Agenda item

Cabinet referrals

To consider the following referrals from Cabinet:


Report to follow after Cabinet meeting of 12/02/19




The following referrals from Cabinet on 12 February were approved.


7.1       CA/018/19 – Budget 2019/20


General Fund Revenue Estimate

a) set a Dacorum Borough Council General Fund Council Tax requirement of £11.532m, and a provisional amount of £12.348m for the combined Borough Council and Parish Councils’ requirement for 2019/20;

b) approve an increase of 2.99% in Council Tax for Dacorum Borough Council;

c) approve the base estimates for 2019/20, as shown in Appendix A1, and the indicative budget forecasts for 2019/20 – 2022/23, as shown in Appendix A2;

d) approve the forecast balances of Revenue Reserves as shown in Appendix J, and approve section 10 of this report as the updated Reserves Strategy;

e) approve increases in Fees and Charges for 2019/20 as set out in Appendices C3, D3, and E3;

f) approve and adopt the Treasury Management Strategy for 2019/20, attached at Appendix K;

g) approve and adopt the Treasury Management Principles and Practices for 2019/20, attached at Appendix L;

h) approve and adopt the Capital Strategy for 2019/20, attached at Appendix M;

i) note that this budget paper, if approved by Council, will form part of the Medium Term Financial Strategy.

Capital Programme

j) approve the revised Capital Programme and Capital Strategy for 2018/19, and for 2019/20 to 2022/23, as
detailed in Appendix I and Appendix M respectively;

k) approve the financing proposals in Appendix I subject to an annual review of the financing options by the Corporate Director (Finance & Operations), in consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Finance and Resources, during the preparation of the Statement of Accounts.

Housing Revenue Account (HRA)

l) reduce dwelling rents by 1% in accordance with government legislation, resulting in an average rent of £100.08 per week (based on 52 weeks);

m) approve the HRA estimate for 2019/20 as shown in Appendix F.



7.2       CA/019/19 – Period 9 Budget Monitoring Report


Cllr Williams mentioned the Period 9 Budget Monitoring Report and resolve to recommend.


Cllr Griffiths seconded the report and this was agreed by Council.


7.3       CA/021/19 – Senior Officer Pay


Cllr Williams put forward the proposals for Senior Officers Pay for 2019/20 to be resolved to recommend.


Cllr Griffiths seconded the report and this was agreed by Council.


7.4       CA/022/19 – Growth and Infrastructure


Cllr Williams asked for the Growth and Infrastructure Strategy to be resolved to recommend.


Cllr Griffiths seconded the proposals and this was agreed by Council.



The following referrals from Cabinet on 12 February were approved.


7.1       CA/018/19 – Budget 2019/20


Cllr Elliot would like to move the budget.  Cllr Williams seconded the budget and reserved his right.


Cllr Elliot set out the budget context.


·         Over the last 8 years, the Council has already faced reductions in its annual government funding of over £7m. This budget sets out plans for Dacorum Borough Council to save a further £900k in 2019/20.

·         In addition to this, local authority finances face a period of review as the current 4-year funding deal is set to end in 2020. Government continues to work on its Fair Funding Review which will determine how funding is allocated among councils beyond 2020.

·         That is why the Council has set the budget for 2019/20 with a strong focus on sustainability and continuing to deliver its corporate priorities into the medium-term. We have made significant strides towards balancing the budget for the next two years, having already identified savings initiatives of around £300k to address future years’ savings targets.


Cllr Elliot put forward the continued investment in the Borough.


·         Dacorum Borough Council is proposing a capital investment programme of over £225m to further enhance the services we provide to our residents over the next 5 years.

·         Some of the areas identified for capital investment include:

­   £90m investment in our existing housing stock

­   £80m investment in our ambitious and successful new build programme

­   £4m investment in facilitating affordable housing developments and the delivery of additional temporary accommodation for some of our most vulnerable residents

­   £4m grant funding to Housing Associations for the delivery of Affordable Housing

­   £11m investment in community facilities including car parks, cemeteries, and leisure


Cllr Elliot advised how front-line services will be maintained.


·         Over the last 8 years Dacorum Borough Council has successfully protected its front-line services in the face of 70% government funding reductions. The council has again taken steps to find the savings required for 2019 without reducing its front-line services.

·         The Council has worked hard to deliver efficiencies required through fostering a culture of innovation and a strong focus on performance and continuous improvement.

