Agenda and minutes

Agenda and minutes

Venue: Town Hall, Watford

Contact: Caroline Harris 

Items
No. Item

62.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies had been received from Councillors Ewudo and Whitman.

 

63.

Disclosure of Interests

Minutes:

There were no disclosures of interests.

 

 

 

64.

Minutes

The minutes of the meeting held on 27 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.)

 

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 27 January 2016 were submitted and signed.

 

65.

Official Announcements

Minutes:

Opening of the British Polio Fellowship offices

The Chairman explained that on 29 January she and the Elected Mayor participated in the official opening by the Duchess of Gloucester of the British Polio Fellowship new national offices in Watford.

Roald Dahl Parade

The Chairman joined in the Roald Dahl Parade, part of the Big Word Fest, on Saturday 12 March, which was a very bright and happy occasion for all of the family.

Fly a Flag for the Commonwealth

On Monday 14 March the Chairman led the Fly a Flag for the Commonwealth ceremony and The Elected Mayor led the Single Commemorative Act to remember World War One.  People may have seen the two candles in the cabinet as they came into the Chamber that evening; these would remain throughout the year.

Chairman’s Charity Quiz

The Chairman announced that tomorrow evening would be the Chairman’s Charity quiz night at the Colosseum and she looked forward to seeing those who were taking part in the teams.

Self Assessment and Related Party Transaction Forms

The Chairman reminded Members to return their self assessment forms and Related Party Transaction forms to Paul Bateman and to Carol Chen respectively by 31March.

Member retirements

The Chairman advised that a number of Members were retiring at the forthcoming elections and she took the opportunity to thank them on behalf of the Council for their many years of outstanding service.  She invited Councillor Sharpe to speak.
Councillor Sharpe thanked Councillors I Brown, J Brown, G Derbyshire and S Counter for their contributions in senior roles on the Council and briefly outlined their biographies.  Councillor I Brown responded thanking Councillor Sharpe for his kind words.

Changes to order of agenda

The Chairman explained that she would be making some changes to the order of the agenda that evening.  Following item 9 the reports – items 11-13 – would be taken and then return to the motions, item 10.

        

 

66.

Mayor's Report pdf icon PDF 74 KB

    Minutes:

    A report of the Mayor had been circulated with the agenda.

     

    The Chairman invited Members to indicate whether they wished to ask a question of the Mayor.  Councillors Rogers, Bolton, Bashir, Martins, S Williams, Dhindsa, Turmaine, Topping, Silver, Haley and Connal indicated that they wished to ask questions.

     

    a)     Councillor Rogers explained that a resident in his ward had written to the Watford Observer expressing surprise that Watford was building houses again.  Under the previous government coalition, tenants had the right to buy.  He said that less than a year ago the people of Watford had voted for the present government and it was heard from Watford Community Housing Trust (WCHT) residents that a key reason for this was an extension of the right to buy for housing association tenants.  He asked if the Mayor could give an assurance that homes built and rented out under the joint venture between the WCHT and Watford Borough Council would be eligible for the right to buy after the requisite number of years and meeting the other necessary conditions.

     

    The Mayor responded that the shortage of social rented homes would at some point be a very serious issue.  She said that people working at all levels, for example in schools and in hospitals, needed to be housed.  As rents were going up, social and affordable housing was absolutely key.   She explained that the Council had taken an innovative step to form its own company and to start building again after many years of councils not doing this.  It had been decided not to extend the right to buy to those homes simply because they wanted them to remain as social housing in perpetuity.  She outlined how in her view the current Housing and Planning Bill going through the House of Lords would wreck social housing.  She considered it unreasonable that those on her side of the chamber should be expected to support the annihilation of this housing.  She explained that the right to buy was out of the reach of people on low wages in the town as the costs were so high.  She concluded that whilst her party was running the Council and was a partner in the new housing company, the right to buy would not extend to those new homes.

     

    b)     Councillor Bolton asked that given recent and pending planning applications, particularly in the Queens Road, Loates Lane and Lord Street area for new properties, and taking in to account the government’s relaxation of rules that made a refusal of applications on parking grounds very difficult (and also the likely impact on local streets of the Charter Place development); whether the Mayor would agree that a review of the times of the relevant controlled parking zones (CPZ’s) was needed and that this should be included on the Council’s work programme.

