Agenda and minutes

Special, Council
Wednesday 6th May 2020 6.30 pm

Contact: Alison Marston 

Items
No. Item

50.

MINUTES

To confirm as a correct record the Minutes of the special meeting held on 25 February 2020 (previously circulated).

Minutes:

The Minutes of the special meeting held on 25 February 2020 were confirmed as a correct record and noted by the Mayor.

 

The hard copies of minutes will be signed by the Mayor as soon as it is reasonably practicable or alternatively, electronic signatures can be arranged after a meeting.

51.

APOLOGIES

To receive apologies for absence, if any.

Minutes:

Due to the current situation and in order to assist the smooth management of the Council meeting, there were fifteen Councillors in attendance at the meeting; attendance having been agreed in advance by all parties and being politically proportional.

 

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors M.Birleson, E.Boulton, S.Boulton, H.Bower, L.Brandon, J.Broach, J.Caliskan, A.Chesterman, M.Cook, J.Cragg, A.Dennis, S.Elam, B.Fitzsimon, T.Jackson-Mynott, C.Juggins, S.Kasumu, M.Larkins, R.Lass, S.Markiewicz, G.Michaelides, T.Mitchinson, L.Musk, N.Pace, J.Quinton, J.Ranshaw, D.Richardson, A.Rohale, B.Sarson, P.Shah, JP.Skoczylas, P.Smith, S.Thusu and J.Weston.

52.

DECLARATIONS OF INTERESTS BY MEMBERS

To note declarations of Members’ disclosable pecuniary interests, non-disclosable pecuniary interests and non-pecuniary interests in respect of items on the Agenda.

Minutes:

Councillors L.Chesterman and P.Zukowskyj declared non-pecuniary interests in items on the Agenda as appropriate as Members of Hertfordshire County Council.

53.

MATTERS ARISING FROM THE CABINET

To consider recommendations from the meetings of the Cabinet on 10 March 2020:-

Minutes:

The Council considered recommendations from the meeting of the Cabinet on 10 March 2020:-

53a

Food Safety Service Plan 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 87 KB

Minutes:

The Cabinet considered the Food Safety Service Plan for 2020/21.

 

It was a requirement of the Food Standards Agency which had overall responsibility for the official control of food law enforcement in England that each local authority draw up and implement a food safety service plan which was approved by Members.  It was expected that “non-inspection interventions” and educational initiatives be undertaken as well as routine hygiene inspections.

 

There were no changes in the proposed delivery of the service and there were about 300 inspections proposed for the coming year in order to reduce risk and keep the public safe.

 

Since the plan was written in December 2019, the Coronavirus pandemic has affected the delivery of the plan for Quarter One and is likely to have an accumulative impact across the whole delivery of the plan for the remainder of the year.

 

As instructed by the Food Standards Agency, food interventions were currently being carried out at a distance, over the phone and by email. However, interventions were being prioritized by risk which had always been the Council’s approach. With regards to the service plan, Members should be aware that routine food hygiene inspections may not be all delivered and it is unlikely that all food sampling will be delivered.

 

It was moved and seconded by Councillors F.Thomson and T.Kingsbury and

 

RESOLVED:

(unanimous)

 

That the Food Safety Service Plan for 2020/21 be adopted.

53b

Health and Safety Service Plan 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 74 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet considered the Health and Safety Service Plan for 2020/21.

 

The Health and Safety plan is produced annually. To demonstrate the arrangements in place with the Council to satisfy the legal duty placed upon the Council by section 18 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The Council has a legal duty as an enforcing authority within the Act to have sufficient resources and arrangements in place to deliver both pro-active health and safety intervention and react to work place accidents by having the resources necessary to undertake a criminal investigation.

 

Local Authorities and the Health and Safety Executive had a shared responsibility for ensuring public and employee health and safety protection throughout the UK.  Whilst the main responsibility remained with businesses and individuals the Council had a responsibility to deliver a service that regulated businesses and enforced against those that failed to protect the public.

 

The Public Health and Protection team had successfully attained a grant from the HSE to deliver (in partnership with the Council) a programme for small to medium-sized enterprises. 

 

There were no significant changes to the plan from the previous one. 

 

It was noted that absences from work that were over seven days were reported and yet those that were under seven days were not. Members were concerned that patterns of absences that were just under the seven days would be missed.  Officers confirmed that they were proactive with businesses if they noticed such patterns.

