Agenda and minutes

Housing and Community Overview and Scrutiny
Wednesday, 10th October, 2018 7.30 pm

Venue: Conference Room 2 - The Forum. View directions

No. Item



To confirm the minutes from the previous meeting


The meeting began at 19.30


The Chair advised that the meeting tonight is being audio recorded and asked that if anyone does not wish to be audio recorded they need to make it clear.


The Chair set out the rules on public participation that everyone has to notify their questions in advance and register to speak within the specified deadline.  There have been 7 requests to speak have been received (1 of which was only received this evening but has been accepted as it had been submitted within deadline but the email had been misdirected).  Each speaker will be allowed 2 minutes to make their presentation.  The way we will conduct the meeting is that one speaker will speak, which will then be debated by Committee and responses provided by Portfolio Holders and Officers.  If a response cannot be given, a written response will be circulated following the meeting.



The minutes of the Housing and Community OSC meeting on 5th September 2018 were agreed by Members and signed by the Chair.



Apologies for absence

To receive any apologies for absence


Apologies received from Councillors Adeleke, P Hearn and W Wyatt-Lowe.



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]



Councillor Williams declared an interest in the sports and leisure facilities as his sons are members of Dacorum and Tring athletics club.


Councillor England declared an interest in the sports and leisure facilities as he is a former administrator on the “Leisure Facilities are Not for Profit” Facebook page.


Councillor Imarni also declared an interest in the sports and leisure facilities as she is a former board member of the DBC sports trust and a member of “Our Gym”.



Public Participation

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


Matthew Bullard has sent an email to all councillors in regards to his concerns. He said the following in regards to item 9;


I can no longer bear the council making significant sport and leisure decisions that affect huge numbers of residents without being able to demonstrate that those decisions are following any kind of logical strategy…No matter the subject area, decent plan or strategy is crucial… I would urge councillors the importance of getting this document right; particularly given the current strength of feeling in the community about first sports leisure contracts and now the track. Once you have recognised the importance of this document, please ask yourself…  “Will the health issues identified in the document be addressed by delivering this strategy?” No they won’t …“Does it adequately explain what, when, who and how?” No. “Does its structure work?” No… “Does it mention relocating significant facilities such as the track?” No it doesn’t. “Does it set out how its delivery will be resourced and funded?” No. Most importantly, could Jo Public read it and understand what sport in decorum will be like in 2024. Plainly and simply, no.


The Chair thanked Matthew Bullard for his comments and opened for questions.


Cllr Harden offered clarification that it was not two attempts; the previous paper that came to scrutiny was an original draft which went out to consultation, Committee had consultation on as well, so this is a re-write from the original draft following on from the consultation period.


Councillor England thanked Matthew for the email he circulated earlier in the day. He said that Matthew deals with strategies in his day to day job and if the government have given him a job we need to listen to what he suggests.


Cllr England went on to pick out a few highlights from the report; it states that it is usual for a strategy to explain how the overarching aim will be achieved through breaking it down into a number of smaller objectives.  It identifies three objectives which come late in the strategy, down in Section 4 and stated his view that none of them are specifically measurable or specific; in Matthew Bullard’s words, would ‘joe public’ know what the delivery of these would look like.  The Cllr reiterated his view that the objectives are meaningless.


Cllr England referred to Section 5 of the strategy and the four further commitments or objectives set out and expressed his view that they are no reference to the proceeding three in the overarching aim and that these would also all fail the ‘joe public test’.


Cllr England expressed his view that he regards Matthew as a credible aid to the committee and his view that he the committee should listen to him.


The Chairman stated that Matthew Bullard is here today as a resident of Dacorum.


Cllr England responded that he is aware that Matthew is here in a personal capacity.


Councillor Imarni thanked Matthew and reserved her comments until Committee has examined the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 233.


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




Elms contract performance report pdf icon PDF 108 KB

Additional documents:


N Beresford briefly covered the contents of the report. She explained that there are no major non-conformities. She stated that they work closely with DENS. The contract and Elms management provide 44 units of vital accommodation of homeless clients within the district.


