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To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 30 October 2018 as an accurate record.
The minutes of the meeting held on 30 October 2018 were agreed as an accurate record.
It was highlighted that the information requested at the previous meeting concerning representations made on behalf of the Council for fair funding and an update on the implementation of a system to notify Members of S106 and Community Infrastructure Levy funding in their Wards had not yet been provided. The Chairman advised that the need to ensure a timely response to requests for information from Scrutiny had been raised with the Cabinet at their meeting the previous evening. The two requests from the meeting on 30 October would be followed up outside of the meeting and provided to Members as soon as possible.
Disclosure of Interests
In accordance with the Council’s Code of Conduct and the statutory provisions of the Localism Act, Members and co-opted Members of the Council are reminded that it is a requirement to register disclosable pecuniary interests (DPIs) and gifts and hospitality to the value of which exceeds £50 or multiple gifts and/or instances of hospitality with a cumulative value of £50 or more when received from a single donor within a rolling twelve month period. In addition, Members and co-opted Members are reminded that unless their disclosable pecuniary interest is registered on the register of interests or is the subject of a pending notification to the Monitoring Officer, they are required to disclose those disclosable pecuniary interests at the meeting. This should be done by completing the Disclosure of Interest form and handing it to the Democratic Services representative at the start of the meeting. The Chair will then invite Members to make their disclosure orally at the commencement of Agenda item 3. Completed disclosure forms will be provided to the Monitoring Officer for inclusion on the Register of Members’ Interests.
There were none.
Urgent Business (if any)
To receive notice of any business not on the agenda which in the opinion of the Chair, by reason of special circumstances, be considered as a matter of urgency.
There were no items of urgent business.
To receive an update on the Fairfield Halls from the Venue Director, Neil Chandler.
Neil Chandler, the Venue Director for the operators of Fairfield Halls – BH Live, was in attendance at the meeting to provide an update on the redevelopment of the venue and the future plans for the Halls once it re-opened. Prior to the start of the meeting a tour of venue had been arranged for the Committee, to allow Members the opportunity to view the progress made to date on the redevelopment.
It was confirmed to the Committee that the newly redeveloped Fairfield Halls would reopen in September 2019, with the website for the venue, including information about events, going live in January 2019. As it was noted that there had been criticism on social media about the redevelopment, it was hoped that there would be support from the entire Council once shows started to go on sale in January. This view was echoed by the Committee who recognised the importance of the Fairfield Halls to the wider area.
In response to a question about accessibility for larger vehicles to deliver equipment for shows and tours at the rear of the venue, it was advised that this had been considered as part of the redevelopment plan. The Fairfield Halls was designed as a concert hall with a capacity of around 1,800 seats. Touring theatre shows require a much larger capacity to be economic and there are several such larger venues in the area that are more attractive to promoters and are better suited to hosting this type of show. It was therefore decided that it would not be cost effective to undertake the work needed and to focus on the strengths of the venue which are hosting classical and live performances, comedy shows and local community events.
It was questioned whether there would be any engagement with the Mobility Forum to test the venue’s accessibility prior to opening. It was advised that this could be arranged, but it would need to be after the power was turned back on at the venue and the new lifts were operational. The new developments would mark a huge improvement in terms of access; prior to the redevelopment there had only been a single wheelchair lift at the front of the venue and as part of the improvements, all lifts were now accessible. The dressing rooms had also been made accessible, along with accessible toilets on each floor. There are also plans for a Changing Places facility in the venue. The Committee agreed to recommend that BH Live engage with the Mobility Forum and Councillor Andy Stranack on the accessibility of the venue prior to its opening.
As the Halls had previously been partially staffed by volunteers, it was questioned whether this would continue to be the case once it reopened. It was confirmed that BH Live did not use volunteers but used paid staff for the front of house functions. BH Live had high expectations of its staff and a strong focus on excellent customer service and as such was committed to paying ... view the full minutes text for item 30/18
Question time with the Cabinet Member for Culture, Sport & Leisure, Councillor Oliver Lewis.
The Cabinet Member for Culture, Sport & Leisure, Councillor Oliver Lewis, was in attendance at the meeting to provide the Committee with an update on his Portfolio and answer questions arising.
The presentation was divided into four main sections, namely Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. During the course of the presentation, the following points were noted:-
· The Library Service had been brought back in-house following the collapse of Carillion and a strategy was being developed for consideration by the Cabinet in early 2019 that would set out a clear direction for the library service going forward.
