Agenda and minutes

Venue: The Gallery Bar, Watton Sports Centre, Dereham Road, Watton IP25 6EZ

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No. Item


Minutes (Agenda Item 1) pdf icon PDF 115 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 24 March 2011.



The Minutes of the meeting held on 24 March 2011 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.


Apologies and Substitutes (Agenda Item 2)

To receive apologies for absence and to note substitute Members in attendance.




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.




Declaration of Interest (Agenda Item 4)

Members are asked at this stage to declare any interests that 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 person or prejudicial interest.


During discussion of Agenda Item 9 (Parking Task & Finish Group) Mr Byrne declared a personal interest with regard to charging for parking, as a member of the Norfolk Police Authority, Fire & Rescue Service Regional Management Board.


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 W Smith was in attendance for Agenda Item 6 only.  Mr G Bambridge and Mr W Richmond were also in attendance.


Executive Member Portfolio Update (Agenda Item 6)

Mr William Smith, Executive Member for Internal Services, has been invited to attend the meeting to update Members on key ongoing issues and policies within his portfolio and to answer any questions.



Mr W Smith explained that Portfolios had changed since the election and he now had responsibility for the Customer Contact Centre and Human Resources as well as ICT and ARP.  He then gave an update on each area.



ICT had been in-sourced creating savings of about £317,000. 


The ICT Manager had left the authority and been temporarily replaced by two interim managers.  Their fees were being shared by South Holland and the ARP was also making a contribution.  They had been asked to review the ICT service and put forward options.  Their research indicated that the best option was to join with other partners.  Potential future savings of around £300,000 had been identified.


The first priority was to maximise savings for the Council.  All options for ICT would be considered and these included outsourcing, joining with Compass Point, Norfolk County Council or ARP.  Mr Smith was keen to develop ICT in partnership with the ARP to provide capacity and resilience and to be able to offer the ‘full package’ to customers.


Mr Rogers asked if the likely savings would off-set the effects of the £1.2million shortfall and Mr Smith confirmed that they would and that if the favoured option, of joining with the ARP, was chosen savings could be in excess of £600,000.  The Chief Executive advised that that figure would not be reached within the next financial year.


Mr Smith then asked Mr Bambridge to update Members on the Members’ IT roll-out.


Mr Bambridge explained that he had been made E-Champion in May and had concentrated on the roll-out which had gone reasonably well with a few hiccups.  Members were asked to let him have their comments for a report he was writing about the process, which would be presented to the Joint Audit & Scrutiny Panel in October.


Three Members were still experiencing problems with the new equipment, mainly due to line quality, and BT was working to rectify that.  One Member was using his Norfolk County Council kit and one Member had no IT equipment.  Four Members had yet to make an appointment to have their equipment delivered.  It was hoped that all Members (with the exception of the one who did not use IT) would be connected a week before the deadline date of 29 July 2011.  A series of training sessions were being organised which it was hoped would be mandatory, as there were new elements of the equipment that Members needed to be aware of.


The Helpline was being used to good effect.  Members were asked to emphasise the importance of using the system to all Members as a few people were trying to by-pass the system which caused enormous problems.  He had not received any complaints from those Members that were using the helpdesk and he asked to be informed of any problems.  The service agreement required a two hour response and that was one of the things that would be reviewed at the Joint Audit & Scrutiny Panel meeting in October.


Mrs Irving  ...  view the full minutes text for item 48.


Joint Working Arrangements (Agenda Item 7)

Verbal update by the Chief Executive on the progress of the new ways of working.



The Chief Executive gave an update on Shared Management. 


There had been some staffing issues and it had been necessary to find alternative solutions for some posts such as Legal Services.  A Business Development Manager had been recruited and would be starting in early August.  The Environmental Health Manager had withdrawn from the post and the Building Control Manager was managing both teams at present whilst the situation was assessed.  The Community Development Manager would be moving on and a replacement would be recruited.  The Chief Executive said it was healthy for people to be ambitious and to move on.


The new Senior Managers had spent time establishing good relationships with their teams and their Portfolio Holders.  They were now working at establishing the same good working relationships with all other Members.  The new system was bedding in well.


Efficiency aids such as common processes were being developed.  The Committee report format had been aligned and the governance structure and performance reporting were also being aligned and proposals would be reported to Audit and Governance Committees.


Video conferencing had been established and was well used, saving time and money on travel.  Members would soon be receiving training on the use of Web-Ex which would enable them to take part in conversations via telephone and video conferencing with access to shared information on screen.


All shared managers were moving to new e-mail accounts to ensure that they could receive e-mails from both authorities wherever they were.


The next stage would be to identify areas for further vertical integration to make savings.  More opportunities for sharing services would be sought.  A Joint Informal Board had been established between the two authorities and would hold its first meeting soon.  Scrutiny Chairmen would be invited to attend as observers.


Finally, both Leaders were aware of the potential for additional savings through increasing to three partners.  That would only happen when the time was right and if the right partner could be found. 


The Vice-Chairman asked if in future briefing notes could be provided so that Members could formulate questions in advance of the meeting.  He was concerned that Scrutiny was last on the agenda for the new Shared Managers, as it had done excellent work over the years and helped Cabinet to make informed decisions.


As a result of an informal meeting he understood that some officers feared being invited to attend the Commission.  He asked the Chief Executive to promote the Scrutiny function and encourage the officers to be more enthusiastic.


The Chief Executive said that although all of the Shared Managers had not had an opportunity to get to know the Commission yet they would take the time to do so.  He asked Members if they would like an informal session to be arranged.


