Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Usually held at the Civic Centre in Gravesend

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No. Item


Apologies for absence


Apologies for absence were received from Councillor John Cubitt (Chair), Gravesham Borough Council and Councillor Robin Theobald attended as his appointed substitute.

Apologies for absence were also received from Tomasz Kozlowski, Assistant Director Physical & Cultural Regeneration, Medway Council and Andrew Lawson, Finance Business Partner, Medway Council.



Minutes pdf icon PDF 71 KB


The Minutes of the meeting held on Thursday 8 December 2016 were agreed as a correct record and signed by theChair.



Declarations of Interest


There were no Declarations of Interest.



To consider whether any items in Part A of the agenda should be considered in private or any items in Part B in public


There were no items in Part A of the Agenda to be considered in private or items in Part B in Public.



Report on the Mid-Kent Audit of the STG Building Control Partnership carried out on behalf of Swale BC pdf icon PDF 52 KB

Additional documents:


The Joint Committee was presented with a report detailing the outcome of the Audit review of the South Thames Gateway Building Control Partnership (STGBC) undertaken by Swale Borough Council (SBC) and received further information from the Head of Planning Services SBC regarding progress on the recommended areas to improve.


The following areas were highlighted:


·         Overall the Report was a ‘good news story’ with a Final Assurance rating of Sound.

·         All areas highlighted for improvement were now being actioned.

·         The Steering Group was to review PIs and new Indicators would be developed, and with reference to new Central Government requirements.  These would be presented to the Joint Committee.


The Vice Chair expressed her pleasure that the outcome of the Audit had been so good and noted that the re-signing of the Memorandum of Agreement in September would present the South Thames Gateway Building Control Partnership with an excellent marketing opportunity.


Resolved that          the Joint Committee noted with pleasure the outcome of the Audit review and actions implemented on the recommended areas of improvement.



Schedule of STG Joint Committee meetings 2017/18 pdf icon PDF 58 KB


The Joint Committee considered a Report regarding the proposed Schedule of Meetings for the forthcoming Municipal Year.


Resolved that          The following dates for meetings be agreed:

                                              Thursday 8 June 2017 (AGM)

                                                Thursday 21 September 2017

                                                Thursday 7 December 2017

                                                Thursday 15 March 2018


Medway Council be selected to provide a Secretary to the Joint Committee for the 2017/18 Municipal Year.



Interim report on progress towards expansion of the STG Building Control partnership pdf icon PDF 67 KB


The Joint Committee was presented with a Report detailing progress made on the possible expansion of the Partnership to include Canterbury City Council.


The Director informed the Committee that issues preventing progress in 2014/15 had largely been overcome following the appointment of a new Assistant Director at Canterbury.  The proposal had now been taken through the management and governance structures, a report was presented to the Policy and Resources Committee on 08 February 2017 and officers have been instructed to take the matter forward.


A Project Manager had been appointed who was fully briefed on both the history and aspirations of Canterbury becoming a member of the Partnership and it was considered that a realistic target date was 01 April 2018.  The Director updated the Joint Committee on subsequent actions and noted that the Leader of Canterbury City Council was keen to drive this forward and would like to meet Joint Committee Members.


The Joint Committee expressed its willingness to be involved in a meeting and was pleased to note the resolution of previous issues, improved communication, progress made and actions undertaken with regard to this possible expansion.


Resolved that          the contents of the report be noted and the Steering Group be requested to meet with Senior Officers at Canterbury City Council to provide the necessary assurance that this project be viable.



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


There were no urgent items.




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.



Resolved that the public be excluded from the following item of business since it contained exempt information as defined in Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972.



Monitoring Report Nov 2016-Jan 2017


The South Thames Gateway Building Control Partnership Monitoring Report (November 2016 – January 2017) was presented to the Committee.


A snapshot survey had been undertaken in December 2016 with all applicants that month being surveyed.  It was pleasing to note that 80% of those surveyed were very satisfied with the improvements to the plan processing procedure and 65% of respondents preferred to receive documents electronically rather than by traditional post.


Results also demonstrated that there had been an increase in the number of applications being submitted by builders rather than architects which reflected the increase in builders’ influence in the selection of building control provider.  It was therefore hoped to develop Partner Builders to mirror the Partner Architects already in existence and hold Breakfast Meetings for Builders to promote the Partnership.


The Partnership continued to develop an excellent relationship with Tascomi, the back office provider. 


Presentations regarding the STG partnership had been delivered to a number of northern authorities and groups of Hertfordshire and Derbyshire Councils.  The Improvement and Efficiency Social Enterprise wished to use the STG case study as an example to other authorities.


Progress had been made with online plan checking but was hampered by the ability of the thin-client technology to allow certain programmes to operate.  It is apparent that provision will be required in the 2017/18 budget to enable the purchase of further desktop PCs.  Alongside this development of the mobile working solution continues.


Developments to increase income generation continued to be explored by the Partnership.  These included dedicating a single officer to the enforcement role, providing a consultancy service to the Housing Department of Gravesham Borough Council and exploring an approach from a private sector company to project manage a small development in Chatham.


The Joint Committee was informed that the new Website would be live on 01 April 2017.  Combined with work on the Medway Council digital transformation this would progress the planned work to facilitate online payment.


The Director advised that in the current climate recruitment was difficult and a senior surveyor vacancy remained.  Employing temporary staff was extremely expensive the increased workload meant the pressures on existing staff were high.  However with flexible working methods and good communication service levels had been maintained and staff supported.  Workforce development continued to be a priority and regular monthly training sessions were supplemented by ad hoc free seminars.  Succession planning was also in place.


Budget monitoring showed a balanced budget for the current financial year and the Director was commended on his prudent planning and careful management to ensure such a good outcome in the current climate.


The Committee expressed its thanks to all STGBC staff for their continued commitment to the service and congratulated them on maintaining high standards of service delivery in difficult circumstances.



Resolvedthat                                    The Joint Committee noted the report