Agenda and minutes

Council
Wednesday 16th December, 2020 7.00 pm

Venue: Online meeting - Zoom

Contact: Rebecca Dobson  Tel: (01279) 502174 Email:  peter.mannings@eastherts.gov.uk

Link: The livestream for this meeting can be viewed here

Media

Items
No. Item

294.

Chairman's Announcements

To receive any Chairman’s announcements.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chairman said that the Local Authorities and Police and Crime Panels (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority and Police and Crime Panel Meetings) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020 came into force on Saturday 4 April 2020 to enable councils to hold remote committee meetings during the COVID-19 pandemic period. This was to ensure local authorities could conduct business during this current public health emergency.  This meeting of Council was being held remotely under these regulations, via the Zoom application and was being recorded and live streamed on YouTube.

 

The Chairman welcome the Rev’d Ysmena Pentelow from St Mary’s Church in Ware. The Rev’d Pentelow thanked the Chairman for inviting her to address Members. She shared some personal reflections on the year and the religious celebrations of Hanukkah as celebrated by a friend. She mentioned the light that did not go out and talked about the celebration of advent in Christian Churches. The Rev’d Pentelow talked about images of light and the hope that light kindled and she led Members in an adapted prayer.

 

The Chairman welcomed those attending the meeting online and those observing the livestream.  He reminded Members that voting would be via the green tick or red cross voting tools within the online software and he asked whether there were any Members who were attending by telephone. The Democratic Services Officer confirmed that there were no Members participating by phone.

 

The Chairman said that guests were welcome to stay or to leave the meeting but should turn their camera off if they were staying online. Members and Officers were reminded to mute all microphones during the course of the meeting.

 

The Chairman introduced and welcomed Barbara Doherty to Members and thanked Members for following the festive tradition of wearing seasonal jumpers, ties and hats. He mentioned the involvement of Members with the Isabel Hospice and said that this had been a tough year as the hospice had been unable to hold fundraising events.

 

The Chairman drew attention to an email sent by his PA regarding donations to the hospice. Barbara Doherty, president of Isabel Hospice, addressed the Council meeting and gave an update on the work of the Hospice. She thanked the Chairman for the invite and set a context by setting out the financial position of the hospice in 2020. She said the hospice had been set for a good year before COVID-19 affected everybody. She said that the living well centres (day hospices) had all been closed down in March.

 

Members were advised that the hospice specialist nurses had to work virtually which was very challenging for them. The inpatient unit had stayed open and 6 beds were let to the NHS and the hospice took in some COVID-19 patients. Barbara Doherty detailed the ways the hospice had adapted its operations and she summarised a number of ways the hospice had assisted people during the pandemic. She said that the most important thing was that the Isabel Hospice in patient unit had been kept up and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 294.

295.

Apologies for Absence

To receive any Members’ apologies for absence.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Newton, Rowley and Symonds. Upon taking a roll call of Members, it was established that Councillor Ranger was absent.

296.

Minutes - 21 October 2020 pdf icon PDF 317 KB

To approve as a correct record and authorise the Chairman to sign the Minutes of the Council meeting held on 21 October 2020.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Haysey proposed, and Councillor Goodeve seconded, a motion that the Minutes of the meeting held on 21 October 2020 be confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman, subject to the deletion of duplicate narrative in minute 197 regarding public questions.

 

After being put to the meeting and a vote taken, this motion was declared CARRIED.

 

RESOLVED – that the Minutes of the meeting held on 21 October 2020 be confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman, subject to the deletion of duplicate narrative in minute 197 regarding public questions.

297.

Declarations of Interest

To receive any Members' declarations of interest.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

298.

Petitions pdf icon PDF 31 KB

To receive any petitions.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chairman said that a petition, relating to the development generally known as Old River Lane (ORL), had been received from Change.org. Members were reminded that the lead petitioners were permitted to address the Council for up to three minutes, after which the relevant Executive Member will respond to the petition. There was no provision for any general debate by Members, but local Ward Members may also speak on the subject of the petition if they wished to do so.

