Agenda and minutes

Growth, Economic Development and Communities Cabinet Committee - Tuesday, 10th March, 2020 10.00 am

Venue: Council Chamber, Sessions House, County Hall, Maidstone. View directions

Contact: Georgina Little  03000 414043


No. Item


Apologies and Substitutes

To receive apologies for absence and notification of any substitutes present

Additional documents:


Apologies for absence had been received from Mr D Daley, Mr S Manion and Mr J Kite.


Mr A Hook attended as a substitute for Mr D Daley and Mr Balfour attended as a substitute for Mr S Manion.



Declarations of Interest by Members in items on the Agenda

To receive any declarations of interest made by Members in relation to any matter on the agenda.  Members are reminded to specify the agenda item number to which it refers and the nature of the interest being declared

Additional documents:


There were no declarations of interest received.



Minutes of the meeting held on 17 January 2020 pdf icon PDF 223 KB

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It was RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 17 January 2020 are a correct record and that they be signed by the Chairman.



Verbal updates by Cabinet Members and Corporate Director

To receive verbal updates by the relevant Cabinet Members


Additional documents:


1.    Mr M Hill, OBE (Cabinet Member for Community and Regulatory Services) provided an update on the following:


(a)  Upon review of the Committee structure, a decision was made by the Leader of the Council that, all services that fell within the portfolio of the Cabinet Member for Community and Regulatory Services would be reported to the Growth, Economic Development and Communities Cabinet Committee and not to the Environment and Transport Cabinet Committee, with the exception of those that were of a cross-cutting nature.


(b)  An update on COVID-19 (Coronavirus) would be addressed under item 9 on the agenda ‘Kent County Councils Resilience and Emergency Planning Update’ and Members of the Committee were asked to delay any discussion on the matter until the item presented itself.


(c)  Kent County Council (KCC) launched a new service, Trading Standards Checked, which was a Fairtrade scheme that aimed to tackle doorstep criminals. The scheme was free to residents in Kent who would be able to access a list of traders, however there was a subscription fee for traders who wished to join the site, and this was used to fund the scheme. A formal launch was due to take place in April 2020 with press coverage.


(d)  Three country parks that were under the management of the Infrastructure team had been assigned to Country Parks to manage on behalf of the service, these were: Parkwood, Dry Hill and Preston Hill.


(e)  The Sandwich station to support the Open Golf tournament was firmly under the control of Network Rail and was on track to open in time for launch of the tournament. R&A had invited Members of the Council to attend the site on one of the practice days and Mr Hill offered Members of the Committee the opportunity to attend. An email confirming details of the visit would be circulated in due course.


2.    Mr Whiting (Cabinet Member for Economic Development) provided an update on the following:


(a)  On 5 February 2020, Mr Whiting along with European counterparts attended a conference in Northern France to sign the Straits Committee Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The event was well received with over 200 attendees and included delegates from Kent’s education and industry sector. Mr Whiting was due to attend a meeting in Bruges on 11 March 2020 for the first executive business meeting of the Straits Committee following the signing of the MoU.


(b)  Visit Kent was due to launch the ‘Kent Big Weekend’ from Saturday 4th to Sunday 5th April 2020 and had 33,000 free tickets on offer that could be applied for online by 16 March 2020. Visit Kent was also due to launch the #KentyTwenty event which would coordinate a multitude of celebrations across the county to commemorate historical dates.


(c)  Locate in Kent had produced an excellent set of results for January 2020, having used a series of projects to help create and validate 324 new jobs. Locate in Kent aimed to create a further 484 jobs  ...  view the full minutes text for item 213.


Government Funded Business Investment Schemes Monitoring Report - Q3 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 122 KB

Additional documents:


Martyn Riley (Programme Manager, Business Investment), Matthew Russell (CEO, Russell Distillers Limited) and Paul Carter (Chairman of the Investment Advisory Board) were in attendance for this item.


