Hitchin Committee Minutes

Date:
Tuesday, 1st March, 2016
Time:
7.30pm
Place:
Westmill Community Centre, John Barker Place, Hitchin
 
 

Attendance Details

Present:
Councillor David Leal - Bennett (Chairman), Councillor R.A.C. Thake (Vice-Chairman), Councillor Mrs A.G. Ashley, Councillor Judi Billing, Councillor Nicola Harris, Councillor Joan Kirby, Councillor Bernard Lovewell, Councillor Alan Millard, Councillor Frank Radcliffe, Councillor R.L. Shakespeare - Smith and Councillor Adrian Smith.

NB: Councillor Joan Kirby left the meeting at 9.27 p.m.
In attendance:
Liz Green (Head of Policy and Community Services), Andrew Mills (Service Manager Grounds Maintenance), Claire Morgan (Communities Officer), and Hilary Dineen (Committee and Member Services Officer).
Also Present:
At the start of the meeting 31 members of the public.
Item Description/Decision
PART I
95 APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Simon Harwood and Deborah Segalini.
96 MINUTES
Minute 94
Members questioned why the requested report regarding the proposed pedestrianisation of Brand Street and part of High Street had not been presented to the Committee and asked that enquiries be made.

RESOLVED:

(1) That the Minutes of the Meeting of the Committee held on 8 September 2015 be approved as a true record of the proceedings and be signed by the Chairman;

(2) That the Strategic Planning and Projects Manager be requested to give reasons for not presenting the requested report regarding the proposed pedestrianisation of Brand Street and part of High Street, Hitchin, and report back to the committee.
97 NOTIFICATION OF OTHER BUSINESS
No other business had been notified.
98 CHAIRMAN'S ANNOUNCEMENTS
(1) The Chairman welcomed all who had attended Town Talk and this meeting, particularly those who had attended to give a presentation.

(2) The Chairman noted that this was the last meeting of the Hitchin Committee before the elections on 5 May 2016. He thanked all of the Committee Members for their work over the last year and wished all those standing for election good luck and those who were choosing not to stand again grateful thanks.

(3) The Chairman informed Members that Councillor Joan Kirby was not intending to stand for re-election. He stated that she had been a wonderful Councillor and asked that the Committee’s thanks for her hard and tireless work for Hitchin and North Hertfordshire District Council over many years be placed on record.

The Members of the Committee agreed unanimously with the proposal.

Councillor Kirby thanked the Members for the kind words. She said that she would be taking away many wonderful memories and particularly thanked Members for making her Chairman of the Council.

(4) The Chairman thanked Members for their support over the last few days and advised that he had issued a press release.

(5) The Chairman advised those present that the meeting would be audio recorded.

(6) The Chairman read out the following:

“Members are reminded that any declarations of interest in respect of any business set out in the agenda should be declared as either:

a) Disclosable Pecuniary Interest or
b) Declarable Interest.

The Member is 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) A Discosable Pecuniary Interest, must leave the room for the duration of the item and not take part in the debate or vote;

Members declaring:

b) A Declarable Interest, may take part in the debate and vote. However if, under Paragraph 7.3 of the Code of Conduct, the interest is so significant that it is likely to prejudice your judgement then under Paragraph 7.4 of the Code of Conduct you must leave the room before the debate and vote.”

RESOLVED: That Councillor Joan Kirby be thanked for her hard and tireless work for Hitchin and North Hertfordshire District Council over many years.
99 HERTFORDSHIRE CONSTABULARY
Inspector Duncan Sales, Safer Neighbourhood Inspector with Hertfordshire Constabulary, thanked the Chairman for the opportunity to address the Committee and gave a verbal presentation regarding the crime statistics and issues regarding the Hitchin Area as follows:

• Hertfordshire Constabulary had not done as well as it could have previously in the recording of crime.
• As a result of the National Crime Recording Standards, Hertfordshire was now recording all crime and, as a consequence, the crime figures were higher.

Crime Statistics
All Crime
Hertfordshire - 5.3 percent increase.
Hitchin - 8 percent decrease.

