Agenda and minutes

Agenda and minutes

Venue: Virtual meeting

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

Media

Items
No. Item

18.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Councillor Scudder.

19.

Disclosure of Interests

Minutes:

There were no disclosures of interest.

20.

Minutes

The minutes of the meeting held on 19 May 2020 to be submitted for approval. 

Minutes:

The minutes of the Annual Council meeting held on 19 May 2020 were approved.  It was noted that the minutes would be signed once officers and members were able to return to the town hall.

21.

Official Announcements

Minutes:

There were no official announcements.

22.

Mayor's Report pdf icon PDF 509 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 Bell, Martins, Bashir, Saffery, Mauthoor, Smith, Stotesbury, Turmaine and Dhindsa indicated that they wished to ask questions.

     

    1.      Councillor Bell thanked the Mayor for his close partnership work with all members during the Covid 19 lockdown.  He acknowledged the Mayor’s responses to his questions regarding John Lewis’s decision to close its Watford store.  Stating that the John Lewis Partnership’s intention to adapt its operations at a national level had been the subject of press speculation for some time, Councillor Bell questioned whether the Mayor had met with representatives from the Partnership only since its 2 July announcement or whether there had been meetings prior to this date

     

    The Mayor acknowledged the benefits of regular cross-party working during Covid 19 which had played an important part in co-ordinating the council’s response to the pandemic.  Referring to Councillor Bell’s substantive question, the Mayor confirmed that he had met with John Lewis’s senior management team last week to discuss the closure.  He confirmed that the Council would do all it could to support those individuals who had lost their jobs.  There was a widespread desire for John Lewis to maintain its 140 year presence in the town.  The Mayor underlined his commitment to ensure that Watford maintained a thriving town centre.

     

    2.      In a supplementary question, Councillor Bell cited articles which had appeared in The Guardian on 8 February and again on 5 March in The Guardian and Financial Times regarding the possibility of store closures and job losses in the John Lewis group.  He asked why the Mayor had not sought an urgent meeting with the Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, Dame Sharon White, at the time the articles had appeared.  He noted that a meeting with Dame Sharon White had still not taken place.

     

    The Mayor advised that he had written to Dame Sharon White to request a meeting and also maintained regular and on-going contact with the intu management to pursue the best possible outcome for the town.  He outlined the broader difficulties faced by John Lewis and confirmed that the local store paid no rent and, since mid-March of this year, had paid no business rates.  The Mayor invited positive input from all parties to promote the town, including its retail sector which had been hard hit by the Covid 19 lockdown.

     

    3.      Councillor Martins thanked the Mayor for his help for victims of Covid 19 in the town which had been widely appreciated.  However, he remained concerned about the effects of Covid 19 on the welfare of children, particularly in regard to their mental health.  Although responsibility for children’s services rested with Hertfordshire County Council, those suffering lived in Watford.  Councillor Martins asked what issues had been raised in the Mayor’s conversations with head teachers and what help had been offered.

     

    The Mayor thanked Councillor Martins for his actions  ...  view the full minutes text for item 22.

23.

Questions by Members of the Council under Council Procedure Rule 10.0 pdf icon PDF 359 KB

    Minutes:

    Questions had been received from Councillor Bell.  The questions and answers had been circulated and published on the council’s website.

24.

Questions by Members of the Public under Council Procedure Rule 11.0

    Minutes:

    No questions from the public had been received.

25.

Petitions presented under Council Procedure Rule 12.0

    Minutes:

    No petitions had been received.

26.

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.

27.

Amendment to the Council Scheme of Delegation pdf icon PDF 453 KB

    • View the background to item 27.

    Report of the Group Head of Democracy and Governance

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Council received a report of the Group Head of Democracy and Governance requesting changes to the council scheme of delegation in relation to planning and enforcement matters. 

     

    RESOLVED –

     

    that the amendments to the council scheme of delegation as set out in appendix 1 to the report be approved.

28.

A new Council Plan for Watford (2020-24) pdf icon PDF 450 KB

    • View the background to item 28.

