COUNCILLORS PRESENT:  J Burrell (Chairman), L Canham, P Cutler, M Garford, J Hoadley, M Mitchell, E Morley and S Thredgle (Vice Chairman)

IN ATTENDANCE:  J Thomas, Parish Clerk and E Mote, Council Coordinator

VISITORS:  PCSO G Beddoes and Councillor P Cole, Kent County Council                                                                               

49/01/18CL: TO RECEIVE APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors’ S Cummings, S Martin, C Pearce and Acting Inspector D Crompton from Kent Police.

50/01/18CL: TO RECEIVE DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

No declarations of interest were received.

51/01/18CL: TO ACCEPT QUESTIONS FROM THE PUBLIC

No public present at the meeting.

52/01/18CL: TO APPROVE THE MINUTES OF COUNCIL MEETING HELD ON WEDNESDAY 11 OCTOBER 2017

The minutes of the meeting held on Wednesday 11 October 2017 were accepted as a true record by the Council and signed by the Chairman.

53/01/18CL: TO DISCUSS MATTERS ARISING FROM PREVIOUS MINUTEs

There were no matters arising from minutes of the previous meeting.

54/01/18CL: To RECEIVE REPORTS FROM OUTSIDE ORGANISATIONS AND AGENCIES

  1. Kent County Councillor’s Reports for Stone, Castle & Newtown

Cllr P Cole informed the meeting that Kent County Council’s budget setting was currently taking place. Proposals for a 5% precept increase were still to be confirmed as well as essential cuts being made as part of the process.

An increase in the need for children’s social care services is having a major impact on KCC’s budget. The Clerk asked if investigations were in progress as to why needs had intensified. Cllr Cole explained that previous, early intervention did not require high-level capability but with the escalation in cases, specialist assistance has been essential meaning costs have inevitably increased.  Cllr Cole invited Member proposals on how to take this issue forward.

The St Clements Way Improvement Scheme will be holding a sod-cutting ceremony on 1 February 2018.

The Chairman thanked Cllr Cole for her report.

  1. Dartford Borough Councillor’s Reports for Stone and Castle

Cllr Cutler, borough ward member for Castle, confirmed recent emergency sewer works together with several parking issues at Waterstone Park.

Cllr Burrell, borough ward member for Stone, reported the imminent opening of the long-awaited Stone Crossing footbridge installation.

  1. Neighbourhood Policing Team (Kent Police/KCC Community Warden)

PCSO G Beddoes reported the following crime statistics for 1 November 2017 to 1 January 2018:

 

Offence No of incidents
Vehicle thefts 5 in Stone; 1 in Castle
Theft 5 in Stone; 1 in Castle
Criminal damage 6 in Stone; 2 in Castle
Burglary 4 in Stone; 1 in Castle
ASB 5 in Stone; 2 in Castle

 

A marked increase in burglaries in Stone and neighbouring areas was reported over the Christmas period.

PCSO Beddoes conveyed concerns in an upsurge of fraud cases regarding scam callers, particularly targeting elderly residents. The clerk confirmed that details highlighting this issue would be reported to the public via the Council’s social media means and the Parish newsletter to raise awareness.

The Chairman thanked the policing team for their attendance and reports.

55/01/18CL:  TO APPROVE STONE RECREATION GROUND MASTERPLAN

Members were asked to resolve approval of the Stone Recreation Ground Masterplan, following recommendation from the Strategic Planning and Development Committee.

The Masterplan had been developed by RHJB Architects over a number of months in response to the brief set by the council, which sought to create a destination at which ;local residents are effectively served with a variety of provision, improved aesthetics, increased parking provision and upgraded amenities.

Discussion took place with members supportive of proposals that were designed to enhance  vistas and the accessibility of the recreation ground, with emphasis on creating a space at which people would want to spend longer periods than are currently seen.

Resolved: The Council unanimously approved to adopt the Stone Recreation Ground Masterplan as presented following recommendation from the Strategic Planning and Development Committee.

56/01/18CL:  APPROVAL OF ANNUAL BUDGET FOR 2018-19 AND SUBMISSION OF PRECEPT REQUEST

Following consideration and approval by the Finance & Audit committee, the annual council budget for 2018-19 was presented for ratification and adoption.

The budget proposed a precept sum of £369,354.

The council tax base for 2018-19 was confirmed as 4221.65. The Council Tax Support Grant was confirmed at £7,490, reduced from £9,361 in 20117-18. The S136 Grant was confirmed at £4,430, reduced from £9,688 in 2017-18.

Taking into account the respective sums, the budget represented an annual charge of £87.49 for a Band D property, representing an increase of £3.46 or 4.1%.

Resolved:

  • Approval and adoption of the council’s budget as outlined for 2018-19
  • Submission of the precept request of £369,354 to Dartford Borough Council

57/01/18CL:  TO CONSIDER COUNCIL’S DRAFT STRATEGIC PLAN

This item was deferred to allow for further development prior to discussion.

