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 Barratt                    Environmental Services

Councillor Banks                     Community and Regulatory Services

Councillor Anderson               Planning and Infrastructure

Councillor Elliot                       Finance and Resources

Councillor Griffiths                  Housing

Councillor Williams                 Corporate and Contracted Services




4.1       By the Mayor:


The Mayor advised we would be using a new electronic voting system this evening.


The Mayor then announced the sad passing of former Councillor Mick Maloney. Councillors Guest and Douris shared their fond memories of him.


One minutes silence was held in remembrance.

4.2       By the Chief Executive:


The Chief Executive announced the resignation of Councillor Woolner (Berkhamsted West Ward) and Councillor Uttley (Boxmoor Ward).  


4.3       By the Group Leaders:


Councillor Williams gave apologies on behalf of Councillors Bassadone, Bhinder, Oguchi, Silwal and Sutton.

Councillor Tindall gave apologies on behalf of Councillors England, McDowell, Pringle and Wilkie. 

4.4       Council Leader and Members of the Cabinet:


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



4.1       By the Mayor:


The Mayor advised we would be using a new electronic voting system this evening.


The Mayor then announced the sad passing of former Councillor Mick Maloney. Councillors Guest and Douris shared their fond memories of him.


One minutes silence was held in remembrance.

4.2       By the Chief Executive:


The Chief Executive announced the resignation of Councillor Woolner (Berkhamsted West Ward) and Councillor Uttley (Boxmoor Ward).  


4.3       By the Group Leaders:


Councillor Williams gave apologies on behalf of Councillors Bassadone, Bhinder, Oguchi, Silwal and Sutton.

Councillor Tindall gave apologies on behalf of Councillors England, McDowell, Pringle and Wilkie. 

4.4       Council Leader and Members of the Cabinet:


Councillor Williams, Leader of the Council

Cllr Williams commented on how pleased he was with the first Dacorum Climate Action Network Meeting. He also encouraged groups within the community to bid for environmental funding. Finally, he passed his congratulations on to James Doe, who has been appointed to the role of Director.

Cllr Douris requested that Cllr Williams write to Arriva to complain about the termination of the 758 Green Line service. Cllr Williams agreed to do so but mentioned that the local MP has already written to Arriva and was told that they will simply review demand for the service in a few months’ time, and potentially reinstate it then. Cllr Douris responded that the service must be sustained and not reviewed, by which point it will be too late. Cllr Tindall asked that Cllr Williams join him in meeting with Green Line/Arriva to argue the Council’s case in person. Cllr Williams agreed.

Cllr Symington noted that the Council’s code of conduct hadn’t been updated since 2002 and asked if there were any plans to update it. Cllr Williams confirmed that this item is due to go to cabinet shortly.

In response to Cllr Stevens’ question on whether cabinet would consider releasing reports ahead of Council meetings, Cllr Williams stated that this would require constitutional change, but could be considered.

Cllr Ransley expressed distress at finding out a developer has put in front of Tring Council some ideas for 1,400 dwellings as part of the local plan which has not yet been agreed. Cllr Williams pointed out that it is the right of a site owner to submit a planning application without waiting for the local plan process to be completed.

Cllr Rogers aired his concerns about the lack of in-person staff members at the Forum. Cllr Williams opined that it is unlikely the levels of staffing at the Forum will return to pre-pandemic levels, but that this doesn’t equate to less service to the public. In some areas there is a backlog, but services are up and running as normal.

Councillor Barrett, Portfolio Holder for Environmental Services

Cllr Barrett presented a report on environmental services.

Litter picking on the A41 was completed over 6 days between there 15th and 22nd October. The pre-Remembrance Day clean-up was also completed in good time.

Over 80,000 winter bulbs have been planted across the Borough. Several play areas are having works done on them. 5 Green Flag park awards have been retained. The Rotary Club have been supported in planting 1,000 crocuses in Gadebridge Park, as part of their End Polio campaign.

In terms of trees and woodlands, 75% of the trees planted in Gadebridge Park are alive and well. There is a lower rate of survival at Kings Fields. Roots will be re-planted, with extra measures in place.

Presentations and initiatives in primary schools have been implemented around recycling. 90 1,100 litre recycling bins have been delivered to 53 blocks of flats. Another successful clothes swap event has taken place. There was a 20% increase in engagement with the Love Food Hate Waste challenge.

New bin calendars have been published and the full service will be maintained, despite ongoing staff pressures.

Cllr Barrett opened up to questions. Cllr Elliot wished to know how much the litter picking along the A41 costs the taxpayer. The response was that this is slightly in excess of £25,000.

Cllr Guest questioned how the people of Dacorum would learn the good news that 3/4 of the trees in Gadebridge Park are alive. Cllr Barrett suspected that they may not have heard the previous message that some trees had not survived, and that they will hopefully notice the trees in person.

Cllr Maddern requested a plan to reduce the outstanding jobs on the trees and woodlands list. There is a tree in Nash Mills which has been dead for 9 years but is number 465 on the list. Cllr Barrett said that he hoped this would move up the list, as it could become dangerous. He stated he would speak to the tree officers and return to Cllr Maddern with an update. Action.

