Full Council - 13 July 2021
Watersmeet Theatre, High street, Rickmansworth, WD3 1EH13th July 2021
To: ALL MEMBERS OF THE THREE RIVERS DISTRICT COUNCIL
You are hereby summoned to attend a meeting of the Council on Tuesday 13 July 2021 at 7.30pm to be held in the Auditorium, Watersmeet, High Street, Rickmansworth, WD3 1EH for the purpose of transacting the under mentioned business:-
1. APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
To confirm as a correct record the Minutes of the Annual Council meeting held on 25 May 2021.
3. RECOMMENDATION FROM THE POLICY AND RESOURCES COMMITTEE
To receive the recommendations from the Policy and Resources Committee meeting held on 14 June 2021:
3a PR08/21 - SHAREHOLDER AND COMMERCIAL VENTURES SCRUTINY PANEL
- The Shareholder and Commercial Ventures Scrutiny Panel is established and that the Terms of Reference are agreed.
- The Property Scrutiny Panel be abolished.
- To nominate 5 Councillors to the Panel the proportionality being 3, 1, 1 for the 2021/22 Municipal Year with the names to be advised to the Committee
The report from the Policy and Resources Committee on 14 June 2021 is provided below:
3b PR12/21 - SUMMARY OF THE FINANCIAL OUTTURN FOR 2020/21
- That the favourable revenue outturn variance after carry forwards of (£133,489) to be noted.
- That the capital outturn as summarised in paragraph 2.6 and Appendix 3 be noted.
- Approved to carry forward: the unspent service budgets from 2020/21 to 2021/22 which total £447,830 to enable completion of projects as detailed at Appendix 2.
- Approved the rephasing on capital projects from 2020/21 to 2021/22 which total £1,364,813 as detailed at Appendix 4.
The report from the Policy and Resources Committee on 14 June 2021 is provided below:
4. RECOMMENDATION FROM THE POLICY AND RESOURCES COMMITTEE AND REGULATORY SERVICES COMMITTEE – 14 JUNE AND 16 JUNE 2021
PR06/21 ANIMAL WELFARE ENFORCEMENT POLICY AND ANIMAL WELFARE LICENSING POLICY
RG05/21 ANIMAL WELFARE ENFORCEMENT POLICY AND ANIMAL WELFARE LICENSING POLICY
- Recommends to approve the Animal Welfare Licensing Policy (Appendix A) subject to any comments from the Regulatory Services Committee.
- Recommends to approve the Animal Welfare Enforcement Policy (Appendix B) subject to any comments from the Regulatory Services Committee.
The report from the Policy and Resources Committee on 14 June and the Regulatory Services Committee on 16 June 2021 is provided below:
The minutes from the Policy and Resources Committee meeting held on 14 June 2021 are provided below as background information
5. TO RECEIVE ANY PETITIONS UNDER PROCEDURE RULE 18
6. QUESTIONS FROM THE PUBLIC UNDER PROCEDURE RULE 15
7. CHAIR OF COUNCIL ANNOUNCEMENTS
8. REPORTS AND QUESTIONS TO THE LEADER AND LEAD MEMBERS
8a) Report from Councillor Sarah Nelmes, Leader of the Council
Like everyone, I’d been hoping that on 21 June we’d see all restrictions lifted. The decision to delay the date to 19 July is sensible however, the last thing any of us want to do is go backwards rather than forwards.
By being patient and cautious now, millions more people can be vaccinated helping to keep hospital admissions down. Cases of the new variant are rising in Three Rivers, but we know the vaccine is highly effective and many in our community have already had both jabs. Please do get vaccinated as soon as possible to protect yourself, your loved ones and to ensure restrictions are lifted as soon as possible.
The virus isn’t going to go away, and we will have to live with it in the future. So remember hands, space, face, regular testing and plenty of fresh air are still the best way to reduce the spread. Let’s make the best of the summer sunshine (when we get some) by getting outdoors.
We continue to work with our colleagues in the NHS and the County Public Health team to facilitate their work to get us back to 'normal' as soon as possible.
On a brighter note, next year we will be celebrating Her Majesty The Queen's Platinum Jubilee. In response to the request to "Plant a Tree for the Jubilee" for The Queen's Green Canopy, Three Rivers District Council commits to plant 700 new trees throughout Three Rivers communities. I'm sure you will all welcome this initiative and look forward to hearing from you if you have a site you would like included in your area.
INFRASTRUCTURE, HOUSING AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Reports from the Lead Member for Transport and Economic Development (Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst), Lead Member for Infrastructure and Planning Policy (Cllr Matthew Bedford), Lead Member for Housing (Cllr Andrew Scarth).
8b) Report from Councillor Stephen Giles-Medhurst, Lead Member for Transport and Economic Development
The following work has been on going in my portfolio.
I agreed that the national permit exception scheme for permit parking in our zones for NHS staff that expired in June would be rolled over to 19 July. There is an existing TRDC scheme for NHS workers through the Doctor and Health Visitor (DHV) permits which continues to be available.