58/01/17CL:  FINANCE

  1.  To authorise payments

Full details of payments for January were provided for Members approval.

Members approved payments for authorisation as presented.

59/01/18CL:  PLANNING, ENVIRONMENT & TRANSPORT

 

  1. To note confirmation of Public Path Order under Highways Act 1980 and Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981

Members noted details issued by Kent County Council in respect of public footpath DR1 (parts) Stone Public Path Diversion and Definitive Map and Statement Modification Order 2014.

  1.  To consider new planning applications and prepare observation responses to the Local Planning Authority.
  2. a)  DA/17/02082/FUL – Land South of St Mary’s Road Stone Kent DA9 9AG

Erection of 3 No. apartment buildings comprising 68 No. residential units with associated access, parking amenity and landscaping.

Observations deadline: 10 January 2018. Extension for comments requested and granted by the LPA for 18 January 2018 to allow for member discussion.

Members objected to the application on the following grounds:

The proposed application is considered to represent an inappropriate form of development, which is not in conformity and does not reflect the prevailing character of the street. It is felt that a 5-storey building would be more in keeping with the local area than the proposed 7 storeys. It is felt that the rooftop garden merely exacerbates unit heights and that the design is not in keeping with the local surroundings. The council has concerns that permitting such development would bring about similar applications, ultimately resulting in over intensification and cumulative impacts to the area.

The Council is concerned regarding impact on inevitable increase in traffic and resident parking issues which are already causing significant problems and considered unsustainable.

The council is concerned over the lack of amenity space provided for the size of development; the unavoidable strain on parish infrastructure and would also point out that local schools are currently at capacity.

Members resolved to formally object to the application on the grounds stated.

  1. b)  DA/17/01955/FUL – McDonalds Restaurant Bean Road Greenhithe Kent DA9 9HY

Provision of a new drive thru lane, with side-by-side ordering and the refurbishment of the restaurant, which includes 30.6 sqm of extensions, incorporating new drive thru booths, enlarged freezer/chiller and managers office, with associated works to the site.  New site access/egress, with the relocation of the car park and a new patio area, remote corral at the north of the site, installation of 2 No. customer order displays with associated overhead canopies

Members objected to the application on the following grounds:

Loss of part of public footpath on Bean Road. This is a well-used route for commuters to Greenhithe railway station.

The Council would express grave concerns over the increase in traffic to an already busy area. Members are concerned regarding the existing cycle path and would wish to see assurances of its diversion or relocation.

It is felt the size of drive thru lanes and associated signage have an overbearing nature and would affect the current highway resulting in overdevelopment of the area.

Air quality would inevitably see a marked increase at an already seriously affected location due to cars idling in the drive thru lane. Inevitable light and noise pollution would have a detrimental impact on surrounding homes together with a potential litter problem.

  1. c)  DA/17/01956/ADV – McDonalds Restaurant Bean Road Greenhithe Kent DA9 9HY

Provision of new signage suite (in connection with separate planning application DA/17/01955/FUL for proposed drive thru layout) comprising 1 No. gateway height restrictor, 10 No. freestanding signs, 1 No. banner unit and 1 No. side-by-side directional

OBJECTION: The Council would object to the application on the grounds of inevitable light pollution from extensive signage having a detrimental impact on surrounding homes. The nature of the sign is not in keeping with the prevailing character of the area would have a serious adverse effect on the neighbourhood aesthetics.

  1. d)  DA/17/01957/ADV – McDonalds Restaurant Bean Road Greenhithe Kent DA9 9HY

Display of 1 No. externally illuminated wall mounted “good times” sign

OBJECTION: The Council would object to the application on the grounds of inevitable light pollution from extensive signage having a detrimental impact on surrounding homes. The nature of the sign is not in keeping with the prevailing character of the area would have a serious adverse effect on the neighbourhood aesthetics.

  1. e)  DA/17/01958/ADV – McDonalds Restaurant Bean Road Greenhithe Kent DA9 9HY

Display of 1 No. freestanding internally illuminated 6.5m totem sign

OBJECTION: The Council would object to the application on the grounds of inevitable light pollution from extensive signage having a detrimental impact on surrounding homes. The nature of the sign is not in keeping with the prevailing character of the area would have a serious adverse effect on the neighbourhood aesthetics.

  1. To consider submissions made under officer delegation and note recent decisions made by the planning authority.

Members noted officer submissions and recent decisions from the local planning authority.

60/01/18CL:  COUNCIL REPORTS

  1. Chairman’s Report

The Chairman was pleased to confirm an outstanding Christmas Lights Switch On event in December 2017 and wished to thank staff. An excellent Senior Citizen’s Christmas Lunch also took place on 8 December 2017.

 

  1. Clerk’s Report

The Clerk reported that the Borough Council has confirmed commencement of a Community Governance Review of the eight Parish and Town Councils and unparished areas in Dartford.

