Agenda and minutes

Agenda and minutes

Venue: Town Hall, Watford

Contact: Caroline Harris 

Items
No. Item

59.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Barks and Hastrick.

60.

Disclosure of Interests

Minutes:

There were no disclosures of interest.

61.

Minutes

The minutes of the meeting held on 30 January 2018 to be submitted and signed. 

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 30 January 2018 were submitted and signed.

62.

Official Announcements

Minutes:

Chairman’s Events

 

The Chairman informed Council that the previous day he had participated in two national events.  He had raised the Commonwealth flag to mark Commonwealth Day.  Later he had lit a fourth candle which would be placed in the trophy cabinet as a commemoration of the end of the First World War.

 

Chairman’s Charity Quiz

 

The Chairman reminded members that his charity quiz was taking place the following evening.  It was a sell-out event and he looked forward to seeing those who were taking part in the teams.

 

Mayor Dorothy Thornhill

 

The Chairman stated that this would be the Mayor’s last Council meeting.  He invited Councillors Peter Taylor and Nigel Bell to say a few words.

 

Councillor Taylor noted that the Mayor had first been elected to the council in 1992 as a councillor.  He had been informed that during her first year on the council she did not make any speeches in the Council Chamber.  She was then elected in 2002 to be the town’s first elected Mayor.  Also she was the first female elected Mayor in the country.  Today there were still only four female elected Mayors across the country. 

 

Councillor Taylor commented that the Mayor had experienced 97 Council meetings since being elected as Mayor.  At the first meeting there had been a motion submitted by Councillors Tim Williams and Robert Gordon about the need to improve the council’s finances.  During her time as Mayor the council had seen dramatic improvements in the council’s finances.  The Mayor had overseen improvements in the town’s parks, the leisure centres, community events and there was an excellent well-run council.  This was largely due to her fantastic leadership.  She managed to combine both strategic leadership and years of service with friendship and warmth.  Many residents referred to her as a friend due to her warmth.  There were very few people who were able to combine years of service, ability to provide strategic leadership but also warmth and a human touch.  On behalf of Liberal Democrat councillors, both past and present, He thanked the Mayor for everything she had done for the town, her years of service, her inspirational leadership and her friendship.  He added that whoever was the next Mayor would have a tough act to follow.

 

Councillor Bell said that after many occasions opposite each other in the Council Chamber and disagreeing many times, he recognised that all members were elected to do their best for Watford residents.  The Mayor in her way, with her mandate, had done that.  She had left her mark on the town whether or not everyone agreed with her policies.  It was quite an achievement to have been an elected member for 26 years continuously.  There had been 10 years as a backbench councillor and then 16 as the directly elected executive Mayor.  She had carried out the work that encompassed personal and family adjustments, along with the political responsibility of her role.  There had been many long-standing councillors over the years.  He said  ...  view the full minutes text for item 62.

63.

Mayor's Report pdf icon PDF 57 KB

    Report of the Mayor

    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 Turmaine, Mills, Ahsan Khan, Bashir, Connal and Smith indicated that they wished to ask questions.

     

    a)      Councillor Turmaine noted the Mayor’s number of election wins.  He referred to their debates during the General Election campaign in 2015.  It was difficult when a party was losing its leader.  He said that at least one on the opposite seats was destined for a parliamentary career.  Watford had shown that it was possible as a Liberal Democrat to lose in the General Election but would still be able to make it to Parliament with a seat in the House of Lords.  He enquired whether that was true.

     

             The Mayor responded that the coalition period had not been comfortable for her group.  For many years the Liberals and Liberal Democrat party had been the parties of protest and opposition.  She had been clear that she had wanted to govern with a team of Liberal Democrat councillors.  She acknowledged that there were more ways into that Palace than one.  She added that as she had said in her report she intended to be an ambassador for decentralisation and handing powers down to local government.  Local government was part of the solution for many of society’s current ills and certainly not the problem or cause of it, which included building houses.

