Agenda and minutes

Growth, Economic Development and Communities Cabinet Committee - Tuesday, 22nd November, 2022 2.00 pm

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

Contact: Hayley Savage  03000 414286


No. Item



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Mr Rayner, Mr Thomas, and Mr Watkins had replaced Mr Kite, Mr Love and Mr Webb as Members of the Cabinet Committee.


RESOLVED that the change in membership be noted. 


Apologies and Substitutes

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Apologies for absence had been received from Mr Broadley.


Election of Chair

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1.          Mr Rayner proposed, and Mr Thomas seconded that Mr Baker, Vice-Chair, be elected Chair of the Cabinet Committee. 


2.          It was agreed unanimously that Mr Baker be elected Chair of the Cabinet Committee.


3.          Mr Baker proposed, and Mrs Binks seconded that Mr Rayner be elected Vice-Chair of the Cabinet Committee.


4.          It was agreed unanimously that Mr Rayner be elected Vice-Chair of the Cabinet Committee.


RESOLVED that Mr Baker be elected Chair, and Mr Rayner Vice-Chair, of the Cabinet Committee.


Declarations of Interest by Members in items on the Agenda

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Mr Thomas declared an interest under Item 7 – Members’ Recent Visit to Canterbury District - in that he was Canterbury’s representative for World Heritage UK and under Item 11 – Draft Kent and Medway Strategic Framework for Sport and Physical Activity 2023-27 – in that he was a trustee of Active Life.


Minutes of the meeting held on 22 September 2022 pdf icon PDF 645 KB

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RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 22 September 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:


(a)  The Libraries, Registration and Archives Service maintained its rating of ‘Compliance Plus’ in all twenty-seven elements of the Customer Service Excellence Award, showing continued innovation and development of the services. Mr Hill said this was a good testament to the dedication and hard work of library staff.


(b)  Following the Arts Council England’s announcement of funding for National Portfolio Organisations (NPO), Mr Hill was pleased to report that the number within Kent had risen from ten to sixteen, including Kent Libraries, one of a few in the country with that status. 


(c)  Turner Contemporary had selected a new Chairman, Mr Matthew Slotover, following the departure of the current Chairman, Mr Clive Stephens, at the end of 2022. Mr Slotover had an extensive arts and business background and co-founded Frieze in 1991.


(d)  Mr Hill, along with the Chairman, launched the new Changing Places facility at Lullingstone Country Park, the third Changing Places facility in country parks for disabled visitors.  


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


(a)  Mr Murphy attended the Kent & Medway Apprentice Graduation Ceremony 2022 at Rochester Cathedral on 14 October 2022 and highlighted the Council’s role within the provision of apprenticeships and its close working with partners including the Employment Taskforce.


(b)  An Infrastructure All Members Briefing took place on 31 October 2022 and was attended by over fifty Members and Officers.


(c)  The annual Kent Property Market Report was published on 8 November 2022 by the Economic Development team, in partnership with Caxtons property consultants and Locate in Kent and provided an insight and analysis of the performance of the area’s property and key projects supporting the county’s growth and economic development.  The report can be accessed here.


(d)  Mr Murphy presented an award at the Kent Invicta Chamber Business Awards 2022 on 17 November 2022 for Kent’s Most Promising New Business.


(e)  The Council and Folkestone and Hythe District Council had set up a joint working group to progress the application for Dungeness Power Station, and Kent MP Mr Damien Collins was meeting with Rolls Royce who were interested in Dungeness as one of their sites.


(f)    The Council had worked with district and borough councils to submit applications for government Investment Zones, prior to the government’s announcement that Investment Zones would no longer be progressed. 


3.          Mr Jones, Corporate Director for Growth Environment and Transport, gave a verbal update on the following:


(a)  The Active Kent and Medway programme, funded by Sport England, had invested £320,000 in supporting 74 projects and had created opportunities for 5,500 people across Kent.


(b)  Customer Service Officers in the Libraries, Registration and Archive Service were working hard to ensure sufficient birth and death registration appointments were in place over the winter to meet demand.


(c)  Work at Oakwood House, which would house the Register Office, Coroners Service and Maidstone Adult  ...  view the full minutes text for item 98.


Members' Recent Visit to Canterbury District pdf icon PDF 218 KB

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


1.          Mr Hancock introduced the report which summarised the outcome of the recent visit to Canterbury and the programme of future visits.  Mr Hancock said the visit to Swale on 15 December would be re-arranged for early 2023.  The programme of future visits for 2023 had been arranged and Members would be advised of dates in due course. 


2.          Members discussed the benefit of using feedback to identify and take forward suggestions and outcomes from visits and how support, where applicable, could be given to districts and boroughs as a result.  The importance of considering all relevant factors when considering requests was noted.


