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Joint Advisory Committee

Within an area as large and varied as the Kent Downs, there are many stakeholders who have a role in managing the landscape, supporting local business and communities and enabling quiet recreation. The Joint Advisory Committee (JAC) has a pivotal role to play to help realise the strategic vision for the Kent Downs AONB and to oversee the Management Plan. The Joint Advisory Committee for the Kent Downs AONB was established in July 1997 and is at the heart of the partnership.The purpose of the Joint Advisory Committee  is to provide advice to those of its members with statutory responsibilities for the effective management of the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. An Executive of representatives from the JAC, with some outside advisors, advises the work of the Kent Downs AONB Unit. The AONB Unit is employed by Kent County Council and works on behalf of the JAC to carry out the preparation and review of the Management Plan, to advocate its policies and work in partnership to deliver a range of actions described in the Action Plan.

Terms of Reference

Membership

Independent Chairman: Chris Reynolds
Vice-Chairman: Cllr Matthew Balfour, Kent County Council

Funding partners: Defra and Local Authorities with areas in the Kent Downs AONB

Members

Ashford Borough Council
Brenda Fazzani, Ashford Borough Council
Canterbury City Council
Anna Palmer, Canterbury City Council
Dover District Council
Mike Ebbs, Dover District Council
Cllr Robin Theobald, Gravesham Borough Council
Gary de Wit, Gravesham Borough Council
Kevin Munnelly, London Borough of Bromley
Cllr John Williams,  Medway Council
Catherine Smith, Medway Council
Cllr Daphne Parvin, Maidstone Borough Council
Deanne Cunningham, Maidstone Borough Council
Cllr Robert Piper, Sevenoaks District Council
Helen French, Sevenoaks District Council
Cllr Philip Martin, Shepway District Council
Hazel Sargent, Shepway District Council
Cllr Colin Prescott, Swale Borough Council
Alan Best, Swale Borough Council
Cllr Howard Rogers, Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council
Jenny Knowles, Tonbridge & Malling Council

Other member organisations:

M J Knatchbull, Country Land and Business Association
Barrie Neaves, Environment Agency
John Wilson, Kent Association of Local Councils
Keith Harrison, Action with Communities in Rural Kent
Doug Taylor, National Farmers Union
Peter Kendall, English Heritage

Other members may be invited to join from time to time.

The County Council, District Councils and the London Borough of Bromley are represented by an elected member with accompanying officer adviser. Local authorities may send substitute members.  The JAC has the power to co-opt as and when necessary.  Should a vote be required, voting rights are limited to funding partners. In the event of a tied vote, the Chair has the casting vote.

Election of Chairman and Vice Chairman

 The JAC will elect a Chairman from either a funding partner member or independent member,which is thought desirable to support the advisory function. The Vice-Chairman is also elected. The terms of office for both the Chairman and Vice-Chairman are three years. The Chairman and Vice-Chairman may be elected for further terms. The JAC meet twice a year. The Chairman can convene further meetings of the JAC according to the strategic needs of the AONB Partnership.

Secretariat

The Secretariat for the JAC is provided by the AONB Unit. The agenda for the JAC will be co-ordinated by the Executive Group and the Unit. A small Executive Group meet as required by the chairman but normally four times a year. The Executive Group advise on the implementation of the management plan, and are responsive to opportunities as they arise. The Executive Group report to the JAC and have specific terms of reference delegated to it by the JAC.

The Executive is a representative sub-committee to provide advice on the following matters:

  • the management preparation, adoption, implementation and review of the AONB management plan
  • the key issues facing the Kent Downs AONB, including planning policy and development management matters, proposals for appropriate action and for seeking funding and sponsorship from external sources
  • proposals for liaising and consulting with appropriate external bodies
  • the staff work programme and the monitoring of budget expenditure for the AONB Unit and personnel matters as appropriate

Membership

The Executive Group is chaired by the chairman of the JAC. Wider membership is flexible based in part on the skills that members bring but includes Natural England (as Government’s statutory advisor on landscape) and Kent County Council as the employing authority. It is agreed that there should be at least four members from the other Local Authorities, either Members or Officers. The Local Authority representatives are sought to represent ‘a grouping’ of authorities rather than single authority. Additional members are from other organisations according to the skills and influence they can offer, for instance the parish councils, business interests and NGOs.  At least one member should represent landowners or land managers.

The AONB Forum

The Forum is a  place to report and celebrate the work undertaken in the previous year and help to set the agenda for the coming year. The Forum is open to many groups, organisations and individuals with an interest in the AONB and will broaden ownership and influence in the work of the JAC, Executive and Unit.

Format and timing

Each year the Forum is held within the AONB in the form of a ‘Countryside Day’. Activities could include, for instance, presentations, site visits and workshop sessions covering a range of current topics.

Attendees

Attendees include many organisations currently excluded from the JAC such as the National Trust and Woodland Trust, the Countryside Management Partnerships and businesses. Relevant organisations will receive a formal invitation but the events are open to all with an interest.

The JAC appoints other sub-committees on a needs basis to advise the JAC with respect to matters arising from time to time.