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                    Neighbourhood Services

Councillor Anderson               Place

Councillor Banks                     Communities

Councillor Elliot                       Corporate Services

Councillor Griffiths                  Housing Services

Councillor Williams                 Commercial Strategy and Delivery




4.1       By the Mayor:




4.2       By the Chief Executive:


Update given under item 1 - Minutes.


4.3       By the Group Leaders:


Cllr Williams gave apologies for Cllrs Durrant, Timmis, Silwal & Johnson


Cllr Tindall gave apologies for Cllrs Foster, Cllr Wilkie, Cllr Pringle, Cllr McDowell & Cllr Ransley


4.4       Council Leader and Members of the Cabinet:


Full details can be found in the full minutes.


4.1       By the Mayor:




4.2       By the Chief Executive:


Update given under item 1 - Minutes.


4.3       By the Group Leaders:


Cllr Williams gave apologies for Cllrs Durrant, Timmis, Silwal & Johnson


Cllr Tindall gave apologies for Cllrs Foster, Cllr Wilkie, Cllr Pringle, Cllr McDowell & Cllr Ransley


4.4       Council Leader and Members of the Cabinet:


The Leader advised he had nothing to update under this particular section of the agenda, but happy to take questions.


Cllr Symington: Thank you very much. I'd like to ask the Leader of the Council whether he agrees that the democratic process is severely limited if we invite members of the public to come and speak for three minutes and, in less than 50 seconds, we cut them off and ask them to read out a question that clearly is not a three minute question, because they wouldn't have submitted 450 words, a 450 word question to read out, at council?

Cllr Williams: No, I do not. The standing order of the process for public participation is that a person, or any person wishing to participate, submits their question and that question can be 30 seconds or up to three minutes, but when they attend they read that question. It doesn't come with an unprovided statement.

Cllr Symington: Inaudible (no Microphone)

Cllr Williams:I don't think the circumstances make any difference. They've got three minutes and they can submit whatever question they want to us in advance, as Mr Butler did, and then that question is read out. What you can't do is come forward with information or questions which you haven't previously submitted.

Cllr Hollinghurst – Inaudible (no Microphone)

Cllr Rogers: asked a question advising that it's about the number of staff who are actually attending in the forum. Over the past few months on my infrequent visits I've noticed that there are very few officers on site it would appear, clearly many continue to work from home, fully understandable under the circumstances, but now the rest of the world is getting back to normal and I'd like to know how many officers are actually coming into the office, coming into the forum, how many are actually, in percentage terms, how many are available for consultation, not only for residents but also for councillors, because on many, many occasions, I don't know if other councillors and members of the public have had the same level of service, I'd like to know the sort of red or amber and green traffic light systems that we're actually achieving in terms of being available. Many officers have actually turned their mobile phones off as well and made themselves unavailable, so we can't call them back, because they take on the privacy button on their mobiles. Sorry, I was little confused there, but it's just about the level of service that we're achieving from the number of officers who are in the building.

Cllr Williams: I thank Cllr Rogers for advanced notice of the question for me to gather the information. On average, over the last month or two, there are 88 members of staff present in the forum on the average working day. Staff are expected to attend the forum on two days per week, so I don't know if that percentage is but it would tell you that around 40% of their time would be here, but if someone is not available that doesn't mean to say that theyare not working, because there are quite a number of staff who would be based here, but who are out working as housing officers and building surveyors and things like that, who will be out and about. We are currently undertaking a customer service review along with our new ways of working, which will look at how much of this building needs to be used, or how much time staff need to spend here, and best use of technology. Some of the issues that you've raised in the second part of the question about non-availability and getting in contact with officers, it's disappointing to hear that you can't make that contact, you know, systems are in place for voicemail messages to be transferred to emails and people to pick them up. Generally I find that you're not always going to get someone at their desk when you ring them, but you should get a call back. If there are issues that are not being addressed there then they should be addressed to the Chief Executive to be dealt with, but also I expect how we deal with some of those communications issue in a new working environment to be dealt with through the customer service review, both to the benefit of customers and to the benefits of staff and members.

Councillor Griffiths, Portfolio Holder for Housing

The Portfolio Holder presented her update as follows:


Under Tenant and Leaseholder Services we've introduced an ultra-web for the housing income team and this has offered benefits to the team in providing efficiencies in the collection of rent arrears. The current rent arrears are below the level at this time last year. We've upgraded the community alarm systems, which have been completed in two supported housing schemes.


Under strategic housing, the implementation of the new Housing Allocations Policy, alongside full system updates and data cleansing has now been completed. Successful handover taken an allocation of the new-build homes in Coniston Road in Kings Langley. The fifth Afghan household has been resettled into a private sector property in line with the ACRS resettlement scheme. A successful warrant enforced with the police of a privately owned home due to regulatory breach, and this was the unlawful occupation of an outbuilding. Further enforcement action is also being taken against the same homeowner due to an illegal eviction. 181 households currently occupy temporary accommodation. The service is starting to see an increase in the presentations from households concerned regarding affordability and is working closely with partners in relation to developing a cost of living symposium.


Under property in place, a new compliance dashboard for monitoring all six compliance areas is being developed under the home standard. We're developing a reporting template to encapsulate performance and exception narrative for consideration by SLT each month. We're engaging with the sector recognised compliance experts called Manifest Consulting to review compliance and act as a critical friend as we continue to improve. There's a continued focus on complaints as a result of repairs.