Rickmansworth High Street
The part time closure of the High Street as part of the Government’s intention to support social distancing and improve the shopping environment continues. This is supported by the County Council who have brought in a Temporary Traffic Order and are now undertaking a public consultation on this and similar measures to see if they should be made permanent or changed.
The outstanding issue of a new bus shelter in Northway was finally resolved with its recent installation by Herts County Council (HCC) after considerable chasing after its delivery from China had been delayed by a number of factors!
Parking Management Programme
Officers are progressing plans that have been requested by the public in a number of areas and Ward Councillors have been sent proposals to consider - these include a Chorleywood area wide review, Harefield Road area (Rickmansworth), Langleybury Lane, Primrose Hill and Water Lane (Gade Valley) and Sandy Lodge Lane. Further areas will be progressed over the summer.
Rickmansworth West Controlled Parking Zone
This is to be now progressed to a formal consultation pending discussions with Ward Councillors.
We will shortly be carrying out informal consultation with councillors about Local Cycling and Walking priority routes (LCWIP) as part of the review of our Walking and Cycling Strategy that is being progressed jointly by Three Rivers, Watford and the County Council.
Delta Gain upgrade
Unfortunately this Retail Parade Revitalisation project has been set back as Ward Councillors are aware, not least over securing a detailed legal agreement over land that is not in public ownership. Officers continue to try to get agreement from the landowners for the planned scheme.
Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Points
The EV procurement is still being prepared but project timescales have been extended to take advantage of the Government-funded technical review support for Local Authorities installing charge points.
I welcome the recent Government announcement that is encouraging local highways authorities to make on road provision along with additional funding. However the County Council recently considered its provision and appears to be moving away from allowing for such provision instead only allowing for them in car parks (private and public). TRDC officers are coordinating with other Council’s with a united District Council response. Some facts and figures on EV's that came from the LGA webinar showed were that:
- there are 32m vehicles on UK roads
- of the 32m 270,000 are electric/battery powered
- as of May 2021 there are only 24,000 charge points currently available (7,000 of these are in London)
- 6m households do not have access to off road parking
The Government estimates we will need 1.5m charge points if we are to meet the zero emissions target by 2030.
New wayfinding directional signed street nameplates (part funded from Sustainable Transport funding contributed from planning agreements) have been installed in Croxley.
New Welcome Signs for Three Rivers they have been erected at key locations to enhance local identity in the District. The grass verge hardening programme continues principally in South Oxhey.
Our the Better Buses Programme - introduced two new Bus Shelters with solar powered lighting – at terminus in South Way and on St Albans Road A405 for St Michaels and Parmiters Schools.
We have commissioned HCC to introduce Real Time Bus Information Displays at up to 15 of our busiest and most significant bus stops. Surveys have been completed for the displays, which will encourages regular bus use by reducing uncertainty for waiting passengers (the key issue for bus users)
Following a suggestion from Councillor Sara Bedford I have asked officers to progress and install Rainbow and transgender crossings on TRDC land (from within budget) probably at Three Rivers House and Leavesden Country Park. "Rainbow" crossings are a permanent way to celebrate LGBTQ+ communities and the diversity of our society. Such crossings with Rainbow colours and chevrons to mark transpeople and those living with HIV/AIDS would show our respect for the diversity of our community and have be installed by a number of council’s. I am also asking Hertfordshire County Council to do the same.
Hertfordshire Growth Board – S101 Joint Committee
As Deputy Leader and the representative on this body for Three Rivers Council I attended the Joint Committee on 22 June in person. This included a discussion on HERTS - the Hertfordshire/ Essex Rapid Transit proposals – a name change from the Mass Rapid Transit that is being developed as a funding proposal to Government for the A414 corridor. The intention of this is to enable wider transport improvements by public transport and improved air quality as the County copes with increased growth demanded by the Government. There is stakeholder engagement being carried out now with a soft launch and that will be followed by public engagement in the autumn.
Priorities to December 2021 include:
- Economic Recovery, performance and resilience;
- Working together to deliver the homes that Hertfordshire needs and setting up a “Developers Forum”;
All Members of the Council were invited to a Councillors’ Familiarisation Session on Friday 9 July (via Zoom) to understand the role of the HGB.
8c) Question to Councillor Stephen Giles-Medhurst, Lead Member for Transport and Economic Development from Councillor David Coltman
Is this Council taking any action on pavement parking which obstructs our residents using the pavements, particularly the disabled and those with pushchairs?
The law only allows the Police to enforce against “obstructive” parking.
Three Rivers Council is able to enforce against any parking on footways and verges (whether or not obstructive) where a specific prohibition has been introduced with a Traffic Regulation Order i.e. a yellow line.
