Agenda and minutes

Cabinet
Wednesday, 14th October, 2015 7.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Civic Offices, New Road, Grays, Essex, RM17 6SL.

Contact: Stephanie Cox, Senior Democratic Services Officer  Email: Direct.Democracy@thurrock.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

47.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 113 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of Cabinet held on 9 September 2015.

Minutes:

The Minutes of Cabinet, held on 9 September 2015, were approved as a correct record.

48.

Items of Urgent Business

To receive additional items that the Chair is of the opinion should be considered as a matter of urgency, in accordance with Section 100B (4) (b) of the Local Government Act 1972.

Minutes:

There were no items of urgent business.

49.

Declaration of Interests

Minutes:

Councillor Okunade declared a non-pecuniary interest in respect of Agenda Item 15, Thameside Complex Review, as she was a board member of TRUST which occupied offices within the Thameside Complex.

50.

Statements by the Leader

Minutes:

The Leader welcomed Lyn Carpenter to her first meeting of Cabinet, as the new Chief Executive, and thanked David Bull for his work as interim Chief Executive.

 

The Leader welcomed the residents in the public gallery to the meeting and briefly highlighted those who were present in the Council Chamber, which included the Cabinet Members as decision makers, officers who advised on the decision making process, opposition members and the media.

 

The Leader further explained that there was usually no provision for the public to speak at meetings of Cabinet, however in this instance he had waived the rules and exercised his Chair’s discretion in order to permit three residents to make statements in relation to Item 10, Housing Estate Regeneration Update. He asked all those present to be courteous and not to speak over others when speaking. 

 

At 7.05 pm Councillor Holloway arrived at the meeting.

51.

Update Report: Corporate Performance Summary (Up To End of July 2015) pdf icon PDF 180 KB

Minutes:

Councillor Holloway, Cabinet Member for Central Services, introduced the report which summarised performance against the Corporate Scorecard 2015-16, a basket of key performance indicators (KPI’s), as at Month 4 (end of July 2015).  Members were informed that at the end of Month 4, 77% of these indicators were either meeting or within an acceptable tolerance of their target, and that this figure was lower than usual at this stage of the year.

 

Councillor B. Rice reported that the target for self-directed support was now ‘Green’ and meeting target, which was primarily a result of two factors, that included carers were now excluded in the data as carers were to be reported separately from service users and that the implementation of the Care Act 2014 had impacted upon performance in the first quarter.

 

Councillor Speight highlighted that contaminated recycling resulted in loads being rejected and disposed of as residual waste, which significantly increased disposal costs, and felt this was important cross-contamination was monitored.

52.

Petitions submitted by Members of the Public

Minutes:

There were no petitions submitted.

53.

Questions from Non-Executive Members

Minutes:

The Leader of the Council advised that one question had been submitted and that the question would be taken with the corresponding agenda item in the usual manner.

54.

Matters Referred to the Cabinet for Consideration by an Overview and Scrutiny Committee

Minutes:

The Leader of the Council informed Members that one item had been referred by an Overview and Scrutiny Committee, which was included later on the agenda at item 15, Thameside Complex Review.

55.

Housing Estate Regeneration Update (Decision: 01104415) pdf icon PDF 90 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Worrall, Cabinet Member for Housing, introduced the report which provided an update on the results of the recent consultation regarding high rises in Grays and the progress that was being made on the Council’s other key housing estates.

 

Councillor Worrall thanked all residents who took part in the consultation and explained that the information gathered had been valuable. She further apologised to residents, as she felt that they had been caught in a political point scoring exercise and emphasised that Councillors should remain balanced and listen to the views of residents.

 

Councillor Worrall reported that she wished to make an amendment to recommendation 1.1 printed in the report in order to delete the words ‘at this stage’ so that the recommendation would read as follows:

 

“Cabinet not to award decant status to three Grays high rises – Butler, Davall and Greenwood House, but instead to note that continued consultation should take place with residents to include detailed design on alternative home provision to ensure residents are given a clear unambiguous set of choices.”

 

Councillor Worrall explained that the amendment was important, as the Council was not planning to award decant status to residents of the Grays high rises but would continue to consult with residents as there were some who wanted to leave and others who wanted to stay.

 

Councillor Worrall explained that recommendation 1.3 was for Cabinet to note that the Council’s new build development on Seabrooke Rise would be allocated in accordance to the Council’s existing Lettings Policy and existing residents of the Seabrooke Rise high rise towers would not benefit from enhanced priority status at the current time, however added that she wanted to do what she could to assist those residents who wanted to leave by creating a local lettings plan.

 

In light of this the Cabinet Member informed all those present that officers would consult with residents regarding the local lettings plan and a report would be referred to the Housing Overview and Scrutiny Committee for consideration, subsequent to which it would be referred to Cabinet for approval.

