Agenda and minutes
Venue: Town Hall Watford
Contact: Caroline Harris Email: email@example.com
Apologies for Absence
No apologies were received from members of Cabinet.
Apologies had been received from both opposition group leaders.
Disclosure of Interest (if any)
There were no disclosures of interest.
Minutes of previous meeting
The minutes of the meeting held on 18 January 2016 to be submitted and signed.
Copies of the minutes of this meeting are usually available seven working days following the meeting.
(All minutes are available on the Council’s website.)
The minutes of the meeting held on 18 January 2016 were submitted and signed.
Conduct of meeting
The Cabinet may wish to consider whether there are any items on which there is general agreement which could be considered now, to enable discussion to focus on those items where the Cabinet sees a need for further debate.
No changes were made to the order of the items on the agenda
Report of Head of Regeneration and Development
A report was received from the Head of Regeneration and Development. Skillmakers was a business and community led initiative intended to bring businesses and education closer together, to support future economic sustainability and improve employment opportunities for local people. There was an investment required of £115,000 to support year 1 staffing. This would be covered by a loan from Herts Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) for 80% of the funding. The remaining 20% would be funded by a 50/50 loan between West Herts College (WHC) and Watford Borough Council (WBC.) The Council would offer a loan of £11,500 from 1 April 2016 repayable at the end of Year 3 2018/19 with interest applied.
Councillor Sharpe introduced the report. Skillmakers came from an initiative by West Herts College supported with LEP funding in order to improve skills and help Watford to have a skilled workforce. Contained within the recommendations of the report was the offer from the Council of a £11,500 loan to start the project. Cabinet had previously considered the Council’s own economic development strategy and it was good that the Council’s partners were also thinking about this.
The Mayor commented that Watford had low unemployment. This initiative was about increasing skills within the town so that local people could have local jobs.
The Economic Development Officer continued that there were gaps which meant that it was hard for businesses to get the right skills. Skillmakers was led by businesses to see what could be done locally to enable existing businesses to access the skills they needed and make sure local people could access what they need. It was about looking at the whole workforce and enabling them to have better employment opportunities.
The Mayor commented that it would mean that residents would not have to move away in order to get better jobs. She gave the example of Freedom Communications where, due to the fast paced nature of the technology industry, the company looked for certain aptitudes within their employees which meant their staff would be able to adapt as the industry changed.
Following a question from the Mayor about apprentices, the Economic Development Officer explained that Skillmakers would connect businesses with provision. There was an apprenticeship programme which gave access to training and workplace schemes. There was also in-work development and pre-employment training. Apprenticeships were one element of the spectrum of opportunities on offer.
In response to a question from Councillor Scudder the Economic Development Officer commented that there had been a piece of work carried out which had identified gaps in skilled plasterers and specialist construction. Skillmakers would connect employers with the right schemes in order to get provision for the future. The scheme was about helping businesses to talk to providers and build a pipeline of workforce.
The Mayor was pleased that the LEP was going to be the main funder. It was noted that the LEP had invested heavily in Watford and she congratulated officers on successfully pitching for funding.
It was noted that there ... view the full minutes text for item 50.
Report of Environmental Services Manager (Parks, Open Spaces & Projects)
A report was received from the Environmental Services Manager (Parks, Open Spaces & Projects). The ten-year strategy had been adopted in November 2013.
Councillor Scudder introduced the report and described the strategy as a blueprint for green spaces across the town. The report before Cabinet was a progress update on what had been done since the strategy was adopted in 2013.
A short presentation was delivered by the Environmental Services Manager (Parks, Open Spaces and Projects). He highlighted the following:
commented that Borras, the contractor
for the Cassiobury Park restoration, was a St Albans firm whose
Managing Director used to live in Watford and was very pleased to
be working on a project with a local connection.
The Mayor continued regarding future projects. She ... view the full minutes text for item 51.
Report of Environmental Services Client Manager (Parks, Open Spaces & Projects)
A report was received from the Environmental Services Manager (Parks, Open Spaces and Projects). This set out the final findings of a review of Watford’s cemetery service and recommendations for a ten year cemetery strategy. This also included an update on the establishment of a weekend and bank holiday service for those who required it for religious and cultural reasons.
The Council currently managed and maintained four cemeteries:
· North Watford Cemetery
· Vicarage Road Cemetery and
· Two closed cemeteries (All Saint’s Cemetery and St Mary’s Church Grounds – grounds maintenance only).
Councillor Scudder introduced the report. The cemetery strategy had been developed as a result of a comprehensive review of cemetery provision in Watford and following extensive consultation. Areas the strategy covered included how to manage supply as the Council had limited supply available. It looked to the future at any ways to increase supply which was more difficult. The strategy also focussed on service improvements for visitors, users and staff. The strategy included increased staffing provision and some improvements to the Council’s premises particularly at North Watford cemetery.
Councillor Scudder explained that the strategy was also about income generation in order to help cover costs. The service provided was expensive and currently did not cover its costs. With regards to increasing provision to enable the Muslim community to bury their deceased at weekends, the Council was working with the Gardens of Peace charity and was close to finalising an arrangement.
The Head of Corporate Strategy and Client Services stated that it was anticipated that a weekend or bank holiday service would be used approximately six times per year. She continued that the plan was over a 10 year period. The report listed the key objectives. These included the weekend service, managing demand for burial space, looking at memorial regulations regarding safety and also improving staff cover. The costs would be covered by increased fees and charges.
The Head of Corporate Strategy and Client Services continued that progress had already been made with a detailed audit of existing space being commissioned. This would identify how the Council could improve the use of the existing space. With regards to weekend services there would be a consultation in March with the service starting in April.
In response to a question from the Mayor, the Head of Corporate Strategy and Client Services explained that the Council’s chapels’ improved heating and roofing work at North Watford was scheduled for later in 2016. Work had already been carried out on Vicarage Road chapel last year and it was now in quite good condition.
The Mayor suggested approaching Christians Across Watford to adopt the chapels in order to increase community involvement and so there could be community activities such as spring clean days as were currently held at some of the churches.
The Environmental Services Client Manager (Parks, Open Spaces and Projects) commented that in the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management report which the Council had commissioned, it had suggested holding carol services and clean-ups. ... view the full minutes text for item 52.
Report of Head of Democracy and Governance
A report was received from the Head of Democracy and Governance. The Council had been using the Delta eSourcing e-procurement portal since 2011. It was now a legal requirement, under the Public Procurement Regulations 2015, that tenders must be sought electronically and the portal provided that full functionality. The contract would be extended for a further five years. The portal was used across Watford Borough Council and Three Rivers District Council for all tender exercises.
Councillor Watkin introduced the report and explained that it had to come to Cabinet as the Managing Director had taken a decision to extend the contract as an exemption to the Council’s procurement procedures. The Council already used the portal for procurement. The County Council had chosen a different portal which would have disrupted Watford Borough Council’s work and there were no grounds for change so the Managing Director had agreed to the continued use of the current provider.
The Managing Director explained that if the Council continued to use a contract beyond its term or appointed without a tendering process then this had to be brought back to Cabinet to be noted for transparency.
That Cabinet notes the approved exemption to the Council’s Procurement Procedures in relation to the e-procurement portal.