Agenda item


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 Williams                 Leader of the Council

Councillor G Sutton                Planning & Infrastructure
Councillor Marshall                 Environmental Services

Councillor Elliot                       Finance & Resources

Councillor Mrs Griffiths           Housing

Councillor D Collins                Corporate & Contracted Services

Councillor Harden                   Community & Regulatory Services



1.      By the Mayor:


There were no announcements from the Mayor.


2.      By the Chief Executive:


There were no announcements from the Chief Executive.


3.      By the Group Leaders:


Councillor Williams confirmed that apologies had been received from Councillors Bateman, Conway, S Hearn, Matthews, Mclean, Mills, Bhinder, Ritchie and Timmis.


Councillor Tindall had no apologies.


Councillor Fisher confirmed apology for Cllr Fethney.


Councillors Adshead, Brown and Whitman were not in attendance.


4.    By the  Leader and Members of the Cabinet:


(Full details are in the minutes under Announcements of the Leader and Cabinet).



1.      By the Mayor:


There were no announcements from the Mayor.


2.      By the Chief Executive:


There were no announcements from the Chief Executive.


3.      By the Group Leaders:


Councillor Williams confirmed that apologies had been received from Councillors Bateman, Conway, S Hearn, Matthews, Mclean, Mills, Bhinder, Ritchie and Timmis.


Councillor Tindall had no apologies.


Councillor Fisher confirmed apology for Cllr Fethney.


Councillors Adshead, Brown and Whitman were not in attendance.


Councillor Imarni joined the meeting at 7.52pm.


4.    By the  Leader and Members of the Cabinet:


Councillor Williams, Leader of the Council and Portfolio Holder for Community Leadership


Cllr Williams confirmed nothing to announce at this point of the agenda but happy to take questions.


There were no questions.


Councillor G Sutton, Portfolio Holder for Planning & Infrastructure


The Portfolio Holder presented his update as follows;


1.    Water Gardens has been judged a regional finalist for the Civic Trust award


Following on from the national Landscape Institute award last year, and more recently the Green Flag award, the Water Gardens have been nominated for another prestigious national accolade. We should hear later this year if the Gardens have made it through to the national finals.


2.    Kylna Court business units on course for January occupation


The Maylands Business Centre goes from strength to strength. The new office units at the ground floor of the very impressive Kylna Court development for new Council homes will provide slightly larger accommodation than those we provide at the Business Centre, to enable our small business tenants to move on when they need to expand. We have already let 7 of the 8 new units and look forward to a successful opening in January.


3.    HHTC Christmas Lights switch on Sunday 25 Nov

The attractions opened at midday and featured the popular Phasels Wood climbing wall, mobile caves and other outdoor adventure activities, along with a mini snow slope provided by The Snow Centre, where youngsters could have a go at skiing or snowboarding.

DJ Kentastic was master of ceremonies on stage encouraging children to join in the fun along with Healthy U Gym Zumba Dancers, The Rock Choir and the cast from HH Theatre Co's Beauty and the Beast. Father Christmas was live on stage at around 4.45pm.

The Christmas Lights were switched on by the winner of DJ Ken's competition (name to follow on Tuesday) followed by a firework display at 5.30pm.

There were between 5000 and 7000 visitors on the day.

4.    First firm at the new Prologis development – Hermes -  now operating


Work is highly advanced at the Prologis development site at Breakspear Way Hemel Hempstead. Much of the new construction is under way with some of the new buildings either complete or nearing completion. The development has provided a new road link from the site through to Boundary Way.


Hermes, the first occupiers of the site have just begun operating and add to the list of major employers already based at Maylands.

The Prologis development is one of the first to come forward in the new Herts Enviro-Tech Enterprise Zone. Because of this, the Enterprise Zone partnership, on which DBC is represented, gets to retain the business rates paid by occupiers and plough this back into long term infrastructure improvements to the Maylands Area.

The Portfolio Holder invited questions.




Cllr Tindall referred to Business Rate retention and asked; will that be kept in a very obvious fund where everybody can see how it grows, or amalgamated with other pots of money?


Cllr Sutton responded that he is sure it will be kept as a separate fund, but will seek clarification and come back with answer.


