Agenda and minutes

Growth, Economic Development and Communities Cabinet Committee - Tuesday, 22nd March, 2022 10.00 am

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

Contact: Hayley Savage 


No. Item


Apologies and Substitutes

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Apologies for absence had been received from Mr Holden, Mr Kite and Mr Baker.  Mrs Hudson was present as substitute for Mr Holden and Mr Rayner was present as substitute for Mr Kite.


Election of Chair

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1.    Mr Manion proposed, and Mr Rayner seconded that Mr Love be elected Chairman of the Cabinet Committee. 


2.    Ms Dawkins proposed, and Mr Sole seconded that Ms Meade be elected Chairman of the Cabinet Committee.


3.    Members voted on the election of Chairman, and it was agreed by majority vote that Mr Love be elected Chairman of the Cabinet Committee.


4.    Mr Love thanked members and paid tribute to the previous Chairman of the Cabinet Committee, Sir Paul Carter.


RESOLVED that Mr Love be elected Chairman of the Cabinet Committee.


Declarations of Interest by Members in items on the Agenda

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Mr Meade declared a non-pecuniary interest, in item 8 on the agenda, as the County Council’s representative on the planning committee of the Ebbsfleet Development Corporation.


During the meeting the following non-pecuniary interests were declared:


Item 10

Mr Meade as a member of the Local Government Association’s People and Places Board.


Mr Broadley as a member of two boating clubs and trustee of two restoration trusts on the Thames.


Item 11

Mr Rayner as he utilised the kayaking facility at Grove Ferry.


Minutes of the meeting held on 13 January 2022 pdf icon PDF 2 MB

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RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 13 January 2022 were a correct record.


Verbal updates by the Cabinet Members and Corporate Director

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1.    Mr Hill, Cabinet Member for Community and Regulatory Services, gave a verbal update on the following, about which there were no questions:


(a)  The 76km section of the England Coast Path (ECP) between Woolwich and Grain officially opened on 12January 2022.  There were now three national trails in Kent – the North Downs Way, the ECP and the Thames Path.


(b)  Business and Intellectual Property Centre Kent had been launched and provided business support both virtually and in person at the Kent History and Library Centre in Maidstone.


(c)  The Amelia, an art gallery and museum project in Tunbridge Wells, would officially open on 28 April 2022.


(d)  Mr Hill paid tribute to Kent residents, Mark Weston, Taylor Lawrence, Millie Knight and James Barnes-Miller for their achievements at the Olympics and Paralympics in Beijing.


(e)  BBC Radio 4 Front Row on 9 March 2022 would focus on Margate and the effects Turner Contemporary had had on the life of the town and the creative quarter. 


(f)    On 21 March 2022 The Kent Resilience Forum stood up to strategically co-ordinate the new Homes for Ukraine Scheme in Kent.


(g)  On 21 March 2022 Mr Hill attended a preview of Folkestone 51, a three storey skatepark in Folkestone which was due to open formally at the end of March 2022.


2.    Mr Robey, Deputy Cabinet Member for Economic Development, gave a verbal update on the following:


(a)  The Leader of the Council, Leader of Dover District Council and MP Natalie Elphick had written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to encourage the reinstatement of P&O workers who had been made redundant.


(b)  The Council’s No Use Empty initiative had been granted a further £2.5million from the government’s Growing Places Fund to boost the cash available to bring more empty properties back into use.


(c)  Bike manufacturer Brompton had announced plans to move its global headquarters to Ashford andbuild a revolutionary and sustainable bicycle factory on wetlands near the Ashford Designer Outlet. The proposals equated to a £100million investment in the local economy. As well as the manufacturing facility Brompton would incorporate a wetlands park into the development.


(d)  A meeting took place at the beginning of March with local MP Damian Collins, Rolls Royce, and the leader of Folkestone & Hythe District Council regarding the future of Dungeness. This was one of a series of meetings concerning the site with interested parties, and development of the site would offer significant opportunities to the local area and economy of Kent.