8d) Question to Councillor Stephen Giles-Medhurst, Lead Member for Transport and Economic Development from Councillor Joanna Clemens
Can Council tell me what links and communications protocols it has with the Post Office to ensure that postal facilities in Three Rivers are doing what they say they are doing during Covid? Last weekend I found two postboxes that the website said were specifically being collected at 3pm on Saturday were actually not being collected until Monday; three other postboxes I checked had tape on them marking them as ‘priority’ boxes, with ‘Saturday and Sunday’ clearly marked, yet they were next being collected on Monday. The only box being collected Saturday afternoon, and that not at the time advertised, was in Hillingdon. Post office staff were uninformed and there was nobody and no information at the depot. With time sensitive medical samples supposed to be submitted within an hour of collection, this is a problem.
Three Rivers Council has no ongoing links or communications regularly with the Post Offices regarding opening or collection times. However during the initial lockdown the Community Partnerships team made contact with the Post Offices to enquiry about what support was on offer to the community. Environmental Health Officers have visited Rickmansworth sorting office with regard to Covid controls but have no specific involvement with Royal Mail’s service provision.
Ofcom regulates postal services, including such things as postboxes, collections and deals with complaints and you can raise concerns using the website (www.ofcom.org.uk)
The Post Office and Royal Mail are distinct organisations. It is Royal Mail which is responsible for the postboxes.
8e) Report from Councillor Matthew Bedford, Lead Member for Infrastructure and Planning Policy
The ‘Regulation 18’ public consultation on the Local Plan is currently underway.
There is publicity on the Home page of the Council’s website and the Council has sent a flyer to every household in the District. At the time of submitting this report I am following up reports that the flyer has not yet been delivered to all areas. The flyer is not a mandatory part of the consultation; but if it is confirmed that significant numbers of homes have received their flyer later than planned, we will extend the closing date of the consultation in order to provide maximum opportunity for people to respond. We can begin analysing the responses in any case so we do not create any additional delay to the process. I will update Council verbally once information is reported back from the contracted delivery company.
We are already receiving large numbers of responses to the consultation and all responses will be reviewed and analysed and will be published in due course. The policies in the draft Plan, as well as the list of potential development sites, may be adjusted in light of the responses, through recommendation from the Local Plan sub-committee ahead of the next round of public consultation planned for the end of this year.
In order to promote the Local Plan consultation and answer queries, I contacted all the residents associations in the District and offered to meet with them. I have now held (virtual) meetings with several residents associations around the District as well as the Three Rivers Joint Residents Associations. I have also presented and answered questions at the Croxley Green, Watford Rural and Abbots Langley Local Area Forums and a forum organised by Batchworth Community Council. I am happy to participate in further meetings if requested.
8f) Question to Councillor Matthew Bedford, Lead Member for Infrastructure and Planning Policy from Councillor David Coltman
With Carpenders Park being the only ward with all proposed sites appearing to meet the evidence to be included in the Local Plan, what consultation will occur with sites situated alongside other authorities?
Consultation with all our neighbouring authorities is undertaken on a regular basis through Duty to Cooperate Meetings in the preparation of the Local Plan. Neighbouring authorities are also consulted formally on the Draft Local Plan.
I should also point out that there are many sites across the whole of the District that meet the evidence to be included in the Regulation 18 consultation document and are not limited to the Carpenders Park area.
8g) Question to Councillor Matthew Bedford, Lead Member for Infrastructure and Planning Policy from Councillor David Coltman
Companies House has a system whereby interested parties can register to receive email alerts whenever there is any movement on the account of a company they wish to be informed about. Would it be possible to introduce a similar facility to our online planning system, to enable neighbours to be kept abreast of any new submissions or developments planned at addresses of particular interest to them?
Since 2005 details of all planning applications have been available to view online via the public access for planning pages of our website. It is possible for residents to register using this system to receive electronic notifications of new planning applications received in a particular geographical area which can be set by the resident. The council’s website includes a link to view planning applications and a guidance note on how to use the system. This note explains how it is possible to register for notifications please see:
The Planning Online system allows you set up an alert on a specific property. The resident would need to go to the advanced screen, save the property which they will then put it in their profile. If any application is then submitted at that property the resident will receive an email.
8h) Question to Councillor Matthew Bedford, Lead Member for Infrastructure and Planning Policy from Councillor Joan King
There are 70 homes planned for the former Little Furze School site, but only 18 are proposed to be social housing. This equates to just 25% and not the 45% target of the Council’s planning policy. Can the Lead Member confirm that planning permission will depend on the affordable homes target being increased to 45%, with no reduction on the number of social rented houses available?
Vacant Building Credit is being used in line with paragraph 63 of the National Planning Policy Framework. This allows the floorspace of existing buildings that are to be redeveloped to be offset against the calculations for section 106 affordable housing requirements (whether financial contribution or provision). It was introduced to encourage the re-use of brownfield land.
The application is for 70 dwellings and the Vacant Buildings Credit equates to 13.23 dwellings. 45% of 70 dwellings would equate to 31.5 dwellings, therefore when deducting the VBC allowance (13.23 dwellings), there would be a requirement for 18.27 affordable dwellings. 18 affordable dwellings are proposed which would accord with Policy and would be secured via condition on any grant of consent.
