Agenda, decisions and minutes

Hitchin Committee - Tuesday, 11th October, 2022 7.30 pm

Venue: Christchurch, Bedford Road, Hitchin

Contact: Committee Services - 01462 474655  Email:

No. Item




Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Raj Bhakar, Sam Collins and Kay Tart.


Councillor James Denselow was absent.


Apologies for absence were received by Councillor Raj Bhakar, Kay Tart and Sam Collins


Councillor James Denselow was absent



MINUTES - 28 JUNE 2022 pdf icon PDF 250 KB

To take as read and approve as a true record the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on the 28 June 2022.


RESOLVED: That the Minutes of the Meeting of the Committee held on 28 June 2022 be approved as a true record of the proceedings and be signed by the Chair.



Councillor Ian Albert, as Chair, proposed and Councillor Keith Hoskins seconded and, following a vote, it was:


RESOLVED: That the Minutes of the Meeting of the Committee held on 28 June 2022 be approved as a true record of the proceedings and be signed by the Chair.




Members should notify the Chair of other business which they wish to be discussed at the end of either Part I or Part II business set out in the agenda. They must state the circumstances which they consider justify the business being considered as a matter of urgency.


The Chair will decide whether any item(s) raised will be considered.


There was no other business notified.


There was no other business notified.



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 Declarable Interest and are required to notify the Chair 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 a Declarable Interest, wishing to exercise a ‘Councillor Speaking Right’, must declare this at the same time as the interest, move to the public area before speaking to the item and then must leave the room before the debate and vote.


(1)  The Chair welcomed those present at the meeting, especially those who had attended to give a presentation;


(2)  The Chair advised that, in accordance with Council Policy, the meeting would be audio recorded;


(3)  The Chair drew attention to the item on the agenda front pages regarding Declarations of Interest and reminded Members that, in line with the Code of Conduct, any Declarations of Interest needed to be declared immediately prior to the item in question.



(1)       The Chair welcomed those present at the meeting, especially those who had attended to give a presentation;


(2)       The Chair advised that, in accordance with Council Policy, the meeting would be audio recorded;


(3)       The Chair drew attention to the item on the agenda front pages regarding Declarations of Interest and reminded Members that, in line with the Code of Conduct, any Declarations of Interest needed to be declared immediately prior to the item in question.



To receive a verbal presentation from the Hitchin BID Manager.


The Chair invited Tom Hardy to give a verbal presentation for Members



Audio recording –


Mr Tom Hardy, Hitchin BID Manager, thanked the Chair for the opportunity to address the Committee and gave a verbal presentation regarding the issues and activities in Hitchin Town Centre and drew attention to the following:


·         Some businesses are seeing a 300% increase in their utility bills. We are doing a workshop with businesses on how to look up cost saving initiatives. We are working with an organisation to deliver that

·         I am working with the Association of Town and City Managers on a national campaign to lobby to government to lower the VAT rate by 215% for a period of time similar to what they did in the pandemic and other European countries. Also lobbying for a business rates review that we were promised in 2019. We need to level the playing field between all businesses and bricks and mortar high street businesses

·         We are doing a lot of work with other towns. We have 200 bids signed up to this and I am attending regular meetings for this

·         I held a Churchgate business meeting where all the businesses in Churchgate were invited. 7 of them replied saying they would come and 23 ended up turning up. I am on the project board representing businesses so I wanted to get a good idea of how they felt about building, short and long term aspirations, and understand issues.

·         I will be working with Councillor Hoskins on a questionnaire that we will get out to businesses. We want to understand what the priorities are and how to take this to the next project board meeting.

·         As for updates in the town, we are changing all our summer planting to winter planting.

·         The Christmas lights will be going up on the 24th October for testing. These won’t be turned on until after Remembrance.

·         The Christmas tree is due to be installed around a week before the Christmas lights will be turned on, this will be Saturday 19th November. This will be from 12pm-8pm this year. We have the kids carols in the daytime and the lights will be turned on at 6pm.

·         We have put up 42 lamp post banners around the town and there are print and postcards in the information centre as they were quite popular on social media

·         We have come up with a new brand for Hitchin, it is a H with two lines coming off it. This will start to be shown around the town. Many people don’t know what it is so we are trying to come up with a public facing brand so people recognise this as Hitchin brand.

·         We are using this to move into a new website which should be launched in the next couple months called Visit Hitchin. This will work alongside Hitchin hub. Visit Hitchin will be for residents, public and visitors and Hitchin hub will be for business related things.