Cllr Barrett explained that the new roots at Kings Fields would be protected, in response to a question from Cllr Tindall about why so many of the trees planted there had failed.

On behalf of a colleague who was not present at the meeting, Cllr Symington queried the size of the new refuse vehicles in relation to complaints from residents that they cannot get down some of the narrower country lanes. Cllr Barrett was not aware of this issue and pointed out that the Borough has a range of vehicle sizes for refuse collection. The Cllrs agreed to discuss the rural community that is suffering after the meeting.

Finally, Cllr Birnie sought reassurance that the figure obtained from renegotiation with the County Council would at least cover the costs of the maintenance of trees along public highways. Cllr Barrett confirmed that this was the aspiration. After a further question, he also confirmed that he believes the Borough is under obligation to provide this work for the County but can make enquiries. Action.

Councillor Banks, Portfolio Holder for Community and Regulatory Services

Cllr Banks presented a report on community and regulatory services.

The environmental protection team continue to support local residents and businesses in the fight against Covid. This includes track and trace, isolation, and welfare checks.

A more targeted approach to the littering and dog fouling is being adopted. The PSPO, dog control, and town centre restrictions and littering pilot contract has now gone live

An individual has been found guilty of fly-tipping at the electrical substation in Adeyfield.

With regard to community services and physical activity, 175 runners took part in the recent fun run, the most successful event in the 3 years it has been held. Dacorum Fun Palace was the Council’s first hybrid event, and it was the most successful one nationwide. A 6-week social prescribing course finished with an average score of 9/10 from participants. Use of the adventure playgrounds has increased, with over 8,500 young people visiting them in October.

Cllr Allen asked if the enforcement of the new PSPO will yield data about which offences are most prevalent and where, in time. Cllr Banks confirmed this would be the case. To date, there have been 254 fixed penalty notices for littering, 72 for skateboarding and cycling, 3 for dog fouling and keeping a dog off lead, and 8 for spitting, drinking, or urinating in public.

Cllr Harden wished to know what powers the district enforcement team have over people who just walk away from them or refuse to give their address. Cllr Banks stated that they had no powers in this regard, but that this behaviour would be reported to the police. In response to a supplementary question, she confirmed that it is for the enforcement officer to decide whether to engage the police over the matter or not.

Cllr Tindall requested that his thanks be passed on in respect of actions taken on fly-tipping. He also requested that every effort is made to speed up these processes, as the neighbours of the previously mentioned property had to deal with vermin for 18 months. Cllr Banks promised to campaign to have that remedied, as she and the officers share those frustrations around the time taken to fix problems.

Councillor Anderson, Portfolio Holder for Planning & Infrastructure

Cllr Anderson presented a report on planning and infrastructure.

The Hemel Garden Communities project is making good progress.

The Hemel Place Strategy is off to a good start. The first board meeting took place on 4th November.

In terms of the South West Herts joint strategic plan, the 4 neighbouring district authorities are currently agreeing statements of common ground.

There has been an increased use of technology in planning departments, including 3D urban modelling software.

The article 4 direction for the protection of Hemel Hempstead town centre has been confirmed.

The economic recovery plan has been adopted by cabinet. Chris Taylor has been leading that project.

Planning permission has been granted for filming studios on Bovingdon Airfield.

Cllr Townsend requested an update on the path for pedestrians at St Caster’s (ph) House. Cllr Anderson stated that he requested an update but will follow up on it and get back to Cllr Townsend as soon as possible. Action.

Cllr Symington wished to know what constraints would be put in place on the planning application for the film studios on Bovingdon Airfield, so that Bovingdon is not blighted by HGVs driving through the village at night. Cllr Anderson agreed to look into that but pointed out that the residents will much prefer this use of the airfield to the previous one. Action.

There were several exchanges regarding consultations with the Gypsy and Traveller community. Cllr Allen asked why there had been no consultations with them regarding LA3, as was recommended in 2019 by the Gypsy and Traveller officer. Cllr Anderson remarked that these questions were getting tedious, and that he has let Cllr Allen know, in writing, that he is not prepared to answer this question. This led Cllr Tindall to raise a point of order, and state that his understanding was that Cllr Allen’s question was a separate question, relating to a position taken in 2019 after meeting. He asked Cllr Anderson to rethink this answer, as the Council should know if meetings have taken place. Cllr Anderson responded that those details had already been covered in emails. Cllr Tindall promised to go through said emails and will expect an apology at the next meeting from Cllr Anderson if answers are missing.

Cllr Beauchamp asked when the regeneration team’s report on managing filming in the Old Town and surrounding Hemel Hempstead areas would be complete. Cllr Anderson agreed to look into the matter.Action.

A Cllr questioned the ability of the Council to withstand planning appeals, as the whole local plan process appears to have been delayed. Cllr Anderson rejected this premise and said that the local plan process was merely paused whilst they did their homework. In terms of predatory planning applications, they will do the best they can. In response to a supplementary question about if appeals do go through, Cllr Anderson stated that this was not a question that should be posed by those who delayed the local plan process as much as possible.

