Venue: Council Chamber, The Forum. View directions
Contact: Corporate and Democratic Support 01442 228209
Note: This meeting will be live streamed on YouTube, a link will appear 15 minutes before the start of the meeting,
To confirm the minutes of the previous meeting of the council
The minutes of the previous meeting held on 17 May 2023 were approved as a correct record.
Declarations of Interest
To receive any declarations of interest
There were no declarations of interest from members.
To consider questions (if any) by members of the public of which the appropriate notice has been given to the Assistant Director (Legal and Democratic Services)
Mr Philip Aylett was introduced.
PAylett, Chair of Dacorum Health Action Group, commented that emergency care at a specialist hospital should be at a clear central site. Action group members have expertise in construction, finance, planning and in health services and PAylett noted that the group is pleased that the Health in Dacorum Committee is being retained. PAylett welcomed Cllr Tindall's pledge to press for fair health funding in Dacorum and for a new modern health facility in the centre of Hemel Hempstead. PAylett commented on Hemel Hospital, noting that many services are held, including bowel screening, MRI and cardiology, with 250,000 patient episodes at the hospital each year. PAylett advised that West Herts Trust's clinical strategy claims that Hemel Hospital will be the centre for planned medical services in the area and he stated that this was not true, noting that Watford General has many more planned medical appointments and that there are not plans to increase these at Hemel Hospital in the coming years, leaving no distinct role for it. PAylett stated that many vulnerable people in the area will instead have to travel to Watford and it is therefore vital that a good health facility be maintained. PAylett commented that he has heard from a number of sources regarding doubts that the current Hemel Hospital site will be retained, which raises a number of serious questions, such as if the suggested facility will be able to provide the same range of services, what will be the location of this facility, and how will it be funded? PAylett noted that West Herts Trust's plans will take money away from Hemel Hospital, though a vision has been put forward for Hemel Hempstead that looks at integrated services for social care, health care and voluntary organisations.
PAylett asked the Leader of the Council to give an update on his statement made on 30 May regarding hospital funding and what the Council will do to ensure that Dacorum has its fair share of funding.
The Leader of the Council advised that they have been working with partners, including the hospital trust, to discuss how hospital services can be provided in the borough and ensure that health inequalities are narrowed so they achieve the best services for Dacorum residents. In relation to funding, the Leader of the Council stated that the breakdown of the funding envelope has not been confirmed but that they recently met with the Chair and Chief Executive of West Hertfordshire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust to discuss opportunities to co-create a model for health and wellbeing services that can meet the needs of the people of Dacorum now and into the future. It is hoped that the Chair and Chief Executive of the Integrated Care Board will also be met with soon for a similar conversation. The matter remains a priority and the Leader of the Council advised that they will continue to keep members and residents informed as plans progress and new funding information becomes available.
PAylett asked ... view the full minutes text for item 3.
To receive announcements and business brought forward by the Mayor, Leader, and Members of the Cabinet or the Chief Executive.
4.1 By the Mayor:
4.2 By the Chief Executive:
4.3 By the Group Leaders: Any apologies for absence
4.4 Council Leader and Members of the Cabinet:
Councillor Tindall Leader of the Council
Councillor Symington Corporate and Commercial Services
Councillor Dhyani Housing & Property Services
Councillor Bromham Neighbourhood Operations
Councillor England Climate Change
Councillor Wilkie Place
Councillor Weston People & Transformation
The Chair noted the passing of former county councillor, Ian Laidlaw-Dickson. The Chair described Mr Laidlaw-Dickson as a dedicated citizen who engaged in local activities and in supporting residents he served, including many years of dedicated service as a trustee of Community Action Dacorum. The Chair described him as a spirited local character, and whilst they did not have party affiliation, he noted the spirit of local service that they enjoyed. The Chair passed on his and the Council's sincere condolences to his partner and family.
Cllr Tindall commented that he did not work with Mr Laidlaw-Dickson and noted his devotion to Hemel Hempstead as well as his involvement in voluntary work. Cllr Tindall commented that Mr Laidlaw-Dickson was a member of the Council for 8 years from 1979 to 1987, and was also a county councillor, through which he became a member of the police authority and Chair for 5 years, and that he had received an OBE for his services to the police in 2009. Cllr Tindall stated that Mr Laidlaw-Dickson would be sorely missed and he extended his condolences to his family.
Cllr Williams referred to Mr Laidlaw-Dickson's work with the police and as a county councillor, noting his long life in public service. Cllr Williams noted that Mr Laidlaw-Dickson had only stood down from the Council at the last AGM and that his contribution to Dacorum had been significant.
