Agenda, decisions and draft minutes

Cabinet
Tuesday 4th January 2022 5.00 pm

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

Contact: Alison Marston 

Media

Items
No. Item

63.

MINUTES

To confirm as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting held on 30 November 2021 (previously circulated).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting held on 30 November 2021 were approved as a correct record and noted by the Chairman.

64.

ACTIONS STATUS REPORT pdf icon PDF 103 KB

Report of the Head of Law and Administration on the status of actions agreed at the last Cabinet meeting.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The status of actions agreed at the Cabinet meeting on 30 November 2021 and for decisions taken by Cabinet Members exercising their individual delegated powers between 22 November 2021 to 22 December 2021 in the report of the Head of Law and Administration was noted.

65.

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.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillors S.Boulton, T.Kingsbury and F.Thomson each declared a non-pecuniary interest in items on the Agenda as Members of Hertfordshire County Council.

66.

ITEMS REQUIRING KEY DECISION

To consider the following items for decision in the current Forward Plan:-

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The following items for decision in the current Forward Plan were considered:-

66a

Budget Proposals and Medium Term Financial Forecasts 2022/23 (Forward Plan Reference FP1086) pdf icon PDF 180 KB

Report of the Chief Executive on the budget proposals for 2022/23.

Additional documents:

Decision:

(1)   Cabinet noted the Statement of the Chief Financial Officer on the robustness of budgets and adequacy of reserves (Appendix N).

 

(2)   Cabinet also noted that the following amounts for the year 2022/23 had been set in accordance with regulations made under Sections 31A and 31B of the Local Government Finance Act 1992:

 

 

100% TAXBASE

99.40% TAXBASE

 

 

 

Welwyn Garden City

17,853.5

17,746.4

Hatfield

12,378.2

12,303.9

Welwyn

4,747.1

4,718.6

Ayot St Lawrence

70.0

69.6

Ayot St Peter

113.4

112.7

North Mymms

4,438.3

4,411.7

Essendon

431.8

429.2

Northaw & Cuffley

3,113.5

3,094.8

Woolmer Green

614.4

610.7

 

 

 

Total

43,760.2

43,497.6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(3)    Cabinet approved the following budget proposals and noted that any comments from Overview and Scrutiny Committee will be returned to Special Cabinet on 18 January 2022 for consideration, before final recommendations are made to Council on 2 February 2022:

 

(4)     General Fund

 

(4.1)  The proposed General Fund Budget as summarised in Appendix A, and detailed in appendix B.

 

(4.2)  The inclusion of the savings and growth proposals into the budget as detailed in appendices C and D.

 

(4.3)  The fees and charges which have been incorporated into the budget proposals, as set out in appendix E.

 

(4.4)  The increase in the Council’s Band D Tax of £4.95 (2.26%), taking the average Band D Tax to £224.10 for 2022/23.

 

(4.5)  That £250k be added to the Covid-19 earmarked reserve from the 2022/23 budget, the expenditure of which will be delegated to the Section 151 Officer in consultation with the Executive Member for Resources. This will be partly funded from the one off received from the Government in 2022/23.

 

(4.6)  That the Special Expenses Scheme as set out in section 3.5 continue into 2022/23, and the Special Expenses detailed in Appendix M be approved for inclusion in the Council Tax for 2022/23.

 

(5)     Housing Revenue Account (HRA)

 

(5.1)  That dwelling rents are increased by CPI+1% in accordance with Government legislation, resulting in an average rent of £113.92 per week.

 

(5.2)  To continue the policy of charging formula rent when vacant properties are re-let.

 

(5.3)  The Housing Revenue Account budget as shown in appendix F.

 

(5.4)  The fees and charges which have been incorporated into the budget proposals, as set out in appendix H.

 

(5.5)  The Medium-Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) to maintain HRA working balances to a minimum of 5% of rental income.

 

(6)     Capital Programme

 

(6.1)  The Capital Programme for 2022/23 to 2026/27 as set out in Appendix I.

 

(6.2)  The Capital Financing for the Capital Programme, for 2022/23 to 2026/27 as set out in Appendix J, and note the forecast capital balances in Appendix K.

 

(7)     Medium Term Financial Strategy

 

(7.1)  The Medium-Term Financial Strategy and Financial Governance Framework, including all annexes and prudential indicators for 2022/23 – 2024/25 as set out in appendix L.