1.      Mr Smith (Director of Economic Development) introduced the report that summarised the results of Kent County Council’s (KCCs) monitoring returns for the period 1 October 2019 to 31 December 2019, from businesses that had received loans and equity from KCC managed Government funded Business Investment Schemes (BIS), including the Kent and Medway Business Fund (KMBF) scheme and the former Regional Growth Fund (RGF) schemes. Mr Smith informed Members that the report had been set out in a different format to that previously presented to the Committee to provide greater clarity regarding the funds and should Members’ approve the newly adopted formatting, this style would be applied to future reports. Prior to further discussion on the information set out within the report, Mr Smith introduced Mr Matthew Russell, CEO of Russell Distillers, who was a recipient of a loan from the Tiger fund to present his company’s success story as a result of the loan scheme.


2.      Mr Russell presented a series of slides that set out the process, benefit and success of the Copper Rivet Distillery as a result of receiving the Tiger loan as well as the positive impact on neighbouring industries that had secured business through the establishment and growth of the distillery. Mr Russell thanked KCC for supporting Russell Distiller’s vision and for acting as a trusted ambassador throughout the process of the loan.


3.      Mr Dance welcomed Mr Carter who addressed the Committee in his capacity as the Chairman of the Investment Advisory Board. Mr Carter expressed his view regarding the formatting of the report and proposed that it needed to reflect the entirety of the scheme and its context over the last eight years including KCCs lessons learned and its successes. Mr Carter informed the Committee that the Regional Growth Fund (RGF) had been established to facilitate new investment and to address market failure in the provision of bank lending to viable small and medium sized businesses in order to support economic growth in Kent and Medway.  KCC had supplied £60 million in loans to businesses and had received over 50% back. This then meant that the recouped money could be recycled and reinvested into other businesses which were unable to secure loans from Highstreet lenders. Mr Carter complimented the work undertaken by the professionals who sat on the Investment Advisory Board which ensured that the correct businesses received money for the correct purposes. He assured the Committee that all efforts to recoup the money and support those businesses which were perhaps struggling to repay the loan amount, would continue through the work of the Debt Advisory Group. Mr Carter commended the success of the RGF and said that all efforts needed to be made by KCC to retain recovered monies for further investment into Kent and Medway to ensure economic growth.


4.      Mr Whiting (Cabinet Member  ...  view the full minutes text for item 214.


Kent County Council Resilience and Emergency Planning Update pdf icon PDF 256 KB

Additional documents:


Alison Duggal (Deputy Director Public Health/ Consultant in Public Health & STP Prevention Lead) and Tony Harwood (Resilience and Emergency Planning Manager) were in attendance for this item.


1.    Mr Hill (Cabinet Member for Communities and Regulatory Services) introduced the report which provided an overview of Kent County Council’s (KCC) resilience and emergency planning duties, its current activities and emerging risks. Mr Hill also welcomed Mrs Duggal to the Committee to provide an update on the emerging issues relating to COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and to address any public health related concerns.


2.    Mrs Duggal provided an update on the confirmed cases of coronavirus in Kent and the measures that had been put in place to mitigate the spread of the virus. The Government had announced that it was in the containment phase of the process, however, in coming weeks, steps would be taken to move into the delay and detain phase. Kent County Council continued to support the NHS and critical front-line services within the Council, including Adult Social Care, to ensure staff were equipped with personal protective equipment and that those requiring domiciliary care were still able to be supported.


3.    Officers responded to comments and questions as follows:


(a)  In relation to the work carried out with Parish Councils and community organisations, Mrs Holt-Castle (Interim Director of Environment, Planning and Enforcement) informed Members’ that the Council had started working on COVID-19 contingency plans in February 2020 and that Mr Harwood had been involved in a number of local and national discussions. The first meeting of the Kent Resilience Team Silver, which was a tactical response unit, was scheduled to take place on 10 March 2020 and a further Kent Resilience strategic meeting was also planned. Mrs Holt-Castle informed Members’ that that the response, plans and measures to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 was led by Public Health but strongly supported by the Emergency Planning Team in terms of business continuity.


