Agenda and minutes

Agenda and minutes

Venue: Town Hall, Watford

Contact: Sandra Hancock  Email: democraticservices@watford.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

57.

Chairman's Statement

    Minutes:

    The Chairman commented how the whole country was going through unprecedented times.  He said that all councillors were pivotal leaders in the community.  He encouraged everyone to support people in the Watford community, particularly the vulnerable and to all work together for the betterment of the town.

58.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Crout, Dychton, Ezeifedi, Hastrick, Jeffree, J Johnson, S Johnson, Mauthoor, Mills, Parker, Scudder, Smith, Stanton, Stiff, Walford, Watkin and Wenham.

 

Apologies were also received from Norman and Mavis Tyrwhitt, Freemen of the Borough.

59.

Disclosure of Interests

Minutes:

There were no disclosures of interest.

60.

Minutes

The minutes of the meeting held on 28 January 2020 to be submitted and signed. 

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 28 January were submitted and signed.

61.

Official Announcements

Minutes:

Neighbourhood Locality Fund

 

Members were asked to ensure that all 2019/20 applications had been submitted to Democratic Services by Monday to ensure the financial work could be completed before the close of accounts.  New applications could be submitted from 1 April.

 

The Chairman informed members that any funds that were not spent this year would be carried forward to the 2020/21 budget due to the current extraordinary situation the country was in.  He felt members’ priorities would be different at the moment and the funds could be used more effectively in the community.

 

Manny Lewis

 

The Chairman stated that this would be the last meeting for Manny Lewis as he was due to retire at the end of the month.  On behalf of the council he wished him well for the future.  He invited Councillor Collett, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, and Nigel Bell, leader of the Labour group, to speak.

 

Councillor Collett said that Manny Lewis had been an excellent Managing Director for Watford Borough Council.  The Liberal Democrat group wished him all the best and thanked him for everything he had done.

 

Councillor Bell echoed Councillor Collett’s comments.  Manny had overseen many changes at the council.  He had always been fair and briefed the Labour group.  He had been an honourable and honest chief officer which were the qualities that all Managing Directors should have.  He wished Manny well for his future retirement and sent best wishes to Manny’s wife and family.  He presented Manny with a card.

 

Donna Nolan

 

The Chairman welcomed Donna Nolan, the new Managing Director to her first Council meeting.

 

Chairman’s events

 

The Chairman thanked all those that had attended and supported his recent events.  The bingo and curry evening held in aid of the Starfish Ward at Watford General Hospital had raised £800.  He also thanked those who had attended the civic service held at North Watford Mosque.

62.

Mayor's Report pdf icon PDF 507 KB

    Report of the Elected 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 Dhindsa, Martins, Turmaine, Bell, Hofman and Bashir indicated that they wished to ask questions.

     

    Before councillors put their questions to the Mayor he advised that he wanted to provide members with an update on the activities the council was taking in response to the coronavirus.  He wished to pay tribute to the hard working officers across the council who were working above and beyond, with long hours, including the weekend, to ensure the council could respond properly to this crisis. He highlighted five priorities.

     

    Rough sleepers – a lot of work was going on to ensure there was adequate accommodation for rough sleepers or those experiencing homelessness.  The council was working with New Hope, the YMCA and Watford Community Housing.  In addition ensuring space was available for people to self-isolate.

     

    Volunteers – it had been amazing the number of people who wanted to volunteer and help in the current situation.  This needed to be co-ordinated and the necessary safeguarding was in place.  The council was playing a crucial role.  Alan Gough, the Group Head of Community and Environmental Services, and others were working on how this would be co-ordinated.  They were bringing together voluntary groups, including Watford and Three Rivers Trust and others.

     

    Information – he had spoken to many residents and many were uncertain.  In the following week all households would receive a leaflet from the council advising them where to get up to date and accurate information.

     

    Business support – he noted the government’s announcement earlier in the day of £330 billion business support.  There was lots of funding available, including business rates reductions.  The finance team was working proactively to ensure businesses had that support.

     

    Resilience of the council – it was necessary to ensure the core activities continued.  Donna Nolan had been leading the work to ensure the council’s activities could continue under these trying circumstances.

     

    The Mayor echoed the Chairman’s earlier comments and that all members were community leaders and had a role in providing support to the most vulnerable.  Earlier in the day he had spoken to older residents, he had been struck how unfazed they were and the support they were receiving from their friends, families and neighbours.  Members needed to provide support to the most vulnerable, businesses and ensure that all were provided with accurate information.