 

The Chairman invited the lead petitioner, Mr Calvin Horner, to present the e-petition relating to the development generally known as Old River Lane (ORL). Mr Horner, on behalf of the signatories to the e-petition, addressed the Council meeting. He summarised the reasons for submitting the e-petition and said that this called upon East Hertfordshire District Council to:

 

1)                    Halt the development generally known as Old River Lane (ORL), and

2)                    Publish the business case for ORL, and

3)                    Organise a Full Public Consultation, to be run over several weeks, with the Residents and Businesses in Bishop’s Stortford, in order to ascertain the community’s views on the whole ORL scheme.

 

Councillor Williamson, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Financial Sustainability thanked Mr Horner for submitting the e-petition and for addressing the Council meeting. He acknowledged receipt of the e-petition and said that elements of the Old River Lane scheme would come before the Council at a meeting on the 13 January 2021 and a full business case would be considered in March. He stated that a substantial amount of public consultation had already taken place and further consultation would be taking place at the master planning stage.

 

Councillor Goldspink, as one of the local ward Members, addressed the Council meeting on the basis that she fully supported this e-petition. She said that she realised that the first two elements of the e-petition had already been answered in that the plans for the site had now been halted and the 500 seat theatre would not now be built.

 

Councillor Goldspink spoke in support of the third element of the petition for a full public consultation in that there was now a golden opportunity to use the Old River Lane site in such a way as to bring great benefit to the whole town and to do something really good for the community.

 

Councillor Goldspink requested that the Executive permit at least five Councillors from across the political spectrum to be involved in designing the consultation and in the framing of any questions, which should be open ended for the contribution of many different and imaginative ideas.

299.

Public Questions pdf icon PDF 45 KB

To receive any public questions.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chairman invited David Royle to ask his question.

 

David Royle asked the Executive Member for Planning and Growth the following question:

 

“Several major housing developments have been approved and are now being built. Both physical quality and the energy performance of the schemes clearly require careful monitoring. This would ensure compliance with planning conditions and statements of intent forming part of the planning permission documentation.There are two separate but overlapping fields of monitoring:

 

1.                     Planning permission monitoring: to check developers are complying with the approved drawings and conditions.

2.                     Building Control monitoring: to check whether energy efficiency targets are exceeding Building Regulations Part L.”

 

“Could you please clarify what arrangements are in place for:

 

·                          Early and regular monitoring of the build-out of new homes against the permissions granted, in order to provide assurance on the delivered design, quality and energy sources of housing in new developments, and to impose any necessary enforcement steps in good time to influence the rest of the development.

·                          Building Control service monitoring compliance with stated energy performance targets.”

 

Councillor J Goodeve responded as follows:

 

“As indicated in the question, there are several major developments that have been consented and are currently under construction. These developments must be constructed according to the consented plans that have been submitted to the Planning Service and any Building Control Service supplier respectively. The duty for ensuring that development undertaken complies fully with what has been consented ultimately rests with the developer; this includes ensuring that details relating to any planning conditions have been submitted on time and are fully adhered to.”

 

“In order to assist with the monitoring of development, the Planning Service has, through the use of planning conditions sought to control some aspects of construction work that does not involve the use of personnel. For instance, conditions have been imposed that require a developer to build a sample board of the elevations of the structure on site and once this has been approved, it is to be maintained on site so that it can be compared to what has been constructed.”

 

“In addition to this, there is a Compliance Officer resource within the planning service in order to assist with the monitoring of developments on the ground as they are built out and options to extend this are currently being considered.”

 

“Planning conditions regarding energy/sustainability matters are normally submitted to the Planning Service for approval and once approved it is expected that they will be implemented as consented. There is an overlap with Building Regulations on this matter as the Building Control Officers will supervise the implementation of these measures including testing and finally approving their installation with the appropriate certification. However, in the case of a scheme whereby the Planning Service has agreed a scheme that exceeds Approved Document Part L, it would be expected that this is the plan that the developer is working to in their submission to Building Control.  Developers can select which Building Control Service they use  ...  view the full minutes text for item 299.

300.

