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Full Council - 8 December 2020

Virtual meeting with remote access08th December 2020

To:      ALL MEMBERS OF THE THREE RIVERS DISTRICT COUNCIL

You are hereby summoned to attend a virtual meeting of the Council on Tuesday 8 December 2020 at 7.30pm for the purpose of transacting the under mentioned business:-

Please note that the meeting is being held virtually. The business of the meeting will be live streamed at –

https://aisapps.sonicfoundry.com/AuditelScheduler/Player/Index/?id=cc5d667c-6eda-45ca-aa2b-50c9ea10e270&presID=46b293176b1b479b98582401b4a331ec1d

 

The Council meeting protocol is provided below:

 protocol-for-virtual-council-meeting

AGENDA

 

1.  APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

 

2.  MINUTES

To confirm as a correct record the Minutes of the Council meeting held on 20 October 2020.

 20-10-20-cl-minutes-final-draft

 

3.  RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THE POLICY AND RESOURCES COMMITTEE

To receive the recommendations from the Policy and Resources Committee meetings held on 2 November 2020 and 7 December 2020

 The Minutes P&R Committee meeting held on 2 November 2020 can be viewed using the weblink below:

https://www.threerivers.gov.uk/egcl-page/policy-and-resources-committee-minutes

 

PR62/20        LOCAL PLAN DEVELOPMENT SCHEME

Recommend:

That Council agree the Local Development Scheme as set out in Appendix 1 below.

Background papers

 -05-20-11-02-pr-i-local-development-scheme

-05-appendix-1-local-development-scheme-nov-2020

 

PR64/20 BUDGET MONITORING - MONTH 6 (SEPTEMBER)

Recommend:

That the following revenue and capital budget variations be approved and incorporated into the three-year medium-term financial plan:-

 

Variance

2020/21

£

2021/22

£

2022/23

£

Revenue - (Favourable)/ Unfavourable

191,000

4,352

(35,648)

Capital - Increase / (Decrease)

(1,145,500)

1,164,000

0

Background report

-07-20-11-02-pr-i-budget-monitoring-period-6-cover-report

-07-20-11-02-pr-i-budget-management-report-app

 

PR66/20       MOTIONS UNDER PROCEDURE RULE 11

Recommend:

That Council approve the paying of the real living wage.

Background information - see motion below.

Paying the real living wage

  1. Council notes its decision in 2013 to pay the Real Living Wage (RLW) to all employees.
  2. Council further notes that this decision was not extended to staff employed on a casual basis and believes that this was incorrect.
  3. Council understands that only the Real Living Wage is independently calculated each year and is based on the minimum that employees and their families need to live.
  4. Council believes that as a responsible employer this wage should be extended to all employees, regardless of their contract type, and to contracted staff, such as cleaners and security officers.
  5. Council therefore requests that all employees of contractors and Council staff employed on a casual basis should be paid the RLW as soon as practically possible, and that discussions take place with SLM regarding the pay of employees at our leisure facilities.
  6. Council also commits to becoming an accredited Living Wage Employer.

Note: the cost of this has been estimated by TRDC to be around £10,500pa.

 

MINUTE PR71/20 BUSINESS RATES POOLING

Recommend:

  • That Council agrees that, subject to a final review following the Local Government Settlement for 2021/22, Three Rivers District Council enters into the Hertfordshire Business Rates Pool.
  • Recommend Council delegate authority to the Chief Executive and the Director of Finance, in consultation with the Chair and Vice Chair of the Policy and Resources Committee to sign up to the Hertfordshire Business Rates Pool, within 28 days of the Local Government Finance Settlement.

 Background papers:

-05-20-12-07-pr-i-business-rates-pooling-report

-05-20-12-07-pr-i-business-rates-pool-agreement-herts-2021-22-signed-version-redacted

 

4.  INDEPENDENT REMUNERATION PANEL

To receive a report from the Panel.

 -04-20-12-08-member-allowances

members-remuneration-2021-22-app1

 

5.  COUNCIL TAX REDUCTION SCHEME FOR 2021/22

 -05-20-12-08-cl-council-tax-reduction-scheme-report

 

6.  COUNCIL TAX BASE FINANCIAL YEAR 2021/22

-06-20-12-08-cl-i-trdc-council-tax-base-report-2021-22 

7. AMENDMENTS TO RULE 17

To agree the proposed amendments to Rule 17 - Procedure Rules for Budget Setting.

 proposed-amendments-to-rule-17

 

8.  TO RECEIVE THE RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THE LICENSING COMMITTEE HELD ON 2 DECEMBER 2020 ON THE EXTENSION OF THE LICENSING POLICY - WITH PROPOSED AMENDMENTS

Recommend:

Authorise Officers to continue to adopt the existing Statement of Licensing Policy 2016-2021 for an interim period up until 23 February 2021.

Authorise Officers to review the policy in line with the Schedule of Implementation in the revised Appendix B.

Revised appendix B

appendix-b_revised

 

Background papers:

-05-extension-of-existing-policy-report_licensingcommittee

-05-appendix-a

-05-appendix-b

 

 

9.  TO RECEIVE ANY PETITIONS UNDER PROCEDURE RULE 18

None received.

 

10.  QUESTIONS FROM THE PUBLIC UNDER PROCEDURE RULE 15

None received.