     

    a)      Councillor Dhindsa commented that he hoped those staff who were having to self-isolate would not trigger any sickness absence alerts or receive sickness warning letters.

     

             He asked the Mayor about those residents who were in private accommodation and had council tax arears.  He hoped they would not be pursued for outstanding payments and the council would be sympathetic, allowing them time to pay.

     

             The Mayor advised that there would be no sickness absence penalties for those staff who were self-isolating.  From Wednesday most officers would be working  ...  view the full minutes text for item 62.

63.

Questions by Members of the Council under Council Procedure Rule 10.0

    Minutes:

    No members’ questions had been received.

64.

Questions by Members of the Public under Council Procedure Rule 11.0

    The following question has been received from Dennis Watling –

     

    “At the planning meeting held on 16th December 2019, which I was present at, the council approved the huge development at the TK Maxx and Range site. I and tens of other residents heard Daniel Massie, Pre-Development Director at Berkeley Homes, state that the developer had agreed to contribute the Mayor’s cycle scheme and other schemes in Watford.

     

    Can the Mayor tell me, how many times he or his officers met Berkeley Homes to discuss these financial commitments? What specific amounts have been agreed to be directed to this scheme. What other schemes has the developer agreed to support for the building of these huge range site towers which include but not limited to a 28 storey monstrosity?”

    Minutes:

    A question has been received from Dennis Watling which was set out in the agenda.  The question related to the Berkeley Homes planning application which had been considered at Development Control Committee on 16 December 2019.

     

    The Chairman noted that Mr Watling was not present.  He advised that a written response would be sent to him and attached to the minutes.

     

    The Mayor noted Mr Watling’s question and advised that residents of the Berkeley Homes scheme would be given credits towards sustainable transport.  The council wanted to encourage residents to use such transport.  He referred to the Beryl bikes scheme and in the first two weeks of operation over 2,000 rides had taken place. 

65.

Petitions presented under Council Procedure Rule 12.0

    A petition in the following terms has been received.  At the time of agenda publication the petition contained 115 signatures of Watford residents.

     

    Statement –

     

    “Since Watford Market was moved to the top end of the town, the majority of market units / stalls have significantly declined bringing the market almost to extinction.  Stall holders and residents feel rents are too high, location is poor, market area is uninviting as well as difficult to find (out of sight and tacked away indoors at top end of town in shipping containers).

     

    We, the undersigned, petition Watford Council as concerned citizens who urge Watford Council to acknowledge that the market is failing in its present form and we are requesting a full ‘rethink’ / ‘review’ about what type of market we want for the future.  We demand the following be re-considered a) better location of stalls to enhance visibility and presence (along high street) b) affordable rents c) consider introducing variety of stalls e.g. Traditional Market stalls, Farmers Market, Christmas Market, Speciality Markets e.g. French, similar to St Albans market.”

    Minutes:

    A petition in the following terms has been received. At the time of agenda publication the petition contained 115 signatures of Watford residents.

     

    “Since Watford Market was moved to the top end of the town, the majority of market units / stalls have significantly declined bringing the market almost to extinction. Stall holders and residents feel rents are too high, location is poor, market area is uninviting as well as difficult to find (out of sight and tucked [sic] away indoors at top end of town in shipping containers).

     

    We, the undersigned, petition Watford Council as concerned citizens who urge Watford Council to acknowledge that the market is failing in its present form and we are requesting a full ‘rethink’ / ‘review’ about what type of market we want for the future. We demand the following be re-considered a) better location of stalls to enhance visibility and presence (along high street) b) affordable rents c) consider introducing variety of stalls e.g. Traditional Market stalls, Farmers Market, Christmas Market, Speciality Markets e.g. French, similar to St Albans market.”

     

    The Chairman noted the Mr Wharton was not present at the meeting.  A written response would be sent to him and attached to the minutes.

     

    The Mayor informed members that he had met Mr Wharton about the petition.  He would be happy to meet him again to discuss the matter further.  He recognised Mr Wharton’s support and enthusiasm for the market.

     

66.

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:

    The Chairman announced that he had agreed to the following two items to be submitted as a matter of urgency in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

67.