    This report is due to considered at Cabinet on 6 July 2020, Cabinet’s recommendations to Council will be forwarded as soon as possible.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Council received the report of the Managing Director and Group Head of Strategy and Communications which had been considered by Cabinet on 6 July.  An extract from the Cabinet minutes had been published as part of the supplementary agenda. 

     

    The report explained the framework to ensure an integrated approach to addressing the challenges of the post Covid-19 era, including the Council Plan, Our Road to Renewal Plan, Organisational Development Strategy and recast budget for 2020-21.

     

    RESOLVED –

     

    That Council:

     

    ·               Approves the Council Plan 2020-2024, at appendix 1 to the report.

     

    ·               Approves the Delivery Plan 2020-2022, at appendix 2 to the report.

     

    ·               That the Managing Director be authorised to make minor amendments to the Council Plan 2020-2024 in consultation with the Elected Mayor.

     

    ·               Authorises the Managing Director to make minor amendments to the Delivery Plan 2020-2022 in consultation with the Elected Mayor.

     

    ·               Notes that progress on delivering the Council Plan 2020-2024 will be reported on a quarterly basis to Cabinet, with an annual report being published.

     

    ·               Notes the actions outlined in the report that will contribute to the delivery of the Council Plan 2020-2024.

     

    ·               Agrees the establishment of the new role of Executive/Group Head Assistant.

     

29.

Budget update for 2020/2021 pdf icon PDF 348 KB

    • View the background to item 29.

    This report is due to considered at Cabinet on 6 July 2020, Cabinet’s recommendations to Council will be forwarded as soon as possible.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Council received the report of the Director of Finance which had been considered by Cabinet on 6 July.  An extract of the Cabinet minutes had been published as part of the supplementary agenda. In addition an addendum to the budget had been published relating to the contract with SLM.

     

    The report outlined the significant impact of Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdown on the finances of the council both in terms of additional expenditure and reductions in income levels.  The report set out the latest forecast along with proposed actions to rebalance the budget and fund recovery activity during the remainder of the year.

     

    RESOLVED –

     

    That council:

     

    1.      Notes the financial impact of Covid-19 and the work being done to balance the budget.

     

    2.      Authorises the Director of Finance to make the necessary adjustments to individual budgets to reflect the expenditure and loss of income arising from Covid-19 contained in the report, including the expenditure savings set out in Appendix 1 and the capital programme changes set out in Appendix 2.

     

    3.      Agrees the use of Earmarked Reserves as set out in Appendix 3 in order to create a Recovery Fund and that approval of expenditure from the Fund be delegated to the Managing Director in consultation with the Mayor.

     

    4.      That Council delegate to the Director of Finance, in consultation with the Mayor, the authority to authorise the variation to the SLM contract and amend the budget accordingly.

30.

Motions submitted under Council Procedure Rule 13.0 pdf icon PDF 254 KB

    1.      The following motion has been proposed by Councillor Ezeifedi and seconded by Councillor Bashir –

     

             The COVID 19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on our Watford Community. According to a recent Hertfordshire Public Health report Watford and Hertsmere has both the highest rate of COVID 19 cases and the highest crude mortality rate of COVID 19 registered death per 10,000 population in Hertfordshire.

     

             Watford Borough Council has risen boldly to the unprecedented challenge of COVID 19 through an effective partnership with various agencies, the voluntary sector and the wider community. It is great to note that over the past months, political differences have been put aside in pulling together to support our community.

     

             However, the Public Health England (PHE) review confirmed that death rates from COVID-19 were higher for Black and Asian ethnic (BAME) groups when compared to white ethnic groups. The disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on BAME communities presents an opportunity to create a fast but sustainable change that would mitigate further impact.

     

             As part of it’s COVID 19 recovery strategy,

     

             This council resolves to:

     

    1.      Review the PHE report and track progress against the issues raised within it affecting the Watford BAME Community as a matter of urgency.

     

    2       Liaise with PHE to implement culturally competent COVID-19 education and prevention campaigns, working in partnership with local BAME and faith communities to prepare the communities to take full advantage of interventions including contact tracing, antibody testing and ultimately vaccine availability.

