Agenda and minutes

Venue: Anglia Room, The Conference Suite, Elizabeth House, Walpole Loke, Dereham

Contact: Committee Services  01362 656870

No. Item


Minutes (Agenda Item 1) pdf icon PDF 829 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 6 October 2011.


Subject to an amendment to add Mr F Sharpe to the Members in attendance, the Minutes of the meeting held on 6 October 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.


Apologies for absence were received from Mr C Carter.  Mr G Bambridge was in attendance as his substitute.


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 personal or prejudicial interest.


Mr P Cowen declared a personal interest in Agenda Item 6 by virtue of his occupation as an Architect in practice in the district.


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 P Claussen, Mr F Sharpe, Mr W Richmond and Mr M Wassell were in attendance.


Executive Member Portfolio Update (Agenda Item 6)

Paul Claussen, Executive Member for Planning & Environmental 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 Claussen, Executive Member for Planning and Environmental Services had been invited to update the Commission on ongoing issues within his portfolio.  He advised Members that there was a lot going on and that several areas were under review involving staff at risk, so he would not go into those areas in detail.  Both HR and Unison were involved.


Environmental Health

This was one area under review.  The aim was to share management at Principal Officer and Team Leader level whist still retaining local knowledge.  IT would be shared and mobile working would be implemented across both authorities to provide consistency.  The Business Development Manager and the Business Improvement Team were undertaking a full business process review.  An IT ‘pipe’ would link both authorities and would be capable of expansion if necessary.  A Project Board and Project Group had been set up to progress the review and it was expected to be completed by 1st April 2012.


Environmental Services was working with other departments and the Immigration authorities with regard to rough sleepers.  They had also teamed up with Trading Standards to address under 18s using sun beds.


The dog and pest contracts had both been re-let and were operating well.  The RSPCA had awarded the Council a ‘Gold Footprint’ award for its work with stray dogs.  There was also a micro-chipping service and dog training courses which were very popular and over-subscribed.


Food Hygiene courses were also proving popular and might become commercial.


The ‘Scores on the Doors’ project had been very successful, with over 1200 businesses receiving scores of between 3 and 5.  Only 5% of businesses required improvement.  However, some businesses were requesting re-visits to try and improve their scores.



The Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill would bring changes to regulated entertainment licensing.  The implications on workload were not yet known as more details were awaited.  The situation was being closely monitored.



Due to shared services, the Leaders of both Councils wanted to align Planning and Economic Development, therefore, the Policy side of planning and the Capita contract now fell within the Assets and Strategic Development Portfolio and Mr Kiddle-Morris had joined Mr Claussen and the Chairman of the Planning Committee on the Contract Monitoring Board.


The main criteria for outsourcing the Planning department had been to make savings and by the end of 2011 the contract would be on target to reach contractual savings of over £400,000. 


Capita continued to meet all targets.  There had been a problem with the Enforcement target but that had been addressed.  However, the targets originated from the old BVPIs (Best Value Performance Indicators) which used to be linked to receipt of the Planning Delivery Grant.  Those targets no longer attracted a grant and negotiations had commenced to review the targets to address issues such as customer access.


The Planning Manager explained that they wanted targets to be customer focused.  They would look at how the processes worked and aim to improve consultation and access and make  ...  view the full minutes text for item 92.


Breckland Tenancy Strategy (Agenda Item 7) pdf icon PDF 84 KB

Report of the Director for Commissioning.

Additional documents:


The Principal Housing Officer presented the report.  She advised that with the Localism Bill receiving Royal Assent there were many changes on the way.  The Tenancy Strategy was one area where work had started on dealing with those changes.  It was not yet complete and Members’ input was sought to both the Tenancy Strategy and the review of the Allocations Policy.


The Council needed to make the best use of the available housing stock and to ensure that it was occupied by the right people.  The Tenancy Strategy addressed the following issues:


  1. how long a tenant should occupy a property
  2. what rent they should pay; and
  3. what was the best use for the property


Guidelines suggested that tenure should be not less than five years and the suggestion was to set a ten year limit for the Council.  That would only affect new tenancies – not existing ones.  After ten years a review would be held to discuss options and perhaps at that time to encourage tenants to change to a different house size.


The driver for affordable rent as opposed to social rent was to raise money for new development.  Flagship Housing Association was not accepting HCA terms and was charging affordable rent.  Developers were also pushing for affordable rent.


Members also need to consider the best way to tackle under-occupation?  If tenancy was secure, tenants could not be forced out, but would the Council consider allowing Housing Associations to offer incentives to people to move?


Local Lettings – these were usually attached to Legal Agreements and gave priority to local people.  This was an opportunity to set out exactly how the Council wanted to deal with Local Lettings in the new strategy.


Tied to the strategy was the Allocations Policy.  The Localism Bill allowed greater freedom for the Council to set its own criteria.  Currently there was an open register and anyone could apply.  The Council could decide to add some priorities and give preference to certain groups if it chose.  This could extend to excluding certain people from applying, such as those with a certain level of savings, or those with a history of anti-social behaviour.  Members were asked to provide input on all of the issues set out.


The Chairman reminded Members that part of the function of Scrutiny was to help to shape Policy.  They had an opportunity to look carefully at how to address housing need in the District.