     

    The Mayor responded that not only was it almost impossible to refuse applications on parking grounds; in the future there would be powers that would virtually take decisions  ...  view the full minutes text for item 66.

67.

Questions by Members of the Council under Council Procedure Rule 10.0 pdf icon PDF 65 KB

    Minutes:

    The Chairman reported that questions had been received from Councillors Khan and Joynes.

     

    The questions and responses were circulated at the meeting and are attached at Appendix 1 to these minutes.

     

     

68.

Questions by Members of the Public under Council Procedure Rule 11.0

    The following question has been received from Omar Ismail:

     

    “Can anybody running this Council explain as to why such major development in the Meriden ward which has been recently agreed was allowed to happen without a proper consultation by the Council with residents and local business?”

     

    Minutes:

    The Chairman reported that a question had been received from Omar Ismail.  The Chairman indicated that there would be no supplementary question or debate owing to the length of the agenda for the meeting.

     

    The following question was asked by Omar Ismail

     

    “Can anybody running this Council explain as to why such major development in the Meriden ward which has been recently agreed was allowed to happen without a proper consultation by the Council with residents and local business.”

     

     The Chairman invited Councillor Sharpe to respond.

     

    Councillor Sharpe said that he disagreed with the premise of the question.  However, there was no doubt that this was a decision that was very controversial.  It was a scheme that had been in the pipeline for a long time.  He explained that there was a lot of pre-application discussion with residents by the Watford Community Housing Trust; including three public meetings and various newsletters and other forms of engagement.  The Council exceeded the legal requirement for notification - notifying 400 properties within the vicinity about the application and receiving 90 comments.  Anyone who was present at the relevant planning committee meeting would have been in no doubt that there was a wide level of public awareness of the application and that people’s views had been clearly expressed.

     

    He added that the planning system could be inherently controversial and planning committees had to make decisions in line with planning policy and the national framework.  This, at a time when the government policy required a presumption in favour of sustainable development and insisting that councils took a positive and enabling attitude towards development.  This meant that often there could be applications which had significant levels of opposition but in relation to which there were no actual planning grounds to reject the application.  The planning system had to be decided according to the rules rather than as a plebiscite based on expressed opinions.  He concluded that every council in the country may at times face the requirement to approve planning applications that had significant levels of objection; as in the case here.  But anyone who was at the planning meeting or engaged in the process would have been under no illusion that people did not know about the application and had not been able to express their view.

     

69.

Petitions presented under Council Procedure Rule 12.0

    Minutes:

    No petitions had been received.

     

70.

Business especially brought forward by the Chairman or the Head of Paid Service which in the opinion of the Chairman should be considered as a matter of urgency.

    Minutes:

    There was no urgent business. The chairman proposed that the reports requiring decisions should be dealt with first.

     

     

71.

Motions submitted under Council Procedure Rule 13.0

    1. The following motion has been proposed by Councillor Crout and seconded by Councillor Rindl:

     

    “This council values the role played in our community by local pharmacists and is concerned by Government plans that could lead to the closure of chemist shops throughout our town.

     

    It asks our MP Richard Harrington to call on the Government to shelve these plans and protect this vital and highly valued service.

    Council also feels that such attacks on the very fabric of our health system give a lie to Prime Minister David Cameron’s statement that the NHS is “Safe in Our Hands.””

     

    2. The following motion has been proposed by Councillor Bell

     

    “This Council notes that;

     

    1/The 5th May will be the 14th anniversary of the election of the Mayor and the date the Liberal Democrats took responsibility for the administration of the Council.

     

    2/The Council notes that after 14-years,the Liberal Democrats continue to blame the former Labour administration rather than accept responsibility for their own failures and mistakes.

     

    This Council believes that;

     

    3/The Liberal Democrats have put their party interests above those of the residents of Watford by supporting the coalition with the Conservatives and this has led to the imposing of such massive cuts to Local Government finance and cuts to vital services, implementing cuts to housing benefit, applying the detested and unnecessary bedroom tax, and failing to campaign for the proper funding of a new hospital for Watford.

     

    4/Millions of pounds have been wasted by the Liberal Democrats resulting in Watford still having the highest Council Tax in Hertfordshire despite the Mayor’s original promise to reduce it to the County average back in 2002.

     

    This Council calls upon the Mayor to acknowledge her party’s responsibility for these failures, to retire to the House of Lords and invites the electorate of Watford to vote for a change for the better on May 5th by electing a Labour Council.”