Cllr Tindal referred to Local Plan and particularly LA3 applications, observing that these will be of complexity and asked therefore if the Council would extend the 21 day consultation period to 42 days, also suggesting it should not include the Christmas period when it may not be given correct attention.


Cllr Sutton referred to the LA3 site and advised that the Council has not yet had that application in, it is expected early December, adding that there will be a period of validation on that so application so it will likely go to consultation 1st week January.  The Portfolio Holder added that we cannot change consultation period but clarified that as this is a complex case, officers intend to have it ready for Development Management Committee in approx. 24 weeks and officers will be prepared to look at any submissions during that period.


Cllr Tindall referred to an item covered by The Gazette today; Egerton Rothsay School in Berkhamsted.  He noted that there is a high level of concern by local residents on potential move of the school by County Council and it has been noted that the green belt perimeter has been changed; has there been any consultation between Herts County Council and Dacorum Borough Council on this potential move.


Cllr Sutton advised that he does not believe there has been consultation at this stage but confirmed he would get the current position and report back.



Councillor Marshall, Portfolio Holder for Environmental Services


The Portfolio Holder presented her update as follows;


Thank you to the Mayor for officiating at this year’s Clean Safe & Green Community Champion Awards last month.  Individuals and residents’ groups are given awards for working selflessly to keep their neighborhoods clean, safe and green.  Winners of the group award were the Tring Community Garden and the individual award was given to Anna Schofield.  The Tring Community Garden have transformed a piece of unused land in the Duckmore Lane allotments site for use as a garden for the community.  Anna Schofield and her organisation Anna’s Funky Art up-cycles furniture (she has a regular stall at the HH Old Town Sunday Market (1st Sunday of the month) and also runs art, craft and well-being workshops.


The Clean Safe & Green teams were heavily involved in the run up to Remembrance Sunday – cleaning memorials and memorial sites, preparing literally the ground works for the ceremonies, installing lecterns and commemorative plaques. 

The programme of installing dryrecycling facilities for blocks of flats in the Borough which hitherto had no such facilities has started.  The installation for Berkhamsted, Northchurch and Tring was completed a few weeks ago.  Installation of the bins has just started in Apsley, Bennetts End, Corner Hall, Felden, Nash Mills, Kings Langley and Bovingdon.  All being well (including no adverse weather), the programme should be completed by end February 2019. 


A new Love Food Hate Waste Challengestarted earlier this month to encourage less food waste & save money.   50 families have signed up, they maintain a food waste diary and receive a goody bag and regular tips on reducing food waste from DBC.   More information on our website.   The Challenge is part of the national campaign run by WRAP (a charity called Waste & Resources Action Programme).   Participants in past campaigns have found the scheme very helpful – it is calculated that it could save an average family around £700 p.a.   Also of course reduces food waste.


The Portfolio Holder invited questions.




Cllr Tindall referred to St Albans having entered into arrangement with Herts County Council to refurbish their part of the Nicky Line and sought an update from the Portfolio Holder on DBCs position on our part.


Cllr Marshall advised the Countryside Management Service have consulted on a draft plan, with several stakeholders including DBC.  Adding that the service is to draw up a final plan, which we await.


Cllr England referred to a previous query he’d directed in writing to the Portfolio Holder regarding A41 litter pick and asked if an update is available.


Cllr Marshall responded that the Council has started to operate a rolling litter pick, following consent from HCC to start last week.  After one week Herts Highways had to pull the authority to do this because of problems in another area.  It restarted yesterday and is proceeding.  This is a swift litter pick of approx. 1.5m strip along side of A41 plus the slip roads; it won’t be as thorough as full lane closures that occur in February because with a rolling lane stoppage there is a minimum speed of 5 mile per hour and the crews have to keep up with the waste trucks to enable this which limits the area that can be picked.  


Cllr England asked about the signage; there were plans to put up signage to encourage people not to litter in first place and asked, is there an update?


Cllr Marshall advised this is progressing and due to be installed in next few weeks, adding that she does not have a date to hand.


Cllr C Wyatt-Lowe referred to the Nicky Line and asked that Ward Councillors are involved; noting it is very well used and we should encourage people to use it.  She added that this runs adjacent to Swallowfields and stressed that any moneys in terms of 106 from that development should be spent on the Nicky Line as and when needed.