 

It was also noted that at one point, due to staff sickness, there was not a full complement of staff. Members felt it seemed to contradict another part of the report that stated the team would seek the use of casual staff or contractors should the need arise. Officers clarified that during the period of staff sickness in question they did have casual staff who could make interventions and therefore reduce any risk and ensure the good delivery of the service.

 

In light of the Coronavirus pandemic, pro-active inspections were currently not being carried out. The team were focusing on reactive intervention such as accident investigation and investigating social distancing concerns from employers, employees and members of the public.

 

It was moved and seconded by Councillors F.Thomson and T.Kingsbury and

 

RESOLVED:

(unanimous)

 

That the Health and Safety Service Plan for 2020/21 be adopted.

54.

MATTER ARISING FROM COMMITTEE

To consider a recommendation from the meeting of the Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 3 March 2020:-

Minutes:

The Council considered a recommendation from the meeting of the Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 3 March 2020:-

54a

Health and Wellbeing Strategy pdf icon PDF 84 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet considered the final draft of the Health and Wellbeing Strategy, annual action plan and results of the consultation.

 

The five priorities were

 

    To reduce Social Isolation and Improve Community Cohesion.

    To protect and enhance our Environment, including the built environment, and green space.

    Increase levels of Physical Activity and Reduce levels of Obesity.

    Improve the opportunities in the Borough to improve mental health and wellbeing and increase resilience within individuals.

    Protect our communities from harm by delivering robust and effective health protection arrangements.

 

A new health and wellbeing partnership would provide the review monitoring of the action plan and ensure effective networks with the wider community.

 

The launch of the online Healthy Hub tied in with the overall strategy and the encouraging the public to take responsibility for their own health. 

 

The Strategy was developed before the Coronavirus pandemic, therefore there are many unknowns for example, the future economy, housing development, effectives of physical and mental health as well as Council priorities.

 

It was moved and seconded by Councillors F.Thomson and T.Kingsbury and

 

RESOLVED:

(unanimous)

 

That the Health and Wellbeing Strategy and Annual Action Plan be adopted.

55.

REVIEW OF THE COUNCIL'S CONSTITUTION pdf icon PDF 142 KB

Report of the Monitoring Officer on the review of the Council’s Constitution.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report of the Monitoring Officer on the review of the Council’s Constitution and to seek approval to changes to the Constitution as part of the ongoing review and modernisation of the Council’s governance processes following consideration by the Constitution Review Group (CRG) and in accordance with one of the key recommendations in the corporate peer challenge action plan (as agreed at the Council meeting on 22 July 2019).  The revision of the Constitution is an important part of the modernisation programme.

 

The Council has already agreed some changes to facilitate the modernisation programme.

 

Councillor M.Cowan expressed his and the Liberal Democrats concern about having five OSC meetings a year. He felt that this was not sufficient and more frequent meetings were needed especially if it is replacing three Overview and Scrutiny committees. Councillor Kingsbury explained that the rationale for this was to enable more targeted Task and Finish Panels to be set up by the new OSC. In any event, these arrangements were to be trialled for one year and would be kept under review.

 

It was moved and seconded by Councillors T.Kingsbury and F.Thomson and

 

RESOLVED:

(unanimous)

 

(1)   Council noted CRG’s recommendations of the 5 March 2020 as set out in Appendix 1 to the report.

 

(2)   Council approved the revised Access to Information Procedure Rules, Cabinet Functions, Cabinet Procedure Rules, Councillors’ Code of Conduct with new Social Media Protocol and amendment to Contract Procedure Rules, together with the introduction of Executive Member Decision Notices, as set out in Appendices 2 to 7 to the report.

 

(3)   Council accepted CRG’s recommendations to approve the proposed Officer amendments to their individual responsibility for functions and delegated powers, as set out in Appendix 8 to the report.

 

(4)   Council accepted CRG’s recommendations to agree to trial new scrutiny arrangements for a period of one year until the start of the new 2021/22 Municipal Year, as explained in paragraphs 3.9 to 3.19 of the report. 

 

(5)   Council delegated to CRG the authority to agree the operational arrangements for the new Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

 

(6)   Council approved the appointments to the new Overview and Scrutiny Committee and any consequential updated appointments to other committees as set out in Appendix 11 to the report.

 

(7)   Council approved the amended timetable for the dates of the council meetings in the Municipal Year 2020/21 as attached at Appendix 12, to reflect the changes to the scrutiny arrangements for the council.

