Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Usually held at the Civic Centre in Gravesend

Contact: Committee Section  Email: committee.section@gravesham.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

15.

Apologies for absence

Minutes:

An apology of absence was received from Cllr Ian Thomas (Canterbury).

 

16.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 75 KB

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on Thursday, 19 September 2019 was agreed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

 

17.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

No declarations of interest.

 

18.

Monitoring Report - September 2019 to November 2019 pdf icon PDF 137 KB

Minutes:

The Director of the STGBCP introduced the report which updated the Committee on the current forecast for the 2019/20 financial year and gave details of the progress against the objectives of the Business Plan 2019/2020.

 

The Director of the STGBCP further briefed the Committee on the additional training undertaken by staff, performance statistics and other key information from the report.

 

The Committee noted the information provided and raised the following comments:

 

  • The report indicated that it was the correct decision to ensure the staff were given high levels of training and it was vital to retain those trained up staff members to maintain the workload of the Partnership  
  • The public needed to understand that  there was a cost implication involved for carrying out the work

 

The Director of the STGBCP advised that the public pay a regularisation fee based on the type of work that was being done, i.e. a specific fee for a two story building compared to a single storey. The fees were set as part of the charges legislation in accordance with the CIPFA guide and in line with the charges across Kent so that STG did not price itself out of the market. At the previous meeting it was agreed that the Partnerships fees would increase by 2% in January 2020.

 

The Director of the STGBCP updated Members on an email that had been circulated to customers asking them to pay an additional £150 to receive extra information on their premises. The email was from the liquidators and following the Local Authority Building Control (LABC) body carrying out a review, they found that the records that the customers would receive upon payment were no different to the information that could be easily accessed by an FOI request, at no charge, from the Partnership. The fact that customers did not need to pay that additional £150 fee couldn’t be broadcasted on STG’s website due to legal issues however the administration team were instructed to inform customers that they didn’t believe they would receive any new information from that payment.

 

The Chair questioned whether or not the truth could be told to customers without any legal repercussions. An example being: ‘the LABC had carried out trials of paying the additional payment and had received no new records or information in addition to what was already available’.

 

Following further discussion, it was agreed that it would be better if the message regarding the irrelevant payment was broadcasted through the four Councils’ Communication teams. The Chair advised that he would ask Gravesham’s Communications Manager to contact the Director of the STG Building Control Partnership to agree the specific wording regarding the additional payment being irrelevant and then circulate the response to the four local authorities. Once a common theme and wording was agreed then it could be pushed out to the public to make them aware.

 

In response to a query regarding the Reserves, the Director of the STGBCP explained that £40,000 had been contributed to the Reserves as currently  ...  view the full minutes text for item 18.

19.

Exclusion

To move, if required, that pursuant to Section 100A (4) of the Local Government Act 1972 that the public be excluded from any items included in Part B of the agenda because it is likely in view of the nature of business to be transacted that if members of the public are present during those items, there would be disclosure to them of exempt information as defined in Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act.

 

20.

South Thames Gateway Building Control Business Plan & Delivery Plan 2020-2023

Minutes:

The Director of the STGBCP sought the Committee’s agreement to the South Thames Gateway Building Control Partnership’s Business Plan and Delivery Plan for 2020-2023 (dated 01 October 2019, Version 2).

 

Following presentation of the draft Business Plan at Joint Committee on 19 September 2019 the Plan has now been circulated for comments and Members were asked to agree any revisions.

 

The Director of the STGBCP outlined key points from the report and directed Members’ attention to the Business Plan and Delivery Plan attached at appendices 1 and 2 respectively.

 

The Chair questioned if it was still the intention of the Director of the STGBCP to attend Overview Scrutiny Committee’s at the four local authorities to further explain her report to Members. 

 

The following points were made in relation to scrutiny:

 

  • The Director of the STG Building Control Partnership advised that she had only attended the Overview Scrutiny Committee at Gravesham
  • The Director (Planning & Development) added that the report was going to Chief Executive’s Briefing on 16 December 2019 and then would be submitted to the Cabinet meeting in January 2020.  It is currently planned that it would then go to Overview Scrutiny.  The Chair, in his Role as Gravesham Leader, advised it should not automatically go toe Overview Scrutiny but it should remain subject to call in. Cllr Chitty explained that she would also take the report to her Cabinet after which it could be subject to call in by the Overview Scrutiny Committee
  • The Director of Finance and Procurement, Canterbury City Council stated that the report had been approved by her internal management team; CCC had transitioned back to the Committee System governance arrangement which meant there was no scrutiny structure available

 

The Chair queried how much the STGBCP charged for their pre-application information and how STG could be promoted more, especially with all of the changes that were going to be made with building and fire regulations

 

The Director of the STGBCP explained that:

 

  • Customers could not be charged for the first hour, any time spent after the first hour was charged a set hourly rate. The usual practice was to inform the customer that they will be charged a certain amount and the amount they paid upfront  will be reflected in their submitted application cost
  • The fire regulations were very important and the intention was to encourage more of the partnerships’ senior building control surveyors to become qualified as LABC level 6 building control surveyors. Currently the partnership and one other authority in Kent has a surveyor trained at this level for fire
  • Staff at the STGBCP would need to be incentivised to go for their higher level qualification at level 6 in the future as there is a lower pass rate at this level (70%) and it requires significant work
  • The new Customer Facing Strategy looked at making it more efficient for customers to contact the STGBCP; an online chat facility was being investigated for customers to be able to contact officers more easily but  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20.

21.

Any other business which by reason of special circumstances the Chairman is of the opinion should be considered as a matter of urgency.

Minutes:

The Chair felt that a smaller room was much better for the South Thames Gateway Building Control Joint Committee meetings and it was agreed that the remaining meetings to be held at Gravesham for the financial year would be held in CS1. 

 

In conclusion, the Chair wished officers and Members a Merry Christmas.