Cllr Marshall confirmed she would ensure Councillors in and around Nicky Line will be kept informed.


Cllr Fisher advised she was recently approached by a resident of Berkhamted asking if there is anything done to monitor air quality in the centre of Berkhamsted as it is very heavily used.


Cllr Marshall responded that air pollution falls under Cllr Hardens portfolio and suggested this would be covered by the Portfolio Holder in his report.



Councillor Elliot, Portfolio Holder for Finance and Resources


The Portfolio Holder presented his update as follows;


Financial Services

Financial services has been extremely busy throughout October and November co-ordinating the Council-wide effort to produce the 2019/20 draft budget proposals in time for the December budget scrutiny, next week.

This process has involved both advising, and helping services to work through the viability of their budget proposals, as well as supporting scrutiny sessions for both Chief Officer Group and Budget Review Group to ensure that the all proposed initiatives are suitably robust before consideration by Overview and scrutiny Committees.

In addition to the 2019/20 budget work, the Service has continued to support in the management of current year budgets.  This has included the delivery of the quarter two financial reports for Scrutiny and Cabinet reflecting the Council’s financial performance against budget, a review of treasury management performance for 2017/18, and the completion of various statutory returns.

The team continues to look for ways to improve the service through the enhanced use of digitisation. The automation of financial processes has been further progressed recently with the introduction of a new facility that allows suppliers to upload invoices electronically. This is convenient for both suppliers and officers, saving time and ensuring that invoices are received and paid in a timely manner. The success of the new system was clearly demonstrated by last month’s Performance Indicator for the payment of invoices within 30 days, which saw a new high of 99.2%.

This is part of the wider financial drive to digitalise and automate our transactional finance processes and to improve services for our customers. Another scheme being trialled at present, is the use of text message reminders to customers to encourage prompt payment. Early signs are that this is proving successful and could be rolled out permanently in the near future.

Revenues, Benefits & Fraud

The review of council tax single person discounts is progressing well, with over two-thirds of the residents contacted having now completed their responses. This exercise helps ensure that everyone is paying the correct amount of council tax, and therefore that the Council’s most significant income stream is protected.

Members may have seen recent news reports about business rates charges for cash machines – the Court of Appeal has ruled that ATMs at shops and supermarkets should not have been put into the Rating List, and therefore should not be liable for the payment of business rates.

Although the Council collects business rates, it is the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) which decides the content of the Rating List. It is still possible that the case will be taken to the Supreme Court, but if it does not change then business rates paid for ATMs since 2010 will be refunded. Officers are looking into the potential impact of the decision on the Council.

Commercial Assets & Property Development

In preparation for the draft local plan in 2019/2020, the commercial assets service has been reviewing the use of council assets and land over the next 5 to 10 years, working with planning colleagues to ascertain the potential future use of these assets. This work will be developed over the next few months to form part of the future local plan.

Garage Disposals The sales of underutilised garages to release a capital receipt are continuing. We have recently completed the sale of 4 sites to Thrive Housing Ltd for £1.85m.  After a period of marketing, a further site is now under offer at £300k to a private developer.  This will increase the supply of homes in the Borough by approximately 60 units as well as providing funds for the Capital Programme moving forward.The next phase of the Garage Disposal Strategy which provides the release of a further 18 sites will be underway in the new calendar year and members will be updated once a schedule for these sales is finalised.

Bunkers Park Cemetery We have gained planning permission for the creation of a new cemetery at Bunkers park which will meet the requirements of the Borough for the next 75 years, and more specifically will replace the Woodwells cemetery in 2020 once it reaches capacity. Together with our appointed consultant, we have just completed detailed design work of the Cemetery Phase One and are now out to tender for a construction partner, that will be awarded in early 2019.

The Portfolio Holder invited questions.




Cllr Tindall referred to the concern for the potential hardships that could develop with the roll out of Universal credit, he urged the Portfolio Holder to be aware of this and monitor where it is causing problems or rent arrears due to 5 weeks delay in payments being made.


Cllr Elliot responded to advise that officers will be monitoring the roll out of Universal Credit and are aware of the problems that could come from the implementation of the new system, confirming the service are prepared to respond and deal with these issues.


