Agenda and minutes

Venue: Virtual Meeting via zoom

Items
No. Item

16/21

Minutes pdf icon PDF 88 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the meeting held on 4 January 2021.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 4 January 2021 were confirmed as a correct record.

17/21

Apologies

To receive apologies for absence. 

Minutes:

None.

18/21

Urgent Business

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.

Minutes:

Nothing to report.

19/21

Declaration of Interests

The duties to register, disclose and not to participate for the entire consideration of the matter, in respect of any matter in which a Member has a disclosable pecuniary interest are set out in Chapter 7 of the Localism Act 2011.  Members are also required to withdraw from the meeting room as stated in the Standing Orders of this Council.

 

Minutes:

None.

20/21

Non-Members Wishing to Address the Meeting

To note the names of any non-members who wish to address the meeting.

Minutes:

The Chairman welcomed all non-Members present to the meeting.

21/21

Chairman's Announcements (If Any)

Minutes:

The Chairman was pleased to announce that Attleborough would be the first vaccination centre to open within Breckland District, on 3 February 2021, with further vaccination centres opening across Norfolk and Waveney over the coming weeks. 

 

He went onto mention that it was ‘Childrens mental health week’ this week, and wanted to raise awareness of the mental health provision in that there were many organisations available for support and that it was important to speak up and speak out. 

22/21

Breckland Community Funding Applications (Standing Item)

To consider the grants put forward (if any). 

Minutes:

The Executive Member for Community, Leisure & Culture was pleased that the Council were able to support the Dereham Foodbank with funding which helped to secure a new building for them within the Town to distribute food.  He thanked Members for bringing the item forward for consideration and in particular thanked Councillor Webb who had supported the foodbank throughout the process.

 

He was aware that many Members supported charity projects and community groups across the District and informed that Breckland Council were hosting a session with the National Lottery Community Funds project whereby charities and project groups could book appointments to apply for funding of up to £10,000.  Further details were available on the Community funding website.

 

Councillor Webb added that the £2,500 funding provided by Breckland Council for Dereham Foodbank was also matched by Dereham Town Council. The pandemic had seen the foodbank become overwhelmed and required a larger area for storage so the funding was extremely welcomed, and thanked the Council for their support.

 

23/21

Update on Breckland Sustainability Strategy pdf icon PDF 61 KB

Report of Councillor Ian Sherwood, Executive Member for Customer Engagement and Member Champion for Breckland Sustainability Strategy.

 

Minutes:

The Executive Member for Customer Engagement and Member Champion for Breckland Sustainability was pleased to update Members on the continued progress of the Sustainability strategy and advised that over 200 responses had been received in response to the public consultation.  As a result, the Strategy would be considered at the February Council meeting to enable Officers to analyse and incorporate the responses into the Strategy. 

 

He went onto say that details of the new Environment and Climate Change Officer had been circulated to all Members.

 

Councillor Birt said that he looked forward to the Sustainability Strategy being discussed in the coming weeks.  He added that whilst there had been a good response from the consultation, he felt apprehensive about what the Council would learn from those responses, as no guidance had been set as to the value of the order of priorities given.  He went onto ask if there could be an opportunity to view the webpages before they were made public. 

 

The Executive Member felt that Members should not underestimate the concern the public had on climate change.  He believed residents who were passionate about the subject had already carried out their research which was apparent in the responses received.  He also informed Members that he would be meeting with each political group across the Council to provide an opportunity to discuss the programme, feedback received and the carbon audit report, before the full Council meeting.

 

Members noted the content of the report.

24/21

Quarter 3 Financial Performance Report 2020-21 pdf icon PDF 67 KB

Report of Councillor Philip Cowen, Executive Member for Finance & Growth.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Executive Member for Finance and Growth introduced the report that provided information on the forecast full year financial position of the Council as at 31 December 2020.

 

He explained to Members that as a consequence of the current climate the report recommended to full Council that funds should be carried forward into the next financial year, which was an unusual step.

