Agenda and minutes

Monday 25th March 2019 7.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Council Offices, The Campus, Welwyn Garden City, Herts, AL8 6AE

Contact: Graham Seal 

No. Item



To receive apologies for absence, if any.


Apologies for absence were received from Councillors G.Hayes and JP.Skoczylas.



To confirm as a correct record the Minutes of the special meeting held on 25 February 2019 (previously circulated).


The Minutes of the special Council meeting held on 25 February 2019 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Mayor.



The Mayor will receive a petition to protect the Welwyn Garden City Ski Slope from the Council’s plans for land redevelopment.


As the petition contains more than 1500 signatures the petition organiser will be given five minutes to present it at the meeting and it will then be discussed for a maximum of fifteen minutes in accordance with the Council Petition Scheme.


The Mayor received a petition to protect the Welwyn Garden City Ski Slope from the Council’s plans for land redevelopment which was presented by S.Godfrey.


As the petition contained more than 1500 signatures, it was discussed by the Council in accordance with the Petition Scheme.


The Mayor clarified that under the Petition Scheme, the Council had three courses of action open to it in response to the petition:-


(1)     To agree with the proposal

(2)     Not to agree with the proposal or

(3)     To refer it to another Committee for further investigation.


Following discussion it was moved by Councillor S.Boulton and seconded by Councillor T.Kingsbury and



(24 voting for and 20 against)


That the Council does not agree with the proposal in the petition.



A period of thirty minutes will be made available for questions to be put by Members of the public to Members of the Cabinet on matters for which the Council has a responsibility or which affect the Borough.


Question from Rosie Newbigging


“As Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Welwyn Hatfield, I have been actively supporting the campaign to oppose the proposed removal of the taxi rank which has been at the front of the Howard Centre in Welwyn Garden City for decades providing an excellent taxi service to generations of local people. Will Welwyn Hatfield now pledge its clear support for the needs of local people, particularly elderly, frail and disabled people, using the taxi service and the livelihoods of local taxi drivers and will the Council oppose the proposal by Hertfordshire County Council to remove the taxi rank and move it to a location which will create serious risk for both taxi customers and taxi drivers? The GMB Trade Union, which represents many local taxi drivers, have submitted its opposition to the proposals highlighting the risk to elderly, frail and disabled people who will have to cross a very busy road in order to get a taxi; drawing attention to the lack of a full impact assessment of the proposals on taxi drivers or taxi customers; highlighting the real concern that the alternative rank will not guarantee spaces for taxis as enforcement of the reserved spaces will not be practical and the absence of consideration of the need for charging points for electric vehicles at the proposed alternative taxi rank. The County Council’s proposals demonstrate a lack of consideration of these important points. Local taxi drivers have already collected hundreds of signatures from local people to a petition opposing the proposal.  Will the Council now show its support for local taxi drivers and local taxi users and oppose the County Council’s proposals?”




The question was answered by Councillor F.Thomson (Executive Member, Governance and Public Health) :-


“Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council is working in partnership with Hertfordshire County Council as the highway authority to make improvements to Welwyn Garden City town centre, to improve the flow of vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians and to change arrangements for car parking and taxis.  It is understood that Hertfordshire County Council have recently consulted on a draft Traffic Regulation Order which among other things would move the taxi rank space from its current location to along Howardsgate but would also reinforce the availability of other taxi rank spaces outside John Lewis and at the rear of the Howard Centre.  Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council has not yet seen the full results of the consultation exercise and it would therefore be inappropriate to comment until the wider benefits and concerns of the scheme are understood.


That said we will of course work with Hertfordshire County Council to get a scheme to come forward to the benefit of the majority.”


Question from Steve Garelick


“Given the difficulty faced by local Taxis is it not time for a regular interaction with the licensing committee, licensing officers and GMB Unions Taxi members.


In view of AAA Taxis decision to start licensing drivers and vehicles in Wolverhampton to local licensing detriment we feel this is a reasonable request.”




The question was answered by Councillor F.Thomson (Executive Member, Governance and Public Health) :-


“Thank you for your question.