Cllr Guest referred to her memories of Mr Laidlaw-Dickson on the Warner's End Neighbourhood Association Committee, which he sat on as the local county councillor and that he would be remembered for the financial acumen that he brought to meetings. Cllr Guest passed her condolences to Mr Laidlaw-Dickson's partner and family.
Cllr Pesch thanked the Council on behalf of Mr Laidlaw-Dickson's partner, who was in attendance, and his daughter, for their kind words. Cllr Pesch referred to Mr Laidlaw-Dickson's career since becoming elected in the 1979 local elections, noting that in the past 12 years he had been a member of the Board of the Community Action Dacorum where he was appreciated for his insight, knowledge and understanding of the bodies that he served on. Cllr Pesch advised that Mr Laidlaw-Dickson had been a member of the local Labour Party for almost 50 years, having joined in 1974, and held a number of various local positions, including the CLP Chair and was providing advice up until his death. Cllr Pesch commented that many members owe much to Mr Laidlaw-Dickson's dedication and hard work as he tried to improve people's lives and that he would be greatly missed by all the lives that he touched. Cllr Pesch noted that a celebration of Mr Laidlaw-Dickson's life would be held on Friday 28th July at 2pm at Warner's End Community Centre.
Cllr Douris noted the references made to Mr Laidlaw-Dickson's involvement with Community Action Dacorum and commented that he had worked with Mr Laidlaw-Dickson in the last year when he chaired Hertfordshire Independent Translation Services, a trading offshoot of ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
5.1 Motion 1, Proposer Cllr Pringle
Given the findings of the electoral commission and the experiences of many legitimate voters in Dacorum, who either were turned away at polling stations, or who wished to vote, but did not attend the polling station because they did not have photo ID, it is proposed that the Leader of the Council write to the Home Secretary to ask that Voting ID requirements be suspended immediately for all elections and by-elections until there can be a full enquiry into the proportionality and efficacy of this requirement
Cllr Pringle proposed the motion, noting that it arises as a result following elections across the country on 4th May. Cllr Pringle read out the following motion:
"Given the findings of the electoral commission and the experiences of many legitimate voters in Dacorum who either were turned away at polling stations or who wished to vote but did not attend the polling station because they did not have photo ID, it is proposed that the Leader of the Council write to the Home Secretary to ask that voting ID requirements be suspended immediately for all elections and bi-elections until there can be a full enquiry into the proportionality and efficacy of this requirement."
Cllr Barry-Mears seconded the motion.
Cllr Pringle spoke as the proposer of the motion, stating that, as elected representatives, they welcome voters and that they represent the voices of all those in their wards. Cllr Pringle suggested that the interim findings of the electoral commission following the introduction of photo ID was concerning in terms of how it discriminated against particular voter groups. Cllr Pringle suggested that these groups are more vulnerable and are generally less empowered in society where there only method of having power over their circumstances is at the ballot box. Cllr Pringle commented that it is concerning for democracy and that they must encourage participation as well as reflect the values of democracy to ensure that every single person's vote matters. Cllr Pringle stated the preclusion of voting must not be forced on people by unjustified regulations.
Cllr Pringle advised that the basis for introducing the voter ID scheme has no clear evidence and she queried the motivation of bringing it in, noting that it did result in a number of undesirable consequences and should therefore be reviewed. Cllr Pringle explained that general awareness of voter ID was reasonably good at 87%, though awareness was significantly lower amongst black and minority ethnic voters and young people. Cllr Pringle commented that those in underrepresented groups were excluded even more with the most concerning being that those without valid photo ID are 13% less likely to vote. Cllr Pringle stated that many people can't afford a car or don't travel abroad and therefore don't have a driving licence or passport and that no one should be excluded from democracy because of this.
Cllr Pringle referred to particular residents who had not been able to vote, including one resident in social housing who was also a carer and was unable to vote due to not holding valid photo ID. Cllr Pringle referred to another resident in sheltered accommodation who was retired and was turned away for producing his National Service registration.
Cllr Pringle asked the Leader of the Council to write to the Home Secretary to demand that this impediment to people be removed, noting that these marginal numbers will affect outcomes and could disenfranchise vulnerable people.
Cllr Williams commented that they would not be supporting the motion, noting that voter ID is used across the ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
6.1 Question 1 from Cllr Hannell to Cllr Wilkie
What percentage of the total housing being proposed to be built across Dacorum will be Council owned “social” housing?
