Agenda and minutes

Growth, Economic Development and Communities Cabinet Committee - Wednesday, 28th June, 2023 10.00 am

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

Contact: Hayley Savage  03000 414286


No. Item



To note that Mr Mike Baldock, Ms Kelly Grehan and Mr Barry Lewis have joined the committee.

Additional documents:


Mr Baldock had joined the Cabinet Committee along with Ms Grehan and Mr Lewis who had replaced Ms Dawkins and Ms Meade.


RESOLVED that the change in membership be noted.


Declarations of Interest by Members in items on the Agenda

Additional documents:


There were no declarations of interest.


Minutes of the meeting held on 16 May 2023 pdf icon PDF 167 KB

Additional documents:


RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 16 May 2023 were a correct record.


Verbal updates by the Cabinet Members and Corporate Director

Additional documents:


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


(a)  The Council had been successful in securing £3.8million from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities’ Traveller Site Fund to implement a range of improvements to the seven gypsy traveller sites owned and managed by Kent County Council. 


(b)  Kent Libraries was shortlisted for two categories in the National Library awards, including Playground in the children’s promise category, and the Prison Library team in the reading category.  Mr Hill was pleased to announce that Ms Elizabeth Gunn and Ms Tracy McKechnie from the Prison Library Teamwon the reading award.


(c)  The annual Summer Reading Challenge in Kent libraries would run from Saturday, 8 July until 9 September 2023 where children aged 4-11 would be able to visit Kent Librariesand get involved in “Ready, Set, Read!”.  Last year, over 16,000 Kent youngsters took part in the challenge and across the country, the Summer Reading Challenge reached over 700,000 children and families, with approximately 600,000 children taking part through their local library service.


(d)  Turner Contemporary was currently exhibiting Beatriz Milhazes: Maresias, a survey of the work of Beatriz Milhazes, widely recognised as one of the leading abstract artists working today.  This was her first UK solo institutional exhibition in over two decades and brought together 20 key paintings and 5 works on paper. 


2.            Mr Murphy, Deputy Cabinet Member for Economic Development, provided an update on the following:


(a)  The Employment Task Force was encouraging employers to look at skills and the improvement of recruitment and retention methods.  The taskforce was being reviewed to ensure it was relevant to the objectives of the Council.


(b)  The Straits Committee was meeting in Dover on 4 and 5 July 2023 and would focus on water conservation, effects of water erosion, preservation, and the quality of water. 


(c)  Local public opinion regarding potential small modular reactors at Dungeness was being explored and the Council was working closely with local authorities. A possible advantage of the reactors, if they were secured, was hydrogen production and desalination plants.


(d)  A meeting took place on 26 June 2023 with further education college principles, chaired by the Leader of the Council.  The committee looked at how courses could best provide the skillsets needed by industries in Kent, and a review of the committee was being undertaken.


(e)  A South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) Board meeting was taking place on 7 July 2023 to discuss the government announcement that funding for SELEP would cease in 2024.


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


(a)  A Member asked about progress at the Port of Ramsgate and Mr Murphy said tenders had been issued by Thanet District Council for the reopening of the port.


(b)  Asked whether the Employment Taskforce extended to apprenticeships and skills, Mr Murphy said the Employment Taskforce would look at apprenticeships and their funding at greater depth. 


(c)  Asked whether,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 145.


Review of the Kent Community Warden Service pdf icon PDF 254 KB

Additional documents:


Mr Shaffick Peerbux, Head of Community Safety, Community Protection and Ms Kathleen Dardry, Community Safety Practice Development Officer, were in attendance for this item.


1.            Mr Hill introduced the item and expressed his disappointment that, along with many other difficult decisions the Council had had to take to meet budgetary requirements, it had been found necessary to reduce the budget for Community Wardens. Mr Hill stressed that the proposed reshaping of the service was not a reflection on performance and highlighted the service would remain robust if the proposals were implemented. He said the proposed model was flexible to allow for additions in the future should resources become available.


2.            Mr Peerbux introduced the report and provided a summary of the work involved, in the pre-consultation period, in identifying the proposals to redesign the service.


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


(a)  Members commented on the possibility of obtaining, and actively promoting for, other means of funding to continue the current service provision, for example through commercial sponsorship, developer contributions and parish councils. Ms Holt-Castle said alternative sources of funding had been, and would continue to be, considered and conversations had taken place with colleagues in Adult Social Care regarding health and care partnerships.  Ms Holt-Castle clarified that the proposed future model was scalable and would be able to absorb any future opportunities.  Ms Holt-Castle explained that Section 106 developer contributions were restricted to capital and equipment and could not be used for staffing costs, however Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) funding was more flexible.


(b)  Members expressed their concern for the long-term effects on communities as a result of the reduction in the service, for example in relation to health, increased anti-social behaviour and vulnerable residents.