As you and many members will be aware, Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council did have a taxi quality partnership some years ago, which was chaired by an elected member and was attended by various members of the taxi trade.

However, following receipt of legal advice after a judicial review, this partnership was disbanded.


The introduction of the Deregulation Act 2015 has made the licensing of taxis and any associated legal action extremely challenging. Under current legislation, vehicles can be licensed by one Local Authority and operate in another area; even when the standards of the licensing authority may be less stringent than in other areas. This is a national problem faced by many Local Authorities.


The Hackney Carriage team have regular interaction with local taxi drivers by a number of means: by telephone, face to face meetings; and when required, the team also send out newsletters to local taxi drivers.


The Hackney Carriage Committee also meets when necessary, and in order to deal with specific issues.


This Council’s Hackney Carriage team work hard to ensure the safety of the public who use private hire and/or hackney carriage vehicles.


And in order to accomplish this we rely on both reactive and proactive activities across the borough.  This regulatory presence reassures the public, provides business support and promotes the reputation of the trade.”



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


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



To receive any announcements from the Mayor, Leader of the Council, Member of the Cabinet or the Head of Paid Service.


New Zealand Terror Attack


The Council observed a minute’s silence for the victims of the mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand on 15 March 2019.


Banquet and Ball


The Mayor was pleased to report that her banquet on 23 February 2019 at Hatfield House raised over £1,000 for her charity and thanked Members for the support.


Civic Service


The Mayor’s Civic Service would be on Sunday 28 April 2019 at 3.00pm at St Mary’s Church, Welwyn and the Mayor hoped that Members would be able to attend.


Award Nomination


The Chief Executive announced that the Hatfield 2030+ Renewal Partnership had been shortlisted in The Planning Awards 2019 for ‘Partnership Working’, in the placemaking category and thanked colleagues involved in the project. These awards recognised and rewarded excellence in professional planning work, as well as related activities such as economic development, housing and regeneration. The results would be announced in early June 2019.



For a period of up to thirty minutes, a Member of the Council who has given prior notice in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 45, may ask (a) the Mayor, (b) the Leader of the Council or (c) a Member of the Cabinet a question on any matter in relation to which the Council has powers or duties or which affects the Borough.


Details of questions received in accordance with Procedure Rule 45 will be tabled at the meeting.  A Member asking a question may ask, without giving notice, one supplementary question of the Member to whom the first question was asked.  The supplementary question must arise directly out of the reply.


Notice of the following questions by Members had been received:-


In accordance with Contract Procedure Rule 107, it was moved by Councillor K.Thorpe and seconded by Councillor L.Musk that Council Procedure Rule 45 be suspended so that Members of the Council may ask questions for a greater period than up to thirty minutes as specified in that rule.


On being put to the meeting there voted:-

FOR the Motion - 20

AGAINST the Motion - 24


And the Motion was declared LOST.


Question to the Leader from Councillor S.Glick


“Would the Leader please let us know how many homes have been granted planning permission by the Development Management Committee in the first 3 months of this year?  What number of those will be affordable and how does this figure compare with the Council’s required annual number?”




The Leader, Councillor T.Kingsbury asked Councillor S.Boulton (Executive Member, Environment and Planning) to answer :-


“Thank you for your question.


The Development Management Committee has granted planning permission for 664 new dwellings since in the period January-March 2019 and 195 of these are proposed to be affordable (which equates to 29%).


Policy SP2 of the Submitted Local Plan sets a target to build an average of 498 dwellings per annum in the period 2013/14 to 2021/22.


The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) housing delivery test expected Welwyn Hatfield to build 623 dwellings in 2017/18.  The target is not yet available for 2018/19 year.


The Council does not have a total target for affordable housing.  The Submitted Local Plan seeks different rates of provision in different parts of the borough: 25% in Hatfield, 30% in Welwyn Garden City and 35% in villages on all schemes of 11+ units or on sites of 0.5+ hectares, subject to viability evidence.”


Question to the Executive Member, Environment and Planning from Councillor S.Roberts


“Does the Cabinet member believe that during the preparation for the centenary of Welwyn Garden City, it is an insult to one of the central aspects to the Garden City ethos - of this being a place to live work and play, that under the watch of this Council, alarming levels of employment area have been allowed to become residential homes?”




The Leader, Councillor T.Kingsbury asked Councillor S.Boulton (Executive Member, Environment and Planning) to answer :-


“Thank you for your question.


The loss of employment land is a very real concern in Welwyn Hatfield and across Hertfordshire in general.


The borough has experienced the loss of a significant amount of employment floorspace in recent years, including Entec House site in Woolmer Green that was refused planning permission but lost on appeal and particularly because of the Government’s national permitted development rights which allows office space to be converted to residential use without the need for planning permission and without any requirement to provide affordable housing or make Section 106 contributions to nearby services and facilities.


The Leader of this Council and the Leader of Herts County Council have recently written to the Government about national permitted development rights and about plans to extend these rights to allow offices to be redeveloped for new housing.  The letter asserts that this drastically weakens our ability to plan adequately for employment and economic development. 


It is a key objective of the Submitted Local Plan that Welwyn Hatfield is able to provide a good ‘self-contained’ balance of jobs and homes for its residents, to carry forward the original live-work aspirations for Welwyn Garden City and Hatfield New Town and to avoid the creation of dormitory settlements.”


Councillor Roberts in a supplementary question asked why the Council had not considered an Article 4 Direction in Welwyn Garden City to make the conversion of offices to housing more difficult.


Councillor Boulton replied that this was under serious consideration at the moment.


Question to the Leader from Councillor G.Michaelides


"Would the leader please let us know the reason why the council called for further sites to be considered for inclusion in the local plan?"




The Leader, Councillor T.Kingsbury asked Councillor S.Boulton (Executive Member, Environment and Planning) to answer :-


“Thank you for your question.


The Submitted Local Plan contains proposals for 12,000 new homes over the period 2013-2032.  This took account of the objective assessment of need for more homes balanced against the need to release land from the green belt and the impact of development on roads and services.


The Examination Inspector considers that the plan needs to make provision for about 16,000 homes in order to be found sound.  He has advised that this is more likely to be achieved if the Council can identify specific sites rather than broad locations.


As a consequence the Council decided to carry out a further call-for-sites exercise to see if it can identify additional specific sites for inclusion in the Local Plan.  These will be subject to public consultation after the election and debate at public examination hearing sessions in December 2019.”


Question to the Executive Member, Environment and Planning from Councillor J.Weston


“Further to the news that recycling rates in Welwyn Hatfield have greatly reduced, does the cabinet member regret this Council’s decision to introduce charges for recycling without any provision for the collection of food waste in Welwyn Hatfield?”




The Leader, Councillor T.Kingsbury asked Councillor S.Boulton (Executive Member, Environment and Planning) to answer :-


“Thank you for your question.


Like a number of other councils across the country, we made the difficult decision to introduce a chargeable garden waste service in April 2017. The introduction of the charge ensured that we were able to continue to deliver this important service to our residents under significant financial pressures. Soon after the new subscription service started the Council re-emphasised and promoted to residents that food waste was still acceptable in the brown garden bin. Also, the Council agreed to consider a separate food waste service as part of the procurement of the 2020 new streetscene contract.


Finally, we’re pleased to see that our dry recycling rate has continued to increase, and our composting rate for 2018/19 looks on track to be better than last year. In addition to this, we also continue to be one of the lowest waste producers (based on kilograms per household) across the county.”


Councillor Weston asked in a supplementary question if Councillor Boulton honestly believed that the small income received from the charge was worth the drop in collection rate and the pressures that resulted from it.


Councillor Boulton responded that it was not small, but a significant amount to allow council tax to be maintained.


Question to the Leader from Councillor M.Cowan


“As regards recent council procurements I was under the impression that such matters were confidential until any new contract was awarded and announced after the necessary standstill period.  In light of the information in the leaflet distributed around Panshanger ward and perhaps elsewhere which appears to breach that, what is going to happen and what will be done?”




