Agenda and minutes

Council - Wednesday 26th July, 2023 7.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Wallfields, Hertford. View directions

Contact: Katie Mogan  Tel: (01279) 502174 Email:


No. Item


Chairman's Announcements

To receive any announcements from the Chairman.


The Chairman reminded Members to use their microphones as the meeting was being webcast.


The Chairman said he had been reflecting on his role as Chairman at recent events he had attended which had made him appreciate the job. He said that in the last week, he had attended and judged a Dog Show at the Southern Country Park in Bishop’s Stortford. He said that later in the week he would be going to Stanstead St Margarets to help the council’s flytipping officer and the police clear a self-built skate ramp under a bridge which had become a focal point for anti-social behaviour.



Leader's Announcements

To receive any announcements from the Leader of the Council.


The Leader of the Council had a sad announcement to make. He said that Andrew Cowley, the lead Planning Enforcement Officer, had sadly passed away at the beginning of June. He sent his family, friends, and colleagues his thoughts and best wishes for their loss.


Councillor Deering said he had been dealing with Andrew on an issue leading up to his loss and said it was important to note that his colleagues really missed him and held him in the highest regard. He added his group’s condolences to those of the Leader’s.


A minute’s silence was held in memory of Andrew Cowley.



Apologies for Absence

To receive any Members’ apologies for absence.


Apologies for absence were received from Councillors E Buckmaster, R Buckmaster, Boylan, Deffley, Dumont, Watson and Woollcombe.


Minutes - 17 May 2023 pdf icon PDF 100 KB

To approve as a correct record and authorise the Chairman to sign the Minutes of the Council meeting held on 17 May 2023.


Councillor Goldspink requested that Councillor Swainston’s initial be added to the list of attendees.


Councillor Goldspink proposed, and Councillor Nicholls seconded a motion that the Minutes of the meeting held on 17 May 2023, as amended, be approved as a correct record and be signed by the Chairman. On being put to the meeting and a vote taken, the motion was declared CARRIED.


RESOLVED – that the Minutes of the meeting held on 17 May 2023, as amended, be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.




Declarations of Interest

To receive any Members' declarations of interest.


Councillor Glover-Ward declared an interest in agenda item 9b as she chaired the Kingmead Neighbourhood Plan Group. She would leave the Chamber for the discussion and voting of the item.



To receive any petitions.


There were no petitions.


Public Questions pdf icon PDF 111 KB

To receive any public questions.

Additional documents:


Question 1

Colin Woodward to ask Councillor Vicky Glover-Ward, the Executive Member for Planning and Growth

Would the Executive Member for Planning and Growth please confirm the total quantity for Bishop's Stortford of all dwellings, (separately identifying the number designated as 'affordable’), that have already been granted Planning Approval by Development Management to date in comparison to the quantities previously set out in the EHC District Plan to meet projected local needs and clarify the quantity of any further additional dwellings proposed for the Old River Lane development with the rationale for any such proposed additions?

Response from Councillor Glover-Ward


The East Herts District Plan sets out that Bishop’s Stortford will accommodate a minimum of 4,426 dwellings up to the year 2033. The 4,426 figure includes seven allocated sites and is also expected to include a proportion of the district’s windfall allowance in addition.

The current number of dwellings completed in Bishop’s Stortford since the District Plan was adopted in 2018 is 1,842 – and of this number 463 were affordable dwellings. Due to a combination of outline and detailed planning permissions, and some permissions that supersede previous extant permissions it is hard to give a definitive total for dwellings that have been granted permission. However, the latest five year land supply position setsout that there is extant permission for a total of around 3,250 dwellings, in addition to those completed already. Out of those dwellings there is detailed extant permission for over 800 affordable dwellings, although this figure is likely to be exceeded as detailed reserved matters permissions continue to come forward.

Old River Lane is allocated in the District Plan for mixed use development and around 100 new homes. A planning application has been submitted for up to 225 homes. As with all applications, the proposals will need to be assessed against the District Plan and other material planning considerations.


