Agenda and minutes

Agenda and minutes

Venue: Town Hall, Watford

Contact: Caroline Harris 

Note: This meeting was originally due to take place on Wednesday 21 October 2015 

Items
No. Item

33.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Hofman and Mills.  The Chairman added that apologies had also been received for Councillor Scudder and asked Council to join her in sending him best wishes for a speedy recovery

34.

Disclosure of Interests

Minutes:

There were no disclosures of interest.

 

35.

Minutes

The minutes of the meeting held on 24 June 2015 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 24 June 2015 were submitted and signed.

 

36.

Official Announcements

Minutes:

Armed Forces Day

 

                   The Chairman informed Council that she had raised the flag for Armed Forces Day at the Town Hall on 22 June.  She had also attended a Royal British Legion Gala event.

 

                   Merchant Navy Day

 

                   The Chairman advised that on 3 September she had raised the red ensign flag for the nation’s first ever Merchant Navy Day. 

 

                   Queen Elizabeth II Longest Reigning Monarch

 

                   The Chairman stated that she had attended an event at St John’s Church to commemorate the Queen becoming the longest reigning monarch.

 

                   Audentior Awards

 

                   The Chairman said that the Audentior Awards had taken place on Friday 11 September.  She thanked all those who had attended and was pleased to announce that £1,581 had been raised for her two charities.

 

                   Annual Carol Service

 

                   The Chairman gave advanced notice that Christ Church had invited Members to attend their annual Carol Service on Sunday 20 December, commencing at 6.30 pm.

 

37.

Mayor's Report pdf icon PDF 72 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 S Williams, Topping, Silver, Rogers, Bashir, Bell, Dhindsa, J Brown, Walford, Mehta, Haley indicated that they wished to ask questions.

     

                       a)      Councillor S Williams congratulated the Mayor on becoming a Baroness and her ‘elevation’ to the House of Lords.  He asked the Mayor if, in her role as a member of the Liberal Democrat shadow team, she would apologise for her government’s role in putting over a million people on foodbanks.

     

                                The Mayor said that she would not apologise for her party going into coalition with the Conservatives when the country needed it.  It had been a strong coalition, which had been graciously admitted by the Conservatives.  It had stabilised the economy and allowed the country to be in a better position five years later.  She commented that not everything had been good in coalition for Liberal Democrats.  In a coalition each side had to compromise.  It had been the first coalition since the second world war.

     

                                The Mayor added that there were many things her party had not agreed with in the coalition.  She stressed that foodbanks had not materialised during the coalition; this was a myth.  If this had been the case the Trussell Trust would not have existed, who had been present during Labour’s administration.  She was sorry that people found themselves in the position of needing to visit foodbanks. 

     

                       b)      Councillor Topping stated that she was concerned about the visiting market booking the prime spaces on Watford High Street for the key Christmas period.  Regular stallholders had contacted her with their worries.  They had built up a trade over many months and would now be moved during a vital trading period.  She asked the Mayor about the loyalty for the town’s stallholders who had supported the market.  She questioned whether it would be prudent to locate the Christmas market near the proposed ice rink; this would create a festive theme and allow the loyal stallholders to remain in their current location.

     

                                The Mayor clarified that it was the outdoor day stalls that had been asked to move.  It was unfortunate that unintentionally the story in the Watford Observer read as though the disruption would affect the main market, located off The Parade.  She emphasised that only the day stalls would be affected.  She considered Mr Hickman, who ran the fruit and vegetable stall, to be the only one who could be considered as a loyal trader.  His stall would be moving to the fly over where he had been at the beginning.  She felt that the decision to allow him to trade outside the main market had been part of the reason the market had not been as successful as it could have been.  Markets needed their fruit and vegetable stalls, fishmongers and the other regular stalls.  Another trader had an indoor and outdoor stall.  She  ...  view the full minutes text for item 37.

38.

Questions by Members of the Council under Council Procedure Rule 10.0

    Minutes:

    No questions had been received.

     

39.

Questions by Members of the Public under Council Procedure Rule 11.0

    Minutes:

    No questions had been received.

     

40.

Petitions presented under Council Procedure Rule 12.0

    Minutes:

    No petitions had been received.

     

41.

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.

     

42.