Cllr Birnie asked the Portfolio Holder to confirm that the budget being planned for next year does not include any cuts to front line services.


Cllr Elliot responded to confirm this is a prudent Conservative Council that have looked at ways of doing things more efficiently while still delivering value for residents.  He confirmed that the budget will be balanced and there will be no cuts to front line services.


Cllr Birnie thanked the Portfolio Holder and referred to the new cemetery, stating his understanding that there are plans to build a crematorium, and asking for comments.


Cllr Elliot advised it is too early at this stage to comment, offering assurance that all members will be informed of plans for Bunkers Park Cemetery.


Cllr Maddern commented that, when it was approved at Development Management, there were concerns raised by committee members on the design of the actual building as they did not feel it was sympathetic to its surroundings.  She added that they were hoping something could be done on design and asked; has anything happened on that?


Cllr Elliot sympathised with people’s views on the design but advised he is not aware of any changes.  He requested that Cllr Maddern contact him with her concerns and that he would respond duly.


Councillor Griffiths, Portfolio Holder for Housing


The Portfolio Holder presented her update as follows;


Tenants & Leaseholder Services


Six of our sheltered schemes have recently held open days to give residents an opportunity to learn more about Supported Housing provided by DBC. We had a great turn out with over 430 people coming to find out more about the schemes for themselves or family members. Many of these were tenants in larger properties who were impressed with the ability to remain independent in your own flat while having the use of communal areas and activities and support of a member of the team if needed. We hope this to lead to an increase in demand and people downsizing and a reduction in the number of refusals for some of these flats due to better understanding about the schemes and the support provided.


Members of the income team have completed training on the Landlord Portal following the housing department receiving trusted partner status by the DWP (Department for Work and Pensions). This allows us to communicate easier with the DWP on specific Universal Credit cases and to quickly verify and check tenant’s details. The Hemel job centre goes live on 6th December so we expect increased numbers of cases to start from then.


We have two members of the housing team who recently received their Social Housing Fraud Technician qualification. Funding from the DCLG obtained some years ago was used to fund this training and the dedicated Officer who has been in post for 2 months now. The Officer will be using this training to focus on housing fraud cases and offer support to the Corporate Fraud team, so they can focus more on criminal cases and obtaining any subletting prosecutions. We received 20 reports of possible fraud in September as part of a promotion of the Our House Your Home service standards and will be fully investigating all of these.

Strategic Housing


The service has been focussing closely on private sector housing with the implementation of new regulations, a full review of the HMO licence fee has been undertaken and a new structure will be presented to all committees in the New Year.  Another primary area of focus has been the re-assessment of the ISO9001 accreditation for the Housing Service and I’m pleased to say that following a full review, no major non-conformities were identified and the service received high praise.

Housing Development

·         Kylna Court – Completion due 14th December 2018

·         Swing Gate Lane (Corn Mill Court) – Completion March 2019

·         Martindale, Stationers Place, Northend and Westerdale all in the process of starting on site

·         Pipeline Schemes - St Margaret’s Way, Gaddesden Row, Coniston Road, Bulbourne and Eastwick Row – All commencing due diligence work, surveys and in some cases working up designs

·         Team – Shortlisted for Housing Development Team of the Year

·         Resource – Out to advert for a new Senior Project Manager


Property & Place


The re-roofing of council homes is progressing well and is on track for 110 programmed replacements

Our external wall insulation programme has identified 28 Homes in the planning stages for works, with work on site set to start in the spring. These are all individual 2-storey homes and will use confirmed fire retardant insulation materials

We have replaced 540 boilers on the planned programme, including new radiators where needed, providing improved energy efficiency for our tenants.

We are continuing to renew kitchens and bathrooms as part of our programme and have our targets of 400 new kitchens and over 300 new bathrooms this year

We are investing £400k in electrical safety testing this year and are aiming to complete all electrical testing in our homes by the end of the financial year. This includes testing and CO2 detectors for overall improved safety.

The window replacement programme for 2018/19 is progressing well with 50% of the £400k budget now invested in replacement windows and doors, leading to further energy efficiency and improved comfort for our tenants

The Portfolio Holder invited questions.




