1 – Apologies for Absence

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor P Cutler, Councillor L Howes and Councillor K Lynch.

2 – Disclosure of Pecuniary Interests

No disclosures of interests were made.

3 – Public Participation

No Members of the public wished to speak at the meeting.

4 – Approval of Minutes

The Council resolved to approve the minutes of the meeting of the Strategy & Finance Committee held Wednesday 15th June 2022.

5 – To receive Kirby Road Allotments Interim Update

Following concerns raised by tenants, the Grounds Manager and Council Administrator attended a site inspection on Tuesday 14th June 2022. Tenants had complained over a number of overgrown and unworked plots. Since this time, the Public Realm team have been working through clearing the allotment plots in question and debris left by previous tenants.

Four plots have been re-tenanted after being fully cleared. A further six plots are still to be cleared to allow new tenants to occupy them. Our new Facilities Caretaker was able to help them on two days last week and they filled two skips of waste from the site. Once the clearance is complete, it is planned for the composting bays to be reintroduced and kept level to allow better access for tenants and improve the overall look of the site.

Four tenants who had paid but have not been working their plots responded to contact from us and these plots have all begun to be worked again. Luke has accompanied Matt on monthly site inspections and will continue to do so. This will ensure that any unworked plots can be reported and contact made with the tenants as soon as possible, before any further issues arise. Two tenants have now had their agreements terminated following repeated contact with no response for unworked plots.

Tenancy has now increased to the point where we have only two more people on the waiting list, who we hope to be able to offer freshly cleared plots to in September at the latest. Following this, the allotments will be marketed to attract further new tenants to fill the plots as they become available.

The new inspections app allows us to upload photos to accompany specific plots and follow up with tenants in a timely manner.

There have been no further complaints received from current tenants regarding the management or administration of the site. We will continue to update members regularly on the Kirby Road Allotment site through reports to this committee or via the members updates should any urgent information arise.

Members thanked the Council Administrator for his report and noted that some good progress had been made. It was resolved that further updates regarding the Kirby Road Allotments would now be made  to the Community Engagement & Events Committee.

Members resolved to note the report.

6 – To note indicative costings for the Stone Recreation Ground Masterplan and consider approaches to funding

Following production of a whole-site scheme, members were presented with a costings report to reflect indicative costs of delivery. An earlier costings report presented to the council in 2020 only included one phase of the scheme. Therefore, with additional phases included, along with rising inflation and costs, the total sum is inevitably higher than the initial report.Along with this report members are to note details of discussions council officers are undertaking to secure supplementary funding towards the project. This includes applications for funding from CIL, Lower Thames Crossing Fund, and possible contributory funding from key stakeholders.

These discussions will continue to develop over coming months, which will also coincide with submission of reserved planning matters and discharge of planning conditions. The council will therefore be required to make decisions regarding expenditure and delivery late 2022/early 2023.

Members discussed with the Clerk the advantage of having these costings available to enable more detailed discussions regarding funding. It was also discussed that the costs were subject to change as more details on specifications arose.

Members spoke about the need for the construction to be a phased delivery, but that resolving a planning application for the whole site would negate additional costs that would come from separate applications for these phases.

Members resolved to note the indicative costings report produced by Liberty QS and ongoing activity by council officers to negotiate supplementary funding.

7 – Budget Monitoring Report

Members were presented with budget monitoring reports for the period April/May 2022, including a Balance sheet and an Income & Expenditure report.

Members thanked the Responsible Finance Officer for a clear and detailed report and noted that the budget was in a good place.

Members resolved to note the Budget Monitoring Report.

8 – Authorisation of Payments

A schedule of supplier payments was presented for council resolution to authorise payment.

Members resolved to approve the payments for authorization.

9 – To resolve to exclude press and public

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 were asked to leave the meeting during consideration of the following items.

10 – To note service adjustments and revised operating times for Lizzie’s Cafe

Further to a recent Lizzie’s Café operations meeting, several service adjustments have been proposed in response to current sales reports. The most significant of these is an extension of operating times from early September to maximise sales opportunities by capitalising on the morning school run footfall, which as yet has been untested.

As there is no corresponding increase in manpower/salary costs due to the existence of overlapping shifts, it is considered a worthy undertaking to test this market to analyse what impact this has on sales figures ahead of a full service review scheduled for the next Strategy & Finance Committee meeting in October.

The minutes of the recent Lizzie’s operations meeting were provided to members to give a full background of the discussion and rationale for these changes.

Members noted the changes and applauded the efforts of the café staff so far. Members discussed the need for consistency and agreed that the changes should help increase the profitability of the café service.

Members resolved to note the service adjustments and revised operating times for Lizzies Café.

11 – To note insurance claim ref: 9167045

Members noted the Council had been contacted by a legal firm acting on behalf of a Greenhithe resident who claimed to have injured himself in May at Stone Castle Park.

The council’s insurance company are dealing with the claim which is also being investigated internally.

Members will be updated with further information.

Members resolved to note the insurance claim.

 

There being no further business, the Chairperson closed the meeting at 19:56.