I would add that the information about Vacant Building Credit was set out in the report to the Planning Committee at the time of the original outline planning permission in 2018, which was approved unanimously by the committee, including your ward colleague Cllr Cox who was present at that meeting.
Finally although I am precluded by the “Part 2” confidentiality rules from saying a great deal, you will be aware from the discussion at the March Council meeting that the Council is actively working towards a potentially different outcome in relation to this site.
8i) Question to Councillor Matthew Bedford, Lead Member for Infrastructure and Planning Policy from Councillor Stephen Cox
When the Scouts were moved at this Council’s behest from their former location in Oxhey Drive, to Green Lane, does the Lead Member agree with me that the report to the Planning Committee was deficient in that it contained false information and assurances regarding the parking availability that the Scouts would have permitted use of?
The Planning Committee report was based on the information as it was understood by officers at the time. Subsequent legal advice has now given a different understanding. This is clearly unsatisfactory. I am continuing, along with Ward Members, to press officers to see if there are any alternative options which might improve the situation.
8j) Report from Councillor Andrew Scarth, Lead Member for Housing
The deadline stopping Private landlords evicting tenants came to an end on 31 May. Since that time the Housing team have been busy finding alternative accommodation for these unfortunate members of the public.
The computer system used by customers is in the process of being updated following the approval of the reviewed Housing Allocations Policy, it is hoped this will go live towards the end of July.
I am pleased to record that the newly appointed officer; Debra O'Neill started with the Council in June, she has begun her role in the Housing team of finding accommodation and managing refugees in the district. She will spend two and a half days each week in Housing and the other time with Community Partnerships team.
All four Temporary Accommodation sites in Three Rivers are fully occupied. There has been a change in support contract at these sites from 'One YMCA' to 'New Hope'. Managing these sites on a weekly basis is still the responsibility of Watford Community Housing [WCH]
Three Rivers Council has agreed to take two families from Afghanistan. This was in response to a request from Central government to all local authorities. The reason being that any local residents who had assisted British troops were likely to be a great risk post exit of our forces. The Treasury has increased its funding from 4 months to a year, I assume as the take up had been very poor. As of 1 July we and Dacorum are the only local authorities to support this urgent need.
On Tuesday 14 June, the Head of Housing and I went to Watford Community Housing head office to have a face to face meeting with Tina Barnard, CEO of this Housing Association. It was the first time we had a live meeting for over a year.
Tina said that it is likely that working from home will continue along with working from community hubs with less time spent in the office each week, which I consider will be a national trend for a variety of businesses. As a number of WCH properties were established homes, making them greener and looking at how to phase out gas central heating were being explored.
Finally I continue to be impressed by how willing the Housing team is willing to go the extra mile to assist its clients. I took a call from a very grateful resident in South Oxhey on 30 June.
8k) Question to Councillor Andrew Scarth, Lead Member for Housing, from Councillor Alex Hayward
One of the planning conditions for the temporary homeless accommodation at Jack Prescott Place, Bowring Green required the installation of CCTV there. The agent made clear that no CCTV would be provided. This condition was nonetheless discharged on the basis that there would be sufficient natural surveillance from within the site. As the Council was the applicant, surely the correct procedure for the council to have followed would have been to apply to vary the condition not discharge it without public consultation and member scrutiny? If not, why not?
A condition of the planning permission required the submission and approval of security measures including CCTV and external lighting. Details submitted and subsequently approved did not contain the requirement for CCTV as justification was provided on why this was not required supported by feedback from specialist consultees. CCTV was not deemed a requirement given the natural surveillance of the development and the security measures being implemented i.e. pedestrian gates access controlled via intercom linked to each property. Officers considered that due to the wording of Condition 9 ‘requiring details to be submitted’ and as justification was submitted advising why CCTV was not to be implemented this could be properly considered via the discharge of condition 9 and did not require a formal planning application.
LEISURE, ENVIRONMENT AND COMMUNITY
Reports from the Lead Member for Leisure (Cllr Chris Lloyd), Lead Member for Environmental Services, Climate Change & Sustainability (Cllr Phil Williams), Lead Member for Community Safety and Partnerships (Cllr Roger Seabourne) and questions.
8l) Report from Councillor Chris Lloyd, Lead Member for Leisure
- First events have been successful, with larger audiences for events aimed at younger people. Expected 12-18 months for return to pre-Covid audience levels.
- No information on potential 3rd round of CRF funding, possible it will not materialise.
- Auditorium capacity is currently limited to 207 (usually 515) and will return to full capacity when Covid restrictions allow.
- All venues are now open. Gyms, lane swimming/swimming lessons and sports hall use in family groups only re-commenced from the 12 June.
- Sports hall are following the rule/guidance of 6. As in 6 people or two households
- Junior Parkrun has restarted at Leavesden. Age has been reduced. It has been running fine.
- Approved at Resources and LEC to go to consultation.
8m) Report from Councillor Phil Williams, Lead Member for Environmental Service
Regular briefings and meetings with officers, partners and outside bodies have continued. The Batchworth Depot is progressing well with the groundworks having now been completed. Delivery of the modular units are due by the end of this month. Handover the new building is due at the end of October with completion at the end of the year.
Despite some of our crews having to isolate due to Covid we have kept running a full service. Well done to everyone who pulled out the stops to keep our services going.
Our Waste crews have been having to wait up to 90 minutes, twice a day at the HCC run Waterdale Waste Transfer Station in Garston. Bulky waste collections will be restarted on 12 July 2021.
The pilot sites in our reduction in grass cutting scheme had been going extremely well until HCC contractors cut one of the sites in South Oxhey. Other sites are being monitored with some previously unrecorded orchids making an appearance at one of the sites at Leavesden Country Park. Both the visual and biodiversity effects are receiving a very positive response from the public. The grass is due to be cut in August and September.
With carbon neutrality due in 2030 our Climate Emergency and Sustainability Team are working towards our route to zero and are currently looking into the feasibility of TRDC generating Hydroelectric power (HEP) from the rivers that run through our land.
Three Rivers District emissions have just been published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The District emitted 531,000 tonnes in 2019 - 4% less than in 2018 and 26% less when compared with 2005.
We have added a page on Chalk streams and sewerage discharge etc. to our website with a link to the River Chess Association Facebook page if anyone wants to sign up to receive information on discharges when they are published.
8n) Question to Councillor Phil Williams, Lead Member for Environmental Services, Climate Change and Sustainability from Councillor Alison Wall
Can the Lead Member update us on the progress of no idling zones outside schools
As previously advised at Full Council in order to enforce and issue Notices against those who are stationary with their engines on, the area has to be ‘designated’. The Council may apply for designation under The Road Traffic (Vehicle Emissions) (Fixed Penalty) (England) Regulations 2002. However, specific criteria needs to be met. The Council has an Air Quality Management Area so meets the first criteria for designation. However, part of the application for designation would include the submission of evidence to demonstrate that there is a problem locally. There is no current available evidence detailing there is specific problem outside schools in Three Rivers DC as such the designation has not been pursued.
Notwithstanding the above, the Council intend to raise awareness of the idling outside schools further with the Youth Council and local schools. This project has been delayed as a result of the current pandemic but will be picked up again in due course.
8o) Question to Councillor Phil Williams, Lead Member for Environmental Services, Climate Change and Sustainability from Councillor David Raw
Could this Council tell us when the owners of the graves in the Muslim section of Woodcock Hill cemetery will receive the deeds to their family’s graves?
This question was addressed in the report to the Leisure, Environment and Community Committee on 7 July 2021. The legal work necessary in order for the Council to offer grants of exclusive rights of burial to families who did not purchase burials directly from the Council, but from a third party, is ongoing. Once that work is completed, deeds of grant of exclusive rights of burial for 100 years will be offered to the families of the deceased in respect of all new burials in Section J. The Council will also consider applications from those families whose deceased relatives are buried in older graves on a case by case basis.
For the avoidance of doubt, the grant of an exclusive right of burial is just that; a burial right. The grantee does not own the grave. They are entitled during the currency of the grant to determine who is buried in that grave or grave space.
8p) Question to Councillor Phil Williams, Lead Member for Environmental Services, Climate Change and Sustainability from Councillor Paula Hiscocks
Now that we are in the summer months surely this council has a duty to protect our residents whose children and pets play in our chalk streams which are regularly having raw sewage discharged into them. Will this Council look again at putting warning notices on the river banks?
In response to the ongoing concerns regarding sewage in the River Chess Officers have been considering a number of ways of communicating the message more effectively to the wider public. We have been in contact with Officers from Thames Water and the Environment Agency. The responsibility for water quality in the River Chess lies with the Environment Agency.
Rivers are not a sterile environment and solely warning the public about sewage discharges could suggest they are safe for entering at all other times. This is a key consideration in how we approach advising the public of the discharges. In addition, a proliferation of signage along the Chess, which would have to be maintained, could potentially detract from the local environment and lead to clutter. There are also issues of land ownership and relevant consents for erecting signage would be required which would be time consuming and may not be agreed.
It is our intention to work with Officers from Thames Water and the Environment Agency to improve our webpages and social media including providing links to the Thames Water sewage discharge alert system. This work is currently underway.
8q) Report from Councillor Roger Seabourne, Lead Member for Community Safety and Partnerships
Regular meetings and briefings have continued with officers and partners.
Our new Covid Engagement Officer has taken up post. Their main focus at present is in trying to identify which groups have a low take up of the vaccine and what their reasons, fears are that are preventing them from doing so.
A new officer for the “No More” project (which superseded the SOS project) has taken up post for this area. There has been considerable difficulty in recruiting to fill vacancies for other areas/Districts; Welwyn, Hatfield, East Herts & Broxbourne – appointed but not yet taken up post; Dacorum & St. Albans – no appointments made yet. This is thought to be due to the short employment contracts (6 months) we have to offer as government funding is only for short periods. This is not helpful in recruiting or in trying to run a much needed service with some continuity.
We are hoping to appoint a new contractor to manage our CCTV services. The new provider, if funding can be found, would be responsible for the maintenance of equipment and access of requested CCTV footage. They will also be able to provide for the cameras to be re-located; speedily, without extra costs, something our existing contractors have not been able to provide. This should enable us to be able to use the CCTV we have much more effectively.
The ASB / Legal team were successful, again, in recently obtaining another Closure Order in Mill End.
8r) Question to Councillor Roger Seabourne, Lead Member for Community Safety and Partnerships from Councillor Stephen King
Are all licenced taxis in Three Rivers disabled compliant in that they can accommodate wheelchair users and what recourse is there to a wheelchair-bound potential fare if a company refuses to take them, or the driver says they cannot provide them with any assistance in entering the vehicle and therefore refuses to turn up?
Not all TRDC licensed vehicles are ‘wheelchair accessible’. There is a list of wheelchair accessible vehicles on our website https://www.threerivers.gov.uk/download?id=49882
Officers would investigate why a company has refused a wheelchair bound customer, however, if the company do not have any wheelchair accessible vehicles they would be permitted to refuse the fare.
Upon receiving a request from a wheelchair user, the company should clarify the type of wheelchair the customer will be transporting and whether the customer is capable of getting in and out of the vehicle themselves, with assistance, or, if they must remain seated in their wheelchair. This is to ensure the most appropriate vehicle is available and dispatched to the customer. It is an offence for any driver that currently holds a licence for a wheelchair accessible vehicle to refuse a fare under Part 12, Chapter 1, Section 537 of the Equality Act 2010
We do not currently have any drivers that drive wheelchair accessible vehicles who are exempt from taking wheelchair bound passengers
RESOURCES AND SHARED SERVICES
There will be a new permanent Head of Finance, Hannah Doney, who will be starting on the 8 August.
8t) Question to Councillor Dominic Sokalski, Lead Member for Resources and Shared Services from Councillor Reena Ranger
If water from private land seeps onto and it’s causing damage to another’s private land including people’s homes, does this Council believe that the landowner has a responsibility and duty to take immediate action to stop or take appropriate measures to mitigate against this?
A brief summary of the duties the legal department believes to be imposed at law upon private individuals in the circumstances the question anticipates is set out below. It is not understood from the question that the water seepage is in any way contaminated or otherwise prejudicial to health as this is not referred to. Also no consideration is given to the statutory nuisance regime under Part III of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 or to what action a local authority may take in the case of a statutory nuisance arising thereunder as this is understood to be outside the ambit of the question which focuses on the private landowner’s responsibilities and duties in respect of each other
To the extent that question relates to the law of private nuisance any answer to it is very fact sensitive and there is no one “fits all circumstances” answer to what is a difficult topic.
- A landowner owes a measured duty to take reasonable steps to prevent natural occurrences on their land from causing damage to neighbouring properties.
- In determining the measured duty, a court must consider what is fair, just and reasonable as between the two neighbouring landowners. It must have regard to all the circumstances, including the extent of the foreseeable risk, the available preventive measures, the costs of such measures and the resources of both parties.
- In the event of escape of water from a manmade structure (for example a drain or culvert) the landowner is liable to:
- build it in such a way so as to not foreseeably increase the risk of flooding to neighbouring land;
- update it as is reasonably necessary from time to time to ensure it does not cause flooding due to increased water flow; and
- take reasonable steps to prevent it blocking.
It will be noted that where the landowner is a public authority with substantial resources the competing demands on those resources and the public purposes for which they are held must be taken into account as it may not be fair, just or reasonable to require a public authority to expend those resources on infrastructure works to protect a few individuals against a modest risk of property damage.
8u) Question to Councillor Dominic Sokalski, Lead Member for Resources and Shared Services from Councillor Joanna Clemens
Can the Council tell me what (if any) Chinese ‘smart cities’ technology we either have at the moment, or we are planning to acquire? Areas might include but are not limited to automated transport/traffic management, CCTV, and facial recognition technology, from suppliers including Huawei, Alibaba and Hikvision.
ICT has advised there is nothing we are aware of for Three Rivers Council and are not aware of any plans to acquire any.
The Community Safety Partnership CCTV is provided through a company called WCCTV, who have confirmed the cameras are Hikvision cameras. These units are only used for the purpose of preventing and detecting of crime which is a standalone system and not a smart city technology. The cameras are purchased by the Council and the footage is used by Hertfordshire Constabulary.
9. REPORTS AND QUESTIONS TO THE CHAIRS OF THE AUDIT, PLANNING, LICENSING AND REGULATORY SERVICES COMMITTEES (RULE 14)
9a) Report from and questions to the Chair of the Audit Committee, Councillor Margaret Hofman
The external audit of the draft statement of accounts for the year ended 31 march 2020 has not yet been completed by our external auditors due to resources pressures as additional audit work has been required due to pandemic. Draft statutory accounts for TRDC have been published and are available to view on the Council’s website.
The Audit Committee has requested additional information and more frequent reporting from officers.
There has been one meeting of the Audit Committee held on 23 March 2021 since the last Full Council meeting.
9b) Report from and questions to the Chair of the Planning Committee, Councillor Steve Drury
Two major applications recently, namely Killingdown Farm- for the third time and the Moto application for a possible motorway service station at junction 20 M25 Hunton Bridge.
Both turned down for various reasons, including Conservation Area, environmental issues and increased traffic.
Killingdown Farm will no doubt come back again possibly with changes to entry/exit to the site, but we should be aware that the site is designated for housing and that at some point, it will be built on.
The Moto application will probably be appealed along with two other applications, in Buckinghamshire between M40 and Rickmansworth/Maple Cross junction.
9c) Question to the Chair of the Planning Committee, Councillor Steve Drury, from Councillor David Raw
At the May Planning Committee meeting, immediately after the officer update, a Planning Committee member was allowed to read a lengthy prepared speech from their iPad. The speech concluded with the member proposing refusal of the application under consideration. Why was this permitted? Please clarify in what circumstances prepared speeches are allowed so all Planning Committee members can benefit from this relaxation in the previous guidance?
Updated Written reply:
I am not aware of any Councillor reading a prepared speech.
Councillors rightly make notes on issues being considered in a planning application and I understand this was the case as this was the third time the planning application was being considered.
On 24 June 2021, the Monitoring Officer shared with the Councillor a Counsel’s Opinion, covering predetermination and the same day read over to them Section 25 (2) of the Localism Act 2011 advising the Councillor that referring to a set of notes prepared shortly before the meeting was not likely to amount to pre determination in the particular circumstances.
It should be noted of course that the planning application I believe you are referring to was refused with every member voting against so I am surprised you are raising thus irrelevant point.
9d) Report from and questions to the Chair of the Licensing Committee, Councillor Raj Khiroya
I have nothing to report.
9e) Report from and questions to the Chair of the Regulatory Services Committee, Councillor Raj Khiroya
I have nothing to report.
10. MOTIONS UNDER PROCEDURE RULE 11
Councillor Alex Michaels, seconded by Councillor Joanna Clemens have submitted the following motion as follows.
TRDC currently charges £175 per annum to be on our right to build register and a £200 one off fee to those which are added successfully. This register enables residents to build their own homes which in turn diversifies and increases the housing supply and increases consumer choice. Studies show that self built properties often have higher success proving low carbon living (1). This register is a government requirement (2). Council agrees these fees are excessively high and not in keeping with our peer Districts in Hertfordshire. These fees may be suppressing interest for residents to express an interest in the scheme and stopping TRDC from developing a planning policy fit for all residents. Any housing allocated to our local plan as a result of this will encompass our existing housing targets and not increase our total housing numbers. Existing planning policy applying thus not contributing to over development of green belt. This motion resolves to reduce this fee to £25 annually and require any further increase to be approved via a multi-party committee as a standing agenda item.
Fees charged by other Hertfordshire Local Authorities:
TRDC £175 + £200 one off fee with 74 on the list
Dacorum No fees 150 on list
St Albans No fees 515 on list
Hertsmere No fees with 65 on list
(these figures are from FOI requests/written correspondence)
Council are asked to note the motion which has been referred to the Infrastructure, Housing and Economic Development Committee meeting on 22 September 2021 under Rule 11(5) of the Council Constitution
Councillor Alex Michaels, seconded by Councillor Joanna Clemens have submitted the following motion as follows:
Grassland is one of the most unique habitats for wildlife and pollinators in the UK. 97% of grassland in Hertfordshire has been lost since the 1930's and 48% of species associated with it have noticeably declined since 1970 (1). Hertfordshire has predominately chalk bedrock (2) which often leads to conditions which support chalk meadows which has been called 'the UK's equivalent of rainforest' (3). Of the total Council owned land in the District TRDC owns circa 30%. TRDC resolves to immediately cease cutting 70% of grassland it owns and manages, including that on verges, in parks and recreational spaces and put in place sustainable management processes where feasible such as cut and lifting. Council notes this will be done within existing budgets and that whilst not all areas will be able to be cut and lifted we agree it is more environmentally sound to leave these areas to recover than carry on harming the grassland habitat.
1: State of the Nation Report (Herts Wildlife Trust)
2: Hertfordshire Geology Society
3: National Trust
Council are asked to note the motion has been referred to the Leisure, Environment and Community Committee for the meeting on 18 August 2021 then to Policy and Resources Committee on 13 September 2021 and then back to Council on 19 October 2021 under Rule 11(6) of the Council Constitution
Councillor Paula Hiscocks, seconded by Councillor Alison Wall to move under Notice duly given as follows:
This Council agrees that the continued sewage overflow and consequential flooding of Harefield Road in Rickmansworth is unacceptable and will write to Thames Water asking them to urgently address this serious situation.