The focus on void performance to improve key to key and reduced rent loss. We're engaging with government funded services, foundations, to review DFG processes from initial contact through to completion and we're starting the journey to produce a whole organisation asset management strategy that will consider key themes, such as stock performance, both financial and non-financial, impact of social housing on climate agenda, data verification and the maturity of the stock-, and maturity, which is the stock conditions survey. As the new-build is no longer part of my portfolio there will be no request from me to add it to the minutes. Thank you, Mr Mayor. Happy to take any questions.


Cllr Barry-Mears: I was just wondering, on the tenants and leaseholders say on the maintenance services, when will we  be getting the results from that or if there's been any going on at the minute, details of the people that have been invited to them?


Cllr Griffiths: I assume you're referring to what we're going to do with the new contract when the Osborne one runs out, that's what you're referring to? There's a whole load of consultation going on, including with us as members. We haven't had our first meeting yet, but I think to date there have been three, might even be four by today, and they will be going on through the summer as well. They will all form part of the feedback that will come back to us as members on that working group, but also to scrutiny as part of the whole package of what we're going to do and where we're going to go forward. There are no preconditions to this, it's literally the blank sheet of paper, what people want from it and then what will the market deliver.


Cllr Symington: thank you very much. I've had an email from one of the lead people of the Berkhamsted Parish team expressing thanks, deep thanks, for the fact that the council has been able to move ahead and house a fifth family. My question is, thank you very much Mr Mayor for letting me say something before asking a question, especially as it is a particular thanks to the council, my question is, it obviously took a question to Full Council, it's taken a number of emails and, apparently, it's taken nearly a whole year in total for that house to be delivered to the family, so two parts to this question, firstly are we able to speed up that process for future? Secondly, which I suppose is contingent on the second question, which I should have asked first, is it possible and will the council be looking at housing other families that still are local to us in Dacorum? If you take the second one first, that will probably be best.


Cllr Griffiths: I'll try and take them altogether. I think we need to know where we are. We are trying to square a circle. As I've just said we have 181 people in temporary accommodation at the moment. We have found housing for ten families from Syria. We have now, with the aid of the Berkhamsted, we have been able to enable five Afghan families. So far, I don't think we've had any Hong Kong families present to us, but that is a possibility as well and, of course, we have the Ukrainian issue. I think members ought to be aware that we are getting people presenting as homeless because of family breakdowns, or it not working out for the British families that have taken onboard the Ukrainian families. I'm not sure what's going to happen in six months’ time when that payment stops. So, what I'm trying to say is, we have a lot of pressure on our housing and it's balancing that whole, us being a good council, caring about other nationalities and nations and what they're going through, but we also need to care about our own, and so I don't make any apology for the fact that we reviewed this in line with everything else that's going on. We also have to think of our staff who are dealing with all these issues day in, day out, so we have a care of duty to them also. So, no I make no apologies for the fact it has taken a year and I can't make any confirmed commitment that we'll be able to take any more, because of the reasons I've just stated. Obviously, if we're legally instructed by the government to do so, we will not break the law, we will do it, but I think we've done our fair share at the moment.


Cllr Hollinghurst: Thank you very much indeed. We've had a salutary lesson I think over the last few days about the way in which climate change can wreak severe damage upon our environment and our social structure. Photovoltaic cells are the quick fix, and I'm very grateful indeed to be able to give my appreciation to the portfolio holder for the progress which is being made in attaching photovoltaic cells to the roofs of some of the council's buildings. Will she accept my appreciation for that?


Cllr Griffiths: I'm very happy to accept his thanks for that, and we obviously do what we can, not only on the council buildings, but on the homes of our council tenants as well, and flats, and all new-builds have them on.


Cllr Hollinghurst: And my gracious supplementary question is, having made a good start, can the portfolio holder assure us that she will make every effort to increase the number of photovoltaic cells, bearing in mind that this is, in climate change terms, a quick fix and can produce quick results?


Cllr Griffiths:The last point on my report was starting the journey to produce a whole organisation asset management strategy that will consider key themes, such as stock performance, both financial and non-financial, i.e. anything to do with anything that makes our homes safer, more energy efficient, warmer or cooler, etc.



Councillor Barrett, Portfolio Holder for Environmental Services

The Portfolio Holder presented his update as follows:


Under environmental projects the team have been filming drain footage in several parts across the borough, with three short films being made for Love Parks Week splash park promotion and parks and open spaces promotions. The film will be posted on the DBC website, YouTube and social media. We have created the new zero waste map on the borough website, showing locations of recycling points, refill shops, repair cafes, community fridges, etc. To celebrate Biodiversity Day the Dacorum climate change network gave away thousands of packets of bee friendly wildflower seeds to residents and local schools, and to tie in with our Biodiversity Day celebrations we've ran a primary school competition to win a large insect hotel complete with planters, compost, flowers and wild seeds. The team subsequently spent an afternoon with the winning school helping them to assemble the hotel and helping them with the planting. We're organising a clothes swap in conjunction with Open Door at Berkhamsted Civic Centre, which will take place in September. We launched refill and go trails on World Refill Day, residents can download the free app and follow the trails. Every time they refill in a business they can get a free entry-, they get free entry into a competition to win a variety of reusable items. Trees and woodlands, we have held meetings with friends groups at Bunkers Park and Chipperfield Common. We have met habitat consultants at Bundale and Bunkers Park prior to the commissioning surveys at each location. We have participated in discussions together with the strategic planning and housing developers about delivering biodiversity net gain on new housing developments.