·         This has enabled us to deliver savings through a range of initiatives including:

­   more efficient staffing structures;

­   a more commercial approach to contract negotiation; and,

­   The Forum, which has already reduced our annual running costs significantly, but which will offer increased value for money from April 2019 when the Clinical Commissioning Group will take up a tenancy on around 25% of the building.


Cllr Elliot set out the Council Tax proposals.


·         As part of the budget for 2019/20, the Council is proposing to increase Council Tax by 2.99%.

·         This equates to an increase of £5.85 for a Band D property, or around 11p per week.

·         This proposal was strongly endorsed through the Council’s budget consultation process, with over 95% of residents involved supporting the decision to increase Council Tax by the maximum permissible in order to enhance front line services.


Cllr Elliot put forward the Housing proposals.


·         The Council has complied with legislation and once again reduced its rents by 1% in 2019/20. The average rent next year will be £100.08 per week.

·         The Council is proposing a Housing business plan which continues to deliver new homes across the Borough:

­   130 new homes already delivered

­   300 new homes in the pipeline for delivery over the next three years

·         Following Government’s recent announcement of the lifting of the HRA borrowing cap, officers are currently modelling how the delivery of new homes can be further accelerated.


Cllr Elliot concluded that he remains confident that this Council is well placed to meet the significant financial challenges that lie ahead and he thanked officers for their diligent and prudent work over the last year which has set up Dacorum Borough Council as an exemplar of financial probity. 


Cllr Elliot recommended the budget to Council.


Cllr Tindall put forward an amendment.  Cllr England seconded the amendment and reserved his right.


Cllr Tindall said that Local Government plays a crucial role in the lives of its residents – a fact not often acknowledged by the Westminster bubble who seem to prefer arguing amongst themselves rather than dealing with housing, social care, and the myriad other problems this country faces.  The present government dispenses an additional pot of money here, and extra payments there, but continues to cut – and fails to provide a stable and sustainable funding formula for local government.  Indeed they cannot even assure us that we shall have their 2019 spending review until later in the year, which will put enormous pressure on our officers.


Cllr Tindall added that tonight, we are dealing with the coming year, and Liberal Democrats are proposing we combat austerity by putting some flesh on the bones, pointing the way forward with positive and innovative additions to the Council’s budget for 2019/20.  I shall highlight some of the measures proposed with Councillor England addressing others.  All costed and responsibly financed.


Cllr Tindall felt that the number one priority must be to address the failure of the Council to provide a strategy for Air Quality to follow that which expired last year, and a number of Councillors have expressed concern.


Cllr Tindall said that there has been a dangerous rise in emissions of nitrogen dioxide, particulates and ozone, the impact of which cause 40,000 early deaths each year across the United Kingdom and have a serious impact on our children’s health.  Fumes inhaled by children are putting them at lifelong risk of asthmas, pneumonia and cancer.  According to Unicef, the persistent illegal breaches of air pollution limits across the United Kingdom are an unacceptable violation of those limits.  It is a disgrace that this country is home to more children suffering respiratory conditions than anywhere else in Europe.  Even in the leafy glades of Dacorum, hazards may lurk and we need to create a modern strategy as soon as possible.  Our budget line sets out just a few of the steps this Council could take, investing £100k in our resident’s health.


Cllr Tindall mentioned that the administration has recently started down the path of introducing Public Space Protection Orders to control the lives of residents, a measure with which we disagree.  Even worse, they are measures with little or no enforcement so while appearing effective they are relatively useless.  We propose an appraisal of the Warden Service with the intention of widening their areas of responsibility, with a primary aim of getting to grips with the parking epidemic which threatens to overwhelm us all.  Once the appraisal has been completed, we would see this as the basis for combined action to brighten up our Borough without menaces or threats.


Cllr Tindall turned to the generation of monies under the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), this is a welcome windfall among the many challenges that increased development brings us.  But we have to have a coordinated approach to this windfall to ensure that it is spent for the benefit of residents, and in accordance with the wishes of local councillors.  The lack of any neighbourhood representation in Hemel Hempstead does not help.  We have added to our budget the means of employing a member of staff to concentrate on CIL, working in conjunction with others to ‘brighten up our Borough’ in a coordinated approach throughout the Council.  True to our belief of relieving current pressures on staff we have provided additional finance for this purpose.


Cllr Tindall advised that the final line of our budget I wish to address at this point is communications.  I do not have to explain to this chamber the failures of our present telephone system, and this Council desperately needs to get to grips with this.  Our residents must be welcomed and have an easy and understandable path to the service they require, not necessarily based on whether someone surfs the net, and we have provided the money to enable a comprehensive study so that we can all understand what is needed. 