 

Councillor Worrall further reported that the government’s recent announcement to impose a 1% reduction on rents over the next four years had a significant impact on the Council’s Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Business Plan and consequently officers were evaluating how this would affect the regeneration programme.

 

The Cabinet Member briefly summarised the investment on the Flowers Estate in South Ockendon and the Garrison Estate in Purfleet and emphasised that it was important to speak with local ward Councillors and engage with local residents on plans going forward.

 

Councillor J. Kent, Leader of the Council, invited the three residents to make their statements in the following order:

 

·         Miss Harries, Lead Petitioner of Petition 467 ‘to save our homes being pulled down: Butler; Davall and Greenwood’ explained that the number of people who signed the petition were not used in the overall percentage calculation, rather it was the number of flats on the petition. Miss Harries reported that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 55.

56.

Shaping the Council and Budget Update (Decision: 01104416) pdf icon PDF 86 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor J. Kent, the Leader of the Council, introduced the report which set out the pressures in 2015/16 and the Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) with a need to meet an estimated budget gap of over £28 million for the four years between 2016/17 and 2019/20. Members were advised that the latest MTFS included the impact of the cessation of the Serco contract which would allow for greater flexibility in future and that it was hoped that staff could join the authority a month early.

 

In introducing the report the Leader highlighted to Members attention a graph which documented the decline of the revenue support grant received by Thurrock Council from Central Government from 2010/11 to the present day and an estimated projection to 2019/20. The graph documented a cut of £36 million.

 

The Leader further expressed concerns following the latest Chancellors speech at the Conservative Party Conference, where it was announced that local authorities could retain business rates locally, which he felt was misleading as in reality much of the business rates collected would still be retained and distributed among other Boroughs and Districts.

 

Councillor B. Rice explained that that cuts in the revenue support grant from Central Government had a considerable negative impact on her service area, where the total gross spend on older persons had reduced by one third per person from 2009. She further reported that the service faced significant challenges in light of the fact that the government had imposed a £600,000 in-year grant funding cut on Thurrock, which would need to be recouped across the next 6 months.

 

Councillor Holloway observed that it was helpful to have such information presented each month, especially when residents saw essential services in difficulty, such as waste collection and grass cutting.

 

Councillor J. Kent highlighted the impact of the government cuts on Essex Police, which would see 32 of the current 38 Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) cut.

 

Councillor Gerrish observed that in future year’s services that residents regard as essential will not be able to be delivered and difficult choices would need to be made.

 

Councillor Okunade reported that budget cuts in Children’s Social Care were unavoidable but the Council were committed to delivering a safe service.

 

There was a brief debate on the negative impact the recent announcement by Central Government to impose a 1% reduction on rents over the next four years would have in Thurrock, which equated to £4.5 million per year.

 

RESOLVED:

 

1.         That Cabinet note the current financial position and that a future Shaping the Council and Budget Update report will set out any financial impact of pressures within the Children’s and Housing Services budget, as set out in the report; and

 

2.         That Cabinet note the latest update on the Serco transition.

 

Reason for Decision - as stated in the report

This decision is subject to call-in

57.

Homelessness Prevention Strategy 2010-15 (Decision: 01104417) pdf icon PDF 86 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Worrall, Cabinet Member for Housing, introduced the report which set out the Council’s statutory duty to have a Homelessness Strategy which detailed the local authority’s plans for the prevention of homelessness and for securing that sufficient accommodation and support are, or will be, available for people who become homeless or who are at risk of becoming so.

 

Councillor J. Kent questioned what the imposed 1% reduction on rents over the next four years would have on the duty, to which the Cabinet Member explained the results of the housing needs survey highlighted that more one and two bedroom homes were needed in Thurrock and that private landlords were not always accepting of people on universal credit.

 

Councillor Speight welcomed the strategy, which he felt was thorough and well thought through, but was concerned at the evidence that private landlords did not accept people in receipt of universal credit payments.

 

Councillor B. Rice explained that this was currently being reviewed as part of the Health and Wellbeing Strategy.

 

Councillor Gerrish was concerned with the stark trend of the number of households who had approached the Council for homelessness advice and assistance in Thurrock over the past three years, which was up from over 1,000 in 2012/13 to nearly 1,600 in 2013/14 and 2,700 in 2014/15.

 

 

RESOLVED:

 

1.         That Cabinet notes the review of homelessness in the borough - Appendix 1.

 

2.         That Cabinet approves the Homelessness Prevention Strategy 2015 to 2020 - Appendix 2.

 

3.         That Cabinet approves plans for an annual review of the Homelessness Prevention Strategy – to be presented at the September Housing Overview & Scrutiny committee meeting.