Question 2  

Jill Goldsmith to ask Councillor Carl Brittain, the Executive Member for Financial Sustainability


In the absence of audited accounts for the last 3 full financial years, can Carl Brittain, Executive Member for Financial Sustainability, tell us the current fair value of each element of the Council’s land and buildings on the Old River Lane site and provide us with an explanation of how the Council is going to provide assurance to local taxpayers that it is achieving best value from this investment and any associated debt finance and engage with the people of Bishop’s Stortford on this matter BEFORE it makes an irreversible contractual commitment to dispose of it? 


Response from Councillor Brittain


Fair value, in accounting, is a rational and unbiased estimate of the potential market price of an asset.  Not all of the assets at Old River Lane are valued at Fair Value in accordance with the Accounting Code of Practice we are required to follow to compile our accounts.  We therefore do not have the fair value of all assets at Old River Lane.  Charringtons House, excluding the part used by the council  ...  view the full minutes text for item 110.


Members' Questions pdf icon PDF 125 KB

To receive any Members' questions.

Additional documents:


Question 1


Councillor Angus Parsad-Wyatt to ask Councillor Ben Crystall, the Leader of the Council


The new Executive has expanded with the addition of the Executive Member for Resident Engagement. Given engaging with residents is a function of all Councillors' roles, can the Leader please explain what the purpose of this role is, and by what metrics the Member's work will be judged?


Response for Councillor Crystall

Thank you for the question. You’re correct that engaging with residents is already a fundamental part of every councillor’s day to day activities – clearly we all spend time answering queries or talking to our residents. And that one-to-one engagement works perfectly well when questions are single issues or where you’re looking for a localised response, from a single street, say or from part of a ward.  

But EHC regularly consults residents on new policies or strategies or on planning applications, or wider schemes covering town centres, for example, where there is no single yes/no answer and where the council is looking for residents to address a much broader range of issues.

The key questions here are: 1) how do we engage to ensure that as many residents as possible are notified about a consultation – and again ward councillors have a role to play here – and 2) how do we ensure that the consultations themselves are clear, ask the right kinds of questions and are delivered in the best way to achieve those aims. 

In the past we may have posted out questionnaires to everyone but that’s expensive and people often miss them amongst junk mail. At the other extreme we have online consultation systems. No single approach works for everyone. You could just accept that we’ll always miss some people. I don’t think that’s good enough and in the last few years I have become acutely aware of large numbers of residents who feel that their voices aren’t being heard. This is also about trying to restore trust in local politics.

So the aim of the new post, and the challenge for Councillor Chris Wilson, is to take a careful look at how we consult and engage with our residents, and how we can improve that process, to try to reach as many people as possible, but also to look at opportunities for more in-depth discussions with residents, so that they start to have a real voice in local democracy.

As far as metrics are concerned, have metrics have ever been applied specifically to executive roles at EHC? The council monitors customer feedback and that could be used as a judge of success. The ultimate metric is the ballot box, as we saw in May. There is also the opportunity for the Overview and Scrutiny committee to be involved in assessing how effective we are at improving consultation and engagement. But if you or anyone else have ideas for metrics that could be effective, please let me know.


Supplementary question from Councillor Parsad-Wyatt


Councillor Parsad-Wyatt said that six of the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 111.


Executive Report - 11 July 2023 pdf icon PDF 65 KB

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


The Leader of the Council presented a report setting out recommendations to the Council made by the Executive at its meeting on 11 July 2023.


Council Tax Reduction Scheme 2024 - 25 pdf icon PDF 271 KB

Additional documents:


The Executive Member for Financial Sustainability presented the Council Tax Reduction Scheme 2024-25 recommendation. He said that it was a government requirement that the Council gave the scheme annual approval. He said the recommendation was that the scheme was to remain unchanged and it would be monitored in relation to case numbers, any changes to Universal Credit and improvements to automation and efficiency. He said that the scheme had remained unchanged since 2013 and there was no persuasive argument to make changes, giving certainty to residents.


