Baldock and District Committee Minutes

Monday, 3rd June, 2013
Baldock Community Centre, Simpson Drive, Baldock

Attendance Details

Councillor M.E. Weeks (Chairman), Councillor John Harris and Councillor S.K. Jarvis.
In attendance:
John Robinson (Strategic Director of Customer Services)
Daniel Kingsley (Service Manager - Waste Management)
Ashley Hawkins (Community Development Officer)
Susanne Gow (Committee and Member Services Officer)
Also Present:
At commencement of the meeting approximately 4 members of the public, including the speaker under Public Participation, and a member of the Press were present.
Item Description/Decision
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Ian Knighton, Michael Muir and Andrew Young.
RESOLVED: That the Minutes of the Meeting held on 4 March 2013 be approved as a true record of the proceedings and be signed by the Chairman.
RESOLVED: That the Minutes of the Meeting held on 16 May 2013 be approved as a true record of the proceedings and be signed by the Chairman.
There was no additional business raised at this meeting.
(1) The Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting including the Portfolio Holder for Waste, Recycling and Environment and the NHDC Community Safety Manager, together with representatives from the Hertfordshire Constabulary and the speaker under Public Participation. He thanked them all for attending;

(2) Members were reminded that declarations of interest in respect of any business set out in the agenda should be declared as either of Disclosable Pecuniary interest, Other Pecuniary interest or Non-Pecuniary interest, and are required to notify the Chairman of the nature of any interest declared at the commencement of the relevant item on the agenda. Members declaring a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest must withdraw from the meeting for the duration of the item. Members declaring either an Other Pecuniary interest, or a Non-Pecuniary interest which requires they leave the room under paragraph 16.3 of the Code of Conduct, can speak on the item, but must leave the room before the debate and vote.
Mr Mick Camp addressed the Baldock and District Committee on the self-management of Baldock allotments by the Baldock Allotment and Leisure Gardeners’ Association.

He gave the background to the Association and the two allotments sites used, at North Road and Clothall Road, with funding from North Herts District Council.

NHDC officers had proposed that the Association manage both allotment sites themselves and at the Association’s recent AGM, this proposal had received unanimous support, subject to securing an extended lease agreement on the land.

In April, a meeting was held with Herts County Council (HCC) to view the first draft of the sub lease for the Clothall Road site, but this had two breaks in it of 12 months and three months. This was unacceptable to the Association and put the 25-year lease out of kilter with the lease of the North Road site. It also meant that plants laid down in April might be dug up in August and could impede any grant applications submitted to NHDC.
Rather than take self-management of just the North Road site with its 25-year lease, members felt strongly that both sites should be managed together, with the same length of lease for each site.

Mr Camp asked the Baldock and District Committee for their support in overcoming the breaks in the Clothall Road lease, so that both sites could be managed together by the Baldock Allotment and Leisure Gardeners’ Association. He also mentioned the grant application submitted for consideration, which would help with the cost of providing drainage for the North Road site and replacement of a section of the fence bordering the car park, in which some of the fence posts had become rotten in the bad weather.

The Chairman thanked Mr Camp for his presentation and commented that funds provided were almost enough to attend to the drainage and was also nearly 50% of the funds for the fencing. However, Herts County Council own the land and it is leased by North Herts District Council.

The Committee discussion that followed revealed that NHDC was unable to offer more secure terms and that the local Herts County Councillor had been unsuccessful in his efforts to assist. Members agreed that the Association had their support, but as the land was owned by HCC they were unable to give any practical help. However, the Committee supported the notion that Herts County Council agree a long enough term lease for the Clothall Road site to bring it into line with the North Road site. This would enable them to proceed together in respect of self management.

(1) That Mr Camp of the Baldock and Leisure Gardeners’ Association be thanked for his presentation;

(2) That the Committee supports the Baldock Allotment and Leisure Gardeners’ Association’s efforts to persuade Hertfordshire County Council to agree an extension to the lease for the land at the Clothall Road site, to ensure that it matches the length of the lease on the site at North Road;

(3) That the Committee wished the Baldock Allotment and Leisure Gardeners’ Association every success with self management of the allotments and with their proposal to request an extension to the lease on the allotment land at the Clothall Road site;

(4) That a decision on a grant award be made at Agenda Item 9 on the Agenda - Champion News and Finance Report.
Inspector Daniel Lawrence introduced Sgt Simon Turner, and gave the Baldock and District Committee an update on the Safer Neighbourhood Policing structure. He explained that in each area that he managed he had one sergeant and a number of constables and PCSOs relating to the size of the area, e.g. a sergeant, two constables and a Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) in the Baldock team. The restructure generally consisted of moving manpower around while keeping the personnel numbers the same.