Members' questions pdf icon PDF 120 KB

To receive any Members' questions.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Crystall asked the Executive Member for Environmental Sustainability the following question.

 

“More than a year after declaring a climate motion, East Herts Council still has no visible message on its website giving residents advice on measures they can adopt to reduce their carbon footprint.”

 

“Given that East Herts Council plays a leading role as influencer in the district, and the fact that adding a page of guidance on the council website would have minimal cost implications, isn’t the Executive Member for Environmental Sustainability concerned that East Herts Council is missing out a simple but crucial step in providing its residents with actionable guidance on cutting their own, and the district’s, carbon emissions?”

 

Councillor G McAndrew responded as follows:

 

“Can I thank Councillor Crystall for advanced warning of his question.

 

“East Herts Council recognises the important role it can play as a purveyor of trusted, impartial information on environmental sustainability which can help residents to reduce their own carbon footprints. The Council’s website has in fact carried a wealth of information for some time although the problem, as highlighted by Cllr Crystall’s question, has been that the information has not been as easy to find as it should be.”

 

“I am therefore very pleased to announce that today, the council has launched a totally updated Environmental Sustainability webpage which links together all the Council’s existing and additional information. It is now far easier to access practical guidance on the steps residents can take to reduce their carbon footprints, including advice on home insulation, tips on maximising home energy efficiency, how to access national and local grants and the ways to get involved with the council’s sustainability work. The page can be found on www.eastherts.gov.uk/sustainability

 

“This is just the start. We have recently employed a Sustainability Projects and Policy Officer for six months and, having revamped our website, she will now be improving our overall communications on sustainability issues.”

 

“Given the Council’s leading role as an influencer, we must think carefully about promoting any particular service providers or signposting to other parties’ personal or business carbon footprint calculators. We are aware, however, that some other Councils are providing this kind of useful information and so our new Officer has already started identifying the options for plugging any obvious gaps on our website.“

 

“We believe that upgrading and publicising our website will help strengthen the ways East Herts Council can support local residents to take the necessary steps to reduce the overall carbon footprint of our District. My thanks for the question which has allowed me to promote the new page.”

 

Councillor Crystall thanked Councillor McAndrew and asked as a supplemental question, thank you very much for the answer and I am delighted that the page has been put up, that’s great news. Next May, Her Majesty the Queen is launching the Queen’s green canopy project, which is a nationwide tree planting programme to celebrate her 70 years in service. I wonder whether you think it might be possible to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 300.

301.

Executive Report - 24 November 2020 pdf icon PDF 80 KB

To receive a report from the Leader of the Council and to consider recommendations on the matters below:

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Leader shared a number of personal reflections on the end of the year and in particular on the last 8 months. She mentioned a much greater interaction in meetings compared to those being held under the arrangements in place during normal activities. The Leader said that the personal interaction between professional human beings had been missed and COVID-19 had produced some good community work. She thanked Officers for the extraordinary things that they had had to do in the last 8 months and said that she hoped that things could soon be getting back to what used to be considered normal.

 

Finally, the Leader congratulated Councillor Corpe on just becoming a father. Members congratulated Councillor Corpe. The Leader presented a report setting out recommendations to the Council made by the Executive at its meeting on 24 November 2020. Minutes 296, 297, 298, 299, 300 and 301 referred to the six items on which recommendations were made.

302.

Sustainable Travel Town Bids

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Executive Member for Environmental Sustainability presented the two recommendations, which were referred to in the Executive report of 24 November 2020, regarding Sustainable Travel Town Bids. 

 

Councillor Bell said that she supported the idea behind these proposals and she had some reservations coming from a more rural community where public transport made accessing towns by any means other than a car quite difficult. She said that in general this report went some way towards making East Herts a more carbon neutral community by reducing pollution on the road network.

 

Councillor Goldspink stated that she found this proposition difficult for several reasons. She supported the idea of a sustainable travel town and said that the County Council’s picture of a town in which everyone walked, cycled or used public transport was a most attractive picture. She said however that there were some flaws in the detailed plans as there was no mention of how public transport would be provided and there was no allocated budget.