“Thank you for your question. I absolutely agree about the confidentiality of procurement and the onus on us as members to adhere to this. I have seen the leaflet you refer to, which was only used in Panshanger. At this time there are a lot leaflets being produced and this line was rewritten, where the wording was changed to mention contractor rather than contract by mistake. I am confident that my members have behaved appropriately, but as a group we will endeavour to check literature more thoroughly.”


In a supplementary question Councillor Cowan asked if the leaflet should have been checked before the information was passed out which was also referred to in the last Audit Committee papers.


The Leader confirmed that the leaflet was not checked by Members. However if Councillor Cowan had any further concerns, he could take this up with the Monitoring Officer.


Question to the Leader from Councillor R.Lass


“I have heard that sixth form students across the borough have been enjoying taking part in The Council’s initiative ‘Challenge 12’ since the start of the year. Please could the relevant portfolio holder explain a little more about what the challenge is and what it aims to achieve?”




The Leader, Councillor T.Kingsbury asked Councillor T.Mitchinson (Executive Member, Leisure, Culture and Communications) to answer :-


“Challenge 12 is a new and exciting initiative delivered by the council’s Community Partnership team.  It is the replacement for the previous Dragon’s Apprentice Challenge.   Challenge 12 aims to increase students understanding of the business world. 


Unlike the Dragons Apprentice Challenge, which was restricted to business students only, this new challenge is offered to all Year 12 students within the six Welwyn Hatfield Consortium Schools (a total of 436 students)


Research tells us that whilst almost three quarters of students would consider an apprenticeship, 80% know little or nothing about them.   Research also shows that once informed, 74% of secondary school children would “consider” the option as an alternative to University.  Young people are unaware of the fact that formal qualifications could be achieved through an apprenticeship.


Challenge 12 has been designed to increase Year 12 students’ understanding of business concepts and how they can apply them.  Participating in this challenge helps to build confidence as they learn about establishing and running a business through a ½ day business simulation challenge. Participating in this challenge will help students’ CV or UCAS application get to the top of the pile.


The six best performing teams (one from each school) will be entered into the Grand Final Challenge in May 2019.  This involves developing a pitch of their team’s business concept to an expert panel of judges at Barclays Head Office in Canary Wharf, London.   Winning teams will also hear more about the High Level Apprenticeships that are on offer, should they not want to go to University.


The Challenge empowers students to develop skills in an interactive and practical way; utilising problem solving, communication, teamwork and creative skills, as they prepare for their journey in their final years of education whether that be University, an apprenticeship or work.”


Question to the Leader from Councillor M.Holloway


“At the last count there were 832 residents who have been moved over to Universal Credit. 627 of these residents are in arrears. At the last Cabinet Housing Panel, we learned that this equals a rent arrears value of over £500K.


That’s 627 families right here in Welwyn Hatfield that are struggling to make ends meet.


Does the Leader of the Council agree with me that this is unacceptable and will he resolve to write to the relevant secretary of state to express this Councils concerns?”




The Leader, Councillor T.Kingsbury asked Councillor D.Bell, Deputy Leader and (Executive Member, Resources) to answer:-


“Thank you Councillor Holloway for your question.


Firstly I would just like to clarify the current figures.  At the end of February 2019, 941 of our tenants were in receipt of Universal Credit, with 278 managing their payments effectively.  This means that 30% are managing effectively, an increase from only 16% in June 2018.  The 30% is favourable when compared to comparable landlords, so I have to refute the suggestion that the situation is untenable.


The current rent arrears outstanding of £430,000 represent a reduction of £65,000 when compared to December, 2018.  The trend of tenants effectively managing their payments following the transition to Universal Credit is improving month by month.  This is a clear demonstration of the effectiveness of the support being provided to claimants through the partnership work between our Housing Department, the Department of Work and Pensions, Citizens Advice, and the Council’s own Revenue and Benefit teams.


We certainly recognise that the transition to any new benefit system can sometimes be difficult for many tenants, so we have ensured that our services are best placed to provide the appropriate support to those tenants who need it.  The support available is communicated directly at every opportunity, as well as information being provided on the Council’s website.  This support has been well utilised, and is having a positive impact upon the number of tenants adversely impacted after changing to Universal Credit.