 

11.  CHAIR OF COUNCIL ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

12.  REPORTS AND QUESTIONS TO THE LEADER AND LEAD MEMBERS UNDER RULE 14

Under the new Rule 14 any written questions not dealt with at the meeting will not be carried over to the next meeting.  The written question and answer will be provided in the minutes.  At the next meeting the Member whose question was not dealt with may ask one supplementary question on the written answer provided.  The time limits in Rule 11(5) will apply. The following written questions and answers have been provided in the minutes of the meeting held on 20 October 2020 but all the Members whose question was not dealt with may ask one supplementary question on the written answer provided.  The questions not dealt with at the meeting along with the written answer are provided below:

 

LEISURE, ENVIRONMENT AND COMMUNITY

12a Question to Councillor Roger Seabourne, Lead Member for Community Safety and Partnerships from Councillor Alex Hayward

Now that the children are back at school and the PSPO at Shepherd School has elapsed can we be updated on the traffic conditions?

Written response provided:

Although technically, traffic conditions are outside the scope of TRDC, as this is a matter for HCC Highways, I do not wish to ‘split hairs’ on a technicality; parking is our responsibility and the two are inexorably linked, albeit with a rather muddled, confused cause and effect.  As such it is neither sensible, practical nor productive to treat them separately.

Following notice of your question, I visited the site and felt, just as a couple of one off snapshots (although of course I was very careful not to take photographs) the general situation was worse than when the PSPO was in force, but still better than it had been previously.

Following receipt of your question, officers contacted Shepherds School for their comments and/or observations. Perhaps, not surprisingly, the Head Teacher expressed concerns that parking conditions have worsened around the school at dropping off and collection times in terms of blocked driveways and parking on double yellow lines.  However, the school apparently did not consider the problems severe enough to warrant contacting the Council before being approached.

This was a pilot, and therefore no precedents for actions or procedures were available, but I think it fair to assume officers would probably not have followed up in any proactive way without some requests to do so.  Your question, which prompted some inquiries which produced some comments, has prompted some action, and I thank you for that.

An increased PEO presence in the vicinity of the school over the next few weeks has been requested and we will be reviewing the parking controls in the wider area in the future.

 

RESOURCES AND SHARED SERVICES

12b Question to Councillor Matthew Bedford, Lead Member for Resources and Shared Services from Councillor David Sansom

I am sure all Councillors are aware that this Council has identified "Promoting a Healthy Lifestyle" in the TRDC Strategic Plan as one of the Councils aims. Rickmansworth Bowls Club and the British Legion Bowls Club contribute to our stated aim by providing Exercise and a Social Network for a large number of Local Residents.  Will this Council confirm that it will continue to serve our residents and support the Bowls club which promotes a healthy physical and mental outdoor lifestyle?

Written response provided:

Yes

 

12c Question to Councillor Matthew Bedford, Lead Member for Resources and Shared Services from Councillor Joan King

Given the area designated for the new market in South Oxhey is now completed, can the Lead Member advise when this Council will inform Watford Rural Parish Council where stall holders’ vans will be allowed to park and at what cost?

Written response provided:

Discussions are still ongoing with the Parish Council and Countryside and it is currently anticipated that Henbury Way car park will be utilised.

 

12d Question to Councillor Matthew Bedford, Lead Member for Resources and Shared Services from Councillor Stephen King

What percentage of affordable/social housing does the Lead Member believe should be stipulated in this Council’s local policies in future to at least guarantee that the present target of 45% affordable/social housing, which is so infrequently achieved, is henceforth always met?

Written response provided:

The Council remains committed to its policy of seeking 45% affordable housing.

 

12e Urgent Question to Councillor Matthew Bedford, Lead Member for Resources and Shared Services from Councillor Paula Hiscocks

Would this Council be prepared for the Rickmansworth Bowls Club building to be acquired by Batchworth Community Council as a Community Asset?

Written response provided:

The Council would be extremely unlikely to offer either a freehold or long leasehold interest in the clubhouse or the bowling green as they are an integral part of the Three Rivers House campus. Any sale would therefore be unlikely to represent Best Value. But in principle we would of course consider a (short) lease along similar lines to that already under discussion with the bowls club. I suggest the Clerk contacts officers if the community council has a proposal they want to discuss.

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12f Report from Councillor Sarah Nelmes, Leader of the Council

So we are now out of 'Lockdown 2' and in to Tier 2. While tiers are theoretically to be reviewed every two weeks, it is not thought to be likely that we will move before Christmas. It continues to be a very difficult time for all of us. 

Covid continues to cause enormous damage to families and businesses around us, heart breaking, our hospitality industry is particularly hard hit. We will continue to work hard to help. But what has been wonderful has been how our officers have stepped up and adapted to changed priorities, how so many of our residents have volunteered to help those more vulnerable members of our communities, and how the majority of our residents have followed the rules and so helped to keep our infection rates down. We will all have continue with this for the while, but I do believe that we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. We must continue to be vigilant to keep our infection numbers on the correct trajectory.