Minutes:

Report of the Chief Executive on the budget proposals for 2021/22.

 

(1)        The Decision Taken

 

RESOLVED:

(unanimous)

 

(1)  Cabinet noted the Statement of the Chief Financial Officer on the robustness of budgets and adequacy of reserves (Appendix N).

 

 

100% TAXBASE

99.40% TAXBASE

 

 

 

Welwyn Garden City

17,853.5

17,746.4

Hatfield

12,378.2

12,303.9

Welwyn

4,747.1

4,718.6

Ayot St Lawrence

70.0

69.6

Ayot St Peter

113.4

112.7

North Mymms

4,438.3

4,411.7

Essendon

431.8

429.2

Northaw & Cuffley

3,113.5

3,094.8

Woolmer Green

614.4

610.7

 

 

 

Total

43,760.2

43,497.6

 (2)Cabinet also noted that the following amounts for the year 2022/23 had been set in accordance with regulations made under Sections 31A and 31B of the Local Government Finance Act 1992:

 

 

(3)  Cabinet approved the following budget proposals and noted that any comments from Overview and Scrutiny Committee will be returned to Special Cabinet on 18 January 2022 for consideration, before final recommendations are made to Council on 2 February 2022:

 

(4)       General Fund

 

(4.1)    The proposed General Fund Budget as summarised in Appendix A, and detailed in appendix B.

 

(4.2)    The inclusion of the savings and growth proposals into the budget as detailed in appendices C and D.

 

(4.3)    The fees and charges which have been incorporated into the budget proposals, as set out in appendix E.

 

(4.4)    The increase in the Council’s Band D Tax of £4.95 (2.26%), taking the average Band D Tax to £224.10 for 2022/23.

 

(4.5)    That £250k be added to the Covid-19 earmarked reserve from the 2022/23 budget, the expenditure of which will be delegated to the Section 151 Officer in consultation with the Executive Member for Resources. This will be partly funded from the one off received from the Government in 2022/23.

 

(4.6)    That the Special Expenses Scheme as set out in section 3.5 continue into 2022/23, and the Special Expenses detailed in Appendix M be approved for inclusion in the Council Tax for 2022/23.

 

(5)       Housing Revenue Account (HRA)

 

(5.1)    That dwelling rents are increased by CPI+1% in accordance with Government legislation, resulting in an average rent of £113.92 per week.

 

(5.2)    To continue the policy of charging formula rent when vacant properties are re-let.

 

(5.3)    The Housing Revenue Account budget as shown in appendix F.

 

(5.4)    The fees and charges which have been incorporated into the budget proposals, as set out in appendix H.

 

(5.5)    The Medium-Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) to maintain HRA working balances to a minimum of 5% of rental income.

 

(6)       Capital Programme

 

(6.1)    The Capital Programme for 2022/23 to 2026/27 as set out in Appendix I.

 

(6.2)    The Capital Financing for the Capital Programme, for 2022/23 to 2026/27 as set out in Appendix J, and note the forecast capital balances in Appendix K.

 

(7)       Medium Term Financial Strategy

 

(7.1)    The Medium-Term Financial Strategy and Financial Governance Framework, including all annexes and prudential indicators for 2022/23 – 2024/25 as set out in appendix L.

 

(2)       Reasons for the Decision

 

The report will go on for consideration by Overview and Scrutiny Committee (OSC) on 6  ...  view the full minutes text for item 66a

66b

Proposed Appointment of Specialist Electoral Printers (Forward Plan Reference FP1092) pdf icon PDF 136 KB

Report of the Chief Executive on the Award of Contract for specialist electoral printing contractors.

Additional documents:

Decision:

(1)   That in accordance with paragraph 14(k) of the Council’s Contract Procedure Rules (Alternative Procedures in Prescribed Circumstances), Cabinet agreed to the direct appointment of Print for Business Limited trading as Print.UK.Com Print UK for the reasons set out in the report.

 

(2)   The contract term will be for a maximum period of 4 years.

Minutes:

Report of the Chief Executive on the Award of Contract for specialist electoral printing contractors.

 

(1)        The Decision Taken

 

RESOLVED:

(unanimous)

 

(1)  That in accordance with paragraph 14(k) of the Council’s Contract Procedure Rules (Alternative Procedures in Prescribed Circumstances), Cabinet agreed to the direct appointment of Print for Business Limited trading as Print.UK.Com Print UK for the reasons set out in the report.

