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 74 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 28 August 2014.


Amendments to Minute No 50/14 were tabled and agreed by Members (see attached).


A recommendation from the Overview and Scrutiny Commission on 28 August 2014 to Cabinet had not been moved (Minute Ref No 51/14). 



the Discretionary Rate Relief Guidelines be recommended to Cabinet.


Councillor Kybird asked for an amendment to Minute Ref: 52/14 to, ‘The problem was that there could be a conflict of interest as the Commissioning body included GPs’.


Subject to the above amendments the minutes of the meeting held on 28 August 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, Irving and Matthews.  Councillor Bambridge was present as Substitute for Councillor Irving, and Councillor Bowes was present as Substitute for Councillor Byrne.



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 Interests (Agenda Item 4)

Members are reminded that under the Code of Conduct they are not to participate and must leave the room, for the whole of an agenda item to which they have a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest. 


In the interests of transparency, Members may also wish to declare any other interests they have in relation to an agenda item, that support the Nolan principles detailed within the Code of Conduct.




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 Duigan, Jolly, Turner and Wassell were in attendance.


Executive Member Update

Michael Wassell, Leader of the Council, has been invited to attend the meeting to update Members on ICT issues and to answer questions.


The Leader of the Council was in attendance to update the Commission on his ICT Portfolio. He introduced Simon Linsley, the Interim IT and Customer Services Manager as Kevin Rump was leaving.


He informed the Commission that he had taken lead of the portfolio since July 2014.  He explained that the current arrangements included resilience, added skills and economy of scales.  There was a 5-year joint service agreement between Breckland Council and Norfolk County Council (NCC), with a 6-month exit clause for Breckland and 12-month clause for NCC with no need for a reason.


There had been some positives on resilience such as the Public Service Network (PSN) compliance needs which had been met.  There had been a resolution to 22,000 vulnerabilities.  By using the service provided by NCC, Breckland had access to more staff. 


However there had been challenges such as the support from the Customer Service desk which had deteriorated.  An example of this was where a Member had bought their laptop for fixing and was then informed by an email that it was ready to collect.  The Member was unable to access emails whilst the laptop was being repaired.  It also appeared there was no continuity of support for Members.


Members were informed there were outstanding actions from a recent audit which were being looked into. 


It had been noted that since NCC had moved to a Committee System an Elected Member had not been appointed to the Governing Board.


Councillor Jermy asked for clarification on what vulnerabilities meant. The ICT Manager said that vulnerabilities meant a point of weakness in that someone could attack the systems and put the organisation at risk.


Councillor Jermy asked how the deterioration of Customer Service support was documented so that Members could better understand the concerns.  The ICT Manager said that when he heard that ICT issues were not being resolved he encouraged Members and Officers to follow the complaints procedure so that statistics could be recorded. 


The Chairman asked for clarification that when the word ‘Customer’ was used it meant both Members and Officers.  The ICT Manager confirmed this and also clarified that it meant Officers based at Dereham and Thetford Offices.  The ICT service for ARP staff had been provided by West Suffolk from 1 December 2013.


Councillor Jermy asked for more information on the outstanding actions.  The ICT Manager said that only high priority actions were reported to the Audit Committee and there was no track of the low to medium priorities.  Both NCC and Breckland Council were audited together and jointly agreed an action plan.


Councillor Jolly informed Members that Internal Audit would be changing to a new regime which would be risk based and before the new scheme could come into effect wanted to ensure that no ongoing issues would transfer into the new system.


Councillor Bowes said that NCC Officers and Members received better customer service responses than Breckland and asked why this should be the case.


The ICT Manager felt that it was  ...  view the full minutes text for item 61.


ICT Contract

To receive a presentation on the ICT contract with Norfolk County Council.


Mr Tom Baker, Chief Information Officer at Norfolk County Council presented to Members and said that there was an open, honest and good working relationship between Breckland and NCC.


He assured Members that five dedicated members of staff had worked in partnership to provide the Public Service Network (PSN) compliance piece of work which had been successfully completed.


It was highlighted that some software would no longer be supported which affected the vast majority of Officers and Members who were using equipment and operating systems that were out of date. 


He provided assurances that they were working to achieve improvements with the Customer Service Desk.  There had been 21 vacancies following a recent restructure within ICT at NCC and these positions had now been filled.  Nine of these posts would be in the Service desk.


NCC were working with Microsoft and Hewlett Packard to ensure delivery of over 5000 devices.  Vodafone were also working with the partnership to review the working styles of Officers and Members which had proved valuable as this had also contributed to the wider estate strategy.  There appeared to be an appetite for mobile working which would provide flexibility for the work / life balance. 