Details of local cases can be found using the HCC dashboard: https://hcc-phei.shinyapps.io/covid19_public_dashboard/        

We have a shared commercial Environmental Health Service with Watford BC and they have been supporting the Council’s operational response to the current pandemic. They have been working closely with HCC to monitor and respond to local cases and ensure appropriate response measures are in place.  The Environmental Health Officers have been proactively engaging and supporting businesses across the District with their response to the evolving legislation. They have been working closely with the Police and our licensing officers. In the run up to Christmas we will be working with our larger stores to ensure they have adequate plans in place to promote mask wearing and social distancing as stores get busier. Queuing in a supermarket is not, I’m afraid, going to be a very attractive proposition at this time of year.

We have had a significant communication push promoting the Covid-19 messages. This has recently involved an Ad Van traversing the District and targeted social media messages. Currently we have additional staff patrolling our larger parks at the weekend, they are seeking to engage, to explain and to encourage visitors to our parks to follow the rules.  Information banners have also been erected at key locations around the District.

I will give a verbal update at the meeting on Covid, a very fast moving situation.

As many of you know, I’m not a great one for church going but one service I never miss is the Annual Remembrance service at my local church where I lay a wreath on behalf of the Offices and members of the council. It was a very different experience this year as I know it was for many of you, laying the wreath with just the vicar and one of his team filming for their on line service. Reading the names on the memorial board always gives me shivers, so many of the surnames familiar to me from my local community. I know many of you laid wreaths in the same quiet way. Even in these difficult times we will never forget.

At the end of November I spoke at two on line induction sessions for new staff, it was a strange way to meet new team members, some of who haven’t met colleagues or any members face to face since they started. I was impressed, though, with their enthusiasm and flexibility, some doing secondments to jobs that were not what they applied for. I hope we can meet them, and each other, face to face soon.

In spite of the pandemic the normal work of the council continues such as work on the local plan and keeping in touch with our major stakeholders, business as usual.

The start of the Christmas season for so many years has been the switching on of the lights in Croxley. It was heart breaking to hear of the death of 'Mr Christmas', as he was known locally, a day before this years 'switch on'. My thoughts are with his family and friends. Farewell 'Mr Christmas', thanks for all the joy and pleasure you gave to so many.

As this is our last Full Council before Christmas I would like to wish you and yours a very Happy Christmas and, all being well, a much better 2021 than 2020.

I know some restrictions are being lifted for a few days over Christmas, but please please do take care to protect yourself and everyone else from infection, we really do not want our 'Christmas break' to cause another spike afterwards. And remember:

 logo2.jpg

 

Questions to Councillor Sarah Nelmes, Leader of the Council

 

12g Question to Councillor Sarah Nelmes, Leader of the Council from Councillor Michael Revan

When did our current local plan expire? When was our current local plan due to originally be published and what is the new estimated timeline?

Written response:

The Core Strategy, Development Management Policies LDD and Site Allocations LDD which make up our current local plan for the District doesn’t expire until 2026 and remains in place until the new Local Plan is adopted.

The new Local Plan’s original publication date was originally anticipated to be published in December 2018 as detailed in the Local Development Scheme that was prepared in February 2017. The Local Development Scheme (November 2020) anticipates the publication of the Local Plan will be November/December 2021.

 

12h Question to Councillor Sarah Nelmes, Leader of the Council from Councillor Marilyn Butler

Does this Council accept that any further delay to our local plan at this stage will set the process back by at LEAST ONE Year if not two or three?

Written response:

A delay in the production of the Local Plan can be due to a number of issues, including but not limited to, changes in national planning policy, the number of evidence based studies and delays to evidence based studies that have to be prepared, decisions made by Committees and consultation requirements. It will depend on the reason for a delay as to how long the Local Plan process will be delayed. For example, the Government has recently indicated that they are considering a levelling up between the north and south of the Country though there is little or no detail to this as yet. This may mean housing targets are reduced for our area and increased for more northern parts of the Country. It has been announced that some Government departments are to move to Birmingham from London for example. This may mean that by the time we have to finally decide on sites are target numbers have reduced and the Local Plan reviewed accordingly.

Legislation requires that the Local Development Scheme (which sets out the timetable for the production of the Local Plan) is updated on a regular basis and published on the Councils website to keep residents and stakeholders informed.

 

12i Question to Councillor Sarah Nelmes, Leader of the Council from Councillor Alison Wall

A Facebook post from a District Councillor stated that due to Covid a review of sites and methodologies is needed in the local plan process. What revisions are needed? What does this administration feel will be the change needed in land use in the district post Covid, that would render all work toward the local plan in need of review?

Written response:

The Covid situation has resulted in many of our residents making more use of open spaces and we need to ensure that the Local Plan contains policies that will protect these spaces and other community facilities that people have come to rely on over the past months. There may be some revisions needed to the Local Plan to accommodate this but this would not render all work toward the Local Plan in need for review.

 

12j Question to Councillor Sarah Nelmes, Leader of the Council from Councillor Paula Hiscocks

Does this Council have a greater obligation to approve development applications that would otherwise be refused due to a lack of Local Plan? Should our residents be worried that due to TRDC being unable to show a 5 year housing supply a presumption in favour of development applies to all applications?

Written response:

The Core Strategy, Development Management Policies LDD and Site Allocations LDD which make up our current local plan for the District remains in place until the new Local Plan is adopted. However, as we are unable to demonstrate a 5 year housing land supply, which has been the case since the Government introduced the Standard Method for Calculating Housing Needs, the presumption in favour of sustainable development has to be applied in the consideration of planning applications.

