Agenda, decisions and minutes

Cabinet
Tuesday 8th October 2019 7.30 pm

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

Contact: Graham Seal 

Items
No. Item

49.

MINUTES

To confirm as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting held on 17 September 2019 (previously circulated).

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting held on 17 September 2019 were approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

50.

ACTIONS STATUS REPORT pdf icon PDF 75 KB

Report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) on the status of actions agreed at the last Cabinet meeting.

Minutes:

The status of actions agreed at the Cabinet meeting on 17 September 2019 in the report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) was noted.

51.

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:

Councillor S.Boulton declared a non-pecuniary interest in Agenda item 10 – Review of the Hatfield Community Fund as a Member of North Mymms Parish Council.

 

The Corporate Director (Housing and Communities) declared a non-pecuniary interest in Agenda 7(a) – Now Housing Limited Business Plan 2019 – 2025 as a Director of the Company.

52.

ITEMS REQUIRING KEY DECISION

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

 

Minutes:

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

52a

Now Housing Limited Business Plan 2019 - 2025 (Forward Plan Reference FP930) pdf icon PDF 147 KB

Joint report of the Corporate Directors (Housing and Communities) and (Resources, Environment and Cultural Services) submitting the Plan for approval.

Additional documents:

Decision:

The Now Housing Limited Business Plan 2019-25 was approved.

Minutes:

Joint report of the Corporate Directors (Housing and Communities) and (Resources, Environment and Cultural Services) submitting the Plan for approval.

 

(1)        The Decision Taken

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the Now Housing Limited Business Plan 2019-25 be approved.

 

(2)        Reasons for the Decision

 

The Business Plan set out how Now Housing would deliver more homes for local people to meet identified need for an intermediate housing product, not currently being provided.  This would complement the Council’s Housing Revenue Account affordable homes programme and help to achieve its corporate objectives to contribute to the successful implementation of the related Council strategies for Housing, Homelessness and Rough Sleeping and Housing Delivery.

 

The overall business plan target was 372 homes over the life of the plan and this would require investment of £77M, based on the assumptions set out in the plan.  The funding would be borrowed from the Council, with the benefit of generating income to the Council’s General Fund as a result.

 

In producing the business plan the Council had consulted with experts in the housing law and finance fields and this included identifying the associated risks and putting in place controls to mitigate them.

 

(Note:  The Corporate Director (Housing and Communities) declared an interest in this item – Minute 51 refers).

52b

Draft Housing Delivery Strategy (Forward Plan Reference FP932) pdf icon PDF 130 KB

Report of the Corporate Director (Housing and Communities) introducing the draft Strategy for approval.

Additional documents:

Decision:

(1)     The Housing Delivery Strategy 2019 – 2025 was approved.

 

(2)     Delegated authority was given to the Director (Housing and Communities), in consultation with the Executive Member (Housing and Community), to make any minor changes to the Strategy.

 

(3)     The Cabinet noted that housing development updates would be provided to the Cabinet Housing Panel on a six monthly basis.

Minutes:

Report of the Corporate Director (Housing and Communities) introducing the draft Strategy 2019 - 2025 for approval.

 

(1)        The Decision Taken

 

RESOLVED:

 

(1)     That the Housing Delivery Strategy 2019 – 2025 be approved.

 

(2)     That delegated authority be given to the Director (Housing and Communities), in consultation with the Executive Member (Housing and Community), to make any minor changes to the Strategy.

 

(3)     That the Cabinet notes that housing development updates would be provided to the Cabinet Housing Panel on a six monthly basis.

 

(2)        Reasons for the Decision

 

The Housing Delivery Strategy set out the Council’s plans for contributing directly to increasing the supply of much-needed affordable housing in the Borough, helping to meet the strategic vision for housing.

 

The Strategy created a new framework for facilitating the direct provision of additional housing in the Borough by the Council, including a process for identifying how homes would be delivered, for example, through the Local Housing Company or via the Housing Revenue Account.

