Agenda and minutes

Council
Wednesday 22nd July, 2020 7.00 pm

Venue: Online meeting - Livestreamed. View directions

Contact: Rebecca Dobson  Tel: (01279) 502082 Email:  rebecca.dobson@eastherts.gov.uk

Link: The livestream for this meeting can be viewed here

Media

Items
No. Item

83.

Chairman's Announcements

To receive any announcements.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chairman welcomed those attending the online meeting, and any members of the public who were viewing the internet livestream.

 

The Chairman explained the protocol for voting and speaking. For votes on matters which were by “show of hands”, Members would use the electronic green tick or red cross to signify voting “for or “against”. To signify abstention from a vote, Members would use the blue “raise hand”.  The Chairman said that, for the benefit of the public, he would then state whether the item was carried. 

 

The Chairman asked whether there were any Members participating only by telephone.  The response from all present indicated that no Members were doing so.

 

The Chairman then gave an account of his recent civic duties.  He said that as most civic events had not been taking place during the pandemic restrictions, he could report on very little.  However, he had been able to give cheques to his chosen charities, CHIPS (Children’s Integrated Playschemes) and Isabel Hospice.  He had met the Chairman of CHIPS, and had been pleased to hear his plans for restarting play schemes.

 

84.

Apologies for Absence

To receive any Members’ apologies for absence.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Bell, Bull and Frecknall. 

 

Upon taking a roll call of Members, it was established that Councillor Ranger was absent. 

 

85.

Minutes – 13 May 2020 pdf icon PDF 166 KB

To approve as a correct record and authorise the Chairman to sign the Minutes of the Council meeting held on 13 May 2020.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Kaye proposed and Councillor Huggins seconded, a motion that the Minutes of the meeting held on 13 May 2020 be confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

 

The motion to approve the Minutes being put to the meeting, and a vote taken, it was declared CARRIED.

 

RESOLVED – that the Minutes of the meeting held on 13 May 2020 be confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

 

86.

Declarations of Interest

To receive any Members' declarations of interest.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

 

87.

Public Questions pdf icon PDF 32 KB

To receive any public questions.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chairman invited David Royle, who was attending as a representative of the Bishop’s Stortford Climate Change Group, to ask the question he had submitted.

 

Mr Royle asked the Executive Member for Environmental Sustainability, Councillor McAndrews: 

 

 “The County Council declared a Climate Emergency on 16 July last year. On 24 July, this Council passed a climate change motion and committed to 'do everything...to reduce its impact on the climate and moreover do everything … in supporting the whole of East Herts District to become carbon neutral by 2030'. This is only 9 years and six months away. What is the timescale for an action plan to meet this commitment, what progress has been made to date, and what will be the process of consultation on its final form?”

 

Councillor McAndrew responded as follows:

 

“Thank you for this question. Sustainability is at the heart of the council’s priorities. To that end, a detailed action plan linked to the council’s nine Climate Change commitments, including achieving carbon neutrality, has been drawn up. Importantly, the plan attempts to quantify the carbon efficiencies associated with individual actions. 

 

The questioner may recall that we started sharing our work through the first East Herts Environmental and Climate Change Forum meeting held in Ware in January. While delayed by the lockdown, we are now preparing for a second Forum meeting via a videoconference at the start of September at which we can share the latest version of the action plan, seek comments and amend it accordingly as we consider it to be a ‘living document’.

 

Also in September, consultation will commence on the council’s new Environmental Sustainability Supplementary Planning Guidance which aims to facilitate reductions in carbon emissions from new buildings and maximise sustainability during development.

 

Finally, the council is aiming to maximise its influence and pool skills by playing a pro-active role in the newly formed Hertfordshire Climate Change and Sustainability Partnership which brings together all ten districts, the County Council and the Local Enterprise Council. The Partnership will also be reaching out to the public and other groups through several conference events each year.

 

Mr Royle thanked Councillor McAndrew for his response.

 

88.