 

(2)  The contract term will be for a maximum period of 4 years and spend of no more than £200,000.

 

(2)       Reasons for the Decision

 

Electoral printing is a specialist field which must be accurate, secure, confidential and produced on time whether for a by election or a major UK wide election.

 

The Council had used the same specialist firm of electoral printing contractors for many years. In Summer 2021, however, they announced changes to their operations and their intent to move out of elections printing.

 

Work commenced to procure a new firm and initially, the Council explored whether this could be shared with Watford and Broxbourne councils. While the preliminary fact finding was done jointly, the other Councils had decided to use their own internal processes to directly appoint Print.Uk.com.

 

Officers were seeking similar authorisation from Cabinet to make a direct appointment to Print Uk.com and the reasons for this were outlined in the report.

 

The selection of this company had been done based upon referral from other Councils rather than a traditional procurement. This approach was recommended on the basis of the specialist requirements and against the risks of having to appoint an unfamiliar provider for such a high-profile area.

 

Print.UK.com had a dedicated team of experienced professionals who all understand the world of elections, and the flexibility and urgency of getting this right first time. They undertake contractual work for over 40 local authorities across the UK, and as a group work with nearly 100 local authorities across the UK. Their branch is based in Windsor and will allow relatively easy local inspection during the pre-election preparations.

 

Print.UK.com had confirmed that should they be successfully awarded the contract, they would have sufficient capacity to deliver on any work that Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council would instruct them on.

66c

Operation of the Estate Management Scheme (Forward Plan Reference FP1096) pdf icon PDF 206 KB

Recommendation from the Estate Management Scheme Member Group on 6 December 2021 on the proposed changes to the operation of the Estate Management Scheme.

Additional documents:

Decision:

Cabinet agreed to the adoption of changes as recommended by the Estate Management Scheme Member Group on 6 December 2021.

Minutes:

Recommendation from the Estate Management Scheme Member Group on 6 December 2021 on the proposed changes to the operation of the Estate Management Scheme.

 

(1)        The Decision Taken

 

RESOLVED:

(unanimous)

 

Cabinet agreed to the adoption of changes as recommended by the Estate Management Scheme Member Group on 6 December 2021.

 

(2)       Reasons for the Decision

 

The Estate Management Scheme Member Group recommended to Cabinet:

 

1.  The EMS Member Group noted the adoption of the EMS website as a one-stop portal for residents and other interested parties to access the design guide, EMS policy information and the EMS application process.

 

2.  The EMS Member Group recommended that Cabinet agrees to the adoption of the EMS Design Guide on the understanding that the Group will continue to review and recommend changes to the Design Guide, and with the following amendments;

a.       The Design Guide should be amended to remove the expectation that solar panels would be located to the rear or side roof slopes and be open to applications which choose an orientation which is more effective in relation to the sun. However, the Design Guide should still state that such installation should be done sensitively, and the projection of any solar panels should be minimised as far as is practicable.

b.       The Design Guide should be amended to view the installation of standard Electric Charging points at the front of properties to be allowable under the scheme.

 

3.  The EMS Member Group recommended that Cabinet delegate authority to the Head of Planning in consultation with the Executive Member, Environment, Planning, Estates and Development, to make minor changes and improvements to the EMS Design Guide, with such changes being notified to the Group when they are made.

 

4.  The Group noted the proposed use of an Arbiter to hear EMS application appeals and recommended to Cabinet that the current terms of reference of the Welwyn Garden City Estate Management Appeals Panel be amended to review cases brought to them by officers and those “called-in” by Members. The Group also recommend that the Panel be renamed the Welwyn Garden City Estate Management Panel and that the operation of the new arrangements be reviewed after one year.

 

5.  The Group noted the introduction of application fees and proposed fees as set out in the report. The Group recommended that the proposed fee structure table be amended as follows:

a.       The “Small Projects” and “Medium Projects” text boxes should include the words “where the alteration is not replacing like for like“ to reduce ambiguity with the ‘Replacement – Genuinely Like for Like’ category above; and replace the words “Examples include…” with “Examples may include…”, and the number of examples given be reduced, to avoid the table being too prescriptive.

b.       a cap be introduced for Small and Medium Projects applications, where there were multiple projects being applied for at the same time by one applicant, with a suggestion of £100 per grouped application.

