Venue: Norfolk Room, The Committee Suite, Elizabeth House, Dereham
Minutes (Agenda Item 1)
To confirm the Minutes of the meeting held on 25 November 2008.
The Minutes of the meeting held on 25 November 2008 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.
Apologies (Agenda Item 2)
To receive apologies for absence.
There were no apologies for absence.
Urgent Business (Agenda Item 3)
To note whether the Chairman proposes to accept any item as urgent business, pursuant to Section 100(B)(4)(b) of the Local Government Act 1972.
There was no urgent business.
Declaration of Interest (Agenda Item 4)
Members are asked at this stage to declare any interests they may have in any of the following items on the agenda. The Members’ Code of Conduct requires that declarations include the nature of the interest and whether it is a personal or prejudicial interest.
Lady K Fisher declared a personal and prejudicial interest in Agenda Items 9, 10 and 11 by virtue of her family being landowners in the area.
Mr P Cowen declared a personal interest in Agenda Items 9, 10 and 11 by virtue of his profession as an architect in practice in the District.
Non-Members Wishing to Address the Meeting (Agenda Item 6)
To note the names of any non-members who wish to address the meeting.
Mr W Borrett, Mrs M Chapman-Allen, Mr P Cowen, Mr R Goreham and Mrs D Irving were in attendance.
Budget Settings (Agenda Item 7)
Report of the Executive Member for the Governance Portfolio (Lady K Fisher).
The Budget Setting report is marked to follow due to changes being made to the documents following the Executive Board meeting on 15 December. There is also the possibility that further changes may be made by the Audit Committee meeting on 9 January 2009.
The Executive Member for Governance introduced the report and congratulated the Finance Team on their work in such financially uncertain times. She said that the public, business ratepayers, the Overview and Scrutiny Commission and the Audit Committee had all been consulted during the budget setting process. There were adequate balances to deliver services; Council Tax would still be the lowest for a district council; and the content of the budget was sound.
The Assistant Director (Governance) went through the report, page by page.
The Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission drew Members’ attention to the recommendation made in the references from the Commission at Agenda Item 13. He thanked the officers for a very readable and understandable report.
The Labour Group Leader added his thanks and supported the administration in bringing forward a sensible budget in these extraordinarily difficult times.
The Deputy Leader was gratified that Council Tax was still the lowest. He was also pleased that there was still some growth proposed. He pointed out that the General Balance was in an extremely healthy state and was only being reduced in response to advice received from the Audit Committee.
No alternative options were presented. However, the Cabinet was able to make amendments before making recommendations to the Council.
To comply with the budgetary and policy framework.
RECOMMEND TO COUNCIL that
the revenue estimates for 2009/10 and
outline position through to 2013/14 are approved;
the capital estimates and associated
funding for 2009/10, and outline position through to 2013/14 are
the fees and charges shown at appendix 4
of the Cabinet report, for adoption 1st April 2009, are
the corporate charging policy shown at
appendix 9 of the Cabinet report is approved;
(5) the efficiency strategy shown at appendix 7 of the Cabinet report is approved;
the 2008/09 budget amendments shown at
appendix 1 of the Cabinet report are approved;.
(7) Council sets the Council Tax for a band D property in 2009/10 at £64.05.
Year 2 Review of the Breckland Disability Equality Scheme (Agenda Item 8)
Report of the Executive Member for the People First Portfolio (Theresa Hewett).
The Policy and Performance Manager confirmed that the Council was on track to publish a new plan in December 2009 and sought permission to publish the Year 2 Review of the current plan, to inform interested parties on how the Council’s objectives were being met.
The Executive Member for People First mentioned that the pilot project undertaken by the Performance Team was upheld as exemplary across the County.
Members noted the recommendation from the Overview and Scrutiny Commission at Agenda Item 13.
(1) To note the report and approve the publication of the Progress report of Disability Equality Scheme Action Plan on to the Breckland Council Website to fulfil its statutory obligations of the specific duties within the Disability Discrimination Act 2005.
(2) To note the report and not approve the publication of the Progress Report of the Disability Equality Scheme’s Action Plan 2006-2009 on to the Breckland Council Website.
If the Council does not approve publication of the report to the website it will be at risk of breaching the statutory obligation of the specific duties within the Disability Discrimination Act 2005 and being subject to enforcement action as outlined in the ‘Legal Implications’ of the report.
RESOLVED to approve the publication of the Year 2 Review of the Breckland Disability Equality Action Plan December 2006 – November 2009 on the Breckland Council website.
Local Development Framework - Thetford Area Action Plan - Preferred Options (Agenda Item 9)
Report of the Executive Members for the Planning and the Environment and Housing and Economic Portfolios (Ann Steward and Paul Claussen).
Lady Fisher declared a personal and prejudicial interest in this and the two following items, and left the room.
The Executive Member for Planning and the Environment introduced this item and told Members that the Thetford Area Action Plan formed part of the LDF and would go through the same process of consultation. This would give the public the opportunity to see how their views were being taken into account.
The Principal Planning Officer (Growth Point) explained that this document added more detail to the Core Strategy proposals. If approved, public consultation would commence 26 February 2009 for six weeks. The Plan would then be subject to further consultation, analysis and change for the next 12 months before publication of the final Plan in early 2010.
Broadly the Plan consisted of two elements: a map setting out major growth locations and a set of policies.
The Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission said that both Policy Development and Review Panel 1 and the Commission had raised concerns. These were set out in detail in Agenda Item 13. He felt it was important that the public were given assurance that the Plan was not ‘set in stone’ and felt that there was a lot more work to be done to ensure that what was delivered was what was required.
He pointed out the need to look beyond the current financial climate as the Plan was for the next ten years.
Members discussed various issues including moving the bus station; developer contributions; and the proposed Country Park.
(1) Consider the Preferred Options of the Thetford Area Action Plan and recommend to Cabinet the proposed revisions with or without additional amendments.
(2) Do not consider the Preferred Options of the Thetford Area Action Plan and recommend to Cabinet the proposed revisions with or without additional amendments.
The plan is now broadly considered at an appropriate stage to seek public opinion. Option 2 would delay the process, and should be considered only if Members were fundamentally unhappy with one or more elements of the draft Plan. Option B could result in an ineffective consultation process, losing the momentum built up to date.
RESOLVED that, subject to the views of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission and Policy Development and Review Panel 1 being taken into account, the Thetford Area Action Plan – Preferred Options document be agreed for public consultation in February 2009.
Regional Spatial Strategy Review to 2031 (Agenda Item 10)
Report of the Executive Member for Planning and the Environment Portfolio (Ann Steward).
The Environmental Planning Manager told Members that a formal request for advice from the East of England Regional Assembly (EERA) had been received by Norfolk County Council, as Strategic Planning Authority for Norfolk.
The two areas under consideration were the latest housing projections to 2031 and possible options for accommodating the growth. Concerns had already been raised about the achievability and viability of the housing figures. The Council had not achieved regional housing targets in recent years.
The Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission was concerned that the industry was not capable of building the required level of houses. He also expressed a strong view against a new stand-alone settlement, with all its associated infrastructure requirements and thought that the Council should enlarge and enhance existing communities to provide better value all round.
The Executive Member for Planning and the Environment wanted it made clear to the public that the report would affect the next LDF not the one currently being progressed.
The Leader of the Labour Group said it was difficult to look so far ahead. He felt more detail was needed about the types of jobs to be provided and whether they would be skilled or non-skilled as this would have a knock-on effect on the type of housing required.
The Chairman suggested that the Cabinet supported the recommendations from the Overview and Scrutiny Commission.
Housing Projections to 2031 – Options:
In summary, the four growth scenarios to 2031 being tested were:
· Continuing with the RSS residual growth rate. This means continuing at 780 dwellings per annum. This requires an additional 3,900 dwellings for the period 2026-31.
· The lower end of the NHPAU range which requires an extra 5,763 dwellings at an annual average rate of 861 between 2008 and 2031. This scenario reflects latest UK and international migration trends.
· The upper end of the NHPAU range which requires at an extra 10,501 dwellings at an annual average of 1,067 between 2008 and 2031. This scenario is based on addressing affordability in the housing market.
· The Gross Value Added (GVA) growth forecast reflects the impact on employment rates, population growth and housing demand consistent with the Regional Economic Strategy targets. This requires 609 dwellings per annum over the period 2008-31 which results in a negative figure of -33 against current housing levels. This is equivalent to stating that Breckland’s current housing growth to 2026 is stretched to 2031 without any net additions.
Strategic Growth Options
· Continuing with the current focus on growth in Key Centres of Development and Change (Thetford) to 2031
It is important that Breckland Council provides an input at an early stage into the debate on the housing figures to 2031 as part of the review of the Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) and the possible spatial strategy to accommodate this growth.
RESOLVED that the Council’s ... view the full minutes text for item 9.
LDF Site Specifics (Agenda Item 11)
Report of the Executive Member for Planning and the Environment Portfolio (Ann Steward).
The Environmental Planning Manager explained that during the consultation period of the Site Specifics Policies and Proposals Document, a number of additional sites had been put forward for inclusion. She proposed that these sites should be categorised and consulted on, in the same way as the sites originally included.
To ensure a transparent and robust approach, a further six week consultation period is proposed. This will ensure a meaningful period of time to comment and feedback. To this end, it is proposed that the following milestones form the basis of the Site Specifics work programme for Breckland for the remainder of 2008/09:
· 16th December 2008 – Panel 1 considered the process for further consultation for the Site Specific Allocations document.
· February 2009 – Additional sites published for consultation with an April deadline for responses to be received. Town and Parish Councils will be sent maps of their parish showing the additional proposed sites.
· Autumn 2009 – consultation on ‘Preferred’ sites for possible allocation.
(1) the previously agreed approach to the sieving of sites is carried forward to the proposed additional consultation; and,
(2) up-to-date Inset maps are provided to Town and Parish Councils illustrating only the additional sites put forward to the Council.
RESOLVED that the process for preparing the further round of consultation on the Site Specific Policies and Proposals Document be agreed.
At the conclusion of this item Lady Fisher rejoined the meeting.
Member Job Description - Historic Environment Member Champion (Agenda Item 12)
Report of the Executive Member for the Governance Portfolio (Lady K Fisher).
The Executive Member Governance, introduced this item.
Members were concerned that the wording of the job description should be amended as the Historic Buildings Champion would not be able to fulfil requirements to ensure action in certain respects.
· To approve the Job Description as set out in Appendix 1.
· To suggest amendments to the Job Description.
· To do nothing.
Member Job Descriptions are important as they set out the core competencies required by Members in performing their different roles; and identify specific competencies, skills and desirable experience in the person specifications for those particular roles.
RESOLVEDthat the proposed Job Description for the New Historic Environment Member Champion be approved, subject to the wording in paragraphs 1 and 6 of the Role and Responsibilities of the post being suitably amended to “promoting” rather than “ensuring”.
References from the Overview and Scrutiny Commission (Agenda Item 13)
To consider references, if any, from the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission held on 8 January 2009.
(a) Budget Setting 2009-10
This matter had been discussed at Minute No 6/09 above.
(b) Year 2 Review of the Disability Equality Scheme
This matter had been discussed at Minute No 7/09 above.
(c) Local Development Framework – Thetford Area Action Plan: Preferred Options
This matter had been discussed at Minute No 8/09 above.
(d) Regional Spatial Strategy Review to 2031 – Housing Figures
This matter had been discussed at Minute No 9/09 above.
(e) Draft Financial Inclusion Strategy - Consultation
This matter was noted. The Strategy was scheduled to be presented to Cabinet in April.
Anglia Revenues and Benefits Partnership (Agenda Item 14)
Report of the meeting of the Joint Committee held on 11 December 2008.
The Minutes of the Anglia Revenues and Benefits Partnership Joint Committee meeting held on 11 December 2008 were noted.
Next Meeting (Agenda Item 15)
To note that the date of the next meeting of Cabinet will be held on Tuesday, 24 February 2009 at 9.30am.
The next meeting of the Cabinet would be held on Tuesday, 24 February 2009 at 09.30am in the Norfolk Room.
Exclusion of Press and Public (Agenda Item 16)
To consider passing the following resolution:
“That under Section 100(A)(4) of the Local Government Act 19723, the press and the public be excluded from the meeting for the following item of business on the grounds that it involves the disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraphs 1, 2 and 3 of Schedule 12A to the Act”.
RESOLVED that under Section 100(A)(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and the public be excluded from the meeting for the following item of business on the grounds that it involves the disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraphs 1, 2 and 3 of Schedule 12A to the Act.
Proposed Externalisation of Planning and Building Control (Agenda Item 17)
Report of the Executive Member for the Business Transformation Portfolio (William Smith).
This report described the final proposal for the provision of planning and building control services to the Council and furnished members with the information needed in order to decide whether these services ought to be externalised.
The report detailed the various issues and risks to be considered.
Reasons for Recommendations
Although supporting the project in principle, Cabinet felt that the overall implications were such that a recommendation to Council to proceed should await full and robust scrutiny of the issues and risks by the joint Overview and Scrutiny Commission / Audit Committee meeting.
RECOMMEND TO COUNCIL the approval of an additional £30,000 budget allocation (to be taken from the Organisational and Development budget) to support pre-contractual due diligence enquiries.
to set up a project review group, comprising six members,
politically balanced, to be appointed and to act dependent upon the
outcome of the joint OSC/Audit Committee on 19 January 2009,
including a site visit to view another facility;
to provide a Q & A feature on the
Council’s intranet and members’ extranet websites to
avoid repetition at Council;
(3) not to put forward to Council the recommendations at (i) – (v) in the report, pending the outcome of the special joint meeting on 19 January.