We have been applying the presumption in favour of sustainable development since December 2018. The presumption puts the onus on national policy, however the Local Plan is still a material consideration in decision making on planning applications. Being a Green Belt authority this has meant very little has changed to planning committee decision making.

 

12k Question to Councillor Sarah Nelmes, Leader of the Council from Councillor Stephen Cox

Does the Administration agree that the Government’s proposed pay freeze for public sector works is unacceptable particularly when it is those people that have been at the vanguard of keeping services to the general public running during the present on-going pandemic?  If the Administration agree will the Leader write to the Prime Minister advising him of this?

 Written response:

Although it is very disappointing that the Government has recently announced a public sector pay freeze, this does seek to protect all front-line medical workers and all public sector workers on below-median earnings, but no increases to higher-paid public sector workers away from the medical front line. At a time when so many in the private sector are seeing pay freezes, pay cuts or losing their jobs, this does appear to give some balance. Given that in August the Consumer Prices Index (12 month inflation rate) was 0.5%, in September 0.7%, in October 0.9%, and likely to rise further due to Covid and Brexit, people who have worked so hard keeping services running and worked flexibly to support our residents, especially the most vulnerable, will once again be hit with a reduction in earning in real terms. This is clearly very disappointing and I wish it was not so, there are clearly going to be some difficult decisions to be made in the coming months.​

 

12l Question to Councillor Sarah Nelmes, Leader of the Council from Councillor Alex Michaels

Can you please update the Council on local plan progress, which seems to be stalling/delayed? Specifically, some Councillors asked for new criteria to be introduced contrary to professional officer progress made, which has since been ruled unlawful.  How has this impacted the plan?  Can you also please give your view on the impact on the District of presumption for development, which is a consequence of a delayed local plan?

 Written response:

The majority of the work has been completed with regard to the evidence based studies and the assessment of sites, including infrastructure considerations such as education establishments for which we rely on the county council. There are still some pieces to be completed, for example the Transports Assessment which we rely on the County Council for assistance. The majority of the policies that will form part of the Local Plan have already been approved by Policy and Resources Committee and can be viewed from the Council web site at the following links:

https://www.threerivers.gov.uk/meeting/policy-and-resources-committee-20-july-2020 (see Item 6)

https://www.threerivers.gov.uk/meeting/policy-and-resources-committee-7-september-2020 (see Item 5).

The revised Local Development Scheme that has been approved by the Policy & Resources Committee and to be approved by Full Council on the 8 December sets out the timetable for the production of the Local Plan.

We have been applying the presumption in favour of sustainable development since December 2018. The presumption puts the onus on national policy, however the Local Plan is still a material consideration in decision making on planning applications. Being a Green Belt authority this has meant very little has changed to planning committee decision making.

 

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 Steve Drury), Lead Member for Housing (Cllr Andrew Scarth).

12m Report from Councillor Stephen Giles-Medhurst, Lead Member for Transport and Economic Development

Rickmansworth High Street

The County Council has now installed the more user friendly “swing gates” and the “plastic “barriers have been removed. Additional signage has been requested. I have followed up with the County Council the need for some seating by the temporary bus stop in Northway.

They have confirmed that the bus stop has now been marked with appropriate bus stop markings and pole. They are looking at installing a shelter here, but the footway width isn't particularly generous so will probably require a narrow roof-type shelter to be installed.  They hope to go on site to determine what's possible once the current lockdown situation is eased, but the shelter company has been advised.

Ebury Road

We are progressing to include further short stay car parking bays (near the car park) close the High Street.

Croxley Green Controlled Parking Zone

The statutory advertisement has finished and the comments will be reviewed by myself and officers within the next week to see if any changes are required. Pending this we expect to publish the final order which will come into effect six weeks later. I have asked officers to set up a contractor to install the required signage etc. as soon as possible after this date and still anticipate that the scheme will be up and running before the end of the fiscal year.

Rickmansworth West Controlled Parking zone

Meetings have been held with Ward Councillors and officers are progressing to the next stage of consultation with, for some roads, a separate letter seeking confirmation of inclusion or not, due to some generic objection letters.

Pavement Parking consultation

A response to the Government consultation has been submitted making it clear that any blanket prohibition, with possible exemptions, would require substantial enforcement powers and staffing.  We are proposing that this rests with the Police.

Delta Gain shopping parade upgrade

We still await full legal agreement from the land owner before works can progress.

Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans (LCWIPs)

I have attended a workshop with other Councillors on developing this plan for Three Rivers and Watford led by the County Council.  We had a valuable discussion on a proposed cycle network and core walking zones (CWZs) (and routes).

High Elms Lane works

The County Council has finally responded on the plans for improvements here to enhance safety and parking. A detailed breakdown of undertaking work section by section is now been sought.

 

12n Question to Councillor Stephen Giles-Medhurst, Lead Member for Transport and Economic Development from Councillor Alex Hayward

Why have we failed our residents and issued PCN fines during lockdown when many people have to work from home?

Written response:

Parking Enforcement has continued during the 2nd lockdown, the decision to maintain the service taken having regard to the length and context of the current lockdown.  Whilst it was acknowledged many residents would continue to remain at home, many premises remained open and accessible resulting in traffic on our local roads.  It was considered appropriate to ensure parking enforcement was maintained to ensure the safe and free flow of traffic on our roads and in our car parks.  This decision was also taken having regard to general advice issued from the British Parking Association and the actions of our neighbouring authorities.

12o Question to Councillor Stephen Giles-Medhurst, Lead Member for Transport and Economic Development from Councillor Joan King

As the Government has announced it is bringing forward a ban on new petrol and diesel cars in the UK to 2030 and we should all be going electric, what publicly available charging points have been installed to date in the Three Rivers District Council area and how many of those are on land owned by this authority.  What plans exist for this council to expedite the roll-out of electricity charging points for cars in the District?

Written response:

  •  The District has the highest number of publicly-accessible charge points in Herts (42 out of 182 across Hertfordshire in April 2020). This is over twice the regional average (which is 20 per 100k popn) but a third lower than London (63 per 100k popn). While 2 are on District Council land, most are provided commercially
  • While Government grants have not been made available since 2015 for introducing public charging infrastructure (which like petrol pumps are often provided by the market), this Council’s Retail Parade Revitalisation Programme includes plans to introduce charging points in District car parks this year, specifically to enable and encourage drivers to visit local shops.
  • A pilot scheme will launch in Abbots Langley and Rickmansworth, with further points planned in all the District Centres if this scheme proves popular.
  • The Parking Standards draft policy approved by the Local Plan sub-committee and Policy & Resources Committee for the new Local Plan encourages the delivery of infrastructure to support the use of low carbon transport, including requiring electric vehicle charging points to be provided as part of new development.

12p Question to Councillor Stephen Giles-Medhurst, Lead Member for Transport and Economic Development from Councillor Stephen King

Large vehicles, including dustcarts, have been seen constantly driving over grass verges at the entrance to Mullion Walk which has had the effect of blocking the gullies, leading to flooding, and an unsightly mess and creates hazardous conditions.  Given the county council refuses to widen the splay at the entrance will this council commit to hardening the verges as required to improve the environment for residents?

 Written response:

Yes, the District Council is planning to install hardening on one side and is looking into access by refuse vehicles.

 

12q Question to Councillor Stephen Giles-Medhurst, Lead Member for Transport and Economic Development from Councillor Stephen Cox

Can I be assured that this Council has not subsidised bus services on the W19 route which have been axed and therefore not operated during the on-going pandemic?

 Updated written response:

Additional information has been received from HCC regarding the W19 bus route

 The W19 service has not been axed but did not operate between March lockdown to June; it was reinstated on the 1 June except for two journeys (1939 and 2039) which still aren’t running.

 However, HCC have confirmed ‘the government rules are that LA’s (which includes districts and boroughs) have to continue paying operators the pre-Covid amounts.

 The early morning and early evening routes are still therefore being subsidised by TRDC.

 

 12r Report from Councillor Steve Drury, Lead Member for Infrastructure and Planning Policy

There is no report from the Lead Member for Infrastructure and Planning Policy

 

12s Question to Councillor Steve Drury, Lead Member for Infrastructure and Planning Policy from Councillor Reena Ranger

Does this Administration believe that elected representatives are there at the behest of residents, elected to protect, preserve and enhance the District to the very best of our abilities? That Councillors should act in the interest of all residents, our communities and District above self-interest and it is its duty to ensure good planning, suitable development and have a clear vision for the District, as it is vital to serve future generations and keep the District a special place for all who reside here.

Written response:

I certainly agree that elected representatives are here for residents and should act for all. For planning and development matters the Council must, in planning for the future, have full regard to National Planning policy, and also housing numbers prescribed to us by MHCLG. All efforts are made to achieve the best for our residents both now and in the future, given those requirements.​

 

12t Report from Councillor Andrew Scarth, Lead Member for Housing

  •  Following an ‘Everyone in’ directive from central Government regarding assisting rough sleepers or those of risk of rough sleeping, I am delighted that even with a very short deadline for application, the Head of Housing has been successful with two bids; one short term funding of £35,940 to work with clients that are still in temporary accommodation. This has to be spent in 2020/21.

 

  •  The long-term scheme has resulted in the Council being granted £513,015 to enable it to deliver five long-term assets in the form of supported move-on homes for people recovering from rough sleeping or at risk of rough sleeping. New Hope trust will be supporting such clients. Due to grant conditions, Watford Community Housing will own and manage the properties with legal agreement from the Council.

 

  • On 16 November, the Head of Housing and myself had a good virtual meeting with Tina Barnard; CEO of Watford Community Housing who went through the Housing Association’s (HA) new Business Plan 2020 -2025. It was good to note that this HA wished to remain local and keep in touch with its tenants as well as looking at joint ventures.

 

12u Question to Councillor Andrew Scarth, Lead Member for Housing from Councillor Alex Michaels

Can you please update Council on progress made towards readying TRDC to accept additional refugees since the motion passed in September? Do you support Council's motion?

 Written response:

Following agreement of the motion at the Extra Council meeting on 1 September 2020, a report was presented at Policy and Resources Committee on 7 September. P&R agreed that the resettlement programme does not begin until 2021/22. However, in accordance with the report presented to P&R, as a new resource is required, work has begun on the job description and person specification for the new post so that we are prepared in time for the new financial year.

 

LEISURE, ENVIRONMENT AND COMMUNITY

Reports from the Lead Member for Leisure (Cllr Chris Lloyd), Lead Member for Environmental Services & Sustainability (Cllr Phil Williams), Lead Member for Community Safety and Partnerships (Cllr Roger Seabourne) and questions.

 

12v Report from Councillor Chris Lloyd, Lead Member for Leisure

On Thursday 26 November we found that we are in Tier 2.

At the Leisure Environment and Community Committee we received an update on Watersmeet.  We have made use of the Government grant to put in safety measures and have reduced numbers. The first film is due to be shown on 9 December 2020.

Rickmansworth Golf Course, William Penn Leisure Centre, South Oxhey Leisure Centre and SJA MUGA have reopened on 2 December. They play important in mental health as well as physical health. I would like to thank all the staff at Everyone Active who have made this possible.

We are also due to open the tennis courts and MUGAs along with outdoor Gyms and Skate parks from 2 December.   This will be confirmed in my verbal update at Full Council. We still need to follow social distancing measurers.  The Leisure Environment and Community Committee recently considered and recommended for approval as part of the budget setting process a PID for replacing the current equipment over a 3 year plan.

 

12w Report from Councillor Phil Williams, Lead Member for Environmental Services and Sustainability

71 trees have been ordered. This includes the 50 trees that fell in storms, 2 for the 750 year celebration at St Mary’s, 8 to replace the 4 which will be removed from the depot, and the remainder to replace dangerous or trees throughout the District. 

Half of the funding for the storm damaged trees (£3,750) will be from the Climate Change budget. 11 of these have been sourced from a new supplier in Hertfordshire who specialise in locally grown native trees.

Charlotte Gomes has been linking with Jo Hewitson on the Climate Change strategy as part of the Youth Council. Proposal to Youth Council for a project to look at idling engines outside of schools. The children will then propose a way to tackle it. For all those who take part, we can provide them with wildflower seeds and some information on how to create a wildflower area on their school grounds.

Leavesden Country Park has been awarded a Defra Bees’ Needs Champions Award 2020 for its work helping to protect bees. 

The Trees and Landscape Strategy will be led by the new Principal Tree and Landscape Officer who will advise timescales accordingly.

Principal Tree and Landscape Officer appointed – Alex Laurie.  Due to commence on 7 December.

Grant application submitted for Public Sector Low Carbon Skills Fund to employ a consultant to asses and apply for £1 million of funding from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Capital Fund. This would be used for a deep retrofit of Three Rivers House, Watersmeet and Maple Cross Sports Pavilion.

The Climate Change Consultation has now concluded, having shared the strategy at the Environmental and Local Area Forums, Croxley Danes School student environment group, and carrying out a social media campaign. Over 150 responses have been received at time of writing, and credit must be given to Elen Roberts and Jo Hewitson for a great job.

Following the consultations, officers have commenced engagement with informed residents and environmental groups to begin informing a Climate Crisis Action Plan and improve communication and engagement with the wider community

Our recycling rate has increased from 63% (in 2018/19) to 64.1% (in 2019/20) making us top in Hertfordshire and third in the country. We are awaiting where 64.1% will put us nationally for 2019/20. Full credit must be given to our expert in this field, Jennie Probert and her team.

Cemeteries - the memorial garden at Woodcock Hill Cemetery is almost complete.

A water partnership group is being formed to tackle the problem of over abstraction and pollution of our chalk steams, the river Colne, and to ensure safe and sufficient water supply through this century.

An Environmental Science graduate Ellie Nathan – has joined the team in a voluntary capacity to aid us in calculating the District’s current emissions.

We are submitting a bid to win funds from Green Homes Grant Local Authority Delivery for low income low EPC homes identified by an assessment of all properties in the District carried out by the Energy Saving Trust. The target is to move 150 homes out of fuel poverty by improving thermal performance. One of these bids is working in conjunction with Watford Community Housing who will in addition be improving approximately 100 homes in our District.

We have provided Watford and Three Rivers Trust with a grant for £10,000 to voluntary organisations that are struggling as a result of Covid. The grant is to support voluntary groups whose aim is to tackle climate change and sustainability issues, or unrelated charities who need help to carry out sustainability initiatives as part of their climate change action plan.

We will be assisting Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust to improve 350m of the River Gade which will establish a corridor to enable 2 populations of water voles on either side to mix and thus help ensure their future.

 

12x Question to Councillor Phil Williams, Lead Member for Environmental Services and Sustainability from Councillor Paula Hiscocks

With the green energy initiatives such as solar panels on Council owned buildings, can we be advised how much income/ savings this has generated over the last 2 years

Written response:

The response to this question is particularly complex.  Officers will try to get a written answer to the Lead Member in time for it to be circulated to Members for the meeting.  Under Rule 14(2) it does allow that “In exceptional circumstances a written answer will be circulated at the meeting. If the matter is particularly complex, a written answer may be circulated to all Members as soon as practicable after the meeting and a record kept with the minutes of the meeting.”

 

12y Question to Councillor Phil Williams, Lead Member for Environmental Services and Sustainability from Councillor Alison Wall

Please can you direct us to the register of all green measures on TRDC land or buildings?

Written response:

We do not currently have a register of green measures. Green initiatives were managed as part of the Green Expectations Action Plan, the latest update took place in January 2020 and can be found in the climate change section (item 8) of the Full Council meeting on 25 February 2020 – link provided below:

https://www.threerivers.gov.uk/meeting/full-council-25-february-2020

We are presently consulting on the new strategy and then a new action plan will be written in the first part of 2021 which will include green measures.

 

12z Question to Councillor Phil Williams, Lead Member for Environmental Services and Sustainability from Councillor Alex Michaels

We declared a climate emergency in May 2019. Little progress has been made. The motion called for a strategy to be in place by December 2019. We are now a year on and no such strategy has been forthcoming (admittedly a flimsy vision has been produced). As discussed a lot of these steps are things we could have done immediately and some in instances things that we could stop doing (as opposed to time consuming or costly things to start doing, e.g. cutting verges on a large scale). Some of these have now been discussed on multiple occasions. What do you think the impact is of the 18 month lag in seeing action? Public consensus on the matter through media outlets widely available is clear they want action.

Written response:

The Draft Climate Change Strategy finished consultation on 30 November. This will be reviewed and re-presented to the Leisure Committee in January. Thereafter an Action Plan will be written. Throughout the consultation process we have engaged with a number of local activists all of whom will have helped to add breadth to the final strategy. During the 6 months since an officer has been in post a number of initiatives have been commenced this includes; an application for grant funding to improve the carbon emissions of 4 public sector buildings, application to Green Homes Grant funding together with the supply chain to lift 150 homes out of fuel poverty by fabric improvements to their homes,  measurement of District and TRDC operation carbon emissions in order to inform target setting for action plan, an analysis of the carbon  emission of every building in the district – the results of which will be used to inform the action plan, preparation to assess the Biodiversity opportunities of the District’s land, a water action plan for County led by our officer to help lead the way reducing water consumption and pollution of the chalk rivers. We have also recently agreed to set up a water partnership group, and support to Herts and Middlesex wildlife trust to open up a stretch of the River Gade to allow free movement of water voles and other wildlife. Watford and Three Rivers Trust are also launching a community grants fund in partnership with Three Rivers DC to offer funding to community groups and charities to recover from Covid in a more sustainable way and support climate change.  

 

12aa Question to Councillor Phil Williams, Lead Member for Environmental Services and Sustainability from Councillor Reena Ranger

The recently unanimously passed motion to have one tree plant for everyone removed, will this Council agree to increase the number of trees from one to two to move into line with Hertfordshire County Council?

Written response:

This will be considered as part of the Climate Change Action plan.

 

12bb Report from Councillor Roger Seabourne, Lead Member for Community Safety and Partnerships

 As many Members may be aware, Andy Stovold has left the Council’s employment.  I did not get the opportunity to say “goodbye” and I was not able to wish him well.

 Aimee Carson, another successful product of our own ‘academy’, has also left.  You would (under normal circumstances) still have seen her around as she is, very kindly, helping us out until her replacement is able to take up post.  Hopefully we will still see her around after that as she was effectively “head hunted” by the police who saw the quality of the work she was doing.  I was able to thank her and wish her well.

 I have continued to have regular meetings and briefings with officers, police, the Police Commissioners office as well as colleagues in other Districts since I last had the opportunity to report to Council.  The patterns we have been seeing are not significantly different to any of the other 9 Districts.

 Whilst it is a sad fact that some aspects of our work have seen massive increases, in particular the amount of domestic abuse, I have been amazed and truly impressed by the amount and quality of the partnership work that has been carried out. If there are any “silver linings” to this terrible pandemic, one is that new productive partnerships have been formed and existing ones strengthened in order to help deal with some of the issues.  I am sure you will all have noted Shivani’s weekly Partnership Bulletins, what they do not show is the amount of work going into all of that.  

 My main concern is what might happen with the domestic violence caseload over the next few months as restrictions get tighter, there are fewer opportunities to “get out”, tolerance levels are lower generally and we move into the time of year when reports usually rise anyway.  (NB this was written before the announcement of a second lockdown). 

 While quarterly reports have, up until now, been suitable to minimise the likelihood of ‘blips’ perhaps indicating false trends, I have asked for more regular reports as we enter this critical time.

 Although the number and the increase in the number of reports is of great concern, it is pleasing to note so many residents obviously now have the confidence to report incidents in an area where there has always been a reluctance to report and underreporting has always been an issue.  It is also good to note that the number of positive outcomes from police intervention (in percentage as well as actual terms) has increased considerably compared to last year.  However, like the virus itself, what we do not know is how many cases are out there that we are not aware of.

 I am happy to receive any questions and answer them by email should Members prefer to do that rather than wait until the Council meeting.

 

RESOURCES AND SHARED SERVICES

 12cc Report from Councillor Matthew Bedford, Lead Member for Resources and Shared Services

 Updates from the national Government spending review 25 November:

The announcements around Local Government funding were in line with previous expectations and the overall message for District Authorities is ‘No change’. The detail of the settlement is expected in late December. We may benefit from some of the additional funding announced for Covid-related costs and rough sleeping. The pay-freeze for higher-paid public sector workers does not directly impact local government but may still be followed. As further information becomes available, it will be incorporated into the Council’s budget-setting process.

Business rates will be frozen next year (rather than rising in line with inflation) but Councils will be fully compensated for this.  There will be no other changes to business rates next year pending publication of the conclusions of the full review of business rates in spring 2021.

Implications of Croydon Council’s s114 notice

Croydon Council published a report into the causes of their financial crisis on 13 November showing that one of the key contributing factors to Croydon’s difficulties was their housing development company. Officers have reviewed the report to check if there are lessons for Three Rivers. Officers have confirmed that Three Rivers’ arrangements differ significantly from Croydon’s through stronger and more transparent reporting and governance; and through all developments handled as partnerships with Housing Providers who have expertise in development and management of housing stock.

 

12dd Question to Councillor Matthew Bedford, Lead Member for Resources and Shared Services from Councillor David Raw

 Can this Council itemise the top 5 savings they have made this financial year.

 Written response:

Per the period 6 budget monitoring these are:

£73k saving in temporary staffing in Leisure

£23k saving on hiring of rooms for Active Community Development Fund

£34k due to additional transport subsidy from HCC

£15k additional building control income

£71k additional property income

These will be updated at Period 8.

 

12ee Question to Councillor Matthew Bedford, Lead Member for Resources and Shared Services from Councillor Stephen Cox

 What plans, if any, does this authority have to bring the Pavilion in Green Lane, back in to local community use, instead of being for private hire?

 Written response:

 None presently the property is let on a long lease.

 

12ff Question to Councillor Matthew Bedford, Lead Member for Resources and Shared Services from Councillor Alex Michaels

Can you please update Council on property investment outlook? One tenant has not paid rent since 25 March 2019, is this still the case and what annual cost is this to TRDC, including indirect costs such as officer time and any services (e.g. debt collection). Are there any other costs from these other properties?

 Written response:

 The only shortfall is with Jigsaw who are on a CVA currently paying 20% of their rent plus top up turnover rent.  Jigsaw full rent is £5k per month.  The impact of the reduction in rent income is included in the Council's budget monitoring reports and mid-term financial planning."

 

13. REPORTS AND QUESTIONS TO THE CHAIRS OF AUDIT, PLANNING, LICENSING AND REGULATORY SERVICES COMMITTEES (RULE 14)

AUDIT COMMITTEE

Report from and questions to the Chair of the Audit Committee (Cllr Margaret Hofman).

Report from Councillor Margaret Hofman, Chair of the Audit Committee

Due to Covid 19, the publication date of audited accounts for all local authorities moved from July to November.  Draft statutory accounts for TRDC have been published and are available to view on the Council’s website.

 However, 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.

 Due to unknown impact of COVID 19, the Audit Committee has requested additional information and more frequent reporting from officers so that the Committee can perform its key role more effectively. That is as a source of assurance about the Council’s arrangements for managing risk, internal controls and reporting on financial and non- financial performance.

 

PLANNING COMMITTEE

Report from and questions to the Chair of the Planning Committee (Cllr Chris Lloyd).

There is no report from the Chair of the Planning Committee.

 

LICENSING

Report from and questions to the Chair of the Licensing Committee (Cllr Martin Trevett).

There is no report from the Chair of the Licensing Committee

 

REGULATORY SERVICES

Report from and questions to the Chair of the Regulatory Services Committee (Cllr Martin Trevett).

There is no report from the Chair of the Regulatory Services Committe

 

14. MOTIONS UNDER PROCEDURE RULE 11

 

1. Councillor Joan King, seconded by Councillor Stephen Cox, Councillor Sarah Nelmes, and Councillor Alison Scarth to move the amended motion under Notice duly given as follows:

This Council notes:

Fireworks are an important part of British life and that letting them off responsibly for celebratory reasons such as important events, including religious festivals provides entertainment, a spectacle, joy and spiritual comfort. Whilst acknowledging that fireworks can bring much enjoyment to some, they can cause significant injury, problems and fear for other people and animals.  In particular, the sudden loud noises that many fireworks make can cause distress.

 This Council resolves:

  • to require all public firework displays within the local authority boundaries to be advertised in advance of the event, allowing residents to take precautions for their animals and vulnerable people
  • to actively promote a public awareness campaign about the impact of fireworks on animal welfare and vulnerable people – including the precautions that can be taken to mitigate risks and encouragement to consider the use of lower noise fireworks(under 90dB)
  • to write to the Government urging it to introduce legislation to limit the maximum noise level of fireworks to 90 decibels for those sold to the public for private displays
  • to encourage local suppliers of fireworks to stock lower noise fireworks both for private use or public display.

 

Motion 2 Councillor Paula Hiscocks, seconded by Councillor Alison Wall to move under notice duly given as follows:

Will this Council collectively express their sympathy and immense gratitude for the service the late Mr Christmas, Mr Dave Edwards, gave to the residents of Croxley and wider Three Rivers community and for embodying the Christmas spirt through his light displays and supporting charities. Can this Council send a letter with these sentiments on behalf of all at TRDC to his family.

 

Motion 3 has been withdrawn. Members are referred to Motion 1 above.

                                                                                                       

Joanne Wagstaffe

Chief Executive

                                                                                                      30 November 2020

 

General Enquiries: Committeeteam@threerivers.gov.uk