I think we should thank our officers in the Housing and Revenue and Benefit teams for their work.


I therefore do not believe it is appropriate to write to the Secretary of State on this point.”


Councillor Holloway asked in a supplementary question if just one or a handful of tenants struggling was too many and was this a poor excuse not to write.


Councillor Bell said that yes it is too many, but that Universal Credit was not necessarily the reason and writing to the Secretary of State does not help and we are better off to continue to use our current efforts.


Question to the Leader from Councillor S.Wrenn


“Given the Council has had its first Peer Review, can the Leader give his thoughts on the findings and suggestions for the future?”




“Thank you Councillor Wrenn for the question on what was an important landmark for the Council in undertaking its first Local Government Association Peer Review.  Councillors will now have had chance to read the final report and as Leader I am really pleased with it and the recommendations.  The Chief Executive and I, as well as Cabinet and many Councillors, spent a significant time with the team. This was certainly a thorough review and to be recognised so positively by the peer team, especially stating we are an ambitious Council with a committed workforce is a testament to everyone who works or is connected to the council.  I am also pleased that it recognises and supports work and decisions that this administration has made in the past and also our current drive and ambition.  But of course, the purpose of the peer review is to also identify areas where we can improve and I feel the recommendations made will help us on our continued journey to modernise the Council and deliver our regeneration plans and services to residents and businesses across the Borough.  The Chief Executive will now be working with his team to develop an action plan for the recommendations to then engage with staff and councillors on these so we can work as one team to implement them.  I will be working closely with him to ensure Councillor’s aspirations are part of the process. It is an exciting time to be involved with the Council and we will work tirelessly with our partners and communities to deliver the action plan and our objectives and I want to also say a big thank you to everyone who contributed to the review.”


Question to the Leader from Councillor J.Caliskan


“A recent report from a Committee of MPs found that only a third of children and young people with mental health conditions receive the treatment they need from the NHS. The report found that many are turned away because they are not ill enough whilst others face excessively long waits. This legacy is not good enough and will have long term negative affects on the future and well being of our children as well as wider society.


Could the Executive Member for Public Health confirm what they are actively doing, collaboratively or independently, to expedite and improve the inadequate access to mental health services for children within our Borough?”




The Leader, Councillor T.Kingsbury asked Councillor F.Thomson (Executive Member, Governance and Public Health) to answer :-


“Thank you Councillor Caliskan for your question.


The work to expedite and improve access to mental health services is ongoing and our efforts are very much geared around educating young people on what support they can access quickly and encouraging self-help/building resilience and ability to deal with stress and anxiety.  The Council are instrumental in supporting Young Peoples Mental Health and wellbeing in Welwyn Hatfield through the delivery and promotion of local Mental Health campaigns and services. These are delivered to our local schools directly, through partnership organisations and through our Youth Council.


As we heard from the Welwyn Hatfield Youth Council this evening, supporting Mental Health and wellbeing of young people is one of the key priorities for the Youth Council. They work in the community raising awareness about the importance of mental health and the local support/services available to young people. For example - the just talk social media campaign was supported by creating a #JUSTTALK video and produced #JustTalk packs to every school to show how they could incorporate mental health awareness into a learning environment and make everyone aware.”


The Council have also set up a Mental Health Secondary School Leads group which is a forum to share knowledge and discuss.


Over the past 12 months Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council funded two organisations to visit schools and offer support and advice to students where there has been a specific need for early intervention (normally around exam stress).  These sessions were delivered in response to reports that there was a high level of mental health issues reported from the schools directly to us. 


In October 2019, the Council will be managing the delivery of its first Schools Mental Health Conference in partnership with secondary schools and local service providers. The aim of the conference is to enhance the individual and collective knowledge of professionals, teachers, parents and young people in order to provide the very best support, advice and guidance to the young people in Welwyn Hatfield.


If you have not seen @JackHarries on Twitter do”.


In a supplementary question, Councillor Caliskan asked how much the Council spent on Mental Health services in our Borough.