Inspector Lawrence explained that there were 17 wards in North Hertfordshire, each of which had three priorities which were generally the same. The areas in North Herts were: Royston, Letchworth and Baldock, Hitchin Town and Hitchin Rural. He then gave the crime and performance figures (both recorded crime and detected crime) for the last two years and compared them to the present figures, together with a forecast for 2013/2014.

Inspector Lawrence then explained that most of Sgt Turner’s team were either from the local area or had worked there for some considerable time, and therefore the team had local connections and experience. Inspector Lawrence gave comparative crime statistics between the Hitchin/Hitchin Rural and Letchworth and Baldock areas. It was expected that the crime figures would be stabilised very soon and that there would be no change and no adverse impact on Baldock, despite the Baldock Police Station having been closed and the building disposed of some time back. The restructure of Letchworth had ensured that there was no impact on the staffing of Baldock, and the Safer Neighbourhood Team now operated from a base in Baldock Community Centre. It was a priority that the general public realised that they could find Police officers there during their standard operating hours, or else they could leave a message for them. The Waitrose “green penny” system with a flip chart was being used to canvass local ideas and opinions in Baldock and across the areas, including the villages, of North Hertfordshire. The Committee were informed that the aims of the Hertfordshire Constabulary could be summed up as “perception, reassurance and local issues”.

Committee discussion covered the fact that with more flexibility, the Police could be called when necessary; the Baldock Community Centre was a very practical base from which to operate, as Police equipment was now stored there, including bicycles for use by Police officers; the local towns had different issues from the villages and the rural areas - custom-tailored to each village. The Police officers had local engagement and an understanding of each area and what it needed; Royston Rural residents were able to use the Baldock office at the Community Centre. Inspector Lawrence was asked where the Police officers would start out each morning, and confirmed that each shift throughout the day would start out at Letchworth Police Station, where the officers would collect their personal equipment before travelling to Baldock. He also declared that it was each officer’s choice as to how long he/she stayed in one post and when and where they moved on to. This provided continuity with the local residents.

Lastly, Inspector Lawrence declared the intention, with the Baldock and District Committee’s agreement, to visit Committee Meetings quarterly, rather than annually, to continue the close dialogue and understanding achieved with the Committee.

The Chairman thanked Inspector Lawrence and Sgt Vine for the update and the clarification of points raised by the Committee and informed them that the Committee would be delighted to see one or both of them quarterly at Committee Meetings, as it was felt that this would continue the close interaction, to the benefit of the residents of Baldock.

(1) That the contents of the verbal update on the new structure of the Safer Neighbourhood Team in Baldock be noted;

(2) That Inspector Lawrence and Sgt Turner be thanked for presenting the Update to the Committee and clarifying various points raised;

(3) That the above officers be thanked for helping to maintain the excellent working relationship between the Hertfordshire Constabulary and the Baldock and District Committee;

(4) That the Baldock and District Committee agree with, and support the proposal that an update on Police and crime matters be brought before the Committee on a quarterly basis, rather than annually as has previously been the norm.
The Strategic Director of Customer Services used a Powerpoint presentation to update the Baldock and District Committee on the new changes in the recycling and waste services. He revealed that the objective was to control the amount of waste generated and the costs spent on sending it to landfill, as this was expensive. On the other hand, recycling paper etc. meant that the Council was paid per tonne for the materials collected and recycled. He stated that looking at a national overview of the United Kingdom relating to waste and recycling, North Herts District Council was one of the most successful councils in the UK.

He took the Committee through the stages of waste collection using the new smaller purple bin and the preparation for recycling or disposal. Members were given statistics of total waste generation in England, including household waste and this was then compared to the Alternate Weekly Collection (AWC) statistics introduced in 2007 and compared again to the new methods to be introduced in the very near future. He covered the public perception of service pre-AWC and post-AWC as well as the performance of the NHDC Waste Streams.

The Service Manager (Waste Management) continued the presentation, going through the drivers for change and assuring the Committee that NHDC was continuing to become “greener”. He confirmed that organics and paper recycling generated quite a large income stream, although the majority of cardboard was unsuitable for composting and had to be sent to landfill at a cost to the Council. The new strategy would remove cardboard from the material to be composted in line with the Herts Waste Partnership commitment and a definite priority would be landfill reduction. The SM(WM) went through the current tonnage of waste and the tonnage being recycled and compared them to the estimated figures after the mixed service change. The current service of bins and recycling boxes was compared to the sample representation of waste and recycling projected, with the comment that 33% of food waste shown in the presentation would become produce high levels of methane and have a negative impact on the environment.