This result had been achieved through a lot of partnership working including working closely with Neighbourhood Watch

Burglary - Dwelling
Hertfordshire - 3.1 percent increase.
North Hertfordshire - 20.6 percent decrease.
Hitchin - 32 percent decrease.

The Police undertook a lot of crime prevention work such as the “after dark” work. Houses that were not lit after dark were identified, this was followed up with providing time switches and advice such as ensuring that doors were double locked, which had reduced the amount of burglaries.

Burglary - Other
North Hertfordshire - 26 percent reduction.
Hitchin 28 percent reduction.

A lot of work, including cross border work with Bedfordshire, had been undertaken to reduce burglaries from sheds and garages.

Vehicle Crime
Hertfordshire - 20 percent increase.
North Hertfordshire - 4.4 percent increase.
Hitchin - 5 percent increase.

A spate of damage to 18 tyres last week had impacted on the figures in this area.

Domestic Abuse / Safeguarding
North Hertfordshire - 47 percent increase.
Hitchin - 53 percent increase.

The Police were extremely aware of Domestic abuse and safeguarding, which included not only physical abuse, but also other types of abuse such as financial and psychological.

An increase in this area of crime was viewed positively as it demonstrated that victims felt able to come forward to receive the support needed.

In January a Domestic Abuse Crime Suite was launched which was staffed by an increased number of Officers.

In November 2015 a course regarding child exploitation was attended by more than 90 people.

Robbery
Hitchin - 54 percent (10 offences) reduction.

This reduction demonstrated that Hitchin was one of the safer places in Hertfordshire to live and visit.

Assault With Injury
Hitchin - 3 percent increase

Some of this increase was associated with the increase in reports of domestic abuse.

The Police were keen to support the night-time economy by helping it to be fun, vibrant and safe.

Work had been undertaken with the local nightclubs including issuing the Clubs with breathalysers to help reduce the amount of drunkenness.

Rocabessa had been closed following problems and this had been as a result of the close partnership working between the Police and NHDC’s Licensing Department.

Shoplifting
Hitchin - 29 percent increase.

The Police worked closely with shops and encouraged them to report offences in this busy Town.

Theft from Persons
Hitchin - 50 percent reduction.

There had been a spate of thefts from older persons just before Christmas. Offenders had been sitting inside banks watching people using ATMs and gleaning their PIN numbers, later stealing the card.

The Police had worked with the banks to move the seating which had resulted in the reduction in offences.

Neighbourhood Watch
North Hertfordshire currently had 60 percent coverage (8,000 members) of Neighbourhood Watch.

This was an effective means of relaying information and disseminating crime prevention information.

North Herts Older Persons Activity Sessions
These sessions were an opportunity to enable older people to receive information and advice from a number of different professionals such as the Police and Trading Standards.

Priorities and the Future
• The priorities in Hitchin included tackling burglary and retail crime;
• The Police teams in North Hertfordshire remained at full strength;
• Sergeant Oliphant was the local sergeant who led a team of 9;
• The local teams provided advice to older people about safety and to younger people about subjects such a sexting;
• Community awareness events were organised, such as that held at the Westmill Community Centre in 2015.

Members commented that the OWL messaging service was extremely useful and helpful and that the partnership working between the Police and Council, particularly around encouraging the reporting of domestic abuse, licensing issues and community awareness was something of which to be proud.

Members asked several questions including whether criminals could use legitimate work in an area to “scam” people and whether the cuts to Police staffing would impact on Hitchin and North Hertfordshire.

Inspector Sales advised that the Police and NHDC Officers worked closely with organisations that were working legitimately in the area to keep people and the area safe.

In respect of staffing levels, Inspector Sales advised Members that, currently there were no cuts, however, if funds were cut in the future, this may change.

The Chairman thanked Inspector Sales for his presentation and for the work of his team in making Hitchin a safer place.
100 PUBLIC PARTICIPATION - SUGGESTIONS FOR IMPROVEMENTS TO HITCHIN TOWN CENTRE
Mr David Morgan had offered his apologies that he would not be able to attend the meeting. He would however like to present at the next meeting.
101 PUBLIC PARTICIPATION - NATIONAL CHILDBIRTH TRUST (NCT)
Ms Hannah Lane, National Childbirth Trust, thanked the Chairman for the opportunity to address the Committee regarding the grant application.

