MB was invited to talk about the report for corporate and contract services. The keys point to note was Q1 was dominated by the Hertfordshire Council and Police and Crime Commissioner election which was a massive effort during a time of COVID restrictions and MB commended the team on delivering this. The report also looks at leisure attendance, which is now increasing month on month, which is really positive. MB is optimistic but cautious going forward.
Cllr Tindall asked for an update on page 43 of the report where is said ‘chasing up members of staff who have not yet provided proof of right to work in the UK’.
MB advised that it was in connection with staff employed for the elections and not permanent staff.
Cllr Adeleke asked if the Council was prepared for virtual meetings if another COVID lockdown required it. He also asked what requirements there are to get CCTV installed in specific locations.
MB responded saying that there has been a period of remote and hybrid meetings with significant investment into the Council’s facilities, if hybrid meetings were required, they have the facility in place to hold such meetings.
BH added that from a CCTV perspective, the Council have a code of practice which feeds into the national commissioners CCTV strategy and there are rules and regulations for putting CCTV into public spaces. BH encouraged Cllr Adeleke to come to him with his request for CCTV so it could be looked at in line with the relevant procedures.
Cllr Symington congratulated the team on the recent election but noted that a number of postal votes weren’t delivered and also the report noted 450 postal votes ‘failed’. Was this 450 over 2 elections or a total of 2 lots of people? MB explained that the process for postal votes is that the signature on the postal vote form must correspond with the signature the Council holds. On many of these the signatures didn’t correspond and on others the date of birth listed was incorrect. If either of these occur, then the postal vote has to be rejected. After the election those people are written to so they can update the Council’s records accordingly to prevent the same thing from happening.
Cllr Tindall asked if there had been complains from people about their inability to vote. MB noted that there were complaints but the process and reason for the rejection is always explained.
Cllr Symington asked for a budget for the list of procurement. BH stated these were tenders that were at various stages in the tender process. There is a procurement pipeline that’s advertised on the council’s procurement page of its website for up-and-coming tenders. Once contracts are awarded, they are added to the Contract Register which is published and updated monthly. The value and duration of those contracts are included there too. BH can however obtain the estimated value of the tender requisition form for the members. The Chair queried whether this would break confidentiality and perhaps give contractors an advantage if they knew the estimated tender figure the Council had placed on a contract. MB explained this could be published in confidence and to the Committee only.
Cllr Symington asked why the number of PCNs have declined much less than the number of parking sessions as a proportion of parking sessions. BH said there is a small correlation between number of sessions and number of PCNs, but the majority of PCNs relate to on street parking e.g. parking on double yellow lines.
Cllr Symington queried what progressing ‘the ORCS application’ referred to in respect of EV charging. BH explained that ORCS is the ‘on street residential charging scheme’ which is a fund that the Council can apply to and receive money to help install on street charge points. However due to lack of support from Hertfordshire Council there is little progress with on street charging points. The Council has therefore been looking at the possibility of installing EV charging points in its car parks. The Council have commissioned BP Pulse to look at its car parks but many have been found not suitable as they are not in the vicinity of suitable electrical charge for the charge points (many being over 500 metres away from the required electrical apparatus for the EV charging point). ORCS will fund 75% of the cost and BP Pulse will fund the additional 25%. Therefore, there is no cost to the council but the charging points must be commercially viable to BP Pulse. BP Pulse will provide a report on all the car parks within the next 6 weeks. The Council can then review if it is worthwhile paying with their own funds towards some EV points in some of the car parks, but this will depend on the cost to the Council. BP Pulse will include this cost in their report. Cllr Symington asked what the Plan B was if the Council can’t progress with BP Pulse. BH explained this all depended on the result of BP Pulse’s report. Cllr Symington is keen that the Council communicates with residents about the position on EV charging points clearly, when the time is right.
Cllr Douris wanted to comment the staff on the recent election and asked for clarification about the ‘licence to caravan sites’ and which caravan sites these referred to. MB explained this was mobile caravan sites, like Scatterdells in Chipperfield and the bigger residential sites where people require a licence to ensure the residents are safe and secure.
Cllr Adeleke asked what numbers of electric cars there were on the road in the borough. BH explained there was an in-depth report that looked at the future requirements for EV charging. BH is happy to share that report but it doesn’t give an exact figure of numbers of cars on the road that are electric or what the current need for EV charging points is. It does explain that roughly 30% of Dacorum households won’t have access to EV charging points at their home. Cllr Symington added that the national average for charger provision per 100,000 is 36 and in Dacorum this is 15 per 100,000 and looking specifically at rapid chargers, the national figure is 7 per 100,0000 but in Dacorum it’s 2.6 per 100,0000. So, across Dacorum there is very low access to EV charging points. This means that people are dissuaded from ever having electric cars.
The Chair added that care is needed with EV charging points and on street charging to ensure there is adequate space for residents as often business fleets take up charging points which isn’t the intention of the charging points in the first place when the primary focus is on providing charging for residents.
The Chair noted that there are still 1,000 letters sent a day and asked what is being done to encourage communications to be sent electronically. MB noted that post is a last resort to meet statutory requirements.
The Chair queried the number of attendees under the leisure contracts, noting it was 6,000 on average in 2019 and now it was 12,000. BH explained that gym attendance 2019/20 is for scanned membership cards which was much lower as people were holding doors open for others. Now each individual must scan in, which has meant numbers have artificially risen. Pre-COVID attendance was 20,000 a week and this target is close to being met now. Gym attendance did drop off slightly when group exercise classes resumed as they took longer to resume after lockdown. Swimming attendance has also increased.
The Chair concluded on this report that Dacorum Borough Council was the first to become a silver level Carbon Literate borough council. The Chair also commended the charity work done by its Mayors and Cllr Douris.
BH to share the report on electric cars and charging in the borough.
MB to provide the tender estimates for the procurement contracts.
The report was noted.