Agenda and minutes
Venue: Council Chamber, Civic Centre, Windmill Street, Gravesend DA12 1AU. View directions
Contact: Committee Section
Apologies for absence were received from Cllr Alan Metcalf and Cllr Christina Rolles (Cllr Derek Ashenden and Cllr Jo Hart substituted respectively).
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.
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.
· 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.
· 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.
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.
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.