 

Reason for Decision - as stated in the report

This decision is subject to call-in

58.

Right to Move (Decision: 01104418) pdf icon PDF 68 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Worrall, Cabinet Member for Housing, introduced the report which explained that on 20 April 2015 new statutory rules called the “Right to Move” came into force, which meant that Thurrock Council could not disqualify someone from joining their housing register on the grounds of no local connection where they meet certain criteria, which included:

 

·         The person is already a social housing tenant (Council or Registered Provider tenant)  in another borough in England, and;

·         They have a need to move to Thurrock to avoid hardship, and;

·         They need to move to Thurrock because they either already work in Thurrock, or;

·         They need to take up an offer of work in Thurrock.

 

Members were informed that the Council could restrict the number of properties allocated under the new rules to an agreed annual quota, which was at least 1% of relets, and in June 2015 the Housing Overview and Scrutiny Committee recommended that Cabinet agree the annual quota be set at 1% of the preceding years housing allocations which would represent 6 properties per year.

 

Councillor B. Rice questioned whether the 1% quota would mean that some properties are left empty, to which it was confirmed this would not be the case and applications would be dealt with as they were received.

 

Councillor Worrall confirmed that to date no applications had been received under the Right to Move scheme.

 

RESOLVED:

 

1.         That the new “Right to Move” regulations be noted.

 

2.         Cabinet approve the annual quota of properties to be allocated under the new provisions be set at 1% of all Council housing allocations for the preceding year (1st April to 31st March) with the provision that officers endeavour to seek mutual exchanges, where possible, to mitigate the impact on levels of Thurrock Council housing stock.

 

Reason for Decision - as stated in the report

This decision is subject to call-in

59.

Denominational Transport - Service Review (Decision: 01104419) pdf icon PDF 85 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor J. Kent, Cabinet Member for Finance and Education, introduced the report which proposed to go out to further consultation on the future of the service including possible de-commissioning.

 

RESOLVED:

 

Cabinet approve a review of denominational transport with the option of discontinuing the service after July 2016.

 

Reason for Decision - as stated in the report

This decision is subject to call-in

60.

Devolution, Combined Authority and South East Local Enterprise Partnership Update (Decision: 01104421) pdf icon PDF 90 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor J. Kent, Leader of the Council, introduced the report which set out the progress being made in discussions involving the Council on devolution and combined authorities and the latest position with the South East Local Enterprise Partnership.

 

In introducing the report he questioned whether Thurrock’s best interests were being served under the current arrangements or whether it would be more beneficial to form a partnership with South Essex authorities instead. Concerns were also raised in the fact that there was no vice-chair position for the federated area of South Essex.

 

Councillor B. Rice questioned the benefits to Thurrock under the current arrangements, to which it was explained the mechanism of the South East Local Enterprise Partnership divided up Business Rates and could negotiate a greater say on matters such as skills and training and job centre plus.

 

Members debated whether Thurrock would be best served by the current arrangement of if a new partnership should be formed with Southend Borough Council or both Southend and Basildon Council’s.

 

During the debate Members felt that a separation with Essex County Council would best serve Thurrock’s interests and that a partnership with Southend and Basildon would be more appropriate given the natural similarities between the Boroughs, as Thurrock had little in common with some North Essex authorities.

In light of the debate Councillor J. Kent proposed an amendment to recommendation 1.1, which read as follows:

 

“That Cabinet confirms its commitment to pursuing a devolution deal with Government and to continue to work with partners across South Essex and Greater Essex, whilst continuing to explore whether Thurrock’s best interests can be served through a Greater South Essex Combined Authority.”

 

Members voted unanimously in favour of the recommendations, including the proposed amendment at 1.1, whereupon the Chair declared these to be carried.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That Cabinet:

 

1.         Confirms its commitment to pursuing a devolution deal with Government and to continue to work with partners across South Essex and Greater Essex, whilst continuing to explore whether Thurrock’s best interests can be served through a Greater South Essex Combined Authority.

 

2.         Agrees that a devolution deal must be underpinned by a business case that demonstrates benefits for Thurrock, that could not otherwise be achieved, which have the support of local businesses and are underpinned by a governance framework that localises decision-making.

 

3.         Strongly supports the creation of a SELEP vice chair position for the federated area of South Essex.

 

4.         Notes that Thurrock Council has signed the SELEP Joint Committee Agreement.

 

Reason for Decision - as stated in the report

This decision is subject to call-in

61.

Thameside Complex Review (Decision: 01104420) pdf icon PDF 61 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Snell, Chair of the Thameside Complex Review Panel, introduced the report which detailed the findings of the Thameside Complex Review Panel and the recommendations they wished Cabinet to endorse, following its consideration at Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee in September 2015.

 

In introducing the report, Councillor Snell highlighted the following key points:

 

·         That the library was the most well-used facility in the Thameside Complex, accounting for 58% of visits mentioned in the survey, alongside 15% respondents for the Café, 13% for the museum and 10% for other services which included the registry office, baby activity groups and visiting voluntary organisations.

·         That the panel had visited the Thameside Complex and noted that museum displays were dated and needed refreshing, and opinion was divided about the building.

·         Many respondents valued the services provided within the Thameside Complex and were concerned that it would be demolished and replaced with housing, which was a fear that the panel had found to be unfounded.

·         That the majority of respondents agreed that the Thameside Complex was in the right location, as it was easily accessible.

·         That the registry office was not competitive with other more picturesque locations elsewhere, and that it had been suggested Coalhouse Fort would be a good wedding venue, which was frequently requested by residents.

·         That Charcoal Blue had highlighted a number of issues with the current theatre provision, which include cramped seating, inadequate stage winds, limitations for stage backdrops, minimal prop storage and changing rooms on a different floor.

 

Councillor J. Kent questioned whether residents liked the location of the current Thameside Complex on the corner of Orsett Road or whether they simply wanted the facilities in Grays.

 

In response Councillor Snell felt that overall people wanted the provision offered to remain in Grays, which was not necessarily at the exact current site.

 

Councillor Speight felt that it was important provision remained in Grays due to its good transport links and that it was important to have a cultural vision to complement the backstage skills which were being developed in Purfleet.

 

Members commended the work of Councillor Snell and the Thameside Complex Review Panel, and recognised that this was a large piece of work that was of much local interest to residents.

 

A brief discussion took place on whether The State Cinema could viably be developed into a theatre, to which Councillor Snell explained that this had been ruled out as a viable option due to limitations with the building itself.

 

Councillor Pothecary highlighted that there was a sense of mistrust about the Thameside Complex and that the process needed to be managed carefully going forward.

 

Members were in agreement that this was an important project that was vital the Council did not get wrong, and as a result a clear vision and cross-party support was essential in order to show unity.

 

Councillor J. Kent observed that the report had made clear the Thameside Complex building itself was not fit for purpose and that left the Council with  ...  view the full minutes text for item 61.

62.

Purfleet Centre - Award of Contract (Decision: 01104422) pdf icon PDF 102 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor J. Kent reminded Members that the report was part-exempt and asked Members not to stray into discussing the exempt information as the press and public would need to be excluded.

 

Councillor Speight, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, introduced the report which set out the detail of the regeneration of Purfleet, the largest regeneration programme the Council was directly responsible for delivering, which included 2,300 new homes and a state-of-the-art film, television and media studio complex around a new town centre featuring a primary school, health centre and local shops, leisure and community facilities.

 

The Leader invited Councillor B. Little to read the question that he had submitted and the following response was received:

 

·         Councillor B. Little asked the Portfolio Holder how many new, permanent jobs would be created by this project and how much local sourcing was planned.

 

In response the Cabinet Members explained that job creation and local Supply Chains were two areas specifically considered in the Competitive Dialogue process which saw the Council selecting PCRL as its development partner.

 

Regarding the number of jobs created, the Cabinet Member explained that whilst a definitive answer could not be given at this point, it was anticipated that the film, television and media studios would provide the largest single number of jobs – estimated at around 1,000 permanent posts. It was expected that this number would be significantly increased as individual films and television programmes come forward. Outside of the film and television studios, several hundred new jobs would be created through the services and facilities also being constructed as part of the project including the new school, health centre, shops and cafes/restaurants in addition to more than 1,300 construction jobs created over the lifetime of the project.

 

The Cabinet Member further reported that on local sourcing/supply chains, PCRL had committed to working with the Council and maximising the opportunities for local firms and have their own experience of running ‘meet the buyer’ events to build supply chains.

 

As a supplemental question, Councillor B. Little asked the Portfolio Holder to clarify whether checks and balances would be in place to lock in local sourcing targets and jobs into contracts with appropriate review periods to ensure that the Council got what was agreed in the contract upon delivery.

 

The Cabinet Member explained that the Council constantly pushed for more than what was offered and through genuine partnership and co-working believed that targets would be locked in and substantively delivered throughout the lifetime of the project.

 

Councillor Gerrish welcomed the report and remarked that Thurrock should be proud to achieve a nationally significant cultural hub and its plans for a properly planned community to an area.

 

Councillor Holloway echoed the sentiments regarding the exciting project and commended the work of the late Councillor Andy Smith, who held the Portfolio previously and had laid the initial groundwork for the Purfleet Centre scheme.

 

Councillor B. Rice questioned whether the much needed school and health infrastructure would be prioritised first, to which the Cabinet Member  ...  view the full minutes text for item 62.