     

    b)      Councillor Mills asked whether the Mayor was aware that child poverty in Watford was highest in Leggatts and Holywell.  These were the two places stripped of their adventure playgrounds, which gave children and young people the opportunity to access food, drink, warmth and companionship.  She asked the Mayor how this made her feel.

     

             The Mayor said that child poverty in Watford was better than the national average.  She acknowledged that there were pockets of deprivation across the borough.  They were small areas of poverty.  She would not apologise for making a facility more widely available to hundreds of young people to enjoy seven days per week and renewing a facility that people could be proud of.  There were families who relied on the adventure playgrounds in a particular way.  Someone in charge of a council was aware of budgets being considerably slashed and could not help but make some decisions that would impact on some people.  However she was able to state that this council had made far less of those types of decisions because of the authority’s financial prudence.  This council was not in the position of some other councils who were slashing basic services and affecting lots of people.

     

    c)      Councillor Ahsan Khan noted that in the Mayor’s report she had said that Watford was a truly multi-cultural town.  In the Corporate Plan it mentioned that 31% of Watford’s population was non-white.  He asked why the Liberal Democrat party did not reflect the make-up of Watford.

     

             The Mayor acknowledged that it was true at  ...  view the full minutes text for item 63.

64.

Questions by Members of the Council under Council Procedure Rule 10.0 pdf icon PDF 58 KB

    Minutes:

    Question had been received from Councillors Matt Turmaine and Asif Khan.  The questions and answers are attached as Appendix 1 to these minutes.

65.

Questions by Members of the Public under Council Procedure Rule 11.0

    Minutes:

    No questions had been received.

66.

Petitions presented under Council Procedure Rule 12.0

    Minutes:

    No petitions had been received.

67.

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.

68.

Review of Corporate Plan 2020: revised for 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 71 KB

69.

South West Herts Joint Strategic Plan pdf icon PDF 302 KB

    Report of Deputy Managing Director attached

     

    Minutes of Cabinet 5 March to follow

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Council received a report of the Deputy Managing Director which outlined the issues, benefits and implications of a South West Herts Joint Strategic Plan.

     

    RESOLVED –

     

    1.      that the council works with the other South West Herts Authorities (Three Rivers, Dacorum, Hertsmere and St Albans Councils) to prepare a Joint Strategic Plan.  Details of working arrangements and governance structures will be included in a Memorandum of Understanding which is currently being worked on.  A timetable and the relationship with individual local plans will be set out in a Statement of Common Ground, to be agreed by all partners.

     

    2.      that the council progresses a Memorandum of Understanding as the framework for governing joint working arrangements and for the final terms of the Memorandum of Understanding to be delegated to the Deputy Managing Director for agreement.

     

    3.      that officers progress work on the joint plan and that this will come back to Council for final approval.

     

    4.      that the support of Hertfordshire County Council and the Hertfordshire LEP for this process be noted.

70.

Motions submitted under Council Procedure Rule 13.0

    1.     The following motion has been proposed by Councillor Matt Turmaine and seconded by Councillor Ahsan Khan

    “This council recognises that the benefits system in the UK needs reform to help people into work and to ensure that there is an appropriate safety net for those who are unable to work or meet the minimum cost of housing and feeding themselves.

    The Universal Credit system was originally designed to help this process through rolling up a series of benefits into a single, simple to manage payment.

    However, this council recognises that the rollout of Universal Credit so far has left many recipients in or at risk of debt, rent arrears, physical and mental health illness as a result of lower benefits payments than under the previous regime, the six-week waiting time for payment and until recently, the cost of telephoning the UC helpline.

    This council notes that the rollout of UC to new claimants has been halted as of January 2018 and recognises that this presents a perfect opportunity to increase the volume of those calling for a re-think.

