Agenda and minutes

Council
Tuesday 7th January 2020 7.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Campus East, Welwyn Garden City, Herts, AL8 6AE. View directions

Contact: Graham Seal 

Items
No. Item

30.

MINUTES

To confirm as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting held on 26 September 2019 (previously circulated).

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting held on 26 September 2019 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Mayor.

31.

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

32.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

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

32a

Charity Banquet and Ball

Minutes:

The Mayor reminded the Council that his Charity Banquet and Ball would be held at The Old Palace, Hatfield House on Saturday 1 February at 6.00pm for 7.00pm.

 

Tickets priced at £70.00 could be purchased by BACS transfer or credit or debit card payment via the Council’s website.

 

The Mayor hoped that Members would be able to join him.

 

All proceeds from the evening would go to his Charity Appeal, Potential Kids.

32b

Quiz Night

Minutes:

The Mayor’s quiz night would take place on Friday 6 March at 7.00pm at Campus West with teams of up to eight persons.

 

Tickets were £12.00 per person including a hot meal and were available from the Mayor’s Office.

33.

QUESTIONS BY MEMBERS pdf icon PDF 72 KB

For a period of up to thirty minutes, a Member of the Council who has given prior notice in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 15, 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.

 

The questions received for this meeting are attached.  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.

33a

Question to the Leader from Councillor Steven Markiewicz

Minutes:

“You have established a housing company separate to the Council, what advantages do you see for the people of Welwyn Hatfield as a result.”

 

Answer

 

The Leader asked Councillor N.Pace (Executive Member, Housing and Community) to answer :-

 

“Thank you for your question,

 

Now Housing Limited has been set up by the council with the aim of providing much-needed affordable housing across the Borough.

 

We have identified that there is a great demand for additional housing to meet the needs of low to middle income families who are unable to access a suitable home in the private sector.  This group are at risk of homelessness and their family life is disrupted when being forced to move from one property to another when private tenancies come to an end.  Whilst some of these households may be on the housing needs register for a social rented home, they are competing with other applicants with high levels of vulnerability and as such they often have no realistic chance of being offered a council or housing association home.

 

The council’s research has found that their housing needs can be met by an intermediate housing product, with rents reflecting local income levels and local housing allowance rates.

 

Whilst the council has an active delivery programme to provide more social rented homes, it cannot, by law, provide intermediate tenancies through the Housing Revenue Account. 

 

Rather than rely on the private market or housing associations to provide exactly the right type of homes at the right price, the council has set up a company which is wholly accountable to the council but which operates outside of the restrictions imposed on the council. 

 

In this way Now Housing will complement the council’s provision of social rented homes which it delivers through its Housing Revenue Account.

 

Now Housing has a target is to provide 372 homes over the next 5 years, providing innovative solutions to support the council’s housing objectives. This could include building new homes, acquisitions from local developments, purchase of individual homes and through partnerships with other landlords and developers.

 

In summary, to complement the work that the council is doing to increase the supply of social rented homes, Now Housing Limited will seek to address the need for sub market housing in around Hatfield and Welwyn Garden City, mainly focusing on one and two bedroom properties.

 

I hope this answer satisfactorily addresses your question?”

 

Councillor Markiewicz in a supplementary question asked if this meant that we can decide emergency needs and use pump priming funds to meet them with this innovative idea and in reply, Councillor Pace said that yes we can do that.

33b

Question to the Leader from Councillor Glyn Hayes

Minutes:

“What is the Leader’s opinion on Members asking questions at full Council meetings, simply to elicit answers that are no more than announcements that could easily be made in the relevant agenda item and not take up valuable time open to those with genuine questions for he and his colleagues?”

 

Answer

 

“Thank you for your question.

 

Coincidently we often have had council meetings with a large number of questions. Tonight at least seems to be an exception, with only 2, and one of those being a question on the questions!

 

I’m sure we all appreciate the time allowed for questions on the council meeting agenda. It gives time for any member, including mine, to speak and raise something of interest or concern. Whilst I understand your point, it is also important that members of my group get a chance to ask questions or express a desire to highlight one of the many positive things we are doing as a council.

 

In terms of taking up valuable time, it is also often true that other members ask questions that could have been dealt with outside of the meeting either with officers, the relevant cabinet member directly, myself or raised at the relevant committee.

 

We also regularly get motions on topics outside of this council’s control or that are more suited to be discussed more fully at the relevant committee.

 

Adding to you point about time, we do have a 30 minute total time limit on questions in our constitution and it’s there for a very good reason.  30 minutes is enough to allow valid questions to be raised and answered, but discourages time wasting. If we are all sensible with questions, then we can avoid using points of order to extend this, unless there is an exceptionally good reason to.