66d

Introduction of parking enforcement using automated number plate recognition (ANPR) technology (Forward Plan Reference FP1087) pdf icon PDF 101 KB

Recommendation from the meeting of Cabinet Planning and Parking Panel on 16 December 2021.

Additional documents:

Decision:

Cabinet agreed the inclusion in the Capital Budget in 2022/23 for the purchase of two new electric vehicles with ANPR capability, static cameras, and associated software to enhance parking enforcement across the borough.

Minutes:

Recommendation from the meeting of Cabinet Planning and Parking Panel on 16 December 2021.

 

(1)        The Decision Taken

 

RESOLVED:

(unanimous)

 

Cabinet agreed the inclusion in the Capital Budget in 2022/23 for the purchase of two new electric vehicles with ANPR capability, static cameras, and associated software to enhance parking enforcement across the borough.

 

(2)        Reasons for the Decision

 

At its meeting on 16 December, 2021, the Cabinet Planning and Parking Panel unanimously agreed to recommend to Cabinet that the purchase of two ANPR equipped vehicles, static ANPR cameras, together with associated software, be included in the General Fund 2022/23 Capital Budget.

 

The introduction of such equipment would enable the Council to enforce parking restrictions more efficiently, leading to savings.  In addition, particularly outside schools, the use of static cameras would improve enforcement, thereby increasing public safety.

67.

RECOMMENDATION FROM THE OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY COMMITTEE

To consider a recommendation from the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 6 December 2021.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The following recommendation from the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny committee on 1 November 2021 was considered:-

67a

Affordable Housing: 9,000 Level pdf icon PDF 129 KB

Recommendation from the Overview and Scrutiny Committee at its meeting on 6 December 2021 on Affordable Housing: 9,000 level.

Additional documents:

Decision:

(1)   Cabinet agreed that the current Housing Revenue Account Business Plan and associated Strategic Plan were reviewed, to understand the financial capacity to increase the Council’s current housing stock and directly deliver more affordable homes, whilst also continuing to invest appropriately in the existing housing stock. 

 

(2)   Cabinet agreed that the review take place in good time to allow any revision to policy and plans to be incorporated into the 2023-24 budget.

Minutes:

Recommendation from the Overview and Scrutiny Committee at its meeting on 1 November 2021 on Affordable Housing: 9,000 level.

 

Members of Overview and Scrutiny Committee (OSC) received a report which considered the objective to maintain the Council’s current social rented housing stock at approximately 9000 rented homes.  The background to the objective was set out in the original Housing Delivery Plan, and more recently the Housing Delivery Strategy 2019 to 2025.

 

Members of OSC noted the challenges of increasing the housing stock, including funding, land availability and competing priorities such as investment in existing homes.

 

Members also noted the increase in demand for affordable homes and the impact on housing need of insufficient supply.

 

The committee noted the complexity of this issue and the resource requirement and possible budgetary implications of reviewing the current ambition.

 

RESOLVED:

(unanimous)

 

(1)   Cabinet agreed that the current Housing Revenue Account Business Plan and associated Strategic Plan were reviewed, to understand the financial capacity to increase the Council’s current housing stock and directly deliver more affordable homes, whilst also continuing to invest appropriately in the existing housing stock. 

 

(2)   Cabinet agreed that the review take place in good time to allow any revision to policy and plans to be incorporated into the 2023-24 budget.

 

68.

HELP TO HEAT - ENERGY COMPANY OBLIGATION LOCAL AUTHORITY FLEXIBILITY (ECO FLEX) STATEMENT OF INTENT pdf icon PDF 240 KB

Report of the Head of Planning on Energy company obligation local authority flexibility (ECO flex) statement of intent.

Additional documents:

Decision:

(1)   Cabinet agreed to adopt the revised ECO Flex Statement of Intent set out in appendix 2.

 

(2)   Cabinet agreed that the household income eligibility criteria be increased from £20,000 after automatic deductions such as Income Tax, National Insurance or any other automatic deduction that will affect disposable income before payment of household costs to £30,000 in line with BEIS recommendation. Or alternatively, annual household income of less than £20,000 after housing costs are deducted (rent/mortgage & council tax).

Minutes:

Report of the Head of Planning on Energy company obligation local authority flexibility (ECO flex) statement of intent.