 

Councillor Goldspink said that the criteria for becoming a sustainable travel town contained some drastic changes to the planning requirements such as high density housing with no parking spaces or at the very least with reduced parking standards. She said that she could not support these recommendations and with regret would be voting against them as she was not content with it being made impossible for people to own cars due to there being nowhere to park.

 

Councillor Crystall defended the idea of the sustainable travel town programme. He said that the proposals had to be considered as a whole as they did include improved bus and train services, bus priority infrastructure, improved cycle and pedestrian access and park and ride. He said that if these elements were taken together and were implemented on a long terms basis, it might be possible to arrive at a point in a couple of years where free parking in towns and parking on developments could be reduced.

 

Councillor Wilson said that he praised the general direction of Hertfordshire County Council and East Herts Council. He stated that he was supportive of modal shift and sustainable transport. He talked about the context of the proposals and said that the most important things were incentives and investment. He said that the infrastructure was not in place for some vital journeys that people needed to make, to Epping, Stevenage and Cambridge.

 

Councillor Wilson stated that he believed that a reduction in car parking would be overly draconian and unfair. He concluded that he would be supporting these proposals as doing something was better than doing nothing.

 

Councillor Curtis said that some important points had been raised by the opposition Members. He highlighted the fact that the Executive was recommending that the Council was supportive of the aspirations of policy LTP4 regarding sustainable travel towns. He said that the infrastructure must be in place for alternative forms of travel before there was a move towards sustainable travel towns.

 

Councillor Redfern said that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 302.

303.

Review of Outcomes of the Parking Task and Finish Group

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Executive Member for Environmental Sustainability proposed the recommendation made by the Executive, as referred to in the Executive report of 24 November 2020, in respect of a review of outcomes of the Parking Task and Finish Group. He proposed a motion to support the recommendation. Councillor Bolton seconded the motion.

 

Councillor Bell said she that she was disappointed that the lobbying for extra parking spaces at the Station Car Park at Watton at Stone had been dropped from the proposals. She highlighted the problems with the car park and said that other options open to other towns such as residents parking zones were not possible in Watton at Stone. She said that the available spaces in the car could be doubled by removing areas of grass verge between the spaces.

 

Councillor Goldspink said that she was disappointed that Members had not had the chance to discuss the Executive’s thoughts when they had been reviewing the very sensible recommendations of the Task and Finish Group. She said that she fully supported the recommendation for the amendment to the policy regarding residents parking zones.

 

Councillor Wilson also expressed his support for the very sensible change to the RPZ policy and the benefits for the residents of Bishop’s Stortford All Saints ward in respect of the difficulties with airport parking in the area. Councillor Haysey commented on whether East Herts Council owned the station car park at Watton at Stone.

 

Councillor Bell said that East Herts Council did not own the land but the original recommendation was that the Council would lobby those that did own the land to expand the provision.

 

Councillor Haysey said that this was a difficult thing to do and Members had no idea how train and work travel was going to evolve in the next 12 months. She said that the Council should consider this in a balanced way and avoid adding tarmac in place of grass verges as this was not environmentally friendly. She commented on identifying other ways for residents to get to train stations.

 

Members of the Council had a general debate in respect of public and sustainable transport and the protection of grass verges. Councillor Redfern commented on the importance of balancing the availability of car parking versus ready access to public transport. Councillor Stowe said that prices should be increased in station car parks to discourage parking in favour of more sustainable modes of transport such as electric bikes.

 

Councillor McAndrew said that long stay car parking had had reduced by 15-20% since the pre COVID-19 period and it had not really increased. One option being considered was converting long stay spaces to short stay to benefit shoppers. He said that commuters were now working from home and when things returned to a sense of normality, fewer people could be commuting to work and a step back should be taken until the position was known in 12 months.

 

The motion to support the proposal having been proposed and seconded, was put to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 303.

304.