 

Councillor Hewett felt that it was critical at this point in time for the Council to err on the side of caution and whilst it was unusual in accounting purposes to carry forward budgets agreed that it should happen at this stage.  He also added his thanks to the Executive Member and the Finance team for reporting that the Council was in a robust position at the end of Quarter 3.

 

Councillor Birt added that whilst he fully recognised the difficult position for the Council to predict the future, he felt it should remain open and transparent as much as possible.  He went onto ask how information on the variances could be made public as he was yet to receive information on the Worksmart 2020 programme.  Councillor Hewett apologised and asked for Councillor Birt to send a request and would respond accordingly.

 

The Chairman added that it was important to clarify to members of the public, that Members set out projects with clear objectives and timescales to be achieved within the budget constraints.  Members would then allow the Officers to deliver the requirements which had been set out within reports and agreed at committees.  He felt it important to understand that it would take time and effort for everything to be open and transparent which would result in unnecessary reports to Members.  He added that the Worksmart project had been set out in an open report in October 2019 and Councillors Hewett, Sherwood and Claussen were part of the Member board to over see the project being delivered. 

 

Options

1)    That the report and appendix be noted and recommend to Full Council that:

a)    The income received from the NNDR and Council Tax income compensation scheme be carried forward in reserve to cover the deficits recognised in future years (as detailed in paragraph 1.6); and

 

b)    The NNDR S31 grant for expanded retail relief and nursery reliefs received in 2020-21 is carried forward in reserve to cover the deficits recognised in 2021-22 from the lost income as a result of these NNDR reliefs (as detailed in paragraph 1.6); and

 

c)    The below budget NNDR levy payment at the end of the year is carried forward in reserve to cover the deficits recognised in future years from the lost income as a result of the pandemic (as detailed in paragraph 1.6).

 

2)     Do nothing.

 

Reasons for Recommendation

To provide timely information to Members on the overall financial position of the Council, enabling resource re-allocation to priorities where necessary and to smooth the effects on the unusual collection fund deficits.

 

It was RESOLVED that Cabinet noted the report and appendix;  ...  view the full minutes text for item 24/21

25/21

Budget, medium term financial plan and capital strategy

Report of Councillor Philip Cowen, Executive Member for Finance & Growth.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Executive Member for Finance and Growth presented the report that sought approval for the Capital and Revenue budget estimates, and the proposed Council Tax and the Financial Medium-Term Plan and Capital Strategy. He added that it was a proposed balanced budget going forward into 2021-2022 which had been a phenomenal achievement for any Council against the backdrop of what had been experienced across the Country during 2020.

 

He explained that within the budget it was proposed there would be an increase of the Council Tax by £4.95 for a band D property, although most people in the District would see a smaller rise.  The draft budget had been set based on principles set out within the report and in most cases front-line services had been enhanced and allowed for projects that would lead to future growth and investment across the District. 

 

Whilst setting the budget, thought had been given to fixed-term temporary staff roles and in particular roles which may need to be continued to support the Council’s priorities.  It had been recognised that in order to continue with the digital programme, that the budget allowed for the two fixed-term posts to move to permanent roles.

 

The Overview and Scrutiny Commission proposed to utilise part of the Government Local Council Tax Scheme (LCTS) one off grant for 2021-22 to create a S13A1c hardship fund for Council Tax to provide exceptional hardship payments (EHP).  The budget included £65,000 that had been set aside to create the hardship fund and work was underway with Anglia Revenues Partnership to determine a policy which was fair and transparent, and targeted the affected working age of LCTS residents (which supports Government intentions) and would be workable to administer.

 

Councillor Hewett congratulated the Executive Member and the Finance team for producing a balanced and exceptional budget in exceptional times.  He appreciated that there would be some residents who may find it difficult to meet the extra 10p per week increase in their Council Tax bills.  He asked how the Council could support those that were most vulnerable at this time.   The Executive Member explained that in the past a Council Tax relief scheme had been supported by Norfolk County Council, but that was would not be the case going forward, and therefore Breckland Council had decided to see what support could be provided.  The issue had been discussed at the Overview and Scrutiny meeting and as a result work was underway with colleagues in Anglia Revenues Partnership to develop a most effective, efficient, and optimum way to support those in need at this time.

 

Councillor Jermy thanked the Executive Member for Finance and Growth for incorporating the recommendation from Overview and Scrutiny into the report.  He went on to say that the financial impact of COVID varied for so many and he particularly liked that the hardship fund would be flexible in its approach.  He noted that the report had stated that efficiency savings would be required in the following years and asked how this  ...  view the full minutes text for item 25/21

26/21

Integrated Shared Management Structure and Joint Working Arrangements Review – Preferred Option for Breckland and South Holland District Councils. pdf icon PDF 161 KB

Report of Nathan Elvery, Head of Paid Service and Strategic Advisor.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of Paid Service introduced the report and reminded Members that in October 2020, both Councils had commissioned a strategic review of the integrated shared management and joint working relationship between South Holland and Breckland District Councils and the report had set out recommendations from the first stage of that review.

 

There would be three stages to the strategic review, with the first providing both Councils a signal of direction going forward through the preferred option.  The second phase would see a separate set of decisions that would include a business case based on the preferred option.  The third stage would be to implement of the preferred option.

 

Members were informed that since the publication of the report, a fourth recommendation had been circulated to Members as the report had continued to develop and adapt.  The recommendations of the report had been unanimously agreed at the Cabinet meeting of South Holland on the 26 January.

 

Following a set of criteria as detailed within the report, the preferred option for both Councils was to form a Local Strategic Partnership within the Council’s own County.

 

The Chairman added that since the pandemic both Councils’ had operated within a place-based model which he felt was the right thing to do to respond to the emergency position.  It had formed the catalyst for both Councils to consider what the best option would be going forward for the residents and businesses of Breckland.  The partnership had, for over a decade been working well, and he reminded Members that we were the first in the Country to set up a Strategic Partnership expanding across two counties.  Both Leaders had a mutual respect and trust for each Authority with a moral obligation to ensure that no single Authority would be left without being able to provide the ongoing services. 

 

Councillor Sherwood thanked the Head of Paid Service for the detailed report.  He went on to say that the partnership had worked, where many had failed, and that had been down to the trust of both Leaders, Officers and Members across the organisations.  In addition, as a result of the partnership Breckland had been able to redirect the savings made to support the frontline services.

 

Councillor Hewett also added that it had provided an opportunity to allow the Council to adapt to the future needs of the residents and Businesses across Breckland.

 

Councillor Webb asked what the savings had been of the Partnership and if there would be an additional cost of the interim place-based structure.  The Head of Paid Service reminded Members of the report in 2015 that saw savings across the Partnership of £4.4m with ongoing savings of £500k per year.  Further savings could be made as new partnerships were created within Norfolk.  He confirmed there would be no additional costs to the interim Structure, however the safe landing of Officers was still to be finalised. In addition, there had been an assumption that moving forward there would not be a Chief Executive appointed at  ...  view the full minutes text for item 26/21

27/21

Next Meeting

To note that the date of the next meeting of Cabinet will be held on Monday 22 March at 9.30am.

Minutes:

The arrangements for the next meeting on Monday 22 March at 9.30am were noted.

28/21

Exclusion of Press & Public

To consider passing the following resolution:

 

“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 likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraphs 1, 2 and 4 of Schedule 12A to the Act”.

 

PART B – ITEM FROM WHICH THE PRESS AND THE PUBLIC ARE EXCLUDED 

 

Minutes:

RESOLVED that under Section 100(A)(4) of the Local Government Act 1972 the press and 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 4 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Act.

 

29/21

Housing Service Review

Report of Councillor Alison Webb, Executive Member for Health & Housing.

Minutes:

The Executive Member for Health and Housing presented the report that asked Members to consider the details of the Housing Service Review and the presented recommendations for change to allow for improvements in the Housing Service.

 

RESOLVED that the Recommendations set out within the report be forwarded to FULL COUNCIL.