She stated that a consultation exercise is due to be undertaken with DENs residents within the next few months. In regards to the further recommendations made as part of the audit undertaken, one of the questions raised was in relation to the revision downwards of the targets set. One of these targets will be reviewed in the near future, that being the percentage of satisfactory move-on. The target is considered overly ambitious- it has been decided that the rate is unachievable.  The further recommendations as covered by audit will be built into the final year of performance review to comprise of full options appraisal of performance of the contract by a project team spreading across a number of services from the Council, which will form the basis of a robust tender document for re-tender for next phase of contract.


N Beresford went on to address the speakers question; commenting that she hoped the above covered the question relating to revision of targets. 


She continued that in relation to the second point raised by Mandi’s question; the council have noted the significant increase in 18-25 year olds being admitted into DENS and also into our own council housing through the Housing register, noting there are also higher numbers of care leavers coming into the system. They have identified many causes, including those that Mandi mentioned and confirmed that mental health is a specific are of concern to the Council.  She mentioned an active Homeless Forum that meets on a quarterly basis; the next meeting being 31st October.  These issues are actively discussed as part of the forum in conjunction with local services; community mental health team, hospital discharge board locally to improve outcomes for that client route and others across the district.  The council has considered adopting the “housing first” project as a specific project to provide targeted elements of support and housing for a client group such as this, that are experiencing mental health and dual diagnosis issues (e.g. drug abuse and mental health). The report will be presented to the Homeless Forum in the New Year, with the focus being on how best to approach that target group.


N Beresford also referred to work that is taking place across Hertfordshire; we are working in collaboration with the 9 other districts across Hertfordshire as there are a range of issues that are prevalent across all Boroughs and a rise in homelessness in this client group is most definitely increasing.  Also working closely with Police and an ex-offenders rehabilitation programme that is being led by the Police with the support of Local Authority districts and additional organisations.  Working to improve outcomes for range of client groups.  Part of that is working closely with Hertfordshire County Council to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 235.


Direct Offer List update pdf icon PDF 208 KB

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N Beresford advised that the direct offer process is one of the ways that we look to allocate properties to a range of specific households. It is hoped that the report will give greater insight into that.  This works closely alongside choice based lettings process and is managed manually by officers and requires a significant amount of officer input in relation to management of this process. She added that hopefully you will see that it is a robust process that covers all areas.  She opened to questions.


The chairman stated that he finds the report to be good and he understands the purpose of it. His question was, what are the checks and balances to make sure that, when people come through it in an audit, there is no issue of somebody falsely becoming homeless or somebody favouring somebody? 


N Beresford responded that in relation to the report you can see that there a range of household types that are managed via direct offer and each offer of accommodation is made in priority order of those applicants who are added to the direct offer list. She explained that she works closely with departments such as Property and Place and Occupational Health in order to identify candidates most in need. She then assured the committee that all allocations of properties are signed and counter-signed by relevant management staff. In the case of special requirements for households, these are found to the best of the team’s abilities and, in cases, allocations with special requirements are signed by the director of housing.


The chairman considered this to be re-assuring.


Councillor England asked, what does EPD mean?  N Beresford confirmed Elderly Persons Dwelling.


Councillor England then referred to point 3; the applicants who have got lost on the list.  Asking; is this because they didn’t contact us?  Can we assume that no one has been left badly in the lurch?


N Beresford explained that some households will wait significantly longer than others, which can particularly affect those waiting for adapted accommodation.  She explained that much of the council’s accommodation does not lend itself well to being adapted and unfortunately there are a range of households who have very specific needs.  Alongside that, there are also some households with specific adapted need but who can also only live within a village location; this does mean that some households have significant waits. 


N Beresford reassured the Councillor that the service are working very hard to meet those needs clarified that none of those people on the list are on it because they have been forgotten.


The committee agreed that the service are doing a very good job.




Sports Strategy Update - Relocation of the Athletics Track pdf icon PDF 101 KB

Additional documents:


Councillor Harden referred to consultation and commented that there appears to be a slight misapprehension that this is a done planning application and clarified this is not; so this was not a targeted consultation but a Borough wide one, adding that the Council carries out consultation on various issues.  In this case it is a consultation on the relocation of the athletics track to the identified site.  There is no planning application, if this was to go through as a Council decision it would still have to go through the planning process and all the criteria that applies.


