M Brookes introduced the report and welcomed questions from the committee.
Cllr Guest referred to page 28 regarding animal licensing reports and enforcement. She asked how the team were currently processing that work if the officer mentioned in the report hadn’t yet completed the training course.
M Brookes advised that there was another officer within the team who was already trained.
Cllr Guest referred to page 29 in relation to the print and post room processing 73,170 mail items at a cost of £37,082. She questioned if the mail was checked to ensure everything was sent out, as some residents within her ward had not received post regarding a mobile mast.
M Brookes advised that the team receive mail from all teams across the council who cross-check what is sent against their records, and therefore checks are conducted at departmental level.
Cllr Guest noted the statement on page 29 that 609 cheques were processed with an income of £140,071.90. She asked what payments were being made by cheque and whether people were being encouraged to pay by more efficient means.
M Brookes advised he was unsure what the cheque payments were for as they were from across the council. He added that the council does encourage people to pay via electronic means where possible.
Cllr Freedman referred to animal control and advised of a number of links on the DBC website and those of other organisations that refer issues to the dog warden email address, which then states that the email is not monitored.
M Brookes advised that this comes under Environmental Services, though he would pass the comment on. Action.
Cllr Freedman noted the data regarding Legal cases and asked if this is a highlight reel or if other cases had not been reported.
M Brookes confirmed that these were the cases that went to Court during the quarter.
Cllr Freedman referred to the Mayoralty budget, noting that Berkhamsted Town Council have decided, given the current climate, to reduce the budget and scope in terms of Mayoral engagements, and recommended that a similar discussion be had at borough level.
The Chairman suggested that this is not a question that M Brookes could answer as he had presented an operational report and that the question was a policy decision.
Cllr Freedman acknowledged the comment and noted that his question was if the discussion was being had.
The Leader of the Council stated that he did not envisage that the Mayoralty budget would be reduced in the next financial year.
Cllr Adeleke commented on item 4 of the report and asked how the council is getting value for money and measures its success rate.
M Brookes advised that the fines are received by the HM Treasury and not income-producing in any way. They act as a deterrent to prevent inappropriate behaviour across the borough and that the individuals receive a permanent criminal record. Improvements are measured by the teams and prosecution is a key part of this.
Cllr Suqlain Mahmood questioned if two of the fly-tipping prosecutions were the same case.
M Brookes stated that his understanding was that they took place at different times and are therefore listed as separate offences.
Cllr Suqlain Mahmood explained that a taxi driver had contacted him recently regarding an officer following him and then questioned him when he got home. He said he felt harassed by the officer.
M Brookes suggested that Cllr Mahmood email him the details of this case so he can look in to it.
Cllr Stevens referred to a sentence on page 30 that read 'manual checks on over 76 markers have been completed' and asked what a marker was.
M Brookes said he would need to check with his team and would provide a written response. Action.
Cllr Stevens commented on the 2023 Election and expressed concern that this will clash with the Coronation for King Charles III and Bank Holiday. He was unsure how this would impact the Election count, which typically takes place overnight.
M Brookes confirmed that representations have been put in by the LGA (Local Government Association) and that they are awaiting guidance.
The report was noted.