|PART 1 - PUBLIC
|RESOLVED: That the Minutes of the meeting held on 5 September 2013 be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.
Update on any action identified in the last Minutes.
There were no actions identified that could not be addressed under the agenda.
However, Plaxtol Parish Council referred to future funding of Section 136 payments for parishes, set out at Minute Number PPP 13/022, and thanked the Borough Council for proposals to modify the formula for 2014/15.
Mapping the Future: Setting out future projects and launch of website
|Apologies were received from the West Kent Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and this item was withdrawn from the agenda. The CCG would be invited to attend the next Parish Partnership Panel in February 2014.
Kent Fire and Rescue Services (Guest Speaker - Mr James Finch)
The Head of Policy and Performance (Mr James Finch) of Kent Fire and Rescue Services advised of the changes within the organisation and outlined the significant budget pressures being faced. Savings of £40m were needed to help address the deficit and the Service was looking at changing the way services were delivered. Members were reassured that there would be no loss of performance to residents.
Particular reference was made to the continued decrease in overall demand levels, due in part to people's changing social habits. This, together with the need to make savings, had resulted in a review of how and where services were delivered. However, it was not proposed to close any fire stations and emergency planning was being discussed with Kent Police and local authorities.
Proposed changes to station times were set out and it was explained that there would always be full time fire fighters available based on local demand.
Consultation with parish councils, via the Kent Association of Local Councils, was expected to start in approximately two weeks.
In response to questions raised by Members, Mr Finch reported that Medway Council had approved plans for a new fire station at Rochester Airport, reviewed salaries of senior staff and deleted a number of senior posts and provided an update on the fire fighters dispute.
The Chairman thanked Mr Finch for his contribution to the meeting and advised that the Borough Council would also carefully consider a response to the consultation.
Chief Inspector Kirby, Borough Commander for Tonbridge and Malling, addressed concerns raised by the Kent Association of Local Councils regarding the closure of local stations, the deployment of officers to central locations and the critical loss of policing by experienced local officers.
It was explained that as a result of significant budget pressures a new policing model had been successfully implemented and neighbourhood policing remained the foundation of that model. A further £20m budget reduction for the financial year 2015/16 was necessary and plans were in place to achieve this through evolving the current policing model. Further detail was not yet available as this was still in development.
Chief Inspector Kirby was pleased to report that PCSOs were highly valued and the Police Crime Commissioner remained committed to neighbourhood policing. An excellent quality of service had been maintained in Tonbridge and Malling and the co-location of Kent Police in the Borough Council offices had proved beneficial.
A review of police contacts point was being undertaken as a result of low attendance in some locations. Future plans included attending events, local risks and areas of raised crime or routine.
Current issues in the borough, particularly burglary from dwellings, were highlighted and Members were reminded to report anything that seemed suspicious.
Hadlow Parish Council thanked Kent Police for their contribution to the local skate park and also referred to revised national guidance on cautioning. It was suggested that Chief Inspector Kirby summarise the Kent approach to these new guidelines at the Panel meeting in February 2014.
Borough Green Parish and Snodland Town Councils asked about policing priorities, feeling that community events were not given the support required. The Panel was reminded that the onus was now on local communities and parishes to deal with events, although advice and support was given by Kent Police as appropriate. In addition, the Borough Council's Safety Advisory Group liaised with other external agencies and assistance could be offered to local communities via this route. Parish councils were encouraged to contact the Community Safety Partnership and Licensing Manager for further advice.
The Chairman thanked Chief Inspector Kirby for his contribution to the meeting.
Parish Caretaker Scheme Update
The Kent Association of Local Councils (Tonbridge and Malling) confirmed the names of the parish council representatives on the Parish Caretaker Working Group, as follows:
- Mr M Taylor (Borough Green)
- Mr M Means (Leybourne)
- Mr H Rayner (KALC and Wrotham)
- Mr P Street (East Peckham)
The Chairman of the Working Group, the Cabinet Member for Finance, proposed an initial meeting as soon as possible and offered to report back on progress before the end of the financial year. The County Council's contribution to the Working Group was also welcomed and County Councillor Balfour was invited to attend the meetings.
East Peckham Parish Council was grateful that a Working Group had been established and was keen to move the initiative forward as they had been encouraged by the Ashford pilot scheme.
Joint Standards Committee
The report of the Director of Central Services and Monitoring Officer set out the nominations received from Town and Parish Councils to serve on the Joint Standards Committee for the municipal year 2013/14.
An additional six nominations had been received and these were tabled for consideration.
(1) the Parish and Town Councillors set out at paragraph 1.2.1 of the report, and in the paper tabled at the meeting, be appointed to the pool of Parish and Town representatives on the Joint Standards Committee for the municipal year 2013/14; and
(2) these nominations be formally noted at the first meeting of the Joint Standards Committee.
Kent County Council Services Update
The Kent County Council Community Engagement Manager reported on the key points of the Transformation Programme which proposed different thinking surrounding service delivery and expenditure. It was reported that residents were at the very heart of the transformation plans and services would be redesigned according to the needs of customer groups. The programme included a change to top tier management posts and directorate structures. Parishes were invited to comment on the proposals and responses should be sent to email@example.com by Friday 22 November 2013.
In addition, the County Council had launched its 2014/15 budget consultation and residents and partners were invited to comment on the proposals by 13 December. Details of the consultation were available on:
Reference was made to the Warm Homes scheme which provided eligible households with energy saving improvements at no cost to the resident. Members were pleased to note that the initiative was now available in Tonbridge and Malling. Parishes were asked to promote the scheme and volunteers to become 'community champions' were invited. Further details were available from the Kent County Council website.
Finally, reference was made to the continued and significant increase in primary pupil numbers and the need for new provision of schools. Due to high demand Leybourne Chase, Kings Hill and Holborough Lakes had been identified as potential new school sites. Drop in sessions at these sites had been arranged and more information on dates and times could be found on the County Council's website.
Hadlow Parish Council commented that the new 'outcomes' based Oftsted inspections could prove challenging and that the new Children and Family Bill could have implications for local authorities regarding adoption. However, Members were advised that Families and Social Care were liaising with the Communications Team on how to get appropriate messages delivered.
The County Councillor for Malling North advised that a petition on social care would be presented to the relevant Committee for consideration and that the local adoption process and take up had improved.
Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council Services Update
An update on recent events and other key points relevant to Tonbridge and Malling was provided by the Chief Executive. The headline messages included:
- Leisure Trust: It was confirmed that the Trust was now operating the Borough Council's leisure facilities and that customers should not be aware of any change in the level of service.
- Local Plan: Following the parish councils event on 26 September 2013 a series of one to one meetings had been held, which had received positive feedback. Those parishes still undecided about an individual meeting were encouraged to participate.
Both Aylesford and Kings Hill Parish Councils commented that they found the meetings useful and extremely positive.
- Local Business Support: It was reported that the Cabinet Member for Economic Regeneration continued to meet local retail centres across the borough and had had positive dialogue with a number of businesses.
- Tax based figures: It was announced that the Director of Finance and Transformation intended to calculate the tax based figures for parish councils during the first week of December. This information would be shared once it was finalised.
Wrotham Parish Council asked what governed the timetable for the calculations and the Director of Finance and Transformation would be invited to provide details.