Clean safe green, we continue to have several vacancies, however I can confirm that the number is reducing. Third cut grass cutting has commenced and fourth cuts are commencing on priority routes. A new grab lorry has been delivered, which has increased the efficiency of fly tip collections and thereby will produce an overall cost saving. All summer bedding plants have been planted. The first batch of road nameplates have been ordered, however installation has been delayed due to contractor availability. The Jubilee event was a big challenge, however the team worked hard over the whole of the Jubilee period to ensure clearance of the large quantity of extra litter that was generated. We've been meeting with the Football Association to explore additional funding for maintenance of sports pitches and digital pitch assessments. We collected 352 fly tips over this last quarter. Under waste services we successfully covered all collections over the Jubilee bank holiday period, working with no disruptions to our service. We have carried out electric inspections at Cupid Green over a period of three weekends. The outgoing tonnages of waste for the quarter were 3,843 tonnes of co-mingled recycling, 3.518 tonnes of garden waste and 1,220 tonnes of food waste. Again, during the period, we have a total of 449 bulky items service requests and 1,237 sharps box collection requests. Under parks and open spaces, works have been completed at the (inaudible 29.46) at Leverstock Green. The Canal Fields playground improvements are scheduled to be completed by this Friday. Final works of laying the safety surface were delayed due to the climatic conditions, however this is taking place over the next two days. (TC 00:30:00) The opening is subject to final sign-off by ROSPA, which will hopefully take place this Friday, so hopefully it can be open the following Monday. All planting, wildflower, turf laying, benches and other works in the area around the (inaudible 30.13) tree was successfully completed on schedule for the ceremony on the 16th July. Work to improve part of the playground at Bovingdon Memorial Hall has commenced in partnership with Bovingdon Parish Council. We're working on the first stages of a major project to improve facilities at Coronation Fields. That's all, thank you. I'm happy to take any questions.


Cllr England asked: Does the portfolio holder join in me acknowledging the great and largely successful efforts of clean, safe and green to overcome staff shortages and deliver over the Jubilee period and the early start to this week, Monday and Tuesday? These labour shortages caused by the government's disastrous and undercooked Brexit deal, which has left districts and boroughs compensating for a distinct lack of free movement of labour, particularly for drivers in the last year or so since Boris Johnson's surely ironic Freedom Day, which was a year ago today. Does the portfolio holder acknowledge that mis-collections are now gradually increasing, especially where there has been a loss of expertise on the routes due to staff turnover?


Cllr Barratt responded: Thank you, Cllr England. Yes, I am quite happy to join with you in congratulating the clean, safe, green staff for the excellent job that they do and did do over the Jubilee weekend. As far as any increase in mis-collections are concerned, I'm not aware of the numbers, but I can check that and get back to you with a number to confirm whether they have or not increased, but I'm not aware that they have increased.


Action: Cllr Barratt to provide numbers and confirm whether or not this is an increase.


Cllr England asked a supplementary question: As we heard that drivers have been diverted from other duties in order to keep the show on the road, what effect has this had on, for example, grass cutting or other driving jobs that would normally be done and what is the portfolio holders plan to resource and recruit those duties?


Cllr Barratt replied: I don't think the shortage of drivers on waste collection has had any effect on grass cutting, because the skills are different. We are continuing and we will continue to endeavour to recruit more drivers, that's an ongoing campaign and, as I'm sure the council will recognise, that's a difficulty suffered by all organisations, whether they be public bodies or commercial organisations.


Cllr Banks: I've recently spent some time over in Essex in the Epping district looking after my parents and one of the first questions I asked was around dustbin collection. I was advised by my family that maybe Wednesday, Thursday or Friday, but put all the dustbins out, because they've got no idea which ones would be collected. Would the portfolio holder please congratulate Cupid Green on their outstanding work in maintaining services across Dacorum.


Cllr Barratt: Absolutely. I'm delighted to hear Cllr Banks' comments and I'm delighted to be able to congratulate the staff at Cupid Green. They do an excellent job, they've done an excellent job for a number of years. I can't think of any time when the service has fallen down during the whole of the COVID period and beyond. So, I think we've got an excellent staff there and I think we should all commend the work that they do.


Cllr Symington: Thank you, Cllr Barrett, for your report. I also would like to add my thanks, which I've received from the residents of Berkhamsted West, who particularly mentioned over the Jubilee weekend the care that the clean, safe and green team took when they had all their bunting up, so a big thank you for that. My question is, it relates to the cleaning of the A41. I believe it was mentioned at a scrutiny committee which I don't attend, but I can see the minutes, that the A41 was deep cleaned ahead of mowing. What it doesn't say is, what is the coordination between Dacorum Borough Council and Herts County Council around those two activities? Did they take place simultaneously and with the same road, you know, obviously not closure, but restrictions, or were they done on different days? Thank you.


Cllr Barratt: Yes, I can confirm that CSG always liaise with Herts County Council in respect to litter collection on the A41 and always endeavour to coordinate the litter collection with the grass cutting, or any works that Herts Highways carry out. As far as I'm aware, on the last litter collection, that was done at the same time as Herts had their road closures and that does produce an enormous cost saving to the borough in coordinating the work at the same time



Councillor Williams, Portfolio Holder for Corporate and Contracted Services

The Portfolio Holder presented his update as follows:


Thank you, Mr Mayor. Just a few items under corporate strategy, commercial strategy. I'd like to report an improved performance from our leisure services with increased income against the expectation when we set the budget a few months ago. There are still risks to achieve pre-COVID income targets, but there is increasing use of facilities. The outdoor pools are now open for the school holiday period, as a result of a significant effort by EA (Everyone Active) to secure necessary chlorine stocks. As members may be aware, the opening of the outdoor pool was delayed because there is a national shortage of chlorine, and the one outdoor pool at Hemel uses more chlorine than the rest of the pools in Hemel combined, and therefore it was decided to prioritise, because it's outdoors it goes through the chlorine much quicker I'm led to believe. Significant progress has been made towards the installation of EV charging points across council owned car parks. Final negotiations, which I'm sure members will be pleased to hear, are taking place during July on the terms and conditions and heads of terms with Connected Kerb and Osprey for a range of provisions and DNA surveys have been largely undertaken with a few sites remaining outstanding. Detailed proposals will return to cabinet over the autumn months as the AA results are analysed and the feasibility of installation has been completed. The garage team has been recruited to now and has a full-time commercial manager to implement the strategy agreed by cabinet earlier in the year. A detailed stock condition survey will be procured in the next few weeks to provide the data for detailed service and stock planning. Happy to take questions, Mr Mayor.


Cllr Douris:Would the portfolio holder agree and join with me in congratulating our parking services team who have recently won the Patrol Parking and Traffic Regulations outside London Pacer Awards for the Best Customer Service for their parking services within Dacorum, and I think it's a credit to them and a credit to Dacorum that, from all the counties and boroughs in the country, we've come out number one.


Cllr Williams: Yes, I'm very happy to add congratulations. I'm delighted to hear they've won an award. It's not very often that parking services, and particularly CEOs, get praise. Normally it's a lot more criticism than it is praise, so I'm absolutely delighted that they've been recognised for the work that they do.


Cllr Symington:I wanted to ask a slightly maybe left ball question, curve ball even, I'm not a cricketer. So, you have a commercial strategy, excellent. In terms of things that might feed into it, a number of residents I have in my ward have asked if they can have white H lines either refreshed or painted outside their houses. Now, I know this is something that the Council has a policy, not necessarily an obvious policy, on, but generally the answer to new ones is no and even refreshing seems to be randomly applied. My question is, is it possible, given that this is what residents want, and they understand that these lines are unenforceable, for you to offer this service on a commercial service, i.e. that you can recoup the costs of doing it, given that the lorries are out there painting lines anyway?


Cllr Williams: I'm not going to commit to a yes or no on that, although I have to say that commercial means that you make a profit not just recoup your cost. If you're recouping your cost there's no point in providing the service. My understanding is that, clearly, the operations that we carry out on the highway in relation to parking enforcement, yellow lines, traffic regulation orders, are done under the guise of our agreement with Hertfordshire County Council, who are the highway authority. My understanding, when I've enquired about H lines in the last couple of years, is that the county council don't encourage them, in fact they don't support them anymore and that they won't put new ones in and they won't replace old ones. They're not enforceable and there's no reason to put them in. So, I'm happy to go back and check what the position is from our parking service, but we have to operate the rules that we apply under the rules of the county council on whom's highway we're operating.


Cllr Symington: Thank you. I hear what you say about Herts County Council and I understand that, in terms of the profit that you would be making, obviously that depends how you portion costs, so you could run it under a commercial project if you portioned your costs in a certain way, and therefore you could make it look more profitable than it is if you do that. So, is it possible for you to portion costs so that this is a profitable activity and therefore would meet your criteria for a commercial activity?


Cllr Williams: Yes, I'm not quite sure if I'm interpreting your question in the way in which it was asked, because what it seems to imply is you can massage the figures to make a profit look like you want it to look like, and I'm not sure that's the way in which I would want to operate. There is a set cost, there is a cost of a contractor going out and painting the line, the invoices for that, and that is a fixed cost which you can exactly understand, because if they tell you it cost £100 it's £100, and then there is your officer time in booking and processing that, and that is a bit more difficult to price out. Clearly those are incidental to the fact of whether you're allowed to do it in the first place, because if you're not allowed to do it in the first place how it's done and the cost of doing it is irrelevant. So, going back to my first answer, the first thing to do is to ascertain exactly what the county council policy is in relation to these markings.


Cllr Allen: You mention the EV chargers in borough car parks, which we of course welcome. I was wondering if you could share which of the five car parks are proposed to be going forward, if I understood your report properly that is?


Cllr Williams: Clearly not quite, Cllr Allen, because I didn't mention five car parks. The list that the operations are assessing is much more significant than five, it's all of our pay and display car parks, it's some of the neighbourhood centres, but in the end it will come back to their assessment of the commercial viability of installing in those particular centres. So, at this stage we don't know exactly which ones it will be, but the number being considered is far in excess of five.


Cllr Allen: Apologies, I misheard.


Cllr England: Does the portfolio holder agree with me that car ownership and use is putting yet more pressure on finite parking across the borough, and can he say how much the enforcement demand increases per year approximately?


Cllr Williams: Our contract is that we provide a number, a fixed number, of enforcement hours per week, per month, per year through our contract with our enforcement contractor, and therefore that valuable resources is spread around enforcing the contracts. Parking is finite, but in many areas of the borough it's not subject to traffic regulation orders or controls and therefore there is no patrolling or enforcement in those areas. We can't enforce in residential areas by and large, and it's often a misconception that we can enforce against pavement parking, which outside London is not an offence unless you're completely obstructing the pavement, and then that can only be enforced by the police. The time when pressure on our parking enforcement does increase is when we introduce new CPZs, because they are more intensive in terms of being enforced and we have far more of those than we used to have, so there is a pressure there to patrol those, but by and large we have a fixed resource and that is deployed as most appropriate by the service and by the management. So, the invaluable resource is constant.


Cllr England: Thank you. Okay, so how does the parking contract-, I mean, how often is it reviewed? How often is the amount of resource needed reviewed?


Cllr Williams: The contract is a heritage contract, I think it's around five years with a period to run. We can review that-, I mean, with the contractor we can review that at any time, but clearly if we want more enforcement then there is more cost and we have to balance off the cost against the amount of resource we want to make available. You could have more officers on the street, but I'm not aware that the service gets lots of request for additional enforcement, and where we do get request to enforce against particular problem areas then we do so, but we're not currently looking at increasing the resource in terms of hours of patrol.


Cllr Hollinghurst: Thank you very much indeed. I was very pleased indeed to hear about the negotiation with Osprey for new EV parking charging points and they're probably going to be the 7.4 kilowatt ones which we've already got in car parks here and there across the borough. Extending this to community centres will be very good indeed. My question is this, in addition to the 7.4 kilowatt chargers, we do need I think at least 100 kilowatt rapid chargers in four key locations and at least two in each, near junction eight coming off the M1, of course, and Maylands Industrial Estate, Bourne End A41 Services and on the Tring Industrial Estate. These are essential for the establishment of regular EV use, because if you're going on a journey, a long journey, you do need to charge up rapidly. Those would be four areas which would be most useful to long-term travellers. In addition.


Mayor: Thank you very much, but we have run out of time.


Cllr Hollinghurst: Can you please, portfolio holder, can you please assure me that these rapid chargers are being considered as part of the Osprey contract?


Cllr Williams: The reason the contract is split between two providers is, one is providing the smaller chargers and Osprey will provide the larger, more powerful chargers, but to disappoint him, they will only be provided in locations where Dacorum Borough Council owns the land and that's certainly not any of the four sites that he listed, although I am aware that Shell are introducing EV charging at their site at Breakspear Way.


Councillor Banks, Portfolio Holder for Community and Regulatory Services

The Portfolio Holder presented her update as follows:


Thank you, Mr Mayor, turning first to environment and community protection. I am pleased to report that the air quality steering group, suspended through the pandemic, met in late June. We are refreshing our terms of reference with objectives being to monitor our air quality action plan and to look at ways to improve air quality with a focus on our three air quality management areas. As a reminder, My Mayor, the air quality management areas are parts of Lawn Lane,London Road Apsley, and the High Street in Northchurch. A further update will go to the overview and scrutiny later this year. Fly tipping prosecutions, a review of covert camera footage captured image of two occupants of a vehicle disposing of assorted wooden items. We have successfully prosecuted this fly tipper who assisted his uncle to dump rubbish in Coals Lane in Flamstead, perhaps this will be the warning that people have been waiting for. My Mayor, we take a zero tolerance view on fly tipping and we will pursue these serious offences that blight our communities through the use of either the fixed penalty notices where appropriate, or through prosecution where it is necessary.


Mr Mayor, turning to community. To ensure the community safety team partnership take an intelligence led approach to tackling the crime and disorder that is most effecting residents' businesses and visitors to Dacorum and to protect the most vulnerable in our communities, we are developing a comprehensive strategic assessment of crime and disorder here in Dacorum and we will inform-, and this will inform our strategy and partnership plan over the next coming years. Tackling domestic abuse remains a high priority, ensuring that victims of domestic abuse can access the services and support they need.


We also will be looking at how we can work with our partners at Herts County Council to see if we can develop effective preventative programmes and activities for those that cause harm in order for them to change their behaviours. I am pleased to report work is under way with Community Action Dacorum, working with the voluntary sector to see what can be done to support residents in coping with the current cost of living crisis. Officers are looking at two dates for a conference in September and a follow-up in October. Both these will be anchored around the Housing and Communities Overview and Scrutiny for feedback. This intelligence gathering exercise will pull together a comprehensive information base for organisations providing support and assistance to our residents, and finally, Mr. Mayor, Dacorum has been allocated just over 1.7 million as up to March 2025 from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund which succeeds the old EU Structural Funds and supports local business, people and skills, and communities and place. A partnership group has been established to oversee the development and implementation of this investment plan looking at delivering various projects and programs that will support our residents and business. A webinar was held on the 29th June for partner organisations to share information about the SPF fund, it's opportunities and processes. I'm pleased to report that 23 organisations were represented and 61 expressions of interest have been received of people looking for more information to contribute towards our delivery. Mr. Mayor, I'm happy to take questions.


Cllr Guest: Does the portfolio holder believe that it is a good idea that district enforcement do not give a heads up as to exactly where they're going to be patrolling so that those who are going to drop litter or not clear after their dogs are not displaced to somewhere else?


Cllr Banks: Cllr Guest, absolutely. The pilot that we are currently running around the PSPOs looks to ensure the district enforcement is at all our wards, villages and towns, and, indeed, it would be giving the game away if the publicly announced where they would be attending. Thank you.


Cllr England: Just to quickly comment, is it not obvious from the-, no that's my question. I'll stick to my question. Does the portfolio have any indicative figures on air quality, up or down, on the levels of pollution in the worst areas?


Cllr Banks: Thank you, Cllr England. At the moment, I believe, we're still waiting for them to be ratified from DEFRA, but I can advise members that Northchurch air quality levels are now significantly reduced and if it hadn't have been for the Covid pandemic, where, obviously, transport was reduced, and so, every area had shown an improvement, that would most likely have been removed from the air quality management list.


Cllr England: Can theportfolio holder comment on the general level of air quality across Dacorum, which I understand actually is a lot higher than the public might think it is? Is it as good as it could be?


Cllr Banks: I don't have figures to hand to justify the position and I'm not quite sure that we actually collect data widely across Dacorum. I think we've had a period throughout Covid where with people staying at home the air quality has significantly improved and we are making tirelessly to ensure that we remain a clean, green environment.


Cllr Freedman: My question is also on district enforcement, but if you will indulge me, the tone of your voice when you just made the response on Northchurch's air quality decreasing, did you mean to say that the pollution is decreasing. Or did you mean to say that the air quality was decreasing.

Cllr Banks: Thank you very much for the point of clarification. Absolutely, the air quality is improving significantly.

Cllr Freedman: Okay, thanks. So, with regards to district enforcement, is it correct that the amount on-the-spot fines have increased to £100 or are there reports of people receiving £100, more people masquerading as officers?

Cllr Banks: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. There are no on-the-spot fines issued by district enforcement and the fine remains at £80. I have not had any cases brought to my attention so would appreciate if, outside this meeting, you could update me.

Cllr Freedman: Happy to do that. I'm just finding them on social media.

Cllr Barry-Mears: Mine's also a question about the district enforcements and the officers and the fines. I was just wondering if there was any data available, sort of, on the ages of people who are being given fines the most, what for as, I'm going to reference social media, it seems it's a lot of young people almost being targeted because they may have dropped something. They're not being given an option to pick it up. I know they shouldn't be dropping things, but there was a case, I'm sure we all saw it the other day, someone spat a fly out of their mouth and they got a fine. So, I'm just wondering if there's, sort of, any data on ages and things like that?

Cllr Banks: As part of the review of the pilot, I'm sure that is something that will be looked at. The information that I do have to hand that there were three fixed penalty notices issued to young people that were found to be inappropriate because of their age and they will be withdrawn.

Cllr Adeleke: First of all my apology for not advising in advance of this question. Of late, there has been a spate of thirteen-year-olds missing in Dacorum. I think in the last four months, we've had about eleven thirteen-year-olds gone missing and the police have come up with this explanation of, 'Missing and found,' but not with an explanation. Will the portfolio holder, on behalf of the council, perhaps approach the police department here to let us know exactly what is going on, whether this is a serious, sort of, outside influence and what they are doing in particular to keep our youngsters safe in the borough? Secondly, would it be appropriate for the portfolio holder to, perhaps, get the chief of police to come and give a presentation at the council?

Cllr Banks: Thank you for your question. I would like to congratulate the police on the first instance in their rapid use of social media to alert residents across, not only the Borough of Hertfordshire, but also nationally of missing young people because, obviously, it's very alarming for the family and friends of those individuals. Having had a quick look at the Dacorum Police Twitter, I'm able to assure you that the young person you've referred to has been returned safely home. It does seem as if there has been an increase. I'm sure that the community safety teams that liaise with police, every day, every morning it's the first thing that they do, would alert us if there was a particular upward trend that we needed to be worrying about, but I'm happy to take that up and ensure that that's the case. Thank you.

Cllr Adeleke: The portfolio holder did not answer the second part of the question which that is, inviting the police chief here to explain to us exactly what they are doing.

Cllr Banks: My apologies. As I sat down, I remembered your second question. I do apologise. I think it may well be appropriate that it came through to scrutiny committees, but I'll take advice from officers on that one. Thank you.

Cllr Wyatt-Lowe: Cllr Banks, I wonder, can you let us know whether we have any idea yet about how well the district enforcement measures are being accepted by local residents? Feedback in my ward is very good and I just wonder whether that's been reflected across the rest of Dacorum?

Cllr Banks: It'd depend upon your source. Certainly, I know that it's welcomed by police and I've had feedback from the park supervisor and the open space maintenance men, that they have found a huge improvement in both lack of dog fouling and lack of litter, enabling them to get on with their job in hand. The feedback I've had from residents is very similar in my ward, and, indeed, it has been an interesting debate through social media and although there has been some initial shock-wave, I do think most of the comment now is in support and I welcome residents' feedback. Thank you.

Cllr England: I'm quoting SPAE figures. Is the fact that 88% of litter fines are in Marlowes not itself in an advertisement of where the substantive patrols are going to be? It's a matter of record that atleast five wards have seen no fines at all. How is this disguising the location of the patrols?

Cllr Banks: I'm so sorry, Mr. Mayor, I lost the very last part of that question.

Cllr Banks: that information, although, obviously, members of the public have access to minutes, isn't generally shared and you are absolutely right. There are a number of prosecutions from the Marlowes, but that is our biggest meeting point across Dacorum.

Councillor Anderson, Portfolio Holder for Planning & Infrastructure

The Portfolio Holder presented his update as follows:


On the Chiltern Beechwoods moratorium, good progress has been made on the three elements of the mitigation, especially the work the National Trust needs to do at its own estate at Ashridge. The council, meanwhile, is working to identify the sites which we need to upgrade to draw people away from Ashridge and re those sites working on existing usage surveys and future capacity plannings so that we can actually achieve that. We're optimistic that we can partially lift the moratorium in the coming months, starting with the parts furthest from Ashridge, such has Hemel Hempstead.


The Two Waters Opportunity Area consultation pilot, despite technical difficulties in having to extend the consultation period, it went well, attracting 1,000 contributions, which is more than we would have received with previous traditional forms of consultation. It was one of the three digital pilots undertaken for the Government. We've learned much from the consultation, never mind the feedback received as well. The Cabinet has approved the Paradise Site Design Code Scheme which will be put out to consultation shortly.


Hemel Place on Friday the 8th July, the council successfully launched the Hemel Place Story to take forward our efforts to promote the town and it was attended by 80 key stakeholders. I hope members have seen some of the branding that's on some of the lampposts around the town and a website has been set up called, and this was all put in place for the Queen's Baton Relay, for The Commonwealth Games.


In May, the independent chairman of the Hemel Place Board, Andrew Percival, and at team of our senior officers attended the UKREiiF business exposition in Leeds and made 50 new contacts. Hemel Gardens Communities, work is continuing on the overarching framework plan and as we move onto the next stages we're looking at involving more of the local members involved.


The South West Herts Joint Strategic Plan, the Vision and Regulation Consultation has been agreed by all six councils involved and going out to consultation in September.


Under commercial assets, for those of you missing Cllr Elliott's regular slot, performance of commercial assets is strong, with occupancy above 95% and income 3% above budget. The team are working to obtain drainage licence from the environment for the Poppy fields Cemetery and I'm pleased to report the restoration and repair of Boxmoor War Memorial has been completed.


Under housing development, previously in Cllr Griffiths' portfolio has mentioned the Coniston Road Scheme in Kings Langley has recently been completed. Eastwick row, there's a major scheme that started in February and is progressing well and there are no less than 14 other major projects at various stages of development, and I can't believe I've done that in 3 minutes and 20 seconds. That's got to be a record. I'm happy to take questions.


Cllr Elliot: Would the portfolio holder agree with me that the renovation of the war memorial is a fantastic job and a fitting tribute to the people who served this country in all conflicts, and I'd like to pass on my congratulations to the estates team for arranging it.


Cllr Anderson: Absolutely and here, here.


Cllr England: Can the portfolio holder give an indication of the location of the sites where Hemel residents will be expected to go instead of Ashridge?


Cllr Anderson: Not as yet, but that will be provided when it's available.


Cllr England: And, will he be putting his name to the campaign to promote these sites ahead of when the moratorium would be relaxed?


Cllr Anderson: I didn't know there was a campaign. Sorry, I'm not sure I quite understand the question or the motive for it.


Cllr England: Point of order, Mr. Mayor. Was that an answer to my question?


Mayor: Would you care to repeat it? Was it you couldn't hear it or understand it?


Cllr England: I didn't see how the answer related to my question at all.


Mayor: I think that we can probably take it as an answer, thank you.


Cllr Symington: Cllr Anderson. I wonder if you could just clarify a couple of things you said. I think you said, well, I wrote down that you said that you were making good progress towards lifting the moratorium and negotiating with the National Trust. Could you define what good progress means in that context, and also link it to, you said, yes, so following on from that you said that, 'In the coming months,' so not so long ago, the coming months was meant to be September. Are we still on target for September, which is two months away, or has it slipped and will it be later in the autumn?


Cllr Anderson: At this stage, I can't really put a precise deadline on it. You know, the work that's ongoing is, as I mentioned, we have assurances The National Trust are working on improving their estate to resolve their side of the bargain and we're working on ours. I can't say that the whole thing's going to be done by the 15th September. I don't think anybody could do that, but I can assure members that progress is being made.


Cllr Douris: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. Cllr Elliott has reminded me of the war memorial and that prompts me to ask Cllr Anderson if he would join with me in welcoming the fact that Dacorum Borough Council has now re-signed the Armed Forces Covenant for the next ten years, having signed it ten year ago, and it's quite appropriate that it should be renewed to recognise the work that we do to support our armed services personnel.


Cllr Anderson: Absolutely, Mayor.


Cllr Allen: You mentioned the Two Waters consultation and that lessons had been learnt. I was wondering if you could elaborate on that, what sort of improvements will come from this trial in future?


Cllr Anderson:  I think one of the interesting things about the consultation was that we actually made it too easy for people to comment to the point where people were firing off comments which weren't actually placed on the map relevant to what they were talking about and we need to, how can I put this, control contributions, so that when people are commenting on a specific location, it's actually at that location on the map. Unfortunately, because it was, sort of free-form, it's going to make the collation quite a significant job, but that's one example of how the consultation, in future, can be improved. I mean, it was excellent. I took part in myself and the way you could click on any location in the area and say what you thought about it, whether you liked it, whether you disliked it, how you'd like to see it improved, all those issues. What were the important issues, for example, where was it difficult to ride a bike, in terms of trying to get more sustainable transport usage, right through to people commenting on certain-, I won't say which building, but certain buildings being hideously ugly, you know, could be re-developed as a really good opportunity for the future. So, I think it was a really good exercise. It just needs a little bit more fine tuning and I'm just really pleased that Dacorum's in the vanguard of piloting it.