Ms Lane informed Members that, although it was a national organisation, she worked as a volunteer for the local branch, which was a local charity supporting parents.

The local branch comprised 400 households and had 200 members. It provided 6 baby/toddler groups free of charge as well as anti- natal groups, breastfeeding groups and advice to parents including those on low incomes.

They were organising their first ‘bump, baby and beyond’ exhibition, which would showcase the NCT and other organisations and enable parents to meet parenting experts and buy unique products. 40 exhibitors were expected including Childrens Centres and Citizens Advice and a small entrance fee would be charged.

Grant funding would be used for room hire and advertising.

Members commented that this was an excellent organisation. They also cautioned that grant funding for any organisation could not be a regular occurrence.

The Chairman thanked Ms Lane for her presentation.
102 PUBLIC PARTICIPATION - HITCHIN STROKE GROUP
Prior to the item being discussed Councillor Joan Kirby declared an interest as she knew the group well and organised transport for them. She would however take part in the debate and vote.

Mrs Carol Galloway, Hitchin Stroke Group, thanked the Chairman for the opportunity to address the Committee and gave a verbal presentation regarding the grant application.

Mrs Galloway informed Members that the Hitchin Stroke Group started at the Lister Hospital in the 1990s and currently met every Monday afternoon.

The Group was an opportunity for people to meet and exchange experiences. Members no longer had to feel that they were alone and didn’t feel embarrassed when speaking to each other. They provided activities such as presentations and games days, charging members £1 per session.

Ken, a user of the Group told Members that a stroke could affect anyone at any time, and that some of the members had been attending for 15years and would be very sad if it could not continue.

Mrs Galloway advised that there were currently 7 members and just 2 volunteers and that funding was vital for the survival of the group. This was an important service for a forgotten section of the community.

The Chairman thanked Mrs Galloway and her colleagues for their presentation.
103 PUBLIC PARTICIPATION - FAMILY MATTERS
Prior to the item being considered Councillor Richard Thake declared an interest as he was a good friend of the presenter. He advised that this was not a pecuniary interest and therefore he would take part in the debate and vote.

Ms Charmaine Rogers, Family Matters, thanked the Chairman for the opportunity to address the Committee and gave a verbal presentation regarding the grant application.

Ms Rogers informed Members that Family Matters was an independent community based group that meets in the Childrens Centre.

They wished to offer a 6 week holiday programme supporting families under stress such as bereavement, child protection issues or domestic violence.
The programme was designed to educate and empower families regarding:

• Obesity - by providing budget cookery sessions;
• The Benefits of physical exercise - by offering nature and buggy walks, swimming and baby yoga;
• Emotional wellbeing - by providing positive play;
• Good mental health - by promoting positive parenting.

Members were advised that Family Matters had grown out of the withdrawal of funding for Homestart and that they had worked hard to get the group up and running.

The Chairman thanked Mrs Rogers for her presentation.
104 PUBLIC PARTICIPATION - HITCHIN THESPIANS
Mrs Anne Crook, Hitchin Thespians, thanked the Chairman for the opportunity to address the Committee and gave a verbal presentation regarding the grant application.

Mrs Crook informed Members that Hitchin Thespians was formed in 1902 to produce musical shows and was now a registered charity with 100 members.

Woodside Hall was built 35 years ago to replace their previous rehearsal space and was a very busy building, used widely by the community including activities for children, weddings, christenings, birthdays and wakes.

Some venues have recently increased their prices so much that the Thespians could not afford to hire them and therefore the Hitchin Thespians now produce most of their plays in - house.

Woodside Hall was now on the shabby side with furniture and fittings needing replacing. The floor of the hall had been covered in carpet tiles when it was built and a plastic dancing mat was placed over the tiles, both were now looking the worse for wear.

They had undertaken a lot of research into the most appropriate replacement flooring and wished to use a heavy duty vinyl, which would be robust enough to cope with both grand pianos and stiletto heels.

The Hitchin Thespians were raising funds themselves, but would appreciate some support with the costs of this flooring.

Members asked why both Woodside Hall and the Queen Mother Theatre were needed and for details of their charitable work and an explanation of their finances.

Mrs Crook advised that the Hitchin Thespians sang whilst the members of the Queen Mother Theatre generally acted. The Hitchin Thespians had a junior group of local children, aged from 8 years old, who perform in their own concerts and three groups used the hall at much reduced rates.

In respect of finances, the Hall cost approximately £16,000 per year to operate and each production could cost £6,000. Hiring of the hall did not cover the operating costs. Fundraising had raised £2,000 to date.

The Chairman thanked Mrs Crook for her presentation.
105 PUBLIC PARTICIPATION - RHYTHMS OF THE WORLD
Mr John Brierley, a Trustee of Rhythms of the World, thanked the Chairman for the opportunity to address the Committee and gave a verbal presentation regarding the grant application.

Mr Brierley informed Members that this year, in view of circumstances, they wished to celebrate 25 years of putting on events by providing 25 community based events.

The Trustees have directed that each event must be self financing and make a profit, in order to repay creditors, however it won’t be possible to charge for events in public places such as the Town Centre.

Funding was being sought to help with the costs of putting on the events.

Members asked whether Rhythms of the World had a vision of how they would continue and what connection there was with the Walsworth Festival.

Mr Brierley advised that the aim was to return to providing a large event, although this was unlikely to be held at the Priory. This year there was an opportunity to trial using the Town Centre, as they had in previous years.

Initial discussions had taken place with the organisers of the Walsworth Festival and Rhythms would definitely be taking part, however the extent of their contribution had not yet been agreed.

Members asked for an explanation of the financial position

Mr Brierley advised that they had an arrangement with the 52 creditors to pay 82.5 percent and each creditor had been given a commitment that their debt will be completely paid. Finances had improved, but they had not yet repaid the debts.

Each event organised will have a financial proposal and will be monitored to ensure that the charity won’t carry more risk.

Members expressed concerned about the current financial position of Rhythms of the World. The Chair explained that funds could not be passed directly to ROTW as those funds could be claimed by existing creditors and that would not be acceptable.

If the Committee were minded to approve grant funding, stringent conditions would need to be imposed.

This was accepted by Mr Brierley who thanked the committee.

The Chairman thanked Mr Brierley for his presentation.
106 PUBLIC PARTICIPATION - NHDC CONSULTATION PROCESS
Mr Bill Sellicks, Hitchin Forum, thanked the Chairman for the opportunity to address the Committee and gave a verbal presentation regarding NHDC’s consultation process as follows:

The issue
There was a variation in practice across the range of consultations regarding Hertfordshire County Council and North Hertfordshire District Council consultations on projects which impacts on their effectiveness.

A Useful Example
The consultation regarding Butts Close and Cadwell Lane Greenspace Action Plans were good practice because:
• Local people and local Councillors were consulted before the proposals were drafted;
• There was a ‘Walk-round’ with no fixed agenda at which the Countryside Management Service representative recorded feedback and provided background
• Comments made during the ‘Walk-round’ were reflected in the draft Greenspace Action Plans;
• After the first draft was available for consultation feedback was gathered through the Hitchin Forum website;
• The Friends of Butts Close were engaged in the consultation and encouraged others to get involved;
• A fair time was given for comments to be submitted;
• The final document reflected ideas expressed by those involved.

The Problem Areas
• When consultations are too late and the plans are already well advanced;
• Justification for the proposals are lacking;
• Clarity and detail of information impacts on access. Lengthy and complex documents can make it difficult for stakeholders to engage;
• When questionnaires are flawed and/or the data provided is questionable;
• Lack of open-ness and availability can make it impossible for outsiders to judge the outcomes;
• Overall lack of consistency of approach on similar projects.

The Consequences
• Responses are negative which causes frustration and leads to cynicism;
• Frustration on the part of Officers and Councillors;
• Abandonment of worthy projects;
• Cynicism of respondents if ideas are ignored, refuted without justification, or ruled irrelevant;
• Disengagement of those involved.

Better Consultation
• Consultation can be a powerful tool, not a paper exercise which becomes a burden to Officers;
• Desirable features of consultations include:
- Early stage consultations with an open-ended approach;
- The broad aim and main justification made explicit;
- Specific options available that reflect contributions made in later versions and include an analysis of strengths and weaknesses;
- Invite comments from the community, community groups can help with identifying, contacting and engaging stakeholders;
- Ensure consistent practice (but not uniformity).

Members were grateful for the presentation and the suggestions made and acknowledged that there was a wide variety of practices across Hertfordshire County Council and North Hertfordshire District Council when undertaking consultations. They commented that community engagement was an extremely complex area and that opinions within a community regarding a subject can change very quickly. They noted that the timing of consultations was sometimes too late in the programme and the duration was sometimes limited. The timing of and duration of each consultation needed to be looked at carefully and where possible and appropriate consideration should be given to either consulting at an earlier stage and/or extending deadlines to ensure as much inclusion as possible.

It was agreed that Hitchin Forum would research in more detail and revert at a future date with some proposals.

The Chairman thanked Mr Sellicks for his presentation.
107 GRANTS, GRANT APPLICATIONS AND COMMUNITY UPDATE
The Communities Officer presented the report of the Head of Policy and Community Services entitled Grant Applications and Community Update and drew attention to the following:

Budgets
The 2014/15 Development Budget had now been fully committed and the current level of unallocated funds within the 2015/16 Development Budget was £22,820

Prospective Grants for 2016/17
Members previously requested that the Communities Officer approach organisations who had received grant funding to ascertain their possible future needs and the responses were detailed in Paragraph 8.2 of the report.

Members considered that, as there was no threat that unallocated funds would be removed from the Committee’s budget there was no need to pre-allocate funds.

The Chairman thanked the Communities Officer for spending time and effort over the last two years in ensuring that carry forwards from previous years were spent, resulting in a clear and easy to understand budget sheet.

RESOLVED:

(1) That the budgetary expenditure, balances and carry forwards from the Development, Visioning and Ward Budgets, as set out at Appendix A, be noted;

(2) That the actions taken by the Communities Officer to promote greater community capacity and wellbeing for Hitchin be noted.

REASON FOR DECISION: To keep Members of the Committee apprised of the latest developments in community activities in Hitchin.
108 GRANT APPLICATION - NATIONAL CHILDBIRTH TRUST (NCT)
RESOLVED: That grant funding of £500 be awarded to National Childbirth Trust from the Discretionary Budget as funding towards the cost of the Bump, Baby and Beyond Fair 2016.

REASON FOR DECISION: To improve services provided by local organisations and groups which are accessed by the community.
109 GRANT APPLICATION - HITCHIN STROKE GROUP
Prior to the item being discussed Councillor Joan Kirby declared an interest as she knew the group well and organised transport for them. She would however take part in the debate and vote.

RESOLVED: That grant funding of £1,000 be awarded to the Hitchin Stroke Group from the Discretionary Budget as support funding towards the cost of providing weekly two hour meetings.

REASON FOR DECISION: To improve services provided by local organisations and groups which are accessed by the community.
110 GRANT APPLICATION - FAMILY MATTERS
Prior to the item being considered Councillor Richard Thake declared an interest as he was a good friend of the presenter. He advised that this was not a pecuniary interest and therefore he would take part in the debate and vote.

RESOLVED: That grant funding of £931 be awarded to Family Matters from the Discretionary Budget as support funding towards the cost of providing a six week holiday programme.

REASON FOR DECISION: To improve services provided by local organisations and groups which are accessed by the community.
111 GRANT APPLICATION - HITCHIN THESPIANS
It was noted that Hitchin Thespians had a large sum of money in their bank account and it was proposed and seconded that grant funding if £1,500 be awarded to Hitchin Thespians.