Suspension of Disqualification from Office under S85 Local Government Act 1972 pdf icon PDF 361 KB

    Minutes:

    Council received a report of the Group Head of Democracy and Governance, which sought approval to waive the requirement for councillors to attend a relevant meeting of the council for a period of six months from the date of their last attendance. This had been proposed in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the likelihood that meetings may be cancelled or members were unable to attend due to personal circumstances.

     

    RESOLVED –

     

    1.      That council approves, in relation to each and every member of the council, as a reason for a failure to attend any meeting of the council, cabinet, committee or sub-committee (a relevant meeting), by any member of the council during the relevant period in the circumstances set out below, as a reason for non-attendance for the of Section 85 of the Local Government Act 1972.

     

    2.      The circumstances referred to in 1 above are that a member fails to attend a relevant meeting because the member:

             - has contracted or been infected by COVID-19

             - has tested positive for COVID- 19

             - is suspected of having or suspects that he/she has contracted or been infected by COVID-19

             - has concerns that they may contract or become infected with COVID-19

             - is in quarantine or self-isolating (whether or not on the instruction or advice of any public authority or medical professional) in relation to COVID-19

             - is unable to attend the relevant meeting because the meeting is cancelled or postponed for a reason relating to COVID-19

     

    3.      The relevant period for the purposes of 1 and 2 above is the period from the passing of the resolution until the end of the Annual Meeting of the Council in 2021.       

68.

Management of Council Business During the COVID-19 pandemic pdf icon PDF 366 KB

    Minutes:

    Council received a report of the Group Head of Democracy and Governance which sought Council approval to cancel all committees and sub-committees until such time as legislation is passed to allow virtual meetings.

     

    Councillor Sharpe moved an amendment, which was seconded by Councillor Collett –

     

    Delete Items 3.2 and 3.3 replace with

     

    3.2    That in relation to the functions normally exercised by the Development Management Committee these be delegated to the Group Head of Place / Head of Development Management / Development Management Team Leader (with preference given to the Group Head and Head) with the members of Development Management Committee with the requirement for their views to be provided via a virtual meeting before the officer formally takes the delegated decision having due regard to the views of members as shown by the outcome of the virtual meeting and that the normal rules of Development Management allowing one person in favour and one objector to speak be continued.

     

    3.3    That in relation to any of the functions normally exercised by the Licensing Sub Committee that these be delegated to the Group Head of Community and Environmental Services / Head of Community Protection / Environmental Health Managers with members of the sub-committee being required to provide their views via a virtual meeting before the officer formally takes the delegated decision having due regard to the views of members as shown by the outcome of the virtual meeting. That applicants and those making representations be advised that only written submissions will be accepted.”

     

    The Chairman asked that the proposals be reviewed and reversed when the current government restrictions were lifted.

     

    On being put to Council the amendment was AGREED.

     

    RESOLVED –

     

    1.      that all meetings of council committees and sub-committees be cancelled until such time as legislation is put in place to allow meetings to be held virtually.

     

    2.      that in relation to the functions normally exercised by the Development Management Committee these be delegated to the Group Head of Place / Head of Development Management / Development Management Team Leader (with preference given to the Group Head and Head) with the members of Development Management Committee with the requirement for their views to be provided via a virtual meeting before the officer formally takes the delegated decision having due regard to the views of members as shown by the outcome of the virtual meeting and that the normal rules of Development Management allowing one person in favour and one objector to speak be continued.

     

    3.      that in relation to any of the functions normally exercised by the Licensing Sub Committee that these be delegated to the Group Head of Community and Environmental Services / Head of Community Protection / Environmental Health Managers with members of the sub-committee being required to provide their views via a virtual meeting before the officer formally takes the delegated decision having due regard to the views of members as shown by the outcome of the virtual meeting. That applicants and those making representations  ...  view the full minutes text for item 68.

69.

Report by Committee for Standards in Public Life on Review Of Standards in Local Government pdf icon PDF 363 KB

    Report of Standards Committee and Group Head of Democracy and Governance

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Council received a report of the Group Head of Democracy and Governance which informed members about the recommendations made by the Committee for Standards in Public Life following its review of standards in local government.

     

    RESOLVED –

     

    1.      that the Committee on the Standards in Public Life’s recommendations set out below be adopted.

     

             Recommendation 3: Local authorities should review their code each year and regularly seek the views of the public, community organisations and neighbouring authorities – that the code be reviewed annually by the Monitoring Officer and Standards Committee.