·         We have the French market arriving Thursday-Sunday. We have the Halloween trail arriving at the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 82.



To receive petitions, comments and questions from the public, including Grant Applicants and:


Anni Sander – Plastic Free Hitchin

James Willis – Hitchin Creatives


The Chair invited Ann Sander from Plastic Free Hitchin to give a verbal presentation for Members.


The Chair invited Haziq Patel from Hitchin Mosque to give a verbal presentation for Members.



Danny Pearson informed Members that the two grant applicants for this evening have both cancelled yesterday, in summary:


·         The Letchworth Centre for Healthy Living approached the Letchworth committee two weeks ago and were advised to get a third quote. They were hoping they would get a new quote but they haven’t so they have pulled out this evening until they hear back form the Letchworth committee and they may defer to December or the new year.

·         NCT were successful in a Tesco blue chip grant and they want to come back in December.


Councillor Ian Albert informed Members that James Willis from Hitchin Creatives was also meant to be in attendance but will hopefully come to the December meeting instead. He also reminded Members the exhibition will be open in the museum on Friday.  


Councillor Ian Albert gave a statement in support of the Plastic Free Initative which read:


North Hertfordshire Council fully supports the work Plastic Free Hitchin and other groups are doing in our local community. Over the past year both officers and councillors have supported Plastic Free Hitchin. This includes:

- Publicising and sharing of activities online and in council newsletters.

- Providing a venue for the recent Pre-loved Uniform Pop-up Shop in Bancroft Gardens.

- Collecting the waste gathered during July's litter pick on Windmill Hill

- A regular call between key councillors and officers and all waste reduction initiatives in the district, to facilitate collaboration across towns.

The council is regularly participating in communication campaigns to educate residents around the issues around waste and plastic in particular. Furthermore the council is currently reviewing it's waste collection regime to encourage residents further to reduce their waste.

North Hertfordshire Council is looking forward to continuing its work with Plastic Free Hitchin in future.


The Chair invited Ann Sander, Plastic Free Hitchin, to give a verbal presentation which included:


·         We got accredited and we have been working towards the plastic free community framework. It is a mature framework that towns, cities and neighbourhoods can enter to get accredited. We got the certificate in July so we can advertise as a plastic free community. We worked towards 5 objectives to achieve this.

·         5th objective was a steering group

·         The idea is to have bigger ideas and look at the real issues around waste and single use plastic around the town and how we can solve this

·         The key things that came up in the meeting were a deposit scheme for coffee cups and takeaway containers

·         We will meet 4 times a year

·         4th objective was to run a certain amount of events

·         We exceeded this and going forward to be considered an active plastic free community you have to run 3 events a year. We have done 10 so far and we are planning to do 12 over the next couple months.

·         We did a uniform pop up whichw as one of our biggest and most well known event. Over 1000 garments were reused and we raised  ...  view the full minutes text for item 83.




The Chair invited Haziq Patel, Hitchin Mosque to give a verbal presentation which included:


·         A mosque is more than a place of worship. It is a hub for social gatherings, a place for education, a place people can meet and gather and look after their wellbeing.

·         The original mosque in Saudi Arabia had what we now would see as a charity. It held events, had a homeless shelter, held other faith groups and cultural fairs, distributed wealth and food and funeral rights.

·         Hitchin has a well established Muslim population and the mosque was established in 1984 in a terrace residential property. It is a registered charity and the maintenance and repairs are managed from the donations and goodwill of the congregation

·         The Hitchin mosque has a broad demographic and ethnically diverse representation and edeavours to support key deprived areas our community

·         The mosque remains a valuable community ifeline for the elderly and vital support to those with disabilities and their carers

·         The Muslim population has continued to group and has subsequently outgrown the current building and we are now in desperate need for a larger premises.

·         The mosque must remain accessible as Muslims are encouraged to pray 5 times a day. The current location has allowed generation families to settle around Hitchin Walsworth and Hitchin Bearton areas

·         There is also parking, as Ramadan in particular has high levels of traffic in the evenings, as well as the Friday Community Congregational prayer at midday. The lack of dedicated parking or suitable off-road parking means that it becomes difficult for members or visitors to arrive by their own transport

·         The mosque has a growing demand to deliver after school and weekend educational classes to Muslim children. There is also occasional demand for the mosque to be visited by local schools as part of RE studies. These have to be limited in size at present

·         The Islamic Society of Hitchin participated in inter-faith meetings and has quarterly open sessions in Hitchin town with a stall. Due to lack of space we are unable to hold public sessions. We would like to offer additional services as well, such as funeral and marriage services

·         We would like to ask your help in identifying a new suitable location that can accommodate the needs and growing Muslim community and to allow us to offer more extensive services. It needs to have dedicated or suitable off-road parking, ideally with a central location, but could also be in a mixed use area to minimise congestion.