3.    Mr Robey responded to the following questions and comments from Members:


(a)  Asked about measures being taken by the Council to demand the reinstatement of P&O workers, Mr Robey said the letter sent to Mr Sunak was unequivocal in asking for reinstatement. He said the focus for the Council was supporting those affected into employment as soon as possible.


(b)  Members expressed their sympathy for the P&O workers who had been made redundant and discussed the limitations  ...  view the full minutes text for item 52.


District Visits Programme 2022 pdf icon PDF 13 KB

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Mr Rob Hancock, Programme Manager, was in attendance for this item.


1.    Mr Hancock introduced the report, explained the purpose of the visits, and set out the future programme.


2.    It was noted that the visits on 21 April 2022 and 25 May 2022 would be re-arranged due to conflicting events. 


RESOLVED that the District Visits Programme 2022 report be noted.


Developer Contributions for Education pdf icon PDF 123 KB

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Mr Nicholas Abrahams, Area Education Officer (West Kent), and Mr Ian Watts, Area Education Officer (North Kent) were in attendance for this item.


1.    Mr Abrahams introduced the report and highlighted how Section 106 and Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) developer contributions supported education.


2.    Mr Abrahams, Mr Watts and Mr Jones responded to comments and questions from the committee, including the following:


(a)  Asked about leverage to ensure school places, Mr Abrahams said the Council had a statutory function to ensure school places and if a planning application could not be mitigated, it would be objected based on sustainability. 


(b)  Asked about the identification of education need for the current financial year Mr Abrahams said the Kent Commissioning Plan outlined forecasts based on planning areas and forecasts did not include development which had not yet received planning consent. Mr Abrahams said the numbers quoted in the report were an estimate based on the current local plans and housing needs. Mr Abrahams reassured Members that the most up to date housing data from district councils was used for forecasts for school places and included housing completion data and housing consent.


(c)  Members discussed the complexity of developer contributions and noted the Government’s future intention to replace the Section 106 and CIL systems.


(d)  Members raised concerns around the integration of reports being received by the Cabinet Committee and how developer contributions for education were considered within the broader needs of the Council, and how the different demands on funding may impact on potential borrowing and school places. Members also made reference to how consideration of education outcomes was factored into the Council’s approach to Section 106 and CIL monies. 


(e)  Members discussed the need for regular information on a local level that included liaison with Local Planning Authorities, Health and Highways. Mr Watts said in previous years there had been local briefings for Members and the Area Education Officers were looking to reinstate briefings at district level in the new academic year. Mr Jones suggested a wider context paper could be brought to the Cabinet Committee along with a quarterly performance report, the Annual Infrastructure Statement to provide a detailed list of the contributions secured and allocated, and the Growth and Infrastructure Framework (GIF) to identify infrastructure and operational need for the future.


(f)    Members noted an All Member Briefing would be helpful to understand the wider context of developer contributions. Members also welcomed repeat papers being received by the Cabinet Committee on educational sustainability, integrated with planning liaison, and the financial impact for the Council. Mr Jones suggested that a scoping paper incorporating the issues discussed would be received by the Cabinet Committee at the next meeting with the anticipation of an All Member Briefing.


RESOLVED that concerns raised by Members in response to the report be highlighted to the Executive; and that the request for Members to consider these matters again via relevant briefings, other Committee meetings (remit depending) and future reports to the Cabinet Committee, be noted.


Domestic Homicide Reviews (Kent and Medway) pdf icon PDF 156 KB

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Mr Mike Overbeke, Head of Public Protection, and Mr Shafick Peerbux, Head of Community Safety, were in attendance for this item.


1.    Mr Overbeke and Mr Peerbux introduced the report. Mr Overbeke said the work of the team within the Community Safety Service demanded extreme sensitivity and the team had developed a highly respected expertise locally and nationally.  Mr Peerbux defined a domestic homicide review and highlighted the key areas of the report.


2.    Asked whether the reviews had identified a need for more support for men and the LGBT community, Mr Peerbux said in some reviews they were finding limitations in the services available, and this was being fed through to domestic abuse commissioners and agencies.


3.    Members recognised the changes and improvements to multi-agency practice that had taken place because of the reviews and the important and good work of the Community Safety Service.


RESOLVED that the report and the updates for Kent and Medway’s Domestic Homicide Review activities and commitments be noted.


Levelling Up White Paper - Presentation pdf icon PDF 463 KB

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Ms Sarah Nurden, Strategic Programme Manager (KMEP), was in attendance for this item.


1.    Ms Nurden provided an overview of the Levelling Up White Paper launched in February 2022 and a series of slides (attached to these minutes).


2.    Ms Nurden responded to comments and questions from the committee, including the following:


(a)  Asked about a reform of the apprenticeship levy to enable local employers to use it without central government control, and the skills gap within infrastructure delivery, Ms Nurden referred to the Employment Taskforce chaired by the Leader and said she would explore how these views could be fed back to government.


(b)  Asked what the Council could do to appeal the loss of money from the southeast Ms Nurden said in terms of representations back to government she was meeting with a levelling up civil service representative, along with county council and district network colleagues, to discuss the UK Shared Prosperity Fund at the end of March 2022.


(c)  Asked how Northfleet and Gravesend West could be recognised as a deprived coastal community Ms Nurden said the paper did not suggest that coastal communities would receive more funding, but it was important civil servants understood the local economic prospects.


(d)  Asked about potential investment in Thanet and Dover for an airport Ms Nurden said she would make those representations at a meeting with Thanet District Council.


RESOLVED that the content of the presentation be noted.


Nutrient Neutrality pdf icon PDF 593 KB

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Mr Max Tant, Southern Water Manager, was in attendance for this item.


1.    Mr Tant introduced the report and provided a brief summary on the issue of nutrient neutrality applied to the River Stour catchment in East Kent. Mr Tant said the Council was likely to be the co-ordinating authority in Kent for the government funding (paragraph 5.5 in the Nutrient Neutrality report) and would be bidding for the funding in partnership with planning authorities.


2.    Mr Tant responded to comments and questions from the committee, including the following:


(a)  Asked about timescales for housing developments Mr Tant said this was being led by planning authorities. Some larger sites had planning permission, but he was not aware that any small site developments were imminent.


(b)  Asked about the involvement of Southern Water Mr Tant said it was not a pollution issue caused by any failure of Southern Water and there were plans to upgrade the treatment works but an intervening solution was required. 


(c)  Asked whether upgrading the water treatment works would solve the problem Mr Tant said upgrading the water treatment works was part of the solution to remove the phosphorous but most of the nitrogen came from agricultural run-off and would need to be managed in the catchment area.  A comprehensive approach was required but if the phosphorus issue was resolved nutrient neutrality would be simpler to deliver.


RESOLVED that the report be noted and that an update report be brought back to the committee in six months’ time.


Public Consultation on the Draft Country Parks Strategy 2022-2027 pdf icon PDF 410 KB

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This item was taken before Item 11.


Mr Tom Marchant, Interim Head of Countryside and Community Development, was in attendance for this item.


1.    Mr Hill said the portfolio of Kent Country Parks had provided a lifeline to Kent residents during the pandemic. Mrs Hohler thanked three Members of the Cabinet Committee for their contributions in the informal Members Working Group and said on average the parks were seeing 13,000 visits per day. Mrs Hohler recognised the valuable work of volunteers and said partnerships with green spaces to share best practice were being explored.


2.    Mr Marchant introduced the report and drew Members’ attention to the stages and timelines of the consultation.


3.    A Member asked about accessibility to the play equipment upgrades currently under construction and Mr Marchant said improvements, such as the recent resurfacing of the paths at Brockhill, enhanced levels of accessibility for park users. Other improvements were planned for several other country parks in the portfolio.


RESOLVED that the draft 2022-2027 Country Parks Strategy vision, aims and objectives (Section 3 of the main report), and the proposed consultation process contained within section 4 of the main report, be endorsed.


Green Economy - Prospects and Opportunities pdf icon PDF 372 KB

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Mr Rob Robinson, Sustainable Business Programme Manager, was in attendance for this item.


1.    Ms Holt-Castle introduced the report and said the paper had also been received by the Environment & Transport Cabinet Committee on 17 March 2022.  Ms Holt-Castle highlighted the key areas the Environment & Transport Cabinet Committee had identified including tidal energy, manufacturing, skills and apprenticeships working with the Green Job Taskforce, and food protection. 


2.    Ms Holt-Castle, Mr Robinson and Miss Carey responded to comments and questions from the committee, including the following:


(a)  Asked about manufacturing in Taiwan Ms Holt-Castle said Locate in Kent worked with different sectors and had a number of target countries and she would discuss this with their CEO.


(b)  Asked about tidal energy Ms Holt-Castle said this would be taken forward at the Kent Environment Strategy Cross Party Members Group.


(c)  Asked about guidance and advice available to help organisations utilise green energy opportunities Mr Robinson said Low Carbon Across the South East (LoCASE) funding may be able to help organisations and the Council was working with partner organisations including Social Enterprise Kent across a range of projects on supporting decarbonisation plans and identifying best practice.


(d)  Asked about reducing car journeys, the increased use of public transport and digital accessibility Ms Holt-Castle said the Sustainable Business and Communities Team worked closely with Highways and Transport in supporting Electric Vehicle (EV) development. Mr Robinson said his team was helping firms adapt their business software and hardware for home working and fleet reviews were carried out as part of their energy audit. A list of projects had been put forward for the Shared Prosperity Fund and would incorporate green skills provision to ensure training was fit for purpose and covered retrofit property issues.


(e)  Asked about housing developments not meeting energy efficiency standards and the availability of skills training to meet the requirements Ms Holt-Castle said the Economic Interventions Framework would be discussed at a future Cabinet Committee meeting.


(f)    Members discussed the importance of apprenticeships within the area of green economy manufacturing, for example heat pumps, EV chargers, solar panels and triple glazing.


(g)  Asked about the Council’s use of green energy Ms Holt-Castle said a significant amount of work was taking place across the Council’s estate to ensure the net zero 2030 target was met.  Miss Carey said a report would be presented to Environment & Transport Cabinet Committee later in the year on how the public sector Decarbonisation Scheme funding resulted in a major investment in solar panels and alternative forms of heating. 


RESOLVED that the report be noted.


Risk Management: Growth, Environment and Transport Directorate pdf icon PDF 412 KB

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Ms Jody Catterall, Risk Manager, was in attendance for this item.


1.    Ms Catterall introduced the report and presented two strategic risks from the Corporate Risk Register.


2.    Ms Catterall responded to comments and questions from the committee, including the following:


(a)  Asked about the heightened risk of cyber-attacks on the Council and scope to strengthen the description of risk GT0027 to include reference to cyber security Ms Catterall said she would raise this with the Corporate Director.


(b)  Asked whether good practice to prevent cyber-attacks was shared with Kent businesses and provision was in place for the Council’s commissioned services, Ms Holt-Castle said the Council worked closely with the Chamber of Commerce Federation of Small Businesses and other business networks to ensure businesses were supported. Ms Holt-Castle said the commissioning process involved several checks and she would liaise with the procurement team regarding cyber security within supply chains. Ms Catterall said the Corporate Risk Register included a risk relating to supply chains and this risk would be looked at in relation to cyber security. 


RESOLVED that the report be noted.


Work Programme 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 109 KB

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RESOLVED that the Work Programme 2022 be noted subject to the following additions: 


·       Developer Contributions scoping paper for an All Member Briefing

·       Nutrient Neutrality Update in six months’ time