Agenda and minutes

Agenda and minutes

Venue: Town Hall Watford

Contact: Caroline Harris  Email: legalanddemocratic@watford.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

49.

Apologies for absence

Minutes:

Apologies had been received from Councillor Sharpe. 

50.

Disclosure of interests (if any)

Minutes:

Councillor Collett and Councillor Williams declared that they had a pecuniary interest in the item on Voluntary Sector Commissioning Framework and would leave the room for that item.

51.

Minutes of previous meeting

The minutes of the meeting held on 3 December 2018 to be submitted and signed.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 3 December 2018 were submitted and signed.

52.

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.

Minutes:

Councillor Bell spoke on behalf of the Labour Group.

 

Some changes were made to the order of the agenda and the report on Acquisition of Leasehold Interest in Croxley Business Park was taken first.

53.

Watford Authority Monitoring Report 2018 pdf icon PDF 59 KB

    Report of Planning Policy Section Head to ask Cabinet to note the Authority Monitoring Report 2018.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The Mayor introduced the report and described it as a very detailed piece of work.

     

    The Deputy Managing Director explained that the report was received annually by Cabinet and contained a wealth of information which was collected for the local plan but also used by other services and organisations. 

     

    Following a question by the Mayor, the Deputy Managing Director explained that regarding a review of the level of Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) there would be a report to the next Portfolio Holders meeting followed by a report to Cabinet.  Some CIL funds had been allocated to the Metropolitan Line Extension but Cabinet and Council had now approved these for use on the cycle hire and on-demand transport schemes.  The government had said it would review CIL but this had not yet happened.  There was also a proposal to look at CIL across South West Hertfordshire to help with strategic infrastructure.  As CIL was a finite fund, the council had to be careful about priorities for its use.

               

    The Mayor raised a question on indicator H9 in appendix 2 which the Deputy Managing Director agreed to look at to ascertain whether the indicator results were correct.

     

    RESOLVED

               

    Cabinet agreed that the Watford Authority Monitoring Report 2018 be noted and delegates any minor amendments or corrections to the Planning Policy Section Head.

54.

Redevelopment of land, community centre and shop at 32 Raphael Drive and Centrepoint Community Centre pdf icon PDF 73 KB

    Report of Head of Community and Environmental Services

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Councillor Johnson introduced the report and commented that the project was about delivering 50 plus socially rented properties.  The site was presently underused.  However, it was important to ensure that the local community had a resource they could use which included a community area and a shop. 

     

    Councillor Johnson drew Cabinet’s attention to paragraph 3.1.4 in the report which described a new community space to be provided and its various potential uses.  Whilst residents were unhappy about the upheaval that was to come, they acknowledged that the council had accommodated their wishes for a community space and a shop.  Therefore the council had demonstrated that it had listened to and acted upon their concerns.

     

    The Mayor commented that he had met a number of the user groups and recognised that community space was important to them.

     

    The Head of Democracy and Governance stated that recommendation 3.1.1 should be amended to include 32A Raphael Drive.  Cabinet agreed to amend the recommendation.

     

                RESOLVED

     

                That Cabinet agrees:

     

    1.         That having had full regard to the content of this report, including comments and views expressed by members of the public and users of the current community centre and shop and having regard to the attached equality impact analysis in Appendix 2, and the implications for crime and disorder, that the land, community centre and shop at 32 Raphael Drive, 32A Raphael Drive and Centrepoint Community Centre be approved for disposal to Watford Community Housing (WCH) for redevelopment for social rented housing, appropriate community space and retail space on the terms previously approved by Cabinet on 10 September 2018, subject to the due planning process, and that the site be deemed to be surplus to requirements.

     

    2.         That the Council ceases any and all activities operating from the Community Centre on 31 March 2019.

     

    3.         That the Council works with all existing user groups of the Community Centre to support them in finding appropriate alternative facilities whilst the community facility is unavailable.

     

    4.         That the new community space be large enough to accommodate a meeting of 50 people, and/or the playing of table tennis, and/or a community coffee morning, and/or the running of a fitness class. That this space be able to be readily sub-divided to create 2 separate community spaces and that it has an appropriate kitchen facility.

     

    5.         That the new retail space be of appropriate size for the retail needs it will service.

     

    6.         That the community space and retail space be constructed in such a manner and such a size and layout that should either or both no longer be required they can be converted into additional social rented accommodation.