 

I am, however, happy to take on board your comment and consider more items being covered in announcements, but without discouraging my members from asking questions if they really want to.

 

In the spirit of collaboration and compromise, maybe we can all consider the appropriateness of questions and motions so we can use the valuable time to concentrate on what we can actually do and what is best for the residents of this Borough.”

34.

MATTERS ARISING FROM THE CABINET

To consider recommendations from the meeting of the Cabinet on 5 November 2019:-

Minutes:

The Council considered recommendations from the meeting of the Cabinet on 5 November 2019:-

34a

Localised Council Tax Support Scheme 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 85 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet considered the continuation of the Council’s localised council tax support scheme into 2020/21.

 

The scheme fully protected pensioners and families with children under five years of age as well as certain other vulnerable claimants. For others, the assessed entitlement was calculated on 75% of the council tax bill.

 

Consultation had taken place with Hertfordshire County Council and the Hertfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner on the intention to continue with the same scheme and both bodies had responded in agreement.

 

The cost of the scheme was met through the collection fund, through a reduction of the tax base. Based on the latest information, the cost of the scheme for 2019/20 was likely to be £7M across all preceptors and this was forecast to continue at a similar level for 2020/21.

 

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

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the localised council tax support scheme continue in 2020/21 to help people on low/no income to receive a reduction on their council tax be adopted.

34b

Duty of Care Enforcement for Fly-Tipping pdf icon PDF 73 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet considered a recommendation from the meeting of the Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 23 September 2019 on the introduction of fixed penalty notices to allow individuals to discharge liability for the duty of care offence related to household waste by payment of a fixed penalty notice (FPN).

 

At present, the only options available to the Environment team when a breach of duty of care occurred was to prosecute, issue a simple caution or take no action. The introduction of an FPN would allow Officers to deal effectively with breaches and send out a stronger message than the current system allowed.

 

The Duty of Care FPN would be issued by current Authorised Officers (Community and Environment Officers and Street Wardens).

 

It was moved and seconded by Councillors S.Boulton and T.Kingsbury and

 

RESOLVED:

 

(1)     That the level of fine should be set at £300, reduced to £200 for early resolution (if paid within ten days).

 

(2)     That the existing level of FPN for fly tipping offences should be amended to £300, reduced to £200 (currently £180) for early resolution (if paid within ten days) to ensure that the FPN that could be issued for fly tipping was consistent with the FPN for duty of care breaches and was in line with other Authorities in Hertfordshire which had introduced the fixed penalty notice.

34c

Service Standards for Regulatory Work pdf icon PDF 91 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet considered a recommendation from the meeting of the Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 23 September 2019 on the adoption of revised service standards for regulatory work.

 

The standards were originally adopted in 2014 and linked with the Council’s corporate enforcement policy and the central government Regulators Code. In view of the production of the new corporate customer service strategy, it was timely to produce a revised set of standards.

 

The Cabinet noted the comments received from the recent consultation.

 

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

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the revised regulatory service standards be adopted.

35.

MATTER ARISING FROM COMMITTEE

To consider a recommendation from the meeting of the Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 23 September 2019:-

Minutes:

The Council considered recommendations from the meeting of the Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 23 September 2019:-

35a

Licensing Policy pdf icon PDF 99 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet considered the results of the consultation on the revised Licensing Policy and proposed changes as discussed at the meeting of the Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 23 September 2019.

 

Under the Licensing Act 2003 the Council was required to revise and consult on its Licensing Policy and two responses had been received.

 

The first was from the British Beer and Pub Association which requested a few clarifications and additions. The second was from the Fire Protection service relating to changes in their contact details and one typographical error which subsequently was corrected.

 

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

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the revised Licensing Policy be approved.

36.

NOTICES OF MOTIONS pdf icon PDF 110 KB

To consider notices of motions submitted under Procedure Rule 16 in such order as the Mayor shall direct.  The motions received for this meeting are attached.

Minutes:

The Council considered the following notices of motions submitted under Procedure Rule 16:-

36a

The following motion had been submitted by Councillor M.Cowan and was seconded by Councillor H.Quenet:-

Minutes:

The Council consented to Councillor Cowan altering his motion by replacing “require” with “encourage” in the first part and deleting “for public display” in the last part.