Hertfordshire Growth Board - Joint Committee proposal

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Leader said that the Hertfordshire Growth had been established in an informal way for the last couple of years, in order to coordinate growth across Hertfordshire. She said that the growth board had worked very closely with all 10 District and Borough leaders, the County Council and the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

 

Councillor Haysey said that the time had come where the growth board should be set up to allow for more transparency and greater public engagement, as well as securing a tighter legal footing. She said that Stevenage Borough Council were also voting on this matter this evening at Full Council and all the other Hertfordshire District and Borough Councils had voted on this proposal.

 

Councillor Haysey proposed the recommendation made by the Executive, as referred to in the Executive report of 24 November 2020, in respect of the Hertfordshire Growth Board – joint Committee proposal. Councillor Curtis seconded the motion and commented on the very important work of the Hertfordshire Growth Board.

 

Councillor Crystall said that this proposal sounded very interesting and positive. He asked how the agendas and minutes were available to Councillors who were not Members of the Growth Board. Councillor Goldspink said that the Liberal Democrat group was very happy to support these proposals.

 

Councillor Haysey said that there was a Hertfordshire Growth Board meeting tomorrow where the detailed governance arrangements would be agreed and she said that there would be a public ability to see the agendas and minutes.

 

A motion to support the recommendation having been proposed and seconded, was put to the meeting and a vote taken. The motion was declared CARRIED.

 

RESOLVED – that (A) Council endorses the establishment of the Hertfordshire Growth Board Joint Committee and Hertfordshire Growth Board Scrutiny Joint Committee (to hold their inaugural meetings in January/February 2021 and then HGB Scrutiny aligned to confirmation of securing Government funding in 2021) and that the Council becomes a member of both;

 

(B)   Council adopts the Growth Board Integrated Governance Framework into its own constitutional framework.

 

(C)   Council nominates a Member and substitute Member as the Council’s representative on the Hertfordshire Growth Board Scrutiny Joint Committee (note that nominees must not be members of the Executive); and

 

(D)   Council notes that, subject to approval of Recommendation (A), the Leader is nominated as the council’s representative on the Hertfordshire Growth Board Joint Committee with delegated authority to appoint a substitute representative as required.

305.

Shared Waste Service Alignment

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Executive Member for Environmental Sustainability proposed the recommendation made by the Executive, as referred to in the Executive report of 24 November 2020, in respect of the shared waste service alignment.

 

Councillor McAndrew said that when North Herts and East Herts Councils came together to form a shared waste service, there had not been a realignment of the fees and charges for waste and recycling services, as was now detailed in the report for a realignment of that service.

 

Councillor McAndrew referred to consultation that had been carried with the Head of Strategic Finance and Property and the Executive. He proposed a motion to support the recommendation. Councillor Deering seconded the motion.

 

Councillor Goldspink said that the Liberal Democrat group was very happy to support the recommendations. A motion to support the recommendation having been proposed and seconded, was put to the meeting and a vote taken. The motion was declared CARRIED.

 

RESOLVED – that decision making for setting the fees and charging regarding waste services, as detailed in the report submitted, be delegated to the Head of Strategic Finance and Property, in consultation with the Executive Member for Environment Sustainability, through the Shared Service Waste Partnership Board, as endorsed by the Executive.

306.

Annual Treasury Management Review 2019/20

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Financial Sustainability proposed the recommendation made by the Executive, as referred to in the Executive report of 24 November 2020, in respect of the Annual Treasury Management Review 2019/20.

 

Councillor Williamson said that the review had been considered by the Audit and Governance Committee and the Executive. Councillor Ward-Booth seconded the motion. A motion to support the recommendation having been proposed and seconded, was put to the meeting and a vote taken. The motion was declared CARRIED.

 

RESOLVED – that the Annual Treasury Management Review 2019/20, be approved.

307.

Treasury Management Mid-Year Review 2019/20

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Financial Sustainability proposed the recommendation made by the Executive, as referred to in the Executive report of 24 November 2020, in respect of the Treasury Management Mid-Year Review 2019/20.

 

Councillor Williamson said that the mid-year review had been considered by the Audit and Governance Committee and the Executive. He said that the third recommendation was to raise the counter party limit from £20m to £30m, due to the unusual circumstances of receiving a large lump sum from the government for the COVID-19 related business support grant, which had briefly exceeded the current limit. Councillor Pope seconded the motion.