· There was a strong cultural sector within the borough, with a notable musical heritage. A robust bid for Cultural Enterprise Zone funding had been submitted by the Council, with the outcome expected shortly. It was also planned to explore the potential for using the Music City model in Croydon.
· There were 128 parks and open spaces in the borough, which was the highest number of any London borough and these were increasingly seen as important places to provide opportunities to improve people’s wellbeing.
· There was the ongoing challenge of the historical position of the parks maintenance budget, which as a non-statutory service faced continual pressure. However, plans were being developed to bring the grounds maintenance team back in-house, which may provide scope for future opportunities in this area.
· The lack of new burial land was becoming an increasingly pressing issue, with options being explored before maximum capacity was reached.
· The historically negative reputation of Croydon as a place to visit was challenging and was not something that could be easily changed.
· The opening of the redeveloped Fairfield Halls venue later in the year would provide a boost for the wider area.
· The Clocktower development that would start in 2020 provided a welcome opportunity to improve the provision of services offered from the venue.
· The St Georges Walk development opposite the Town Hall would include provision for a new town square.
· Croydon had the largest proportion of young residents of any London borough which helped to contribute towards the vibrancy of the local area.
· The Council had an opportunity to work with local sports provision to raise the profile and success of sports provision in the borough
· Although the Administration had placed a priority on cultural and creative activities being at the heart of community since coming into power in 2014, budget constraints would continue to put pressure upon cultural services, with it difficult to maintain services which were not statutory.
· Competition from other boroughs also presented challenges, with a need to ensure a diverse cultural offering to compete with provision elsewhere.
Following the presentation, the Committee were given the opportunity to question the Cabinet Member about the areas within his remit. It was highlighted that the Lifetimes, Museum of Croydon was an excellent facility and as such questioned whether it was publicised enough. It was agreed that the museum was a fantastic resource which did a good job of telling ... view the full minutes text for item 31/18
To provide input into the Council’s Evening & Night Time Economy Strategy ahead of it being presented to Cabinet in September 2018.
The Committee were given the opportunity to provide input into the development of the Evening & Night Time Economy Strategy, which aimed to overcome the challenges facing local businesses and communities in Croydon’s night time economy. Given that the Strategy covered areas in a number of Portfolio’s, the following Cabinet Members were in attendance for this item:
· Councillor Hamida Ali – Cabinet Member for Safer Croydon & Communities
· Councillor Oliver Lewis – Cabinet Member for Culture, Sport & Leisure
· Councillor Manju Shahul-Hameed – Cabinet Member for Economy & Jobs
During the introduction of the Strategy it was noted that it had been informed by seven night time walkabout events across the Borough to gain an understanding of the night time economy in different areas. From these it had been concluded that there were significant differences between the town and district centres, but signposting and wayfaring were common issues.
Potential actions for inclusion in the strategy included the addition of a Night Time Business Award in the Mayor’s Civic Awards, the possibility of Night Markets, strengthening support for businesses and an exploration of the late night shopping offer.
Although the Council would not be able to directly affect every aspect of the night time economy it would be able to act as a key influencer. One area that the Council could directly influence would be through its regulatory services such as licensing and food standards. Community Safety would also be important to promote the perception of safety across the borough.
Current strengths in the night time economy included a number of diverse venues such a Ludoquist and Box Park, a good calendar of coordinated events in the borough and a well-established restaurant quarter in the Croydon. Weaknesses included the perception of crime and safety within the borough, inconsistent lighting along key walkways, transport links across the borough were not as useful as they could be in the evening/night time, litter and refuse collection needed to be improved, planning and licensing were seen to be a barrier and there was a perception that the borough was in transition with a number of vacant sites.
Future opportunities for the evening and night time economy included the regeneration plans for the town centre, the reopening of the Fairfield Halls, planned public realm improvements which will deliver improved signage and the possibility of a university in the borough. Potential threats to the night time economy came from crime and the perception of crime in the borough, a lack of confidence slowing growth, falling income levels from Brexit, rising rents and business rate increases which placed further pressure on businesses.
It was noted that there had previously been a Night Time Economy Strategy in 2007 and as such it was questioned how the new strategy would differ from the previous one. It was highlighted that there had been significant change in the economy since 2007, with an increasing trend for low and no alcohol offer. The Council’s Licensing Policy had been reviewed in the last year to take into account ... view the full minutes text for item 32/18
To agree the Work Programme for future meetings.
The Work Programme was noted.
Exclusion of the Press and Public
The following motion is to be moved and seconded where it is proposed to exclude the press and public from the remainder of a meeting:
“That, under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act, 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information falling within those paragraphs indicated in Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972, as amended.”