Cllr Tindall felt that the administration’s budget is somewhat like a curate’s egg – good and bad in parts.  He commended the financial acumen and expertise of the officers to produce a balanced budget, but as has been seen in this chamber over many months, disagree with the political direction and on occasions actions of the Conservative Cabinet.  Presently lacking access to the full range of Council resources to enable us to propose a comprehensive redrafting of the budget in line with our principles, we have limited ourselves to proposing improvements to the administration’s budget and commend them to the Council.


Cllr Marshall listened to Cllr Tindall with interest and with respect to the Environment and Planning OSC meetings she had attended she had not recalled any Liberal Democrat proposals to amend the budget.  Cllr Marshall added that it seemed a bit late in the day for these proposals to be made without proper consideration. 


Cllr Marshall referred to the second item about solar powered compactor litter bins, compacting rubbish and less emptying seems a good idea in principle, the downsides are that the rubbish is still there but over a longer period of time and it gets very smelly, particularly in very hot weather, when bins are emptied there is a mini litter pick around the bin, so if the bin is emptied less frequently the litter will build up.  Waste bins are often ignited, vandalised, damaged by traffic, a solar powered compactor litter bin costs twenty times more that an ordinary litter bin purchased and installed, plus there’s an annual software fee, as the bins send an electronic message to say when it’s full.  The Council have tried a couple on the A41 a short time ago and we were unimpressed, yes it did compact the rubbish but it still needed emptying fairly frequently, in short there was very little saving in terms of manpower and that’s ignoring the purchase and installation costs.  Cllr Marshall said that Planning and Environmental Overview and Scrutiny may wish to seek a report on this so that there can be proper consideration before budget provision is made.  Cllr Marshall didn’t feel it was the correct time to be making budget provision.


Cllr Williams said that this was the first time in several years where there had been any meaningful amendments to our budget.  He thought the opening statement of the presentation of the motion was a step towards ending years of austerity is a very bold claim for what is in reality a few sound bite amendments to the budget more designed for focus than they are for delivery of any real improvements in our services. 


Cllr Williams felt the amendments were gimmicky rather than having any meaningful purpose, Cllr Tindall enlightened us as to what the Wardens were and gave us a little bit of background to the first item of £100k.  Cllr Williams said that his colleague Cllr Marshall had gone through in detail, but there was nothing included that could be prescribed by the s151 Officer.  What this amendment does is what Liberal Democrats are well known for and that’s spend, spend, spend.  There are no corresponding savings here and commits us to further expenditure from a revenue stream, which is claimed to be sustainable.


Cllr Williams confirmed we have benefitted from £900k saving in negative support grant, we have as a prudent authority put this into a reserve to help smooth future saving requirements, you can’t have a sustainable budget and increase your spending and staffing.  Cllr Williams said that Cllr Tindall had mentioned in introducing his amendment that we don’t know what the future holds but we do know where this would be under the fair funding review. 


Cllr Williams said that the Conservative budget is well costed as has been acknowledged, what we have here is random last minute proposals some of which duplicate things this administration has already done.  Also some predates reports that are due to go to Scrutiny as early as March and others are simply playing into left field, like looking at electric charging points.  Cllr Williams has already asked colleagues to look at usage and charging, Council may be interested to know that one of the electric charging points in the Borough, for the whole of 2018, was used for 21 hours, so I think we need to understand the infrastructure before we commit to invest more money. 


Cllr Williams did not believe this adds anything to the budget, it doesn’t address austerity, it touches on things that should be provided by others and I ask the Council to reject the amendment.


Cllr Anderrson said this amendment reminded him of a film called Midnight Run where the main character has had a bad day, he’s in the airport lobby smoking a cigar, he walks up to the attendant who asks smoking or non-smoking, he says take a wild guess.  Cllr Anderson was reminded of that scene when he saw the proposed amendment to the budget, as it’s quite clear the amendment will be included in the leaflets for the next couple of months as part of their election campaign. 


Cllr Anderson confirmed that air quality is a very important issue, we have had three locations within the Borough where it has been a real difficulty and it is a very difficult problem as it is so holistic.  It should be looked at properly as part of a planned approach and indeed the Strategic Planning and Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee will be looking at this issue in two weeks-time.  Cllr Anderson urged Members who are interested to attend that meeting as there will be external speakers presenting.