Cllr Hannell asked Cllr Wilkie what percentage of social housing proposed to be built across Dacorum will be council-owned social housing.
Cllr Wilkie thanked Cllr Hannell for the question. Cllr Wilkie noted that the administration has brought this up a number of times and commented that whilst the local plan and affordable housing comes under her portfolio, social housing comes under Cllr Dhyani's portfolio. Cllr Wilkie confirmed that she would provide an additional response and that any supplementary questions would be answered by Cllr Dhyani.
Cllr Hannell advised that he had not asked a particular individual to answer the question.
Cllr Wilkie advised that the starting point to seeking affordable housing on a development site is the council's adopted planning policies and, in most cases, this is 35% of new units being proposed on sites of 10 units or more in urban areas and 5 dwellings or more in rural areas. Cllr Wilkie referred members to the Affordable Housing Supplementary Planning Document 2023, Affordable Housing 2013 and the subsequent Affordable Housing SPT clarification note from 2022. Cllr Wilkie explained that future social housing needs will be addressed through the new local plan, underpinned by the most recent evidence, and the national planning policy framework defines social housing within the wider definition of affordable housing, representing a starting point for which future applications will be determined until the new local plan is adopted in due course. Whilst an extremely important consideration, the delivery of social housing needs to be considered with all other issues.
Cllr Hannell asked if the administration will commit to holding developers to account over social housing numbers and not allow them to renege on their commitment to complete the building of genuinely affordable housing across the borough.
Cllr Wilkie advised that the provision of affordable housing is a high priority and that exact numbers on each site will depend on proposals during the planning application stage for each site. Where a developer seeks to provide fewer affordable homes against the council policy, this will need to be justified through a viability assessment. There may be occasions where other considerations, such as a specific infrastructure taking precedence, including a developer offering to buy a residence for assisted living rather than social housing, which falls under affordable housing.
Cllr Hannell asked if it was agreed that the current administration will silence a number of objections that residents have with the amount of house building proposed if they provide a large number of genuinely affordable homes with a local connection qualification criteria that will allow their children and grandchildren to remain in Dacorum.
Cllr Wilkie commented that the question was regarding whether social housing numbers would be given in advance.
Cllr Hannell responded that he was under the impression that he could be nimble with his supplementary questions.
The Chair agreed, stating that only the first written question needs to be pre-stated.
Cllr Wilkie asked Cllr Hannell to repeat his question.
Cllr Hannell asked if the current administration would ... view the full minutes text for item 6.
Business from the last council meeting
To consider any business referred from the previous meeting
No outstanding points from the previous meeting were noted.
To consider the following referrals from Cabinet:
8.1 CA/52/23 20 June 2023 Provisional Outturn Report
Cllr Tindall moved CA-52-23, the Provisional Outturn Report.
Cllr England seconded the referral.
Overview and Scrutiny referrals
Cllr Tindall noted the motion to change the constitution to ensure that reports are appended to the agenda so members can review them ahead of Council meetings. Cllr Tindall advised that this will assist members as well as speed up meetings.
Cllr Tindall noted the motion regarding minute taking and advised that all Council, Cabinet and Committee meetings will be recorded and retained and displayed on the Council's website and stand as a record of debate rather than long-written minutes. The final decision will be confirmed as a written minute.
Cllr England seconded the motion and stated that this will improve the experience of residents.
The motion was agreed by the chamber.
Cllr Tindall noted the appointment of Michael Brown as the Council's independent person and Susan Johnson as the independent member. Both roles support the Monitoring Officer and Standards Committee. The recommended appointments follow an interview process that involved the Chairman of the Standards Committee, Cllr Gale, and MBrookes. The Council's gratitude to Susan Johnson was noted for serving as independent person for the past 4 years.
The recommendations in the report were agreed.
Cllr Tindall moved the report for the individuals named, nothing there are a number of vacancies. Cllr Tindall confirmed that he would consult with the leaders of other parties to determine any amendments, noting that there should be a complete list by September.
ACTION: Leaders to discuss outside bodies list
Changes to committee membership
To consider any proposals for changes to committee membership
Cllr Tindall proposed that Cllr Cox fill the vacancy on the Financing and Resourcing Committee.
Change to committee dates
To consider any proposals for changes to committee dates
Cllr Hobson made a point of order and asked if a comfort break could be arranged for future meetings. The Chair noted that members can leave when required and confirmed that this would be considered.
The Chair closed the meeting.