Agenda and minutes

Venue: Town Hall, High Street, Maidstone

Contact: Sam Bailey  01622 602263

No. Item


The Committee to consider whether all items on the agenda should be webcast


RESOLVED: That all items on the agenda be webcast.





Apologies were received from Councillors Butler and Fissenden.



Notification of Substitute Members


It was noted that Councillor Paine was substituting for Councillor Butler and Councillor Chittenden was substituting for Councillor Fissenden.



Notification of Visiting Members


There were no visiting members.



Disclosures by Members and Officers


Councillor Paine disclosed that in the interests of transparency he had previously taken a cabinet member decision on the Enterprise Hub (Item 9 on the agenda) when he had previously served as the Cabinet Member for Planning, Transport and Development; but that this did not qualify as a disclosable interest.



To consider whether any items should be taken in private because of the possible disclosure of exempt information


RESOLVED: That all items on the agenda be taken in public as proposed.



Minutes of the Meeting held on 29th July 2014 pdf icon PDF 60 KB


RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting held on 29th July 2014 be approved as a correct record of the meeting and signed.



Minutes of the meeting held on 26th August 2014 pdf icon PDF 64 KB


RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting held on 26th August 2014 be approved as a correct record of the meeting and signed.



Enterprise Hub pdf icon PDF 33 KB

Interview with Karen Franek, Principal Economic Development Officer


Additional documents:


Karen Franek, Principal Economic Development Officer, presented her report on the Enterprise Hub. David Edwards, Director of Environment and Shared Services, was also present to answer questions in his role as project sponsor.


Miss Franek conveyed to the committee the need for an Enterprise Hub to support start up businesses in the borough. This had been identified previously; but had also been reinforced by the findings of research undertaken as part of the Economic Development Strategy.


Miss Franek outlined the history of the project so far:

·  Last year, Kent County Council (KCC) established a fund for flexible workspaces in Kent.

·  Maidstone Borough Council (MBC) made an application to this fund and was allocated £700,000. This was composed of a £200,000 grant and a £500,000 loan.

·  A Cabinet Member decision was taken to match fund the project with £700,000 of MBC funds.

·  Work began on a business case for the project, at the former Crown Post Office on King Street.

·  However, before the final bid was submitted KCC withdrew the £200,000 grant funding due to austerity measures. This threatened the viability of the project.

·  Following the shortfall, different options were explored by Corporate Leadership Team (CLT) on carrying the project forward. These included funding the shortfall and funding the whole project.

·  It was decided that if the project were to go ahead, it was important that it was backed by an asset in case of failure.

·  Development constraints, and the lack of availability of suitable freehold properties, meant that it would take at least 2 years for any asset to become available for setting up an Enterprise Hub.

·  However it was recognised that the borough could not wait that long due to the desperate need for start-up business support, so currently the focus was on what current council assets could be used to get the project off the ground.


Mr Edwards explained to the committee that due to the recent developments in the project, he had become the project sponsor. This was because he was involved in the future office accommodation project, and due to the difficulties in finding a suitable freehold property there was a lot of crossover between these two projects. One of the ideas that was being considered was a smaller hub located at Maidstone House or the Gateway.


The committee thanked Miss Franek and Mr Edwards for their presentation and proceeded to ask them the following questions:


·  Why, if there was such a need for start-up support, had the private sector not stepped in to provide it?

·  Were there any plans to involve a partner organisation that is currently working in the sector (an example was given of Basepoint), to deliver the Enterprise Hub?

·  What was the anticipated demand for the enterprise hub?

·  What were the trends on business deaths?

·  Was funding in place for all parts of the current report, or would new funds need to be found for this project?

·  Were the Gateway and Maidstone House the only potential sites for the hub,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 42.


Future Work Programme and SCRAIP Update pdf icon PDF 34 KB

Additional documents:


Sam Bailey, Research and Performance Officer, presented a report on the Committee’s Future Work Programme and SCRAIP update.


Mr Bailey updated the committee on the Future Work Programme, which had changed since the agenda had been published. The following changes had been made:

·  The Maidstone Culture and Leisure item and Museum Forward Plan item had been moved from the 29th September meeting to the 28th October meeting.

·  The item on Skills and Employability in Maidstone had been moved from the 29th October meeting to the 25th November meeting.


Mr Bailey explained in further detail about the meeting scheduled for the 21st October:

·  There would be two items on the agenda- one about employment sites in the local plan and the other will be the draft Economic Development Strategy.

·  As it was a special meeting, no other items could be taken on the agenda.

·  The meeting would be a simultaneous, co-located meeting with the Planning, Transport and Development Overview and Scrutiny Committee. What this would mean in practice was that there would be two notices of meetings, two agendas, two sets of minutes and two sets of recommendations for the meetings. There would only be one chairman, and both reports would be available to both committees.


Mr Bailey informed the committee of progress being made on gathering evidence for the Twilight Economy Review:

·  The Night Time Economy Forum was being held at the town hall prior to the meeting of 28th October 2014. The forum had indicated that it would be happy to take part in the review, and invited members of the Economic and Commercial Development OSC to sit in on their meeting. The forum also indicated they would be able to facilitate a guided tour around Maidstone’s twilight economy prior to the next meeting, and that representatives from the forum would be available to attend the OSC meeting on 28th October to give evidence.

·  Dawn Hudd indicated that she would be happy to arrange a trip to Canterbury for members to see Canterbury’s work on the Twilight Economy. This was also a location that members suggested they would welcome a field trip to during the meeting of 26th August.


The committee requested that an item be scheduled on the South East Local Enterprise Partnership, as it could be a considerable source of funding for Economic Development projects.



Duration of Meeting


6:30pm to 7:52pm