 

A motion to support the recommendation having been proposed and seconded, was put to the meeting and a vote taken. The motion was declared CARRIED.

 

RESOLVED – that (A) the Treasury Management Mid-Year Review 2019/20, be approved;

 

(B)   the revised Prudential Indicators as detailed in Appendix A (columns, entitled revised estimates, highlighted ‘green’ within tables), be approved; and

 

(C)   the increase in the counter party limit, from £20m to £30m, for the National Westminster Bank,  be approved.

308.

Council Tax base pdf icon PDF 96 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor G Williamson, the Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Financial Sustainability submitted a report in respect of the Council Tax base. He said that the report sets out the anticipated Council Tax base at District and Parish levels for the next financial year.

 

Councillor Williamson said that this was important as the numbers were used to shape the overall Council Tax calculation by East Herts Council, the County Council, Town and Parish Councils and also Hertfordshire Constabulary. The report took in account the number of band D equivalent properties within each area, subject to the relevant discounts as detailed in the report submitted.

 

Councillor Williamson reminded Council that the calculations of the Council Tax base were governed by statute and the Council had very limited discretion and this decision had to be taken to so the other authorities could notified of the Council Tax base figures.

 

Councillor Williamson proposed and Councillor Ruffles seconded, a motion that the proposals be supported. A motion to support the recommendation having been proposed and seconded, was put to the meeting and a vote taken. The motion was declared CARRIED.

 

RESOLVED – that (A) the calculation of the Council’s tax base for the whole district, and for the parish areas, for 2021/22, be approved; and

 

(B)   pursuant to the report and in accordance with the Local Authorities (Calculation of Tax Base) Regulations 2012, the amount calculated by East Hertfordshire District Council as its Council Tax base for the whole area for 2021/22 shall be 61734.4 and for the parish areas listed for 2021/22, shall be as detailed in the report submitted.

309.

Unreasonable and Persistent Behaviour Policy pdf icon PDF 58 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor G Cutting, the Executive Member for Corporate Services, submitted a report in respect of the Unreasonable and Persistent Behaviour Policy. He said that the draft policy was designed to replace the current vexatious complainant policy and provide more flexibility in dealing with customers.

 

Councillor Cutting said that customers who had been through the former procedures and were still not happy with the outcome had on occasion been labelled as vexatious and were told not to contact the Council. He said that this approach was something of a blunt tool and the reaction to receiving a letter like this was not positive and, in cases where customers had complex needs and lifestyles, this approach had not helped.

 

Councillor Cutting said that what was needed was a policy which allowed customers to feedback concerns in a way where Officers did not use the language of vexatious. He said that the policy set out a series of actions and interventions that were proportionate to the customer’s behaviour and there were also a whole range of steps that could be taken to help the Council manage better manage its resources, protect staff and not stigmatise customers.

 

Councillor Cutting concluded that the policy had been considered by Overview and Scrutiny Committee and was now recommended to Council and he hoped that it could be endorsed. Councillor Cutting proposed and Councillor Alder seconded, a motion that the proposals be supported.

 

Councillor Alder said that the proposals were eminently sensible and she thanked the Officers who had drawn up this policy. Councillor Goldspink said that the Liberal Democrat group were very happy to support this proposal. Councillor Stowe asked whether mental health issues had been taken into account as he knew of residents in his ward who struggled to communicate with people who were not listening to them and could appear aggressive but were not really aggressive.

 

The Leader said that she totally supported this revision of the policy as Officers had been subjected to some very rude and aggressive emails and this was totally unacceptable behaviour that was not good for the mental health of Officers.

 

Councillor Cutting said that the policy was intended to cater for the wide ranging needs of residents and he hoped that the policy would not impact any further on the lifestyles or possible health issues of residents.

 

A motion to support the recommendation having been proposed and seconded, was put to the meeting and a vote taken. The motion was declared CARRIED.

 

RESOLVED – that the new Unreasonable and Persistent Behaviour Policy, be approved.

310.

Motions on Notice

To receive Motions on Notice.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no motions on notice.