Motions submitted under Council Procedure Rule 13.0

    The following motion has been proposed by Councillor Johnson and seconded by Councillor Collett

     

    “Housing and the 2015 Emergency Budget

     

    1. Council notes with concern the increasing pressure on housing in Watford, and the South East in general, with Private Rented Sector evictions now accounting for as many cases of homelessness as all other causes combined, and with market rents in Watford significantly exceeding the levels that housing benefit will cover.

     

    2. Council further notes that the 2015 Emergency Budget will have a harmful effect on the housing situation in Watford and on those in housing need, particularly by:

    a)     reducing the Overall Benefits Cap, and designating Watford as an outside London area with an Overall Benefits Cap of £20,000;

    b)     freezing Local Housing Allowance rates for 4 years;

    c)      removing housing benefit for 18-21 year olds;

    d)     extending the ‘right to buy‘ to assured tenants of social landlords; and

    e)     reducing social rents which will deprive housing associations of revenue and undermine their ability to build.

     

    3. Council recognises that:

    a)     the housing market in Watford is closely linked to those of London, and median market rents in Watford exceed those of some London Boroughs;

    b)     private housing rent increases in Watford have substantially exceeded both the Consumer Price Index and the Retail Price Index;

    c)      remaining living at home is simply not an option for 18-21 year olds who are fleeing domestic abuse or estranged from their parents;

    d)     social landlords have questioned the legitimacy of legislating to allow the sale of assets owned by charities and not-for-profit companies; and that many stakeholders are concerned that the policy will result in a permanent loss of social housing for future generations; and

    e)     the National Housing Federation has stated that at least 27,000 homes will now not be built.

     

    4. Council requests that the Elected Mayor writes to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to:

    a)     make the case for Watford Borough residents to qualify for the London rate of Overall Benefit Cap;

    b)     explain that it is already difficult or impossible to find homes that are affordable with Local Housing Allowance, and that freezing the allowance against a general rise in rents is an unfair burden on claimants and the Council; and

    c)      request further information about what criteria the Department will use to define 18-21 year-old applicants for housing benefit as vulnerable.

     

     

    5. Council further requests that the Elected Mayor writes to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to ask for clarification on Government plans to extend the ‘right to buy’ homes in the ownership of registered social landlords, and to express concerns about the policy, both because of its negative impact on availability of affordable housing and its interference in the property rights of charitable bodies.

     

    6. Council further requests the Housing Section Head to continue to work closely with housing providers such as Watford Community Housing Trust to

    a)     consider the effect that reducing social rents and extending the right  ...  view the full agenda text for item 42.

    Minutes:

    Council was informed that four motions had been received.

     

                       1) The following motion was proposed by Councillor Johnson and seconded by Councillor Collett –

     

                      Housing and the 2015 Emergency Budget

     

                       1.   Council notes with concern the increasing pressure on housing in Watford, and the South East in general, with Private Rented Sector evictions now accounting for as many cases of homelessness as all other causes combined, and with market rents in Watford significantly exceeding the levels that housing benefit will cover.

     

                       2.   Council further notes that the 2015 Emergency Budget will have a harmful effect on the housing situation in Watford and on those in housing need, particularly by:

    a)   reducing the Overall Benefits Cap, and designating Watford as an outside London area with an Overall Benefits Cap of £20,000;

    b)   freezing Local Housing Allowance rates for 4 years;

    c)   removing housing benefit for 18-21 year olds;

    d)   extending the ‘right to buy‘ to assured tenants of social landlords; and

    e)   reducing social rents which will deprive housing associations of revenue and undermine their ability to build.

     

                       3.   Council recognises that:

    a)    the housing market in Watford is closely linked to those of London, and median market rents in Watford exceed those of some London Boroughs;

    b)    private housing rent increases in Watford have substantially exceeded both the Consumer Price Index and the Retail Price Index;

    c)    remaining living at home is simply not an option for 18-21 year olds who are fleeing domestic abuse or estranged from their parents;

    d)    social landlords have questioned the legitimacy of legislating to allow the sale of assets owned by charities and not-for-profit companies; and that many stakeholders are concerned that the policy will result in a permanent loss of social housing for future generations; and

    e)    the National Housing Federation has stated that at least 27,000 homes will now not be built.

     

                       4.   Council requests that the Elected Mayor writes to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to:

    a)    make the case for Watford Borough residents to qualify for the London rate of Overall Benefit Cap;

    b)    explain that it is already difficult or impossible to find homes that are affordable with Local Housing Allowance, and that freezing the allowance against a general rise in rents is an unfair burden on claimants and the Council; and

    c)    request further information about what criteria the Department will use to define 18-21 year-old applicants for housing benefit as vulnerable.