 

(8)   Council agreed to adopt the standing orders for virtual meetings, the requirements as explained in paragraphs 3.20 and 3.21 of the report and as set out in Appendix 13 to the report.

 

(9)   That the Chief Executive was authorised to take all necessary decisions of the council in the event of urgency or emergency.

 

(10)Council approved, in relation to each and every member of the Council, that non-attendance by a member at any relevant meeting of the Council, Cabinet or any committee, sub-committee or panel of the Council or Cabinet that is due  ...  view the full minutes text for item 55.

56.

CLIMATE CHANGE UPDATE pdf icon PDF 222 KB

Report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) updating Members on the work undertaken since the Extraordinary Council meeting on 19 June 2019 adopted the Motion to declare a climate emergency (Minute 13 refers).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) updating Members on the work undertaken since the Extraordinary Council meeting on 19 June 2019 adopted the Motion to declare a climate emergency (Minute 13 refers).

 

Members were updated on the work undertaken since Council agreed a motion to declare a “climate emergency”. The updated report was originally to be provided to Council in November 2019, however that was not possible owing to rescheduling of the municipal timetable in response to the snap General Election in December 2019. The report has therefore been brought up to date since that time.

 

Like many local authorities, and in view of the international position regarding climate change, Council debated the issue and as a result agreed the motion.

 

Since agreeing this motion the work detailed in the report has taken place to help carry into effect the motion. Climate change is in itself a complex geopolitical issue and in order for the council to stand the best chance of success both in reducing its own carbon footprint and acting as a leader and advocate for others, it will be necessary to involve parties both internal and external to the council over a significant timescale.

 

It was moved and seconded by Councillors F.Thomson and T.Kingsbury that the recommendation in the report be approved.

 

It was then moved and seconded by Councillors H.Quenet and F.Marsh that the recommendation be amended as follows:-

 

“The Council recommits itself to the purpose of the motion passed unanimously last year, but was disappointed at the lack of progress so far, particularly the failure to establish and report back on whether a zero-carbon future in Welwyn Hatfield by 2030 is practical, and to take steps to institute change in the nine months since the motion was passed. The council asks Officers and Members to make efforts to make up the lost ground and try to map out a carbon-free future for our borough as soon as possible.

 

The Council asks for a report on Climate Change progress be brought to each meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee”.

 

On being put to the meeting there voted:-

 

FOR the Amendment – 4

AGAINST the Amendment – 11

 

And the Amendment was declared LOST

 

The original recommendation was then put to the meeting:-

 

And was carried UNANIMOUSLY.

 

RESOLVED:

 

Members noted the work to date and agreed that further updates should be provided to Council as work progressed.

57.

WELWYN HATFIELD COUNCIL RESPONSE TO COVID-19 PANDEMIC pdf icon PDF 565 KB

Report of the Chief Executive detailing the Council’s response to Covid-19.

Minutes:

Report of the Chief Executive providing the Council with an update on the activities undertaken in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The serious situation is continuously evolving and as such this report is a snapshot in time. The Council is a Category 1 responder for the purposes of the Civil Contingencies Act meaning the council has a duty to work with partners to plan for and recover from emergencies, and also to keep critical services going. Council will note from the report that in response to this emergency all services and teams, and both officers and members, have pulled together to provide a true #OneTeam response to this unprecedented situation.

 

The Covid-19 pandemic is an international health emergency and has seen an unprecedented global response. In the UK, a Level 4 Health Emergency has been declared, and within Hertfordshire major incident response plans have been triggered. This has resulted in councillors and officers rapidly reprioritising workloads and activities in order to respond to this emergency. A significant amount of work has been undertaken by officers, including critical front-line staff, to continue and adapt service delivery in response to emerging national guidance. Alongside this, Officers have prioritised work to ensure the most vulnerable in our communities are supported, and that residents and businesses are able to access the help available to them.

 

As the borough’s elected representatives, Councillors have also been essential in ensuring the council is able to continue to deliver its critical services and to support multi-agency partners and the community. The Council continues to operate during this emergency period and key decisions continue to be made by Councillors, including under the emergency decision-making provisions contained within the Constitution.

 

It was moved and seconded by Councillors T.Kingsbury and D.Bell and

 

RESOLVED:

(unanimous)

 

Members noted the content of the report, the impacts of the pandemic on the Council’s operations and the work undertaken to date.