52c

Domestic Abuse Policy (Forward Plan Reference FP938) pdf icon PDF 72 KB

Recommendation from the meeting of the Social Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 4 September 2019 on the adoption of an updated Domestic Abuse Policy.

 

Note: Report attached.  Click link below item 10 for the Appendixes:-

 

Social Overview and Scrutiny Committee Agenda Pack – 4 September 2019

https://democracy.welhat.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=155&MId=1006

Additional documents:

Decision:

The Domestic Abuse Policy, as updated and recommended by the Social Overview and Scrutiny Committee, was adopted.

Minutes:

Recommendation from the meeting of the Social Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 4 September 2019 on the adoption of an updated Domestic Abuse Policy.

 

(1)        The Decision Taken

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the Domestic Abuse Policy, as updated and recommended by the Social Overview and Scrutiny Committee, be adopted.

 

(2)        Reasons for the Decision

 

The current Domestic Abuse Policy was adopted by Welwyn Hatfield Community Housing Trust in December 2015.

 

Following the re-integration of the former Trust in February 2017 and changes in legislation and practice since the previous policy was approved, a full review and update of the current policy had been carried out.

 

The updated draft Domestic Abuse Policy defined the Council’s objective to provide a consistent and supportive response to all those who experienced domestic abuse either directly or indirectly.

 

The Government’s homelessness code of guidance for local authorities recommended that housing authorities should have policies in place to identify and respond to domestic abuse. Section 177(1) of the Housing Act 1996, the Homelessness Act 2002 and the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 placed a duty on the Council to assist those who were homeless or threatened with homelessness due to domestic abuse or other violence.

 

Perpetrating domestic abuse was a crime as well as a breach of tenancy. The Council had tools and powers to deal with perpetrators of domestic abuse under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 as well as the ability to commence civil proceedings in respect of the tenancy.

53.

ITEM REQUIRING KEY DECISION NOT IN THE FORWARD PLAN

To consider the following item for decision not in the current Forward Plan:-

Minutes:

The following item for decision not in the current Forward Plan was considered:-

53a

Business Rates Pooling pdf icon PDF 117 KB

Report of the Corporate Director (Resources, Environment and Cultural Services) seeking delegated authority to enter into a business rates pooling arrangement with other authorities in Hertfordshire, if there is a financial case for doing so.

 

(Note: The Chairman of the Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committee has been given notice that it was impracticable to comply with the requirement that at least twenty eight days notice must be given of the intention to make a key decision on the Forward Plan in accordance with Regulation 10 of the Local Authorities (Executive Arrangements) (Meetings and Access to Information) (England) Regulations 2012 because it was urgent and could not reasonably be deferred for the reason specified).

 

(1)     The reason for this item is to enable a business rates pooling arrangement to be entered into if there was a financial case for doing so.

Decision:

Delegated authority was given to the Corporate Director (Resources, Environment and Cultural Services), in consultation with the Executive Member (Resources), to submit an application for the 2020/21 Business Rates Pooling arrangement for Hertfordshire, if after full consideration, there was a financial case for doing so.

Minutes:

Report of the Corporate Director (Resources, Environment and Cultural Services) seeking delegated authority to enter into a business rates pooling arrangement with other authorities in Hertfordshire, if there was a financial case for doing so.

 

(1)        The Decision Taken

 

RESOLVED:

 

That delegated authority be given to the Corporate Director (Resources, Environment and Cultural Services), in consultation with the Executive Member (Resources), to submit an application for the 2020/21 business rates pooling arrangement for Hertfordshire, if after full consideration, there was a financial case for doing so.

 

(2)        Reasons for the Decision

 

All Hertfordshire authorities were currently in a business rates pilot area for 2019/20 and the Government had recently confirmed that it would not invite applications for a further round of pilots in 2020-21.  However, local authorities would be able to form a business rates pool for 2020/21.

