Agenda and minutes

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No. Item


Election of Chairman for the Meeting

The Agreement for the new Joint Committee provides that at each annual meeting a new Chairman and a new Vice-Chairman shall be elected to hold office for the next ensuing year.


The persons eligible to be elected as Chairman shall not be the appointees of a Council whose appointee held that position in either of the two previous years.  The persons eligible to be elected as Vice-Chairman shall not be the appointees of a Council whose appointee held that position in the previous year.  The Chairman and Vice-Chairman shall not be appointees of the same Council.


The new Agreement provides that the election of Chairman and Vice-Chairman should take place at the annual meeting in May or June of each year.


Pending the annual meeting, therefore, the Joint Committee is asked to appoint a Chairman for the purposes of this meeting.


         RESOLVED that Mr S. Edwards be elected Chairman for the purposes of the meeting.



Minutes pdf icon PDF 66 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 22nd February 2007.


The minutes of the meeting held on 22nd February 2007 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.




To receive apologies for absence.


Apologies for absence were received from Messrs. G. Wilson, W.H.C. Smith, D. Burnip, A. Colyer, I. Robson and Ms R. Littlechild.



ARP New Joint Committee - Terms of Reference and Constitution pdf icon PDF 48 KB

Following the reconstitution of the ARP, an extract of the Agreement is attached for Members’ information setting out the Constitution and Terms of Reference of the new Joint Committee.


The Joint Committee may recommend to the Three Councils any amendment of the Terms of Reference or of the Agreement.

Additional documents:


The new Constitution and Terms of Reference of the Joint Committee were noted.


Arising from this item, it was pointed out that under the previous Agreement, Breckland Council had acted as the procurement agent on behalf of the Partnership and it was proposed that this practice should be continued under the new Agreement.


         RESOLVED that Breckland Council continue to act as the procurement agent on behalf of the Partnership.



Performance Report pdf icon PDF 112 KB

Report of the Operational Board.

Additional documents:


The Strategic Manager reported a correction to BVPI 76a (fraud investigations - number of visits per 1000 caseload) in regard to the figures for Forest Heath District Council.  The report did not show the amendment to the target which had been made following the change in legislation on this Indicator.  The amendment had now been made and the status of this indicator was, therefore, now green.  A copy of the revised statistics is appended to these minutes for members’ information.


Performance overall was very good, with year on year improvements being recorded.


The one exception in the figures where the status was red related to BVPI 79b(ii) (total recovered housing benefits overpayments as a percentage of housing benefits overpayments debt).  As explained at previous meetings, there was a historical factor to this item which was somewhat anomalous in that for all overpayments that were found, the worse the score became.  The more relevant indicator was BVPI 79b(i) which showed the position during the year and where performance results were above target. 


It was explained that the target for BVPI 79b(ii) was generally a failing one around the country.  Comparative data was being obtained to show the national position.  It was noted that the few high performing authorities under this indicator appeared to be those who had written off the debt.  While the Partnership wrote off debts where feasible, it was not the practice to do so where payments could still be achieved.  The Strategic Manager added that there would be an adjustment to the target next year which would improve the position.


So far as the statistics for Forest Heath were concerned, there was some discussion of the performance figures for Council Tax.  A graph was circulated to show the comparison between the two Councils over the period 1995 to the present. The rate of improved performance could be seen from the different points at which each authority had moved to the new management structure (Breckland’s change occurring some 2-3 years before that of Forest Heath) and showed that performance levels were now very close to converging.  It was felt that the methodology used to achieve consistency in performance was right.


Discussion also took place on the results of the campaign to encourage payments by direct debit.  It was noted that figures fluctuated during the year and it was thought this was because people tended to cancel their direct debit instructions at the end of the council tax year and set up new instructions again when the next year’s bill arrived.  In that connection, it was thought communications could be improved to raise awareness of the fact that direct debit arrangements did not have to be renewed every year.  Another reason for the fluctuation in the figures was the high percentage of movement of people in and out of the area through the year, as well as some poor payers.  However, now that instructions could be set up by telephone, it was thought that the situation would  ...  view the full minutes text for item 26.


Statement of Accounts 2005-06 pdf icon PDF 49 KB

Report of the Operational Board.

Additional documents:


In answer to a question, the Chief Accountant explained the background to the split of costs between Breckland and Forest Heath, which was based on the 2003 Partnership Agreement based on caseload.  The percentage split between the two authorities was as follows:


                                                      Breckland                   Forest Heath

Non-Domestic Rates                  65%                            35%

Council Tax                                  69%                            31%

Benefits                                        62%                            38%


Under the new Agreement, the percentage formula would change to a proportional consolidated caseloads basis to produce a single figure.




(1)   the Statement of Accounts be approved; and

(2)   the Statement on Internal Control be approved and be signed on behalf of the Joint Committee by the Acting Chief Executive of Breckland Council.



Beacon Grant Fund pdf icon PDF 59 KB

Report of the Operational Board.


The report was presented by the Performance Manager who explained that there was still a demand for work under this project, details of which were outlined in the report.


The additional funding of £2,000 required to meet the costs of extending the project for a further year could be met from savings elsewhere in the budget.


Members noted the interest to participate in a project in Bosnia Herzegovina to develop partnership working there and felt that this type of project offered opportunities to raise awareness and provide information on migrant workers’ rights.  A visiting delegation from Bosnia was planned for 5th June at Breckland House, Thetford and 6th June at the Forest Heath offices in Mildenhall.   Members felt that the visit should be publicised and asked that it be referred to the each Council’s marketing department.




(1)   the balance of £24,000 the Beacon Grant Fund, plus £2,000 from savings within the existing Partnership budgets, be used to continue the Beacon Co-ordinator’s post and backfill his previous post for a further year;

(2)   publicity be given to the visiting delegation from Bosnia Herzegovina.



Excess Travel Time Allowance pdf icon PDF 51 KB

Report of the Operational Board.

Additional documents:


It was anticipated that the extra costs involved would be recouped over time from ongoing cost savings.  


Members felt that the additional allowance should be linked to the RPI to take account of any increases in fares during the period.


RESOLVED that an enhanced excess travel time allowance of £1524 be paid to the 11 members of staff concerned for a maximum period of four years in line with previous arrangements and that the allowance be linked to the RPI.



Homeworking Update pdf icon PDF 124 KB

Report of the Operational Board.

Additional documents:




(1)         the report be noted;

(2)         £10,500 be carried over from the Underspend in the 2006/07 budget for implementation of the project this year;

(3)         Regular updates on this project and mobile working be given to future meetings of the Joint Committee.



East Cambridgeshire District Council - Update

To receive a verbal update.


The Incomes Manager updated the Joint Committee on the transfer of staff from East Cambridgeshire, which had gone very well.


However, problems had been encountered with the database transfer from Capita, which had caused a week’s delay.


Additionally, the commencement of the due diligence process had highlighted that there was more outstanding work to be done than expected, much of which was of a maintenance nature.  Assessment work was continuing and the results would be reported in more detail to a future meeting.  Subject to the findings, any costs would be negotiated between East Cambridgeshire and Capita.


The Strategic Manager drew attention to the need to find additional resource to ensure there was no impact from this on Forest Heath and Breckland and that a timescale for the additional work would be agreed with East Cambridgeshire.


         RESOLVED that the position be noted and a more detailed report be presented to the next meeting.



Items for Next Meeting

To note any items for inclusion on the agenda for the next meeting.


The following items were agreed for report to the next meeting:


  • New Benefit Indicators
  • Benefit overpayments comparisons
  • Performance Targets for 2007/08
  • Smoking legislation policy
  • East Cambridgeshire Update



Meetings Timetable for 2007-08

The new Agreement for the ARP Joint Committee provides for meetings to be held on a quarterly basis and the following meeting dates for the year 2007/08 are put forward for the Joint Committee’s consideration and approval:


  • 21 June 2007 (Annual Meeting)
  • 29 November 2007 (Budget Meeting)
  • 21 February 2008 (Annual Service Planning Meeting)
  • 24 April 2008 (Annual Performance Meeting)


(a)         Request for Special Meeting

The Joint Committee was asked to consider the need for a special meeting to give consideration to the new Breckland Pay Scheme, details of which had been requested as part of the discussions on the issue of pay harmonisation for ARP staff.

Members accepted the need for an early meeting and

RESOLVED that provisional arrangements be made for the Joint Committee to meet on Thursday, 31 May 2007, subject to confirmation of members’ and officers’ attendance.

(b)         Members’ Induction Process

A proposal was made that there should be a joint ARP induction process for new and existing members of the three authorities following the local elections, to be arranged through the Beacon project.

RESOLVED that agreement be given to the ARP hosting a joint induction for members of the three authorities, with each Council being responsible for its own travel arrangements.

(c)         Meetings Timetable for 2007/08

RESOLVED that the Annual Meeting of the Joint Committee be agreed for 21 June 2007 and the future timetable of meetings be considered at that meeting.



Chairman's Closing Remarks


The Chairman paid tribute to John Alexander, who was retiring from Forest Heath District Council the following day, and on behalf of all members and officers thanked him for his valued contribution to the Partnership and wishing him well for his retirement.