Councillor Elliot, Portfolio Holder for Finance and Resources

Cllr Elliot presented a report on financial services.

The financial service will continue to work closely with budget holders to deliver to budget for this financial year.

In terms of implementation of the annual budget setting process to provide a balanced budget for the end of 2023, the next step is to present the Council’s draft strategy to joint scrutiny on the 1st December.

During November, Dacorum Borough Council was the only Council in Hertfordshire to have published the 2021 financial statements in line with statutory government timelines. The Council officers involved in achieving this should be congratulated.

The financial performances of the commercial portfolio have been strong in the first half of 2021/2022. The occupancy levels of the commercial portfolio remain high.

The revenue and benefits team continue to play an important role inproviding financial support to local residents and business affected by the pandemic. Successful applicants for the test and trace isolation support payment scheme are being paid within an average of 5 days, at present. The volume of applications is volatile.

The Council has £1.4 million of ARG grant to be allocated and is now in phase 3 of rolling this out.

Cllr Elliot ended the presentation by thanking James Deane for his support over the past 6 years.

Cllr Guest noted that some business units at the rear of Chaulden shops have been refurbished and questioned whether the Council is confident those units will be let, given the current state of the commercial market. Cllr Elliot stressed that the units are for start-ups and have a rental rate to match. Cllr Guest also asked if portfolio could provide occupancy rates for the Council’s current commercial assets. Cllr Elliot responded that they have an occupancy rate of 95% against a target of 95%, but that 25% of those are on payment plans due to the pandemic. Social responsibility must be balanced with commercial rent.

Cllr Douris sought an update on the most recent Council tax collection rates. Cllr Elliot replied that the latest quarterly figures, as of the end of September, display a collection rate of 56.1% against a target of 57%. This trend of good collection rates is set to continue, but the economy is still in recovery mode.

In response to Cllr Beauchamp’s question on how many voids there are in the Council’s commercial property estate, Cllr Elliot remarked that there are 609 properties in the portfolio, 30 of which are being refurbished. Of that 30, 6 are under offer, and 24 need substantial works. The team are looking at 11 maisonettes which would substantially reduce void lettings once furnished.

Councillor Griffiths, Portfolio Holder for Housing

Cllr Griffiths presented a report on housing.

The 3-year cycle of visiting every Council property has begun.

2 Afghan LES families have been settled, and a property for the third family has been identified.

This week there is a ‘tap and give’ devise to encourage residents to give responsibly to homeless people. This has been installed behind the information point in the Marlowes. The money is forwarded to DENS.

The continued implications of the pandemic are putting significant pressure on all work streams within Property and Place. Post Brexit material price increases and a shortage of EU labour is also significantly hindering the service. Alternative approaches are being explored.

Cllr Griffiths submitted a list of housing developments for the minutes. She also asked members to sponsor her Sleep Out on 26th November.

Cllr Birnie wished to know how many Afghan families the Council is currently housing, and if there is an intention to house others. Cllr Griffiths explained that they agreed to take on 3 Afghan families, and that there are no plans to increase that number.

Cllr Hollinghurst posited that there are difficulties in trying to improve insulation in occupied tenancies and requested an update on the ‘fabric first’ insulation policy. Cllr Griffiths pointed out that the ‘fabric first’ policy is for new builds, and that the challenge is retrofitting. The Council have been installing heat source pumps, but insulation has to be there also. Additionally, heat source pumps are more expensive to fit and to run. There is a balance to be struck.

Cllr Douris expressed his thanks on behalf of residents who have received new heat source pumps.

Cllr Taylor solicited more information on the shortage of European labour. Cllr Griffiths was unable to do so, as that information has been received from their supplier, Osborne. There are also issues with the supply of goods and the wood disputes between Canada and America.

Councillor Williams, Portfolio Holder for Corporate and Contracted Services

Cllr Williams presented 3 brief items under corporate and contracted services.

The Council are reaching the next stage of looking at the replacement of the Berkhamsted Leisure Centre, which is on the agenda for next week.

The operation to improve pedestrian access from the car park on Bridge Street to the town centre has been completed. 

Another sink hole in Nash Mills opened up. The contract to remediate that has now been done, and the company will commence works on site this week.

Cllr Harden made observations to Council that cars are doing right turns into the car park at the Water Gardens, causing a lot of braking, and that traffic coming out of the car park does not give advantage to pedestrians. Cllr Williams noted both of those points, but also stated that he is not sure if the right turn Cllr Harden described is actually an offence.

Cllr Maddern expressed delight that the work on the sinkhole at Highbarns had begun but requested that all residents are kept up to date with what’s going on, not just those who are right next to the hole. Cllr Williams was unsure of the benefit of this but agreed to discuss who Cllr Maddern thought the information should be distributed to. Action.

Cllr Symington requested an update on where the new 3G football pitches at the Berkhamsted Leisure Centre might be located. Cllr Williams asked the Council to wait until next week for an update on those discussions.