Everyone seemed very keen on using tablets as a way forward, however after analysis it appeared the best device would be a light-weight laptop.  This had a built-in web cam which would enable individuals to work from home.  New smartphones were also being considered.  He emphasised the importance for both NCC and Breckland to remain PSN compliant.  Storing information in the Government Cloud would enable a safe and secure environment.


Roll out of devices had begun at NCC and feedback received so far was that performance had increased and people seemed happy with the new equipment.


The Leader of the Council said he wanted to ensure that Breckland Members and Officers had the best equipment and reminded Mr Baker that many Members were in rural areas and therefore had very low broadband speeds.  He also said that the Shared Managers at Breckland and South Holland had system access difficulties across the two sites. Whilst the vision of the future seemed great the current system was not working and in order to gain confidence Breckland needed to ensure that the systems proposed were right for the organisation.


Councillor Bambridge said that he was not convinced that the Digital Norfolk Ambition (DNA) was right for Breckland as it was a District Council.  As Member E-Champion he was aware of the IT issues of Members and said that it would be a great pity if the relationship was lost on the little things.  He suggested that someone could concentrate on these little issues to improve service and confidence as he would like to see the service work.


Councillor Turner simply asked for systems that were fit for purpose and worked properly.  Mr Baker said that the current systems were not fit for purpose as the outdated equipment did not work effectively.


Mr Baker went  ...  view the full minutes text for item 62.


ICT Refresh Working Group

To receive an update from Members’ e-Champion, Councillor Gordon Bambridge.


Councillor Bambridge informed Members that the group were on target to meet deadlines and had looked at some suggested IT equipment at a previous meeting.  It was hoped that a decision could be made at the next meeting of the ICT Refresh Group.


Views from a Members survey had also been taken into consideration as to what type of kit was preferred.


He informed Members that a decision would need to be made by the end of 2014 in order to meet budget requirements.


The Leader of the Council advised that he would ensure a decision would be made within the timescale and would consider different ways of implementation.   He agreed that the ICT Refresh would need to be delivered on budget and ensure that the equipment that was provided to Members was meaningful and useful.


Councillor Bambridge confirmed that Members of the ICT Refresh Group were aware there was a budget, but not clear on the exact figure.


The Chairman was unclear as to what the ICT Refresh Group were asking for and wanted assurances that NCC were involved in the process and would be able to provide IT support to the device that was chosen.


Councillor Bambridge apologised for the confusion and confirmed that the Group were considering all options and that NCC supported the different options the Group were considering.


Mr Baker said he was mindful that people had different jobs but strongly recommended that Members went with the option of the HP light-weight laptop device.


Mr Baker went on to say that Members at NCC decided to go with the iPad, however he believed that the proposed laptop would suit the needs of Breckland’s Members.


Councillor Jolly said everyone needed to be clear on the Capital and Revenue budget and she would ensure that everyone involved was fully aware of this.


The Leader of the Council informed Members that it was Mr Kevin Rump’s last day at Breckland, and thanked him for all his support.  He had done a fantastic job and wished him well with the future.



Health Scrutiny (Standing Item)

To receive an update on the Norfolk Health Scrutiny Committee.


Councillor Kybird informed Members that the next Norfolk Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (NHOSC) meeting was scheduled for 16 October and that he had forwarded information to Overview and Scrutiny Members as and when appropriate.


The Overview and Scrutiny Commission were required to suggest a Substitute Member for the NHOSC board, and it was recommended that Councillor Robert Richmond be the Substitute Member.


He reminded Members that the issue of Wider GP Recruitment would be covered at the November meeting of NHOSC.


The Chairman informed Members that he would be meeting the Watton Medical Centre together with the Leader of the Council at the end of October.



Scrutiny Call-ins (Standing Item)

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





Councillor Call for Action (Standing Item)

To consider any references.





Work Programme pdf icon PDF 76 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.


A copy of the Key Decision Plan is attached for Members’ information.

Additional documents:


Councillor Jermy commented that he was pleased the Police and Crime Commissioner had confirmed his attendance at the next scheduled meeting.  He mentioned that the SNAP meetings varied across the District and suggested that the Chair of SNAP meetings attended to submit their views on the way the process was working.


Councillor Turner said that if the Chairman was unable to attend then Members could input into the meeting.


Councillor Jermy also suggested that an opportunity could be provided to question the Leader of the Council, and to also receive information regarding Anglia Revenues Partnership.


The Chairman confirmed that the Work Programme was scheduled up until April 2015 and felt it appropriate to have a Crime themed meeting in November. 


He felt it was important that the Commission had the opportunity to challenge the budget which had been scheduled for January 2015.  It was suggested that ARP was considered at the February 2015 meeting.



Next Meeting

To note the arrangements for the next meeting to be held on 20 November 2014 at 2.00pm in the Anglia Room, Elizabeth House, Dereham.


The arrangements for the next meeting on 20 November 2014 were noted.