The Chairman felt that it would be good to sit down with the Senior Management Team and Portfolio Holders to explain Scrutiny and encourage information exchange.  He suggested that when 75% of Senior Managers were in place the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 49.


Breckland Business Plan (Agenda Item 8)

Verbal update from the Performance Team Leader.



The Chief Executive provided the update in place of the Performance Team Leader.


At the beginning of the financial year the Corporate Plan was reviewed and revised and cascaded down to individual Business Plans.  Due to the elections, the new administration and the scrapping of a lot of National Indicators it had been sensible to delay the process.


A new Corporate Plan was now being prepared.  The two Cabinets had met jointly and agreed the headline messages.  Individual priorities at each Authority had been developed.  Managers had been tasked with reflecting those in the new Plan.


At the end of August the Plan would go to the Executive to check that requirements had been correctly captured.  The draft would then go to Scrutiny, etc.  Comments would be reported back to Cabinet and then a final draft would be presented to Council for adoption.


Service Managers and Portfolio Holders would be setting new service plans which would include performance measures.  There was new freedom to select performance measures that were meaningful.  It was considered that a separate meeting of the Commission would be needed to allow input into the Business planning that would take place. 


The Chairman thanked the Chief Executive for the update.


Task and Finish Groups (Agenda Item 10) pdf icon PDF 58 KB

Report of the Assistant Director – Democratic Services.

Additional documents:


The Democratic Services Team Leader presented the report which sought approval of the Membership and Terms of Reference of the next Parking Task & Finish Group review in Dereham.


The Chairman noted that under the Chairmanship of Mrs Matthews the previous reviews had run well with good public participation.


Mr Rogers pointed out that there had been an item in the local press which said that the majority of people wanted free car parking and he hoped that Breckland would keep that.


The Vice Chairman echoed his comments and said that free parking was key to Dereham.  He also requested that Ward Representatives be included as witnesses to the review.


The Chairman agreed to that and pointed out that the reviews were not looking at charges, their main aim was to look at tensions that existed.  In the case of Attleborough the Town Council had actually requested parking charges to try to prevent people parking all day and travelling to Norwich and other places by train, to work.





(1)   that the Democratic Services Team Leader would liaise with Mrs Matthews to establish a quorum for the Task & Finish Group.  Members should include Mrs Matthews as Chairman with Mr Martin, Mr Duigan, Mrs Spencer and Mrs Irving;  and


(2)   to approve the Terms of Reference and the Project Plan.


Mr W Richmond volunteered to be a member of the Group.


Joint Scrutiny Working Group

To receive an update on the meeting held on 23 June 2011.



The meeting on 23 June 2011 had been held to review the way in with each authority dealt with Scrutiny.  At South Holland there were two Committees, one dealing with Performance and the other with Policy. 


The Chairman informed Members that following frank and open discussions with Councillor Brian Alcock, Chairman of one of the two Scrutiny Committees from South Holland, it had been agreed that each Council would carry on as it was.


The future of the Commission was safe.  There would be no joint scrutiny arrangements for the time being and any future joint meetings would be by video link.


The Vice Chairman suggested that the joint management arrangements with South Holland may need to be scrutinised in future and that would be best to be done as a joint arrangement.


The Chairman agreed and said that was what had prompted the meeting.


Overview & Scrutiny Annual Report (Agenda Item 11) pdf icon PDF 191 KB

To consider the Draft Annual Report of the Commission.


The report was noted.


Scrutiny Call-ins (Agenda Item 11)

To note whether any decisions have been called-in for scrutiny.




Councillor Call for Action (Agenda Item 12)

To consider any references.




Work Programme (Agenda Item 13) pdf icon PDF 88 KB

(a)               A copy of the Commission’s work programme is attached.  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.


The Chairman thanked everyone that had attended the training session at which they had focussed on future work for the Commission.


He advised Members that he had received a formal letter from the Shadwell Estate in Thetford asking the Commission to investigate decisions regarding future development in Thetford.  The letter had been passed to the Deputy Chief Executive as the Chairman did not wish to respond to it without an official review.


Timing was an issue and the Commission would need to deal with this issue at its meeting on 1 September 2011 and then advise Cabinet of the implications.  The Review of the LDF was already timetabled for that meeting and officers would have to address the matters raised in the letter at that meeting.


All Commission Members would receive a copy of the letter.


Mr Bambridge asked if representatives from Shadwell would be invited to attend the Commission meeting and the Chairman confirmed that they would.


Regarding future items, the Vice Chairman asked if the Commission could receive a presentation on Discretionary and Non-discretionary services. 


He also mentioned the financial pressures on Homelessness, which was not a discretionary service and asked if that could be looked at.


Mr Joel asked if it was likely that the Council would be obliged to home any travellers displaced from the site in Essex which was to be closed.  The Chief Executive explained that the Council was required to provide a number of pitches for travellers, based on a Travellers Needs Assessment.  If the displacement increased the need it would be dealt with at the next assessment review.


Mr Gilbert asked if some Members and Officers could have a pre-meeting to discuss who to invite to the review of future residential development to be held on 6 January 2012.


With regard to the Health Review scheduled for 6 October 2011, Mr Joel urged caution as he said that Health reviews never seemed to reach any conclusion.  The Chairman felt that the scope of the review would be clearer once the details of the Localism Bill and the extent that responsibility had devolved to District level was known.


Mrs Irving asked if the programme of Executive reports had been confirmed and was advised that the aim was to invite the Executive Members in turn or to tie-in with a specific agenda item.


Next Meeting (Agenda Item 14)

To note the arrangements for the next meeting to be held on 1 September 2011.



The arrangements for the next meeting on 1 September 2011 were noted.