A Member advised the Committee that, although there was a large balance in the Groups bank account, it would appear that much of this was already committed in annual running costs and it was proposed and seconded that grant funding of £4,000 be awarded to Hitchin Thespians.

There was some discussion that the members of the Hitchin Thespians could each make a contribution towards the sum needed.

The proposal for granting £4,000 was withdrawn and a further proposal was made that grant funding of £2,500 be awarded to Hitchin Thespians.

Upon the vote it was

RESOLVED: That grant funding of £2,500 be awarded to Hitchin Thespians from the Discretionary Budget as support funding towards the cost of new flooring.

REASON FOR DECISION: To improve services provided by local organisations and groups which are accessed by the community.
112 GRANT APPLICATION - RHYTHMS OF THE WORLD
Concern was expressed as to whether relevant permissions had been sought for the proposed Town Centre events such as licences and arranging security and whether or not enough detail was included with the application. There was some discussion regarding previous events and that it had become a more commercial venture over the years, but the return to the Town Centre was welcome as it made the event more community based.

It was acknowledged that the event bought people into the Town Centre which benefited the Town and that the outreach work undertaken by the group was valuable.

The main concern was whether or not creditors could claim any grant funding awarded by this Committee which was a risk of public money.

The Head of Policy and Community Services advised Members that, if the Committee was minded to award grant funding, bearing in mind the use of the phrase “creditors” in the presentation, they could request that all records, including details of creditors, were checked and, if satisfied, payment made under delegated powers in consultation with the Chair in order to reduce the risk and that an arrangement be made to make payments direct to suppliers rather than through the bank account of ROTW.

It was proposed, seconded and

RESOLVED:

(1) That grant funding of £4,280 be awarded to Rhythms of the World from the Discretionary Budget as support funding towards the cost of providing three events to celebrate 25 years of Rhythms of the World.

(2) That the Head of Policy and Community Services be requested to process the grant funding detailed in (1) above under delegated powers subject to receiving all information requested and being satisfied about the group’s financial position, details of creditors, detailed event plans, and safeguard expenditure by payment only on receipt of bills, and arrange for a process set up to facilitate the paying of bills presented rather than transfer funds to the organisation. This arrangement to ensure that granted funds are not paid to existing creditors and are ring-fenced for the purpose granted.

REASON FOR DECISION: To improve services provided by local organisations and groups which are accessed by the community.
113 HITCHIN TOWN CENTRE MANAGER.
Mr Keith Hoskins thanked the Chairman for the opportunity to address the Committee and gave a verbal presentation regarding the activities, events and issues relating to Hitchin Town Centre as follows:

Riverside Walk
Mr Hoskins asked whether there was an update regarding the Riverside Walk.

The Chairman referred to an email from the Senior Estates Surveyor and advised that some progress was being made regarding the Riverside Walk and NHDC Officers had met with various landowners to discuss progressing this project and work continued.

Other Issues
• Work was being undertaken at the moment to get bags of litter removed from the Town Centre;
• A list of projects and requests for grant funding would be submitted to the next meeting of this Committee including floral displays and chewing gum clearance;
• Plans were being made to mark the Queen’s 90th Birthday at Hitchin Priory on 12 June 2016;
• Discussions were being held with the Royal British Legion regarding relocation of the flagpole;
• The Royal British Legion building had now been sold;
• Herts Food and Drink Awards would be held in Hitchin on 6 June 2016. Approximately 20 Hitchin Businesses were nominated for awards and voting was via their website;
• Ascot Ladies Day would be held in Ickleford on 16 June 2016, which would raise funds for Hitchin Initiative.

The Chairman thanked Mr Hoskins for his presentation.
114 BUTTS CLOSE AND CADWELL LANE MANAGEMENT PLAN
Prior to the item being discussed Councillor Richard Thake declared an interest in that the Greenspace Action Plan included work on land owned by the Hitchin Cow Commoner Trust on which he was an NHDC representative. This was not a pecuniary interest therefore he would take part in the debate and any vote.

