Agenda and minutes

Community Select Committee - Tuesday, 19 September 2023 6.00pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Daneshill House, Danestrete, Stevenage

Contact: Abbie Hamilton (01438) 242587  Email:

No. Item




Apologies for absence were received by Councillors Ellie Plater and John Duncan.


There were no declarations of interest.



MINUTES - WEDNESDAY 26 JULY 2023 pdf icon PDF 213 KB

To approve as a correct record the Minutes of the Community Select Committee held on Wednesday 26 July 2023.


It was RESOLVED: That the Minutes of the Meeting of the Committee held on 26 July 2023 be approved as a true record of the proceedings and be signed by the Chair.




To receive an update on the Cultural Strategy from officers engaged in this work and from the Executive Portfolio Holder for Culture, Leisure and Information Technology, Cllr Loraine Rossati.


Presentation slides to follow.


The Chair introduced Councillor Loraine Rosatti, Executive Portfolio Holder for Culture, Rob Gregory, Operations Director, Sam Daisley, Museum Cultural Development Officer, and Jo Ward, Museum Manager/Curator.


Cllr Loraine Rossati informed Members that there had been a lot of progress since the Cultural Strategy last came before the Community Select Committee. They were focusing on “people powered art” and “people powered culture” which aimed to lead culture, heritage and leisure for our area and our people. There was a lot of activity and creativity at the community level and there was more the Council could do to support this, but not lead. This also linked to the Councils ambitions to reduce health inequality and improve mental and physical health. Covid and the cost-of-living crisis has impacted mental health and the ability to take part in creative activities that local residents did before.


The Operations Director gave a presentation which included:

·         An Arts & Culture Officer was appointed in 2018.

·         They were focusing on the Stevenage story of the first new town.

·         The Junction 7 Creatives were formed in 2018 to come together in an organised way to fund creative activities.

·         There had been successful funding bids in 2020 to the Arts Council and National Lottery Heritage Fund.

·         The vision was to have flagship performing arts, museum and heritage facilities, creative industries spaces and hubs to attract talent, aniconic public realm arts programme, and support for wellbeing and skills development.

·         The ambition was to grow the festival and event offer, protect the Gordon Craig Theatre offer to provide a good or better facility, a new museum, high quality music facilities like Old Town Live, recognising the sports heritage in Stevenage, and the Hertfordshire Cultural Education Partnership in schools.

·         The priorities were to encourage more people to participate in culture, particularly looking at ways to engage people who wouldn’t typically be involved.

·         So far, they had mainstreamed the Cultural and Museum Officer role as they recognised the importance of the museum.

·         Junction 7 Creatives had created the utilisation of Meanwhile space, so empty buildings can be used for culture, arts, and creative potential. These would eventually be commercial buildings but in the meantime can be used as a creative space.

·         There had been some projects such as Battle of the Bands, New Town New Art, new bus station artwork, and adding to the Stevenage walk of fame.

·         They were focusing on culture led regeneration and ensuring culture was linked within the Stevenage regeneration.


The Museum Cultural Development Officer informed the Committee that:

·         They had been planning an art and heritage trail to create a safe and interesting route, both cycle and path to view points of interest. There would be different routes for different abilities/times and would be a reusable resource.

·         They planned to improve cycleways, such as new murals in three underpasses near the Stevenage Football Club.

·         They were using the meanwhile use policy to display artwork to encourage community pride.

·         They had a working relationship with Junction 7 Creatives and had projects  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.



To carry out a pre-scrutiny assessment of the revised Housing Allocations Policy ahead of the policy being considered at a meeting of the Executive. The Executive Portfolio Holder for Housing & Housing Development and Housing Officers will attend to answer Members questions.


Presentation slides to follow.


The Chair introduced Councillor Jeanette Thomas, Executive Portfolio Holder for Housing & Housing Development, Charlotte Carter, Housing Business Support, Lori Smith, Housing Supply Manager, Tracy Jackson, Operations Manager Providing Homes, and Rob Gregory, Operations Director.


Cllr Jeanette Thomas informed Members that they had been working with the community and the Committee to look at the housing allocations policy and reminded Members they had to be aware that more people wanted homes than they had homes available. Stevenage had a housing development team who also built homes to sell to build more social housing. They were also retrofitting and maintaining the existing homes as well as building more.


The Operations Manager gave a presentation on the housing allocations policy which the Council was required to have by law. The policy outlined the process for how the Council let social housing and made the best use of the stock as well as maximising access and choice for applicants. The team were looking at producing an easy-to-read guide so everyone can use it and understand the policy. The aim of the review was to respond to the increasing demand for not enough homes, ensuring the policy was clear and helping those in the greatest need.


The first proposed change was to only accept applicants onto the housing register if they had a specific housing need. This was applied to the new policy as a qualification rule. Some Members raised concerns on how this would be means tested and it was advised that this would be difficult. Another Member asked whether this would change who can access the housing register. The Committee were advised that 16-year-olds, or anyone with a suitable housing situation, would not be able to access the housing register. The Committee were aware that this would be an unpopular move for many local residents but was realistic given the reality of national policy on social housing and therefore reluctantly supported this policy change.


The second proposed change was to disqualify those with sufficient savings or incomes from applying for social housing. This was not applied to the new policy as it was resource heavy given that each application would have to be means tested if it had been applied and the question of what was ‘affordable’ has changed due to the cost-of-living crisis. A Member asked whether there would be a financial test once they had applied and it was advised that an affordability test was only done with affordable housing, not social. The Committee supported not applying this to the new policy as it would be unworkable without means testing each case.


The third proposed change was to introduce a New Generation scheme which would give priority to 1 bed need adults to enable the downsizing of tenants. This was not applied to the new policy as the stock levels were not sufficient to support the New Generation scheme. The team would continue to review the impact of the new allocation policy. The Committee agreed that this policy option should not  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.



To consider any Part I business accepted by the Chair as urgent


The Chair and Committee thanked Rob Gregory, Operations Director, who was leaving the Council, for his service and help to the Community Select Committee and wished him well for the future.


The Chair also invited Members to sign a book of farewell for Jim McManus, Director of Public Health for Hertfordshire, who was also leaving the Council.




To consider the following motions:


1. That under Section 100(A) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the ground that they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as described in paragraphs 1 – 7 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act as amended by Local Government (Access to Information) (Variation) Order 2006.


2. That Members consider the reasons for the following reports being in Part II and determine whether or not maintaining the exemption from disclosure of the information contained therein outweighs the public interest in disclosure.




Not required.



To consider any Part II business accepted by the Chair as urgent


There was none.