct regular outreach checks in conjunction with the Sanctuary outreach service, CSUs, Street Wardens and Pastors and respond to any reports of rough sleepers being identified within the districts. The outreach worker attends case review meetings, provides drop-in services, and provides valuable intelligence to inform interventions.

The mental health worker delivered an outreach and day centre assessment role, assisting those rough sleepers who had a mental health issue and working to develop pathways into specialist mental health services, which had traditionally been a difficult area for rough sleepers to access.


The night support service was available 7 days per week, 365 days a year (8pm – 1 am) filling a gap in current provision as outreach had until now been conducted only during the early morning or day. The service could react quickly to any reports of new rough sleepers and after verification, arrange for emergency accommodation to be provided. The outreach service had a budget of £10,800 that would provide for up to 120 placements in emergency accommodation.


The Longer-Term Accommodation Budget would initially be used to fund bed and breakfast housing but ultimately to provide a more sustainable offer for rough sleepers. This funding would enable Porchlight to place rough sleepers in emergency accommodation themselves and the navigators / floating support workers would work with individuals to address their issues and consider the most appropriate interventions. This additional service would enable up to 60 rough sleepers to remain off the streets for an extra 14 nights each.


(2)  In the absence of Councillor S H Beer, the question was not put to the meeting.


(3)  Councillor P M Brivio asked the Portfolio for Housing and Health, Councillor D P Murphy:


“I am concerned to learn that the % share for purchasing shared ownership properties in Harold Street has increased from 25% to 40% despite being advertised for 3 months at the lower level (of which I have evidence). Does the Portfolio holder consider this to be affordable for residents of the district where the average wage is £25,000 p.a.”


In response, Councillor D P Murphy stated that Dover District Council chaired the Dover District Dementia Action Alliance, providing assistance with governance, funding and general support to local town-based dementia related groups across the district (Dementia Friendly Communities).


The Community Services Team would continue to support the local voluntary sector with further advice, guidance and support and two of the Community Development Officers would be undertaking refresher training as was required as Dementia Champions. This would enable the team to deliver further in-house training sessions to elected members and staff in 2020.


While Autism awareness training was not something that was currently planned EKHR would investigate training providers and arrange for a lunchtime event to support World Autism Awareness week (30 March – 5 April).


In accordance with Council Procedure Rule 12.5, Councillor P M Brivio exercised her right to ask a supplementary question.


(4)  Councillor H M Williams asked the Portfolio for Housing and Health, Councillor D P Murphy:


“The awarding of a substantial grant to Folkestone and Dover Councils for work with Rough Sleepers is welcome. As this work is ongoing are there any measurable results that the work is having any effect.”


In response, Councillor D P Murphy stated that the funding had already seen a step change in efforts to reduce the number of people sleeping on the streets, with the preliminary official street count figure for 2019 (across both districts) showing a fall of 50% (19 in November 2019 compared with 38 in 2018).


The service had worked with 93 rough sleepers since operations began in July 2019 and provided accommodation to 64 rough sleepers with 30 former rough sleepers being supported in accommodation. In addition, cold weather funding had allowed the service to place 30 rough sleepers in emergency accommodation through the winter months.


Fortnightly multi-agency case review meetings in Dover and Folkestone had enabled services to work together to share information and agree interventions to rough sleepers and bi-monthly street counts conducted across both districts provide up-to-date knowledge of the street population.


In accordance with Council Procedure Rule 12.5, Councillor H M Williams exercised her right to ask a supplementary question.



(5)  Councillor E A Biggs asked the Portfolio for Planning and Regulatory Services, Councillor N S Kenton:


“At a previous meeting I asked for the total of affordable housing delivered in 2018-19, I was subsequently advised that the total was 32. This figure seems shockingly low when referring to the affordable housing delivery plan of 2010/2015 which had a figure of 650 over a five year period, can you advise what the figure is for the previous 5 years?”


In response Councillor N S Kenton stated that the affordable housing figures for the 5 monitoring years preceding the last one were as followed: (1) 2017/18 – 99; (2) 2016/17 – 78; (3) 2015/16 – 185; (4) 2014/15 – 110; and 2013/14 – 28. It was anticipated that the figure for the current monitoring year would be higher and the Council was giving consideration to where it could assist with the figure by bringing forward sites in its ownership.


In accordance with Council Procedure Rule 12.5, Councillor E A Biggs exercised his right to ask a supplementary question.



(6)  Councillor P D Jull asked the Portfolio for Community and Tourism, Councillor M J Holloway:


“Recently there was a crash in Deal in which a lorry damaged property. The council’s CCTV operators confirmed that they had a recording of the incident but refused to divulge the number plate or even the name on the lorry to the victim so that she could pursue a claim for damages. Also, I am often receiving representations about cars parking on busy pavements where there are yellow lines in a manner that makes it difficult for pedestrians to pass without stepping into the road, or at all if they’re using mobility aids. Although this is happening in view of CCTV cameras my understanding is that they cannot be used to remotely issue penalty charge notices so the driver gets away with it unless an enforcement officer happens upon the scene. Given the impending, hopefully, introduction of ANPR cameras for parking management, is it time for a review of the regime under which the Council’s CCTV cameras operate so that they provide a better service to our communities in line with the corporate plan?”


In response Councillor M J Holloway stated the Council had invested significantly in upgrading its CCTV network, including investing in a state-of-the-art control room in order to keep communities safer, support local businesses and work closely in partnership with Kent Police.


In respect of the incident referred to by Councillor P D Jull, the Council had acted correctly in accordance with the Data Protection Act 2018 by not sharing these images as it was his understanding that the request related to third parties and not the victim themselves. It was suggested that the correct procedure would be to make a report to Kent Police instead as it related to a potential criminal act.


In respect of car parking enforcement, the Deregulation Bill 2014 prevented CCTV from being used for the issuance of Penalty Charge Notices. This was because parking infringements had to be witnessed by a Civil Enforcement Officer who would then need to affix a penalty notice to the vehicle. However, intelligence gained from CCTV could be used to inform the patrol patterns of Civil Enforcement Officers.

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