Cllr Anderson said that Cllr Marshall has mentioned the solar powered compactor bins, my question is why is this needed, if we are spending on bin provision we might as well spend it on 20 times more bins and have a much better return on investment.  Cllr Anderson said that sports services have already been reviewed at length and as for CIL, getting someone in and paying them to show us how to spend money, is the last thing the Council needs advice on. 


Cllr Anderson did not feel that the proposals in the budget amendment were well thought out and they were not sustainable, he said he would be voting against them. 


Cllr Anderson supports the main motion and he thoroughly supports the work that Members and Officers have undertaken, he felt this was a thoroughly robust budget and that is why he will be supporting the motion.


Cllr Harden responded on some of the proposals in the amendment that falls within his Portfolio.  This includes air quality, which will be discussed in more depth at the OSC meeting, including improving air quality at schools which is best achieved by not driving to school or using other methods like car sharing, cycling and walking.  Cllr Harden advised that air quality sites are located where there is a regular volume of stationary vehicles in a confined corridor and are regularly monitored.  Improvements to air quality requires a shift from petrol/diesel vehicles to electric vehicles or others, cycling, walking and the use of low emission public transport and the reduction of burning fossil fuels. 


Cllr Harden said that in response to the proposal within the sports service, in 2016 Dacorum Borough Council commissioned an external consultant, the Sports Consultancy, to conduct a full strategic review.  He added that KKP consultancy are currently undertaking a full review of the sports and leisure facilities within Dacorum, which will give valuable insight into the investment required.  Cllr Harden felt it would be a duplication of funding to pay for an officer to be employed to undertake similar work.


Cllr Harden confirmed that the Council has a small Communications team that exists to raise the profile and reputation of the Council through effective internal and external communications.  Last year the Team Leader attended the Finance and Resources Overview and Scrutiny to talk Members through service delivery matters and received positive feedback.  The team has also received nationally recognised awards for their service delivery. 


Cllr Harden added that Members had agreed to implement a voice recognition telephone system, to encourage customers to self-serve more and not just wait for customer services to pick up and act as an operator forwarding calls to the service.  This was done to support significant budget savings we needed to achieve.  At the moment we take approximately 1200 calls per day, which means that in the last 16 months we have had in the region of 410,000 calls.  Since August 2017 we have had 3 formal complaints and 10 informal complaints regarding our telephone system. 


Cllr Harden raised concerns about the lateness of the proposals today, he said he had encouraged Members all through Scrutiny throughout the year to think of budgets proposals that can then be discussed within a Scrutiny environment and we can do research with Officers to see whether they are viable, whichever political party they come from.


Cllr Harden felt it was unfortunate that we have a Full Council leading up to an election where for the first time in years we get some random proposals from the Liberal Democrats and most of which we are in the process of carrying out or work we have already done.  Cllr Harden thought it was a good attempt and said that they need to try harder next time.


Cllr England said that Cllr Tindall has set out our approach to seek improvements that will save lives, improving people’s quality of life and give people more access to services.  Cllr England wanted to talk about fixing a couple of areas, where as a Council we are getting off track and we need to find a better way forward. 


Cllr England confirmed that there is a strategy for sports and activities, but in our opinion the experienced resources allocated to it have not been present within the Council to make this an in depth and authoritative document and the consultancy that’s been obtained seems to be only moving in one direction.  The Lib Dems are proposing funding solutions to the strategy issue, one which makes the best of the work that has been done and broadly uses the payment by Everyone Active to engage knowledgeably with the commercial and contract holders so that Dacorum gets what Dacorum needs, not EA finds it convenient to provide.


Cllr England mentioned sustainability and the problem with a near neighbour capable of generating huge traffic congestion and also raised the possibility of relocating Hemel Hempstead Football Club releasing housing land so that Jarmans Athletics Track may be permanently safe from redevelopment. 


Cllr England said that the second issue he would like to raise was litter, with the scourge of plastic getting blown into the environment, we see the way to increase litter bin capacity, with an alternative approach, this is creative thinking, having a backstop.  By using technology Dacorum can do better, increasing capacity.  There are two options that should be investigated, solar powered compactor bins and sensors on ordinary bins to make collecting smarter and hugely more efficient, providing better distribution and capacity to residents.


Cllr England said that Cllr Williams mentioned that these proposals were not sustainable, Cllr England pointed out that one of the proposals was meant to be sustainable, all of the others are trials, plans, review, appraisals and studies.  These are not meant to be things that go on and on, these are things that need to be fixed. 