Cllr England the congratulated Portfolio Holder on the window replacement scheme that is progressing, but stated that almost a year ago he reported a block of flats in his ward where the communal area windows were missed.  He added that he has been checking this throughout the year and was recently advised that a planning application had gone in for the block in question, only to later be told that was a mistake and incorrect.  He therefore asked the Portfolio Holder; is it acceptable for false information to be given to Councillors.


Cllr Griffiths confirmed she was aware of the email as Cllr England had copied her in.  She confirmed that she had opened up this for her investigation and has asked for sight of the full programme of replacement.  She added that all homes have been completed, but communal areas have not, advising that this is the case across the whole borough, not just the block of flats referred to.  


Councillor D Collins, Portfolio Holder for Corporate and Contracted Services


The Portfolio Holder presented his update as follows;


Annual canvas

The Annual Canvas is near to completion and the new Electoral Register will be published on 1 December.  To date we have had 93% of forms returned.  This is near to 60,000 properties who have responded.

This is the highest since the new IER (Individual Electoral Registration) was introduced in 2014.  In order to achieve this the team has processed around 25,000 paper forms, 15,000 of which had no change and therefore could have responded online, by text or by telephone.

We believe the increased use of social media to raise awareness has helped to increase the number of people responding online and via text message.

Court cases

Fly tipping prosecutions resulted in a fine of £267 and costs of £700 at Caddington Common, Near Markyate.

Closure Order was obtained for a property in London Road, Hemel Hempstead, for a period of 3 months because of antisocial behaviour at the property.

Licensing Prosecution – Driver was operating as a Private Hire Driver without a licence or insurance.  Convicted of two offences, £120 fine, 8 points and £450 costs.


The workload continues at a high level managing tendency covering a wide range of subjects from Housing New Build programmes, to refuse fleet upgrading to CCTV up grade and maintenance. The Parking Enforcement Contract continues to increase the level of compliant parking through the utilisation of ANPR CCTV technology.


On Data Centre re-provisioning; we have completed 90% across two sites including the new Disaster Recovery site within the Forum.

For Planning and Development a programme to migrate to a new system (Index Uniform) and infrastructure work to accommodate the new system has begun.

We are also testing an upgraded version of Orchard/Housing and will soon be going live with the new system.


Finally the revised Planning Application for a temporary car park on the Moor, Berkhamsted, was approved by Development Management and the TREES SAVED.  As an RSPB member and Woodland Trust supporter I thank all those involved for their support.  It is a good outcome with more trees being planted later.


The Portfolio Holder invited questions.




Cllr Tindall noted the prosecution of the taxi driver and asked; how often does the Council carry out vehicle driver checks to ensure our residents are safe?


Cllr Collins responded that he is sure it is frequently but that he would confirm exact details and will come back with a formal response.


Cllr England asked if a settlement has been reached with Dacorum Sports Trust in relation to arbitration.


Cllr Collins responded that discussion is underway, commenting that he is not able to report back until agreed.


Cllr England asked when this will be expected.


Cllr Collins advised that he expects it will be soon but he is not able to give a specific date.



Councillor Harden, Portfolio Holder for Community and Regulatory Services


Cllr Harden responded to Cllr Fisher’s earlier question regarding air quality and confirmed that there is an air quality site in Northchurch, but there is not one in the main Berkhamsted High Street itself.  Cllr Harden expressed his understanding that the multi-story car park will relieve some of congestion in High Street.


The Portfolio Holder presented his update as follows;


People Group

APGs: All staff now appointed and new operations in place.  Now closed over the winter period.  Staff will be undertaking mandatory refresher training, safeguarding training level 3 and structure safety training.

Community Safety: Bids are now open for Police commissioner grants, the team are reviewing the criteria and drafting bids relating to our high priority projects.   

M-ask programme: Most recent cohort started in September, with 9 participants regularly attending.

Colourful Minds: This is a new arts/culture intervention programme aimed at supporting adults with low level mental health issues. The first cohort started in September with 10 participants attending.

The OTH 40th Anniversary: Autumn Programme is live and tickets sales are very positive.

Food & Beverage Offering: Tender is being drafted to see whether there is market interest in delivering this service            

Herts Open Studios: The OTH was one of 68 studios around the county taking part.                          

Customer Services Review: Project plan has been drafted and project to commence shortly, this will be looking at staffing structure, efficiencies, channel shift, performance indicators etc.