Councillor Alex Hayward, seconded by Councillor Ciaran Reed have submitted the following motion as follows:
In order to maximise transparency and electoral accountability this Council believes that the residents of Three Rivers should all be able to access the meetings of this Council via live steaming and that this Council looks to implement this facility as soon as possible.
Council are asked to note that the motion has been referred to the Policy and Resources Committee meeting on 19 July 2021 and then back to Council on 19 October 2021 under Rule 11(6) of the Council Constitution
Councillor Matthew Bedford, seconded by Councillor Andrew Scarth to move under Notice duly given as follows:
Council notes the consultation currently underway in relation to draft parliamentary boundary changes published by the Parliamentary Boundary Commission.
Council resolves to respond to the consultation as follows:
"Three Rivers District Council supports the proposal to create a parliamentary constituency containing all the wards of Three Rivers District plus the Kings Langley ward of Dacorum Borough. Currently Three Rivers District is divided between three parliamentary constituencies. Additionally the Abbots Langley parish and the Watford Rural parish are currently divided between constituencies, as are the communities of Abbots Langley and South Oxhey. This draft proposal would significantly enhance the representation of the district and avoid any of the communities within the district being divided between constituencies. In addition by including the Kings Langley ward of Dacorum, this proposal enables the Kings Langley community to be contained within a single parliamentary constituency."
Councillor Phil Williams, seconded by Councillor Sara Bedford to move under Notice duly given as follows:
Council notes that:
- There is great concern at reports that Thames Water discharged raw sewage into the River Chess and River Colne over 500 times in 2020.
- A reply to an Environmental Information Regulation (EIR) request shows sewage discharges from the Chesham Sewage Treatment Works for 2021 through to 24th May 2021 occurred for 1791 hours out of a total possible 4032 hours, or 44.4% of the year.
- These timings show that the discharges have become routine, rather than an emergency response to exceptional conditions.
- In response to a petition on such discharges the Government has stated that ‘Tackling the harm caused by sewage is a top priority for Government’.
- The Government has stated that ‘Climate change has led to increased rainfall and water infrastructure has not kept pace with development growth’.
- In addition to having a negative impact on local wildlife and forcing a local watercress farm to cease trading, this also hugely affects the quality of life and the enjoyment of water-based activities for residents along the course of the river and at times causes contaminated water to be on roads and pavements, and into local properties.
Council believes that:
- The establishment of a Storm Overflows Taskforce and a date of September 2022 from the Government to publish a plan to reduce sewage discharges from storm outflows is too little, too late to tackle the issue.
- The rules on sewage discharges must be tightened and enforcement improved, in conjunction with the Environment Agency.
- Housing developers should meet the costs of the required supply and disposal of water from new homes.
- The Government must make capital funding urgently available to address these issues
Council therefore instructs the Chief Executive to write to the relevant Government Ministers, requesting an acceleration in the capital programme to lower risks of untreated sewage discharges into our rivers, and an assurance that local housing developers will be expected to fund water infrastructure to meet the needs of new housing.
Motion 7 - Agreed by the Chair of Council and to be taken as urgent business
Councillor Sara Bedford, seconded by Councillor Stephen Giles-Medhurst to move as follows:
Council deplores the decision of the Government to remove the ‘temporary’ uplift in Universal Credit on 1 October.
Council agrees with the former Tory Leader and architect of Universal Credit, Sir Iain Duncan Smith, and five of his successors (Stephen Crabb, Damian Green, David Gauke, Esther McVey and Amber Rudd) that a failure to keep the uplift in place would 'damage living standards, health and opportunities [for those that] need our support most as we emerge from the pandemic […] and the extra £20 [... ] has been essential in allowing people to live with dignity’.
Council therefore resolves to ask the Chief Executive to write to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to request that the uplift be incorporated permanently into Universal Credit and asks that a copy of the letter be sent to all three local MPs for their comments.
11. EXCLUSION OF PRESS AND PUBLIC
If Council wishes to consider the remaining item in private, it will be appropriate for a resolution to be passed in the following terms:-
“that under Section 100A of the Local Government Act 1972 the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following item of business on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined under paragraph 3 of Part I of Schedule 12A to the Act. It has been decided by the Council that in all the circumstances, the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.”
12. TO RECEIVE THE PART II RECOMMENDATION FROM THE POLICY AND RESOURCES COMMITTEE MEETING HELD ON 14 JUNE 2021 ON PATHWAYS FOR CARE
5 July 2021
Owing to the need to make Covid/Health and Safety preparations for the meeting we are not able to accept registrations to observe the meeting after 2pm on Tuesday 13 July 2021. We are restricted on the number of people that can attend the meeting in person. To secure one of the limited places as an observer, please contact the Committee Team in advance on CommitteeTeam@threerivers.gov.uk. Places will be allocated on a first come first served basis.
General Enquiries: Committeeteam@threerivers.gov.uk