Councillor Brittain proposed that the recommendation in the report be supported. Councillor Goldspink seconded the proposal and thanked Officers for their detailed work on the report and confirmed that it had been discussed by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee and the Executive.


Councillor Williamson said that there had been a consistent view from the Council from the inception of the scheme and was pleased to see that the new administration had seen fit to not alter it.


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


RESOLVED - That no changes be made to the Council Tax Support scheme for 2024/25.



Adoption of Kingsmead Neighbourhood Plan pdf icon PDF 239 KB

Additional documents:


The Leader of the Council presented the recommendation for the Adoption of the Kingsmead Neighbourhood Plan. He said that the plan went to a referendum on 4 May 2023 and 93% of people who voted, supported it. He said the examiner paid tribute to the Neighbourhood Plan group.


Councillor Williams proposed that the recommendation in the report be supported. Councillor Wilson seconded the proposal.


Councillor Deering said that the Conservative Group supported the recommendation.


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


RESOLVED - That the Kingsmead Neighbourhood Area Plan 2019-2033 formally made (adopted).



Proposed Community Governance Review pdf icon PDF 267 KB

Additional documents:


The Leader of the Council presented the Proposed Community Governance Review. He said that Council agreed in principle to undertake a Community Governance Review in Ware Town and neighbouring parishes and the Rush Green area at their meeting on 16 November 2022. He said that this review came from the result of the Local Government Boundary Commission Review of East Herts which was completed last year.


The Leader of the Council said that the previous report said the reviews would take place after the local elections and the Head of Legal and Democratic Services would bring the draft terms of reference back to Council. This report presents these draft terms for the proposed reviews identified in Ware and Rush Green. The report also identifies further areas of the district that governance reviews may be beneficial; Thorley, Sawbridgeworth and Tewin.


Councillor Crystall proposed that the recommendations in the report be supported. Councillor Townsend seconded the proposal.


Councillor Deering said that the Conservative group were content with the proposal. He said that for the benefit of the viewing public, he said it was important to understand the Council were discussing the review and not pre-determining its outcome.


Councillor Jacobs referred to recommendation (D) and Town and Parish Councils being consulted on the proposals. He asked if the reviews would continue if councils were consulted and were happy with their current arrangements.


The Head of Legal and Democratic Services said that the council would have to see what came out of the consultations. He said he did not want to pre-determine the outcome.


Councillor Jacobs said he thought it was important to respect the councils wishes and asked the Head of Legal and Democratic Services to confirm this.


The Head of Legal and Democratic Services said the council would take into consideration if town and parish councils did not want the review. He said the council would not impose a review on those who did not want it.


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


RESOLVED – That (A) a community governance review be undertaken of Ware Town and parts of Wareside and Thundridge Parishes and that the draft terms of reference and indicative timetable for the review be agreed as attached at Appendix B;


(B) a community governance review be undertaken of the area covered by the Rush Green roundabout and that the draft terms of reference and indicative timetable for the review be agreed as attached at Appendix C;


(C) the Head of Legal and Democratic Services be authorised to progress the community governance reviews at (A) and(B) above including making any minor amendments necessary to the terms of reference and timetable for the reviews prior to formal publication; and


(D) Tewin Parish Council, Thorley Parish Council and Sawbridgeworth Town Council be consulted as to whether they would support a community governance review being undertaken of their respective areas to address the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 113.


Confirmation of Minor Amendments to the Constitution pdf icon PDF 241 KB

Additional documents:


The Head of Legal and Democratic Services presented the report which detailed minor amendments which had recently been incorporated into the Constitution. He said that under paragraph 2.6.3(b) of the Council’s Constitution, the Monitoring Officer had delegated authority to make minor amendments to it in certain circumstance and any such changes must be reported back to Members at the next meeting of the Full Council.


The Head of Legal and Democratic Services said that the changes were set out in section 2 of the report and in Appendix 1 to the report.