(b)  In response to a question raised about the effect of Jeye’s fluid when diluted to the avian bird flu strain and whether this would disinfect the communal areas of a livery yard, Mrs Duggal agreed to ascertain further detail on the question raised and respond to the Member directly.


(c)  Mrs Duggal confirmed that there had been no advice issued on the use of public swimming pools. The chemicals used within pools helped to eliminate the risk and spread of bacteria.


(d)  In response to concerns regarding reduced stock in shops, Mrs Duggal clarified that it was not a Public Health matter, however, the issue would be raised with partner organisations as part of the emergency planning.


(e)  Mrs Duggal explained the difference between the delay and contain phase of Government’s approach to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and said that containment involved the identification of those people that had come into contact with the person displaying symptoms of the virus and to instruct those people to self-isolate to stop any further transmission. The delay phase, which  ...  view the full minutes text for item 215.


Performance Dashboard pdf icon PDF 122 KB

Additional documents:


Helen Groombridge (Performance and Analyst Manager) and James Pearson (Head of Service, Libraries, Registration and Archives) was in attendance for this item.


1.    Mrs Groombridge introduced the report which showed the progress made against targets set for Key Performance indicators (KPIs) up to the end of December 2019.


2.    The officers responded to comments and questions as follows:


(a)  Mr Pearson responded to queries relating to KPI LRA02: Total number of books issued (includes audio and e-books) and confirmed that procurement of book stock from S106 contributions was recorded. Mr Pearson agreed to produce two separate KPI’s in future reports to capture the total number of physical books and the total number of e-books.


(b)  In response to queries relating to KPI ED08: Developer Contributions secured against total contributions sought, Mr Smith (Director of Economic Development) informed Members that the Q3 figure had been reduced to 82% due to one sites viability, however, all efforts continued to be made to pursue developer contributions. All other sites had delivered 100% of the contributions sought. Supplementary to the aforementioned points, Mrs Cooper (Corporate Director of Growth, Environment and Transport) advised the Committee that further detail on the performance of that KPI would be circulated to Members and that a report on S106 payments would be brought to a future Committee.


(c)  Mrs Holt-Castle (Interim Director of Environment, Planning and Enforcement) agreed to verify whether the contact centre reminded those who called about the online reporting tool. Mrs Holt-Castle informed the Committee that members of the public had to register to use the Public Right of Way online portal, however, statistics revealed that online reporting had increased. The public often reverted to using the phone system in times of flooding due to the immediacy of the situation. Mrs Holt-Castle agreed to provide Members with the performance indicators used to measure how faults were repaired and said that a review of the KPIs would take place at the May Committee.


(d)  In response to indicators LRA19 and LRA20, Mr Pearson informed the Committee that these were new measures that had been introduced as a result of the previous year’s results which linked low customer satisfaction levels to issues around PCs and Wi-Fi. Due to insufficient survey returns, the results could not be published within the current report.


3.    It was RESOLVED that the performance report be noted.



Risk Management: Growth, Environment and Transport Directorate pdf icon PDF 239 KB

Additional documents:


Mark Scrivener (Corporate Risk Manager) was in attendance for this item.


1.    Mr Scrivener presented a paper on the strategic risks relating to the Growth, Economic Development and Communities Cabinet Committee and welcomed comments from the Committee.


2.    The officers and Cabinet Member for Economic Development responded to comments and questions as follows:


(a)    With regard to the skills shortage and whether this had been assessed on a point-based immigration system, Mrs Cooper (Corporate Director for Growth, Environment and Transport) clarified that the risks were associated to internal staff and the development of a workforce strategy. Mrs Cooper recognised the impact of a diminished labour market and said that work was being done with Kent businesses and Kent County Council’s (KCC) education providers to address the key skills gap.


