Venue: Anglia Room, The Conference Suite, Elizabeth House, Walpole Loke, Dereham
Contact: Committee Services 01362 656870
To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 1 May 2014.
The Minutes of the meeting held on 1 May 2014 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 Councillors Byrne and Irving. Councillor Bambridge was present as Substitute for Councillor Irving.
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.
The Chairman informed Members that an issue had been brought to his attention concerning the de-registering of 1500 patients by Watton Medical Practice. Although such a decision was not normally something that the Commission would consider, as so many residents were affected he was proposing that a Task & Finish Group (T&FG)be set up to ascertain the facts, gather evidence and inform the residents accurately about the issues. The key issues were the strain that would be put on other practices by 1500 people having to move with only two weeks notice and whether other practices would be within a reasonable distance for access purposes.
The information from the T&FG would be passed to the Norfolk County Council Health Scrutiny Committee which had not been consulted about the de-registration.
The Chairman also noted that NHS England were not consulted on planning applications and therefore were not aware of growth projections. He felt it was an obvious opportunity for them to be advised of major applications that could have serious implications on health provision in future. He had therefore asked Officers from the Planning department to attend the meeting to hear the proposals.
He proposed that Councillor Kybird should be Chairman of the T&FG as he was the Council’s representative on the Norfolk Health Scrutiny Committee. All other Councillors should be invited to express their interest in becoming members of the Group, especially those with local knowledge of the practices involved.
Councillors Bowes and Gilbert were Watton Ward Representatives. They had both been contacted by concerned residents and were very pleased with the proposal.
Councillor Turner said that she had information which she would feed into the T&FG.
The Chairman was aware that other agencies, such as NHS England and Health Watch Norfolk were also investigating the issue and he suggested that the T&FG should work with them to avoid duplication.
Councillor Kybird asked for a clear remit for the Group. He was aware that the recruitment and retention of GPs was a Norfolk wide problem and suggested that the future growth of the District and staff retention should form part of the T&FG’s investigations. However, it would not deal with individual complaints as part of its process.
It was RESOVLED that:
(1) Councillor Kybird be appointed Chairman of the Task & Finish Group;
(2) all Councillors be invited to sit on the Group and the Group’s membership to be agreed by Councillor Kybird and the Scrutiny Officer; and
(3) clear Terms of Reference to be agreed at the first meeting.
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.
Councillors Bowes, Chapman-Allen, Jolly, Kiddle-Morris and Turner were in attendance.
Joint Chief Executive (Agenda Item 6)
The new Joint Chief Executive, Anna Graves, has been invited to update the Commission on her role, aims and aspirations.
Anna Graves, the new Joint Chief Executive, had been invited to address the Commission and to advise them on her role, aims and aspirations.
She started by saying that scrutiny was a really important function of the Council. She had seen many versions of scrutiny at the 11 different Councils at which she had worked.
She explained that as well as being Joint Chief Executive she was also Head of Paid Service and they were two separate roles. As Chief Executive her role was shaped by the Organisation and the way in which it operated. She saw her role as providing effective management to enable staff to do their best. During her first three months she had discovered that communication was an issue; up, down and across the organisation.
The Vision and Priorities of the Council were set by the Members and it was her job to ensure that they were deliverable and that the right resources and skills were available.
As she was not able to be at the Council five days a week in her shared role, she held her Corporate Management Team accountable for ensuring that the Council was legally and financially sound. She was still working out how to cover everything. She had found that at Breckland the Members dealt with much of the interaction with the public. She had to manage Member and staff expectations.
Her style was ‘Driven and Outcomes focussed’ and she was also challenging. She was busy working out the boundaries and then she would start pushing those boundaries.
She had found that scrutiny scared a lot of Officers and she wanted to create an environment where Officers felt safe to come to scrutiny. She was proposing that Breckland and South Holland had a CMT scrutiny contact who would work with the Commission on their work programme and ensure delivery, as well as manage their expectations.
During her first three months she had agreed with both Leaders to focus on the basics. It was currently impossible for the Shared Management Team to work across both Councils effectively with the existing IT. There was money available to deliver improvements and that was the first priority.
Next she would focus on the role of CMT. There would be some realignment of services. A staff survey would be carried out and work would be done to improve staff feelings about working with the Council.
