Agenda and minutes

Venue: Council Chamber, Civic Centre, Windmill Street, Gravesend DA12 1AU. View directions

Contact: Committee Section 

No. Item




Apologies for absence were received from Cllr Alan Metcalf and Cllr Christina Rolles (Cllr Derek Ashenden and Cllr Jo Hart substituted respectively).


Minutes pdf icon PDF 153 KB


The minutes of the meeting of the Community and Leisure Cabinet Committee held on Monday, 13 March 2023 were signed by the Chair.


Declarations of Interest


Cllr Jo Hart declared a non-pecuniary interest as she was a Council representative to GCLL.


Overview of Community & Leisure Portfolio pdf icon PDF 351 KB


Prior to the commencement of the item, the Chair and the committee gave their thanks to the Assistant Director (Communities) ahead of his departure from the Council, for his dedication to supporting the committee.

The Assistant Director (Communities) presented the committee with a report that detailed an overview of the service areas included within the Community and Leisure portfolio, and the following key points were highlighted and explained:

·         The Community and Leisure portfolio was varied in terms of coverage.

·         Members of the committee were responsible for acting as an advisory group to the Portfolio holder.

·         Section 1.12 was often overlooked, and members were encouraged to utilise this ability.

Sports Development:

·         The Leisure Manager advised members that if they worked with any talented athletes or sports clubs within the borough, to direct them to her as they had some small grant funding available which could go towards supporting them for specific needs/projects.

Community Engagement:

·         The Head of Town Centre and Cultural Services provided a brief overview of community engagement.

·         They work closely with community groups and different organisations and hold networking events to get a better understanding of what’s happening within the community.

·         They support local community groups and organisations with grants which enable them to deliver activities that they want to do.

·         The Big Conversation has recently been implemented and provides a new approach to community engagement, where there is true engagement with the community, feedback is received and a proactive approach taken to dealing with issues raised, creating strong engagement opportunities where the community feel included in the decision processes.

Gravesham Community Leisure Limited (GCLL):

·         GCLL was responsible for running the leisure centres in the borough.

·         The Council had a positive relationship with the Leisure Trust.

·         The service had been tested in recent years during covid and then the increase in utility costs.

·         There were a few years left on the contract, of which the council is currently looking at options of how to go forward. There were a number of unknowns linked to the Cascades 2 project such as construction costs linked to high inflation rates, and high interest rates associated with borrowing costs. The council was currently looking at external funding opportunities in order to support the capital build costs.

·         Gravesham Borough Council does not have any direct dealings with Swale Leisure Trust who manage the leisure facility at Meopham School, but would been happy to open dialogue with them via the council’s own representatives on the MSLA Board.

Arts and Culture:

·         This section looked at developing the wider arts and culture scene within Gravesham.

·         The Fourth Portal is an intergenerational meeting space that hosted work events focused on technology, past, and future industries, creating a successful use of the space. It is based at St Andrew’s Arts Centre and has enabled the venue to be open and accessible on a regular basis.

·         A question was raised about the café in the Woodville which is not open every day now.  Officers advised the café was open when  ...  view the full minutes text for item 42.


Gravesend Borough Market pdf icon PDF 221 KB

Additional documents:


The Head of Town Centre and Cultural Services introduced members of the committee to a report that evaluated the current position of the Gravesend Borough Market and the rationale for bringing in an external organisation to deliver operational management. The report was for information only and supported discussions around the current and future position of the market.

The following key points were highlighted:

·         Members were reminded that the market underwent a refurbishment in 2016.

·         A strategy was developed in 2020 that outlined key actions to help move the market forward and to promote it as a key town centre destination.

·         The report touches upon achievements made and how activity has been improved.

·         However, it was acknowledged that GBC has been unable to achieve all the aspirations outlined in the strategic plan, due to a number of factors such as turnover of traders, fluctuating vacancy rates, and covid. This meant they were unable to keep a consistent and vibrant offer and were unable to put on the level of events that create the desired footfall.

·         Despite best efforts in house, it was felt that there was not the right skills and experience to achieve the goals set out in the strategy. As such, they had considered bringing in an external professional operator who could achieve this.

·         In December 2022, an informal discussion was opened with operators and organisations to understand more about possible models. Following a discussion with members, the following points were explained:

·         There were clear, non-negotiable requirements set out in the proposal for external operators that would ensure delivery against the requirements of the strategy and other requirements identified through previous resident consultations.

·         Research had been undertaken to look into what drives footfall in markets such as London and Greenwich. Officers had spoken with a number of different people, such as operators who had delivered similar projects.

·         The desire was to create a food and drink destination that offered an experience.

·         Operators who had experience in developing this would be responsible for nurturing and offering business support to those operating from within the market

·         Bringing activities out from the market and into the town centre and offering a mixed programme allows the market to operate on a number of levels.

·         Changing the relationship between the council and the venders was key, and bringing in an external operator allowed that middle ground support to be established.

·         The existing tenants would pay rent to the new operator. The first two years would be about subsidising the model, anticipating that it would take time for the market to grow. By year three, it was estimated that a management fee would be coming back to the council.

·         If the operator wanted to make any capital changes to the market, they would need to put forward a proposal and get the council’s approval.

·         The Director (Communities & Inclusive Growth) was in talks with KCC about the use of the Old Town Hall.

The Committee noted the report.


Business Gravesham: Economic Development, Industrial, Jobs & Skills Strategy pdf icon PDF 294 KB


The Director (Communities & Inclusive Growth) provided the committee with a presentation containing an overview of the approach to developing a ten-year strategy to support growth in jobs and skills across the borough.

The following key points were highlighted:

·         This report was a first take on what should be included in an economic development strategy. It focused, not only on existing industries, but emerging industries too, creating a mixed, but balanced economy.

·         There should be a focus on SMEs and micro businesses that operate out of their homes, and have limited, if any employees.

·         The Director (Communities & Inclusive Growth) advised that they would be looking at employment for young people across the borough, as well as looking at the 900 jobs created by the Lower Thames Crossing, and ensuring residents of Gravesham have access to the required skills to fulfil those roles.

Following a discussion with members, the following points were explained:

·         Local employers were unaware on ways they could get into contact with local schools and promote apprenticeships and opportunities for skills training.

·         There was no correlation between the skills that schools were teaching the students verses the skills that were required locally. Networking and communications were vital to help bridge this gap.

·         It was considered that the empty units in St George’s Shopping Centre could be repurposed as artist studios and hot desk spaces. They had also been speaking with 5 operators about potentially using the units on a commercial basis.

·         There was a lack of branding for Gravesham, and this prevented operators and organisations from understanding what it has to offer. A lot of this was being addressed under the Tourism offer.

·         It was suggested whether there would be any space to utilise in the Woodville where job fairs could be hosted.


The committee noted the report.


Corporate Register of Partnerships and Shared Working Arrangements - Community & Leisure Services Committee pdf icon PDF 280 KB

Additional documents:


The Assistant Director (Communities) informed members of the committee of the council’s involvement in partnerships that were within the remit of the community and leisure cabinet committee. Members were informed that this was report that was pulled together annually, but that it did not list all partnerships.

The committee noted the report.