RESOLVED that the Cabinet Committee noted the report and recommended that future reports should include outcomes of visits and suggestions for the way forward.


22/00098 - Further investment of Getting Building Funding pdf icon PDF 354 KB

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


1.          Ms Nurden introduced the report and said a key decision was required to enable grant agreements to be entered into by the Council, should the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) Accountability Board award funding to Kent-based Getting Building Funding (GBF) projects.


2.          Ms Nurden and Mr Jones responded to the following questions and comments from Members:


(a)  Asked about the funding for Discovery Park, Ms Nurden said the Council, as the accountable body, had legal agreements for the existing projects with SELEP and funding was passed on to third parties, and in the case of Discovery Park this was Discovery Park Ltd.


(b)  Asked about Thanet Parkway Railway Station, Mr Jones said the SELEP funding would relieve some of the financial pressures across the project.  Members noted the positive impacts of the station including shorter journey times into London, the benefit of the station on Discovery Park and the scientific businesses based there, and on local residents and commuters.


(c)  Asked how potential projects for the funding were identified, Ms Nurden said the Getting Building Fund was announced by government in 2020 and project proposals with full costings were submitted to SELEP within a short timeframe of seven days.  The Council provided information on how to submit project ideas to district councils, businesses (via the Business Advisory Board), universities and further education colleges in Kent and there was an open call for projects on the Kent & Medway Economic Partnership (KMEP) website. The opportunity to bid was also disseminated internally to KCC officers.


(d)  Mr Jones said work carried out with districts and boroughs in preparedness for Investment Zones had provided significant opportunities in understanding how to prepare compelling arguments to government to support any future bids.


3.          The Chair thanked all those involved in securing this additional funding for Kent.


RESOLVED that the proposal that the Leader of the Council agrees that the Getting Building Funding (GBF) will be used to support the Kent-based projects that are awarded additional GBF by the South East Local Enterprise Partnership’s Accountability Board; and delegates to the Section 151 Officer the authority to sign on KCC’s behalf a deed of variation to the original grant agreement or equivalent, where this is required to draw down funds following business case approval, be endorsed.


Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce Local Skills Improvement Plan (LSIP) - Presentation pdf icon PDF 3 MB

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Mr Tudor Price, Deputy CEO of Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, and Mr David Smith were in attendance for this item.


1.          Mr Murphy welcomed Mr Price to the meeting and said the Kent Chamber of Commerce was an essential part of the Council’s Economic Development Programme.


2.          Mr Price presented a series of slides (attached to these minutes) which set out development of the Local Skills Improvement Plan to date, Kent Chamber of Commerce’s role, and the way ahead.


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


(a)  Asked about the variety of land-based industries and possible career development in those areas, Mr Price said North Kent College which incorporated Hadlow College focused on three key disciplines including agriculture, decarbonisation and manufacturing and engineering.  Strategic development funds were issued to the colleges to develop initiatives and pilot ideas to identify programmes.


(b)  Asked whether there was a particular focus on people who had left employment in recent years, Mr Price said the plan included engagement with a range of organisations that provided support for employment including The Education People, Careers and Enterprise Company and Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).


(c)  Asked about training and apprenticeship opportunities across the county and whether specialist colleges would provide challenges in terms of transport connectivity and affordability, Mr Price said there were efficiencies and benefits to each college taking on a particular specialism. He said digital classrooms was an initiative where students attending one college could access a programme from another college and noted there were three or four large economies in Kent where themes, such as decarbonisation, crossed across industries. 


(d)  Asked about tourism and promoting Kent as a place to visit, Mr Price said several initiatives would engage with students in secondary education to map out potential careers based on need, which would help improvement and recruitment issues, and could be applied to tourism and hospitality.


(e)  Asked how expectations of young people were managed in a realistic way whilst encouraging aspirations, Mr Price said they were working with the Careers and Enterprise Company and The Kent Association of Headteachers on how training and opportunities were presented to engage young people.  


(f)    Asked about the need for a well-rounded education which included languages and social skills, Mr Price said transferrable and soft skills had been highlighted in the plan and noted that schools were focused on a set of specific outputs.  He said more work with schools, colleges and employers could be done to address that challenge.


(g)  Members discussed how people could be encouraged into agricultural and farming jobs and whether the reason for the lack of interest was low pay and lack of innovation.  Mr Price said technology could play a big part in raising the appeal of those jobs.


(h)  The importance of employers providing appropriate training was discussed in terms of personal development as well as education.


RESOLVED that the presentation be noted.


Draft Kent and Medway Strategic Framework for Sport and Physical Activity 2023 - 27 pdf icon PDF 249 KB

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This item was taken before Item 10.