 

Under the current business rates retention system, District Councils were able to retain 20% of growth above the business rates baseline and the advantage of entering into a business rates pooling arrangement was that it allowed 50% of the business rates growth to be retained in the pooling area.  As previously agreed by all Hertfordshire authorities, a business rates pooling arrangement should be based on the combination of authorities that gave the greatest potential pooling gain and it was therefore not guaranteed that the Borough Council would be selected into the pool.

 

The business rates pooling application was currently being worked through the Hertfordshire Chief Finance Officer group and would need to be signed off and submitted by all S151 Officers of the prospective pool authorities by 25 October 2019.  Given the short timescale, it was therefore necessary to seek delegated authority to agree that the Council enter into a business rates pooling scheme for 2020/21.

 

(Note: The Chairman of the Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committee had been given notice that it was impracticable to comply with the requirement that at least twenty eight days notice must be given of the intention to make a key decision on the Forward Plan in accordance with Regulation 10 of the Local Authorities (Executive Arrangements) (Meetings and Access to Information) (England) Regulations 2012 because it was urgent and could not reasonably be deferred for the reason specified).

 

(1)     The reason for this item was to enable a business rates pooling arrangement to be entered into if there was a financial case for doing so.

54.

VULNERABLE REFUGEE RESETTLEMENT SCHEME pdf icon PDF 243 KB

Report of the Corporate Director (Housing and Communities) giving an update and seeking endorsement of the Council’s continued involvement and assistance in the current and future schemes.

Decision:

(1)     The Cabinet noted that the Council had resettled three families (16 people) through the Syrian Vulnerable Person’s Relocation Scheme.

 

(2)     The Cabinet committed to take part in the Global resettlement scheme and endorsed the proposal to resettle a small number of further families via the scheme, in cases where there were established links with existing families.

Minutes:

Report of the Corporate Director (Housing and Communities) giving an update and seeking endorsement of the Council’s continued involvement and assistance in the current and future schemes.

 

In September 2015 the Prime Minister announced that the Government was increasing its commitment to the resettlement of Syrian refugees.

 

In April 2016 the Cabinet had agreed that the Council should participate in the Syrian vulnerable persons’ relocation scheme with an initial target to resettle up to ten Syrian refugees in the Borough.

 

In anticipation of the conclusion of three large settlement schemes in 2020, the Home Office had recently published a statement in relation to its on-going committee to resettle vulnerable refugees and its plans to consolidate its largest schemes into one global resettlement scheme.

 

RESOLVED:

 

(1)       That the Cabinet notes that the Council had resettled three families (16 people) through the Syrian Vulnerable Person’s Relocation Scheme.

 

(2)       That the Cabinet commits to take part in the Global resettlement scheme and endorses the proposal to resettle a small number of further families via the scheme, in cases where there were established links with existing families.

55.

REVIEW OF THE HATFIELD COMMUNITY SPORT FUND pdf icon PDF 482 KB

Report of the Corporate Director (Housing and Communities) on a review of the purpose of the fund and the split of that funding.

Decision:

(1)     The Cabinet recommended to the Hatfield Community Sports Fund Board that no further applications or allocation of the Fund be considered or made whilst a review of the Fund takes place, save that any current funding applications up to the date of the Cabinet meeting that were in the process of being reviewed, be allocated as deemed appropriate by the Board.

 

(2)     The Cabinet agreed that this review would include meeting with the current Board member organisations as well as associated partners, which included the University of Hertfordshire, Sport England, the Rugby Football Union and Football Association. 

 

(3)     The Cabinet agreed that the review would focus on the purpose of the fund, how the fund was allocated and the split between football, rugby and community sport.

 

(4)     The Cabinet agreed that the review of the Fund would not include any changes to the geographical area of the Fund.

 

(5)     The Cabinet agreed that on the conclusion of the review a further report would be brought to the Cabinet to make recommendations on the future operation of the Fund.

Minutes:

Report of the Corporate Director (Housing and Communities) on a review of the purpose of the fund and the split of that funding.

 

In 2016 it was agreed that the University of Hertfordshire would contribute £1.4M to a fund managed by the Council on behalf of the newly formed Hatfield Community Sports Fund with the Board being overseen by the Local Strategic Partnership (Welwyn Hatfield Alliance).