The Service Manager - Grounds Maintenance presented the report of the Strategic Director of Customer Services entitled Updated Greenspace Action Plans for Butts Close and Cadwell Lane.

He thanked the Hitchin Forum, Countryside Management Service and Friends of Butts Close for their help with the consultation and drew attention to the following:

Butts Close
This Greenspace Action Plan for Butts Close was a continuation plan which aimed to formalise and improve on previous work in the area. The sum of £30,000 had been allocated for capital works at Butts Close.

Cadwell Lane
The Cadwell Lane Greenspace Action Plan was a new plan which included the football pitch.

Cadwell Lane had a chalk stream, of which there were only 200 in the country, and the aim was to improve biodiversity around the football pitch and improve the riverside.

A number of permissions were required before the work could be completed, therefore initial work would be office based to gain the necessary permissions.

Members noted that part of the Cadwell Lane area needed the co-operation of Network Rail in order to carry out works. They commented at the good work being undertaken regarding the chalk stream and asked whether the Environment Agency had been contacted for support.

The Service Manager - Grounds Maintenance advised that the Action Plans had been circulated to the Environment Agency and that, as this was an environmentally sensitive location, resources could be used to secure external funding.

Funding
Both plans have an emphasis on securing external funding and using the Countryside Management Service and community input.

Members noted that no budget had so far been allocated to Cadwell Lane and suggested that the Service Manager- Grounds Maintenance return to a future meeting of this Committee with a business plan for a project that could be considered for grant funding, a figure of £5,000 was suggested which would greatly assist with the work.

RESOLVED:

(1) That the new Management Plans for Butts Close and Cadwell Lane be supported and noted;

(2) That the Service Manager - Grounds Maintenance be requested to report back to this Committee with a business plan for a project that could be funded by this Committee.

REASON FOR DECISION: To enable the Hitchin Committee to comment on the new Management Plans for Butts Close and Cadwell Lane.
115 INFORMATION NOTE - BANCROFT RECREATION GROUND
The Hitchin Committee received an Information Note regarding Bancroft Recreation Ground and the Service Manager - Grounds Maintenance drew attention to the following:

• The toilet facilities were almost complete;
• Orders had been placed for the connection of services;
• The project was on course for the planned opening date in May 2016.

He informed Members that, in order to install the splash pad, a large amount of top soil had been removed and stored at the Recreation Ground. In order to utilise this soil, rather than paying to have it removed, a quote had been obtained to remove the tennis courts and use the top soil and turf for landscaping. Also conifers at the front of the Recreation Ground would be removed.

Members supported the proposal to remove the old tennis courts and lay to grass in the short term and suggested that it would be good to get feedback from users once this had been completed.

RESOLVED: That the Hitchin Committee endorses the removal of the tennis courts and the laying of turf in the area.

REASON FOR DECISION: To consider the work being undertaken at Bancroft Recreation Ground.
116 INFORMATION NOTE: NORTH HERTFORDSHIRE DISTRICT MUSEUM AND COMMUNITY FACILITY AT HITCHIN TOWN HALL
The Committee received a brief updated Information Note regarding the North Hertfordshire Museum and Community Facility at Hitchin Town Hall.
117 WARD AND OUTSIDE ORGANISATIONS - MEMBERS’ REPORTS
Number 80 Sunday Bus Service
Councillor Bernard Lovewell informed Members that the Number 80 bus service had been part funded by County Councillors and had operated as a pilot scheme for 6 months. This pilot scheme had been extended to the end of March 2016 and had been used for over 100 journeys. The route required twice this amount to be financially viable and therefore was unlikely to continue.

County Councillor Locality Budgets
Councillor Judi Billing advised that County Councillor Locality Budgets would be reduced in April 2016 from the current £10,000 to £5,000.

Town Twinning
Councillor David Leal-Bennett advised that the 40th anniversary of twinning between Hitchin and Nuit St George was in May 2016 and that a trip was being organised to visit Nuits St George.

Graffiti Removal
Councillor Ray Shakespeare-Smith advised that graffiti could be reported on-line through the NHDC website.
Published on Monday, 25th April, 2016
9.51p.m