    Therefore, we resolve that the elected mayor of the council will write, on behalf of members, to the secretary of state for work and pensions to request:

    ·       An extension of the halt to new claimants to review the practice of UC rollout.

    ·       A review of UC in order to fix the complications introduced by communication resources and delays in payment.

    ·       A level of support for people currently on UC who are unable to meet their financial commitments that goes beyond the current modest loan payment scheme.”

    2.     The following motion has been proposed by Councillor Asif Khan and seconded by Councillor Nigel Bell

    “This council recognises that the Met Line Extension is a vital development for Watford, Hertfordshire and London.

    This council also recognises that negotiations between the Department for Transport and the Mayor of London are currently stalled and it is vital that they conclude with a positive outcome for the Met Line extension.


    The council resolves to work with the Secretary of State for Transport and the Mayor of London to come to a workable agreement for the benefit of all parties involved.”

     

    3.     The following motion has been proposed by Councillor Iain Sharpe and seconded by Councillor Mark Watkin

    “This Council regrets the decision by the Mayor of London to withdraw his backing for the Metropolitan Line Extension unless ‘all additional potential cost overruns’ are underwritten.

     

    Council notes that the project has secured a further £73m from the government to bridge the funding gap indicated by TfL in order to enable delivery. Council also notes the additional potential to develop land worth up to £40m.

     

    Given the total funding from partners includes £45m contingency funding, Council is shocked that the Mayor of London is set to withdraw support for this essential infrastructure project that benefits both Hertfordshire and London, especially after his stated wish to run commuter services from outside the GLA area, and the desire to work  ...  view the full agenda text for item 70.

    Minutes:

    Council was informed that three motions had been received.

     

    1)      The following motion was proposed by Councillor Matt Turmaine and seconded by Councillor Ahsan Khan

     

             “This council recognises that the benefits system in the UK needs reform to help people into work and to ensure that there is an appropriate safety net for those who are unable to work or meet the minimum cost of housing and feeding themselves.

     

             The Universal Credit system was originally designed to help this process through rolling up a series of benefits into a single, simple to manage payment.

     

             However, this council recognises that the rollout of Universal Credit so far has left many recipients in or at risk of debt, rent arrears, physical and mental health illness as a result of lower benefits payments than under the previous regime, the six-week waiting time for payment and until recently, the cost of telephoning the UC helpline.

     

             This council notes that the rollout of UC to new claimants has been halted as  of January 2018 and recognises that this presents a perfect opportunity to increase the volume of those calling for a re-think.

     

             Therefore, we resolve that the elected mayor of the council will write, on behalf of members, to the secretary of state for work and pensions to request:

     

    ·             An extension of the halt to new claimants to review the practice of UC rollout.

    ·             A review of UC in order to fix the complications introduced by communication resources and delays in payment.

    ·             A level of support for people currently on UC who are unable to meet their financial commitments that goes beyond the current modest loan payment scheme.”

     

             Council debated the motion.

     

             On being put to Council the motion was CARRIED.

     

             RESOLVED –

     

             This council recognises that the benefits system in the UK needs reform to help people into work and to ensure that there is an appropriate safety net for those who are unable to work or meet the minimum cost of housing and feeding themselves.

     

             The Universal Credit system was originally designed to help this process through rolling up a series of benefits into a single, simple to manage payment.

     

             However, this council recognises that the rollout of Universal Credit so far has left many recipients in or at risk of debt, rent arrears, physical and mental health illness as a result of lower benefits payments than under the previous regime, the six-week waiting time for payment and until recently, the cost of telephoning the UC helpline.

     

             This council notes that the rollout of UC to new claimants has been halted as  of January 2018 and recognises that this presents a perfect opportunity to increase the volume of those calling for a re-think.

     

             Therefore, we resolve that the elected mayor of the council will write, on behalf of members, to the secretary of state for work and pensions to request:

     

    ·             An extension of the halt to new claimants to review the practice of UC rollout.

    ·             A review of UC in order to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 70.

 

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