Ms Davidson, Partnership Director, was in attendance for this item.


1.          Ms Davidson introduced the report and provided an overview of the draft Kent and Medway Strategic Framework for Sport and Physical Activity 2023-27.


2.          Ms Davidson and Mr Jones responded to the following questions and comments from Members:


(a)  Asked about the maintenance of Public Rights of Way, Ms Davidson said her team worked with the Public Rights of Way and Country Parks teams within the Council, and Explore Kent, to ensure joint working.


(b)  Asked about public transport to access facilities including appropriate bus routes, Ms Davidson said over the last 12-18 months the Reconnect Programme had been successful in enabling young people to access sports facilities at low cost. Transport links would continue to be explored, and long term, embedded in the strategic framework.


(c)  Asked how the framework could be delivered to areas where limited resources were available, Ms Davidson said over the last 12 months over £200,000 had been invested in local clubs to support the delivery and training of physical sport and activity. Ms Davidson said the Everyday Active Grants were available for projects up to £500 and the Together Fund Investment for larger scale projects. Members asked for information regarding grants to be circulated to the committee.


(d)  Asked about cycle lanes, Ms Davidson said they were working closely with the Active Travel team and ongoing conversations for development were taking place.  Ms Davidson said the strategic framework involved working in partnership with others and recognising that one service alone could not deliver the entire strategic framework. Mr Jones said if Members had concerns about cycle routes to let his team know.  He said road safety audits were carried out to ensure routes were safe and secure.


(e)  Asked how the strategic framework would place protection on green spaces for the future, Ms Davidson said a range of legislation was involved in the protection of playing fields and current facilities, and consultation documents for feedback were sent via Sport England in relation to any kind of developments that may use green sites.


(f)    Members discussed the constraints of the current financial situation in terms of allocating funding and noted the importance of supporting existing clubs and organisations, and the positive contribution from some new developments in providing sporting facilities.  The impact of large energy bills on sporting facilities and organisations, such as leisure centres, was discussed and how those bills could be reduced by additional funding and renovation. Ms Davidson said the county was facing a physical activity crisis with one in three children either obese or overweight, and noted how sport and physical activity could help support mental health. Mr Jones said the Council worked with district colleagues around net zero challenges and developing bids and submissions for the benefit of the wider county.


(g)  Asked about practical solutions for residents to access facilities, for example childcare, Ms Davidson said there were grants available and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 102.


Developer Contributions Guide pdf icon PDF 168 KB

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Mr Colin Finch, Strategic Programme Manager, and Ms Victoria Thistlewood were in attendance for this item.


1.          Mr Murphy introduced the item and said it was essential that infrastructure was delivered alongside the number of developments being built, and strong communities required physical and social infrastructure. He said developer contributions could be used effectively as part of a wider corporate approach towards funding and delivering infrastructure and since 2014 the Council had secured £325million through Section 106 agreements to deliver necessary infrastructure for developments. Mr Murphy said the refresh of the Developer Contributions Guide was an important element of the Council’s Infrastructure First commitment as part of the Council’s strategy Framing Kent’s Future.


2.          Mr Finch introduced the report and presented a series of slides attached to these minutes.  Mr Finch advised Members that since the publication of the Agenda for this meeting the Developer Contributions Guide had been updated to reflect that the threshold for seeking contributions had changed to residential dwellings greater than 10 units, or greater than 0.5 hectares.


3.          Mr Finch and Ms Holt-Castle responded to the following questions and comments from Members:


(a)  Members expressed concern regarding the Council’s input in the decisions made by Local Planning Authorities (LPA), and the potential for developers to renege on developer contributions after planning consent, Mr Finch said through adoption of the guide it was hopeful that the Council could influence decisions made by Local Planning Authorities by making representations into local plans as they go through the consultation process. Ms Holt-Castle said the Council would respond to the government’s Community Infrastructure Levy consultation on the risks to upper tier authorities and emphasised the importance of the Council’s relationship with, and working alongside, each LPA so that they understood the infrastructure needed to benefit local communities and the importance of maximising developer contributions.


(b)  Asked whether there was potential for existing developments effected by building work to benefit from developer contributions, for example maintenance of paths and roads, Mr Finch said developer contributions had to meet the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) test and deficiencies in existing provision could not be considered. 


(c)  Members discussed the risk associated to the gap in funding required to fund infrastructure, and whether it would be possible to reduce the threshold of residential dwellings for seeking contributions, Mr Finch said the threshold also included 0.5 hectares which captured many smaller developments. Mr Finch said consultation had taken place with education and adult social care within KCC and requirements for demand, included in the guide, had been driven by their service areas and experience with residents.