Members' questions pdf icon PDF 44 KB

To receive any Members' questions.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chairman invited those who had submitted questions to put them to Executive Members.

 

Councillor Crystall asked Councillor McAndrew, the Executive Member for Environmental Sustainability:

 

“According to the final report from the Climate Change Task and Finish Group, received by Council on 5th March 2019, EHDC should consider looking to procure 100% “green” energy (i.e zero carbon) in terms of corporate electricity supply contracts. How far has the council got with this process? Is he aware that Green Energy UK, one of the UK’s only wholly green energy suppliers which is offering 100% renewable electricity and 100% non-fossil fuel derived gas, is based in Ware, at the heart of our district?”

 

Councillor McAndrew responded as follows:

 

“May I thank Cllr Crystall for his question.  In the first instance the council is identifying ways to reduce its base line energy use in its own premises so as to reduce carbon emissions at source.  This is particularly important as an immediate switch to non-fossil fuel-derived gas is likely to be hampered by insufficient supply at present.

 

“That said, procurement of green energy is an important means of moving to carbon neutrality and so the council’s Property Services Manager continues to reassess the existing procurement contracts for both gas and electricity which run until 2024.  Until that time, we will seek to maximise the ‘green energy’ within the mix of energy bought and also investigate the possibility for an option of an earlier review in 2021.  At contract renewal, we intend to effect a more substantive switch to renewable energy.  To that end, we would be very keen for Green Energy UK to become one of the suppliers included in the energy procurement framework we use and will advise them on applying.”

 

Councillor Crystall asked a second question, as follows: 

 

“The final report from the Climate Change Task and Finish Group, received by Council on 5th March 2019, recommended that the Council should investigate energy investment options that have potential to produce ongoing revenue return for the Council, along with carbon saving opportunities, e.g. electrical battery storage technology, renewables etc. on Council land. It was also recommended that an audit was conducted of Council owned sites which may be suitable for such projects. Apart from existing projects at the theatre, the hydro-scheme in Hertford and the two new leisure centres, has the Council made any progress in investigating investment options in renewables and how far has it progressed with the audit of Council owned sites?”

 

Councillor McAndrew responded:

 

“As Councillor Crystall rightly identifies, investment in carbon reduction measures in relation to energy consumption can also include the opportunity to generate income from renewable energy generation or storage. 

 

“Unfortunately, the council has not been able to identify sites in its ownership for viable solar photovoltaic (PV) generation.  We recognise, however, that there is considerable theoretical potential for solar PV installation on community buildings that are not necessarily in the ownership of the East Herts.  While the national economic mechanism to encourage installation  ...  view the full minutes text for item 88.

89.

Executive Report – 2 June 2020 pdf icon PDF 55 KB

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Haysey thanked the Chairman for having agreed she could make a statement on the recent discussions which were taking place on local government reform. 

 

She said Hertfordshire was a multi-tiered authority, comprising the county council, the district and borough councils and the town and parish councils, each with their areas of responsibility.  For residents, local government could appear complex and not necessarily transparent.

 

Some simplification was long overdue, but any reorganisation had to be right for residents and offer greater advantages over the existing structure.

 

The 10 leaders of Hertfordshire’s districts and boroughs had issued a joint statement expressing their concerns that Hertfordshire County Council had already decided that the best way forward was through one unitary council covering the whole of Hertfordshire.  She did not agree. Hertfordshire had a population of 1.2m, which she believed was too large to provide residents with the service and representation they were entitled to expect.

 

A unitary council would provide the vast majority of all the services currently provided by both the County and the District. However, there were other models which she and the other Leaders considered more appropriate.  The 10 districts and boroughs were working with consultants to explore all options.

