Agenda and minutes

Venue: THIS MEETING IS IN LINE WITH THE LOCAL AUTHORITIES AND POLICE AND CRIME PANELS (CORONAVIRUS) (FLEXIBILITY OF LOCAL AUTHORITY AND POLICE AND CRIME PANEL MEETINGS) (ENGLAND AND WALES) REGULATIONS 2020

Contact: Democratic Services  01362 656870

Media

Items
No. Item

160/20

Minutes pdf icon PDF 105 KB

To confirm the minutes (including the restricted minute) of the meeting held on 10 September 2020.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The minutes, and restricted minute, of the meeting held on 10 September 2020 were confirmed as a correct record.

161/20

Apologies and Substitutes

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

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Councillors Birt and Colman.  Councillors Morton and Wilkinson were present as substitutes.

162/20

Chairman's Announcements (if any)

Minutes:

None.

163/20

Urgent Business

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.

Minutes:

The Chairman bought to the attention of Members that given a recent fake email that had been sent to elected members in the name of the Leader of the Council, and the recent cybersecurity attack on Hackney Council it had given an urgent need to raise awareness to all Members around the issue of Cyber Security and initiate potential member training and future monitoring and reporting.  It was especially critical given the nature of the work of the Council during the pandemic, and the fact that cyber criminals appeared to be using the current situation to target individuals and organisations. 

 

To address the matter, the IT Manager provided a presentation to Members that covered standard countermeasures deployed by the Council, the key partnerships to cyber defence, and the resources available to assist Members should they be alerted to suspicious activity.

 

In addition, Members were reminded of the E-learning modules available on cybersecurity however a reminder would be sent to all Members.

Councillor Mark Kiddle-Morris raised that at the recent Governance and Audit Committee an update had been received on the number of internal audit recommendations that had not been fulfilled.  It was raised that for 2017/2018 there were three cybersecurity recommendations that had not been fulfilled, along with a further three in 2018/2019 one of which related to the firewall.  The IT Manager would confirm but believed that the deployment of the second firewall layer had been completed.  He also informed Members that all ICT policies would be reviewed and updated over the coming 3-month period.

 

Councillor Kybird asked as the recent phishing email was sent from a Gmail account if Google would be responsive to having such suspicious activity reported to them and could close the account down. 

The IT Manager agreed that whilst there were reporting routes into Google he was not clear on the criteria that would allow the individual account to be closed down.   However, he would report back to Members with the information.

 

Councillor Martin informed that when he had contacted the IT Helpdesk he was informed to use the ‘report as spam’ at the bottom of the email.  However, it became apparent that this was not present on the email.  The IT Manager would investigate the issue further.

 

Councillor Nairn explained his recent experience where his bank account had been hacked and personally recommended to Members that they do not store any password or login details onto any app as he felt Apps could be subject to a data breach. He went onto recommend a website: https://haveibeenpwned.com where individuals could check if passwords and emails had been compromised.  In addition, he explained to Members how to check if an email received could be a phishing email and expressed that Members should never open a hyperlink within an email as it could contain a virus.  He went on to suggest a further two websites www.experian.co.uk and https://www.gov.uk/report-suspicious-emails-websites-phishing to check and report suspicious activity.

 

Councillor Morton asked if the Council had partnered with organisations within the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 163/20

164/20

Declaration of Interests

The duties to register, disclose and not to participate for the entire consideration of the matter, in respect of any matter in which a Member has a disclosable pecuniary interest are set out in Chapter 7 of the Localism Act 2011.  Members are also required to withdraw from the meeting room as stated in the Standing Orders of this Council.

 

Minutes:

None.

165/20

Non-Members wishing to address the Meeting

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

Minutes:

Councillors Askew, Bambridge, Dale, Duigan, Suggitt, Webb were present. 

 

In addition Adrian Barber, Managing Director (Victory Housing) of Flagship and Justin O’Connor, Head Asset Management, Broadland Housing Association would provide a presentation to the Commission.

166/20

Constitution - non-key officer decisions/SIRO/licensing pdf icon PDF 152 KB

Report by Councillor Sarah Suggitt, Executive Member, Governance.

 

Minutes:

The Executive Manager for Governance explained the report had been discussed at the Governance and Audit meeting whose comments had been incorporated into the report. The report contained a number of proposed changes to the constitution, but that the main proposed change related to the call-in powers of the Commission.

 

He explained that regulations were introduced in 2012 that required most Officer decisions to be published.  The way in which the constitution was worded meant that this resulted in the unintended consequence of all such officer decisions now being subject to call-in.  A balance needed to be found between the speed of the decisions and scrutiny of executive decisions.  The change in legislation had led to a situation where a large number of routine decisions were delayed whilst waiting for the 5-day call-in period.  The report recommended that Call-in period should only apply to Key decisions made by Officers under delegated authority.

 

Councillor Turner asked what happened for Members to open tenders as the office was currently closed.  The Executive Manager said he would find out the detail and report back to Members separately.

 

Councillor Jermy questioned why the Cabinet Members under the proposed amendments to Standing Order 56 relating to the vacation of office by failure to attend meetings, had their own paragraph.   The Executive Manager for Governance explained that all members had to comply with the first part of Standing Order 56, but that the second part related only to Cabinet members and was an additional requirement.

 

The Chairman explained how he understood the reasons for the proposed change to the 5-day call-in and was supportive of the recommendation.  The Scrutiny Commission had significant powers and felt the amendment would not reduce the ability to scrutinise and would provide a moderate improvement in the Council processes. 

 

Councillor Kiddle-Morris agreed with the Chairman and felt if required, there was sufficient ability for Scrutiny to call in a decision, after a decision had been made.

 

Councillor Jermy proposed that the recommendations, with the exception of recommendation (a) be approved. This was agreed by the Commission.

 

The Executive Manager for Governance thanked Members for their input, and said that as the report would be forwarded to Council for approval and that he would make it clear that recommendation (a) had not been supported at the Scrutiny meeting.

 

 

167/20

To receive presentations from the Housing Associations pdf icon PDF 479 KB

To receive presentations from Broadland Housing Association and Flagship Housing Association.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Housing Association representatives Mr Justin O’Connor and Mr Adrian Barber had been invited to provide presentation to Members.

 

Mr O’Connor, Head of Asset Management for Broadland Housing Association explained there were 5,300 homes owned or managed throughout Norfolk and North Suffolk covering a range of mixed tenures.  A new development was underway in Beeston and further homes would be built in Great Hockham in Spring 2021.

 

Broadland Housing were keen to promote building communities by ensuring that properties met the needs of the tenants from providing family homes through to sheltered housing.  The Homes for Cathy commitment had given the organisation a renewed focus in helping to tackle homelessness which had seen a vast reduction in evictions for rent arrears over the last 3 years.  The organisation was keen to provide digital access to their tenants which would free up resource in order to support the non-digital customers.

 

Mr Barber, Managing Director (Victory Housing) informed Members that the Flagship Group had entered into a partnership with Victory Housing Trust in 2019 with circa 5,200 properties. In February 2020 Suffolk Housing joined the Flagship Group with circa 3,000 homes.  Breckland was one of the largest areas of their housing stock, with Breckland Council being a key partner.  Mr Barber explained that as a result of the amalgamations, that Norfolk, Suffolk and parts of Essex would be divided up to ensure local connections and strong local relationships were maintained as a priority.

 

Members heard that there was a strong desire to progress the digital agenda that would see tenants being able to manage their own accounts and report issues easily.  It would also free up resource to allow time to be spent with the non-digital customers.

 

Councillor Bambridge asked Flagship for an update on the issue of Japanese Knotweed within his Ward which caused concern to his parishioners, and what could be done about the spread.  Mr Barber confirmed that a specialist contractor had been asked to visit the site and would make recommendations for the removal; however, he was appreciative of the concern raised and would follow up the issue.

 

As a Ward Member, Councillor Wickerson said that he received direct calls from residents asking for an update on their case, but these issues did not seem to be resolved.   Members were informed that Flagship had a learning and resolution centre where complaints were dealt with and Mr Barber agreed that communication could be better, and once the locality hubs were formed, Members would receive information on who their local teams were and the contact details.

 

Councillor Jermy said that tenants who were in rent arrears would often share with him their frustration as they would not be aware that they were in debt.  He asked if the digital solutions would include the possibility of receiving their balance through an app and therefore empowering tenants to be responsible for their accounts.

 

Councillor Jermy went on to ask for a list of the stock of assets within his area, including the land  ...  view the full minutes text for item 167/20

168/20

Outside Body Feedback (Standing Item)

To receive an update from representatives on Outside Bodies.

 

Minutes:

Councillor Kybird said that the minutes from the recently held Breckland Area Museums Committee had been added to the next meeting of the Joint Area Museums Committee. 

 

Councillor Crane had attended the meeting of the Norfolk Health Overview & Scrutiny Commission as a substitute for Councillor Kybird.

 

Councillor Turner confirmed that the Breckland Older People’s Forum had officially come to an end and as a result there had been a donation of £1,000 to the Daisy Programme who were working on a programme for older people suffering domestic abuse. 

 

169/20

Scrutiny Call-ins (Standing Item)

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

Minutes:

None received.

170/20

Councillor Call for Action (Standing Item)

To consider any references.

Minutes:

None received.

171/20

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 71 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:

Minutes:

Councillor Jermy said he was pleased to see the progress that had been made with the successful fly-tipping prosecutions.  However, as a Legacy from the Fly-tipping Task and Finish Group, he asked if Members could receive an update on education to also help to eradicate fly-tipping.

The Executive Member for Environmental and Public Protection added that work on the Education programme had started and would be happy to provide an update at a future meeting of the Commission.  It was agreed this would be discussed in Spring 2021.

 

Councillor Crane added that the Planning Enforcement item scheduled for January 2021 should reflect the request for an overview of the team in general, what was their remit, how enforcement and enforcement of the planning conditions were carried out.  This was a general presentation and not covering the COVID pandemic period.

 

Councillor Eagle asked that the Commission review how the Business grants were distributed during the lockdown period, and how the Shop with Confidence campaign was being managed throughout the District. The item would be added to the meeting in December 2020.

 

172/20

Next Meeting

To note the arrangements for the next meeting to be held on 3 December 2020 at 10.00am.

 

Minutes:

The arrangements for the next meeting scheduled for Thursday 3 December at 10.00am were noted.