     

    3.      Update it’s Equalities and Action Plan to ensure that COVID-19 recovery strategies actively reduce inequalities caused by the wider determinants of health to create long term sustainable change.

     

    2.      The following motion has been proposed by Councillor Khan –

     

             Changing Street names - celebrating the rich diverse heritage of Watford.

     

             The Council notes that Watford has a rich, diverse and positive history which must be celebrated. One way to celebrate this is to ensure that street names, buildings, statues and monuments reflect our town and that they do not contain any the negative history which this town abhors. The Black Lives Matter campaign has rightly focussed on the serious concerns of symbols of oppression and slavery.

     

             The council also notes that there are street names that are named after people who were involved in the slave trade, colonisation and oppression, which does not reflect the forward thinking, outward looking Britain and our town.

            

             The council notes that it is not tenable to continue to have these existing names for these streets.

     

             Watford has been enriched by its ethnic minority citizens that have come from right across the world or born in UK. The likes of Luther Blissett, Anthony Joshua, John Barnes are but a few, who have made contributions to our town, but there are many more.

     

             Council resolves to

    1.          Rename street names such Rhodes Way, Clive Way, Colonial Way and Imperial Way.

    2.          Consult with the Royal Mail, local businesses and residents to ensure that their views are considered.

    3.          A task and finish  ...  view the full agenda text for item 30.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Council was informed that three motions had been received:

     

    Motion 1

     

    The following revised motion had been proposed by Councillor Ezeifedi and seconded by Councillor Bashir:

     

    “The COVID 19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on our Watford Community. According to a recent Hertfordshire Public Health report Watford and Hertsmere have both the highest rate of COVID 19 cases and the highest crude mortality rate of COVID 19 registered death per 10,000 population in Hertfordshire (12.7 in Watford and 17.6 in Hertsmere – as of 23 June 2020.)

     

    Watford Borough Council has risen boldly to the unprecedented challenge of COVID 19 through an effective partnership with various agencies, the voluntary sector and the wider community. It is great to note that over the past months, political differences have been put aside in pulling together to support our community.

     

    However, the Public Health England (PHE) review (report published 16 June 2020) confirmed that death rates from COVID-19 were higher for Black and Asian ethnic (BAME) groups when compared to white ethnic groups. The disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on BAME communities presents an opportunity to create a fast but sustainable change that would mitigate further impact.

     

    As part of its response to COVID 19 and associated recovery strategy, this council resolves to:

           

    1.        Write to the NHS, Public Health Hertfordshire, Hertfordshire County Council and other health and regulatory services partners to ensure they have reviewed the PHE report and recommendations and have in place practical actions and support that will have a positive impact on Watford’s BAME community now and in the longer-term and, through our Overview and Scrutiny Committee, request regular (quarterly) updates on the progresses achieved for our community.

     

    2.        Establish an Overview and Scrutiny Task and Finish Group to provide research and insight into our local BAME community, focusing on the issues that matter to them and working with them to develop recommendations that will deliver change and improved outcomes.

     

    3.        As part of Hertfordshire County Council’s Local Outbreak plan, work with partners, including the NHS and PHE to implement culturally competent COVID-19 education and prevention campaigns, working in partnership with local BAME and faith communities to prepare the communities to take full advantage of interventions including contact  tracing, antibody testing and ultimately vaccine availability.

     

    4.        Review the council’s equalities objectives and equalities and diversity policy in the light of the findings and recommendations of the Task and Finish Group and use these to provide a robust and focused framework for COVID-19 recovery strategies to make sure they actively reduce inequalities caused by the wider determinants of health to create long term sustainable change.”

           

    Members debated the motion.

     

    On being put to Council the motion was agreed.

     

    RESOLVED –

     

    The COVID 19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on our Watford Community. According to a recent Hertfordshire Public Health report Watford and Hertsmere have both the highest rate of COVID 19 cases and the highest crude mortality rate of COVID 19 registered death per 10,000 population in Hertfordshire (12.7  ...  view the full minutes text for item 30.

 

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