To consider questions (if any) by members of the Council of which the appropriate notice has been given to the Assistant Director (Legal & Democratic)
The following people asked questions and the full details can be found in the full minutes
Cllr England to Cllr Barratt
Cllr England to Cllr Banks
Cllr England to Cllr Barratt
The Council's Recycling rates have not been reported since September 2021, so numbers are several months late.
In a Dacorum Press Release, published on September 18, 2018; it says that "Recycling continues to rise in Dacorum with a new verified rate for 2017-2018 of 52.5 per cent, which is up on last year’s 51.2 per cent."
If the trend had been maintained 'up by 1.3%' the figure now could be 57.7%. But it has flattened out at the same level now as 2018.
Both our neighbouring Councils, St Albans and Watford, have progressed dramatically, but it looks as if Dacorum has not matched their ambition.
On its current record, when can we expect the Council to reach 60% re-cycling, a target set in 2014?
Thank you Cllr England for your question.
I can advise you that Dacorum exceeded the average recycling rate as measured across all Hertfordshire authorities over the whole of the 4-year period from 17/18 through to 20/21. Indeed, in the whole of that period Dacorum was consistently the 4th best performing Authority in Hertfordshire as it was again in 21/22 period.
In the 21/22 period 7 out the 10 Hertfordshire authorities saw a reduction in their recycling Rates, including both Three Rivers and St Albans.
Notwithstanding our historic good performance, I can advise that work is in progress that will impact upon recycling rates across the Borough. We are seeking to achieve a minimum recycling rate of 60% by 2030, which is in line with National targets.
Cllr England addressed the PH with a supplementary question asking, when will the PH set a target to achieve the 65% rate, which is the current Herts Waste Partnership target?
Cllr Barrett responded that we are not in a position to give a date for 65%, but our aim is to achieve 60% and will then move on from there.
Cllr England noted that the PH has repeated that neighbouring authorities are not doing as well as we are. Does he have an understanding of how Lib Deb Three Rivers is already achieving 60%.
Cllr Barrett advised there are a number of reasons why an area might achieve those figures. He agreed that Three Rivers have a high percentage, but would query, at what cost to other services.
Cllr England asked; “Can we take seriously any of the Conservative targets and can residents afford to wait until May 2023 for a change of Leadership in the area?
Cllr Barrett responded that yes, you can take seriously what the Conservative say.
A point of order was raised that, as in a recent Council meeting, the PH had not answered the question.
The Mayor responded that he did not believe the question was actually supplementary to the main question asked, but I was willing to accept it and similarly the PH’s attempt to answer it.
Cllr England to Cllr Banks
Having regard to the Air Quality Action Plan 2019-2024 and the objectives set therein,
(a) maintaining close links with the Local Transport Plan, Local Planning and Public Health, and
(b)) the Electric vehicle charging infrastructure study / strategy, which has not produced any actual change in emissions to date, despite promises earlier this year, which of the other nine commitments made in the plan have been pursued if at all since 2019, and how?
Cllr Banks responded that: “This matter has been addressed separately in an email to the Councillor, who is aware that air quality reporting is coming to SPAE OSC in January 2023 and therefore we would not want to pre-empt the rights of that committee to scrutinise the matter prior to this or in other Fora. I will ensure that officers address the specific questions raised by Councillor England in the report to the scrutiny committee.
Cllr England addressed the PH with a supplementary question, asking the pH to express an opinion on which of the following are the administrations key priority:
• Influencing emission reduction from new developments
• Potential to relocate bus stops and on-street parking in the Northchurch AQMonitoringA
• Clean Air Zone feasibility study
• Workplace parking levy
• Private hire and taxi vehicle emissions policy
• Advanced quality bus partnership
• Reducing council emissions
• Emission based parking charges
• Promoting sustainable travel and discouraging the use of single car journeys
The Mayor intervened to express concern about the direction of this question. He stated that one of the most important functions of the Council is the role of scrutiny committees and their ability to hold officers and the Cabinet to account. Asking the PH to comment in detail upon an item that is coming to scrutiny would possibly undermine the scrutiny committee and its effectiveness within the Council and it is extremely important from a democratic point of view that those processes should not be undermined in any shape or form.
The Mayor then cautioned the PH against committing herself with an answer at this stage as the matter is to be discussed at OSC.
The portfolio holder accepted the point the Mayor was making .
Point of order; Cllr Barry Mears – what is the point of questions at Full Council?
The Mayor asked the legal officer to comment on this.
MBrookes stated that where a question is put in writing it is reasonable for a member to defer that answer to provide that answer in full at a more appropriate time. The response given in that case is reasonable and allowed the question to be more fully answered later.
Cllr England raised a point of clarification that the reason for asking the question is that because air quality has not been scrutinised for 2 years. In Council, he had asked for it to be on agenda and asked for DEFRA accredited numbers to be on agenda. He said “It has not happened. It has been promised for November, in October it was still promised for November. How do I know that in February it will come forward?”
The Mayor replied; “As you will be well aware I was Chair of that committee at that time and our hands were bound as we did not have from DEFRA the revised figures that made sense of the readings that were taken at street level and we cannot control departments of state like DEFRA. We share your frustrations on this matter but, as I told you at the time, there is absolutely no point in trying to draw conclusions from figures that might not be accurate”.