The third priority was communications – both internal and external and that included Broadband and the A11. The fourth was Transformation – exploring the relationship with South Holland and Norfolk going forward.
Her final priority was Members. She was working for the whole Council, not just for the Leader and Cabinet. There would be some changes. She was clear about the Council’s entrepreneurial position.
Her aspirations were to make the Council a major player in Norfolk and with partnerships; to re-establish value and ensure recognition for its shared services which were driving quality, resilience and savings.
Councillor Bambridge asked about the ... view the full minutes text for item 36.
Report of the Assistant Director for Democratic Services.
The Executive Member for Finance & Democratic Services presented the report. She explained that the Constitution set out how the Council operated. The Constitution Review Working Group had carried out a thorough review to update the Constitution in light of legislative changes, develop its transparency and align it where appropriate with South Holland’s Constitution.
The review had been a large and very challenging task. The draft of Parts One to Four was being presented for comment. The review of the Committee structure had been put on hold.
After feedback and any suggested changes from the Commission the next stage would be for the draft to be independently reviewed and then presented to Cabinet and Council for approval.
The Memorandum of Agreement on Shared Management between Breckland and South Holland was being reviewed and therefore some changes to the draft Constitution might be required when it was presented to Council.
Part 3, Officers Delegations would also be updated before Council, as a management restructure was currently taking place. A log of Officer delegations was being prepared, which would sit outside of the Constitution document. It would provide clear evidence to Officers of their authority to act.
Section 4b had basically been completely rewritten by the Finance teams to comply with legislation. Section 5 onwards would be reviewed at a later date.
Proposed changes and additions to the Constitution had been printed in red for clarity.
The Assistant Director for Democratic Services then went through the document summarising the key changes.
· Part 1 - no fundamental changes
· Part 2 – additional information for clarity to Articles 4, 7, 10 13 & 14 based on the National model
· Part 4 - New additional procedure within Standing Order 5 to allow Questions With and Without Notice at Council meetings.
· Parts 4a and 4b – fundamentally different in layout - to support understanding pages 187-190 provided a summary of the financial limits being proposed. (An A3 printed copy of those pages was provided to Members as a printing problem had made them unclear on the Agenda).
The Chairman asked if the Draft reflected the South Holland Constitution as far as Shared Officers were concerned and he was advised that the Constitutions were almost the same and would be easier for Shared Officers to navigate.
Councillor Bambridge proposed that the right of the public to ask questions should be extended to all Committees and included under Article 3.
The Vice-Chairman congratulated the Working Group and Officers on a job well done. He had advocated the amendment to open up democracy and accountability and he thought that the right for ... view the full minutes text for item 37.
Health Scrutiny (Agenda Item 8)
To receive an update on the Norfolk Health Scrutiny Committee.
Councillor Kybird had e-mailed Members with the Actions and Outcomes from the previous meeting. He would be able to attend future meetings as there were no further clashes.
(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.
A copy of the Key Decision Plan is attached for Members’ information.
The Chairman would be speaking to the Chief Executive to discuss the Performance report which was due to be presented to the next meeting. Broadband would be added to the Agenda for that meeting as there was a new initiative to provide super-fast Broadband with District funding.
Councillor Kiddle-Morris explained that the Government would match the amount that the Council provided.
The Vice-Chairman suggested that the 20 November meeting would be a good time to invite the Police and Crime Commissioner as it would mark the second anniversary of his appointment. Councillor Turner thought it would be a good opportunity for her to give her Executive Update and also to schedule in the OPT for that meeting.
The Vice-Chairman asked for a Scrutiny Review of the timing of meetings with a view to encouraging a wider demographic of people standing as Councillors.
The Democratic Services Team Leader advised him that a campaign promoting being a Councillor, including Town and Parish as well as District, would be run in September/October.
The Executive Member for Finance & Democratic Services said it was part of a Councillor’s role to engage with communities and that was the best way to target certain age groups or demographics.
The Vice-Chairman still thought that the Council needed to change its systems to better engage with its communities. For instance, at South Holland meetings were held in the evenings and Forest Heath District Council gave its Members a pot of money to spend in their Wards.
Next Meeting (Agenda Item 12)
To note the arrangements for the next meeting to be held on 28 August 2014.
The arrangements for the next meeting on 28 August 2014 were noted.