The SM(WM) updated Members on the literature sent out advertising the forthcoming changes and how this had been distributed. He gave the roll-out programme and the plans for dealing with food waste from flats; the phasing out and removal of recycling banks; policy changes regarding larger families and those with multiple babies and toddlers. The whole changeover process was thoroughly explained and Members’ queries were dealt with, including: the amount of food waste bin liners on a roll and how to re-order rolls; cardboard was not now to be composted, but would be recycled, although this could involve lengthy journeys; food waste from flats would require a fleet of dedicated vehicles.

Members were told that during the “bedding in” period it was expected that large numbers of telephone calls would be taken and that the whole roll-out process would take approximately 6 weeks. They voiced their approval of the whole process, and the Chairman thanked the Strategic Director for Customer Services and the Service Manager (Waste Management) for their comprehensive presentation and stated that the Committee welcomed the new Recycling and Waste Services. He congratulated the officers on the Services’ smooth and efficient implementation and their hard work to this end.

(1) That the Strategic Director of Customer Services and the Service Manager (Waste Management) be thanked for the comprehensive presentation on the new Recycling and Waste Services;

(2) That the Baldock and District Committee welcome the new Services, congratulate the Council’s Waste and Recycling department on their hard work in implementing the changes so smoothly and efficiently and believe that the Scheme is a real credit to the Council.
The Community Development Officer (CDO) for Baldock and District presented the report of the Head of Policy and Community Services and explained that there were a few updates to the report, as follows:

The weekly market on Wednesdays is starting to flourish as more traders join the market. Members suggested that once the Wednesday market is established, the possibility of holding a market on Saturdays be investigated.

The CDO listed the future events being held throughout June and July.

Baldock Cycle Challenge
This event will take place on Sunday 23 June and it is hoped that 200 riders will take part.

Sale Drive
Before he approached Planning for the Section 106 monies to pay for the installation and maintenance of a lighting column at Sale Drive, the CDO is to liaise with officers in Estates to secure the adoption of the land by NHDC, although there appears to be some reluctance to adopt this within a few sections of the Authority. After some discussion, Members agreed to support the officer’s recommendation for the Council to formally adopt the small section of land and the path to the rear of Sale Drive.

Bakers Field Pavilion
The CDO and Community Development Manager (CDM) were both working with representatives from Baldock Town Football Club and Baldock Town Youth Football Club on the project to try and reopen ‘The Shed’. Community Development officers had held discussions with the other relevant NHDC officers and were now assisting the clubs in the production of a business plan for the project. The process was temporally on hold until Cabinet has formally ratified funding for the project through the Green Space Strategy Action Plans which are due to go before Members at the meeting scheduled for September 2013. Final ratification of Capital Expenditure will be considered as part of the Budget Setting Process due to be approved in February 2014.

Grant Funding
Members were asked to consider grant funding in the sum of £650 to the Baldock Allotment and Leisure Gardeners’ Association and this was agreed, in the usual split (76% from Baldock Town and 24% from Baldock East Wards).

The Chairman thanked the Community Development Officer for his report and for his efforts on behalf of the people of Baldock and the surrounding District.

(1) That the budgetary expenditure, balances and carry forwards from the Development Budgets at Appendix 1 be noted;

(2) That the activities and schemes with which the Community Development Officer has been involved are noted;

(3) That the Committee considers making a grant award of £650 to Baldock Allotments and Leisure Gardeners’ Association to cover the costs of replacing a small section of fencing across the car park at the North Road site;

(4) That the Baldock and District Committee recommend that support is given to NHDC adopting the land as soon as possible at the rear of Sale Drive, to enable a lighting column to be installed and maintained, which will benefit the residents and children of Baldock.

(1) To ensure that the Committee are kept informed of the work of the Community Development Officer;

(2) To inform Members of the financial resources available to the Committee. It draws attention to the current budgetary situation, assists in the effective financial management of the Baldock and District Committee’s budget and ensures actions are performed within the Authority’s Financial Regulations and the guidance in the grants procedure;

(3) The awarding of financial assistance to voluntary organisations and the use of discretionary spending allows the Committee to further the aims and strategic priorities of the Council;

(4) Production of the report is a requirement of the Corporate Plan, in which the Community Development Officer is required to produce a formal report to the Area Committee on six occasions each year in line with the Civic Calendar.

Published on Thursday, 4th July, 2013