Councillor Goldspink proposed that the recommendations in the report be supported. Councillor Daar seconded the proposal.


Councillor Goldspink said that the council had been doing what was required of it and this report was to tidy up the Constitution.


Councillor Deering said the Conservative group supported the recommendation. He said the Constitution was a large document and he had previously been involved in the Member Review Group to keep it up to date and ensure it was a modern document. He thanked the Head of Legal and Democratic Services and the Democratic Services Manager for their role in keeping the Constitution up to date.


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


RESOLVED – that the report be received, as required by the Constitution, outlining the minor amendments made to the Constitution by the Head of Legal and Democratic Services acting under paragraph 2.6.3 (b) of the Constitution.



Closure of rail ticket offices pdf icon PDF 49 KB


Councillor Wilson presented his motion on notice. He said that the consultation had now been extended to 1 September 2023. He said that he was travelling on a train before the meeting and his journey had been delayed as a passenger had taken ill and he said that it was a reminder that trains were a public service. Trains were the only way to travel for some people and had become a monopoly. He said that there was no other sustainable transport into London.

Councillor Wilson said that there were many reasons why people could not drive and if the ticket offices were closed, those who did not understand the different types of ticket would not be able to travel and could get fined if they purchased the wrong ticket. He said that train franchise owners were being pushed to cut budgets by the government and it was a political choice to decide as a nation how to spend its money.

Councillor Clements seconded the motion and reserved his right to speak.

Councillor Deering thanked Councillor Wilson for his motion. He noted that the consultation had been extended and said this incapsulated the position of the Conservative group. He said they were concerned that elderly and vulnerable people might be challenged when buying tickets but on the other hand, he said it might be better to relocate staff from behind the glass into the body of the station so they were available to all customer. He said he did not know the outcome of the consultation and  said the Conservative group would be abstaining from the vote but acknowledged the issues on both sides of the argument.

Councillor Goldspink said she strongly supported the motion. She said that machines were not as good as humans for dealing with problems. She said that the staff at Bishop’s Stortford station were excellent and provided good advice about the best routes to take and the best ticket option. She highlighted that the Royal National Institute of Blind People were very concerned about the proposed ticket office closures.

Councillor Hopewell said she also supported the motion. She said she had personally benefitted from the staff at Hertford North station when she was travelling with her children as it was difficult to know what the cheapest ticket option was. She referred to Councillor Goldspink’s point about visually impaired people and said if the staff were not at the ticket office, they would not be able to find a staff member on the platforms.

Councillor Parsad-Wyatt echoed the comments so far from councillors. However, he felt that it was missing the point that the consultation was trying to achieve and was assuming that all ticket offices would be closed which he did not think was the case. He said that there were some benefits to having staff being in visible locations, for example, they could help prevent suicides. He said he would be abstaining from the vote and would await the consultation results.

Councillor Clements thanked  ...  view the full minutes text for item 115.


Old River Lane pdf icon PDF 36 KB


Councillor Jacobs presented his motion on notice. He said that the project had come to symbolise everything that was wrong with its own relationship with the council. He said that the project was being done to Bishop’s Stortford, not with and had been championed by people who did not live there or were interested in the residents’ concerns. He said that the Delivery Board had met in secret and even the Town Council had withdrawn its support for the project. He believed the project was the reason for the outcome of the local elections in Bishop’s Stortford in May 2023.


Councillor Jacobs said that residents had reasonably assumed that after the election, a change in administration would result in a change of direction for the project and that the administration would take the time to understand the finances and business case to build a better vision for the Old River Lane site. He said that a better vision was still possible as per the steps outlined in the motion. He said this required a change in direction from the new administration and a good start would be a commitment to reassess all capital projects in light of the current finances which was a commitment signed by both parties in the administration in their shared objectives document. He said there had been little transparency in the project previously and the last set of minutes published from the Delivery Board was June 2022. He said that the new membership of the board had not been published nor its meeting schedule. He said that the Board should meet in public with its meeting broadcasted like the council’s committee meeting.