     

             Recommendation 6: Local authorities should publish a clear and straightforward public interest test against which complaints should be filtered

     

            that the procedure be updated to include a clear and straightforward public interest test against which complaints should be filtered.

     

             Recommendation 7: Local authorities should have access to at least two independent persons – that the council advertises for a second Independent Person.

     

             Recommendation 8: The Independent Person should be consulted as to whether to undertake a formal investigation into an allegation, and given the option to comment on any allegations that the responsible officer is minded to dismiss as being without merit, trivial or vexatious.       

     

            that the Monitoring Officer seeks the view of the Independent Person when minded to dismiss any complaint as without merit, trivial or vexatious.

     

    2.      that the Committee on the Standards in Public Life’s recommendation 2: Local authorities should provide in their codes for councillors to comply with formal standards investigations, and prohibit trivial or malicious allegations by councillors, not be adopted.

     

    3.      that Council notes that the recommendations 1, 4, 5, 9, 10 and 15 of the Committee for Standards in Public Life’s review were already being followed and recommendations 12 and 13 were not applicable as there were no parish or town councils in the borough.

70.

Watford BC Corporate Plan 2020 pdf icon PDF 335 KB

71.

Council Pay Policy Statement pdf icon PDF 357 KB

    Report of the Group Head of HR

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Council received a report of the Group Head of HR which set out the Council’s Pay Policy Statement for 2020.  The Localism Act 2011 required the council to publish its position on 1 April 2020. 

     

    RESOLVED –

     

    that the Council Pay Policy Statement 2020 be approved.

72.

Vice Chairman 2020/21 nominations pdf icon PDF 373 KB

73.

Motions submitted under Council Procedure Rule 13.0

    1.         The following motion has been proposed by Councillor Bell –

     

                “This Council notes the recent publication of the ‘Marmot Review’ and the implications for communities that are suffering still from austerity and the subsequent health inequalities that have been made worse by it.

     

                The Council notes the change in life expectancy particularly for women since 2011 as revealed in the Marmot Review.

     

                This Council resolves that future policy by the Mayor and his administration should properly take account of the results and conclusions of the Marmot review in helping to create and develop healthy and sustainable places and communities.”

     

    2.         The following motion has been proposed by Councillor Sharpe and seconded by the Elected Mayor –

     

                “Council notes that the government have placed significant pressure on Watford Borough Council to deliver more homes, tripling the council’s housing target to deliver 793 dwellings a year.

     

                Councils notes that the government, as part of the National Planning Policy Framework, are planning to meet their promise to build 300,000 new homes a year by building heavily on brownfield land. Watford is made up of 95% brownfield land, meaning we will be under increase pressure to build more homes, particularly near public transport interchanges.

     

                Council believes that we have a housing crisis across the country and therefore we should build more good quality homes, particularly for local families and young people who may otherwise find it difficult to get on the housing ladder.

     

                Council believes that the government’s current National Planning Policy Framework seriously constrains council’s powers to insist that developers provide affordable housing or infrastructure such as schools, doctors surgeries or improved public transport in new development.

     

                Council believes that effective planning policy should require improvements to public transport and to infrastructure such as schools, health facilities etc. as part of new development to ensure there is a good quality of life for existing and new residents.

     

                Council calls on the government to reform its current rules surrounding development to give councils more power to:

     

    -          Challenge unrealistic targets.

    -          Insist on improved infrastructure with new developments.

    -          Challenge viability assessments that allow developers to get away without providing adequate affordable housing for local young people.

    -          Scrap permitted development rights that lead to substandard homes being built, such as the recent case of windowless flats in Wellstones.

     

                Council resolves for the Mayor to write to the Secretary of State for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to call on reform to planning rules to give councils more powers. “

     

    3.         The following motion has been proposed by Councillor Dychton and seconded by Councillor Collett –

     

                “Council notes that EU nationals from the other 27 EU member states are part of our shared communities alongside UK citizens. They are our husbands, wives, parents, friends and colleagues. They are an integral part of a vibrant and thriving town. There are over 8000 EU nationals living in the town who make a valuable contribution to life in Watford.

     

                Council notes that  ...  view the full agenda text for item 73.

    Minutes:

    It was agreed by the Liberal Democrat Group and Labour Group that the motions would be deferred to the next available Council meeting, once meetings could be reconvened.

 

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