Councillor Thomson said that a written answer would be provided.


(Note:  ...  view the full minutes text for item 71i



Report of the Monitoring Officer on review of the Council’s Constitution, following the deferral of this item at the Special Council meeting on 25 February 2019 (Minute 63 refers).

Additional documents:


Report of the Monitoring Officer on review of the Council’s Constitution, following the deferral of this item at the Special Council meeting on 25 February 2019 (Minute 63 refers).


It was agreed that Section 1 of Part 4: Rules of Procedure as set out in Appendix 1 of the report be amended as follows:-


Rules for the appointment and removal of the Executive Leader of the Council:-


2.5. The parties in opposition to the majority partymay appoint amongst themselves a Leader and Deputy Leader of the Opposition.


Rule 19.1(o) Motions without Notice:-


(O) if the Mayor or Chairman of the meeting considers any matter to be objectionable or undesirable and moves not to hear a Member further or to ‘exclude’ the Member from the meeting.


It was moved by Councillor T.Kingsbury, seconded by Councillor D.Bell and




(1)    That the Council approves ‘Section 1 of Part 4: Rules of Procedure’, as set out in Appendix 1 of the report and subject to the amendments agreed at this meeting.


(2)    That the Council approves ‘Section 2 of Part 4: Rules of Procedures’, as set out in Appendix 1 of the report.


(3)    That the Council approves Appendix 2 of the report.


(4)    That the Council agrees any consequential amendments required to the Constitution, arising from approving the proposed changes as set out in Appendix 1 and 2 of the report.




Report of the Corporate Director (Resources, Environment and Cultural Services) recommending the Council to approve an addition to the capital programme budget for an upgrade to the Tewin Road depot.


Report of the Corporate Director (Resources, Environment and Cultural Services) recommending the Council to approve an addition to the capital programme budget for the Tewin Road depot upgrade.


It was agreed by the Cabinet at its meeting on 5 March 2019 to recommend to the Council to add £4.5M to the capital programme for the upgrade of the Tewin Road depot (Minute 123.1 refers).


It was moved by Councillor D.Bell, seconded by Councillor T.Kingsbury and



(34 voting for and 10 against)


That the Council approves the addition of £4.5M to the Capital Programme budget for the Tewin Road depot upgrade, specifically £1.2M in 2019/20 and £3.3M in 2020/21.


MOTION pdf icon PDF 47 KB

To consider notices of motions submitted under Procedure Rule 50 in such order as the Mayor shall direct.  Details of motions received by the deadline of 12noon on 18 March 2019 will be circulated separately.


The following motion had been submitted by Councillor K.Thorpe and was seconded by Councillor J.Broach:-


“This Council notes the review “into the future of our high streets” carried out in 2011 by Mary Portas underlined the ‘crucial importance’ of parking to the future of a viable Town Centre.


This Council notes in particular that Free Car Parking – if indeed a Town Centre already had it - was noted as vitally important and that the review said “to remove controlled free parking from our town centres puts them at a massive competitive disadvantage.


This Council recalls this review was set up by Welwyn Hatfield’s own MP, Grant Shapps after Town Centres were placed within his remit during the Coalition Government. 


This Council notes Welwyn Hatfield Council was able to ‘win’ funding from the Portas Review and the team leading this bid included the Leader of the Council, and his cabinet member Councillor Terry Mitchinson.


The winning project carried the slogan ‘Love Hatfield’.


This Council notes that current plans being devised by this Council include the removal of several free car parks in Hatfield Town Centre.


This Council resolves to embrace the guidance from the very same review that it successfully won funding from, to demonstrate it actually does ‘love Hatfield’ and re-think plans to reduce free parking in Hatfield Town Centre.”


On being put to the meeting there noted:-


FOR the Motion – 20

AGAINST the Motion – 24

And the Motion was declared LOST.



To consider any matters of urgency subject to the agreement of the Mayor in accordance with Procedure Rule 13(r).


As this was the last Council meeting of the Municipal Year, the Mayor thanked all Members for their contributions to the work of the Council during the year and expressed best wishes to those Members standing for re-election on 2 May 2019.