M Rawdon introduced the report, intended to inform members of the feedback from the recent athletics track consultation. It was made known that the survey was advertised in Digital Digest to a consultation panel of over 1,000 people, through a press release and through our social media channels. There was a return of 548 responses. Of this, 55.3% stated that they did not support the re-location; 44.7% stated that they would.


M Rawdon suggested that it was noted that some of those who stated that they would support it would only do so once further consultation had taken place. 


M Rawdon went on to advise that of those who responded, 59.3% stated that they had previously used the track at Jarmans Park. Of this figure, 63.9% said they were unlikely to use it if moved to Cupid Green. 22.3% said they were likely to use it; the remainder were unsure. Almost 17% stated that they would prefer to see the current track invested in and refurbished. The open comments in the literal section of the survey can be found in appendix 1, where samples of both positive of negative comments can be found.


Councillor England commented that committee have “heard powerfully” from the speakers and the public again.  His view is the message of this consultation is a resounding ‘don’t do this’. 


The project was compared to the change of ownership of the local Sportspace; in that neither had a “lack of strategy”. The issue of transparency arose once again in reference to Councillor Pringle’s former point.  The Councillor disagreed that feedback was nearly 50/50 but instead suggested it was 7:1 against and referenced 129 people having specifically said in consultation that they wanted to keep the track at Jarmans. 


Councillor England proposed to move a motion that this proposal be discontinued and that a feasibility study be carried out for making the best use of Jarman Park.


Councillor Fethney offered his view that the motion should move to vote.


The Chairman advised that he would like to hear comments from the rest of the committee before moving to vote.


Councillor Pringle added that she would like to re-iterate on the importance of different types of activity for the community. She referred to the importance of informal exercise, many people use instead of formal exercise. She acknowledged the importance of Cupid Green in providing the community with informal exercise such as dog  ...  view the full minutes text for item 237.


Sports Strategy Update - Physical Activity & Sport Strategy Update pdf icon PDF 101 KB

Additional documents:


Cllr Harden referred to his earlier comments in response to one of the questions, Members have already seen a draft version of this that came to committee a few months back.  Comments were taken on from public consultation and committee to re-write the draft, which is what is before committee tonight.  Cllr Harden handed over to officers to present.


L Roberts introduced herself as Assistant DirectorPeople, Performance and Innovation, having recently joined the organisation.  Stating that she joined with a lot of experience of developing strategies across services. One of the things that we looked at following feedback given at the previous scrutiny, was how we could make this more focused.  Expressing her belief that the way the document is produced does deliver on that. The objectives that are in there are pitched at a high level of strategy, where more detailed smart objectives would form part of an action plan.  Adding that the strategy was benchmarked against a number of other sports strategies.  The level of detail will be developed as we go through as the process here is to develop the overall strategy and then take forward detailed action plans. 


L Roberts introduced the report and explained how the strategy was revised. She was happy to take questions on the report. Linda also included that the current strategy is purely a proposal. She stated that the purpose of the scrutiny is to receive comments on that; it is then due to go to cabinet for further review.


L Roberts also set out the governance and performance monitoring plans.  The report does not set out budget as this will form part of the budget process for 2019/20 once the detailed action plan has been devised.


L Roberts invited questions.


The Chairman asked for clarification on the feedback required.


L Roberts advised, for clarity, that this is the proposed strategy which is here at scrutiny to receive comments it is then due to go to Cabinet for further review.  When reach detail about what we do and how we do it, they will be in action plans as opposed to being detailed in the strategy.


Cllr England asked; how is it possible for the public to understand what the strategy of the Council is for sports and activity when there is no scoping to this, no clear financial plan. 


L Roberts responded that the strategy is there to determine the outcomes that the Council is seeking to achieve. The budget is not yet set to develop specific action plans, that is the cycle.  The strategy is there at the moment to show what we want the outcomes to achieve.  She also assured that there has been consultation with local clubs and national bodies in the creation of the strategy. The specifics cannot be discussed until they have acquired formal approval to proceed with this strategy.


Cllr Imarni referred to the meeting in June where this was discussed, which was before L Roberts having joined the organisation, suggesting that L  ...  view the full minutes text for item 238.