We have been successful in gaining the Council White Ribbon     Accreditation for our support of Domestic Violence victims.

Environmental & Community Protection Group

The quarter A-C High-risk food premise inspection sits at 100% which is an excellent result. The new team leader is working hard to review the way in which we use temporary staff to fulfil the workload.

Various enforcement notices have been served by the Environmental Health Team, including 15 Prevention of Damage by Pest Act Notices, 4 Food Hygiene Improvement Notices.

The dog related Public Space Protection Order consultation closed, with 1220 responses, report presented to SPAE OSC in November 2018.

All Health and Safety Policies had been reviewed to ensure a consistent approach and to meet current corporate guidelines.


Several complex ASB cases in the borough have led to Closure Orders and Injunctions against premises and perpetrators.


The Dog Warden Service was awarded with a Gold Stray Dog Footprint award by the RSPCA, and as we have held this for 5 years, they have awarded us a Platinum one as special recognition.

The Portfolio Holder invited questions.




Cllr Tindall noted that the CSU continue to do a fantastic job and referred to awareness around Domestic Abuse and asked if the Council keeps up with training in this area?


Cllr Harden referred to the White Ribbon Award and advised a new programme has been set addressing how the Council is engaging with victims of Domestic Violence and looking to break the cycle of domestic abuse.  He added that training continues for CSU on how to help identify people who might be victims.


Cllr Tindall referred to the growing nuisance of number plates being stolen and then used in criminal activity that lead to the owner of the plate being sent penalty notices.  He asked; can a sympathetic approach be taken to people who contact us in those situations as this is a growing criminal activity.


Cllr Harden responded that he would flag up with CSB officer and make sure it has been highlighted with police, to seek a response on what they are trying to do to tackle this issue.


Cllr Guest referred to Christmas light switch on’s at neighbourhood shopping centres and asked; does the Portfolio Holder agree that such events promote community spirit?


Cllr Harden agreed and commented on the great turn out at these events and his pride that Councillors put funds into this, when requested, to invest in trees and lights.


Cllr Fisher queried if it is possible to review the opening dates of the adventure playgrounds, expressing her view that it is a long time to go without the service over the winter, adding that not all families have the means to provide such entertainment.


Cllr Harden responded that the decision was made this year, based on attendance figures, to close for 13 weeks over winter.  Cllr Harden commented that the Adventure Playgrounds are not a day care service and it is not the Council’s responsibility to provide care; it is a service we provide for young people to access for leisure and attendance figures show this is accessed more during summer months.


Cllr Taylor referred to Cllr Guest’s comments and asked the Portfolio Holder; do you consider it appropriate for a Community Association to be charged £1100 if we were to take up the offer of a Christmas tree in Gadebridge this year?  Adding that Gadbridge are not willing to pay £1100 for a tree and will be looking at alternate means of decoration.  He further expressed his shock at receiving an invoice of £1100 to source, deliver, install and decorate with lights a tree that will then be taken down a month later.


Cllr Harden agreed that it sounds a high amount, adding that he believes there are other providers that do it for less.   Also suggesting that it would be great if local & County Councillors and local business could contribute to putting this together for the their community.


Cllr England referred to the perceived u-turn on the Cupid Green fields idea for sports pavilion, as well as the admission in January last year that there was no sports strategy in place and asked; will the strategy be published within the year since that shortfall was identified?


Cllr Harden responded regarding Cupid Green and clarified that this was a consultation exercise; there was no u turn.  Adding that as a Council we consulted; public feedback said no, we listened. 


Cllr Harden then referred to the comments about the strategy and confirmed that this is being looking at robustly; officers are developing the existing policy to turn it into a strategy that can then be built on over the years.


Cllr C Wyatt-Lowe referred to the sports pavilion placing, noting that residents in her ward gave feedback and the Council listened.  The Councillor commented that she was very happy to see that and noted that the interesting outcome from this was that many people thought a sport hub was a good idea, just not in the location proposed.  She expressed that she therefore felt it would still be worthwhile to look at alternate.


Cllr Harden thanked ward councillors within Grovehill that worked with local residents to ensure their voices were heard and agreed that the feedback provided lots of feedback that can be used.