Venue: Anglia Room, The Conference Suite, Elizabeth House, Dereham
Contact: Committee Services Tel: 01362 656870
To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 28 January 2010.
Minute No. 10/10(a) : Budget Setting Report – Estimates
It was pointed out that part 3 of the Resolution stated that “the fees and charges proposed for adoption on 1 April 2010 be approved”. However there had been two incorrect figures in the schedule of charges as presented, as follows:
Waste Collection Charges for 240 and 1100 litre bins at non-domestic properties: the proposed charges should read £374.90 and £614.90 respectively.
Subject to noting this, the Minutes of the meeting held on 28 January 2010 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.
Apologies (Agenda Item 2)
To receive apologies for absence.
Apologies for absence were received from Mr P. Hewett, Mr A. Joel, Mr R. Kemp, Mr I. Monson, Mrs P. Quadling, Mr I. Sherwood, Mrs P. Spencer, Mrs A. Steward and Mr D Williams JP.
Declaration of Interest (Agenda Item 3)
Members are asked at this stage to declare any interests pertinent to items on this agenda.
The Members’ Code of Conduct requires that declarations include the nature of the interest and whether it is personal or prejudicial.
The following declarations of interest were noted:
Lady K. Fisher Personal & Prejudicial in Agenda Item 9 (Minute No. 17/09 ref the Local Development Framework), and Agenda Item 11 (Minute No. 6/10(d) ref the Thetford Growth Point – Bus Interchange).
Mr J. Rogers Personal interest in Agenda Item 8 (Minute No. 9/10) by virtue of being a County Councillor involved in authorising the S.106 Agreement.
Chairman's Announcements (Agenda Item 4)
(Including the engagements of the Chairman and the Vice-Chairman.)
NOTE – COUNCIL TAX ARREARS
Members are reminded that if they are two months or more in arrears, they must disclose the fact and not vote on any item to set tax, or any decision which may affect its calculation.
The Principal Member Services Officer took the opportunity at this point to remind Members that there would be a Scrutiny workshop to consider the Overview & Scrutiny work programme. It would be held during the afternoon of Thursday, 11 March at the Gallery Bar, Watton.
He also mentioned the Member Services Annual Survey, requesting all those who had not yet completed the questionnaire to do so if possible as the feedback and suggestions received are used to improve services provided to Members.
Finally, he read out a card which had been received from Elaine Wilkes, thanking Members for their best wishes on her retirement.
Engagements List - Chairman
28th January, 2010 to 24th February, 2010
The Council is asked to pass a formal resolution on the setting of the Council Tax.
The Director – Governance & Finance (Section 151 Officer) presented this report, highlighting:
He also drew attention to Appendix D to the report, which gave a clearer definition of the formal resolutions.
At 3.4.2(g), he pointed out that by maintaining the 0% increase, Breckland District Council had retained its record of having the lowest charge for any District Council in England, with many households paying £1.23 per week (or less), for the Breckland-only element of their Council tax.
The other precepting bodies of the Council tax had increased their Council Tax as follows:
1.9% - Norfolk County Council
3% - Police Authorities; and
2.5% - average Parish Council
This meant that the average combined Council Tax would be raised by 1.98% during the Financial Year 2010-2011. He noted that of the total Council Tax collected, only four pence in every pound would actually be available for Breckland Council’s use.
He concluded by thanking the Officers and Members for their commitment and support during the whole process, as well as during the final preparation of the report.
The Deputy Leader commented that he was delighted to see that Breckland District Council proposed to retain the District Council tax at current levels through until 2013. That said, everyone would no doubt appreciate that current economic uncertainties meant that it was particularly important to approach budgeting with openness and honesty. At this stage, therefore, these proposals needed to be taken as aspirations, rather than absolute commitments. Retention of the quality and stability of public services remained a major priority for the Council. Officers and Members had worked extremely hard, and under difficult circumstances, to produce these figures for this year, and next.
He also reminded everyone that details would be published (including in Breckland Voice), showing how, and where, those who were eligible for help with payments could receive assistance. Staff in the Contact Centre would be at the front line in terms of giving support and guidance on this.
Later in the meeting a Member congratulated the Chief Executive and Officers for the successful Town & Parish Council forum which had been held that week. She said that the Chief Executive had given a particularly clear and sensible presentation concerning Breckland’s approach towards Council Tax, and its goal of maintaining the lowest Council Tax in the country for as long as possible.
1) the Formal Council Tax resolutions for 2010-2011 be approved;
2) the Special Expenses for 2010-2011, as set out in paragraph 3.3.1 of the report, be approved;
3) it be noted that the Council has calculated the following amounts for the year 2010-2011 in accordance with regulations made under Section 33(5) of the Local Government Finance Act 1992:-
Report by the Director of Governance and Finance (Rob Barlow).
The Director – Governance & Finance (S.151 Officer) presented this report, which asked Members to consider the capitalisation of impaired investments following approval to do so by the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG).
The S.151 Officer explained the background to this request, which lay in the disruption caused by the collapse of the Icelandic economy and the country’s inability to honour its financial obligations. He wanted to update Members on the current situation and the work being undertaken to recover some of the deposits, as well as to consider the Council’s ability to capitalise any impairments.
Of the £4 million invested with KSF, the latest update from the Administrators was that they forecasted a return of 60-75 pence in the pound. KSF had already repaid £1.25m and a third tranche was expected shortly.
The Council had invested £6 million with Landsbanki and £2 million with Glitnir. The Local Government Association (with whom the Council was working in order to ensure that the best case was being presented to the Icelandic authorities), remained confident that there was a strong legal argument in support of the case for Local Authorities being recognised as depositors (and therefore entitled to priority status in any resolution). However, these matters were still outstanding in the Icelandic court system, so there was no further news in terms of the amount, or timing, of any refunds.
The S.151 Officer then briefly explained the Impairments process and background, as outlined in Section 3.3 of the report. Acknowledging that this was a somewhat technical and complex subject, he concluded by asking Members to make a procedural decision on the basis of the report’s recommendations, which he encouraged them to accept.
The Deputy Leader endorsed the recommendations, with the request that paragraphs 2.3 and 2.4 of the report, and the resolution itself, be amended to note that the Chairman of the Audit Committee should also be consulted.
(1) agree to the inclusion of impaired investments within the 2009/10 capital programme;
(2) agree the value of impaired investments to be set at a maximum of £4,580,000;
(3) delegate to the S151 Officer, in consultation with the Portfolio holder for Governance and Corporate Development and the Chairman of the Audit Committee, the power to fund impairments by the setting aside of capital receipts or the consumption of revenue reserves, whichever is deemed most appropriate during the closure of the 2009/10 final accounts; and
(4) delegate to the S151 Officer, in consultation with the Portfolio holder for Governance & Corporate Development and the Chairman of the Audit Committee, the power to replenish resources set aside to finance capital expenditure should the final value of impairments prove to be a lower value.
Report of the Chief Executive.
The Chief Executive presented this report, explaining that this project was potentially in a position to move forwards (on an interim basis) a little earlier than had been anticipated owing to the imminent departure of the Director of Finance and Resources (S. 151 Officer) and the fact that South Norfolk District Council currently had a vacancy for its Deputy Chief Executive.
The Chief Executive stressed that the proposals before Council were not in any way to predetermine how any shared services might look – or even whether or not such an arrangement would be adopted. However, as the Council had agreed to explore and develop a single paid service, and given that both Breckland District Council, and South Norfolk District Council had vacancies at Chief Officer level, it seemed sensible to use the opportunity to share some of the workload, rather than for both Authorities to go through recruitment procedures for each post.
As the appointment of Chief Officers at Breckland District Council was under the remit of Members, and not the Head of the Paid Service, the Chief Executive was asking the Council to grant a temporary suspension to the Council’s Constitution, in order to delegate relevant authority to him in this instance. This would enable him to consult further with the Chief Executive of South Norfolk Council on this matter, as laid out in the recommendations.
He explained that the senior vacancies at each Authority covered different roles and service areas, so any proposed sharing of posts would require some alignment of responsibilities.
He also pointed out that, in the event that Members agreed to the recommendations, it would be necessary for Breckland to have its own S. 151 Officer during the interim arrangements. It was therefore proposed that Mark Finch, Head of Finance, be appointed, as this Officer, following the departure of the present incumbent in April 2010.
Following questions from Members, the Chief Executive confirmed that:
He added that the purpose of the recommendations before Council was to avoid Members having to go through a senior recruitment process now, for what may possibly turn out to be a relatively short-term tenure.
With regard to the ... view the full minutes text for item 27.
Unconfirmed minutes of the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission held on 4 February 2010.
(a) Urgent Business: Shared Services – Joint Scrutiny Group (Minute No. 3/10)
By way of feeding back to the previous discussion on Shared Services, the Chairman of the Overview & Scrutiny Commission drew Members’ attention to the Resolution under this heading, which established a Joint Scrutiny group comprising five members from each Authority (plus substitutes).
(b) Breckland Youth Council (Minute No. 6/10)
Councillor Diana Irving drew Members’ attention to the fact that Stuart Green had since been elected as a member of the Mid-Norfolk Youth Parliament.
(c) Executive Member Portfolio Update (Minute No. 7/10)
The Leader of the Opposition pointed out that he had, in fact, expressed the hope that the Leader of the Council valued the work of the Commission as a critical friend to the Cabinet, not “the Council”.
RESOLVED that, subject to the comments at (c) above, the unconfirmed Minutes of the Overview & Scrutiny Commission meeting held on 4 February 2010 be adopted.
Confirmed minutes of the meeting of the Development Control Committee held on 25 January 2010.
RESOLVED that the confirmed Minutes of the Development Control Committee meeting held on 25 January 2010 be adopted.
Unconfirmed minutes of the meeting of the Standards Committee held on 2 February 2010.
RESOLVED that the unconfirmed Minutes of the Standards Committee meeting held on 2 February 2010 be adopted.
Unconfirmed minutes of the Moving Thetford Forward Board meeting held on 22 January 2010.
(a) Presentation – G-BIC Centre (Minute No. 5/10)
The Deputy Chief Executive clarified that Kevin Horne and John Balch of NWES, who gave a presentation on the outline proposal to develop a green business incubator centre in Thetford, were present only for that item.
(b) Any Other Business: Thetford Skatepark (Minute No. 9/10(a))
The Deputy Chief Executive confirmed that whilst some of the £10,000 which had been allocated to this project would be used towards local consultations, feasibility and preliminary design work, the bulk of that money was expected to be spent on the facility itself.
RESOLVED that the unconfirmed Minutes of the Moving Thetford Forward meeting held on 22 January 2010 be adopted.
Nominations for Committee and other Seats (Agenda Item 12)
To receive nominations for any changes to Committee and other seats from political groups.
(1) the Green Agenda Panel cease to be part of the Overview and Scrutiny process and become a Working Group of Cabinet; and
(2) the Working Group be Chaired by Lady K. Fisher with membership remaining unchanged.