A briefing is being scheduled for the parish councils to provide information regarding the process. The Borough Council is expected to resolve the relevant Reorganisation Order in December 2018.

61/01/18CL:  TO CONCLUDE ITEMS FOR THE NEXT AGENDA

Members requested that deferred items be included on the next agenda or at the next Special Meeting of the Council. 

62/01/18CL:  EXCLUSION OF PRESS AND PUBLIC

To resolve, pursuant to section 1 (2) of the Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960, that because of the confidential nature of the business to be transacted, the public and the press leave the meeting during consideration of the following items.

63/01/18CL:  TO RESOLVE STAFFING RESTRUCTURE PLAN

Members were presented with a comprehensive report that set out proposals for restructure of the workforce, designed to facilitate delivery of council strategic objectives in forthcoming years.

This followed an internal review that had been carried out to identify issues and improvements to the current structure to enhance service delivery.

The proposals outlined instatement of a management team for the three directorates that would enable more effective delegation and reduce the Parish Clerk’s line management responsibilities by half from six to three.

This included creation of a new Responsible Finance Officer post, which would see the management of the council’s accounts return as an in-house activity. This officer would also provide deputation for the clerk as an Assistant.

The proposed restructure results in deletion of a number of existing posts, with new posts providing opportunities to avoid redundancy through re-employment into applicable posts.

The report proposes the council offers voluntary redundancy as a way of avoiding forced redundancy and that a budget of £20k be approved to support such outcomes.

The report proposed commencing the restructure without delay to enable any recruitment required to achieve full Implementation by April.

Members acknowledged activities in the forthcoming strategic plan, including the opening of a new community facility and delivery of the Stone Recreation Ground Masterplan, and agreed the restructure was both timely and necessary to ensure an effective and strong workforce to deliver objectives.

It was felt that the recent review had been an effective mechanism to identify areas for change, to maximise the council’s staffing budget and instate a skilled team to support the council’s work.

After much discussion, members voted unanimously to approve the Restructure Plan, including specific resolutions as follows:

Summary of Resolutions

Section: Item: Recommendation
3. Review of Overall Structure a) That the council approves to continue with a staffing structure on the basis of the three existing service departments.
4. Council Administration Team a) That the council approves the formal separation of the respective duties of Parish Clerk (Proper Officer) and S151 Responsible Financial Officer with immediate effect
b) That the post of Council Coordinator is deleted with immediate effect
c) That the post of Reception Administrator/Communications Assistant is deleted with immediate effect
d) That the post of Reception Administrator/Finance Assistant is deleted with immediate effect
e) That the post of Responsible Finance Officer/Assistant Clerk is created with immediate effect
f) That the post of Communications, Events and Projects Officer is created with immediate effect
g) That the post of Council Administrator is created with immediate effect
5. Facilities Management team a) That the title of the Facilities Coordinator post be changed with immediate effect to Facilities Manager for consistency and to reflect post holder line management and Health & Safety responsibilities
b) That the vacant post of Facilities Assistant be filled and the contractual hours increased from 20-hours to 32-hours per week with immediate effect
c) That the title of the Pavilion Support Worker posts be changed with immediate effect to Facilities Support Worker to reflect introduction of a further facility
6. Public Realm Team a) That the current post of Park Ranger is confirmed as deleted with immediate effect
b) That reference to Property in all Public Realm post titles is removed with immediate effect to avoid ambiguity with the Facilities Management Team
7. Financial Implications a) That the council notes the annual cost of the proposed staffing structure at £298,000
b) That the council resolves a provisional budget of up to £20,000 from council reserves to enable payments for employees wishing to opt for Voluntary Redundancy
8. Procedural Implications a) That the council notes the procedural implications of the proposed restructure
b) That the council resolves to offer Voluntary Redundancy from the outset as an alternative option to applying for new posts
c) That the council resolves to exempt employees opting for voluntary redundancy from working notice periods to support gaining alternative employment
9. Other Matters a) That the council approves the job descriptions for new posts and notes the updating of job descriptions for all posts within the proposed staffing structure
b) That the skills and attributes outlined in new post summaries form the basis for selection criteria to assess suitability when filling vacant posts

 

 64/01/18CL:  TO RECEIVE UPDATE REGARDING CONTRACTS FOR LAND TRANSFER AT COTTON LANE

 

Members were provided with an update regarding the drafting of contracts to enable commencement of construction of the Claire Tiltman Centre.

It was noted that discussion was still to take place to finalise the full specification and that further negotiation was required regarding relevant dates and contingencies.

It was hoped that contracts will be ready for completion in early March.

Members resolved to note the information and await further update.

65/01/18CL:  TO EXECUTE CROSSRAIL SAFEGUARDING TRANSFER OF LAND NORTH OF COTTON LANE

This item was deferred as contract papers had not arrived for execution.

66/01/18CL:  TO RECEIVE UPDATE REGARDING INSTALLATION OF CCTV IN THE PARISH

This item was deferred due to the length of the meeting and will be re-scheduled for a future discussion.