He suggested that a Task & Finish Group should be set up to look at the issues.  It should have both rural and Market Town Members.  They needed to understand Planning and Core Strategies as Planning and Housing were inextricably linked. 

The Housing Manager suggested that the Homelessness Business Plan might also be considered by the Task & Finish Group.  It was a matter that could not be separated from the Tenancy and Allocations Policies, as decisions on either would have implications on homelessness.


The Chairman agreed and suggested that the overarching areas considered by the Task  ...  view the full minutes text for item 93.


One Stop Bus Mainstreaming (Agenda Item 8) pdf icon PDF 67 KB

Report of the Director of Commissioning.

Additional documents:


The Customer Contact Manager presented the report and explained the background to the Bus.  The original funding had been exhausted and it would be a considerable cost to the Council to continue its use.  Cabinet had decided it should be discontinued and the Commission had been invited to consider how the Council could meet the demand for services in rural communities within budget.


The Chairman noted that the Commission could only run three Task & Finish Groups concurrently so they were unable to undertake the task at present.  However it was something that they could look at in the future.


The Customer Contact Manager advised that the bus was actually finishing in one week’s time.  They were planning to run some pilot schemes such as sending invitations to Parish Councils offering to attend meetings.  If Members had any ideas he would be grateful to hear them.


Mr Joel had attended the bus every month and thought it had been a very good concept with excellent staff.  He suggested that the Click campaign could be continued in the village schools, with the pupils teaching the older people. That would be a way to pass on skills without the costs associated with the bus.


The Chairman said he had attended the bus on two occasions in his Ward, but no residents had turned up.  He liked Mr Joel’s idea which had other good social benefits.


Mr Richmond also supported the idea of using the schools which he thought might have additional health advantages.


Mr Wassell said that whatever the Council decided to do it would need to be well advertised.  He thought that part of the reason the bus had been uneconomic was due to the public not knowing about it.  People that had visited the bus had looked upon it as a ‘council’ facility – and it hadn’t mattered which Council.  He suggested that the aim should be to provide joined up services for all three tiers of local council.


The Chairman asked the Contact Centre Manager to come to the next meeting to update the Commission on how the pilot schemes were progressing.


Task and Finish Groups (Agenda Item 9)

To consider reports from Task & Finish Group Chairmen in respect of the following meetings:


Dereham Parking Task and Finish Group pdf icon PDF 61 KB


Mrs Matthews, Chairman of the Group, advised that the public meeting due to be held in early December was to be deferred until after Christmas.  No real problems had been identified in Dereham and it was likely the review would finish after the public meeting.


The Vice-Chairman asked if parking in Thetford would be reviewed and the Chairman explained that whilst the growth and development of Thetford were being determined they could not focus on just one aspect, but that parking issues would be addressed eventually.


Bunker & Business Continuity Task & Finish Group pdf icon PDF 61 KB


Mr Kybird, Chairman of the Group, said that they would be talking to the ICT officers at the next meeting about recovery plans.  Once that meeting had taken place and storage arrangements had been clarified he expected to be able to finalise their report.


Mr Bambridge asked about the generator provision for Elizabeth House which he thought was a key issue. He considered that an outlay of only £30-35,000 for a generator was not big considering the cost if working time was lost.


Mr Kybird advised that overall business continuity would depend on joint working arrangements.  ICT would be asked if the existing ‘mirroring arrangements’ required another equipped site or whether all facilities were transferable.


The Chairman said that the Group would respond to those concerns in their final report.


Joint Audit & Scrutiny Panel (Agenda Item 10) pdf icon PDF 75 KB

To receive the Minutes of the Joint Audit and Scrutiny Panel meeting held on 25 October 2011.



The Chairman advised that Skype was now available and was being trialled by some Members.


Mr Bambridge, E-Champion, expected all Members to have been set up with Skype within a few weeks.  Web-Ex was slightly more complicated and training would need to be given, but it was likely that only the Chairmen of Committees would need to use it.


Health & Scrutiny (Standing Item) (Agenda Item 11)

To receive an update on the Norfolk Health Scrutiny Committee.


Mr Kybird had not attended the most recent meeting but Lady Fisher had sent round a briefing note to all Members. 


The Chairman had attended a conference in Mattishall on 2 November looking at fundamental changes to Health Services.  Local Authorities were due to take responsibility for Health services in April 2013 and from April 2012 shadow organisations would be set up to start the transition.  Norfolk County Council would retain responsibility for scrutinising health in the County.  However it was pointed out that Thetford hospital services were provided by Suffolk so there would be cross border implications.


Mr Kybird clarified that for Thetford and Brandon, Norfolk administered physical care, Suffolk looked after mental care and King’s Lynn catered for elderly care.


Scrutiny Call-ins (Standing Item) (Agenda Item 12)

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




Councillor Call for Action (Standing Item) (Agenda Item 13)

To consider any references.




Work Programme (Agenda Item 14) pdf icon PDF 91 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 reminded Members that they had the opportunity to bring topics to the Commission.  As long as they were relevant to the District as a whole, they would be gratefully received.


Next Meeting (Agenda Item 15)

To note the arrangements for the next meeting to be held on 5 January 2012 at 2.00pm in the Anglia Room.


The arrangements for the next scheduled meeting to be held on 5 January 2012 were noted.  If possible, a Utilities meeting would be arranged in December.