 

Councillor Haysey then expressed gratitude to East Hertfordshire District Council staff.  She said they had experienced a very difficult few months.  They had kept services going, working from home, often away from their teams, and had been required to be flexible and learn new skills.  She thanked all staff for “getting the job done” in their usual professional, cheerful way.  They had shown the value this district council added to the lives of its residents over the last four months.  Now all faced the potential uncertainty of local government reorganisation.  The White Paper, which might give more clarity, was due out in September.  The Council would do its utmost to achieve an outcome that was in the best interests of residents and businesses.

 

Councillor Haysey then referred Members to the Executive report regarding matters considered at the meeting of 2 June 2020.

 

The following Minute refers to the item for recommendation.

 

90.

Gilston Area Charter Supplementary Planning Document - final for adoption

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Leader said a report had been submitted to the Executive on the proposed changes to the Gilston Area Charter Supplementary Planning Document (SPD).  The Executive had recommended the proposals to Council.  She moved that the recommendations be approved.  

 

Councillor E Buckmaster seconded the motion.  He said he had worked closely with the Neighbourhood Planning group on this matter, and was delighted it was proceeding.

 

Councillor Goldspink said that, with the exception of one Member of her Group, the Liberal Democrat Group were happy to support these recommendations. 

 

Councillor Wilson referred to the Minutes of the Executive meeting, which recorded concern expressed by Councillor Page regarding the need for strengthening affordable housing provision in relation to the Gilston Area SPD.  Councillor Wilson said he shared this concern.  The Council lacked power of enforcement if the developer were to retract its commitment to the level of affordable housing provision. 

 

Councillor Haysey said she shared these concerns.  This Council had high aspirations regarding the level of affordable housing on this site.  The planning team worked very closely with the developers, who were aware of the provisions stated in the Council’s policies, and had given assurances. 

 

On being put to the meeting, and a vote taken, the motion to support the recommendations was declared CARRIED.

 

RESOLVED –that (A) the responses of the consultation be noted and the officer responses and proposed changes to the Gilston Area Charter Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) be supported;

 

(B) The Gilston Area Charter SPD, as detailed in the report, be approved for adoption;

 

(C) In accordance with the Environmental Assessment of Plans and Programmes Regulations 2004, it has been determined that a Strategic Environmental Assessment of the emerging Gilston Area Charter SPD is not required as it is unlikely to have significant environmental effects; and

 

(D) That the Head of planning and Building Control, in consultation with the Executive Member for Planning and Growth, be authorised to make any further minor changes to the document which may be necessary.

 

91.

Executive Report – 7 July 2020 pdf icon PDF 58 KB

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

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Leader submitted a report setting out the recommendations of the Executive made at its meeting of 7 July 2020. 

 

The following minutes refer to the matters recommended.

 

92.

East Herts Local Development Scheme - update July 2020

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Leader submitted a recommendation from the Executive on the East Hertfordshire Local Development Scheme. 

 

Councillor Haysey said the Council now had an adopted district plan, so the focus was now on the timelines for the various supplementary planning documents which were required.  She proposed and Councillor Bolton seconded, a motion supporting the recommendations in the report. 

 

Councillor Goldspink said she was happy to support this motion. She noted with pleasure the fact that reference was made in the report to the importance of community involvement and to requirements to reassess sites which might be subject to changing economic circumstances. She asked how Members could be kept involved. 

 

Councillor Haysey said she recognised the importance of such assessment and that the Council did monitor changing circumstances. 

 

Councillor Curtis said he was concerned regarding an aspect affecting his ward, the proposed quarry at the Hunsdon site. He asked whether the Council would stand up for residents of the surrounding villages.  

 

Councillor Haysey said the Council had taken a position, and did not consider there was any reason to change that position. 

 

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

 

RESOLVED - that the Local Development Scheme July 2020, as set out in the report, be agreed to take effect from July 2020.

 

93.

Capital Contingency

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Leader proposed a motion supporting the recommendations of the Executive on the establishment of an additional Capital Contingency. 

 

The Executive Member for Financial Sustainability, Councillor Williamson, seconded the motion. 

 

Councillor Goldspink proposed additional wording “and be reported to all Members of the Council at the end of the week by means of the Members’ Information Bulletin”, to be added after “that use of the contingency be reported to the next meeting of the Executive”. 

 

Councillor Wilson seconded the amendment, and said he reserved his right to speak if necessary. Councillor Williamson confirmed he had no issues with the wording.

 

There being no further debate, a vote was taken on the amendment, which was declared CARRIED.  A vote being then taken on the substantive motion, it was declared CARRIED. 

 

RESOLVED - that (A) a capital supplementary estimate of £2.5 million be established as a general capital contingency; and

 

(B) that use of the capital contingency be delegated to the Chief Executive in consultation with the Executive Member for Financial Sustainability and that use of the contingency be reported to the next meeting of the Executive, and be reported to all Members of the Council at the end of the week by means of the Members’ Information Bulletin.

 

94.

Annual Report 2019 - 20

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Leader submitted the Annual Report for 2019-20, which the Executive had recommended to Council.  She moved and Councillor Andrews seconded that it be noted.

 

Councillor Goldspink welcomed the report, and said it listed many achievements.  She was, however, disappointed that no social housing was provided last year, and there appeared to be no reference to any action on climate change or global warming.  If that was the case, then this was a serious omission, in view of the debate which had taken place a year ago on these matters. 

 

Councillor Haysey said this report had been based on the priorities of the previous year, therefore climate change was reflected in the Council’s new priorities (“SEED” – Sustainability at the heart of everything we do; Enabling our communities; Encouraging economic growth and Digital by design), and would be referred to in next year’s annual report on the current year.  Regarding the comment on social housing, this subject would also appear in next year’s annual report, to reflect work being undertaken by the Executive Member for Neighbourhoods.  The appendices to the report gave more detailed information. 

 

On being put to the meeting and a vote taken, the motion to support the recommendation was declared CARRIED.

 

RESOLVED – to note the content of the Annual Report 2019-20.

 

95.

Patmore Heath Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Plan pdf icon PDF 66 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Executive Member for Planning and Growth submitted a report on the Patmore Heath Conservation Area Appraisal (CAA) and Management Plan. A number of alterations to the conservation area boundaries were proposed.  Councillor Goodeve said the report was very comprehensive, and she commended Officers. She moved and Councillor Ward-Booth seconded that the recommendations in the report be supported. 

 

Councillor Williamson said there had been a high degree of engagement.  Various concerns of residents regarding which areas should be included in the conservation area had been addressed, as Officers had referred to the need to consider the national guidance and local policies.  He trusted this approach had given residents the assurance they needed. 

 

Councillor Goldspink said the Liberal Democrat Group supported the recommendations.

 

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

 

RESOLVED -  that (A) the responses to the public consultation be noted and the Officer responses and proposed changes to the Patmore Heath Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Plan be supported;

 

(B) the Head of Planning and Building Control, in consultation with the Executive Member for Planning and Growth, be authorised to make any further minor and consequential changes to the document which might be necessary; and

 

(C) the Patmore Heath Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Plan be adopted.

 

96.

Street Trading Consent Policy pdf icon PDF 109 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor E Buckmaster, the Executive Member for Wellbeing submitted a report on a review of the Street Trading Consent Policy.

 

Councillor Buckmaster said the report had been considered by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, which had made a number of recommendations.  These recommendations were detailed in the report, and had been accepted by the Executive. He proposed and Councillor Cutting seconded, a motion that the proposals be supported.

 

Councillor Wyllie asked that a minor change be made, to ensure all references to sky lanterns were shown correctly, rather than using the phrase “Chinese lanterns”.

 

Councillor E Buckmaster agreed to this correction. Councillor Goldspink said this policy would be flexible, and she supported it. 

 

Councillor Wilson said a minor correction of the spelling of the word “peripatetic” should be made. He queried the rationale for additional condition (e) in Appendix 1 that peripatetic street traders should not wait in one location for more than 20 minutes. He did not think that restriction had been the practice before, and did not wish to impose restrictions unnecessarily. 