     

    7.         That the Council enter into a nomination agreement with WCH to ensure it obtains 100% nomination rights for each of the residential units to be built on the site.

     

    8.         That the Council enters into appropriate agreements with WCH to ensure that in the event that any units or the site is subsequently disposed of by WCH any sums received  ...  view the full minutes text for item 54.

55.

Voluntary Sector Commissioning Framework (VSCF) 2019 - 2023 pdf icon PDF 71 KB

    Report of Head of Community and Environmental Services to ask Cabinet to agree the new Voluntary Sector Commissioning Framework 2019 - 2023 priorities and areas of focus

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Councillors Collett and Williams left the room for this item.

     

    The Head of Community and Environmental Services explained that the voluntary sector was important to the council and was an area where the council positively engaged and supported with a fund of over £3/4m each year.  Even during difficult financial times, the council had maintained this commitment. 

     

    He continued that the key points were that a number of services would continue to receive funding:  Watford and Three Rivers Trust, Citizens Advice Bureau, Shopmobilty and the Mayor’s Small Grants Fund.  This year the council was also looking to include the Pump House Theatre and would continue to support four community centres.  Officers had met with representatives from Watford Palace Theatre to explain that there would be a slight reduction in their funding over a four year period.

     

    Following a question by the Mayor, the Head of Community and Environmental Services explained that in meetings with Watford Palace Theatre it was recognised by the theatre that they needed to move to being more commercial and were also aware that, despite a reduction in funding, the theatre still received the largest grant for a single organisation from the council.

     

    Councillor Johnson welcomed the contribution to the Pump House Theatre.  The Mayor thanked officers for their work.

               

                RESOLVED

               

                That Cabinet agrees:

     

    1.         the new Voluntary Sector Commissioning Framework 2019-2023 priorities and areas of focus as identified in Section 4.6 – 4.6.1 and Appendix 1 of the report;

     

    2.         to delegate responsibility to the Head of Community and Environmental Services in consultation with the Portfolio Holder to implement the next steps and key milestones as described in Sections 4.4 and 4.7 of the report to ensure services are in place from 1 April 2019, subject to council approval of the Budget 2019/2020.

56.

Financial Planning pdf icon PDF 130 KB

    Report of Director of Finance to enable the Cabinet to consider service level expenditure, funding and council tax levels for the medium term 2019/20 to 2021/22, including the use of reserves. 

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The report was introduced by Councillor Watkin who drew members’ attention to a document circulated at the meeting which explained the revised budget gap if the council approved the Croxley Park item at its Extraordinary Council meeting on 23 January 2019.

               

    Councillor Watkin continued that within the budget there would be funding for the Mayor’s priorities for on-demand transport and cycle schemes.  The council would borrow £50m to fund the transformational Hart Homes building projects which would then generate significant revenue for the council.  It was proposed to increase council tax by 2.2%, which would mean a £5.76pa increase for a Band D council tax payer in 2019/20.  Officers had worked on the principle that only the increase in the upcoming financial year was included in the MTFS in order not to fetter the discretion of the council in future years.  The council continued to review its fees and charges and these would have an overall increase in line with inflation.  In 2019, the council would conduct an in-depth review on the basis of all fees and charges. 

     

    Councillor Watkin explained that in an era of political and financial uncertainty the council must be prudent and yet bold in addressing the needs of the community.  If the Croxley Business Park report was approved by Extraordinary Council then the net overspend would be just under £2m and there was over £2m in the economic impact reserve which could be used to fund any overspend in that period.  Should the council not agree the Croxley Business Park proposal then there would be plans to implement a different strategy.  With regards to the capital budget over the next four years, there would be planned expenditure of around £154m on capital projects including £53m on housing, £33m on the Riverwell development project and other large schemes including improvements to Clarendon Road, the Town Hall and Watford Business Park.  The council could afford these schemes through prudential borrowing and the use of capital reserves.

               

    The Mayor noted the extract of minutes which had been received from Budget Panel.  The Mayor also queried the figures regarding charges for filming and asked that these be updated as necessary. (See appendix 1 for amended fees and charges extract).