Cllr England was pleased to hear that Cllr Anderson agreed with him that air quality is a serious issue.  The reason this is being reviewed next month is because it’s overdue, it was meant to be done last year.  Cllr England commented that it’s important that the money is spent in the right way.


Cllr England said his final point was on Cllr Harden’s comments on the Sports Strategy, he felt it was clear from the numerous attempts that we’ve seen so far to write a strategy, that this needs to be properly thought through from the beginning and that’s the reason that we’ve proposed that resource.




Names of those voting


For: Tindall, Link, Pringle, England, Fisher (5)


Against: Douris, Adeleke, Anderson, Armytage, Banks, Barrett, Bassadone, Bhinder, Birnie, Brown, Chapman, D Collins, E Collins, Elliot, Griffiths, Guest, Harden, P Hearn, S Hearn, Hicks, Howard, Maddern, Mahmood, Marshall, Matthews, Mills, Riddick, Ritchie, Silwal, G Sutton, Timmis, Williams, C Wyatt-Lowe, W Wyatt-Lowe (34)


Abstained: R Sutton (1)


The Mayor confirmed that the amendment is lost and we now move to the main budget.


Cllr Williams advised that reserved his right to second the motion to support the administrations budget, Cllr Elliot when moving the budget outlined some of the pressures we have faced and the way in which we face those challenges.  We continue to face those challenges by presenting to the Council a budget which continues to protect front line services and continues our significant record of capital investment for improvement and continues to look forward to the challenges we will face over the coming years.  The budget sets us up as best we can be, given that we don’t know anything will happen for us financially over the next few years, to continue our revenue and protecting front line services for residents.  This budget is the last of a four year policy of rent reduction of 1% for our tenants and also for the third year in a row of freezes car parking charges.  This year we will be freezing garage rents for the benefits of our tenants as we continue to redevelop some sites and improve garage stock in others. 


Cllr Williams highlighted that the budget continues this administrations prudent approach to the finances of this authority and therefore he is happy to second and recommend this budget to Council.


Cllr Elliot said that as usual the Liberal Democrats want to throw residents money down the drain as they continue to ape their European Union colleagues over the water, where they have never had their accounts signed off ever. This is why Liberal Democrat controlled band D Council Tax is 34% above Dacorums.  Cllr Elliot quoted the Prime Ministers comments about the Liberal Democrats being very good at spending other peoples money until it runs out, we ensure it doesn’t run out.  Cllr Elliott recommended this budget to the Council.


Cllr Pringle raised a point of order regarding representing positions of responsibility in this era of fake news, not to deliberately perpetuate myths. 


The Mayor confirmed this was not a point of order and the budget proposals were put to the vote.




Names of those voting


For: Douris, Adeleke, Anderson, Armytage, Banks, Barrett, Bassadone, Bhinder, Birnie, Brown, Chapman, D Collins, E Collins, Elliot, Griffiths, Guest, Harden, P Hearn, S Hearn, Hicks, Howard, Maddern, Mahmood, Marshall, Matthews, Mills, Riddick, Ritchie, Silwal, G Sutton, Timmis, Williams, C Wyatt-Lowe, W Wyatt-Lowe (34)


Against: Tindall, Link, Pringle, England, Fisher (5)


Abstained: R Sutton (1)


The Mayor declared the motion to be carried.



Cllr Williams mentioned the addendum on the Council Tax Members received today, having set our Council Tax as an authority, we are the collecting authority on behalf of the other precepts within Hertfordshire County Council, The Police and Crime Commissioner and appropriate Parish Councils.  The Council Tax Declaration pulls all of that together to form the Council Tax bill for residents 2019 and therefore he would like to move the resolution for Agenda item 13, Council Tax Declaration 19/20.


Cllr Griffiths seconded the proposals and this was agreed by Council.


7.2       CA/019/19 – Period 9 Budget Monitoring Report


Cllr Williams mentioned the Period 9 Budget Monitoring Report and resolve to recommend.


Cllr Griffiths seconded the report and this was agreed by Council.


7.3       CA/021/19 – Senior Officer Pay


Cllr Williams put forward the proposals for Senior Officers Pay for 2019/20 to be resolved to recommend.


Cllr Griffiths seconded the report and this was agreed by Council.


7.4       CA/022/19 – Growth and Infrastructure


Cllr Williams asked for the Growth and Infrastructure Strategy to be resolved to recommend.


Cllr Griffiths seconded the proposals and this was agreed by Council.


Supporting documents: