To consider questions (if any) by members of the Council of which the appropriate notice has been given to the Assistant Director (Corporate and Contracted Services)
The following people asked questions and the full details can be found in the full minutes
Cllr England to Cllr Williams
Cllr Hobson to Cllr Banks
Cllr Symington to Cllr Barratt
Cllr Symington to Cllr Williams
Cllr Symington to Cllr Anderson
Cllr Symington: Can I raise a point of order, please?
Mayor: If you must.
Cllr Symington: Yes, thank you. These are written questions, which obviously we've submitted. I can't see they've been circulated, and furthermore, you mentioned earlier in the meeting that the resident who attended-, question has been circulated to us all. I can't see it either on the documents I have or by email.
Mayor: If I spoke in error, it was because I was assured that that had happened, Cllr Symington.
Mayor: Okay. In this case, apparently, these questions are not circulated in advance, that is why they are read out at the meeting.
Cllr Symington: Okay, and the resident who attended, who you said-, his question had been circulated to us all. Can we have a clarification of whether that is true because I haven't received it, and I can't see any evidence that it was.
Mayor: I'm told that it was not circulated but that is why he was asked to read it out.
Cllr Symington: Please could we have an apology for the resident who attended, when you said that his question had been circulated to everybody, and it hasn't been?
Mayor: I can certainly apologise that I was mislead on that matter, but I won't apologise for asking him to read out the question, in the light of what you have just said, that it wasn't actually circulated.
6.1 The following question was submitted to Cllr Williams from Cllr England
Cllr England: The Cabinet have set out priorities for addressing the Climate Emergency, based on a "Fabric First" strategy.
Please provide the following information:
a. The number of DBC homes retro-insulated in the 3 and/or 6 years to 2019 and the comparative number of homes retro-insulated in the last 3 years.
Mayor: Cllr Williams, I'm assuming that we have here three substantive questions, so you may answer the first.
Cllr Williams: The answer to the first question is in the three years, between 2016 and '19, the number is 920, and the three years between 2019 and '22, the number was 786.
b. The estimated heating savings generated from the available insulation projects (above), and from typical examples of the five most effective and most widely available insulation interventions available across DBC stock.
Cllr Williams: The annual estimated fuel savings and carbon savings from those above interventions, is £206,515 and 662,850 kilograms of CO2. Then, I think you went to ask that most-,
c. A breakdown of the numbers of each main type of insulation intervention (in homes insulated and cost per home) available and planned as part of the published Climate Emergency Action Plan claim of 90% of stock which is planned to be completed by 2030.
Cllr Williams: Number of each type of installation, the number of propositions we've retro-fitted to hit the 90% target, is that the question? Because I'm a bit confused about what it is that Cllr England is asking. Right okay, and this is based upon a three bedroom semi-detached house. Double glazing, we have met the 90% target, on our properties, we will continue to upgrade individual properties as and when required. For wall insulation, there are 64 properties to hit the target. Loft insulation, there are 1,728 at a cost of £691,200. Cavity wall insulation, there are 396 properties, at a cost of £237,000. I think that was the question.
Mayor: Thank you Cllr Williams. Do you have a supplementary, Councillor England?
Cllr England: I do have a third question, can I ask, with a fabric first policy, that since declaring a climate emergency, the number of properties retro-insulated has gone down?
Cllr Williams: As I've not been the housing portfolio holder, I think that question will be more relevant to-, I can only get a written answer, Mr Mayor. And I think this is a very good example of a question with so much detail, it would have been more appropriate for an emailed exchange rather than a question at full council, Mr Mayor.
Action: Cllr Williams to provide written answer.
Mayor: Thank you Cllr Williams. Cllr England, that is your number of questions that is allowed.
6.2 The following question was submitted to Cllr Banks from Cllr Hobson
Cllr Hobson: This is a question about the Gadebridge Park toilets. I appreciate I didn't actually put that on the written question, so for the avoidance of doubt, this is about the Gadebridge Park toilets. Given the huge success of events held at Gadebridge Park including the Jubilee celebrations and the Armed Forces Day, plus the popular water park, can the portfolio holder provide an update on:
1. How often the toilets have been open to the public
2. How often they are cleaned/checked for stock
3. What plans if any the council has to refurbish them
Cllr Banks: CllrHobson, this is not my portfolio, but acknowledging the link you're trying to make with the town centre PSPO, I am able to offer you an update. Anyone familiar with Gadebridge Park will know that there are three sets of toilets. In addition, there are also toilets available on the old town high street. The toilets have been open throughout all the recent events, such as our fantastic Jubilee celebration and Armed Forces Day, and extra cleans are arranged to cover the extended opening times. When an event is taking place, the toilets are cleaned and restocked every two hours. If no event is taking place, then the toilets within the park, and the old town for that matter, are cleaned three times a day. As part of event planning, consideration is also given as to whether or not we need additional porta-loos, this is part of the health and safety risk assessment that's undertaken, and for any event that's held within the area. I'm not aware of any current plans to refurbish them.
Mayor: Thank you, Cllr Banks. Did you want to ask your second question on this matter, Cllr Hobson
Cllr Hobson: Given the PSPO is in place to stop defecating and urinating in public together with the fact that the Council is encouraging many older and younger people to visit the park, does the Portfolio Holder accept that improving facilities and ensuring they are available for every large event should be a priority?
Cllr Banks: The administration encourages everyone, residents and visitors, to enjoy our open spaces, including Gadebridge Park. I do not accept that it should be a priority. It is a priority.
Mayor: Thank you Cllr Banks. Do you have a supplementary question, Cllr Hobson?
Cllr Hobson: Yes, I do. Just very quickly, I just want to apologise for not getting the right portfolio holder, I was assured that you were the person to do this, so thank you for answering the question, thank you for working with your colleagues. This supplementary was prompted by Cllr Anderson's presentation, so again, apologies if this isn't the right person, but just to say, is quality toilet provision included in the plans to draw people away from Ashridge, for improving locations for other people to go and enjoy green spaces. Thank you. And I'm happy to take a written answer if that's not your portfolio. Thank you.
Cllr Banks: Mr Mayor. Indeed, that is beyond what I know the answer to. Absolutely, I'll get a response, probably from Cllr Anderson. Thank you.
Action: Cllr Banks to liaise with Cllr Anderson to provide written response.
Mayor: Thank you Cllr Banks.
6.3 The following question was submitted to Cllr Barratt from Cllr Symington
Cllr Symington: CllrBarrett, just before I address you, I just want to address Cllr Williams. This question has already come forward in an email form twice, so, you know, we do try to do our best to work with you, and sometimes, things just need to come to the council because we're not getting responses.
Cllr Symington: The Wildflower Meadows Map at https://www.dacorum.gov.uk/home/environment-street-care/landscape-recreation/biodiversity-and-conservation is a welcome addition to the Dacorum Borough Council website. The site in Buckingham Road, Tring, is the only site with no map attached identifying the exact location.
Can you clarify the location of the site and for completeness have it added to the map?
Cllr Barratt: Thank you Cllr Symington. I can confirm that the map has now been updated to reflect this location, and the location is a triangular piece of open space on the corner of Buckingham Road and Weavers Road. I would add that I would agree, this should have been a written question, and I certainly haven't seen it as a written question. Had I have done, I would have responded to it. Thank you.
Mayor: Do you have a supplementary question, Cllr Symington?
Cllr Symington: Yes, so my supplementary questions are to do, obviously, with the same map. Thank you. So, can you confirm how many of the DBC wildflower sites, with locations, can you confirm how many are DBC planted, i.e. is planted by Dacorum Borough Council wildflower sites, with their locations, and how many effectively just no-mow areas?
Cllr Barratt: Again, if I'd have seen that in advance, I could have got the information for you. I don't know, I shall find out and respond with a written reply
Action: Cllr Barratt to provide written response.
Cllr Symington: Yes, I'm asking that on behalf of a colleague and she and I will be happy to get an email on that. Sorry-, this is actually the third one. How many are DBC, are Dacorum initiatives, and how many are the result of requests from ward councillors?
Cllr Barratt: My response is exactly the same to the last question.
Action: Cllr Barratt to provide written response
Cllr Symington: Thank you. I'm happy to take written responses, and also to my co-ward, Cllr Foster.
Mayor: You've got the request to circulate it to Cllr Foster as well did you, Councillor Barrett?
Cllr Barratt: Yes, I'll certainly make those adjustments
6.4 The following question was submitted to Cllr Williams from Cllr Symington
Cllr Symington: Yes, thank you Mr Mayor. Cllr Williams, I haven't emailed this one to you in advance but it is a Herts County Council initiative, so I'm sure you're aware of it. Given the growth of electric vehicles and the need to ensure that residents have access to charging points, how do you, as the portfolio holder, intend to work with Hertfordshire County Council following their change and stance to facilitate on-street electric vehicle charging points?
Cllr Williams: Thank you. I did become aware of it when I got the questions, I have done a brief bit of checking, but understand there isn't a policy for Herts County Council-, for us to firm up on. But I understand there is a meeting between Herts officers, our officers-, well, HCC are setting up a meeting for officers across Hertfordshire in August, to discuss their new EV strategy before it goes to the Environment and Transport panel in September. I'm sure there we'll gain more details of how it's going to work. As such, then we will have sight of the document and be able to feed into this. We have our own EV strategy, as I said earlier, for our own car-parks, and we'll weave that in with the HCC strategy, which I understand is likely to be a scheme will permit installation of EV chargers on streets, but I don't think HCC are likely to be undertaking that, and I think it's unlikely that DBC would then be undertaking that. I suspect it will be for private providers to look at locations where it's feasible to do so, under a scheme that HCC permits, which I think is a relaxation from their previous stance.
Mayor: Thank you, Cllr Williams. Do you have a supplementary?
Cllr Symington: Yes, thank you. I think it's been partially answered. So, the council's been, I would say, pretty secretive about the car-parks that have been put forward to the programme, which you've now given us the names of the contractors for, so that's useful, thank you. I think lots of residents will welcome that they're good names. But, the reason given, is that the residents who don't get their EV charging points in the car-parks, they then will be very upset and disappointed. Presumably, you don't know the answer to this because we're waiting for the DNO, can you give a reassurance that those residents who are disappointed, and cannot have EV charging points in car-parks near them, that Dacorum will facilitate and work with Herts County Council and external people, external providers, to give them on-street access? Given that 40% of houses in the borough have no off-street parking.
Cllr Williams: I think I take objection to the tone of that question, to say that it's secretive. What I said in answer to the previous question was all DBC car-parks are on the list. So, if you can't work out for yourself where the locations of DBC car-parks are, then I'm sorry but I just don't think I need to write them all down for you, but it will be subject to, as I said before, a decision of the commercial operators. Whether that car-park is viable, whether that will generate enough traffic to generate an income from that particular charge. And, yes, it may be that some car-parks will not be found to be commercial, the supply can be too far away, the potential number of chargers can be too small, and it's very likely, to be fair, to be a network rolled out over time. It isn't going to be a big bang and they're all going to be there in the first week because there won't be a demand there for 100 chargers, or whatever it is, in the first week. Some people will have further to travel, and I'm sure when they're purchasing an electric vehicle, they'll factor those considerations in. We will work and facilitate the installation chargers where it's practical to do so on-street, within the framework of Hertfordshire County Council schemes. So, they'll decide where it's safe, if you can attach it to a lamppost, where the supply comes from. What I don't expect Dacorum to be doing is funding that process.
Cllr Symington: I won't ask any more supplementary questions on that item, but-, you'll be relieved to hear.
Mayor: Very kind of you but I see that you're going to make another appearance. Question for Councillor Anderson, from Councillor Symington.
6.5 The following question was submitted to Cllr Anderson from Cllr Symington
Cllr Symington: Yes, this is my final question, thank you very much. You'll appreciate that actually I'm just bringing forward the concerns of residents when I'm raising these questions, and I think it is important that actually they are aired in council, and that people have the opportunity to hear the answers from the portfolio holders, so I appreciate this opportunity.
Given the need to ensure that common policies apply across the Borough, what measures is the Portfolio Holder undertaking to ensure that the moratorium on development relating to the discharge of conditions is applied fairly and consistently across the borough?
Cllr Anderson: The restrictions requested by Natural England to protect the Chiltern Beechwoods affects developments in different ways depending on the specifics of the proposal. When discharging planning conditions, the council is required to review the precise wording of each condition, on a case-by-case basis, to determine whether it can be discharged or not. The council works closely with its legal team to ensure its approach is consistent in what is a complex area of planning law. The council's published detailed FAQs, and will keep these on the website, and will keep these under review.
Cllr Symington: I'm sorry, I do have a supplementary actually, Mr Chairman. Yes. Can the portfolio holder explain why Dacorum has a different policy relating to reserve matters, from other planning authorities?
Cllr Anderson: I'm not sure I can, because I'd need evidence of that before I can comment.
Cllr Symington: Okay, so thank you. So, the evidence has obviously been provided by residents, who've had to get the advice from Queen's Council. Do you think it's fair and reasonable that residents are having to seek that advice to basically work their way through the process, and get these reserved matters discharged?
Cllr Anderson: If we are talking about the email that you sent me-,
Cllr Symington: No, we're not.
Cllr Anderson: Support from Long Marston?
Cllr Symington: We're not talking about that.
Cllr Anderson: It's a different case then. Okay, well-,
Mayor: Excuse me, Cllr Symington is entitled to a supplementary.
Cllr Anderson: Yes, I'm sorry, I struggle to accept the motivation behind the question. As I've already explained, the council has to follow legal advice itself and has done so. We're not in a position to bend the rules just because of a particular case.
Mayor: Thank you, Cllr Anderson.
Cllr Tindall: Point of order, Mr Mayor. I believe the question was, why had we a different understanding of how the moratorium should apply to our neighbouring boroughs and neighbouring authorities. Now, it's legitimate for Cllr Anderson to say that he hasn't got the answer to hand and he's happy to provide a written answer. What I regret the portfolio can't do, is actually say that he's not going to answer it, or actually make comments about why the question was posed. Cllr Symington was entitled to ask the question, Cllr Anderson is entitled to say, 'I will provide a written answer.' I believe that's as far the exchange should go.
Cllr Anderson: I'm sorry, I'm entitled to provide the answer I provide, and I don't accept we're looking at things in different ways to neighbouring authorities. One has to remember that we're the one that's closest affected by the issue, they may not be under the same constraints we are, but I don't accept that we're being inconsistent.
Mayor: I'm sorry, when you say, 'inconsistent,' you mean as between us and other councils?
Cllr Anderson: Yes.
Mayor: Thank you, Cllr Symington.
Mayor: Thank you very much for those questions and answers. We now move on to agenda item seven.