Councillor Jacobs said that development on the site had been promised since 2010 and a few more months of scrutiny was time worth spending. He urged the joint administration to honour its election commitments and do the right thing.


Councillor Estop seconded the motion and said that progress with the development had been tightly constrained by the tender submission which had not been transparent or been scrutinised. The motion pressed for urgent scrutiny of the relationship between the council as landowner and Cityheart as the preferred developer. Councillor Estop said that councillors had now had the benefit of helpful officer briefings with background information which had largely been hidden previously.


Councillor Williamson said that the Old River Lane development was a fantastic project which would deliver real benefits to residents and it was not acceptable that it was being jeopardised by delays. He said that the motion suggested that concerns amongst residents was widespread but questioned where the evidence of this was. He reminded Members that all meetings of the Delivery Board had been minuted and published on the website and disagreed strongly that Members had not had the opportunity to consider the financial and legal implications.


Councillor Williamson added that millions of pounds had been provided by the LEP which added to the credibility of the project. He said that when the Liberal  ...  view the full minutes text for item 116.

Recorded Vote
TitleTypeRecorded Vote textResult
Old River Lane Motion Rejected
  • View Recorded Vote for this item
  • 117.

    Declaration of a Climate Emergency and the council's response pdf icon PDF 48 KB


    Under paragraph 3.22.7, Councillor Hoskin presented an altered motion to Council following cross party discussions.


    The altered motion was as follows:


    This Council endorses the evidence that climate change is seriously affecting the health and wellbeing of residents and the environment in East Herts and that these negative impacts are set to increase.

    This Council is of the view that the consequences of the global temperature increasing by more than 1.5°C are so severe that humanity’s number one priority must be to prevent this from happening.

    This Council recognises it must use its powerful voice to advocate on behalf of local communities and habitats, lead change, improve resilience and inspire residents and businesses to act to protect our precious district from the impacts of Climate Breakdown.

    This Council therefore in reaffirming its commitment to protecting our environment:

    ·            declares a Climate Emergency

    ·            strengthen its resolve to act by bringing forward its commitment from 2030 to March 2027 to reduce its own carbon footprint to an absolute minimum and to identify a pathway to offset its residual carbon, so that the council will be able to continue providing high quality services but with net zero carbon emissions.

    ·            prioritises carbon offsetting investment within East Herts to maximise local benefits,

    ·            commits to publishing annual eco-audits of the council’s progress to net zero carbon that residents and businesses will be invited to scrutinise and input to, including through an annual meeting,

    ·            ensures that the council and its staff and services are ready to adapt to future climates and extreme weather to enable business continuity,

    ·            commits to providing advice and assistance to East Herts residents and businesses to inspire and encourage their own shifts away from carbon producing activities,

    ·            commits to ensuring council policies and practices, including commercial operations and investments, are compatible with its drive to achieve net zero carbon, including through the review of the District Plan,

    ·            recognises that bold action to tackle the Climate Emergency can deliver economic benefits to local people and businesses in terms of new jobs, economic savings and market opportunities,

    ·            commits to seeking inward investment to support efforts to achieve net zero carbon by the council, residents and businesses,

    ·            commits to continuing its full participation in relevant external bodies,

    ·            commits to participating fully in developing a Countywide Local Nature Recovery Strategy in anticipation of the national Environment Bill

    ·            calls on all levels of government to do everything within their powers to limit the negative impacts of Climate Breakdown, while recognising that this Council will not sit back and wait for national government intervention.


    Councillor Redfern proposed, and Councillor Wilson seconded a motion that the meeting be adjourned for a short period for Members to consider the altered motion. The motion was put to the meeting and upon a vote being taken, was declared CARRIED.


    RESOLVED – that the meeting be adjourned at 21:00 and reconvened at 21:05.


    Councillor Hoskin presented the altered motion. He said that climate change was not something that may or may not happen in the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 117.