(c)  Asked about the reduction in posts, Mr Peerbux said this amounted to approximately 32 posts and the streamlining of management. The redundancy costs were difficult to predict at this stage and unions had been consulted from the outset.


(d)  Regarding equality implications, a Member commented that the four groups impacted by the service reduction would also be affected by reductions in other services and asked whether the accumulative effects had been considered. Mr Peerbux said the Geographical Allocation Policy would involve work to ensure adverse effects were not multiplied on specific groups.


(e)  Members echoed the comments made by the Cabinet Member for Community and Regulatory Services regarding the invaluable and important work carried out by Community Wardens.


(f)   Asked whether proactive engagement with parish councils would take place, Mr Peerbux said engagement with the Kent Association of Local Councils took place as part of the pre-consultation period and work would continue closely with them.


(g)  A Member referred to the reduction in funding for Police Community Support Officers in Kent Police and the further effects of this on communities.  Mr Hill said he was liaising with the Chief Constable and the Commissioner regarding the gap this would leave. 


(h)  Mr Peerbux clarified that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 146.


Performance Dashboard pdf icon PDF 207 KB

Additional documents:


Mr Matthew Wagner, Interim Chief Analyst, was in attendance for this item.


1.         Mr Wagner introduced the performance report for Quarter 4 of 2022/23 and clarified that figures provided for the year to date referred to the complete financial year.  He said of the 25 Key Performance Indicators, 22 were rag rated green, 2 were amber and 1 was red.


2.         Mr Murphy, Ms Holt-Castle, and Ms Taylor Smith responded to the following questions and comments from Members:


(a)  Asked about Section 106 developer contributions received from district planning authorities, Mr Murphy said formulas, set by central government, were applied to Section 106 funding requests, based on the relevant development and the Developer Contributions Guide.  With regards to CIL, a bid could be made for funding and negotiated with the districts. The red KPI related to two districts where CIL money was being negotiated and was delayed.


(b)  Asked about information relating to libraries, Ms Taylor-Smith said feedback was collected and online surveys were carried out.  Ms Taylor-Smith said she would investigate feedback received from Members in relation to individual libraries.


(c)  Asked how the percentage of children with Free School Meals who engaged with the Kent School Games was determined, Ms Holt-Castle clarified that this KPI included those who had participated in local finals, district finals and county finals.


(d)  A Member asked whether comparative data from the previous five years in relation to the percentage of death and birth registrations could be presented at a future date. 


RESOLVED that the Cabinet Committee note the performance report for Quarter 4 of 2022/23.


Underage Vaping pdf icon PDF 550 KB

Additional documents:


Mr James Whiddett, Operations Manager for Trading Standards, was in attendance for this item.


1.            Mr Hill introduced the item and highlighted the good work of Kent Trading Standards and Kent Scientific Services within this area and referred to the Prime Minister’s visit in May.  He stressed the importance of the issue, and the adverse effects vaping had on young people. 


2.         Mr Whiddett introduced the report and provided some background information.  He said in 2021 the service had received 32 vaping enquiries, compared to 99 in 2022 and 90, to date, in 2023. 


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


(a)  Asked about information for schools, Mr Whiddett said the work being undertaken with Public Health would include good practice guides for schools and there was guidance available from the Association of Directors of Public Health.  Currently work was directed at secondary schools, but recent developments had indicated that this should be extended to primary schools.


(b)  A member asked how vaping affected smoking rates and Mr Whiddett said NHS data, recently provided on smoking and vaping prevalence, was being reviewed.


(c)  Members asked about the disposal of vapes and associated costs, particularly those containing lithium.  Mr Whiddett said work was underway with the Environment Agency and the Council’s steps in disposing of batteries and nicotine in products was in accordance with the guidance and best practice.  Mr Jones said work was ongoing with the Kent Resource Partnership in looking at the risks involved for collection and disposal of contaminated vapes and it was suggested this be discussed further at the Environment & Transport Cabinet Committee.


(d)  Asked about the financial impacts of tackling the issue on the Council, Mr Whiddett said work with agencies to identify the criminals and claim back costs was a complex situation and ongoing.


(e)  Asked about the Council’s involvement in online sales, Mr Whiddett said the focus was currently on the High Street where data indicated more significant activity, but online sales would also be considered when information became available.


(f)   Asked about addressing demand, Mr Whiddett said meetings took place with public health regarding the use of illegal products amongst young people and underage vaping had recently been included. 


(g)  Members noted that a government consultation had finished on 6 June 2023 which looked at issues such as design, disposal, and the selling of vapes to children. It was suggested that, following the government report, these issues be addressed across the portfolios.


RESOLVED that the Cabinet Committee note the report.



Work Programme 2023/24 pdf icon PDF 109 KB

Additional documents:


RESOLVED that the Cabinet Committee note the Work Programme 2023/24.