     

    In accordance with the Local Authorities (Standing Orders) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2014 the votes were recorded as follows –

     

    Those in favour

    Mayor Taylor, Councillors Collett, Bolton, Johnson, Williams and Watkin

    The resolutions as set out in the report were CARRIED by 6 votes to 0.

     

    RESOLVED

     

    That Cabinet:

    1.         Delegates to the Director of Finance and Portfolio Holder the ability to amend the budget figures in accordance with decisions taken at the Cabinet meeting, Council on 23 January 2019 and any minor variations that may occur before the Council meeting.

     

    That Cabinet recommends  

     

    That Council:

     

    2.         Resolves in accordance with the Local Authorities (Calculation of Tax Base) Regulations 1992, the amount calculated by Watford Borough Council as its Council Tax Base for the year 2019/20 is 32,840.6 as outlined  ...  view the full minutes text for item 56.

    Recorded Vote
    TitleTypeRecorded Vote textResult
    Financial Planning Resolution Carried
  • View Recorded Vote for this item

57.

Acquisition of Leasehold Interest in Croxley Business Park - Part A pdf icon PDF 194 KB

    Report of Managing Director

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The Mayor introduced the report and described to Cabinet that the proposal was important as it closely matched the aspirations of the council in diversifying the council’s portfolio. Colombia Threadneedle Investments (CTi) had approached Watford due to the council’s good reputation.

               

    The Manging Director explained it was a major investment decision for the council. In order to ensure that Cabinet had a full briefing on the acquisition and risks, a number of the advisory team had been invited to attend the meeting.  Each set of advisors would introduce themselves and explain how they had been involved and their key findings. 

               

    Mr Hornung from Lambert Smith Hampton Investment Management (LSHIM) explained that they were the council’s retained property advisers in respect of the council’s existing portfolio and had been appointed in 2016.  In their capacity as advisors they were asked to accompany officers on the first formal inspection of the property with CTi in July 2018.  Following this the council had adopted a two stage approach to the project and LSHIM provided reports at the end of each stage in October and December.

               

    Mr Hornung continued that the stage one report provided an overview of the opportunity based on the information provided by CTi.  This was an initial sense check prior to the council expending greater time and costs in further due diligence.  The second stage followed a due diligence exercise including LSHIM commentary on the opportunity and the engagement of a number of third party specialists to report on different aspects of the property and transaction proposed.

               

    LSHIM provided commentary on an assessment of key property risks, tenant covenant analysis, occupational market review, future trends and forecasts for UK business parks and income strip transactions.  Third party specialists included:

     

              JBS environmental – to provide a review and report on the stage 1 environmental assessment prepared by Ramboll on CTi’s instructions

              Montagu Evans – estate services charge

              Lambert Smith Hampton – review and report on building surveys and Planned Preventative Maintenance (PPM) costings and programme prepared by Workman LLP on CTi’s instructions

              Chapman Petrie – independent review of the asset as an investment

              CBRE – commentary on occupational market, though recognising that they were conflicted to the extent that they were currently engaged by CTi

              Synaptica – review of current EPC ratings for individual properties

              Real Estate Forecasting – independent forecast and estimate of rental growth for the next five and subsequent 35 years respectively.

     

    LSHIM reviewed all of the above reports and summarised them into their own report.  They also gave consideration as to how the council should best manage the investment post-completion.  Croxley Business Park was one of the pre-eminent business parks in the South East and was becoming known as a medical campus.  The site adjoined Watford Business Park the freehold of which was owned by the council.  The buildings were well designed and the rental income was the highest it had ever been.  There was a willingness  ...  view the full minutes text for item 57.

58.

Exclusion of press & public

The Chair to move: that, under Section 100A (4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public and press be excluded from the meeting for the following item of business as it is likely, in view of the nature of the business to be transacted or the nature of the proceedings, that if members of the public were present during consideration of the item there would be disclosure to them of exempt information as defined in Section 100(1) of the Act for the reasons stated below in terms of Schedule 12A.

 

Note: if approved, the Chair will ask members of the press and public to leave the meeting at this point.

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

 

That under Section 100A (4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public and press be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business as it is likely, in view of the nature of the business to be transacted or the nature of proceedings, that if members of the public were present during consideration of the item there would be disclosure to them of exempt information as defined in Section 100(1) Schedule 12A of the Act for the reasons stated in the reports.

59.

Acquisition of leasehold interest in Croxley Business Park - Part B

 

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