     

                       5.   Council further requests that the Elected Mayor writes to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to ask for clarification on Government plans to extend the ‘right to buy’ homes in the ownership of registered social landlords, and to express concerns about the policy, both because of its negative impact on availability of affordable housing and its interference in the property rights of charitable bodies.

     

                       6.   Council further requests the Housing Section Head to continue to work closely with housing providers such as Watford Community Housing Trust to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 42.

43.

Waiving of Council Procedure Rule 8.0

    Minutes:

    The Chairman moved that Council Procedure Rule 8.0 be waived to allow the meeting to finish at 11.00pm

     

    On being put to the meeting the motion was declared to be CARRIED

     

44.

Boundary Review report pdf icon PDF 66 KB

    Report of Head of Democracy and Governance

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Council received a report of the Head of Democracy and Governance including Local Government Boundary Commission’s draft proposals on warding patterns for Watford, the Council’s earlier submission and details of the political groups’ proposals.

     

    A draft composite motion was circulated to Members prior to the start of the meeting.  It replaced those put forward in appendices 3 (Proposal 1), 4 and 5 of the report attached to the agenda.  It read as follows –

     

    “Draft composite motion to replace those put forward in Appendices 3 (Proposal 1), 4 and 5

     

    1.      We have studied and looked at the proposals by the Local Government Boundary Commission into the changes of Watford Borough in detail.

     

    2.      We acknowledge that the report has put forward some proposals to deal with the inequality in the Stanborough ward. There was a proposal, by the Local Government Boundary Commission to move some areas from the Meriden ward to the Stanborough ward.

     

    3.      We disagree with the proposals put forward by the commission which stated;

     

             “We note that it is not possible to transfer electors to Stanborough from any other wards because of the very strong boundary of North Western Avenue. We are therefore including the Kytes Drive area of Meriden ward in our Stanborough ward. Although there was some objection to this, our tour of the area suggested that this area has good access to Stanborough ward and would improve electoral equality in Stanborough. Including this area in the Stanborough ward would worsen electoral equality in the Meriden ward to 7% fewer electors than the borough average by 2020, but improve it to 4% fewer in Stanborough.” (p.13 Watford Draft Recommendations.)

     

    4.      In looking at the recommendation by the commission, we feel that this is not the right way of resolving any inequality within the Stanborough ward.

     

    5.      In our view the Commission’s proposal of linking the Kytes Drive area to Stanborough ward is more problematic than other proposed alternatives. It leads to a very unusual configuration of Stanborough ward, in a figure of eight shape, linked only by the narrowest of corridors. There will be a strong sense of the Kytes Drive area being severed from the rest of Stanborough ward, virtually a separate enclave. This area has strong community links to Meriden ward, most notably through the shared boundary onto Garston Park.

     

             Given that it does not make sense based on community, geographical grounds nor having a logical boundary this proposal seems to be solely based on Electoral inequality. In this case the benefit (two wards being at a variance rather than one but the total variance remaining constant) seems to be outweighed by the costs.

     

    6.      Accordingly, we would encourage the Commission to amend its proposal in such a way as to retain the Kytes Drive/Coates Way area in Meriden ward. This might be done by:

     

             - retaining the current boundary between Meriden and Stanborough wards, or

             - adjusting the boundary to include some or all properties on the eastern  ...  view the full minutes text for item 44.

45.

Addition to Capital Programme - Watford Business Park pdf icon PDF 54 KB

    Report of Managing Director

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Council received a report of the Managing Director seeking approval for an addition to the capital investment programme of £800,000 for the next phase of implementing the Watford Business Park redevelopment.

     

                       RESOLVED –

     

                       that an addition of £800,000 to the capital investment programme for 2015/16, subject to business cases being made for each lease acquisition, be approved.

     

46.

Annual Report of Overview and Scrutiny in Watford Borough Council 2014/15 pdf icon PDF 54 KB

    • View the background to item 46.

    Annual report of Overview and Scrutiny in Watford

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Council received a report of the Committee and Scrutiny Officer including the Annual Report of Overview and Scrutiny Committee in Watford Borough Council 2014/15.

     

                       RESOLVED –

     

                       that the Annual Report of Overview and Scrutiny in Watford Borough Council 2014/15 be noted.

     

47.

Neighbourhood Forum Annual Report 2014/15 pdf icon PDF 56 KB

 

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