(d)  A Member noted whether it would be helpful for the Kent Growth and Infrastructure Framework and Highway Improvement Plans to be referenced in the guide.


(e)  Members discussed viability assessments to mitigate the potential for developers reneging on agreements.


RESOLVED that the committee considered the draft Guide, provided comments on its content and recommended to the Cabinet Member that KCC proceeds with a targeted public consultation on  ...  view the full minutes text for item 103.


Gypsy and Traveller Site Pitch Allocation Policy Update pdf icon PDF 234 KB

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Ms Natalie Liddiard, Head of Gypsy and Traveller Service, and Mr Tom Marchant, Interim Head of Countryside and Community Development, were in attendance for this item.


1.          Ms Liddiard introduced the report and said the draft policy had been through several pre-consultation stages with a view to formal consultation being launched on 30 November 2022 for ten weeks. Ms Liddiard said external legal opinion had been sought on the policy. 


2.          Ms Liddiard and Mr Marchant responded to the following questions and comments from Members:


(a)  Asked for clarification on specific points of the qualifying criteria, including defined habitual areas and residency of European Economic Area (EEA) nationals, Ms Liddiard said she would clarify the details outside of the meeting.


(b)  A Member expressed concern, considering the financial situation of the Council, whether this service should be provided by the Council as a tier 1 authority and whether responsibility for gypsy and traveller sites should lie with housing authorities within districts and boroughs. Mr Hill explained there were historical reasons for the Council’s responsibility of the sites.


(c)  A Member commented on the two weeks’ deposit required by applicants and the potential benefit of increasing this, Ms Liddiard confirmed there was not any legislation regarding the amount of deposit requested but there was a need to understand the financial situation of residents.


(d)  Members expressed concern that the pre-consultation period had not included the views of traveller groups, and around the amount of information and documentation being requested of applicants. Ms Liddiard said it was planned to engage with residents and other Gypsy and Roma travellers in Kent as part of the ten-week formal consultation process.  Mr Marchant said, in terms of the information being sought as part of an application, that this would provide an improved and robust process, ensuring residents were eligible and pitches were allocated fairly. Mr Marchant said there was an extensive network of contacts that would be included in the consultation period.


(e)  Asked whether the Council had Traveller Liaison Officers, Mr Marchant said there were Site Managers who carried out weekly checks and engaged with site residents.  Ms Holt-Castle clarified that the wider community liaison role was a function of district and borough councils, and KCC’s role was as landlord for the sites.


(f)    Asked how many pitches, of the 128 in total, became vacant each year, whether there was a waiting list, and the profit gained from running the sites, Ms Liddiard said there were currently nine vacant pitches and five or six of those required funding to bring them up to standard. There was a waiting list and applications were scored on a points system and held on file until a pitch became available, at which time the site was advertised on the Council’s website and those on the waiting list were contacted. Ms Liddiard confirmed there was a cost to KCC for the running of the sites. Mr Marchant said the portfolio was under review in terms of the medium- and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 104.


Playground Early Years Programme pdf icon PDF 371 KB

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Ms Lucy Keeley, Principal Project Officer, and Mr Tony Witton, Culture and Creative Economy Manager, were in attendance for this item.


1.          Mr Hill said the Playground Early Years Programme was an innovative and valuable project, and he encouraged Members to view the Playground video, if not already done so, which had been circulated prior to the meeting.


2.          Ms Keeley introduced the report and outlined the key points in the programme’s journey and development. She said the programme had recently been announced by the Arts Council as one of their national portfolio organisations for 2023-2026 with provision of funding for three years.


3.          Members commended the initiative and commented on the importance of bringing young parents together and continuing the roll out and improvement of the programme.


RESOLVED that the Cabinet Committee commented on and noted the report.


22/00102 - Contract Extensions for the Provision of Post-Mortem Facilities for Mid Kent & Medway, North West Kent, and East Kent pdf icon PDF 430 KB

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Ms Debbie Large, Head of Coroner Service, and Ms Rebecca Rhodes, Intelligence and Standards Officer, were in attendance for this item.


Mr Hill introduced the item and said the contract extensions provided continuity for post-mortem and mortuary services whilst the option of a digital autopsy facility was pursued.


RESOLVED that the proposal that the Cabinet Member for Community and Regulatory Services agree the six-month extension for the provision of mortuary and Post-Mortem (PM) services in the Mid Kent & Medway, North West Kent, and East Kent coroner areas and confirm current arrangements from earlier decisions 21/00079 21/00079 and 21/00096 as shown at appendix A, be endorsed.


Work Programme 2022/23 pdf icon PDF 109 KB

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RESOLVED that the Work Programme 2022/23 be noted, subject to the addition of


·       Skills and apprenticeships

·       Outcomes of past district visits