Agenda and minutes

Finance and Resources Overview and Scrutiny - Tuesday, 7th July, 2020 6.30 pm

Venue: Microsoft Teams - Microsoft Teams. View directions

Contact: Corporate and Democratic Support  01442 228209

No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 108 KB

To confirm the minutes from the previous meeting


The minutes of the meeting held on 9 June 2020 were agreed by the members present and will be signed by the Chairman at the next available opportunity.


Councillor Tindall referred to page 4 regarding the delay in recruiting apprentices and asked if we were able to start recruitment for this financial year so that the apprentices can start as soon as possible. L Roberts said she would provide all members with the programme of the plans for recruitment.  Action: L Roberts


Councillor Claughton referred to page 5 relating to the cost of the Berkhamsted multi-storey car park. He said he couldn’t understand how the cost had gone up but the payback period remained the same. He asked for the actual financial workings behind these figures for clarification. M Brookes said he would arrange for this to be sent to members.                                                                    Action: M Brookes


Councillor Symington advised that her queries relating to Water Lane car park were still ongoing.



Apologies for absence

To receive any apologies for absence


Apologies for absence were received on behalf of Councillor Sobaan Mahmood.



Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest


A member with a disclosable pecuniary interest or a personal interest in a matter who attends a meeting of the authority at which the matter is considered -


(i)            must disclose the interest at the start of the meeting or when the interest becomes apparent


and, if the interest is a disclosable pecuniary interest, or a personal interest which is also prejudicial


(ii)           may not participate in any discussion or vote on the matter (and must withdraw to the public seating area) unless they have been granted a dispensation.


A member who discloses at a meeting a disclosable pecuniary interest which is not registered in the Members’ Register of Interests, or is not the subject of a pending notification, must notify the Monitoring Officer of the interest within 28 days of the disclosure.


Disclosable pecuniary interests, personal and prejudicial interests are defined in Part 2 of the Code of Conduct For Members


[If a member is in any doubt as to whether they have an interest which should be declared they should seek the advice of the Monitoring Officer before the start of the meeting]



There were no declarations of interest.



Public Participation

An opportunity for members of the public to make statements or ask questions in accordance with the rules as to public participation




Consideration of any matter referred to the committee in relation to call-in




Garage Programme Update pdf icon PDF 93 KB


L Roberts introduced the report and advised this was a brief progress update from when they had last discussed garages in February this year. She advised that the plan had been impacted by Covid-19 and the programme had to be paused as one of the key suppliers (Orchard) had been furloughed. We re-engaged with them once their surveyors started to return and some work had been completed over the weekend. She said the mobile surveys start tomorrow with a local firm we had appointed called Aitchison Rafferty.


She highlighted that the garages team had continued to work through all the garage applications during the lockdown period and had worked really hard to achieve 263 e-form enquiries, 93 offers made, 60 commencements and 56 terminations. Also the DBC surveyors who have been unable to go into tenant buildings due to Covid-19 have carried out 756 inspections. She explained that once the surveys have been completed they will be able to map the data against the demand. This information will be reported to this committee at the meeting in November.


Councillor Chapman asked if they would consider new roofs for the garages where asbestos had been found and cleared and were in disrepair. L Roberts advised that would need to be decided when the data comes back so they can understand the life span of the garages and whether it would be cost effective.


Councillor Tindall asked if we held a record of how many garages were occupied or vacant. L Roberts advised that the current void rate was 31% and the stock was approximately 7,500. She added that the performance from this quarter was significantly better than it was this time last year despite the pandemic.


Councillor Tindall asked if there was any scope for levelling the garages and just using the area as off street parking spaces to get some cars off the roads. He added that most garages were too small for modern cars so most people end up using them for other purposes. L Roberts suggested that could be considered as an option but it would depend on the condition of the garages. She said there was a range of options to consider once they had the data.


Councillor Guest asked if we had the information on a ward basis for where the enquiries and offers were. L Roberts said she didn’t think they had that information on a ward basis. Councillor Guest asked if it was possible to produce that information for members. L Roberts said she wasn’t sure how much work would be involved to produce that information so she would need to look in to it. Action: L Roberts


The Chairman said it would be interesting to know how many garages in total were in each ward and asked if L Roberts could take that on board. Action: L Roberts


Councillor Symington queried the cost for the surveys to be completed. L Roberts advised just under £20k.


Councillor Symington said she was curious how  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Covid-19 Impact Paper pdf icon PDF 247 KB


S Marshall thanked members and staff for adapting to new ways of working so quickly as it was a massive task. She said the first three months had been hectic with Incident Management Team meetings on a daily basis and working alongside our colleagues across the County and the Region, she felt it was a testament to our staff to have been able to achieve what we have.


She felt working from home had worked well for us, which had been helped by the fact we have been preparing for more home working since 2016/17. Despite that making it easier to transition, working from home still has its challenges and we will be looking at the feedback from staff to see what has worked well and what could be done differently moving forward.


We are now moving from the pandemic crisis in to recovery, and the work we are doing links in to the wider Hertfordshire Local Resilience Forum and also across the County. She highlighted that section 2.11 addressed the roles of members.

She explained that the structures within the report related to officer working groups as officers were responsible for the day to day operational issues and then referring matters on as recommendations to Cabinet and Council if required. There is also a role for Overview and Scrutiny across the board.


With regards to key actions, Cabinet has approved the support to the voluntary sector and we have also extended core contracts with Citizens Advice Bureau, Age UK, Community Action Dacorum and Relate, and a one year extension for The Elms. That gives those partners stability and a platform to seek other funding from partners across the board. Cabinet has agreed to extend the criteria for the Community Grant scheme. She said there has been tremendous work done between the Finance team and Economic Development team to ensure we could rapidly get grants out to our local businesses with the local authority discretionary grant funding.


In terms of support for individuals, we managed to house all rough sleepers overnight which required support from the Police and other sectors. She advised that we usually had approximately 95 people in temporary accommodation but that had risen to 185 and we are averaging at 160. We have been delivering food parcels to very vulnerable individuals in partnership with Herts Health and the County Council which is something we set up from scratch.


Section three of the report detailed the return to work at The Forum. She said we needed to ensure it was safe for the public to access the building but also that it was safe for staff to return to work. She advised there was a webinar this week to run through the arrangements with staff but she had also discussed running a webinar for members with the Leader so that everyone is made aware of the changes. Extensive safety measures have been put in place such as Perspex screens, contactless temperature screening, automatic doors and carpet tiles showing  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 109 KB


The following changes were made to the work programme:




Add New Normal L Roberts


The Chairman said he would like to see a report on Allotments come to a future committee as the meeting it was scheduled for in March 2020 was cancelled.


The Chairman asked J Deane to keep us updated on when we will receive a report on the Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS).