Agenda and minutes

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No. Item




The Chairman announced that he would have to leave part-way through the meeting due to another engagement.  In the absence of the Vice-Chairman, the Committee


RESOLVED that on the departure of the Chairman, Mr. M. Kiddle-Morris to take the Chair to conclude the meeting.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 93 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 29 May 2008.


A correction to the table of parishes in minute 45/08 was made to include a parish objection in regard to the payphone location at The Street, Sparham, subject to which the minutes of the meeting held on 29 May 2008 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.



To receive apologies for absence.


Apologies for absence were received from Mrs. D. Irving, Mr. R. Goreham, Mr. K. Martin and Mrs. S. Matthews.


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.


HM Revenue & Customs Change Programme


The Chairman announced that HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) were currently consulting on a change programme with stakeholders.  The Chairman proposed that Policy Development and Review Panel 2 be asked to debate the issues around the proposed changes and inform the consultation response.  HMRC local representatives and the Member of Parliament were being invited to attend. The HMRC changes affected the citizens of Breckland through the proposed closure of the Revenues office in Dereham. 


RESOLVED that the Policy Development and Review Panel 2 be asked to debate the matter at its next meeting on 24 July 2008 and formulate a response on behalf of the Commission for submission by the consultation deadline. 


Non-Members wishing to address the Meeting (Agenda Item 5)

To note the names of any non-members or public speakers wishing to address the meeting.


Mr. Norman Phillips and Mr. Derek Kendall (public speakers) were in attendance for agenda item 6 (Watton Horse Fair).


Watton Horse Fair (Agenda Item 6)

To receive a verbal update on the position in this matter.   (Previous Minute reference 23/08.)


The Principal Environmental Health Officer reported that the further investigations into the operation of the Watton Horse Fair, as requested by the Commission, had now been completed.   It was re-affirmed that the Fair did not require any planning consents and that there were no contraventions of any licensing activities.  However, there was evidence of unauthorised stationing of caravans on land adjoining the Fair site.  Accordingly, a comprehensive options report with a view to prosecution was being prepared for consideration by the Commission and the Cabinet at their next meetings.


A member was disappointed that the report was not yet available for discussion. Mr. Phillips and Mr. Kendall added their concerns over the length of time taken to bring the matter to a conclusion and that if the Council failed to institute a prosecution in the matter, it could set a precedent over the stationing of caravans on the land.


The position was noted.


BT Public Payphones Rationalisation Proposals in Breckland (Agenda Item 7) pdf icon PDF 819 KB

To consider the report of the Working Group.  (Previous minute reference 39/08)


The Scrutiny Officer presented the report of the Working Group, which had been commissioned to produce the final submission to BT of the Council’s recommendations and final decision notification under the consultation process.


The Working Group had recommended that the following 19 payphones be retained:


  • Billingford: Festival Road
  • Caston: The Green
  • Cranworth: Swathing
  • Little Cressingham: Watton Road
  • Dereham: Moorgate Road
  • Dereham: Shipdham Road
  • Little Fransham: Main Road
  • Hardingham: High Common
  • Holme Hale: Cook Road
  • Hockering: The Street
  • Mundford: Swaffham Road
  • Mundford: West Tofts Road
  • Narborough: Eastfields
  • Sparham: The Street
  • Thetford: Anne Bartholomew Road
  • Thetford: Glebe Close
  • Watton: Norwich Road
  • Weeting: Hockwold Road
  • Woodrising


The report detailed the issues that had been identified regarding payphone usage, vandalism and anti social behaviour, theft, mobile phone signal strength and the BT consultation process.


So far as usage was concerned, the conversion of payphones to cashless facilities was felt to be a contributing factor in the decrease in use.  By way of example, call usage at the box in Little Cressingham had stood at 500 in the year prior to its conversion to a cashless facility, since when usage had dropped to 37.  Additionally, the numbers of boxes out of action awaiting repair or maintenance was also felt to have impacted on the usage figures provided by BT.


With regard to the consultation process, it was noted that a number of the site notices required to be erected by BT to give public notice of the consultation were either erected late or not at all.


Under the consultation process, BT had to respond in respect of the payphone boxes to which the Council had objected and no action on them could be taken in the interim.  There was an appeal process and it was hoped that it would be possible to influence the outcomes through negotiation.  A progress report back would be made in due course.


The Chairman of the Working Group added that following on from the suggestion previously made, they had enquired whether BT would be prepared to leave the red K6 boxes in situ after removing equipment but the answer had been ‘no’.


The Working Group had also overturned nine parish objections to the removal of boxes as there were insufficient grounds to support their retention, the combined number of calls from these boxes totalling just 97.


There had been 33 parish responses covering 41 boxes proposed for removal.  Where there had been no response, the Working Group had accepted the removal of those boxes.


During discussion, Members of the Commission regretted that BT had withdrawn its phone card facility and felt that people were either reluctant to use to the cashless facilities or, in the case of the elderly and young people, did not have a credit or debit card and therefore could not make use of those facilities.


In answer to a question, it was noted that it was not possible to confirm whether the retention of one box currently  ...  view the full minutes text for item 56.


Environment and Security Services Contract Monitoring Update (Agenda Item 8) pdf icon PDF 26 KB

Report of the Strategic Director – Services.

Additional documents:


The Street Scene Contracts Manager presented the report which updated members on performance of the Environmental Services contract for the period January to March 2008.


Members were pleased to note the upturn in customer satisfaction rates. 


In regard to the improved performance on street cleansing, a member wondered if this was a consequence of requests to the contractor by parishes or individuals to point out problems.


The Contracts Manager replied that it was important that customers and officers did alert the contractor so that problems could be dealt with.  He accepted the member’s concern that problems were not being picked up at the outset.  However, he assured the Commission that officers met regularly with the contractor to deal with issues generally and, where there was evidence of persistent problems, these were addressed.  The Strategic Director (Services) added that officers also met regularly with the Town Clerks and other town representatives, when any issues could be raised.


In answer to questions, it was explained that the contract had an output specification and the contractor was expected to operate on an ‘as needed’ basis.  Monitoring was required to be undertaken by the contractor and allocate work to areas of need as necessary.  If areas were being missed, then these needed to be notified so that they could be corrected.


A member noted that the report did not include figures for waste to landfill and the Contracts Manager undertook to provide these after the meeting.*


RESOLVED that the report be noted.


*Footnote:  The figures for waste to landfill were as follows:

§         Jan-March 2008 – 7622.66 tonnes

§         Total for 2007-08 – 27,896.40 tonnes


Member Development and Training Policy and Strategy (Agenda Item 9) pdf icon PDF 83 KB

Report of the Executive Member (Governance).


This report has been previously considered by the Member Development Panel and Policy Development & Review Panel 2, whose views will be reported at the meeting.

Additional documents:


The Member Services Manager presented the report.


It was noted that the adoption of the documents formed an essential part of the Council’s aim to achieve Charter status on Elected Member Development and Training.


Mr. Bambridge mentioned that he was a member of the East of England Member Training Panel which was organising a Member Training Day on unitary authorities and was also planning training on Member Champions.  He could provide information from the Panel to any members who wished it.


The Commission endorsed the adoption of the two documents, which had also been supported by the Member Development Panel and Policy Development and Review Panel 2.


RECOMMEND to the Cabinet that the Member Development and Training Policy and Strategy be adopted.

- Vice-Chairman in the Chair -

At this point, before leaving the meeting, the Chairman drew attention to agenda item 13 (Work Programme), and highlighted that he was keen to see Member-led issues on local and rural areas taken forward, and to see more members engaged in the scrutiny process, as referred to in the Annual Report.


In particular, he wished to take forward a review of the needs of the Market Towns and the rural areas and the Boundary Commission’s Local Government Review in Norfolk.


Finally, he drew attention to a meeting to be held on 29 July 2008 when he would be meeting with the Panel Chairmen to consider future scrutiny arrangements.  Members were invited to submit any comments to the Scrutiny Officer.


Local Government Ombudsman Annual Letter (Agenda Item 10) pdf icon PDF 69 KB

Report of the Deputy Chief Executive.


This report will also be considered by the Standards Committee on 8 July 2008, whose views will be reported at the meeting.

Additional documents:


The Member Services Manager presented the report on the Annual Letter from the Local Government Ombudsman, the details of which were noted.


Members were pleased to note the further reduction in the average response time, which now stood at 15 days, well within the LGO’s target of 28 days.


The Commission was also very pleased to note the LGO’s extremely favourable comments on the Council’s liaison arrangements with his office and his commendation of the Council for its openness in this area and its willingness to learn from the complaint experience.


RESOLVED that the report be noted.


Policy Development and Review Panels (Agenda Item 11)

To consider reports from Panel Chairmen in respect of the following meetings:


Panel 3 - Unconfirmed minutes of the meeting held on 17 June 2008 pdf icon PDF 74 KB


(i)                 Housing Benefits: Anglia Revenues Partnership (Minute 19/08)

The Commission noted the Panel’s report in this matter concerning the changes in the payments system and the introduction of the Local Housing Allowance.  The Panel had recommended certain amendments.


RESOLVED that the amendment, as proposed, to include a reference to a right of appeal in the Vulnerability and Safeguarding Policy is endorsed.<2>


(ii)               Thetford Healthy Living Centre (Minute 20/08)


The Commission noted the Panel’s report on this matter and agreed the importance of ensuring that a representative of Norfolk County Council was in attendance at Development Control Committee meetings to advise members on transport or highways issues in respect of applications in those instances when the results of a required Transport Assessment were unknown.


RESOLVED that the Development Control Committee be asked to consider that in cases when proposals were being taken to Committee before the results of a required Transport Assessment were known that a Norfolk County Council representative be asked to attend the meeting to advise on the matter.


(iii)       Adoption

RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting of Policy Development and Review Panel 3 held on 17 June 2008 be adopted.


Panel 2 - Unconfirmed minutes of the meeting held on 23 June 2008 pdf icon PDF 83 KB


(i)                 Member Development and Training – Policy and Strategy (Minute 18/08)

This item was dealt with under Minute 58/08 above.

(ii)               Adoption

RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting of Policy Development and Review Panel 2 held on 23 June 2008 be adopted.


Overview and Scrutiny Commission - Annual Report (Agenda Item 12) pdf icon PDF 56 KB

To consider the draft Annual Report of the Commission.

Additional documents:


The Member Development Officer presented the report.


A grammatical correction in the first line of the Introduction in the Annual Report was noted.


Members noted the drivers to the further development of the scrutiny function in Breckland consequent upon the changes being introduced by the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007, as noted on page 80 of the Report.


It was confirmed that members of the Commission would have the opportunity to consider any proposed changes to the scrutiny structure.


         RESOLVED that the report be approved.<1>


Work Programme (Agenda Item 13) pdf icon PDF 8 KB

(a)               A copy of the Commission’s work programme is attached, together with a copy of the current issue of the Forward Plan of the Executive for members’ information.  The Commission is asked to agree any additions, deletions or amendments to the programme as appropriate.


(b)        Member Issues:  In accordance with the Commission’s protocol for member leadership, which states that members of the Commission will take the lead in selecting topics for overview and scrutiny and in the questioning of witnesses, members are invited to put forward items for selection for future review.

Additional documents:


A member requested details of the item in the Forward Plan on Redcastle Furze Re-roofing.  The Member Development Officer undertook to clarify the position and to reply to the member after the meeting.


So far as the Work Programme was concerned, it was noted that the Working Group on the CCTV Review was due to hold its first meeting on 22 July 2008.


As noted in minute 55/08 above, the report on the Watton Horse Fair would be considered at the next meeting on 4 September.


There were no further amendments or changes to the Work Programme to be noted at this stage.


Next Meeting (Agenda Item 14)

To note the date of the next meeting to be held on 4 September 2008 at 2.15pm in the Anglia Room, Elizabeth House, Dereham.


The arrangements for the next meeting on 4 September 2008 were noted.