 

Welwyn Hatfield Council was working in partnership with Yorkshire Energy Services CIC trading as YES Energy Solutions (YES) to provide the Welwyn Hatfield Warmer Homes scheme. This was a district-wide scheme to support households in or near fuel poverty or vulnerable to the cold, to receive energy efficiency interventions that improve health and wellbeing outcomes and fuel efficiency of their homes. The partnership was used to deliver Energy Company Obligation Local Authority Flexibility grants, (ECO Flex). The grant was funded by Energy Companies out of their revenue budget.

 

The Council promoted the scheme in the Borough and YES carry out eligibility assessments and handle all referrals until completion of the works. YES regularly reported to the Council on the take up numbers and energy efficiency works carried out.

 

Local Authorities could set their own criteria to decide who should qualify for a grant under the scheme having regard to health, age of occupier and type of property.

 

The Statement of Intent set out eligibility criteria. Currently to be eligible, residents had to have a combined household income after paying their mortgage/rent of no more than £20,000 and either high energy costs or a health condition made worse by the cold or be vulnerable to the cold or in receipt of long-term health or disability benefits.

 

A refreshed and updated Statement of Intent had been drafted which is aligned to current corporate priorities and widened the scope of eligibility for the ECO Flex grant, by increasing the amount of combined household annual income to a maximum of £30,000 after automatic deductions such as Income Tax, National Insurance or any other automatic deduction that would affect disposable income before payment of household costs.

 

The household income threshold of £30,000 was recommended by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) as the maximum income qualifying for a grant under other energy efficiency scheme such as Local Authority Delivery 3 (LAD3).

 

Households with an income of less than £20,000 after housing costs were deducted (rent/mortgage & council tax) would also be eligible.

 

Members asked if the grant was for owners/ occupiers and who would the grant go to if it was a rented property? Members also asked if the Council could claim a grant in relation to its tenanted properties.  

Officers stated that they would look into this information and will get back to Cabinet Members at the next meeting.

 

RESOLVED:

(unanimous)

 

(1)   Cabinet agreed to adopt the revised ECO Flex Statement of Intent set out in appendix 2.

 

(2)   Cabinet agreed that the household income eligibility criteria be increased from £20,000 after automatic deductions such as Income Tax, National Insurance or any other automatic deduction that will affect disposable income before payment of household costs to £30,000 in line with BEIS recommendation. Or alternatively, annual household income of less than £20,000 after housing costs are deducted (rent/mortgage & council tax).

69.

EXCLUSION OF PRESS AND PUBLIC

The Cabinet is asked to resolve:

 

That under Section 100(A)(2) and (4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be now excluded from the meeting for Items 12 and 13 on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of confidential or exempt information as defined in Section 100(A)(3) and Paragraph 3 (private financial or business information) of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the said Act (as amended).

 

In resolving to exclude the public in respect of the exempt information, it is considered that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

 

That under Section 100(A)(2) and (4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be now excluded from the meeting for Agenda item 12 (Minute 70 refer) on the grounds that they involved the likely disclosure of confidential or exempt information as defined in Section 100A(3) and paragraph 3 (private financial or business information) of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the said Act (as amended). 

 

In resolving to exclude the public in respect of the exempt information, it was considered that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighed the public interest in disclosing the information.

70.

ITEM OF AN EXEMPT NATURE REQUIRING KEY DECISION

To consider the following item of an exempt nature:-

 

Minutes:

The following item of an exempt nature for decision was considered:-

70a

Award of Contract Campus West Decked Car Park (Forward Plan Reference FP1094)

Report of the Chief Executive on the Award of Contract for the construction of the decked car park at Campus West.

Decision:

Cabinet agreed the construction contract for the redevelopment of the Campus West Car Park be awarded to Bourne Group Limited.

Minutes:

Report of the Chief Executive on the Award of Contract for the construction of the decked car park at Campus West.

 

(1)       The Decision Taken

 

RESOLVED:

(unanimous)

 

Cabinet agreed the construction contract for the redevelopment of the Campus West Car Park be awarded to Bourne Group Limited.

 

(2)       Reasons for the Decision

 

At its meeting on 13 December 2021, the Welwyn Garden City Regeneration Board unanimously agreed to recommend to Cabinet that a Stage 2 construction contract for the decked car park at Campus West be awarded to Bourne Parking.