Cllr Allen: Yes, I'll try and make it a question. So, I wonder whether part of the difficulty that I understand that residents had was the connectivity and had a lot of comments that suggested that it was easier to use if you used a PC rather than a telephone, and that might explain why some people got the tags in the wrong place.


Cllr Anderson: Yes, and there were also other technical issues early on and that was the reason why we extended the consultation for a much longer period than originally planned.


Councillor Elliot, Portfolio Holder for Finance and Resources

The Portfolio Holder presented his update as follows:


In finance, the revenue and benefits team continue to support our residents in the delivery of financial support schemes. Over 43,600 payments of £150 have now been paid as the energy bills rebate for residents living in council tax bands A to D. Approximately 30,000 of these have been made directly into residents' bank accounts with the remainder paid as credits against council tax accounts. This means that in total, we have now paid over £6.5 million of financial support for residents. In addition, Dacorum has been allocated £289,350 to provide additional support to residents through our local energy rebate scheme which will support the most vulnerable residents with further financial support. The final arrangements for the scheme are currently being agreed through portfolio holder decisions. Applications are now being received from local businesses for reductions in business rates under the Covid-19 Additional Relief Fund. This scheme will support businesses which were affected by the pandemic but were not eligible for retail, hospitality and leisure relief. Information about how to apply for this is on the council's website. The financial services team has recently published the council draft accounts for 2022-2023, in advance of a statutory publication deadline. The external audit process is now underway, expected to conclude during September. The team has undertaken significant development work on the council's medium-term financial strategy which'll be brought before members in the autumn.


The service continues to ensure that council staff and suppliers are paid accurately on time. Collection of income due to the council is an ongoing priority and is carried out with due consideration to the current cost of living pressures.


Our legal and democratic services team ensured that through the hard work of the licencing team, recent events in Gadebridge Park were able to proceed efficiently. Now, I'd like to mention that Farida Hussain, our head of legal services, will be leaving the council in a few weeks time to take up a new role as a monitoring officer. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Farida for her service with Dacorum and wish her well in her new role.


Now, moving onto people and transformation, it's been a busy few months. Our new permanent strategic director, Aidan Wilkie, started at the beginning of June. He's a fellow Scotsman, although he's a St. Johnstone supporter so we might not get on too well, but we'll try. The council's transformation work progresses at pace. Work has been ongoing to develop new digital, people and communication strategies, which members will see shortly. These are augmented by clear delivery programs. In the background, officers have also been developing our capability and ways of working to ensure that our transformation objectives are realised and our corporate plan is delivered.


It has been a very busy time for the communications function. They have been hugely involved in a popular series of summer events, including The Queen's Platinum Jubilee celebrations, Armed Forces Day and The Commonwealth Baton Relay and Wellness Festival. In addition, we have launched our residents' survey to gain valuable feedback on our services and plans for the borough and also produced and circulated Decorum Life Magazine, delivered to over 65,000 homes in May.


As well as promoting the summer events, the team has focused on publicising fly-tipping and environmental enforcement prosecutions, the opening of Northridge Way basketball court refurbishment, the start of work on Canal Fields Playground and Tring's great skatepark. Changes to regulation 10 parking tickets and changes to housing allocation points system.


From a technology perspective, we have now completed the AV enhancements in the forum. This has seen installation of technology supporting hybrid team meetings in all meeting rooms as well as provision of a large touch screen monitors so that users can collaborate on and export digital white boards. In the conference room, we have installed ceiling microphones so that hybrid meetings can be held without fixed microphones needing to be laid out in advance. Finally, we have upgraded The Orchard Housing Management System to the latest version. Development of an exciting new digital strategy and successful recruitment to the service desk which should see further improvements in performance.


Thank you very much, Mr. Mayor, and I've just made it and I welcome any questions.


Cllr Adeleke: Just a very short question for the portfolio holder. In your presentation you mentioned that you've got some extra fund for people who are not entitled to the core fund that was distributed out for the Covid Relief Fund. How are these people being advised that they're entitled to the funds?


Cllr Elliot: Okay, thank you very much. We have about £3.8 million available and these are our businesses that haven't been able to qualify through the previous grants. So, it's only businesses that have not received any grants from us in the past. We have identified 700 businesses that may be eligible. As I speak, we've had around 130 applications, so it's a case of just assessing them, going through them, but we will endeavour, as best as we can, to get that cash out to businesses that have not had help previously so that we can get this borough back on it's-, business back on its feet again.


Cllr Adeleke: Thank you very much. My question, really, is the first wave of payments that we made, there was huge publicity surrounding it, you know, both by the council and by the government, on this occasion, how are we informing people that are entitled to it, because, as you say, you've only got, I can't remember the number now, people that already applied, how are we going to make sure that people are entitled to it actually get the fund that is due to them?


Cllr Elliot: As I mentioned earlier, we've identified 700 businesses. 130 have applied. We are doing our best through the websites and it's word-of-mouth, businesses talking to each other, but maybe some of these businesses don't want to do it, have moved on, are not around anymore, or just, they thought it's not worthwhile doing it, but we are very cognisant that this money's there and we have to distribute it.