     

    3. The following motion has been proposed by Councillor Silver and seconded by Councillor Mehta:

     

    “This Council notes the importance of Watford's historical position within the print industry and that Watford has a proud heritage as a printing hub, which continues to this day with the production of noteworthy literature.

     

    We also recognise the contribution of Watford-based libraries to the promotion of books and reading within Watford. Schemes to improve the commercial viability of libraries such as introducing coffee shops into public libraries and the creation of more attractive reading areas to encourage visits and reading has proved successful elsewhere.

     

    We also believe that as a proud print town, the lack of a specialist bookshop in the town centre should be remedied. Whilst this Council cannot demand that a private company sets up a shop in Watford, we should do more to attract the investment and demonstrate the viability of such an enterprise by showing the virtues of our town.

     

    This Council therefore calls on Hertfordshire County Council to guarantee the future of Watford's libraries and work to enhance  ...  view the full agenda text for item 71.

    Minutes:

    Council was informed that four motions had been received. The Chairman indicated that she intended to reorder the motions as set out in the agenda and take motion 2 last.

     

    1)       The following motion was proposed by Councillor Crout and seconded by  

          Councillor Rindl -

     

    “This council values the role played in our community by local pharmacists and is concerned by Government plans that could lead to the closure of chemist shops throughout our town.

     

    It asks our MP Richard Harrington to call on the Government to shelve these plans and protect this vital and highly valued service.

     

    Council also feels that such attacks on the very fabric of our health system give a lie to Prime Minister David Cameron’s statement that the NHS is “Safe in Our Hands.”

     

    Members debated the motion. Councillor Mehta requested that the last sentence of the motion be removed. The Managing Director advised that this amendment had already been ruled to be out of order. Councillor Dhindsa asked for an officer opinion as to why it was out of order.  The Managing Director outlined the requirements of the Constitution in these circumstances.

     

    Councillor Mehta requested a point of order in that the motion related to pharmacies and not to government policy.  The Managing Director explained the rationale for not removing the wording and how removal would negate the subject matter of the motion.

     

    The amendment was not put.

    On being put to the Council the motion was AGREED.

     

    RESOLVED –

     

    This council values the role played in our community by local pharmacists and is concerned by Government plans that could lead to the closure of chemist shops throughout our town.

     

    It asks our MP Richard Harrington to call on the Government to shelve these plans and protect this vital and highly valued service.

     

    Council also feels that such attacks on the very fabric of our health system give a lie to Prime Minister David Cameron’s statement that the NHS is “Safe in Our Hands”.

     

     

    3)     The following motion was proposed by Councillor Silver and seconded by Councillor Mehta -

     

    “This Council notes the importance of Watford's historical position within the print industry and that Watford has a proud heritage as a printing hub, which continues to this day with the production of noteworthy literature.

     

    We also recognise the contribution of Watford-based libraries to the promotion of books and reading within Watford. Schemes to improve the commercial viability of libraries such as introducing coffee shops into public libraries and the creation of more attractive reading areas to encourage visits and reading has proved successful elsewhere.

     

    We also believe that as a proud print town, the lack of a specialist bookshop in the town centre should be remedied. Whilst this Council cannot demand that a private company sets up a shop in Watford, we should do more to attract the investment and demonstrate the viability of such an enterprise by showing the virtues of our town.

     

    This Council therefore calls on Hertfordshire County Council  ...  view the full minutes text for item 71.

72.

Local Development Scheme pdf icon PDF 52 KB

73.

Chief Officer Pay Policy pdf icon PDF 53 KB

    Report of Head of Human Resources.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Council received a report of the Head of Human Resources.  The Chief Officer Pay Policy sought to ensure the Council was able to attract, recruit, retain and engage the right people in order to meet its objectives.

    RESOLVED –

    That the Chief Officer Pay Policy be approved.

     

74.

Polling Stations pdf icon PDF 80 KB

    Report of Head of Democracy and Governance

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Council received a report of the Head of Democracy and Governance seeking agreement that the Polling District; Polling Places and Polling Station arrangements within the Borough as detailed in Appendix B were agreed.

    RESOLVED –

    That the Polling District; Polling Places and polling Station arrangements within the Borough as detailed in Appendix B of the report, be agreed.  

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Chairman

    The meeting started at 7.30 p.m.

    and finished at 10.30 p.m.  

 

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