The Chair thanked Haziq Patel for his presentation.


The following members asked questions:


·         Judi Billing

·         Nigel mason

·         Keith Hoskins

·         Ian Albert

·         Chris Lucas

·         Richard Thake


In response to questions, Haziq Patel advised:


·         A mosque has certain connotations. Ideally a mosque is an open space, similar to the Church we are in tonight. It doesn’t have to be anything specific that other religious buildings may need. The two wards are well represented and well recognised as the core community. They are there naturally because the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 84.



To inform Members of a six week public consultation on the draft North Hertfordshire District Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP) running from 26 September to 7 November 2022.

Additional documents:




(1)  That the Committee note the report

(2)  That Members are encouraged to respond to the North Herts District LCWIP consultation draft and encourage residents and local organisations to do so.



Edward Leigh gave introduced the LCWIP consultation for Members which included:


·        This plan is out for consultation at the moment.

·        It is for walking and cycling, looking at wider pavements, safer junctions, protected cycle lanes where we can find space, other traffic measures, etc

·        The modal filters are what make streets more safer and attracrive for people walking or cycling. This can include bollards on a road to stop through traffic, a one way system, reducing lanes, etc. These are often more controversial things as it may change the way people drive.

·        This is the first iteration and it focuses on towns in North Herts, Knebworth and the route from Hitchin to Stevenage.

·        We have identified routes in rural areas that are high priority but there are limited resources to audit them. So, we are starting work in the towns, to make those safe to walk and cycle around, before extending routes outward to the villages.

·        We will review the plan in 2 years with Herts County Council and provided we have funding we will do a second iteration.

·        The consultation is online and runs until Monday 7th November. This involves maps of all towns

·        We encourage residents, local businesses and groups to go online and make comments, suggestions or criticisms.

·        We want to get a plan that is the best it can possibly be with the things that people want

·        The slides that have been sent to the Councillors introduce the website. There is a map of Hitchin and as you scroll down it shows you in more detail the proposed changes. The “have your say” button is where you can add your comments.

·        All comments are reviewed and then published anonymously so everyone can see them

·        Hitchin has a good level of engagement already.

·        There is also a more general survey that can be completed

·        Active Travel England have funding and we can also use funding from developers


The following Members asked questions:


·        Clare Billing

In response to questions, Edward Leigh advised:


·        The transport plan is starting a sustainable spine to link Hitchin, Letchworth and Baldock. If we could create safer cycling routes this would create a large difference in road traffic. There is a major focus on how we can join towns together. There are alternative routes but many aren’t easy to do

·        Not sure if the Hitchin hoop is completely continuous. In Letchworth there was a goal to create a continuous loop and there is an aspiration to do this in Royston too. The LCWIP is more focused on utility routes, e.g. communiting. If there are elements of this that we can help we should be including those. To create a lesure route this would maybe be more of a community initiative


Councillor Nigel Mason agreed it was difficult to cycle from one side of Hitchin to the other.


Councillor Ian Albert suggested that it was up to the committee on how they wanted to respond to this. The Councillors could send in the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 85.





To provide Members an update on the recent acquisition of the Churchgate Shopping Centre.



The Chair provided a brief update to Members on the recent acquisition of the Churchgate Shopping Centre


Councillor Ian Albert updated Members on the recent acquisition of the Churchgate Shopping Centre which included:


·         This will be included in the next town talk and we can explore its possibilities

·         There is a meeting next week about if we can do a more formal public consultation before Christmas

·         We have had some comments. For example a child asked when the cinema was coming. This shows that there is interest from both young and old residents about what is in our town


Councillor Keith Hoskins also added that by the next meeting we should have a public consultation schedule




The Chair to provide a verbal update, and lead a discussion with Members, on Charnwood House.  


Councillor Keith Hoskins provided an update and lead a discussion on Charnwood House


Councillor Keith Hoskins provided an update for Members on Charnwood House which included:


·         The asbestos removal has gone ahead and should have been completed today

·         There was a meeting convened with all the interested parties that came to the open day. This was attended by about 30

·         The Charnwood community management association now has some new trustees which we will hopefully meet at the end of this week and can put together a proper proposal for it to be a community interest and fulfil our interest of it being retained as a community building


Councillor Ian Albert informed Members that they will keep the committee informed and will have regular updates about this.






To advise the Members on the current expenditure and balances of the Committee Grant budgets.


To bring to Members’ attention recent requests received for Committee grant funding, made by community groups and local organisations, including:


·        NCT North Herts

·        The Letchworth Centre for Healthy Living


To advise of the activities and schemes with which the Community Engagement officers have been involved in.


To bring to the Members’ attention some important community-based activities that will take place during the next few months

Additional documents:


RESOLVED: That the Committee be recommended to endorse actions taken by the Community Engagement team to promote greater community capacity and well-being for Hitchin.




(1)  To ensure the Members are kept informed of the work of the Community Engagement Team


(2)  This report intended to inform Members of the financial resources available. It draws attention to the current budgetary situation by assisting in the effective financial management of the budgets. This ensures that all actions are performed in line with the Authority’s Financial Regulations, the Council’s Constitution, and the guidance of the existing Grants policy as agreed by Cabinet in January 2020.


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



Danny Pearson, Community Engagement Officer, presented the report gave a verbal presentation, which included:


·         We have been processing grants to utilise the Health Protection board funding to assist communities recovering after the pandemic.

·         The PoetsIn grant from last meeting received over £15,022 from the Health Protection Board Fund and will be rolling out their programme for young and old

·         We have been running surgeries in North Herts and we will be in Churchgate if it is raining but in the town square if it is sunny.

·         We have various network groups going on. Youth action, food provision and the westmill group as well. We are partneted with the North Herts Strategy Partnership group now which is helpful. We have been engaging with youth and the groups that work with them, the arts and culture group was also very good.

·         We gave a presentation for North Herts CVS that had their AGM at the town hall. Before that it was a Ukranian refugee webinar which was well attended and available to watch on YouTube. We gave information on the work North Herts is doing for all refugees, and Hitchin is leading the way

·         Next year it wil be 50 years since Bob Marley played at the town hall. We want to put on a concert with a tribute act. At the very least we want to do a temporary plaque to mark the occasion.

·         We are continuing to share information through a mailing list and we are in touch with the community on social media

·         There has been a spike in anti-social behaviour in Letchworth and Hitchin. Some of the Councillors are working closely with the police and we are working closely with the market team and BID team on this

·         Local Democracy week is spanned over many weeks before and after the October half term. It was a slow uptake but now we have loads and Hitchin and Letchworth schools have been very receptive. We want to continue doing this throughout the year

·         We are gathering speakers for a community cabinet panel. We are doing this one on the cost of living.

·         The BID were unable to show the Queens funeral and North Herts Council couldn’t hire the screen. We contacted many places in Hitchin and venues stepped in to show it for those who were vulnerable etc

·         The snowman trail, which was in London and Birmingham, has been funded but they needed our local knowledge. We have picked out 12 locations and selected a school to have a workshop. We have also suggested a charity and local artist. The museum and library will also do workshops. The Hitchin band will do a live theatrical show.

·         There is an update of home is where the heart is. The exhibition was a massive success and has extended its run. A lot of people opened up and talked about issues within the community. We will have the same exhibition at Holy Saviour Church in November.


Councillor Judi Billing commented that she was  ...  view the full minutes text for item 88.



To receive any verbal reports from Members regarding Ward matters and Outside Organisations.


The following items were discussed in relation to Ward Matters and Outside Organisations:


·         A reminder that the consultation around closing the high street is still open




Members gave updates on the following Ward Matters and Outside Organisations:


Councillor Ian Albert reminded Members that the consultation around closing the high street is still open




The Chair to lead a discussion regarding possible agenda items for future meetings.


The Chair suggested that the topic of air quality should be on the agenda in the next meeting


The Chair requested that, should any Members have any suggestions for agenda items for future meetings, they advise himself, officers or the Committee Clerk.


The Chair advised that the following items were due to be included at the next meeting


·         Churchgate

·         Charnwood house

·         Air quality


The Chair requested that, should any Members have any further suggestions for agenda items for future meetings, they advise himself, officers or the Committee Clerk.


The Chair also reminded Members that the next meeting is on Thursday 8th December 2022