 

Councillor Buckmaster said he would respond in writing. 

 

Councillor Crofton said he welcomed this policy.  Across the district, 60 playgrounds had opened last week following the Covid 19 lockdown.  He asked about the process for ensuring that rural playgrounds were safe in terms of social distancing. 

 

Councillor Buckmaster said he could not answer this question in the context of the present agenda item, but would respond separately.  However, the onus would generally be on parents to ensure children’s safety. 

 

The motion being put to the meeting, and a vote taken, it was declared CARRIED. 

 

RESOLVED – that (A) the proposed revised Street Trading Consent Policy be adopted by the Council;

 

(B) the proposed revised fees and charges structure as detailed in the Policy be agreed by the Council; and

 

(c) Any minor amendments to the new Policy be made by the Head of Housing and Health in consultation with the Executive Member for Wellbeing.

 

97.

Motion on Notice - Anti Racism pdf icon PDF 29 KB

To consider a motion on notice proposed by Councillor Mione Goldspink and seconded by Councillor Chris Wilson.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Goldspink proposed a motion on notice on anti-racism.  She spoke to the motion she had submitted, referring to the experience of many people who suffered institutional racism and setting out the importance of addressing unconscious bias. Her motion sought a commitment on the part of the Council to do all in its power to identify and end any instances of racism or prejudicial practices within its own organisation, and to appoint an external professional to assess the Council’s activities in this regard, who would list actions to ensure diversity and equality pledges were fulfilled. 

 

Councillor Wilson seconded the motion.

 

Councillor Bolton said that, as Chairman of the Human Resources Committee, she wished to emphasise that the Council had a statutory duty to comply with the Equalities legislation, and the Council published an annual report on how it had done so.  The Council was opposed to racism in all its forms. 

 

Councillor Williamson said that from a financial perspective, Members were deeply aware of unbudgeted costs and of putting additional pressure on services. 

 

Councillor Drake said she had submitted a motion on notice in similar terms without having initially been aware of Councillor Goldspink’s motion.  She therefore proposed amendments to the motion.  The amendments were: 

 

in the first paragraph, to add the wording “in the USA” and delete “America”;

 

in the second paragraph, to delete the word “institutional” before “racism” and add “ and discrimination” after the word “racism;

 

also in the second paragraph, to add the wording “that may exist” before the words “within its own organisation”;

 

to delete the final paragraph starting “To ensure full transparency”, and add two further paragraphs as follows: East Herts Council stands united against all forms of inequality.  As community leaders we must challenge injustices wherever and however they arise.  We support the freedom of all individuals and all communities to speak out and share their experiences and frustrations and work alongside them and society as a whole to reduce overt prejudice and unconscious bias.

 

“As it is our responsibility to be part of the conversation, we will work with internal structures, external groups and organisations to ensure an anti-racist culture is embedded in all that the council says and does as an employer and a provider of public services so we can better educate, understand and bring about positive change to achieve a more equal and fair society.”

 

Councillor Crystall seconded the amendment.  He said the issues of inequality and racism had already started to slip down the news agenda, and it was important to keep them in mind.  The wording of a motion was no substitute for action. 

 

Councillor Corpe said he was pleased that the Council was considering a motion to condemn systematic racism.  Whilst he welcomed the proposed amendments, it was a pity to remove the provision for an external professional to assess the Council’s procedures.  The Council employed auditors such as EY and it should not mark its own homework. 

 

Regarding the monitoring of inequality, Councillor  ...  view the full minutes text for item 97.

98.

Motion on Notice - Working to achieve a more equal and fair society pdf icon PDF 28 KB

To consider a motion on notice proposed by Councillor Holly Drake and seconded by Councillor Ben Crystall.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Drake confirmed that in view of the amendments to the motion on anti-racism which had been carried, she withdrew her motion on notice.

 

Councillor Crystall confirmed he agreed to such withdrawal as the seconder of the motion.