 

A proportion of the fund had been ring-fenced specifically for football and also for rugby, with the remaining funds being made available, via a grants system administered by the Board, to the wider sporting community of Hatfield.

 

Since the formation of the fund, there had not been any allocation from the ring fenced funds and only a limited amount of funds had been allocated from the general pot.

 

At its meeting on 4 September 2019, the Board requested that consideration be given to how the fund could be focussed on projects which would deliver a legacy/long term structural benefit to the community rather than short term projects, initiatives and events.

 

Additionally the Board wanted to agree on a way to improve recording the tangible outcomes of funded projects and how these were reported.

 

The Council was currently in the process of completing a sports facilities strategy which might affect where funds could/should be allocated. As such it now seemed timely to review the purpose of the fund, how the funds were allocated and the split of that funding.

 

RESOLVED:

 

(1)       That the Cabinet recommends to the Hatfield Community Sports Fund Board that no further applications or allocation of the Fund be considered or made whilst a review of the fund took place, save that any current funding applications (up to the date of this meeting) that were in the process of being reviewed, be allocated as deemed appropriate by the Board.

 

(2)       That the Cabinet agrees that this review would include meeting with the current Board member organisations as well as associated partners, which included the University of Hertfordshire, Sport England, the Rugby Football Union and the Football Association. 

 

(3)       That the Cabinet agrees that the review would focus on the purpose of the fund, how the funds were allocated and the split between football, rugby and community sport.

 

(4)       That the Cabinet agrees that the review of the fund would not include any changes to the geographical area of where the fund could be spent as set out in the report to the Council’s Development Management Committee in February 2016 and as in Appendix One to the report of the Corporate Director (Housing and Communities).

 

(5)       That the Cabinet agrees that on the conclusion of the review a further report would be brought to the Cabinet to make recommendations on the future operation of the fund.

 

(Note:  Councillor S.Boulton declared an interest in this item – Minute 51 refers).

56.

HERTFORDSHIRE LOCAL ENTERPRISE PARTNERSHIP (HERTS LEP) LOCAL INDUSTRIAL STRATEGY DRAFT FOR CONSULTATION pdf icon PDF 142 KB

Report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) on consultation on the draft Strategy.

Decision:

The Strategy was noted and the Head of Planning was authorised in consultation with the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) and the Executive Member (Environment and Planning) and the Executive Member (Regeneration, Economic, Development and Partnerships), to respond to the consultation.

Minutes:

Report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) on consultation on a Strategy to help deliver national ambitions to improve productivity and tackle future challenges.

 

The Strategy identified key challenges, notably that productivity had grown more slowly and declined relative to the UK average, the key sectors that the local economy relied on such as life sciences, advanced engineering and manufacturing, construction and media and that Welwyn Garden City and Hatfield had infrastructure deprivation and cultural challenges, but with scope to be reinvigorated for the 21st century.

 

The Strategy also identified major future trends such as digitalisation, climate change, ageing population, personalised medicine and transport as a service and an overarching theme and six strategic themes to help guide the future of the County. It envisaged two possible scenarios one in which Hertfordshire fulfilled its potential within the London-Oxford-Cambridge golden triangle and one in which it helped to facilitate London’s growth.

 

It was recommended that the Council should comment that Welwyn Hatfield was exceptionally well placed to contribute to economic aspirations, that an aspirational scenario to fulfil potential within the golden triangle, rather than remaining subservient to whatever happened in London, be supported as Hertfordshire had an opportunity to take itself in an ambitious direction with benefits shared by all and that the Strategy contained too many visions and themes, but not enough about how it was going to be achieved, how businesses were going to be attracted/ retained and how skills were going to be improved and funding invested etc.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the Strategy be noted and the Head of Planning in consultation with the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) and the Executive Member (Environment and Planning) and the Executive Member (Regeneration, Economic, Development and Partnerships), be authorised to respond to the consultation.