 

“This Council resolves:-

 

    to encourage require all public firework displays within the local authority boundaries to be advertised in advance of the event, allowing residents to take precautions for their animals and vulnerable people

    to actively promote a public awareness campaign about the impact of fireworks on animal welfare and vulnerable people–including the precautions that can be taken to mitigate risks

    to write to the UK Government urging them to introduce legislation to limit the maximum noise level of fireworks to 90dB for those sold to the public for private displays

    to encourage local suppliers of fireworks to stock ‘quieter’ fireworks.” for public display.

 

On being put to the meeting there voted:-

 

FOR the Motion – 36

AGAINST the Motion – 9

ABSTENTIONS – 3

 

And the Motion was declared CARRIED.

36b

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

Minutes:

“This Council notes that in November 2018, on the issue of Rail Fare increases, Welwyn Hatfield’s MP said “Given this year’s lamentable performance there’s never been a more appropriate time to freeze fares.

 

For the year ahead I think that passengers should be given a much-needed break from higher prices, in recognition of being so badly let down by the railway over the past few months.”

 

This Council notes that regardless, in January 2019, fares increased by 3.1%.

 

A survey conducted by Which? Magazine asked commuters to rate the quality of rail franchisees. Great Northern and Thameslink both scored in the bottom 5.

 

According to figures from Great Northern themselves, customer satisfaction has not risen at all between spring 2018 and spring 2019, their latest published figures.

 

This Council notes that despite this, at the start of this year, rail fares have risen again - on average by a further 2.7%.

 

This Council resolves to write to the Minister for Transport, Welwyn Hatfield’s MP, expressing our concern that rail fares have again risen for Welwyn Hatfield commuters, without them seeing significant improvement on “lamentable performance” - and encourages him to act to improve the performance of franchise companies, rather than using his position to threaten the working rights of their staff.”

 

On being put to the meeting there voted:-

 

FOR the Motion – 25

AGAINST the Motion –22

ABSTENTIONS – 1

 

And the Motion was declared CARRIED.

36c

The following motion had been submitted by Councillor P.Zukowskyj and was seconded by Councillor S.Elam:-

Minutes:

“This council is concerned by the number of complaints received by members, about the level of maintenance of the council's housing stock.

 

As this council's most valuable asset, not to mention the welfare of the residents who call them home, the level and nature of the complaints raises serious concerns.

 

This council therefore asks the executive member, in consultation with officers, to bring forward proposals to council to firstly identify areas of concern, and then to address them.”

 

FOR the Motion – 25

AGAINST the Motion –22

ABSTENTIONS – 1

 

And the Motion was declared CARRIED.

37.

MEMBERS' ALLOWANCES SCHEME pdf icon PDF 109 KB

Report of the Chief Executive on the review of Members’ allowances for 2019/20.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report of the Chief Executive on the review of Members’ allowances for 2019/20 considering the recommendations of the Independent Remuneration Panel at its meeting on the 4 November 2019.

 

The Panel recommended that levels of allowances increase in line with the national agreement for staff (an increase of 2%).

 

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

 

RESOLVED:

 

(1)     That the Council accepts the recommendation of the Independent Remuneration Panel and approves the proposed level of Members’ Basic and Special Responsibility Allowances including changes to the calculation of these for the Opposition Group Leaders, as set out in Appendix C, to the Chief Executive’s report payable with effect from 1 July 2019.

 

(2)     That the Council accepts the recommendation of the Independent Remuneration Panel and approves the proposed increase to Care Allowance Payments.

 

(3)     That the Council accepts the recommendation that Officers carry out a full review of all Special Responsibility Allowances for the financial year 2020/21.

 

(4)     That the Council notes that a recruitment process would be commenced for the appointment of new members to the Independent Remuneration Panel.

38.

REVIEW OF POLLING DISTRICTS, POLLING PLACES AND POLLING STATIONS pdf icon PDF 276 KB

Report of the Chief Executive and Acting Returning Officer on a review of Polling Districts, Polling Places and Polling Stations.

Minutes:

Report of the Chief Executive and Acting Returning Officer on a review of Polling Districts, Polling Places and Polling Stations.

 

For electoral purposes, the Council was required to divide each parliamentary constituency in the area into polling districts for parliamentary elections and to designate polling places for each of those polling districts.  Under the Representation of the People Act 1983, all Polling Districts, Places and Stations should be reviewed on a regular basis.

 

The Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013 introduced a change to the timing of the review of polling arrangements and required that the next review must be started and completed between 1 October 2018 and 31 January 2020 (inclusive) and every five years thereafter.

 

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

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the Council notes the small number of responses received to the consultation and agrees, in the light of these, to make minor amendments to the current arrangements for polling districts, places and polling stations as detailed in the Appendix to the report.