(b)  Mrs Cooper assured Members that Kent Count Council was committed to developing its own staff in order for them to progress into senior roles. However, it was important that KCC promoted itself as a good brand to attract external interest.


(c)  Mr Whiting (Cabinet Member for Economic Development) said that the skills agenda was an essential element in KCC’s five-year plan and that it featured strongly in the Enterprise and Productivity Strategy and the South East Local Enterprise Productivity Strategy. Mr Whiting and the Leader of Kent County Council had met with the University of Kent to address the skills gap and said that Kent needed well skilled, well-educated and well trained people to provide a basis for good economic development and growth in the county.


3.    It was RESOLVED that the report and risks presented, be noted.



No Use Empty (NUE) - Update pdf icon PDF 217 KB

Additional documents:


Steve Grimshaw (Strategic Programme Manager) was in attendance for this item.


1.    Mr Grimshaw introduced the report which provided an update on the No Use Empty (NUE) scheme, including its performance to date, future plans and the status of the two bids for additional funding resources.


2.    The officer responded to comments and questions as follows:


(a)  Members queried whether the scheme addressed the need for affordable housing. Mr Grimshaw said that Kent County Council (KCC) was working with developers and Dover District Council to provide eight accommodation units. The end objective was for Dover District Council to acquire ownership of the stock to help provide the needed accommodation going forward. The new loan product supported by the Treasury had encouraged a number of District Councils and Boroughs in Kent to identify and prioritise derelict sites which could be developed into affordable housing units across the county.


(b)  Mr Grimshaw assured the Committee that due diligence was applied in the initial screening phase to prohibit previous applicants applying for interest free loans under a different company name. He said that previous applicants were entitled to return to NUE with a new application for funding, however, since 2017 new regulations were brought in which meant that interest would be applied to the loan. 


(c)   Mrs Cooper (Corporate Director of Growth, Environment and Transport) and David Smith (Director of Economic Development) informed the Committee that the NUE scheme was a finance scheme, not a house building scheme and was not connected to the housing targets of Local Housing Authorities. Mr Grimshaw confirmed that the funding available would not be able to deliver mass housing estates.


3.    It was RESOLVED that the report and plans for the further development of the NUE scheme, be noted.




Kent's Rural Economy - a coordinated approach pdf icon PDF 113 KB

Additional documents:


Huw Jarvis (Programme Manager) was in attendance for this item.


1.    Mr Smith (Director of Economic Development) and Mr Jarvis introduced the report that set out the initial activity with partners which explored ways of working together to develop a coordinated rural input into the draft Kent and Medway Enterprise and Productivity Strategy in the context of Kent County Council’s (KCCs) “Your Future, Our Priority” Strategic Statement. Mr Smith informed Members that the Kent Rural Board (KRB) had been dormant for eighteen months, however, KCC’s aim was to create a reconstituted KRB or similar body with a new membership and sought the Committees comments on how to move this notion forward.


2.    Mr Whiting (Cabinet Member for Economic Development) noted Members comments and said that there was an opportunity to revisit the Terms of Reference and membership of the Board and that a report would be brought back to the Committee following a consultation with stakeholders. Mr Whiting also commented on the prospect of using the Board as a mechanism to lobby Government. He asked that further suggestions be fed back to Mr Smith directly.


3.    Members commended the report and welcomed a reconstituted KRB which would allow rural economy matters to be discussed in the context of KCC’s strategic objectives.


4.    It was RESOLVED that the report be noted.



Work Programme 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 109 KB

Additional documents:


1.    It was RESOLVED that the Work Programme be noted, subject to the

inclusion of the following items:


(a)  A report on S106 Developer Contributions


(b)  A report on Flood Defence Management – it was agreed for a paper to be presented at the next Cabinet Committee meeting on 14 May 2020


(c)  An update report on Kent’s Rural Economy